Of all the days to get noticed

Wednesday’s post got into The Express. For those not familiar, The Express is a free paper that gets handed out all over the city, most importantly on Metro – I’d guess that anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of all Metro riders as least browse The Express a couple times a week. I won’t complain about being in the Express – I think it’s awesome. I’ve occasionally seen blogs I know in there, but never mine. Anyway, it figures that they’d notice me on a day when I’m being a bit of a jerk. I was in a bad mood because of my meeting later in the day (1:30 to 4! That’s too long for any meeting) and, as I am prone to do, I mouthed off about something that wasn’t really what was bothering me, but was sort of related and was handy at the time. So that’s my complaint. Noticing me on a bad day. Why couldn’t they have noticed on a better day? Like January 24th, 2007? My mom and I agree that this is one of my best posts. Or maybe on July 8th, 2008, when I got hit by a friggin’ truck? In any event, they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, and my hits were up yesterday. So, those of you who came to see that post, hang out and read a few more and realize that Wednesday was not an accurate reflection of me as a human being. I may be a complainer, but I’m not a jerk.

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This is why I live close to work

A friend once told me that, when considering two more or less equal candidates for a job opening, you should choose the one with a better commute. Is it really bad where you live? The hardest part of my commute was coming down my own front stairs, which we didn’t shovel at all, and are now covered in ice. Sure, it was a little slow walking to the bus. But the roads are fine. I got in pretty quickly. When I arrived, I found all sorts of people out of the office. One coworker had a meeting this afternoon postponed because 2/3 of the attendees didn’t make it in. Another coworker had a 10AM meeting cancelled (at 9:45) because the person he was meeting didn’t come in. I have a 1:30 meeting, and the two people who work in this building that I expected to attend are not here yet, leading me to believe that they won’t be here. This meeting is going to be really difficult to do over the phone since it’s supposed to be a presentation of various things. Maybe I’ll pretend I live out in West Virginia or something, too, and just call in. It annoys me when people shirk their job responsibilities due to the weather. Sure, I understand not wanting to come in. But when these people took these jobs, they pledged to get to the office when they were needed there. You can choose to live far away if you want, but don’t use it as an excuse. When I was in college, I never missed a class due to drinking the night before (except the day after my 21st birthday, when I made an exception, and still made my afternoon class) or weather, even when I lived off campus. I skipped class when I didn’t feel like going, but never because I had made a personal choice about where I lived or how much I drank. I’m not sure most people make that distinction, but I do, and so I can be smug about your failure to come to work today.

Did someone say, “A good experience with Dell Tech Support”?

I’ve been having a problem with the power supply on my work laptop, a Dell Precision M2300. Rather than charging my laptop, it will frequently beep at me. This makes it difficult to get much done – I’m a software engineer, and all the code and my dev environment is on this laptop. When the battery goes, there is very little constructive work I can do. So I contacted Dell Pro Support. I believe this is different from what most people get – since my company has a contract with Dell, we get the business-level tech support. And they’re pretty amazing. I told him what my problem was and he arranged to have a new one overnighted. Can’t ask for much more than that. And his English was perfect. I don’t care if companies want to outsource tech support to other countries, but the person who speaks with me needs to speak my language well enough to understand and fix my problem. Anyway, I just had to share. I mean, if I write “good experience with Dell Tech Support”, that pretty much guarantees a good Google ranking, right? There can’t be more than a dozen results for that . . . Edit to add: Of note – banging the power supply on the floor a bunch of times makes it work again.

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I have ridden the 43, and it was good

A little while ago, I found out about the new 43 bus that goes underneath Dupont Circle instead of through. Today, I rode it for the first time. I almost didn’t – my usual S2 came by as I was waiting to cross I Street. I didn’t rush because I didn’t think I would make it, but then the light changed, and I still didn’t rush, and then three people made the driver open the door before the light turned green. So I would have made it with even the slightest bit of extra effort. But no matter. The 43 bus came by just a minute later. I’ve been wanting to try it, but unwilling to forgo the S2/S4. It was wonderful. But I fear it won’t last long. I got on at 3:30PM on a Monday, early rush hour, but already busy on the S2/S4. There were maybe 15 people on the bus between 15th and I and 16th and Columbia. Maybe this is normal for the route, but I can’t imagine WMATA is happy with those numbers. I did run into a problem with the stop request strings and buttons – none of them worked. I thought perhaps standing by the back door would work, or maybe that the requests were being relayed to the driver but not displayed on the big screen. But I was wrong. Luckily, a kid who wanted the stop after the one I wanted pulled on every string in the bus until one of them worked, and the bus stopped just one stop later than I wanted, and I didn’t even have to go up and ask the driver. I will definitely ride the 43 again. I won’t pass up an S2/S4, but if the 43 comes first, it’s a great alternative.

A new project

I’ve started up a new blog. It’s not meant to replace this one – I plan to continue posting to both. But it is a new direction. I’m trying something a little more professional rather than whatever you might categorize this blog as. The new blog is about ebooks and ebook readers, and my intention is to see if I like writing something that’s a little more journalistic and a little less whining about parking in DC. So, go check it out. Let me know what you think. Seriously, I’d love feedback. Is it mind-numbing? Do you want to punch me in the face? If you were in the market for an ebook reader, would you care what I had to say?

