June 20, 2007: Please Stand Clear of the Doors

Is it just me or is it really strange that every time you get onto a subway car in New York City there is someone who can’t figure out that the doors are closing and stands in the doorway being repeatedly hit by the closing doors that have to re-open again over and over. Seriously. Do these people not feel the doors hitting them? Are the so bored that this is their entertainment? Do they think that the train will be able to leave with the doors open? Do they think that the doors will just keep pushing until they are forced inside or lose a limb? And it always seems to happen to a person who has tons of space to move into the center of the train but likes standing right on the very lip of the door almost ready to fall backwards onto the platform.

I got up this morning and hit the gym before walking over to Penn Station to grab the PATH. I just did forty minutes but I figure that that isn’t bad considering all of the walking that I am doing in Manhattan although really I need to do that because of all of the bad food that I am eating because I am in Manhattan.

Class was good. I am really enjoying it. We got out at four thirty and I was home before five thirty. My main job for the evening was getting my desk moved into place. Boy is it nice to finally have the desk and everything the way that it is supposed to be. My next thing is to get a second monitor for my main workstation. The apartment looks so much better now and it is so much easier for me to work. Unfortunately the office space of the apartment is quite small and we barely have enough room for both of us to sit at our desks.

Weight Lost So Far: 19.5lbs

June 19, 2007: Class in Manhattan

I got up this morning but didn’t really have time to get down to the gym and do my normal routine. I wanted to make sure that I had plenty of time to get into Manhattan and to find the office where I am taking my class this week (I am taking the Solaris 10 update class) and I didn’t want to be running late on my first day. I know that I will have to deal with security issues getting into the building and since I don’t have access to the class information page I am unable to look up the class details. So I don’t know what room or floor I am heading for. And to make things even more difficult my BlackBerry is in Frankfort and I won’t have it back until Friday night. So I am more out of touch than usual. Boy am I thankful that I have my Treo complete with email and Google maps.

Sometime during the night Cablevision got the cable and Internet for the building turned back on. So things appear to be back to normal. I got yesterday’s daily posted and signed in to work to see if I was missing anything. I was supposed to do some work online last night but obviously that had to get postponed until tonight.

I headed out around nine in the morning to get out to Manhattan to my class. I am really looking forward to having a week of something “different.” I really enjoy having a chance to get out of the office. The change of pace is good for me. Better than a vacation I think. I get to keep using my brain and learning stuff but in a different setting and with different people. There isn’t a single person in my class that is in the office with me on normal days. But there are several people that I work with via phone, email or IM that are in the class with me.

Class was great. I really feel like I learned a bunch today which I don’t often get to say in these professional development courses. This particular course is a “Solaris 10” update course which is meant for experienced Solaris 8 or Solaris 9 administrators looking to learn the changes (aka the deltas) between the current versions and the latest and greatest. I have not worked with Solaris 10 except for doing a simple desktop install on my SUN Blade 100 desktop at home so I am getting a lot from the material. And I am having a good time too. My instructor was so happy with my class participation and knowledge that he asked me to attend his Linux class next week – and he is willing to pay for me to be in the class! Considering the prices of these classes that is no small offer. I am hoping that I will be able to do so but it is unlikely.

I hung around a little while after class because I didn’t need to get home an hour ahead of Dominica. So I helped out in the classroom for a little while. About an hour probably. After I was done there I walked a coworker that was in from out of town just for the class down to the World Trade Center and pointed him in the right direction to get to Battery Park and a view of the Statue of Liberty. I seem to do a lot of walking these days.

I got home just seconds ahead of Dominica. She and Oreo were just pulling up to 1180 in the BMW as I was getting to the front door. So Min had me hop into the car and we drove up to Nutley and got dinner at Chevy’s. We had thought about going there last night but decided that it wasn’t worth getting the car out of the garage again just to go but tonight it just “worked out.” We also hit Barnes & Nobles and got several books to help Dominica study for the CompTIA Network+ exam.

We got back to Newark and 1180 and Dominica spent the evening assembling the new corner desk that arrived yesterday.  That took all evening (it was a short evening.)  And I had to work between two projects that were going on tonight.  One break fix issue that demanded immediate attention but mostly just coordination from me and one web design issue that was waiting on my time since the weekend when my Internet access went down.  I am hoping to be able to complete that tonight but there is a big thunderstorm coming and I am worried about losing power shortly.  Or Internet access again.  So I am posting SGL and getting back to work and then will be off to bed.

No gym for me today.  No time at all.  Not even time to put the desk into place 🙁  But at least I got to do a bit of walking in Manhattan today so it wasn’t a totally wasted day.

