Pardon My Verbiage

Fighting the shades
of hostile history's making
I knit together a present
dream tense
Try to hold the best of
What was past
Forge ahead with lessons
And leave the scars behind.


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What is Your Destiny? by Valcion
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Sunday, October 03, 2004
Moving right along...

Exeunt stage left...

If you know me, email and I'll tell you where things continue from here...

Posted at 10:28 pm by gothicpoet
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Busy, busy, busy!

Wow, I have been so bad at updating this thing! On the bright side I just got my webcam working again so the picture out my window is baaaaaack.

No new problems with the b*tchy neighbors although I had a *fascinating* conversation with the old lady who lives over there with her husband while I was installing our nice new metal mailbox. Clueless... and of course she denied the whole thing having been busted... got all indignant about having been accused of lying, and claimed that they had never even spoken to our housesitter because (get this!) they "didn't have to." It was okay to do what they'd done with the mailbox thing because there was no mail in our box at the time...

Wow. Can you possibly find a more illogical POV than that??? (Not to mention legally wrong.) And just how did our house sitter come up with all these details if they'd never talked to her? Crazy assh*les.

Entertainingly enough, a few days after we took down their $5 plastic mailbox and put up a metal one, their own $5 plastic mailbox disappeared and was replaced by a metal one exactly like ours.

Again, crazy...

Well, the in-laws are in town this weekend and we have a train to go catch (literally!) So I'll write more later. (Promise!)

Posted at 11:38 am by gothicpoet
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Tuesday, September 07, 2004
"Minnesota Nice" charade

Did a little research in other's blogs who are from Minnesota. Apparently the deal is this...

No matter what assinine obnoxious behavior someone exhibits never EVER say anything about it to their face. Unless it happens to be behavior involving their bad driving.

If you do say something to someone's face about their bad behavior (no matter what way they have trampled on your rights, property, etc) you have just committed a far greater social faux pas than whatever they did.

It doesn't matter what they did nor how incredibly unacceptable it would have been in any other part of the country. It doesn't matter if they lied or cheated. By bluntly speaking your mind about whatever self-involved behavior they have committed, you have automatically made it okay. The onus is on the aggrieved party and not the person who actually did something that any sane and normal person would consider WAY out of bounds. At least any sane and normal person who is not from the great state of Minnesota.

The socially acceptable place to speak your mind about what another person has done to you is behind their back. The socially acceptable means of doing something about an affront is to stick it to them when they aren't looking and can't directly pin it on you.

The only exception is driving, wherein it is acceptable to go as close to the brink of causing an accident as possible when exacting retribution on another driver so long as you don't actually do so. If you do cause an accident everyone will proceed to talk about how they can't understand how people could drive in such a fashion in a state where everyone is always so nice.

And if you don't like these rules you can go live in one of the other LESSER areas of the country. For after all, Minnesota is where the nicest people all live. And if you don't agree they just won't speak to you anymore.

By this logic, my having said something about the fact that my neighbors lied to my house sitter and said that they'd discussed putting in new mailboxes (then going ahead and putting in new mailboxes while we were out of town) is a lesser sin than the mortal sin of actually confronting the neighbors about having done so. This would explain why they not only didn't deny it but didn't seem to feel any guilt or shame.

Speaking for those of us who aren't from Minnesota... Could you people (at least the ones who practice this stuff) possibly have your heads any further up your asses?

If anyone out there is actually FROM Minnesota originally and would care to clear up my thinking on this point please do so. If I'm right about this, I'm just flummoxed. This is the most illogical behavior I've ever seen from such a large group of people.

Unless you count the people who plan to vote for George Bush but aren't rich...

Posted at 02:13 pm by gothicpoet
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Mailbox = federal property

A new example of Minnesota "nice" has now presented itself. If there's such a thing as what Minnesotans think they mean when they say "Minnesota Nice" I have yet to see it... Maybe Minnesotans are only nice to other Minnesotans...

We went on vacation for a week out of town and had a house sitter.

While we were gone someone from our neighbor from across the street approached our house sitter and told her that he had spoken to the post office and that they had said that as long as we agreed he could replace our mailbox. The mailboxes are at the edge of his front yard. He told her that we had already agreed to his doing this.

This of course was a lie. He hadn't approached us at all.

It's also a violation of federal law that he then went ahead and removed our mailbox and it's post so that he could put in a new single post with two new mailboxes mounted on it without actually discussing it with us. (The cheapest plastic mailboxes I've ever seen.)

Our neighbors are planning to sell their house in the spring and are having much of their yard landscaped. They removed both our and their mailboxes and replaced them with new ones on a single post and landscaped the area around it.

If they had asked us about this we wouldn't necessarily have minded. It would have been nice to be asked what our mailbox was going to look like though.

The fact that they lied to our house sitter while we were out of town doesn't sit too well. Not only did they do what they wanted without discussing it with us, but they lied to our house sitter about it so that she wouldn't question what they were doing to our mailbox.

