Friday, November 23, 2007

regular update

Early this month I went to see a wedding. There was an outer space theme. I had a good time, although I knew very few people attending. I also spent a good time with my brother. I met some of his new and old acquaintances, all of whom were very nice. We rode bikes on one of the many bike paths, and I was disappointed by my low endurance.

Shortly after getting back for that trip, I left to spend a few months living and working in the upper midwest. I’m working in the warehouse of a hobby game company during the big holiday season. It’s been a lot of fun so far. I share a ride with one of the people I’m staying with, who works at the same place (and is the one that encouraged me to take the job).

In the evenings, I’ve been spending a lot of time playing games. Board games, card games, trading card games, etc. It’s a lot of fun, especially since I haven’t had the opportunity to do so for the last several months. There was never a lot of interest at the house I had been living in.

We also went to a nearby zoo this past weekend. All the outdoor exhibits were closed for the season, of course. Indoor exhibits were still open, including the monkey house, a tropical exhibit, and the plant conservatory. Unsurprisingly, the crowds were low and it was really a pleasant way to spend a chilly afternoon.

Work and games have taken up a lot of my time lately, so unfortunately I haven’t been pursuing my other hobbies as diligently as I would like. I have a new direction for a charting project that I’ve been working on, and my hosts have an electronic keyboard that I would be practicing with if I could take the time to get the music book I’d been using. Most likely, I’ll just have to put this stuff on hold while I’m working.

Monday, October 22, 2007

more etc

I feel like I’ve been busy lately. I’ve been going to work again, I started trying to learn piano, I went with a group of friends back to my old college town this weekend, then got back and immediately went camping with a different group of friends.

Work was unexpected. I was looking forward to it when I found out, but it turns out that this project is very very dull. It pays, though, so I’ll be sticking it out until it ends in a week.

I decided to learn piano for no other reason than we happened to have a decent electronic keyboard laying around the house. It was left behind ages back when its owner moved across the country. The library had a few books that had been recommended, and I’ve gotten several hours of practice in during the last week or so. In a couple more weeks, I hope I’ll stop feeling like a total novice.

I don’t visit the campus much when I’m in the area anymore. The people I know best aren’t associated with the college. It was great to meet up with everybody again. It’s been more than a year in some cases. I would have liked to have time for more than a quick chat, but, like I said, I seem to be unusually busy lately.

A few hours after we came home, I left again. Five of us drove a few (too many) hours to look at the stars and sleep in a tent. It was pretty great. We did get stuck in traffic and then lost on the way there, so we didn’t show up until after dark. After that, everything went fairly smoothly. The food was great, the sky was clear, the temperature was unseasonably comfortable. We took a nice casual hike in the morning before making the (much shorter) drive home again.

Now I have work for the rest of the week, followed by a trip to the east coast. And as soon as I get back from that, I’ll turn around and go out of state for a few months to see some friends and earn some more money. Maybe then I’ll come back and relax again. If I manage to practice once in a while, maybe I’ll even know piano by then.

Monday, September 24, 2007

travel and work

I finally came home last weekend. Before that i had been staying with some college friends. While I was there they moved into a house they just bought, so I got to help out with that and see the new house. They, of course, were working most of the time, so I spent a lot of my daytime watching tv shows on dvd. When everyone was home, we played board games and similar, as usual.

After I had been there a while, one of my hosts got me something of a job. The office he works in had a bunch of projects that no one seemed to have time for, so I went in and helped them out for about a week. It was a nice change of pace. The company develops and imports board games, and my wages were paid in product credit rather than money. That is kind of fun, but after a week, I think I already have more credit than I know what to do with.

While I was still working there, I got word that work was going to start up at the scoring center back home. I bought a bus ticket and came home to do some scoring work. It was great to get back into that again (not least because it pays actual money), but unfortunately they have decided not to start any big projects any time soon. There won’t be any substantial scoring work for us until spring.

I would rather not live that long on savings, so I’ve been considering my options. I might move out of state. I might move in with some friends where the rent is cheaper than my current place and pick up scoring when it resumes. I might do something else that hasn’t occurred to me yet. This is the time to wait and see.

Monday, August 20, 2007

home again

I just spent the last couple weeks back in my hometown. I saw some friends that I hadn’t seen since the last time I came home, and some that I hadn’t seen for longer.

Some of us went golfing one day. I had never golfed before, actually. It was almost a really hot day, but the breeze picked up and the clouds came out, so it wasn’t bad at all.