Weight Lost So Far: 22.5 lbs

June 18, 2007: Just Another Monday

Today Scott Adams’ posted Dilbert’s “Best Story Ever“. And it really probably is. If you ever read a Scott Adams blog post, read this one. Good stuff.

I actually woke up at a quarter after six this morning with just five hours of sleep or less. I got up and went to the gym for forty minutes. I didn’t want to push it too much this morning after having skipped the last four day (oops.) I was worried that I would have relapsed a lot over the weekend with having skipped the gym so much and having eaten quite badly all weekend but I was only up to a negative 19.5 pounds which is much better than I was expecting so I am pretty happy. My negative 22 pounds from Thursday morning was probably a “swing” day and not a “stabilized” day so I figure that I am only up about one half to maybe one pound. But I am hopeful that this will be a good week and I should be able to keep on my gym regimen and I will be walking in Manhattan all week except for today but possibly including the weekend. So I have a lot of exercise to look forward to.

Today Dominica is attempting to take the BMW to Essex BMW in Newark on her lunch break. They are hopeful that they can get the car all fixed up just during lunch which would be a big relief for us. Today is the only day that we need both cars. The rest of the week I am not driving so Dominica can use the Mazda until next Monday.

We found out last night that the Toccos are planning on coming down to visit this weekend which is great because I was going to be staying down here and Dominica was going to travel up there to see them so this will save her a lot of driving and we will get to see each other this weekend too. We don’t know any real details yet.

The Consumerist ran an article today from a former Dell sales representative that gives a list of ways to get the best deals from Dell (hint: buy an HP – all of the deals are probably better.) Dell has already responded with a “take down order” from their lawyers but I think that they will have a hard time getting the story retracted as it will be difficult to prove that it violates any protected material and isn’t just a list of common sense items. I was happy to see, however, that the number one item on the list for getting the best deal was “buy commercial (small business) and not consumer.” I have been saying this for years and it certainly is not limited to Dell. Whether you are looking at Dell, HP, Lenovo (some of you call them IBM but they are NOT), Acer, Fujitsu, etc. you will consistently get better overall value by buying from the commercial product lines designed to be sold to discerning IT professionals and not flashing marketing driven garbage designed to lure people to BestBuy display racks. There is a reason why you don’t see consumer machines in big businesses with desktop engineers making careful purchasing decisions – because they are never the better choice. There are lots of reasons why the commercial grade equipment is better with build quality, reliability and support being at the top of the list. In case the Consumerist gets too much legal pressure – here is the Google cache of the same. Copies will probably appear all over the web soon enough. Take down notices just make everyone make a local copy to post again later.

Red Hat Linux has been certified to the highest US government standards for security putting it on par only with SUN Trusted Solaris platform. But, unlike Solaris, Red Hat Linux managed to pull off this certification on its general computing platform – Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5. Solaris has to build a specific “trusted” version of their OS in order to earn the certification. And you can get this same level of protection, without the “official” US certification, from CentOS as well for free. I know that you like free.

Dominica called from Essex BMW to give me the news that there was a nail in the tire and that the tire was okay. Essex was awesome and patched it up for us FOR FREE and sent her on her way. They were great. They rushed her in at the last minute on her lunch break (which must be the busiest part of the day for them), checked the tire, patched it and put it back on the car for her. This is definitely a big selling point for getting a BMW. You really get treated so much differently that you do with other cars. Everything from sales to service is a completely different experience.

Today is the day that OfficeMax scheduled to deliver our new corner desk so we are expecting to have that to put together when we got home. We are very excited that we will be able to get it together and clean up the “computer area” significantly before her family comes to visit although it would have been nice to have it before the Ralstons came to visit.

I left work around six and made good time getting home.  In fact I ended up beating Dominica home by about forty-five minutes!  Our new desk from OfficeMax and Bush Furniture did arrive today and I got that moved up to the apartment.  I also discovered that our Internet access issues that were affecting us yesterday (Ralstons couldn’t get online, Dominica couldn’t do her homework) have continued today and there isn’t the slightest hint of Internet access today.  It turns out that it is the entire building and no one has Internet or cable and since a lot of people get their phones from Cablevision they have no phones either.  So the entire building is out of contact with the outside world today for the most part.

Dominica cooked dinner and we started putting the desk together but didn’t get too far.  I managed to go to the gym tonight for about forty minutes.  The Internet never came back on (figures just two days after I raved about how reliable Cablevision was – losing two whole days cuts into reliability figures quite significantly) so there wasn’t much that we could do from a work perspective.  We got to bed early because I have a busy day tomorrow going to a “new” office in Manhattan for the first time.  So I want plenty of time to be able to find it and to get in and everything.