Coffee shop with fringe benefits

The wife and I took the kid out for her morning walk this morning and decided to stop in at Pan Lourdes, the new-ish coffee shop/bakery on 14th Street just north of Columbia Heights Target. It was great – they have a big refrigerator that makes a lot of noise and even vibrates the floor just a little bit. The kid slept like a rock in her stroller. She stirred a little bit when it cut off, but then went back to sleep. The coffee is nothing to write home about, but the baked goods are pretty awesome. I think they all come from the big bakery on 11th Street near Wonderland, but I’m not sure. It’s funny – I imagine someone from Central America would recognize most of the baked goods, but I sure didn’t. I mean, if I go into a Dunkin Donuts or something, I recognize what most of the things are without needing a sign. Maybe I can’t tell the difference between raisins and blueberries from across the counter, but at least I’d be close. At Pan Lourdes, nothing looks familiar. And they have nothing labeled. I suppose I could have asked the guy behind the counter, but that’s not as adventurous. I had something with a stripe of red frosting, and the wife had something with lemon. Both were good. We’ll definitely go back, for the fridge if nothing else. Everything is really cheap, too – four dollars and change for two pastries and two coffees.

I’m going to punch Mother Nature in the Face. And also WMATA.

In what I’m sure will be a recurring theme for the day for DC bloggers, I’d like to take a moment to complain about the cold. I don’t get cold easily. In fact, just last night the wife and I were discussing that it would be awesome if I could sell my excess body heat – I certainly don’t need all of it, and others (including the wife) would be happy to have it. In any event, I bailed on my usual walk to work after less than a block. Most days I enjoy the walk. It gives me time to think and prepare for the day at work. But not when it’s this cold. Weather.com tells me that it’s 11 degrees out, and it feels like -4. That would explain the frozen snot in my nose. So, I took the bus. Not usually a problem, except that I was on one of the really old models, and it broke down at V Street. The driver didn’t announce anything. We just sat for a minute, and then someone got off, then another person, and soon the whole bus had cleared. Luckily there was another bus right behind, so we didn’t have to wait. But tell me – have you ever been on a bus that broke down in pleasant weather? I’ll bet you haven’t. Then I find out that they’ve opened the roadblocks for Obama, and my normal bus stop is back in use. Except I was on an S1 instead of an S2/S4, thinking it didn’t matter due to the road closure. You got me again, WMATA. And then, just as I thought things were picking up, some woman tried to run me down on while I crossed H St. I didn’t have the light, but there were no cars except this woman, pulled over and letting someone out. So I crossed the street, at which point she started to drive. Now, H Street is four or five lanes at this point. I’m not that big a guy. She could quite easily have worked with me and let me cross (In the crosswalk, though against the light) without making me stop. Did she? I think you know the answer to that question. In any event, I’m at work now, and inside, thankful that my job doesn’t require me to do otherwise.

Go visit your elderly relatives

For Christmas, the wife and I promised to bring or cook dinner for my maternal grandmother on Monday nights (In the winter, there are no parking restrictions on our street on Tuesdays, so Monday is a good night to drive somewhere). She’s very hard to shop for because she doesn’t really want or need anything, but company is always welcome, and she has a hard time cooking for herself. Tonight was the first time we went, at least as a Christmas present. We’ve visited plenty of times before, especially since her great-granddaughter was born. It was really nice. Addie behaved herself pretty well, even sitting on my lap through dinner without fussing. Quite a lot to ask of a girl the day she turns four months old. But it made me think of my paternal grandmother. She passed away almost two years ago, and there’s a part of me that wishes I’d spent more time with her, especially at the end. When I was in college, I saw her pretty often, and we had a great relationship. After I moved to the DC area, it was harder to visit, and I didn’t do it as often as I might have. We still had a good relationship, but it wasn’t quite the same as it was before. In any event, I won’t regret the time I might have spent with my maternal grandmother when she’s gone. And all of you, especially if you have elderly relatives, should think about how busy you really are, and whether you could spend a little more time with them, and with the other people you care about. Time spent with people who are important to you is almost never wasted.

Beating a dead horse – DRM

Everyone’s favorite DRM-hater, Cory Doctorow, has pointed us to yet another “DRM server shut down so the content you ‘purchased’ goes away” story. Walmart, Yahoo, Microsoft, now Fictionwise . . . None of them seem to understand the problem with DRM. I’ve stopped buying infinitely copyable goods. i don’t believe in pirating software or music, but I refuse to pay for something that should be free. That’s part of the reason I’m using Linux, listening to music on Jamendo, and things like that. They recognize that you can give away the infinite goods and use them to increase the value of the related scarce goods. I will not purchase anything with any sort of DRM on it. And you shouldn’t either.

My pants are wet for you, Barack

More “as a result of you”, but that’s not such a snappy headline. As many of you may know, they have closed off a bunch of streets downtown until the Inauguration. I hear it’s because Obama has moved into the area earlier than expected, so there wasn’t a spot for him on the White House grounds. I don’t know if this is the case, and don’t really care. My problem is that they’ve interrupted the S2/S4 bus route, and I had to get off at 16th and K NW this morning. In the rain. And now my pants are soaking wet from the walk. And WMATA is no help – it took me 20 minutes last night to find any information about the detour beyond “there is a detour”, and I still don’t know what the next stop after 16th and K is. It’s somewhere near 13th and H, I think, but I generally get off at the stop I know rather than hope that the next one is better. In any event, this is just one more reason that January 20th can’t come soon enough.