endings and beginnings

It’s now tuesday. It’s been a busy week.

Friday was my last day at Apple. It was only a little surreal. Much different than a last day of school, where everyone is getting ready to wrap things up. You walk around the halls, everyone sort of going about their business as normal, but you suddenly feel like a visitor, an outsider. My team (four people) had lunch together at a decent sushi place; I didn’t have to pay. I expected an exit interview or something, but the HR people were a little slow and never got one scheduled. So I grabbed the last few things of mine from the office, handed my badge over to my boss, and drove away. It was a little sad, but mostly just exciting.

We started packing up things in the apartment on Wednesday. By Friday we were mostly done. Leslie had some teacher certification test on Saturday morning, the day our lease started, so our plan was to head to Fremont after her test, sign all the papers, then bring a u-haul back down to Santa Clara to move everything. The plan went great until we got to the “bring a truck back” part. We called about ten different u-haul and budget rental places, and none of them had an appropriately-sized truck for us to use. Granted, it was a saturday in the middle of the summer, but there are just so many truck rental places, you’d think there’d be a glut of trucks.

We decided to head back home (still Santa Clara at this point) to get lunch, and planned on reserving a truck for Sunday. Leslie had a craving for In-n-Out, so we headed over to the one nearest of apartment. On the way, we spotted a Budget truck place, and resolved to at least drop by and check to see if they had any trucks for rent. It turned out they did, and so while I scarfed my double-double (ack. arteries. clogging.), Leslie stepped up to fill out the paperwork necessary. First he asked for a driver’s license; she handed hers over. Then the guy asked, “so who’s actually going to be driving the truck?” to which Leslie responded, “me.” You see, every other time I’ve moved, it’s either been alone, or with a girl who thought it was my job to drive the truck. Leslie is not inhibited in any such way, so she decided to do the driving this time around.

We took the truck home and called Phil over to help us. Jeff, my big, strong brother, and George (also big and strong) both managed to be out of town for the day. So we were only three, and it was 3:00pm, when we started the move. It went well enough. We had to be a little creative to fit it in the 15-foot truck, but it was no real struggle. Phil was great and helped for over three hours before heading out to SF for the evening. At about 6:45 we got everything in the truck and drove to Fremont. We arrived a little after seven, already pretty exhausted. Did I mention the truck had to be returned by 8am Sunday morning? So we started to unpack. And we unpacked. And unpacked. We made many, many, trips from truck to apartment. At least a hundred. So many trips. So tired. The hardest items for us to do alone were the couch and the tabletop. Luckily, friendly passersby were able to give us a hand with each of them. Nearly delirious with exhaustion, we finished at about ten.

What better state of mind than delerium to drive a giant truck? So Leslie climbed back behind the wheel and we headed back down to Santa Clara, filled it up with diesel, and dropped it off at Budget. We were getting a bit giggly at this point, but we did make it back to Fremont, stopping on the way for some questionable milk and powdered doughnuts at the “Foodmaxx.” We collapse on the living room floor of our new place, nestled between boxes and furniture that coated every horizontal surface, guzzled coke and milk, doughnuts and corn chips until our blood sugar rose enough to get us upstairs. Lacking a shower curtain, we took turns in the bathtub doing our best to get clean, then collapsed in bed. I’ll save the events since then for another post…

90th birthdays and eve ensler

This Saturday I went to my paternal grandfather’s 90th birthday. My aunt had rented a swank little party room in an ocean-view restaurant in Pacifica. The whole gang was there: the three children (Rich, my dad, Don, his twin brother (younger by 5 minutes), and Laurie (little sister)). Their spouses were each their, and all the kids except one. This is a rare collection of Klingners and it was pretty cool to see everyone. My Dad was going picture crazy, so I expect some pictures of the event to show up soon on my parents’ new gallery.

On Sunday, I mostly relaxed, burned transcoded netflix DVDs and played Sim City 4, in which Leslie and I are recreating great communist capitals of the past in idyllic green virtualness. You’ll all be happy to hear Bejing has topped 30,000 citizens.