When confronted with this their son (the fireman) acted as if I hadn't said anything about someone lying about our agreement with this. He responded that he had "asked some of his friends who are policeman about this" and that they'd said it was "not a big deal." I got the impression that he was the one who had talked to our house sitter.

He also didn't seem the least bit guilty or even to act like he had been caught doing something that anyone else would question in any way. This just fits with the behavior when their landscapers were dumping equipment in our yard (across the street from their yard) recently...

Our neighbors are native Minnesotans who have lived in that house for 30 years. So is this just how people from Minnesota act?

It's actually a federal offence to tamper with someone else's mailbox, punishable by up to 3 years in prison. I'm not sure how that qualifies as "not a big deal" unless you have friends who are policemen.

Posted at 10:47 am by gothicpoet
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Friday, August 13, 2004
ThUs eNdS tHe wOrK WeEk

Another 50 hours passed...  and yet I'm not done yet...

Posted at 04:25 pm by gothicpoet
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And There Was Great Rejoicing...

Today our driveway was paved.  We can't drive on it for 10 days, or park on it for 14 days but it's paved.  And there was great rejoicing as the stench of fresh asphalt drifted across the land.
In addition to being one more item off of the "to be done" list around our house and yard, this also means that keeping our driveway clear this winter will be immensely easier.  Using a snow blower on gravel - or grass and rocky dirt in our case last winter - is an art form.  It's not a lot of fun and you can't really completely clear the drive.  You can only try to keep the snow down to a thin hard pack so your car doesn't get stuck.
Best of all it looks soooo much better now.
On more technological fronts I've finally decided that my server overheating and shutting itself down every few days despite our air conditioning and a ceiling fan in my office (and every other reasonable measure I came up with) means that it's time to upgrade. 
I bought a new case that's mostly aluminum (better heat transfer) and has two extra fans built into the side panel.  I've been running 4 hard disks in my server in addition to two Pentium III 600 processors with no fans.  The heatsinks by themselves aren't really good enough but my old Dell doesn't have anywhere to plug in the fans on the processors.  It gets pretty hot in there.
This is an additional problem because my server is not only used for file storage and as a printer server.  It's also the email server for my domain name.  When the server shuts down, our incoming email shuts down too until I notice.
I thought I might be able to just move the Dell board into the new case but the Dell is bigger than a standard ATX sized board and won't fit.  So I also had to buy a new board.  I tried to find a used or refurb dual Slot 1 type board to use my existing processors but that would have cost me as much as buying a much faster new motherboard and a new AMD cpu for it...  Hard as I try to act like this hurts me (buying newer, faster, geekier equipment) I don't quite seem able to pull it off.  I managed to scrounge for some very cheap parts on the Internet...  that helps.
I'm hoping that I can use this as an opportunity to also try to get the ATI AIW 7500 card in my server's TV out and tuner to work.  I already use my server to store TV shows recorded on my ReplayTV.  If I could also use the video card's tuner to record shows it would be like having a second Replay.  If the TV out worked, I could put the server (behind a speaker or somewhere) in our living room and hook the TV out to the television.
I suppose I should explain at this point that my house is networked with ethernet (I ran cable soon after we moved in) and that our ReplayTV (like a Tivo) has a network connector.  There's a really great piece of software called DVArchive that allows a server to copy files off of a ReplayTV.  My server has two 120 GB hard disks in it.  We use it to move shows we really like off into storage.  We have nearly all the episodes of Crossing Jordan, for example, and Home Movies.  (Two of my wife's favorite shows.)
The drives are filling though so I also need to start burning shows off to DVDs.
Fortunately my wife is not averse to my geeking around... 

Posted at 12:56 am by gothicpoet
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Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Ah the perils...

One of the great perils of blog-dom is that it provides a place to vent.
While on the surface this might seem like a good thing, it also means that it's very easy for a blog to turn into a steaming pool of green, gaseous angst.  It's important to leaven a blog with some levity - which I have not been so good at lately.  There's been a lot going on, and a lot of it's been well nigh overwhelmingly frustrating.  There's been some stress in the stately manse that I call home (errr...  okay, 1950's rambler on a corner lot does not qualify as a "stately manse" but I can dream can't I?)
Things are not all bad in my little corner of the world.
My job has always involved some very odd office politics but after putting in six years I seem to be landing on the "accepted" side of things - approved, stamped grade A, and no longer in ongoing contention with significant numbers of other staff.  In short, things are good.
For that matter I've been at the same job for six years and I like it.  There was a brief hiatus working for a at the end of the "bubble", but that even turned out to be a good thing.  The bubble popped but I got a raise to take my old job back.
I've got a very nice, very loyal, easy going (she doesn't think so) wife who has a bit of a kinky adventurous side.  She is my partner in crime, my sidekick, and I am hers.  From the standpoint of Reason I would say that should be true of any guy who's ended up married, but it seems to be far out into the left field country of "exception" rather than the rule.  And given the amount of pressure I got to "settle down" with a couple of women who would have been very wrong, I guess I see why...  Most guys eventually cave.  I'm just stubborn that way.
And I have friends - good friends.  Only one of them lives in the same state, but I'm always glad to see the ones who don't and they always seem genuinely glad to see me.
And for all the summer's tribulations, we have our own house.  It's our first house, and we're pretty excited about that.  It's easy to not comment on that too often because we see it as a stepping stone.  When Mel finishes her Ph.D. we're planning to move on to more friendly pastures and hopefully a more "stately manse" like "stately manse".
In the meantime we've got a couple of flower gardens, a nice big deck, two big mature shade trees in the front yard, and for all the weirdness of people in Minnesota I still think we live in a pretty nice neighborhood.  (No vandalism, etc., etc.)  We have our own washer and dryer, and our dogs get to run and play in our own fenced in yard.
And we have a cat.  We never lived in an apartment where we could do that, although we'd both wanted to.  If you're not a cat lover, it probably sounds weird to see this mentioned prominently but if you are, you undoubtedly "get it".  Al's a cool little guy. 

