Who knew my life could be encapsulated in weekly updates? This past week was just as busy as the previous week. Onsite in CT on Monday, training Tues - Wed on "Skills for Lead Reviewers". and then "New Hire Orientation" yesterday. Training went well overall, and met auditors from Brazil, Argentina, domestically. Nothing extra special this week, besides working extra hours every day so that I can leave the office early Friday for my flight.
New Jersey law enforcement authorities have announced a massive bank security breach that took place recently. It was a massive scheme. Using a crime ring composed of bank branch managers and employees of Bank of America, Wachovia, and Commerce Bank, they sold 500,000 bank account and personal information to bill collectors. If you can't even trust your own bank, then are we relegated to stuffing our money under the mattress?
If you're looking forward to Batman Begins this June (almost next month), the full-length exclusive trailer is now out on MTV.com. What I don't get is this trailer is not even available at the main movie website. Weird. Anyway, check out the new trailer, and you'll get to see the new Batmobile in action. Very cool, but I still like the original from the 1989 movie with Michael Keaton.
Our network router has been acting all sorts of funny for the past few months, and these people next door or downstairs or wherever keep jumping on our network, which pisses an Info Security guy like me to no end. I'm oversimplifying the problem, but trust me, there were a lot of weird quirkiness going on. Since my in-laws got me a nice gift card to CompUSA (see, that's how you treat me for my birthday -- gift certificates), we used last night to get a new 802.11g router/firewall, a new network card for Num's laptop, and my wife even let me get a new Star Wars computer game. I haven't owned a Star Wars game since the late 90's. How sad I am.
What's cool is that all three of us went to the CompUSA (in Totowa) together. Num wanted to get out again (see what happens when she gets the taste of freedom?), so she suggested taking Josh too. Imagine that -- his first trip to the computer store, and he sleeps right through the entire trip.
All those reality show prizes are not what they're cracked up to be. Just because you win doesn't mean you can skip out on the taxes. Sometimes, a heavy price to pay. Case in point: those families getting the home makeovers? Some of them are paying for the tax implications for those. Ouch!
We've got Lesh's party tonight, and my mother-in-law has come over to babysit. If it's not raining tomorrow, I'm going out for a jog. Monday, I start fieldwork for a new audit, which should run me through the end of the month.
Sunday, April 24th 2005
Busy week, and this week looks no different. I was in Connecticut for most of last week, and I'm not sure what was more difficult -- the workday or just commuting to/fro. I'm leaving at roughly 6:30am every day, hoping to beat the GW Bridge traffic. Twice there were major multi-vehicle accidents (Tues & Wed) in the morning on the way to the bridge, and Friday afternoon's drive home took me 2 hours, on account of the multiple accidents on the road.
I'm tired just thinking about it. So far, my job is going well, but they really don't get my humor. Trust me, I'm keeping quiet, keeping a low profile, and just trying to understand the place and how it runs. However, every once in a while, I just try to let out a joke, and I get the blankest faces. Actually, only one of my coworkers gets my jokes, and she started a week before I did. Here's an example:
In the context of the conversation, I set up the joke that kids grow up fast, and my son already said his first word last week: "Ig", and I even did the raise-the-eyebrow-a-few-times-with-smile thing to make sure the guy knew it tongue-in-cheek. Instead, he gives me the blankest stare, frowned, and said, "Ig isn't a word."
In my own mind, I was whacking my head with my fist. This happened at least one more time regarding some other joke I made to another team member, and that's when I just shut up for the rest of the week. I'm not wasting all my good material like this!
Speaking of the job, change in plans, and I was back in the NYC office last Friday, which was also my birthday (yea, me). I walk into my cubicle, and notice that my phone is missing. I knew it was eventually going to happen, but they did say they were going to move me to the main audit dept floor. So, I moved my stuff between floors in a few trips, and cleaned/set up my new office for most of Fri morning. I still think I was productive. I met with some friends for lunch in midtown, and that was nice too.