In the evening we headed into SF for dinner at a random excellent tandoori kitchen with Jeff and George followed by Eve Ensler’s new “play” The Good Body. The tickets were our present to George for his 23rd. It was entertaining. I don’t think I’m allowed to critique it in detail given my Y chromosome, but I will go as far as saying that I liked the Vagina Monologues better.

4 more work days. Today I called Comcast (sigh) to set up our cable and internet in our new apartment. I had long entertained notions of getting satellite TV and DSL, but it’s hard to make that economical, especially when you don’t know if your balcony will even work for satellite. I’ll postpone my dreams of Speakeasy for another year. I think of it as all part of acting financially like the grad student I’ll be in a month.

postnuke to wordpress converter/importer

So, I just recently switched my website from postnuke over to WordPress. As part of the process, I wrote a simple PHP script to convert all of the entries from the postnuke site over to WordPress. Although postnuke is a pretty heavy-duty CMS, there might be a few people out there who will make the same switch, so I decided to clean up the script a little and post it on the site for anyone who needs it. You can get it here. I put it under the GPL, so you can probably use it with no worries. If you do use it, send me an email or post a comment or something. I should add that it would be generous to say that I’m a novice at PHP. I’m sure there’s plenty I did wrong writing the script, but it works (for me), and that was enough.

Update 12 August 2005: I should have mentioned that this script was written for WordPress 1.2, and will require some massaging to work with 1.5. Check the comments for more info.

cell phone companies can suck it

I have a cell phone. It’s 4.5 years old. It works great. It makes phone calls. Woo-hoo. It’s the same phone number I’ve always had… which means it’s an Austin area code, though (as you may have figured out by now) I live in California. When we move to Fremont, I’ll be in the same area code as Berkeley, and Leslie tells me you can call all around the bay locally anyway, so I’ve been looking into getting a new phone/carrier.

It’s obnoxious to have to pay monthly for something–I despise bills on general principle. But it’s fair: they provide a service month-to-month, and I pay for it. But why on holy earth do I have to sign up for a year with one of these evil companies? And why do I have to buy a phone from them? And why can’t I take my phone with me when I leave one company and go to another? I’ll tell you why: because American cell phone companies are an evil cabal created to milk the people of This Great Nation of their money and their very souls.

I considered going with Virgin’s offering, where you buy a phone and pay by the minute with no contract or bill at all. This would be cool, and seems economical up to maybe 300min/mo. I’m not sure it would work out to be financially advantageous if I had no land line to back it up. Still, no contract and no bills seems awfully nice to me. You don’t even have to give them your name, you can buy the phone with cash and refill it with cash. Cypherpunkness, here I come.

On the whole though… how did we get suckered into the current state of things? Most places try to get you to sign 2-year contracts now. 2 years?!?! In europe, you buy a phone, get a little card, and pop the bad-boy in. Period. You want a new phone, buy it, pop the card in, and all your numbers and settings and everything are there. You can sell your phone. You can get pre-paid cards to go in your phone. You can borrow your friend’s phone for 5 minutes and pop in your card to make the call. Why can’t this sanity make it across the pond? Sigh.

One of the reasons American companies do the lock-in is because they heavily subsidize the cost of the phones. This is because, for some reason, it’s important for your cell phone to browse the internet and take pictures and send email and make coffee and all sorts of other worthless crap. Guess what? I pretty much want to just make phone calls! So you can go ahead and leave out the color screens and the singing songs and the flashing and dancing and spare me the stratospheric price point and all it entails. The geek inside me wants to be interested in fun little features, but the homunculus of reason knocking around my head balks at being cowed into a 2-year contract for some silly little plastic noisemaker that could enable me, theoretically, play tetris while surfing the web while bluetoothing around while driving my car at speeds fatal to any pedestrians who have the misfortune to get in my way. And the ability to do this (from what I’ve seen out on the road recently) is becoming more and more critical to a modern lifestyle. And I’m nothing if not modern.

