Friday, May 27, 2005

"I'll take The Rapists for twenty, Trebek!"

After the weeks-long Jeopardy Ultimate Tournament of Champions (i.e. "Which of our past champions from the last 20 years can de-throne KenJen?") concluded on Wednesday, regular Jeopardy returned to the airwaves last night looking like Celebrity Jeopardy. By that I mean that the questions (excuse me, answers) were so easy in comparison with those asked during the Ultimate Tourney that I would've expected to see a trio of actors, anchorpersons or musicians behind the podia. For the first time in weeks, I felt like I actually knew the majority of the answers, which was amusing on one level but a bit of a let-down on another. Ah well.

In other news...it's Friday! My boss is on vacation, and I've got a 3-day weekend coming up. Doesn't get much better than that. :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Roasty Toasty

The air conditioner in the lab at work died on us about 3 or 4 weeks ago. As a result, we have essentially no ventilation in here, and as it's about 85 degrees outside, I am sweating. Blech. The maintenance folks have apparently been waiting on a compressor, which I hear is finally ready today, but it will take another 2 or 3 days to set the damned thing up. Hence, I shall continue to sweat and occasionally bitch about the sauna that is my work environment.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Freeway Peristalsis

'Twas another Santa Monica Saturday for us. It would be nice if there weren't so damn many people on the road, causing the kind of stop-and-go travel that makes me feel like I'm being pushed through a giant intestine. Ah well. It was still nice to get to the beach and play in the salty, salty water. Happy Saturday, all. :)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

I Love Idiots (a mini-rant)

I resolve, here and now, to never buy software from CambridgeSoft again. Not gonna do it...wouldn't be prudent...

Back in March, my boss asked me to order ChemINDEX-Ultra, a big ol' chemical database. Fine. I placed the order online, and the software arrived about a week later. Well, some software arrived...the box said ChemINDEX-Ultra, the packing slip said ChemINDEX-Ultra, but the actual disc that came in said box was for a different program entirely, Inventory-ULTRA. Hmm.

I called CambridgeSoft to report the mix-up. Over the span of a couple of weeks, I was shuffled between three different customer service people, had to explain the situation countless times, got bounced from voicemail box to voicemail box, haggled over how the exchange was going to work (they wanted me to place a new order for the correct software, mail back the incorrect software, and then let them refund my boss's credit card...I thought that was crap and that they should just do an even swap...they eventually won). Meanwhile, the company president decided to do away with company credit cards, so when I finally got the details worked out for the exchange, I had to file a purchase order request, wait for that to go through the system, etc., before I could even get back to dealing with CambridgeSoft. Fabulous.

Earlier this week, the replacement software arrived. I was skeptical as I opened the box, but they hadn't screwed up again, so that was good. Next step was to install the database and see if it was worth all the time, money and trouble. Easier said than done, I'm afraid. First, we couldn't get the files to open...thought there was a problem with the DVD-ROM drive, so we reinstalled the drivers, etc. Then we could get some of the files to open, but the main database was still adamantly refusing to avail itself to us. Then my coworker noticed on CambridgeSoft's website that we would have to activate the software online before we could access it...not just register, but activate software we'd already paid for. Fine, I understand the desire to prevent the use of pirated material, etc., etc., but nowhere in the installation information that came with INDEX-Ultra was there any indication that we'd have to do this online activation. Helpful, folks, really helpful.

Okay, online activation...no problemo, just type in your company name and the software serial number, and you're on your way. Well, this would work if the activation form weren't rejecting our serial number! You know, the one that's written on the box AND in two places on the registration card inside? Splendid. So again I called CSoft in hopes of sorting out this mess. I explained my plight, and the woman on the line assured me I had just made a simple mistake, that I was looking at the serial number for the MAC version, and if I just looked at the bar code on the side of the box, I'd see the PC serial number. Nope. There was only one serial number listed. Did I buy the MAC version by mistake? Nope, it says "Windows - English" above the bar code. Well, this was all very peculiar, she said, and asked if I'd hold while she transferred me to someone who could actually help. "If she's not in, leave a message on her voicemail and she'll call you back." She wasn't in. I left a message. I'm still waiting for that promised phone call...