In the evening, Lesh came over to babysit, and the missus and I went to Outback Steakhouse in Springfield (Route 22) for dinner. I'm not sure if "going out for dinner" was for me, or for her, but at least she treated me.... with "our" money. :) Still, we haven't gone out to dinner together in a long while, so it was deeply enjoyed. I didn't have dessert. Gluttony is out right now, but ice cream sounds pretty good at the moment.
I'm officially 29 right now. Doesn't really bother me, but as I was telling my friend Olivia, it's not the fact of being 29, but of realizing that I'm a 29-year old. Then 30. Then down the road, I hit 40, and that will certainly qualify as "weird". Wasn't I the same kid who enjoyed playing with my Matchbox cars in the sandbox? Was that time really that long ago?
Saturday, Leena & Sandy came over to visit, and I didn't make it to my friend Kenar's bachelor bowling/dinner party in the city. Guests left late, my aunt & uncle were supposed to come over, Josh was fussy, and then it was just late at that point. So that's two events that I've bailed out on in the past few weeks. I hope my friends understand.
Sunday, I made pancakes (with a little direction) and sausage for breakfast, our minister Pam came over to see Josh for the 1st time (she was on sabbatical in India, Hong Kong, and Tibet), and Num went grocery shopping all by herself. Again, I think she just enjoys the time out in the real world.
I'm back in CT tomorrow, then Queens Tues - Thurs, and uptown all day Friday.
Finally, I'm going to tell you that the weirdest show that you're not watching, but probably should, is Robot Chicken on Cartoon Network. Co-produced by Seth Green, each episode is just 15 minutes long, but consists entirely of toy action figures stop-motion animated. The last episode I saw made 14 pop culture references, and featured the voices of both Lance Bass and Joey Fatone of N'Sync (playing themselves), Mark Hamill, Pat Morita, and others show up all the time.
In this particular episode of shorts, Joey Fatone sought revenge for the killing the N'Sync bandmates by entering a martial arts tournament, just like in The Karate Kid. Pat Morita playing himself was just icing on the cake. Hilarious, weird, and altogether inappropriate for children. Thank you, Cartoon Network. Here's a newsbite from Animation Insider, back in January before the show premiered, and an episode guide for Season One.
Sunday, April 17th 2005
A very low-key weekend. Picked up my shirts from the cleaners, went running this afternoon, etc. Very good weather, and I'm hoping that spring is almost here.
Saturday, April 16th 2005
Last night, I found a coupon for one free rental on top of my dresser, which I apparently received back when I signed up for that free Blockbuster Rewards card. How long ago did I sign up? Last year? Not wanting to let it go to waste, I picked up Fast Times at Ridgemont High, a classic teen comedy from 1982. I didn't think it was all that funny, but Num says the themes within it were precursors to the rest of the 80's teen movies. I just can't believe Jennifer Jason Leigh's character was that slutty. Sorry -- "adventurous and free-spirited" in a slutty kind of way.
Josh's "eczema" is clearing up, so we're wondering if it was a generic rash from my beard or something. That's good news. We're still wondering what the hell the pediatrician was thinking? I'm not all that impressed with her, but we'll keep her for the rest of the year until we move in Sept.
Scientists have reconstructed a model of what is believed to have been the biggest bug to ever crawl the Earth. The bug, called arthro plura, was nearly 6 feet long and went extinct 300 million years ago. The bug is a very distant cousin of modern-day millipedes and centipedes. Fossils of it have been found in Nova Scotia and Scotland, and fossilized tracks in New Mexico. Excuse me, but 6-feet long?
I got paid on Friday. Sweet Sister Mary Francis, money sure is nice. Now I'm really glad that I moved up to a higher-paying job.
Speaking of the job, I was supposed to be in Connecticut on Monday, but a slight change in plans on the audit. Now it's Tues through the rest of the week. I'll be driving back and forth, so I can barely imagine getting up and being out the door by 6am every day, just to beat the traffic. They really don't know who they hired.
Here are some pictures of my poor little sad excuse of an office. It's bigger than my last one, but I have no real supplies, or cool things in it. I have a phone with speakerphone and Caller-ID, which I didn't have at my last one. Other than that, it's all really sad. At least I have a window view of the Harlem river. I would decorate more, but I'm eventually moving sometime this month, then again probably in May, and later this year to New Jersey. See why I have no motivation to decorate? However, the least I could do is set up a pencil holder or something.