Posted at 12:07 am by gothicpoet
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Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Neighbors amok

We had the most bizarre experience

(Edited down for clarity and bizzarro brevity... nothing sane and normal about this)
1. Contractor Guys come to excavate for sidewalk on neighbors yard
2. Guys pile stuff in my yard (inc. part of heavy equipment)
3. I ask Guy #1 to please move bobcat attachment
4. Guy #1 acts p*ssed
5. I go inside
6. Guy #2 later comes to my door
7. Guy #2 apologizes for stuff in yard (seems nice until...)
8. Tells me he's missing a part
9. I tell him I didn't see it anywhere
10. He acts angry / like he thinks we took it
11. Neighbor comes over
12. Neighbor is mad that we didn't want stuff piled in our yard
13. Neighbor also acts like we took whatzit
14. Guy leaves in a fury
15. Try to be nice with neighbor
16. Makes no dent on neighbors mood (suspicion coated with teflon)
17. Neighbor leaves
18. We're amazed.


Theory I posit : This strange behavior is either entirely due to Minnesota inbreeding or the interaction between Minnesota passive-aggressive inbreeding and Hoosier "it's my yard so why should you pile your crap in it"-ism.

Posted at 03:30 am by gothicpoet
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Monday, August 02, 2004
Stormy Monday

Okay, so it isn't stormy now but that's because I'm now awake.  Don't get me wrong, I like a good storm, but when it follows fast on the heels of your cat waking you up twice climbing on dressers or trying to open closed doors because he's bored at 5:30 a.m., it's a little exasperating.
But now it's sunny...
That sort of takes the edge off of it being a sleep deprived kind of Monday morning.  A little sunshine goes a long way.
I dearly love my cat, but I cannot imagine where he gets his energy at 5:30 in the morning.  I think I'm going to have to start waking him up when I see him napping during the day!

Posted at 09:21 am by gothicpoet
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Friday, July 23, 2004
And the plumber cometh

Today the plumber came to fix the valves behind the washing machine.  He seemed pretty competent so I asked him about the "closet o' doom" which adjoins the foobar-installed washing machine drain into the main vent stack for our house.
The answer was even less pleasant than I had expected. 
In order to repair the mess (see previous posts -- hole cut in main stack, pipe stuffed in hole, possible gases leaking into closet) it would also have to be brought up to code.  It's nowhere near code.  Bringing it to code would be ugly indeed.
According to the plumber, code requires that the trap in the drain pipe be no more than six inches off the floor, and the the drain have it's own individual vent stack.  The drain cannot be run into the main vent like it is.  Since our house is built on a concrete slab, in order to fix this the wall would have to be torn out and the floor jackhammered up.  The the plumber would install a new drain line under the floor, and run a new vent stack up through the roof.  This is in addition to cutting out a section of the existing vent stack where the hole is cut in it, to put in a new unbroken section in it's place.
The cost estimate to have this done was $2850 and did not include the cost of a carpenter to rebuild the walls that would have to be torn out for the floor to be broken loose with a jackhammer.  It did include putting in new concrete at least.
Are we going to rush right out and do this?   Nooooooooooooooooo... 
What are we going to do?  Talk to our realtor.  Find out what our options are.  (A lawyer?)  The plumber suggested going after the home inspector who didn't see this.  The home inspector said he couldn't inspect the main drain because it was behind the washing machine...   it's not, as I mentioned.  It's in the closet.  As I recall he just pointed at the board in the closet and said, "that's your plumbing access" because it was on the other side of the wall from the toilet. 
Well, nooo...  it was the main drain access.  And if he'd looked behind the board he would have seen that.  But in order to get the home inspection done we had to sign a paper saying that we would only hold him responsible up to the amount of his fee, which was $300.  I think we at least want that back.

Posted at 01:15 pm by gothicpoet
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