Cell phone companies are just thing to bring out the Luddite in me.

his and hers 20-inch opulence

A while ago, I got a Dell 2001FP 20-inch flat panel display. It’s gorgeous.

pic of dell 2001fp

Leslie has gotten a bit tired of her little 15 inch computer screen. So, I decided to get one of the fancy new screens from Apple, and give Les my old one. The new one looks like this:

apple 20

Mmm… Now we’ll both have spoiled ourselves with the excess of 20″ flat-panel monitors. I’ve thought for a long time that there is no computer accessory more important than your monitor. No matter what you’re doing with your computer, or how fast it is, you always have to interact with it through the display. So I think it’s worth it to invest in a nice display. Before my current panel, I had a 19-inch Mitsubishi tube that served me for about 4 years. It’s life was actually cut short… I’m hoping to get as many as 10 years out of these panels (I’d better, anyway. In for some lean times ahead :)

This will displace Leslie’s wonderful little iMac. We were thinking we could put it downstairs in the new apartment so we can have a living room computer (because walking upstairs is far too much of a hassle). Any other ideas on how to keep the “kitten” in service?

4141 Stevenson Blvd

Yesterday we struck out from our suburban wasteland to another suburban wasteland, slightly to the north and east. We knew where we wanted our apartment to be: somewhere inside a box described by Trader Joe’s, the BART station, and two major on-ramps to 680, which Leslie will be using to get to work. We tooled around all through the area, stopping at 5 or 6 places. Our options seemed to be of two strains: towards the middle of Fremont in 1970’s era apartments that universally lacked in-apartment laundry facilities, or right next to the BART station in brand-new, soulless giant complexes that, while they have in-apartment laundry, cost about $300/mo too much. We ultimately decided on a place owned by the same management company as our current apartment–they’ve been very good here in Santa Clara. The place is huge (over 1100 sqft), and for about the same as our current place was before they hiked the rate.

We move in two weeks. I’ll be investigating the possibilities of DSL and satellite television in the intervening time…


Here it is. It’s still not totally done, but close enough that I wanted to transfer all the old posts over. Please let me know if you encounter any errors or explosions or whatever. And yes, I’m going to change the pic up top…

a taste of north bay

Over the long weekend, a friend of ours took us up to her home town about 2 hours north of SF, Sebastopol. The highlights included picking and eating massive quantities of fresh berries, eating pies and cakes made from said berries, enjoying said berries over home-made waffles, and staining jeans with said berries. Also there were lots of cute pets, from bipolar dogs to slutty cats, and a guest house née water tower that served as abode for a couple of nights.

On the 3rd we watched Sebastopol’s lovely fireworks show while gorging ourselves on peanut butter M&Ms, Jolly Ranchers, and Goldfish. On the 4th we threw a show of our own in the back yard, the highlight of which was the dog that interpreted the fireworks as its mortal enemy, to be eaten and pawed at all costs.

I’m back at work now, my third-to-last week, tying up loose ends and generally explaining to a lot of people why I’m leaving. Its not so bad. overt’s new look is almost done–I’ve got the stylesheet all done, and now I just need to write a script to copy all the entries over from postnuke to wordpress.

twist and shout

Yesterday at the climbing gym I fell a bit funny off a boulder problem and twisted my ankle. It’s not severe, but it sure does make it a pain to walk. Immediately after I hit the ground and felt my ankle going all wonky, I tried to crumple up into a ball to minimize the injury. I think it worked. After hopping flamboyantly over to the front desk to get some ice to put on it, i lay down on my back for a good 10 minutes holding my ankle up in the air, contemplating the fate of the impending long weekend. I checked out my ankle and didn’t notice too much swelling, so I went, kangaroo-amputee style, to my car for a dangerous drive home, using my heel on the brake and gas, praying that I wouldn’t be called upon for any sort of evasive maneuvers. And I’ve been trying to keep it above my heart and iced ever since. This is, believe it or not, the most serious injury I’ve ever had climbing, in the 11 years or so I’ve been at it.

So, needless to say, with my 8 remaining sick days and 3 weeks of work to use them in, I’m at home today resting. My plan is to try to tackle the CSS for the new site, and (who knows?) maybe try to get it up today. I wont bore you with the geeky minutiae. Suffice it to say that my web programming knowledge is crusty and old fashioned, and all the kids today with their divs and their stylesheets are starting to make me look bad. Like a pathetic middle-aged man tinkering on an ’82 firebird parked conspicuously far out on his driveway, trying to recapture the mechanical wizardry of his youth, I will force upon my readers yet another revision of overt in an effort to prove that I still have The Right Stuff. Look out.