I just booked my plane ticket to Michigan for the May 6th weekend. Using points on Continental airlines (I had over 100K), I purchased tickets for myself and Doug (I owe him a birthday present or something). I'm attending my friend Anil's wedding, and he's probably going to hang out with Paul and Sean. Though Paul has a wedding the same day, so maybe Doug is going to wander Michigan. The biggest hassle this week was getting the approval to leave work early that Friday to catch my flight. I'm not allowed to take vacation time in the first 90 days, so I had to wait a week to finally get my new boss to allow it or not. He's a busy guy, and I didn't want to seem like an ass. It was a tightrope, let me tell you. Still, looking forward to going. I haven't seen Paul, Sean, or Anil in a while.
Mark Jen, of being-fired-from-Google fame, is back on his feet, albeit a little smarter. He's working at Plaxo now. Plaxo? Hey, I use that! He's moved his old Ninety-Nine Zeros site to a new URL too. Anil & Jimboy, he uses Wordpress!
For the most part, I like the Plaxo service. I know there are people who think they might be selling our data to 3rd-parties and whoever, but if even grumpy David Coursey of eWeek can change his mind, maybe there are benefits of you using Plaxo too.
I added a few new pictures the Family album. Some from our wedding (Regina, I finally got around to it!), a few when Anju & Sunny came to visit before jetting off to Turkey, and a few from this past week. Here are few choice ones.
Today, I was trying to drain the rice for dinner, and I dropped the entire contents of rice into the sink. I mean, there were 9 grains of rice still in the pot. This is the 4th time one of us has dropped the pot when draining rice or pasta. Num was so hungry, I went to our favorite local indan restaurant in my rice-stained shorts and t-shirt to pick up some rice palao. I admit the Indian woman at the counter did look at me funny, wondering who comes in to just buy rice at an Indian restaurant? Least of all, another Indian.
Wednesday, April 13th 2005
Finally enrolled in the company health benefits (why does it have to be so confusing?), and completed my 401(K) allocations/contributions today. Now I'm ready for payday on Friday. Two days to go, baby!
Our relative Reena (well, you know, by marriage, but we still like her) told me about Yagoohoogle a whiles back, but I kept forgetting to mention it. Thanks for sharing, Reena!
Check out this Flash music video (can you call it a music video?) of Group X and "Too Many Guys". It just cracks me up. I could swear I watched/heard something similar last year to this song. This is off of GorillaMask.net, so I'd be wary of corporate firewalls and stuff like WebSense monitoring you.
I successfully stayed out of trouble today. In the evening, I headed over to Queens for that after-work / meet your fellow coworkers cocktail reception. Funny enough, I recognized one of my previous PwC coworkers there. I remember hearing that he had quit back in 2000 or something, but I was on the road, and didn't know where he went. Turns out, he's been here for 5 years, and now is a coworker again. Just another reminder that you should always avoid burning bridges, or pissing people off. You never know where you're going to meet up again. Luckily, he remembered me after all that time, so we chit-chatted for a while.
Anyway, the rest of the reception went fine, but I only stayed 45 minutes, then headed to Hoboken. I normally don't like to leave an event so quickly, but I learned from my mistake yesterday. Catch the 7:51pm out of Hoboken, or wait until 8:54pm. Yikes. Here's the lesson I learned today: you can pass up appetizers, but be warned, they may never come back. I saw those pigs in a blanket and other goodies come by, declined as I was chit-chatting with my former coworker, and never saw them again.
A human-rights crime, if you ask me.
Tuesday, April 12th 2005
Busy day at the office. I met up with Kristen & Gary for drinks after work. Tomorrow will be busy too, and there's a department cocktail party work function at our offices in Queens in the evening.
I hope I have something nice to wear tomorrow.
I didn't want to wake Num tonight, so I left her a note. I put it in the one place she has to notice it -- on the baby. Is it wrong to use your infant son as a message board?
