Main > Joel's September 2005 News


Wednesday, September 28th 2005

Sitting in the hotel lobby, waiting for one of my coworkers to come on down. It's Wednesday, and I'm ready to go home this afternoon. It'll be a mad dash in the office to finish as much as possible. Still, phew, I'm glad to be going home. I'm tired of Jacksonville.

Got our closing numbers yesterday. Really not bad. Even our lawyer said this small-time lender from Missouri has been great, came out with the closing figures with 72 hours before closing. Closing is tomorrow morning at 11:30am

I asked Num if we could get a bird feeder, for me and the cat. She gave me a flat-out "No!" She said bird feeders bring birds, which poop everywhere. She said we have enough things around here pooping.

I guess she has a point. Hey, my coworker is here. Time to earn that bacon.

Sunday, September 25th 2005

Jacksonville, week 3. After a dinner at the hotel, I'm comfortably chilling in my hotel room, watching tv and working on... work. At the moment, I'm watching Fatal Attraction, and just finished reviewing and tabulating my past 2+ weeks of expenses. If there's one thing I hate about travelling, it's the whole expense report thing. Sucks.

This weekend was busy, and it's only the beginning. On Saturday, I helped install a network card in my parents' computer. Hell must have froze over, because they got DSL. I'm glad for them, and hope they learn to enjoy the benefits. They're getting it for $14.99 a month, which is what they were paying for dial-up service. Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

For the most part, Saturday was all about packing up. I haven't done any up to this point, but there's no time like the present. I packed up my entire home theater system -- receiver, DVD player, speakers, and all. After I get back on Thursday, packing will be the only job I have. I should probably mention that my wife has been packing up everything else for the past 3 weeks.

Let me explain how miserable this week will be. The next three days will most likely wipe me out as I try to wrap up as much fieldwork as possible. I fly back Wednesday afternoon. Thursday is the closing on our new home, and from then on, it's packing, packing, and more packing. I don't even know how we're going to finish packing up the rest of our possessions in just 2 days. I gotta pick up the U-Haul truck Saturday morning. Thankfully, a huge host of friends are coming out to help us move. I think we're at 15 people so far. 7 or 8 guys to help moving the big stuff in and out, and 5 or 6 women to help unpack. It's nice to have friends.

I'm kinda scared of the closing on Thursday. Our lender won't tell us exactly how much money to bring to the table until Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest. What, if for some reason, it's more than we were expecting to pay? The extra money won't just appear magically. Stress levels are rising. If we can just make it through Saturday, it'll be a miracle.

Damn, Glenn Close did a great job in this movie. Her character has gotta be a married man's nightmare. Beside the loyalty to my wife, the wedding vows, and my own morals, remind me never to have an affair.

Wednesday, September 21st 2005

It's 1am Wednesday night, with two more days until I fly home. I'm not sure if I'm looking forward to going home or not. Don't get me wrong -- I want to see my family and relax with them. There's just so much work to do here. Every day that passes means I have less time to get my audit fieldwork done. I have the rest of this week, three more days next week to complete my work, then fly home Wed night. After that, I'm incommunicado. Closing Thursday morning, packing like a madman until Saturday. By the time I get back to the office on the 4th, I'm there for 2 days, then I fly out to Montreal for the bachelor party. That sound you hear is the vein in my head throbbing.

To keep on track with the work, three of us decided to stay late tonight. Get dinner, then come back to the office. The majority of us left the office around 8pm or so, but four of us ended up going to Red Lobster for dinner. I got a tasty NY Strip -- that's twice I've had good steak from Red Lobster. Who knew they cooked a great steak?. (Side note: those biscuits are awesome.) Anyway, back to the office around 10pm, and stayed until after midnight. Here I am now, blogging from the hotel lobby, but I'll go to bed soon. I'm just doing this for my adoring public. Yes, the cat. :)

