Airborne Again

I spent 4 days in North Carolina visiting mom. I got back on Monday. Today’s Thursday and I’m back in the air heading to Portland.

Turns out that after I booked my time for North Carolina, I still had almost two weeks of vacation that I needed to take or else I’d lose it at the end of the year. I’m still carrying over a full week — it’s just that anything in excess of that is lost. I’m not a fan of these policies, but I understand them.

The notion of the “staycation” drives me nuts. I’m at home all the time. And taking time off just to sit around and not do anything is one of the worst ideas ever. If I’m going to take my earned vacation time, I want to go somewhere and do something. So faced with all the time off, I immediately booked a trip to the west coast.

After I get back to Boston on Tuesday, I have nothing planned (aside from the xmas run around).

Hopefully, the next time I’m leaving Boston via air it will be headed to Hawaii — but more on that later.

Dec 16th, 2010 | Filed under Travel

Alone In The Wild

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and I’m sitting on my ass watching TV and wasting time on the internet. While far from the most productive, it’s not the worst way to spend a day off.

While flipping around, I came across the show Alone In The Wild. It’s absolutely amazing. Here’s the basic idea:

Alone in the Wild follows the survival adventure of Ed Wardle as he treks across the Yukon territory for three months.

Short and sweet, right? On its surface, you’d think it sounds a bit like Man vs Wild or Survivorman, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve only seen 1 episode, but what an impact. Besides the constant struggle to find food and stress over things like bears, Ed’s biggest challenge may be simply being alone with nobody around and nobody to talk to. He frequently talks about how much he misses people and is frequently seen crying — either due to stress or loneliness.

It’s definitely not on the brighter end of “entertainment”.

Ultimately, Ed had to get airlifted out of the wilderness after 50 days because he was basically dying of starvation. While he didn’t meet his 90 day goal, I can’t imagine most people would fare much better.

This is a partial paraphrase of something Ed said earlier in the episode, but there’s a huge difference between living and surviving… and watching just one episode is a very sobering reminder of that.

Nov 26th, 2010 | Filed under Random

October Closing Down

It’s the last day of October – Halloween – and I’m not looking forward to the winter at all. I don’t even look forward to fall. If there’s a hell for me, it’s full of ice and snow, not fire — Stygia.

I realized that, yet again, I’ve been very bad at updating. Facebook gets all the love simply due to it being very easy. Twitter even gets some action. The breakdown is somewhat odd — facebook gets nonsense and links, twitter gets MMA and M:tG posts (oddly incongruous) and my blog gets rambling. I need to find a better way to get the lot integrated.

I’m still playing M:tG regularly. I need to focus some of that as well since it’s kind of all over the place and I’m sure I could be improving more if I looked at my play habits. I’m tired of playing and being “about average” and not taking home any prizes. I’d really like to get to a point where the hobby starts to support itself. While paying for it doesn’t bother me, I’d still like to get something back for the time and money investment.

And work… got lots of that and it’s been a very strange month. The next two will likely be strange too. We’ll see what happens.

When something exciting happens, I’ll be sure to holler.

Oct 31st, 2010 | Filed under Random

Back In Boston

Spent a week in Portland, OR visiting Nick and Joe. The break from work was very needed and it was great being able to relax.

I left with a decent amount of congestion that made decent into PDX very uncomfortable. My sinuses didn’t want to calm down so I couldn’t equalize without a lot of effort. It took a couple of days before I felt decent, but it happened and we had a good time.

Ended up doing some work on my right arm beginning a cover-up on the piece that I started a long time ago. Going to end up being a full underwater sleeve. We only outlined about 1/4 – 1/3 of it and will pick up next time I’m in Portland.

On the return flight, something happened that I didn’t know was possible. We had boarded early and we were hoping to get off the ground early too. While we were waiting, one of the passengers was talking to one of the flight attendants. From the sound of it, they knew each other or the passenger was an airline employee. She had told the flight attendant that they were still waiting on a 3rd person to show up and that he hadn’t boarded yet. This was pretty much exactly when we were going to be closing the front door and pulling back from the gate.

They held the plane another 10-15m, then shut the door and pulled the gate back. At that point, the two people that were waiting on the third, asked to get off and the airline actually brought the ramp back and opened the door. Then, at that point, they finally heard from their missing party member who was just arriving… so they held the plane for him to get on.

We started out looking like we were going to depart 10-15m early but actually departed about 35m late for one single person.

What pisses me off is that I know that a plane wouldn’t be held for me. Or anyone else I know. It’s the inequity that’s annoying.

That all said, the flight back itself was uneventful. I slept for about 90% of it. Going to bed at 1:30am and getting up at 4:30am to get to the airport definitely had its benefits in that regard.

I couldn’t get to bed until about 3am due to being on pacific time and got up early this morning. Once up, I had to deal with some BME server problems and ended up getting a VERY late start on the day. With my errands ran, I’m now sitting on my butt watching Predators.

Still have the rest of today and the weekend before I need to show up at work — which I’m digging. Until then, I’m not even going to check my email.

Oct 15th, 2010 | Filed under Tattoos, Travel

Technology is Awesome

I’m flying BOS to PDX via Alaskan and they have wi-fi on the flight. This is the first time I’ve been able to partake in in-flight internet and it’s simply awesome. The only said thing is that they don’t have power – so when my battery dies, that’s that. I’ve dialed down as much as I can, but I’m 100% positive that my 15″ MacBook doesn’t have a 6 hour battery life. I guess it’s cost-prohibitive to retrofit power into planes after they’re already in service. Since all airlines get stripped to the superstructure and refitted every so often, it’s something that’ll hopefully be added as they continue to service their fleet.

