Life Updates

Talk about one heck of a week! I know you probably haven’t been wondering about why I haven’t posted all that much recently (well, other than “why hasn’t Gnorb posted more? Hmm…”), but I’ll explain anyway.

This has been one really screwy week. I’ll start with last night and sort of jump around from there.

For a few weeks now, The Wife and I have been talking about rearranging the furniture in our apartment. While the setup we have isn’t all that bad, the desire for a home-office area has been a pretty strong one.

Currently, our home office area consists of a bookshelf, a desk, and two storage racks in the storage closet. Unfortunately, everything’s not all in one place: it’s strewn about the apartment, with the different items in very different places within the house, none of which are really easily accessible. Living in an 800′ compartment, this arrangement just screams I look nice, but I’m just sort of ‘here’.

The biggest problem with this arrangement is that it makes it hard to track some client-related materials which, by their lack of prominence, are costing me money in the long run. Not good.

As such, we’ve decided to rearrange the furniture in our apartment so that it is more business friendly.

The first step in all of this was to buy a better laptop for business use. As I’ve mentioned before, our 600MHz PIII Inspiron 8000 running Windows ME just wasn’t cutting it anymore. Mind you, it makes a great laptop for just taking somewhere and writing, so it’s not all bad (especially when I load VidaLinux (VLOS) on it), but it isn’t up to the task of doing things like running Money 2006, Word 2000, Excel 2000, WinAmp video, accessing a wireless connection, and running Firefox all at once. If those seem like stringent standards to you then sorry to inform you, but you’re obviously not a computer geek. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

We ended up picking up an Inspiron 1501 for about $1200. It came with a $300 discount, so we were fairly happy with it, and includes a AMD Turion 64 x 2 TL-50 (1.6GHz/512KB), 1gig RAM, 120gig hard drive, 9-cell (5.5 hour) battery, Microsoft Office Basic 2007, PC-cillin Antivirus (2 years, I think), Windows XP Home (no Media edition available in business computers), 2-year at-home service, accidental damage protection, and a car/air power plug. We figured that while this isn’t exactly a graphics and multimedia powerhouse, we don’t exactly expect to be playing World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade or anything nearly that graphics intensive on it, so it’s fine with us. (I might get Civ IV, but only for those long plane rides, and when I’m really really bored.)

In addition to the new computer, we needed to get a couple of bookshelves. This would give us more storage place for our (my) ever growing collection of books, as well as some of the customer-related materials. A couple of weeks ago went down to Target to pick up a couple of bookshelves which matched the bookshelves we already had (since we also bought those at Target) and picked them up on special for $15.00 each. Unfortunately, this was two weeks ago: after we bought them, the boxed bookshelves sat behind the couch, gathering dust until last night. I’ll come back to these.

The past couple of weeks at my job have been pretty stressful. With a software release upcoming, the job of the technical writer has shifted from documenting existing software, to keeping up with the constant last minute changes from all the programmers, to making sure he knows about the last minute changes so he doesn’t spend hours documenting something which no longer exists. As annoying as this sounds, this isn’t inherently bad: I enjoy the excitement, and since I actually like my work (most of the time), it’s not something I mind. Last week, however, things went from stressful to annoying: because of the quickly arriving deadlines, in order to get the job done (and get it done right) I had no other choice than to stay late every night, usually until about 10:30pm. (To put in in perspective, I normally work from 8:30am to 5:30pm, so the extra time was about 4-5 hours, depending on the night.) Add to that my weekend work time of 8 hours on Saturday, 4 hours the previous Sunday, and I’m sure you can tell last week was a pretty long week for me.

(By the way, if you’re wondering why I haven’t written all that much, this is the biggest reason why: I’ve been at work. A lot.)

On the bright side, I seem to have gotten a lot more work done from the hours of 5 to 10 than 8 to 5, which is why I got to thinking that maybe I should ask my boss to hook me up with a laptop. Heck, I can do most of my job from home anyway, if I can do it at night, then all the better: I hate working during the day, preferring instead to work when it’s dark. (The later, the better.)

Another bright side is that I got to watch a lot of sci-fi shows and movies via WinAmp (Shoutcast TV, actually): Lost in Space, The Matrix, Swordfish, War Games, The Day the Sky Exploded, Stargate SG-1, and a few others. While I’m not much of a TV person, the infusion of sci-fi was a welcome one. I needed to do something to relax.

