How I’m spending my winter furlough

I was already taking vacation time from Christmas Eve through New Year’s, so even though the government has been closed since December 22 I’ve only been not working as planned since January 2. As a government contractor I’m using my paid time off so I can continue to be paid while the government is shut down, but later this upcoming week I’ll be out of paid time off and will be taking advantage of my company letting us go negative on our time off balance. So, at least I’m still getting paid, but I don’t know how much of a negative vacation balance I’ll be able to accrue or what I’ll do if the shutdown lasts longer than my company wants to keep floating us time.

In the meantime I’m trying to keep myself occupied. So far, including the time that I was on vacation, I:

  • Took my girlfriend to Rehoboth Beach to visit with her family
  • Had a board game night with my girlfriend and her friends
  • Flew down to Texas to visit my sister and niece in Houston for Christmas
  • Visited the Houston Zoo
  • Went to a friend’s place for a board game party
  • Went to brunch with my girlfriend and her family
  • Went to the National Building Museum
  • Watched the HBO art documentary “The Price of Everything”
  • Went to another friend’s place for New Year’s Eve and to play more board games
  • Took a 4-mile hike
  • Started studying PHP and am learning how to give a database and shell script project of my own a web front end
  • Reconciled a spreadsheet I use for tracking my paid time off for work with my actual PTO balance
  • Cleaned out my inbox of papers and documents
  • Triaged my OmniFocus inbox of tasks
  • Reviewed and updated my website’s Apache settings to reflect the access control changes in httpd 2.4
  • Took out my girlfriend’s Christmas tree and sawed off the bottom stump to later be made into an ornament
  • Fixed my girlfriend’s bathtub
  • Read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”
  • Removed an ethernet cable that had been set up to provide a wired network to a (now dead) iMac in my parents’ basement
  • Deployed a new Mac mini at my colocation facility as my new production webserver
  • Cleaned out my living room closet
  • Cleaned out my kitchen cabinets of unwanted dishware
  • Removed everything from my kitchen countertops and gave them a thorough cleaning
  • Tossed expired food from my kitchen cabinets
  • Cleaned out my toaster oven
  • Polished my stainless steel appliances (dishwasher, oven)
  • Updated my résumé and LinkedIn profile
  • Read “Shackleton’s Boat Journey”
  • Went swimming at my neighborhood rec center’s indoor pool for the first time

Further bulletins as events warrant…



World War One-der

Last night I watched the movie “Journey’s End”, about soldiers during WWI waiting for an impending German attack. I always think of films about WWI more as curiosities than anything… I guess most of the war films I’m familiar with are set during WWII. I can’t really think of any film that’s the WWI equivalent of “Saving Private Ryan”, for example, and other than “Journey’s End” the only WWI films I can recall seeing off the top of my head are “Wings” and “Paths of Glory”.

Speaking of “Wings”, the other day I told Siri to turn on my bedroom lamp and her response was “All set”, so of course I had to reply “OK!”

…if you’ve seen “Wings” you’d have gotten that reference. Maybe.




I think I’m going to return the Chromebook.

I bought an iPad Pro. Well, two of them, because I couldn’t make up my mind which size I wanted, but the 12.9″ iPad Pro was just too big. Heavy, too! And the iPads Pro I bought I configured with cellular access so I could take them anywhere; I have an iPad mini with cellular access I use for keeping track of my tasks for work, and while I could just tether to my phone when I need to, I’ve found that having a easily-accessible always-on data connection in a mobile device so convenient.

Anyway, I bought both sizes, decided I didn’t like the larger size, and took it back to the Apple store today to return and to check out the cases for the 11″ model. I never really liked the previous version of the iPad Pro keyboard and thought that I’d dislike this new one too but after doing some typing tests in the store (I got about 90 WPM on Key Hero) and seeing if the keys would bother me with the keyboard folded back (not really, since I hold it on the left side where there aren’t any keys), I decided to give it a try. I’m trying it right now, in fact – typing this post on the Smart Keyboard Folio and seeing how I like the Ulysses text editor – and so far I’m liking both the keyboard and the text editor.