I also went out on a little sailboat with my grandpa. I had never sailed before. The boat was a two-seater that folds up for storage. We’ve been keeping it assembled during the summer, so about all we had to do to get it ready was put the sail on. The sailing was great, and the lake was not too crowded.

We have a small home remodeling project going on. I helped out with that some, and tried to find some other ways to help out around the house. I don’t think I tried very hard, because I seemed to spend a lot of time lazing around.

I caught a ride out of town with my uncle who was in town with a friend of his for a high school reunion. So now I’m in a different state to hang out with some more friends of mine for a few more weeks before I head back to where I live these days.

Friday, July 27, 2007

out and about

I went to see a bunch of friends (and some relatives) a week or two ago. It was a good time. I took a bus for about two days, played several board games that were new to me, went to see an incredible house/theme-park, and all kinds of other things before getting a ride home with some friends. I was only gone for about a week, unfortunately. I would have enjoyed spending a lot more time there, but I had to get back here in time to move out.

Starting next month I will be living with a guy I met through a couple degrees of mutual friends. We play board games together sometimes. After I get my stuff relocated, maybe I’ll get back out for another vacation.

I have been finishing up some old projects lately. I went through a pile of old computers copying all the games I could find. I kept the hard drives for now, and took everything else to the local computer re-use/recycle center to be recycled. I also made a slightly nicer gallery interface for the name charts that I generated a few months ago. I should really re-generate all the charts to include 2006 data, and to fix the unsightly long filenames, but for now I’m finished with it.

Not all projects have ended successfully. I killed an old laptop that I finally got around to taking apart. I just wanted to get to the screen, but by the time I did it wouldn’t turn on anymore.

Next on my list is finishing a write-up for a math problem that I started thinking about more than a year ago. After that, maybe I’ll have to sit down and make a new list.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

house construction

A few days ago I met some friends of a friend who are in the process of building their own house. They were kind enough to let me come out to hang around for a few days while they worked. The land they’re building on is out in the country, a little more than an hour where I’m living. The property was entirely wooded when they bought it, with a small spring and creek and plenty of hills. Every point on the land seems to be sloped in one direction or another.

For the few days I was there, I helped out where I could: moving dirt, carrying water and other work. The walls are partly made of stacked tires packed tight with dirt. The tire packing is highly labor-intensive, but all that had been done last summer. (A second house on the property, however, is in the early tire-packing stage.) The walls and roof of the first house are up, and while I was there the front greenhouse and entryway framing were being finished. We were also berming earth up around the walls.

Power comes from a small solar array and water comes from a small spring a short hike from the building site. They plan to catch and store rainwater in the cistern dug out in the area underneath the future bathroom as well.

The trip was a lot of fun, and I learned quite a lot about finding property, planning and constructing houses (some of it in the “what not to do” category). I hope to get back out there once or twice more this summer.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

box and other things

I am mostly finished with work for the summer. The plan for the summer season is to work about two days a week. That’s more time than I was counting on for the summer, so I’m pleased about that.

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One roommate and I took advantage of a cool afternoon last week to walk around the local college campus wearing a tall box. We alternated wearing the box and taking pictures of it. There is a tiny hole to look through. I was trying to navigate using the hole as a camera obscura, but it was difficult to get an image that was not either too dark or too blurry. Looking through the hole itself turned out to be a lot easier.

Some people tried asking questions to the person in the box, but we stayed quiet. Often people would knock on the box. We started responding by immediately dropping the box from “walking position” down to the ground, as if it was a safety response. People enjoyed that. Once someone tried to push me over, but they didn’t try too hard, and weren’t successful. Most of the people who voiced comments decided that it was “art” or an “art project”. The most common question was probably “Why are you walking around in a box?”

At first I was trying to be inconspicuous while I took pictures, but it turns out that everybody has a camera phone, and everybody wants to take pictures of some box walking around. It was less conspicuous just to pull out the camera and shoot away. A couple times a group of two or three students would start following the box, so we had to try harder to not let people realize that the photographer was in on it, staying further apart and circling around some places.