As all of this was going on I was informed that my “uncle”, Berto (my maternal grandmother’s brother) had just passed away. He was the closest thing to a maternal grandfather I had, the man who taught my dad about the pizza business (the primary source of income for our family for the first decade of my life), and the closest thing to a father my mom ever had. My mom took an immediate flight to Puerto Rico when she found out, but the death was especially hard in light of recent events: her aunt (my grandmother’s sister), who she was also very close to, died in December. Here’s the reall scary part: all of them — my grandmother, her brother and her sister — all died of diabetes. Needless to say that this makes for a very uncomfortable reality for my mom, as well as for the rest of us: Puerto Ricans have something along the lines of a 25% rate of occurrence in diabetes, and even with drastic changes to our diet, there is still a very large possibility we’ll end up with the condition.

Anyway, so back to the job: Friday night I finally got where I wanted to get as far as documentation was concerned. I could have gotten further ahead by going in yesterday (Saturday), but decided that I needed to spend some time with The Wife. Frankly, I couldn’t have picked a better day: 75oF, just a couple of clouds in the sky, and soft winds. The perfect Florida day. I got up early to go work out, then got to spend some time in the steam room, the sauna, and the jacuzzi. I was tempted to spend a bit of time out on the beach: the white sands and deep blue water were particularly inviting. But it was almost 10:30am by this time (I had started working out at 7am) and I wanted to spend time with The Wife, even if she hadn’t yet woken up.

While yesterday was fun — we went out to eat and went to a couple of places for fun — I was really excited about what we would be doing at night. Remember those bookshelves I talked about earlier? Well, the plan was that we would go ahead and build those, then re-arrange the furniture into whatever new configuration we decided. This is when things got ugly.

Now, a disclaimer: I suck at manual labor. SUCK. Badly. Harder than a Hoover. And I hate it: I hate building computers, I hate working on cars, and most of all, I hate — haaaaaaaate — building bookshelves using crappily written instructions. (I also hate computers, but that’s another matter entirely.) Nothing brings out my anger more than having to build something like a computer or a bookshelf. That’s because since I suck at it, I usually do it wrong. Seriously, I’m a pretty talented guy, but when it comes to stuff like this, I stink out loud.

So, three hours after I started, I finally finished the first bookshelf. Unfortunately, it was wrongly built, since all the shelves were upside down, and the bookshelf looked hideous. Frankly, I didn’t mind all that much — after all, they were going to be covered in books — but The Wife… she likes her style. So, in order to make her happy. I tried to take the bookshelf apart. This turned out to be a rather huge mistake, since cheap Chinese particle board doesn’t exactly take well to being taken apart. Before I knew it, the bookshelf had already broken. In frustration, I decided to help it along by destroying the rest of it with my mighty hammer.

Man, that felt good. It left me with a shattered, useless bookshelf, but man… that felt good. I should smash up stuff I’m angry at more often.

Scratch that. No I shouldn’t.

About an hour later — after I had cooled down some — I started building the second bookshelf. By now it was midnight, and I couldn’t get to sleep. The Wife decided to help me out, probably for my own safety. In about 30 minutes we got the bookshelf done. While we didn’t get to re-organize the house like I wanted, that little act alone was enough to give me a small measure of peace, enough to sleep, at least.

This morning I got up around 8:30am. The first thing I wanted to do is write a bit and catch up with my life. I have a number of blog entries I want to get out, but most importantly, I need to start working on a story I’m writing for a book I’m collaborating on with other 9Rules members. Seeing as I’ve also been chosen as/picked up the role of managing editor (I guess) I have to get a few things moving with the book. Last thing I want is to see a project like this fall to the way side because of laziness and excuses.

With that I’m off to do my life thing. Plans for today include buying a new bookshelf to replace the smashed one, cleaning up the house (which looks like a bomb exploded in it), upgrading to WordPress 2.1, and continue working on the 9Rules book project.

[Edit: During the process of moving the second bookshelf so I could clean up the remnants of the first, that one, too, broke. I really, really hate this.]

2 thoughts on “Life Updates

  1. Hey there! I wanted to pop on over and say thanks for all the recommended reading. Investment options seem so overwhelming to me, but I am well aware my husband and I have to have a better understanding of what to do with the little money we have left each month. Ian has mutual funds, which are actually doing really well. But we want to look at other alternatives as well.

    75-degree weather sounds just perfect to me, especially when we are shivering in 13-degree ice and snow. But being sick provided us the greatest excuse to stay indoors and completely relax awhile. As much as I hated seeing my three kids sick, the lack of energy was a little nice too 😉

    PS – One thing that I have learned with Target furniture is that you will never, ever win!

  2. *heh* Thanks for the advice on the furniture. Actually, Target furniture hasn’t been all that bad too us. A lot better than the crap they sell at walmart, even when it comes to bookshelves. I just gotta remember that if I want something that’s of good quality I need to go to the Rooms to Go outlet or Office Depot.

    Glad to hear you got to relax. I think I may need some of that myself. Wait, is that a cold I feel coming on?…

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