Monday, April 11th 2005
Yesterday was so nice, I unpacked the stroller, put it together, and we went for a 2-mile stroll around Glen Ridge. You know, for a snobby upscale town, it has messed up sidewalks.
Last night, before Julie came over to do her taxes, I was working feverishly to publish this month's latest NYIIA site update. Every once in a while, people ask if I get paid for the work, or if I do it during business hours in the office. Then I laugh, and laugh, and laugh. Why do you think I'm up late at night sometimes? Replace this, archive that, update calendar items, publish new employment listings. It's a never ending process.
However, I learned how to set up a better page layout, and came up with a better scheme for the employment listings, so all is right with the world. Also, a lot of laundry folding was accomplished. Is it me, or are we doing a lot of laundry? I think I wrote something about "folding laundry" for the past 11 days. What am I paying the cleaners for every week?
In the news:
I was in Long Island City [Queens] today for work. All new hires in 2005 in our group attended, and my boss's boss ran it, covering the organization, expense reports, contacts we deal with in the IT group, etc. I was a few minutes late, as I ran and missed my 7:20am train today by, oh, 3 seconds. I proceeded to wait the next 28 minutes until 7:48am for the next train to Hoboken. There went all my buffer time, in case of delays.
It was tight -- train to Hoboken, the PATH train to World Trade Center, and the E train to Queens, but I got there a little after 9. By the time I got to the tiny-yet-packed conference room, I'm the last one to show up, they've started, and I sit next to my boss's boss.
Right. Where's my resume again? It's not as bad as all that. I've been in the office before 9am for the past two weeks straight, and I talked to him afterwards, and he didn't have a problem. We finished training a little early, so I got home earlier than usual. Well, after rushing to the subway, rushing to Hoboken, catching my train, waiting at Newark for my connection, and jumping on the wrong train to East Orange.
Run to the other side, wait for the next train to Newark, run to the other side, wait for the train, and then finally get home. I could have been home 45 minutes earlier, if I had confirmed with the conductor where this train was heading. Lesson learned, but today has not been a good commuting day for me.
Still, I was home early.
Yes, more pictures of Josh. How can I resist him? Btw, Leena, the answer is "No." I'm not turning into you, and your daily photos of Alisha. Stop smirking.
Josh's visit to the pediatrician went well, but he has eczema on his cheeks. This depresses me, because I have eczema, have always had it, and now my legacy has been passed to my son. Unless it's only temporary, he'll have to suffer with it like I did. It never goes away, can cover your entire body, and all you can wish is that "it" doesn't start getting bad again.
For anyone who thinks that eczema is just dry skin condition, let me tell you that 28 years of it is no fun, and there's no cure. You just try to manage. There, now you know a dirty little of secret of my life. Let's call it Trivia #5. They're not all fun and giggles.
Saturday, April 9th 2005
I would like to watch a DVD with the volume cranked all the way up, but I spent 2 hours feeding the baby, and he just went to sleep. So help me, I don't even want to sneeze, lest it wake the baby. Num passed out on the couch about 30 minutes ago. I wish I could have the couch. We both love our child, but parenting is tiring. I was supposed to go out with friends in the city Friday night after work, but Josh was so fussy and cranky that day, I had to go home and help my wife. It's not fair if she has to deal with him 24 hours a day. I don't know how single mothers do it!
Apart from spending every minute tending to our child's needs, today was very relaxing. A couple loads of laundry, watching tv, and no one came over..... except for my in-laws, but they brought food. Feeling the need for a field trip outside the apartment, Num eagerly volunteered to go to the cleaners and grocery shopping. Good for her. Anyway, with her gone, and my in-laws watching Junior, I published six new random pictures.
Johnny Lechner started at Univ of Wisconsin - Whitewater the same year that I started at U @ Albany - 1994. I know I took 5 years to graduate with a degree, but this guy is still there. He's an 11th year senior who just enjoys going to school. He's actually paying twice the amount of tuition, due to a penalty enacted by the Wisconsin Board of Regents, but he's fine with it. Dude, college is nice, but life goes on. I enjoyed going to school at Albany, but by the time I transferred to Pace University in 1997, I wanted to graduate, get a job, and make some moola.