Today was very productive, including staying late in the office tonight. I discovered some great meaty findings, which makes this auditor very happy. The auditee has been playing games, throwing up roadblocks to slow us down. The slower we are, the less we get to test, and presumably, the less we'll "write them up for." I don't like being taking advantage of. As an auditor, I think we should be fair to the group/dept/person being audited. In turn, they should be fair too. Once you start playing games, being difficult, I stop being nice. Rule of thumb: play nice with the good auditors. Otherwise, people like me will relish seeing you miserable as your just desserts. I worked very hard today to complete a lot of testing, wrote up three findings, discovered a delicious new issue that will make 'em squirm tomorrow, and I stayed late in the office to build up the evidence.

Boy, I hope those games they were playing were worth it. :)

I never got around to publishing pictures from last week -- again, the weekend was hectic. I was only in town for 40 hours or so. Just enough time to do some stuff at home, go shopping at Babies R Us, and work on getting my iPod working. I've officially given up on using RealPlayer with my iPod. I have 75+ songs I purchased through them, and now it's telling me that I have "insufficient rights" to my own music to transfer to the iPod. The "Screw you!" at the end of the message was completely uncalled for. After much futzing around, I gave up, and began burning music to CDs, then re-ripping to MP3s. I'm officially an iTunes user now. To hell with you, Real.

Any customers of Subway? Or Cold Stone Creamery? They've both ended their customer appreciation programs, on account of too many people using fake stamps to get free sandwiches or ice cream. You could even supposedly buy those Subway stamps on eBay. I guess everything really is available on eBay. I've been collecting those stamps for the Subway Sub Club. I had a card almost full of stamps. Another wasted effort.

There's talk of getting out early tomorrow, and going out for drinks after work, but I don't know how wise or smart that is. I like going out for drinks like any other person, and everyone needs to detox from the stress, but we have no idea what's going to happen tomorrow, and where the day is going to take us. There's a lot of work, and limited time. Then again, you do enough work, and you zone out after a while. The brain just stops processing data. I'd rather just push as fast as I can, so we know if there's time for relaxing or not. I wonder if I'd be a slave driver if I was the Lead Reviewer? I guess I should keep in mind that being a slave driver probably gets results, but you end up with your team egging your car when you least expect it. I have a bad tendency to push myself to the extreme, then suffering for it later. This is probably where the "Work 'til you drop" mentality stems from.

I was watching a little of the The Grudge on TV last night. I turned it off after a while. I really don't like scary movies. Even if they're on HBO.

I downloaded some new wallpapers from Digital Burn for my laptop, which has been my new thing recently. It's been a nice way to spice up my life at my desk. Mostly Transformers, Batman, and other geeky cool-yet-not-really-cool-nerdboy stuff. I even found a great selection of Warcraft 3 wallpapers for my laptop, which is great, but in one, an elven woman is wearing a furry halter top, and what could be some Fantasy (wizards/griffins/dwarves) Elven interpretation of furry Daisy Dukes. Pretty tame, if you ask me. Still, I hope no one sees my screen, and says they've been sexually harassed or anything. I got a mortgage payments now.

Geez, is it really 1:48am already? I gotta go to bed.

Monday, September 19th 2005

Hello hello. I know I didn't write much since last week, but really, I've been busy with work. Busy days, late nights, and four of us went out Thursday night at the Jacksonville beach area. Friday went fast, and our flight was delayed an hour. I think I got home around 10pm.

I spent about 40 hours home on the weekend, and now I'm back in Jacksonville, arriving Sunday night. The weekend was a fast blur, with a trip to Babies R' Us, a fancy Boston Market dinner Saturday night, and some packing. Num did all the packing so far, but I helped to load up the boxes in our car. On a sad note, we also loaded my bike on the car. It'll all be stored at my in-laws' place, in anticipation before move in just two weeks.

That's right. Just two weeks before the move. Closing is just a week from this Thursday. What, me worry?

