April 17, 2006: Getting Settled Into the Apartment

I would say that by today things are starting to settle into a routine but with this being the first morning living in my own apartment I guess I can’t really say that. I got up at 5:30 this morning and got ready for work. Nothing much to report. Its a new apartment but nothing interesting happened. Dominica and Oreo stayed in bed as uncomfortable as it is. I took my time getting ready and was out the door around 7:30 to try my first commute from North Brunswick.

It took about 45 minutes to get to work leaving as late as I did. I figure that it should be no more than half an hour once I start leaving earlier and once I figure out the best route to travel. My plan is to do some route research today at the office and see if I can’t get home faster than I got here.

I noticed that when I check SGL from the office I am only seeing the dailies from several days ago even though several more recent ones have been posted. If I go to the Dailies specific listing I find that those days then show up. I am not sure why this is happening. It might be a local cache here and nothing more or it might be a date issue somewhere in the chain that is causing confusion. If anyone else is having this problem, let me know so that I can look into it. But I think that it is probably just me.

It is a beautiful morning. Perfect weather for Dominica as she spends her first day alone in New Jersey shopping. Her job today is to find something to sleep on – most likely a futon mattress from Walmart. I am really happy. On my way out of the apartment this morning I paid close attention to what businesses are directly across the street from me and they include PathMark, A&P, Walmart, TGI Friday’s, Chili’s, Dunkin Donuts and Barnes and Nobles.

I am extra happy this morning because I got to bring my new headphones into the office today. I got some nice Logitech headphones over the weekend so that I could have some to keep at work. I can listen to podcasts or music or training material while I am at work and it really helps to pass the time. It also helps me to filter out the sound of so many people talking around me all day long. It gets to be especially bad when there are a number of people on the same conference call all using their speakerphones so that when one person says something you can hear their original voice as well as the echo of them over the speakers all over the office. It is very hard to concentrate when this is constantly going on.

Now that I have the nice headphones at the office (which did get comments, by the way) I managed to listen to this recent episode of TechNation which is about management but I think a lot of my readers who are teachers will enjoy listening to it because they talk about the problems with performance based pay for teachers and how it is destroying the Chicago school system along with others. (Was that a run-on sentance? I think that it was.) Basically they discuss how any job where you are paid based on performance other than your own causes a major disaster. With teachers, pay is not based upon how much the teacher improve the students but by the raw performance of how their particular students do on some form of standardized test. But the teachers are not allowed to vary their curriculum, materials or to affect the students upbringings, backgrounds, etc. So instead they found that teachers were changing what students were allowed into and out of their classrooms by putting large numbers of kids into special education classes to get them out of the “performance” based pay environment and not allowing advanced students to move on so that they would keep up the mean average. Something that they didn’t mention but that is common in educational environments for IT certifications is that teachers teach to the test and not to the subject matter. This can cause students to score very high and have no knowledge of the material whatsoever. A complaint of any educational system that stressing memorizing over learning. Unfortunately it is very difficult to test knowledge as opposed to memorization. In Chicago teachers and school administration were known to the cheating by actually adjusting student’s grades! I thought that the interview was interesting. Teacher’s pay scales being based on performance definitely sounds awesome on the surface but public school teachers are paid to work with what they are given, not to adjust the situation to produce the best paper based results possible. Well, at least thats what they are paid for in New York. Apparently Illinois doesn’t see things the same way.

Lots of stuff to deal with today. Email and IM outages. Taxes. (You did remember to take care of your taxes, right?) Dominica managed to find the makings of a bed at Walmart and got that to the house around 10:30. That will be so much better tonigh to actually get to sleep on something comfortable. I don’t think that I am bruised this morning but I am definitely soar in general from having slept on the floor all night. Soar and not very well rested. We didn’t have much in the way of blankets to cover up with so it was a pretty cold night as well. I am feeling very drowsy today.

Dominica thought about coming out to Warren so that we could get lunch but then decided that we should wait until tomorrow. She had problems getting online today from the apartment and did not have a way to produce a map or directions for getting up to Warren so thought that that was probably a bad idea today although she really wanted some Thai cuisine. So I printed directions from the office so that we can have lunch tomorrow. Having lunch tomorrow makes more sense anyway since Warren is more or less on her way back home and definitely much less out of her way.

I ended up getting a ton of cell phone calls this morning. About one every fifteen minutes! It was totally out of control. Just so everyone knows, it is really important to keep the calls to be at work to a minimum. I can take calls when I need to but anything extra is not a good idea. When I talk on the phone it isn’t just audible to other people around me but ends up interupting their work. That is why I bought the headphones – so that I can listen to my training material and not interupt other people around me. Even that light sound coming from my computer is a big issue.

The day actually passed pretty quickly today. Not coming in super early in the morning definitely helps. Those first few hours go by pretty quickly but they really are just extras tacked on to the beginning of the day. Most all of my work comes in the afternoon right now so being here early doesn’t really help me to be able to leave early.

There wasn’t a lot of real work today so I continued working on my training materials for the Solaris Administrator’s certification from SUN. I am onto the second portion of the training now. So I am roughly halfway through it. I don’t get a lot of time to put into it on any particular day so it takes a while to work through and a lot of it is really boring and not very well put together so that doesn’t encourage me to plough through it with any intensity.