It also happens that classes at the university were ending this week, so everybody is moving out of their dorms. We’ve been going through the dumpsters and trash piles as much as we can, trying to rescue the useful items. Highlights include:

+ portable mp3 player, in package
+ retracting projector screen
+ twelve piece food storage container set (”tupperware”), unused
+ 500mb usb thumb drive, with wedding photos
+ rubik’s cube, some stickers wearing off but turns well
+ enough laundry detergent to last until next year at least
+ more blank paper (lined, unlined or graphing) than we will ever use
+ several fans
+ many backpacks
+ excessive clothing
+ food (cans of vegetarian soup, vegetarian gyoza, ground buffalo, soy milk, yogurts, bananas, soy sauce, peanut butters, etc; all still cold of frozen where applicable)

We took a small fraction of what was available. If we took everything worth keeping, there would be no room in our house for us to live. Even so, we have more stuff than we want or need, and have plans to redistribute as much of it as possible. The most common items that we didn’t take include futon mattresses and futon-couch frames, carpets and rugs, rolling chairs, most of the gross college food (ramen noodles, candy and snacks, microwaveable sandwiches, toaster pastries, etc), plus lots of dry-erase message boards and other “college life” necessities.

In a few more weeks, it will be the non-campus housing move-out season, so hopefully we’ll find people who want most of this stuff before then.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

growing food, losing air, earning money

We made tempeh last weekend. It’s been in the freezer since then, and I finally got around to trying it last night. It was pretty good as moldy soybeans go, but I think that I didn’t boil the beans long enough before adding the starter. We incubated it in my closet with a space heater.

One of my tires had a slow leak today so when I got out of work the tire was flat. I walked the bike to the nearest gas station and paid fifty cents to put air in the tire. It was good enough to get me home. I had considered buying a small portable pump to put in my backpack, but never got around to it. I still don’t know if I’ll bother. I feel like I ought to, but maybe it’s worth fifty cents for the occasional time a tire goes flat.

I got a new set of responsibilities at work. I think it comes with more pay, but I don’t know all the details yet. At any rate, it comes with more hours, while it lasts. In a few weeks, we will close down until late summer.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

plants and time-keeping

The potato-in-a-box experiment is over. The plants looked unhealthy most of the time. The stalks seemed to be rotting at the base, but the leaves were wilted. We put it outdoors when the weather started to get nicer. It looked like it was improving, but in the meantime several volunteer potato plants came up around our compost pile. I guess I decided that we didn’t really need the box potato anymore. I pulled up the plants (two were left out of the five or so that originally sprouted) and there was a single tiny potato, about three-quarters of an inch in diameter. I went ahead and ate it and it seemed ok.

There are also have some squash or pumpkins growing in the compost pile. I would like to find out when these plants will be ready to harvest. It would be nice if it happened before we move out, but I expect that they are autumn vegetables.

I haven’t made any decisions about what I will do when the lease ends. I may move a little closer to work, or I might move to a different state instead.

When I have time, I’ve been reading about calendar systems. There are lots of proposals to reform the calendar, usually billed as “simplifications”. I’m more interested in “complications”, I think. I have a whole system figured out that uses several cycles ranging from seven to twenty-seven days long, indicating leap days when the end or beginning of the cycles coincide. There are three of these “timing” cycles, used to adjust the 365 day (366 in leap year) solar year cycle and the 29 day (30 days in leap months) lunar cycle. There are a few rough details still, but I think there’s nothing that can’t be solved by making it a little more complicated.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

work work work

I’ve been working daily this week. Between work, sleep, commuting, and fixing lunches and dinners, I end up with about three or four hours of free time at home each day. That seems unbelievably low to me.

Work has been good though. It’s pretty interesting right now, and we end up with a lot of down time while we’re waiting for more work to be printed for us. It may get less interesting as we start longer and more repetitive projects. And the down time might shrink as they get the kinks worked out on the processing end of things. For now, though, I’m enjoying myself.

I’m even considering sticking around here, finding a new place after our current lease is up, and staying in this job for a while longer than I originally planned. It sounds like there will be a couple months off and then they’ll be starting up again in late summer. If I still like how things are going in a month or so, it will be very tempting to stay and work again. It’s a very good opportunity to get some money saved up.

There are about thirty to forty other employees of my level in the room I’m in. I’m getting to know a few of them, and several seem very nice. It’s been quite a while since I’ve worked in a situation where I could chat with the people I work with. Really it’s been a while since I’ve had coworkers that I see more than a few minutes a day.

Now that I’m working every day, that means I’m biking every day, too. The ride is about twice as long as the ride to the bookstore was, but doesn’t seem as tough. It’s earlier in the morning, and the wind isn’t usually up. Also, I’ve been giving myself plenty of time in the mornings, so I’m not in a rush like I always was before. A leisurely pace makes quite a difference, I think.