New Year, PWSA, LJ sadness

It’s a new year. Yay. life’s photo journal and stats pages have been brought up to date. (Also the new daily photo project continues, which I’m honestly surprised by.)

The PWSA continues to be incompetent. We’ve had repeated billing problems where they bill incorrectly based on a correct meter reading. (For example, a meter reading of “18” bills us for 18,000 gallons of usage, instead of subtracting from the previous month’s reading of “17” and billing us for 1,000 gallons of usage.) This issue seems to be getting harder and harder to resolve each time, culminating in this month where I went down to the service center in person, and ended up with a rude supervisor and a submitted (paper) letter that apparently schedules a formal meeting with an appeals board…? That’s still ongoing, so yay for incompetent public departments.
Seriously, this issue has stressed me out so much that there have been multiple days where I feel like we should just sell the house and rent again to not have to deal with them.
Blargh.

In other depressing news, Livejournal apparently recently moved their servers to Russia, which is causing an exodus of users from it to Dreamwidth. This makes me sad for a lot of reasons.
I’ve previously talked about how I hate social media and miss long-form writing. Livejournal was my first real “community” (before Facebook really took off as a way to share life updates). I got to know so many people better through LJ. That community has been mostly dead for years, but the few remaining people on it will probably move away now as well.
Also going through and deleting all of the posts reminded me of how much people used to interact, on a deeper level than just “liking” your photo of breakfast or whatever. We used to really engage with people. Stupid social media.

I’ve mentioned before that I like having control of my data (it’s why I use WordPress installed on webserver that I pay for). So in a lot of ways, I feel vindicated that I use this (and syndicate over to LJ) instead of primarily using LJ. On the other hand, LJ’s fine-grained access controls were particularly useful for things I didn’t think I should be posting publicly. So I’ve had to go through today and delete hundreds of posts of things I hadn’t posted publicly in this journal. I guess that’s no guarantee that the data is gone (they probably have backups), but at least it makes me feel better about it.

Anyway, yay for friends and board games and rock band?

Adventures in decks

The deck was originally thought to be a weekend, or maybe a week project. We’re into the third week now and still have only finished the posts and railings. So it turns out it’s actually really hard to find 72 hours rain-free in Pittsburgh in the summer, and also scrubbing and sanding a deck (particularly all the little wooden posts) takes much longer than you’d expect. I think overall the deck scrubbing took 27 man hours, and sanding and staining doing 1/5 of the deck takes about 10 man hours. Assuming you can find the consecutive days of sun to do it.

We also had some fun… the first staining we did was on a weekend that called for no rain. But of course a cloud comes in from nowhere and drops a small amount of rain just as we put the first coat of stain on the railing. It turns out this causes little white spots to be permanently stuck in the stain. They’re fortunately a bit less visible now, and we applied a second layer of stain over it that seems to be doing fine.
Also, I spent Sunday morning sanding and staining some deck, only for the rain to come sooner than expected (overnight and Monday morning). But I guess ~12 hours was enough time for the stain to dry enough to be waterproof, because it survived the rain without visible problems, which I’m hoping means it’s fine.

It’s supposed to be dry now through Thursday, so hopefully we can sand the floor itself Wednesday evening, stain it early Thursday morning, and be okay for the rain coming Friday. That’ll be all of the functional part done.

Not much else happens in life. We had a work-from-home party last week where some people came over and we all worked together in the same room and got lunch together. It was a nice change from the usual working alone.

Russell was also around last week (For work), and there was rock banding and late night fooding. (No softball, unfortunately, as it was cancelled for the entire week due to field issues.)

Yay for life and things.

Life and links

Life is a thing. The parents came and went, and it was an awesome time, even though we didn’t really have many scheduled activities after the road trip. It was nice just generally having them around, I guess.

The latest house project is the deck. We fell behind on our time estimates (and also the forecast called for rain), so we’re only done with the scrubbing/cleaning part. We still need to sand and stain it at some point, but it needs to be when it’s going to be dry for a while, so we’ll see. It’s funny how much of a difference the cleaner makes.

I’ve had a lot of interesting reads recently, so here’s a dump of links to interesting things.