I'm staying at a Marriott this week, on account it being a nicer hotel than the Homestead Suites I was in last week. We had another late tonight. Some of my team members and I just got back from dinner at Bennigan's. I noticed a guy surfing in the hotel lobby, and asked the front desk. Free WiFi in the lobby. I'll be down there in a few minutes.

i'm watching Resident Evil: Apocalypse right now. I can't believe how stupid this movie is. Wait, what did i just see? Oh man, it just got even stupider. Brain.... hurting.

You know, I've never seen the appeal of zombie movies. Oh, speaking of stupid movies, I saw a commercial this weekend for Dracula 3000 on Sci-Fi channel. It has Coolio as a vampire. It's the year 3000, yet he still used the word "Homey" in a phrase. And he had his trademark hair too. So stupid.

My wife reminded me that, not only is our closing next week, and our move, but also our 2-year anniversary. How fast has this year gone? Our first kid, our first home purchase. Maybe it's a "duh" realization, but life is sure full of surprises.

Crap, we still need to set up our local utilities at the new address. Guess what I'll be doing tomorrow when no one is looking?

Tuesday, September 13th 2005

I don't usually chew gum, but I do like Orbit gum. I may have found a new favorite -- one of my teammates has introduced me to Wrigley’s Extra Cool Green Apple. If you like apple, it is amazing. If you don’t like apple, well, try licking a boot. Weirdo.

For lunch, we picked up Panera Bread for ourselves... and most of the rest of the team. Nothing like taking orders for a million people. :) We stayed in the office until after 7pm, then eight of us piled into two cars, and drove out to the Jacksonville Beach area. After scoping out bars for Thursday night, We got dinner at the First Street Grille. I’m not big on seafood, but I was encouraged to try some salmon or other fish. Given the option, I’m more turf than surf. I gave in -- I went for the Sauteed Red Snapper with creole seasonings and butter pecan sauce. It was so good. Wow. Goes to show that’s important in life to try new things. I forget that often.

I think I was supposed to write about more stuff, but now I forget. Dammit.

Monday, September 12th 2005

This is just crazy. Is it Joel? How is he doing this? Never forget that I’m Joel the Great.

I’m staying at a Homewood Suites (part of the Hilton hotel chain), and although I don’t need a fridge, and the room is of questionable hygiene and quality, there is free broadband. I’m just doing GETs and PUTs with FTP to download my news blog, editing it in Word, and then FTPing it back. Won’t my wife be surprised.

BTW, I’m very cheesed off. None of the MPEGs I created by converting my .tivo files worked on my corporate laptop. I supposedly needed additional codecs for them to work in Windows Media Player 9, but we’re restricted from downloading things like that. So, it wasn’t possible. I tried RealPlayer and Quicktime, but with no luck. What a waste of time.

The flight was super bumpy – I think Ophelia had something to do with it. However, we got down here with minimal fuss. I flew down with a coworker, and we met another coming from La Guardia. Once we got our rental car (jet black Toyota Camry), we headed into Jacksonville proper to the hotel. Dinner was at this nice restaurant. Back at the hotel, I watched a bit the 9/11 documentaries on PBS, then went running down at the gym after midnight.

The first day of the audit fieldwork was fine. Cafeteria is excellent. This evening, a group of us went to P.F. Chang’s for dinner. Ex-cell-lent. My coworker Kanishk and I went to a local place afterwards briefly to watch some of the Eagles-Falcons game and have a beer. We tried asking the waitresses about good night spots to hang out on Jacksonville, but we got questionable suggestions. We’ll have to check Citysearch or google it.

So I’m back here, in my hotel room, enjoying the broadband. I’m leaving for the gym in 20 minutes. After that, I’ll just sleep, get up early, and be ready with everyone else to leave for the office by 8am.

Such is the life of one who is on the road.