I did find a few issues with the Chromebook. One was actually with the Chrome browser: I use Fever for a self-hosted RSS syncing service, and I figured that I could use it to read my RSS feeds on the Chromebook. Fever is no longer supported or developed, and apparently a change to a recent version of Chrome disabled scrolling the feed list using the spacebar or jumping to the previous or next feed entries using the keyboard, so I poked around in the code and made a few tweaks of my own to fix the scrolling and change the keyboard shortcuts to ones that reflected my preferences in my usual RSS reader Reeder.

I also wasn’t impressed with the screen. Yeah, it’s “only” a $200 device, so it’s not going to be the best display, but it had to be pointed almost exactly perpendicular to my face for a decent image. Not a big deal but also not as pretty as I would prefer.

I think Saturday is the last day for me to return the Chromebook so I need to hurry up and make up my mind, but this iPad, with a cellular connection, with a keyboard that works better than I expected, well… it’s exactly what I was looking for.

Ok, now to figure out how to publish this post…



That was an enjoyable six stops

Two buses pulled up in front of me at my bus stop to go home from work. The front bus was standing-room-only while the one behind appeared to be almost entirely empty. I looked back and forth at them trying to determine which one would let me get on – I wanted to board the rear bus, but it was further back and the front bus was in front of me at the stop. Eventually the front bus opened its doors.

Lucky me! The bus I got on had an old lady yelling and cussing at the man standing next to me, and two other men men making threats and each daring the other to knife, shoot, or otherwise assault while a third man tried to calm his friend down. I have to admit that it took me a confused minute to realize that there were two arguments happening simultaneously that had nothing to do with each other. Fun!



Sugar in the cranky-case

Been in a Mood the past few days. When my mood hasn’t been “bad” it’s at the very least been “frustrated” or “meh”. It hasn’t been over a single thing, and nothing personal to nobody, but it’s been rather just many small annoyances building up over days that have made me tired and dissatisfied.

The worst was Friday night when I came home. After running a few errands on my way home and driving what felt like forever in the rain I couldn’t park on my street. I had to haul my bags of groceries in the pouring rain from a few blocks away to my apartment so I was already grumpy. I got in, started putting my groceries away, and discovered a pile of sugar in my refrigerator (what, you don’t store your sugar in the refrigerator to keep it away from bugs?). Turned out that the bag had ripped on the side of a shelf on the refrigerator door. I only discovered this when I pulled the bag out to inspect it and sugar poured all over my (wet) sneakers and my (wet) floor (from walking home in the rain), making a sticky mess.

At least it solved the question of “why do I keep feeling something gritty on the floor in front of my refrigerator even after my Roomba supposedly cleaned in here?”. :P Yup, it was the bag leaking trace amounts of granulated sugar on the floor each time I opened the refrigerator door.

I had to jump into disaster cleaning mode: dustbusted the larger piles of sugar and then set the Roomba on a few cycles of cleaning my kitchen floor area while I tossed my sneakers into the laundry and mopped my floor over and over again.

Saturday morning I was feeling a bit better about myself until I cut my left ring finger on a sharp corner of my filing cabinet. As I told my girlfriend, even though all these things were unrelated, and I’m not the superstitious type, it still had me feeling uneasy as if I were waiting for yet another shoe to drop or something bad to happen. What made this even more ridiculous was that I was then feeling warm as we were sitting in my car at a red light so she offered to help me take off my raincoat. As she helped me out from said jacket I pulled a muscle in my neck!

I felt better as the weekend went along but today I’ve been kind of “eh”. Tired and unmotivated and headachey. Going to bed early to see if that helps my mood. I’m also hoping Apple has some good news for me at their announcement in the morning; I sure could use a new Mac mini for my webserver…