Weight Lost So Far: 19.5 lbs

June 17, 2007: Happy Father’s Day

I actually woke up around six thirty this morning but decided not to get out of bed until around a quarter after seven. I had heard the Ralstons up around the time that I woke up and heard them leave the apartment early on. When I was done with my shower they were just getting in from Dunkin Donuts with breakfast bagels. Handy living in a city like Newark because you can always walk to somewhere to get food. Even if this didn’t prove to be a good weekend to show off the convenience of a city at least breakfast this morning was a good experience. Art and Danielle were also surprised when they came into our building after having been out during the concierge shift change that they were stopped and had to identify themselves as we had a new concierge on this morning who did not recognize them. I think that they were impressed with the security involved even though they hadn’t thought about it previously.

Art and Danielle left Newark around ten thirty. Min, Oreo and I went down to the street and saw them off as they headed out of town on their motorcycle for another long day of bike riding. Then we walked Oreo and I came back to the apartment to continue working on some weekend work that needs to be done today. My weekend is quite busy – of all weekends 🙁

A little after eleven I hopped into the Mazda (I was going to take the BMW and enjoy the weather today but with the flat tire I couldn’t take it) and hit the road for Ithaca. It is a really warm and sunny day. It is around ninety degrees out and pretty bright. While driving I hit some heavy rain just north of Scranton but it didn’t last for very long. It was pretty heavy though and I imagine that it caused some issues for the Ralstons as they were traveling north about forty-five minutes ahead of me.

It was around three when I arrived in Varna just outside of Ithaca. Then it was time for my real work for the day. I was pretty tired today after everything that we have had happen over the weekend. At least I got a chance to wrap up the weekend updates on SGL and to do some Flickr updates today while I was stuck in Ithaca alone waiting for some virus scans to wrap up. My afternoon and evening were actually fairly relaxing.

I worked in Varna for six hours before getting back in the car and driving south again at nine in the evening.  I got a lot of good work done and felt good about the day.  It is just unfortunate that I won’t be arriving back in Newark until around one in the morning.

BlockBuster has announced that it is going to begin renting high-definition movies but it won’t be stocking HD-DVD.  In a major win for Blu-Ray, BlockBuster will only be renting HD movies in the BD format.

The Tulsa, Oklahoma Plymouth that has been buried for fifty years was finally exhumed but unexpectantly the nuclear bunker in which it was housed since 1957 was not water proof and the car and most of its contents were reduced to rust or worse.  Some items were recovered but the car is now worthless.  Strangely the decided to put a woman’s handbag into the glove compartment to show to people today what an average woman would need which turned out to be bobby pins, lipstick and tranquilizers!?!  Apparently the average Oklahoma woman of the 1950s was hysterical, drug popping, and vein.  Those were the only things that they wanted to show for a woman’s life in the 50s.  Impressive.  What if that stayed in the ground for hundreds of years and was found without more context around it?

June 16, 2007: Manhattan and Sitting in Newark

Today is our day to take the Ralstons into Manhattan. It has been about sixteen years since Danielle was last there and Art has never seen the city before so this will be quite the trip for them. Neither of them are really into cities so they don’t spend much time in large cities at all.

Everyone was up quite early this morning except for Dominica who slept in until eight. It took a while for us to get moving this morning and we didn’t head out to go to the city until after ten. Dominica and Danielle had to take Oreo up to Doggie Paradise this morning so that he could be at daycare all day and not get worried. But he will enjoy getting to play all day with new dogs. I did get a chance today to post the pictures of Oreo’s Birthday Party at Doggie Paradise from last month on Flickr. The pictures are really cute. Especially when he gets icying from his birthday cake on his nose. Some of these pics are the same ones that we have on our refridgerator in our apartment.

We walked down to Newark’s Penn Station and decided to grab a breakfast/lunch at one of the food stations in the train station. The food was actually quite excellent. We got our tickets to the PATH train and then discovered that it had moved to a different platform so we had to run around trying to figure out how to get onto the train but it wasn’t too bad. The extra running around, though, probably caused us to miss an earlier train as the platform was nearly clear when we first arrived so we probably lost half an hour on our day from the train station confusion.

We got into Manhattan arrived at the World Trade Center construction site where the PATH from Newark ends. From there we walked south down to Battery Park so that Art and Danielle could see the Statue of Liberty. It was quite warm and sunny. They had talked about taking one of the boats out to the statue but everyone decided against that as that always takes a lot of time and money.