Now that I think about it, there was a guy at Albany who was similar to this guy. "Landslide" Larry Kaufman, who I found out started at the school in 1988, which blew my mind, because that's when I graduated from 6th grade in elementary school. This guy, Larry Kaufman, apparently enjoyed hanging out, being involved in the Student Association, and campus life. Personally, I think the whole thing is weird. I wonder if he's still there? I should google him.
Believe it or not, Mischa Barton (stars in that The O.C. show -- no, I don't watch it) was in The Sixth Sense as that little girl who vomits on everything. Come on, how could you forget? Anyway, I love learning little factoids like that.
I spent some time last week checking out decent 2 and 3 bedroom apartments in central & southern NJ. The biggest hassle was finding places that were pet friendly. Either they don't allow any pets, or you have to pay a non-refundable deposit and an extra $25-50 a month in rent. Idiotic. Anyway, I found some interesting possibilities, so we'll have to check them out sometime.
I really want a 50" plasma tv in our new home. Prices have really come down. I really want the whole widescreen way of life.
Wednesday, April 6th 2005
[Don't try the following link at work! If you do, big burly men from the IT dept will come and beat you a board with a rusty nail in it.]
I've officially found the most sickening website out there. Okay, I don't know if it's the most sickening, but it's sickening. Rotten.com. Pictures of gunshot wounds, decapitations by helicopter blades, rotting bodies, suicides, all in graphic detail. About 10 minutes into it, I started feeling a bit woozy. It's one thing to surf on in, get revolted, and leave. How does the webmaster regularly review submissions, and then post them on what seems to be a daily basis? Those pictures turned my stomach. I've seen it, and really, never plan to go back.
After I got home today, I babysat and Num went outside for a brief walk. The poor girl has been cooped up in this apartment with a fussy baby for days and days. I feel really bad for her -- I don't even know how she has the strength to stay up all night, do feedings, play with the baby, diaper duty, all when I'm asleep or at work. You have to give credit to her -- she's a great mother already. That kid better be nice to her, or I'm gonna put the hurt on him.
Tuesday, April 5th 2005
A rather decent day. Looks like I'm staffed on two audits, which will run me through the end of May. My first audit will be in Connecticutt for two weeks later this month. Whether I'll stay there in a hotel, or drive every day.... we're not sure yet. It's all up to Num. If she wants me home, I'll do the drive back and forth.
Due to the nice weather, I went running after work at the local track. My legs hurt, but I definitely feel better about getting some exercise.
Lara Croft is back? Eidos is bringing back the old girl for Tomb Raider: Legend. I wonder if kids these days even remember her. My ex-gf "affectionately" referred to her as "Miss Big Boobs". This version of Lara will have red hair, and be a little less buxom. If I actually spoke to my ex, I'd ask her how she felt about the return of Miss Big Boobs.
Paul Sloan of Business 2.0 hypothesizes about Apple may be working on next in their "Skunk Works". Interesting, and some nice mock-ups too.
I have more baby pictures, but I'll be damned if I'm going to work on them tonight. I'm exhausted, and it's already 1:15am. Let's try again tomorrow, but I make no guarantees. I gotta enroll in my health benefits, and make all those annoying selections.
Hmmm, Plan A looks good, but look at that deductible! Do we really need to see a doctor in our own network? Blah blah, copayment. Blah blah, good health.
Monday, April 4th 2005
I was bottle-feeding "that boy", when he looked at me funny, spit up a little, then vomited on me. Sigh.
Our taxes are all done, and I electronically filed them. I'm going to check their e-filing status in 48 hours, then mail in the NY state return. Man, I don't care how you do your taxes -- they are not fun.
Had a little scare with my iPod. This morning I was missing close to 21 songs, but I found them on my PC, added them again to my RealPlayer library, and successfully synched them in just now. I was concerned about losing all the songs I purchased this weekend, including some Creedence Clearwater Revival songs that I forgot to mention yesterday.
Today was a surprisingly busy day in the office. Meetings after meetings. So far, I'm very impressed with my new colleagues, and I've been staffed on my first audit. I'm looking forward to learning a lot.