Saturday, September 10th 2005

We've got T-minus 12 hours before the car service is coming to pick me up, and take me to the airport. In past lives, I usually arrived either late Sunday night or early Monday morning. Given the option now, I'd rather not. Early Monday mornings mean you're walking into the office in the middle of everyone working, and that'll throw your game off. Coming in late Sunday night really doesn't give you much time to settle in before you need to be sleeping. My flight is at 3:25pm arriving 6pm, and I'm flying in with a team member. This way, we settle in, get some dinner, hit the gym, and still get a decent night's rest. I'll be home Friday evening.

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I don't have a witty caption. Let's just call it "The Ipes"

I won't be blogging this week, so you'll have to wait it out until Friday night. To hold you over, I've added a few photos from the baptism.

I spent most of the day getting a haircut at Supercuts, dropping off my shirts at the cleaners, running errands, etc. Also, I bought some new Sony headphones at Best Buy to replace the original iPod headphones I lost. How we can misplace anything in this teeny-tiny apartment blows my mind. Actually, that was the entire list of errands. Guess I didn't need the "etc." Pathetic.

In the evening, we had a quick dinner with the in-laws at their place, then left the baby there so we could get some shopping done at BJ's. Hung out back at their house afterwards, and watched Joshua move about 2 feet on his own. He can't crawl, but he can move backwards, and shimmy to the left. Egads, he's mobile like a sidewinder snake. Now we're in trouble.

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Brad Pitt & Edward Norton in Fight Club

We finally finished watching Fight Club. It had this whole anarchist bent to it. It was okay. Original, but okay.

It's now 3am Sunday morning, and I still have a few things left to do. Some work on the NY IIA website. Burn some Tivo'd shows to CD to watch on the plane or hotel room. Test out the movies on my laptop, to make sure it works. Maybe purchase a few new songs for my iPod. Play with the cat when I feel the heavy breathing on the back of my neck.

I'll try to take some pictures this week, and post them next weekend. I'll be checking email at night from the hotel every few days. Write me a note, or text me on my phone.

Thursday, September 8th 2005

Today was an interesting day. It actually began and ended with kindness, with audit test work and a pastrami sandwiched in the middle.

This morning, I had a 9am meeting, but of course, was running a little late. I ran out of my apartment, hoping to catch the 7:57am train to NYC, so that I could be on time. Somehow, I've got just 3 minutes to get down to the train station, when some couple in a Honda Element ask me if I'm going to the train, and offer me a ride to the station. I initially reply no, but when the guy said he was going to, I threw caution to the wind. That kindness saved me from a sweaty day, possibly missing my train, and potentially looking like an ass by being late to a meeting. So, kindness saved my butt this morning.

I did work, had a decent pastrami sandwich (thank you, KM), and discussed with a friend/coworker about how am I going to get some good exposure with management, figure out my boss, etc. More work in the afternoon, and then, the department cocktail party in Queens @ 6pm.

Now, the word on the street/office yesterday was that people were going to wear ties. Maybe suits. After 3 years of suits, I'm not going to wear it lightly. More importantly, people are starting to wear them in the office, and I'm trying to buck the trend. One guy does it, then another, then another. Soon, the dress code changes, and I'm wearing stupid ties and suits again. It's my goal to nip this in the butt.

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Virginia trip pictures

Anyway, as I was running late this morning, I didn't get a chance to wear a tie, just in case. Turns out, lots of people were wearing ties, some in suits. Oh boy, was I going to stick out like a sore thumb? When I got there, I saw that not everyone was all dressed -- some were just wearing business casual like me. Phew. I'm sure this isn't a big deal, and I don't want to work anywhere if my career hinges on wearing a tie.

Personally, I dislike the whole tie-without-a-suit look. Unless you have a suit jacket hanging up somewhere, it makes me look like I'm in 15 and going to my first job interview, or taking high school yearbook portraits.