Is this really any way to do business? I think not. Therefore, I will most definitely not be doing any further business with CambridgeSoft. Idiots.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

New Blog Template

I've been wanting to do a little design overhaul here for a while and finally got around to it today. Wanted to build a scheme around the pine tree photo I took at the Grotto last month, and this is what I came up with. I haven't decided if I think it's too autumnal for mid-May, but I'll stick with it for now.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Hot Hot Heat

Man, it was hot this weekend! Tom and I were wandering around Pasadena on Saturday and decided it was much too warm (a week ago, it was 60 degrees and raining, but now it seems summer is ready to descend upon us). So we packed a few provisions and high-tailed it to Santa Monica for the afternoon. It was crowded (no great surprise), but the water was pleasant, and it was nice to laze about on the sand, alternately reading and dozing.

Sunday we planted ourselves in front of the air conditioner and stayed in. Played Xbox, read, noshed, watched TV. Mom got home from Greece sometime in the afternoon, with word that Dad made it back to Kuwait all right, so that's good. It was actually a pretty boring day, all told, but those are occasionally nice.

Today, the sun seems to have worn itself out from all the shining over the weekend, because it's drizzy and cool again. I am definitely not complaining. Having had a slight taste of how hot our apartment is going to be once summer kicks into high gear, I am not looking forward to what our electric bill's going to look like come July and August. Gonna be a doozy of a summer, that's for sure. I have a feeling these weekend escapes to the coast are going to become a lot more frequent...how convenient that we live so near!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Welcome to McDoctor's...

Today I had my first experience with what I'm going to call the fast food health care system. See, when I was a kid, I had a doctor, because my parents' insurance was a PPO sort of deal (I think). Once I got to college, the university health center took care of my medical needs. It was somewhat impersonal, yes (almost a zero chance you'd see the same doctor twice), but the patient volume was not nearly as great as that of your typical metropolitan medical center. Nowadays, however, I've got a "real" job with "real" health insurance, which means I'm one of the Kaiser Krowd.

I had a check-up today after work. From the mass checkin line snaking through the lobby to the impatient nurse taking my blood pressure and health history to the quick in-and-out appointment to the pharmacy (where you check in, sit down, and wait for your name to show up on the LED board up front) to the lab (where I took my own samples down for analysis), I felt like nothing so much as a machine part on an assembly line. (To my doctor's credit, I do feel that she made an effort to be personable, and though she was obviously on a time crunch, she didn't rush through the exam.)

So anyway, that was interesting. A rather unique exercise in feeling completely...well...not unique in any way.

Friday for me

For all my Fridays that turned into Wednesdays (because I had to work all weekend), it's nice to have a Wednesday be a Friday for a change. ;) At the same time, the short week is causing some problems as far as getting stuff done. Today's been a particularly frustrating day, actually - one of those days where I can't seem to finish anything I sit down to start because there's always someone asking me to "oh, please just help out with this one thing for a minute and then you can get back to what you were doing." Uh huh, right. Meanwhile QC's piling up and will continue to do so until I can actually begin to tackle it next week. So yes, as ready as I am to be done with this place for the week, I'm dreading that the few days off will get me even further behind than I already am. Oh well...job security, right? Or something?

Monday, May 09, 2005

A Seinfeld Post

It's a blog about nothing, ladies and gentlemen!