Sunday, April 3rd 2005
Another cousin and his family came over this afternoon, as did friends Lesh & Reeba. I also finally got my haircut. Found this hilarious Star Wars Episode 3 spoof: Star Wars Episode 3 - A Lost Hope on aBum.com.
Here's a rash of random thoughts, and other things I found on the Internet. I'm going to shock you with how I combine the following items on pornography, former child stars, and the 80's/90's tv show Family Matters, into a shocking revelation.
For you pornography afficionados, Richard Corliss of Time & Business 2.0 has an interesting article on the history of American porn, what the movie Deep Throat did to the industry, etc. I find it surprising to learn what ended the great run porn had in movie theaters in the 70's -- the success of movie blockbusters of Jaws in 1975 and Star Wars in 1977. More money was to be made from these movies sold to teens and adults, than just adults wanting to watch blue movies. Then the world of VHS/Betamax format came along, and porn was in the home.
Found a neat site about the whereabouts of former child stars. It's called Former Child Star Central. Mayim Bialik is working towards a Ph.D in neuroscience? Blossom?
Ever watch Family Matters in the late 80's and early 90's? Remember cute, sweet daughter Judy Winslow? Did you notice that she disappeared at the end of the 4th season, never to return? The character was never mentioned again. I think I had stopped watching the show as Urkel got more and more airtime. Anyway, the actress was so broke, she went did a number of porn films. Can you believe that? Check Jamiee Foxworth on IMDB. I found her movie career pictures, but you'll have to ask me for it. Here's what supposedly is an interview with her in Jet magazine.
Hopefully the weather is going to stay warm and dry this week so that I can get some jogging done this week. If the good weather continues, then my bike will be making its return at the end of this month.
Finally, I just want to share -- one month later, I am enjoying my new PC tremendously, and don't regret the purchase one bit. Okay, I wish I had the extra $160 for an even better video card, but oh well. My machine is still kick-ass.
Saturday, April 2nd 2005
Back in January, Time magazine published an entire issue devoted to happiness. The cover story was all about The New Science of Happiness. "What makes you happy?", was the big question. Interesting issue, to say the least. I meant to bring it up, but totally forgot -- one of the researchers involved in the science of happiness is Dr. Ed Diener over at the Univ of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He actually came up with a Satisfaction with Life Scale quiz. It's just 5 questions. Anyway, I took the quiz back in January, and I scored "Slightly Dissatisfied."
Let me tell you that my wife was not too happy with those results, as she took it as a reflection on my life with her. Guys, you know how women are. You know what I'm talking about here. :) I was a little surprised at the results, but understood when I saw that just one question skewed the entire results.
I thought about it, and yes, I have a lot of regrets in life. Lots of stupid decisions. Things I said, how I acted, how I dressed, how much I spent on (now) ex-girlfriends, the friends I choose, etc. I guess life is full of regrets for everyone. Mostly, it was stuff when I was much younger. You know, like elementary school and onwards. Sure they were learning experiences, but I'm a "The glass is half full, and there's a bug in it" person. I dwell on the stupid things I do every day. Not just the stupid things I've done, but the stupid things that affect other people.
If I had done things differently.... I'd probably be richer now. I would have tried harder, procrastinated less. Probably not have gotten into so many fights with girlfriends. Wouldn't have been fooled by who I thought were friends. Wouldn't have lost friendships over petty things. Fought with my parents less. Been more popular while growing up. Wouldn't have done bad things. Stupid things. Foolish decisions that affected others.
I guess hindsight is 20/20, right? Life is full choices that we made, and didn't make. The results being the sum of our life experiences, and hopefully we've improved to be better people because of it.
I still regret the choices I've made in life, but I'm probably being hard on myself. BTW, I took the Diener quiz again today, and I scored "Slightly Satisfied." I think that qualifies as an improvement.
Another typical Ipe family weekend so far. Here's the rundown:
More friends are coming over tomorrow. I'm going to try for that haircut again, and keep trying to getting around to tackling my laundry that I never put away last week. Working on our budget. Completing our taxes? Maybe sneak some game time in?