Well, I made a very good effort at speaking with lots of different people this evening, including the big-wigs. The reception went until 8pm, but I stayed with the big-wigs even until almost 9pm. Now for the other bout of kindness -- my friend/coworker speaks on my behalf to one of the big bosses about how good an employee I am, and my potential. I come over, and the big boss gives me great advice on how to advance my career at my company, and who I should try to work for. And if I hit any brick walls, come see him.

I generally don't trust people, based on events in my life. However, today illustrated that no matter how self-centered people are, displays of kindness are really cool, appreciated, and can sometimes just bowl you over in shock and surprise.

For you hard-core addicts, the wait is over. Pictures from this past weekend are now up on their very own page. Enjoy, and thanks for coming.

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Ultimate Spider-Man

Buddy of my mine at work told me about the new Ultimate Spider-Man game coming out. Looks sweet. I like the comic book style. Speaking of Spider-Man, rumor has it that the three villains in the next Spider-Man movie are.... hey, no spoilers from me! Here's the link -- spoil it for yourself, if you don't care. Personally? I read everything. Also related to Marvel comic books, here's the list of potential movies or franchises that they want to bring to the big screen.

I'm not sure how/when it started, but there's a new link on our Tivo "Now Playing" screen -- a link to my PC. Select it, and it shows you all the recorded programs that I've downloaded/transferred to my PC. Do you know what this means? You can record whatever you want, offload it to your PC, then transfer it back to your Tivo for watching on the big screen. Awesome.

Speaking of Tivo, I'm creating a library of programs and shows that I didn't have time this week to watch, and I'll be burning them all to DVD this weekend. Then, I'm taking them to Jacksonville Florida with me, so that I have something to watch on the flight, if I get delayed at the airport, or if I'm bored in the hotel room at night.

Speaking of my flight, I'm concerned about Hurricane Ophelia, which may or may not strike northern Florida. I'm not thinking about a hurricane kicking my butt, but I have a feeling it's just going to screw up my flight arrival time.

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Spam artists are evil

Received two suspicious emails today in my Yahoo mailbox. The first warned me that my mail account had been used to send "a huge amount of unsolicited spam messages during the recent week." If I could please take 5-10 minutes out of my online experience and confirm the attached document, I will not run into any future problems with the online service. I just had to open up a zip file attached.

Best yet, if I choose to ignore the request, I "leave us no choice but to cancel your membership."

I also received an email notifying me that my password for Yahoo had been successfully changed. If I hadn't done that, I need to open, yes, the attached zip file.

I checked my Sent Folder, and there is no spam email being sent out. I just logged into Yahoo Mail, so how was my password "succesfully changed"? Spam artists, people. Don't open that attachment!!!

Enough out of me today. Let me wrap up with more info on the townhouse news. Yes, we're about to live the American dream. We've been looking for place to live for a few months now, and my apartment lease ends Sept 30th 2005. So, looking at our budget, we've been debating renting a regular apartment, renting a townhouse, and purchasing a townhouse.

After doing all the mortgage application process, checking out the real estate market, we found a place in the Princeton area to buy. 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, huge kitchen, nice-sized dining room, sweet living room with fireplace, and a partial basement. And don't forget the patio in the back for grilling in the summer.

We close at end of this month, and we move in on Oct 1st. My head is currently swimming with what tasks we need to complete, like ordering moving supplies, renting the truck (done!), informing the utilities, changing our magazine subscriptions, etc.

And after we close, the bachelor party is Oct 6th. I've already booked the hotel and flight. I don't even know if I'll have even a dollar to my name to spend in Canada after the closing. Oh brother.

Wednesday, September 7th 2005

And I'm back. My home internet was down for the past 7 days. We just got it back today after the cable guy came this morning.

Okay, more later. Been working on photos from this weekend, and the trip page for them.

Here's the big news. We're buying a townhouse, and we're in the final stages. We're closing on Sept 29th, and move into our new home Oct 1st.

Yeah for us!

More later, as we have to do a million things around here.