By late afternoon time started to drag significantly. I am always amazed by how quickly the morning can seem to just fly by even when there is no one to talk to at all. And then by afternoon everything just grinds to a halt and the day seems to last forever. Today isn’t that bad but the afternoon seems to be many times longer than the morning was. I think a lot of it has to do with me eating lunch. I get lunch (today it was wood fired cheese pizza from the in house cafeteria) and then the rest of the day I am fighting to stay conscious. Once I get into that state time slows to a crawl and nothing gets accomplished. It makes me so unproductive. I start waking up again very near the end of the day. It seems to me that the work day, nine to five or whatever, is a really unproductive system since everyone gets so tired at some point during the day and needs to break things up. The siesta idea isn’t too bad. If you know you are useless in the middle of the afternoon why not at least do the one really productive thing that you can do – sleep. And then maybe you will be productive again later.

Dominica managed to go out this afternoon and do some additional shopping for the apartment. She got the next most important item that we need after the bed: the curtains. Until now the sliding glass doors in the front of the apartment have made the entire apartment completely visible to the outside with only a few inches here and there not completely visible to any passerby since we are located at ground level. It has been pretty much like living directly in the parking lot. I am not a highly private person (hence the world’s largest identity blog) but this was a bit much. We were worried about sitting anything within site of the front of the house. It was quite a pain. Just walking around the house felt a little weird. You are totally on display in there.

I was able to leave the office at 5:30. Unfortunately I hit really bad traffic on the way home. Apparently there was an accident in South Bound Brook because the highway was completely blocked somewhere to the south and the traffic was backed up into Bound Brook when I got there and was backing up quickly. I was close enough to the front to be able to see that there was no movement whatsoever going over the bridge so I turned around and did some exploring to find US287. It ended up only taking me about an hour to get home which wasn’t too bad considering that I had to stop for that accident and that had to have cost me at least ten minutes.

I was at the apartment for about fifteen minutes before we decided to get some dinner. Neither of us really wanted to face any traffic hassles so we decided that tonight would be a good night to try out the Omega Diner and Cafe that is right across Route 1 from the apartment. It is in a really handy location. Before we left the apartment I discovered another centipede in the “hallway” area of the apartment. Just great. Not what I need to have in the apartment, of all things. At least this one was not nearly as large as the last one. But still. Ewww.

We both decided on the most incredibly delicious crab stuffed salmon for dinner. Dinner came with baked potato, Mexican corn, house salad and Yankee bean soup. What a meal. We were really impressed and we will definitely be returning to the Omega frequently. How apropos. The Omega Diner is very reminiscent of the Doube T diners in Annapolis but more upscale. It is really more of a mid-end family restaurant than a diner. The decor is very nice and pleasant. High ceilings, comfy boothes and the whole place is really bright and clean but not in the stark white or stainless of traditional diners. Dinner was amazing. Min couldn’t even begin to finish hers and so she brought half of her salmon and her entire baked potato home.

After dinner we decided that Dominica needed to see how to get back out of North Brunswick so we drove north on Route 1 so that she could see how to get onto Route 18 north and how that would get her back to NJ527/Easton Avenue. That took us about twenty minutes or so. It is a really tough route if you are not familiar with it and in heavy traffic it is almost impossible to navigate.

After dinner and our little trip we decided on a relaxing evening at the apartment watching a movie. I tried to get online but the wireless really wasn’t working at all so I gave up on the idea. I hooked the LCD monitor up to the laptop so that we could watch a larger and brighter screen. The LCD is great because it angles down slightly which is something that none of my other LCDs will do. That makes it far superior for watching movies from bed because you can actually look straight onto the screen. What a great idea. Go Samsung.

We decided to watch Gidget Goes to Rome – what a completely awful movie. You really feel embarrassed for the poor kids who were so happy to finally get a chance to be in a movie and then they got stuck making that movie. There was nothing redeeming about the movie at all. No plot, no good characters and, let’s face it, Rome is a terrible movie location because the entire city is colourless and drab – so there isn’t even scenery to look at. The characters were flat and annoying. This movie makes that cardinal mistake that I always say: Make sure you have a protagonist!! If there isn’t a single character that you like or care about then you won’t care about the movie. And that is exactly what happened. The Gidget character was jerky and annoying. The Moondoggie character was rotten but only so bad since he was being rotten to Gidget whom you don’t care about. And the other characters are just flat one liner losers that only barely suffice to qualify as plot devices. Dominica watched Gidget Goes to Hawaii last night and said that it wasn’t very good either. All three Gidget movies use different actresses as Gidget and apparently they get progressively worse and worse until they give up on the annoying blonde/redhead thing and get butt-kicking actress Sally Field to play Gidget in the television series many years later.

By the time that the movie was coming to a close I was getting into bed and calling it a night. I was pretty tired and the movie was not helping. It was 11:30 when I got into bed. Hopefully I will be able to post this update tomorrow when the Internet access get turned on but we will have to see. What are the chances that it will actually work? But then again, this isn’t Time Warner and Road Runner that we are talking about (or Frontier – just ask the Ralstons about how reliable they are) so maybe everything will be fine.

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