The power issue aside, let me summarize how awesome my current situation is: I’m sitting in a chair, while flying 34,000 feet in the air, while talking to people hundreds and thousands of miles away via the internet.

If that’s not enough to BLOW PEOPLE’S MINDS, I don’t know what is.

Think about trying to explain this to your grandparents when they were teenagers. They simply couldn’t comprehend everything beyond people being able to fly. Then, think about telling their grandparents.

To quote Arthur C. Clarke:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Think about that for just a minute and realize how true it is. Imagine something as commonplace as television and how it’d appear to someone from the 1400′s. Not only would their mind be blown, but you’d also be considered a demon or a witch. These are people that thought magnets had special quasi-magical properties… and we have people living 170-280 miles above the surface of the Earth in orbit.

Simply incredible.

At the end of the day, I think what’s important to remember is to try not to take things for granted. We live in increasingly incredible times. What would be considered impossible just 20 years ago is not only possible, but commonplace for so many people.

Oct 7th, 2010 | Filed under Nerd, Travel

It’s Been A Long Week

This is the end of my most recent upgrade week. What that means is that I’ve been tasked with the bulk of customer-related upgrades for work that mostly take place at night (to reduce potential impact of doing stuff during the day). And what that means is that I’m fairly exhausted.

Today was a double-whammy in that I had to bring my car in for service early. So I got to bed last night after 1am when I finished work and then was up at 6am to get the car to the dealership. No fun.

Tomorrow is the Scars of Mirrodin pre-release. For anyone not in the know, this is a Magic: the Gathering thing. It’ll be one of the last “fun things” that I do before I go on-call on Wednesday. The thought of a week on-call is a bit defeating, but I can only hope that it’s not horrible and just put my head down.

At some point, I need to stop being surprised at how quickly I come back into rotation and how much it kicks my ass each and every time.

Sep 24th, 2010 | Filed under Magic: the Gathering, Work

My Leg Hurts

This past weekend was the Boston Tattoo Convention.

Joe and Nick were in town and had a booth. While here, Joe did some work on my leg. We started adding some color to the dragon that’s covering up the smaller dragon on my leg. We probably spent about 3.5 hours working the leg, which is still swollen and sore.

I’m hoping tomorrow will be a bit easier to move around on, even though I’ll be WFH at least half the day.

Even though the past few days have been full of excitement, I’m already back into the grind.

Sep 7th, 2010 | Filed under Tattoos

MacBook Pro ODD Saga: Conclusion

Got a call on Thursday that the part was finally in to replace my failed optical drive.

They said that they would need to hold onto my laptop for a day or two, but what I wanted to do was to basically have it replaced while I waited for it. My basic position was that I knew that the work itself only took a few minutes to complete and that a lot of time is spent with some post-upgrade diagnostics. If they skipped the memtest, then they could just swap it out, turn it around and be done. At some point, my “place in the repair queue” would be up and I just wanted to drop my laptop off then and wait for the repair.

The plan was to show up at 9 this morning and they’d take care of things. I got there early (as I always do for everything) and they took my laptop at 8:45. I played around with an iPad for a while and by 9:05, I was back in my car headed to work with my repaired MacBook.

I have to say, they were really accommodating and really took care of me.

Definitely winning some loyalty points even I think it’s far too soon for a rarely-used DVD drive to fail.

Aug 30th, 2010 | Filed under IT

Magic: the Gathering — A Revived Hobby

For less than a year, I’ve been in a sort of Magic Renaissance.

While I’ve made a few allusions to it, here’s the story:

Years ago (circa 1999), I stopped playing Magic. There was no one reason why. I was busy with other stuff, didn’t have a lot of people to play with and didn’t have a lot of money to spend playing. It was just “one of those things” that get dropped when life gets in the way of life. It’s happened to most of us.

Less than a year ago, pretty much out of nowhere, I got the urge to play again (or at least to look into playing again). I poked at a couple of guys in my group at work and found two that used to play and breached the subject of getting back into it. We bought a box of Magic 2010 and split it 3 ways (12 packs each) and tried building basic decks. They weren’t the worse decks ever, but we were all definitely very rusty. After buying a bit more product, we started to regain our footing and ventured out of our small 3-person group.

These days, two of us regularly play in constructed and sealed events (including release and pre-release events). We haven’t gotten into drafting yet (still a bit intimidating), but I recently got an account on MTGO and I think that’s something I’m going to play around with after I get a bit more comfortable with the software. Speaking of MTGO, I played my first constructed game last night. I won with an Overrun alpha-strike, which while not terribly original, was very satisfying (especially after I accidentally mulliganed down to 6 and started the game witha worse hand than my original 7).

For anyone still visiting my blog, there will be M:tG posts scattered throughout my normal musings since this is something I’m going to be up to. I’ll try to keep it more “blogging” and less “facebook” – but you’ve been warned.

Aug 30th, 2010 | Filed under Magic: the Gathering

UFC 118!

I went to UFC 118 last night at the TD Garden — such a fun time!

I’m a fairly recent UFC convert, but I’ve been really enjoying the sport. I have some friends in town from Portland, OR that are big fans and have been to events in the past, so we ponied up the cash for tix and set in to watch some fights. We had good seats and a nice view of the action. A pair of cheap binoculars really helped when there was an unobstructed view to get a great shot of the action.

Not all of our picks won, but it was still worth it.

The Couture v Toney fight ended pretty much exactly as expected and was hilarious to watch. The Lauzon fight was great and the crowd was totally in his corner.

If UFC ever comes back to Boston or is having an event somewhere nearby, I’ll def by looking for tickets.

Aug 29th, 2010 | Filed under Random