Had a nice, lazy weekend. Tom & I ate a lot of tasty Trader Joe's guacamole and lounged about. Got semi-dressed up to go to dinner at Soda Jerk's last night (not exactly a dressy place, but it was fun to put on nice shirts and go out). Hmm...read some, watched TV (there were lots of bad movies on), did crossword puzzles. Oh, we played Cranium Hoopla; I wasn't sure how good of a game it would be, since there isn't really any competition between players (you work as a team to beat the clock), but it turned out to be pretty entertaining. It would probably be more of a challenge with more players, but the games go more quickly with two. So yeah, Hoopla, that was fun.

That's pretty much it for the weekend. I have a nice, short week to look forward to; Thursday and Friday I'll be at a rheology seminar at Caltech. The classes go from 9am-3pm...shucks, I'll have to sleep til 8. A damned shame, that is. ;) It does mean, however, that I have a fair amount of stuff to get done here by Wednesday, so I'd better get back to it.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Quick post, new blog

Just wanted to quickly add a link to Mom & Dad's Greek Adventure Blog! Go check it out. I'll eventually get around to posting about my vacation...

Finally, an update

My vacation was nice, albeit short. Being back to work is a drag. Pah on work after a break.

Just getting to the airport was an adventure. We decided it might be fun to take the train to Burbank instead of a shuttle, and it was definitely cheaper. So what if the trip would take an hour instead of 20 minutes? We would have plenty of time to get there before our 8:50pm flight.

We rode the Gold Line from Pasadena to LA's Union Station. Compared to the London Underground or even Portland's MAX, LA's Metro leaves a bit to be desired. It doesn't go very fast, and I don't know if it was the driver's fault or the tracks' fault, but the ride was quite jerky and choppy. But then...what do you want for a dollar and change? At Union Station, it was a little bit of a hassle to get tickets and find the proper platform for the train to Burbank, but we eventually managed. Once the train arrived, however, it was unclear whether it was actually going where we needed to go, and then there was some question as to whether we'd bought the right tickets. There was quite a gut-twisting wait on the train while we tried to get everything settled (there was essentially no one around to ask, and the few employees we did flag down kept giving us different answers), and then we sat in the station for half an hour waiting for water to be loaded on the train. In the end, we left LA a full five minutes AFTER we were scheduled to arrive in Burbank, which was both irritating and a little scary (didn't want to miss our flight, after all!). Fortunately, the Burbank (excuse me...Bob Hope) Airport is small and uncomplicated, and we were in the boarding area with plenty of time to spare. Two-ish hours later, we were in Portland.


Union Station was pretty deserted, for the most part.

The next day, I drove south and visited with Caitlin. I got to ride a little bit, but man was I broken afterward! It was quite a shock to me that I hadn't been on a horse in over a year, and an even bigger shock that what amounted to a 20-minute pony ride (well, okay, I did do a little jumping) could be so devastating to my leg muscles and seat bones. I couldn't sit or walk properly for a good three or four days! Ah well...it was worth it. I miss riding. Also got to see old Miss Kakki and the new baby, a jet-black filly named Audi.


Kakki pony


Audi & mom Bonnie

Headed back northward and stayed with Amy for a night at school. She showed me the RHA office where she works and took me to one of her ed classes. It was a "Technology in the Classroom" course, and the prof's lecture for the day was about web design. I was amused. ;) I then got to hang out (and eat tasty, tasty Greek food) with Marcy and Myles some before returning to Portland.

Megan drove out the next day, so I got to pal around with her, Weston, her mom and Shari for the rest of the week. We did some shopping and sight-seeing, got each other caught up on all the latest, and just had a really good visit. The day before I flew back home, Mom & I went out for a delicious lunch and then did some wine tasting. It was fun, and we had a nice time. :)

I flew back solo, since Tom still had another few days with his family, but he finally got back yesterday. The cats and I are all glad to have him home. ;)

All right, there you have it. Best get back to work now...blech, work...

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Back home and tired

Just a brief note to say that I made it back safely after a wonderful week up north. I've got the photos up here, so check those out, and I'll write a more substantive post tomorrow or Monday. Off to bed.