From the southern tip of Manhattan we hopped on the subway and went up to Times Square and walked through the theater and shopping districts there up to the mid-fifties and then headed east over to Rockefeller Center. Dominica really wanted to check the Nintendo World Store for Wiis because she had heard a rumor that they had so many that they were just available almost all of the time if you just walk in. That was definitely not true. There were none available and none likely to be. I think that this is the end of us looking for a Wii. I have no interest in getting one at this point and I just need Dominica’s interest to fade a tiny bit more and maybe we can get away without having one. They were seriously outdated technology when they first shipped and that is getting close to being a year ago. They are really old and worthless at this point. Even the demos of them at the Nintendo World Store are silly and embarassing. I can’t believe that Nintendo shows them!

We were going to go to the “Top of the Rock” for views on Manhattan but it took half an hour to find the barely labeled entrance and then we found that it was $19 per person to just go up and look at the view so we decided that $76 was a lot and not worth it. So we headed up to Central Park via Fifth Avenue and went to FAO Schwartz.

It was warm enough out and the sun was so bright that we were getting pretty tired by this point even though we really hadn’t done that much actual walking.  FAO Schwartz was pretty boring.  The reality is that toy stores are not very exciting.  There is little that has improved since we were kids and there is just tons of garbage that no one would ever want – like Iron Maiden action figures?  The one thing that FAO Schwartz does really well is that they have an amazing collection of stuffed animals.

We grabbed ice cream coming out of FAO as we were hot and hungry but didn’t know where we were going to manage to get food.  So we headed west along Central Park and then started walking southbound on Seventh Avenue looking for some restaurant to pop out at us.  We ended up stopping at the Parisian which was a diner just like you would find anywhere in the US.  Strange to find in Manhattan.

After dinner we went right into the subway and down to thirty-fourth.  Then we walked through Korea Town and over to Penn Station.  Time to head back to Newark.  We were all pretty tired and we didn’t have a lot of spare time before we had to pick Oreo up from daycare.  We rode back on NJ Transit to Newark’s Penn Station.  It was standing room only on the train on the way back.  I have never seen an NJ Transit train so full.

When we got back to Newark Art and I were going to head straight out to pick up Oreo from daycare in the BMW since the weather was still nice and we could put the top down.  But as the BMW was being brought out to us it went pretty fast through the potholes on our road and the passenger’s rear tire was completely flat by the time they reached where we were standing in front of 1180.  So so much for driving the BMW.  We called the girls to come down and watch the car and we ordered the Mazda so that we could get Oreo before he got stuck spending the night at daycare.  He would not be happy about that.

So Art jacked up the BMW while we waited for the Mazda and tried to get the wheel off but it was seized up and we didn’t have tools that would get it loose nor did the building.  So we called BMW Roadside Assistance and left the girls to watch the car while we went to get Oreo.  We lost about an hour or more from the time we ordered the BMW until the Mazda came around for us to actually leave the building.

We got back with Oreo and still BMW/AAA had not sent anyone out to look at the wheel.  They had said that it would be just about an hour so we were just passing their estimated time for the service.  I took Oreo up to the apartment and in the few minutes while I was gone a conman claiming to be from AAA showed up and pressured Dominica into letting him work on the car.  It turned out that he is a local conman who used to work for 1180 Raymond and knew a lot of the people who were working and had used that to make it seem like he was a normal AAA guy who works in the area and had talked to someone working and got some background on what had happened so that he could act like the BMW dispatched repair man.

Luckily I was down a few minutes later but unfortunately not until after he had driven the car a little on the rim, had jacket the car improperly and had climbed underneath and started beating on the rim with the tire iron.  It took a few minutes to get him to admit that he was not the dispatched AAA representative and I forced him to get away from the car.  It wasn’t until some time later that we found out that he was an old employee of 1180 that had been fired and banned from the building but no one informed us even when some people saw him conning us.  Apparently he has leveraged his previous position working with the building and has conned a lot of the residents in the past right here under the construction awning and nothing has really been done about it.  But at least they can identify him and we know where he works (a short order cook at the deli down the street) and if there is any serious damage we can have him arrested.  But what a pain!!

We ended up waiting for three hours and twenty minutes before the AAA guy that was actually dispatched by BMW arrived.  Once he was there he had the wheel off in about five minutes or less.  We had all been stuck sitting outside on Commerce Street for so long that we had ordered dinner to be delivered to us there from Nino’s.  The food didn’t quite make it before the car was taken care of though so we just ate dinner in the apartment.  So on Monday Dominica and I have to figure out how to deal with getting the car’s wheel repaired.  Just what we needed.

After dinner we all decided that we were just exhausted and that it was just time to go to bed.  We had gotten back from Manhattan around five thirty and the BMW was not fixed until nine thirty!  So we lost four hours almost exactly just in dealing with the car all in all.  So after we ate it was probably ten thirty or nearly so.  So it wasn’t exactly early.  What a day.