  • People that disagree with you aren’t necessarily wrong, or stupid – I think this is something that a lot of SJW (and other general) people are bad at recognizing. This is particularly true with things like abortion, LGBTQ rights, and Brexit… the other side has reasons for disagreeing, and digging your heels in is just going to make things worse. This is also why I feel strongly against things like the (successful) campaign to force Brendan Eich to resign over his prop 8 donations… he’s allowed to have opinions, however unpopular, as long as he’s treating people equally in his role as CEO. The fact that people bullied him and tried to force him to change his views to keep his job was completely unacceptable.
  • Inside private prisons – Just generally a super interesting read.
  • What if Harry Potter was a squib? – An awesome alternate reality fanfic. Massive spoilers (obviously), and requires a lot of background knowledge about the series, but this was super enjoyable.
  • What if Harry Potter’s twin was mistakingly thought to be the boy who lived? – Another alternate reality fanfic that is good if you get can get past the multitude of grammatical and spelling errors, run-on paragraphs, and strange writing.
  • Photographing landmark locations without landmarks – Super interesting from many perspectives.
  • San Jose displaces 670 people from rent-controlled apartments – Yay for yet more bay area housing problems. At least they’re doing the right thing by building more high-density apartments, but I wish there was more help in place for people affected by such construction.
  • Thoughts on Brexit and democracy – It’s always interesting to me to read things that argue that mass democracy is problematic… and what’s been happening lately around the world sure supports that. In particular, the leaders in the UK seem to have no idea what to do now that they’ve actually passed their proposal to leave the EU. I stumbled across the wiki page for Germany’s Basic Law recently, and I found it super interesting that they couldn’t remove the Chancellor without a replacement lined up. Seems like a lot of populist movements need better ideas of what to do what happens after they succeed… in the Brexit case, it seems the people in charge were using the situation for political gain without any expectation of actually winning. And now that they have, they are clueless.
  • Fired for a proposal for relaxing the dress code – After my initial impression of “What is wrong with you?”, I actually can understand a lot of why this made sense to the OP. Coming from an academic environment, it isn’t normal to assume that some people are more equal than others, and work is not a democracy. Still, hopefully she (he?) learned a lot of valuable lessons from this. (Also, that entire blog is really interesting and informative to read.) Also I feel bad for the other interns, since it sounded like she was the ringleader, and managed to really screw a lot of other people in the process.
  • Guy functions without most of his brain – Brains are super interesting and crazy adaptive, I guess?

Yay life.

Adulting (and rambling)

No matter how long it’s been true, it still feels weird to me when I do something that requires me to be an adult.
(Getting a credit card? Uh… don’t I need a parent to co-sign? Booking plane tickets? Who gave me permission to fly? Buying a house? What are you even…)

But in the last few weeks, I’ve done some things that felt adult-y, but felt right, and so I guess yay stuff making some more sense now?

We bought matching furniture for our living room. After getting the coffee table we liked at Target (23.5% off), we decided it was reasonable enough quality and a good enough price, and a good enough match with the house, that I bought an endtable and console table from the same set, and also a lamp that matched. With the couch and armchair being the same set as each other, and an old lamp that is the same color as the rug, the living room actually matches, for the first time ever in a place I’ve lived in and had control over. And it feels pretty nice. This excites me far more than it should.
(Bonus: The furniture also matches the dining room chairs and table in color and style.)

(Of course, adult-ing only extends so far, so the couch features my Sonic and Shadow pillows, and a plush peep named Bub.)

The portraits I talked about last post were finished, and printed on canvas, and they came out pretty nice. After trying to figure out how we could nail in to hang them without perforating crucial things in that wall (like a “novelty ventilated wall pipe”), I decided to just go to Target and buy some of those Command hooks. Turned out to be a good idea, and they look pretty good. (Just need to pull out the old nails still in the wall above them.)

Also, on Easter, we hosted Easter brunch, as like a proper meal with things for 7 people. That’s the largest group I’ve ever cooked for and set place settings for and stuff, I think. (Previous record was 4?) It was also relatively unplanned: we wanted to have ham on Easter, and the smallest ones you could buy were like 7 pounds, so we figured we’d need people to help eat it. I think it also went off rather well?

Other totally random things that are on or have been on my mind recently, in no real order, in bullets that may be incoherent rambling:

  • The house we almost bought, that sold for ~$300k, is back on the market as of today. For $399k. $100,000 in less than a year is pretty good money. Also, based on the Zillow listing and photos, they did exactly nothing to the house in the time they lived there.
  • Looking back at the photos of it, I’m actually rather glad now we didn’t get it? I think it’s been idolized in my mind as this “ideal” house (the one that got away?) that we have fond memories of. But actually I think the house we did get is better in almost every way (forced air heating and cooling, nicer kitchen, nicer rooms, bigger yard, better location). Makes me feel really happy we found this one and got it.
  • I stumbled across this reddit thread and particularly this post recently, and it’s making me feel really weird about things. (Watching the “Born Rich” documentary doesn’t help either.) It’s still rather unfathomable to me that anyone has that kind of money, and that people in general are okay with them having that kind of money. I mean, it doesn’t make logical sense to me that any single person’s contributions to the world, no matter how significant they may be, are worth a billion dollars. (And that’s only for the “I earned my money” argument… never mind inherited money.)
  • Also private large planes are disgusting and should not be a thing anyone can or would ever want to buy. Even ignoring the insane cost to buy, outfit, and operate such a plane… how many other people would that money and those resources (particularly the jet fuel?) be used for instead? Small private planes are already terrible enough. :\
  • I keep being reminded of how incredibly fortunate I am in life, in so many different ways. Particularly (following above), money is one of the things that has never *ever* been a problem in my entire life, and there are so many people I know where that is definitely not the case. I was sent (full-ride by the parents) to a top university where I didn’t have to concentrate on anything but schoolwork. I work a job I love in a field I am good at with coworkers that are amazing and for a company that seems dedicated to its employees and their success, and on top of that I make enough to live comfortably. The fact that I can drop the money for 4 color canvas prints for the game room wall, on a whim, after basically no thought, just because I thought it would look nice is a testament to that. So while some people may have stupid amounts of money and eat dinner with the president, I live comfortably and happily and never feel like I truly want for anything, which I suppose already makes me one of the wealthiest men in the world.
  • Why is sick time not a standard thing in jobs, or failing that (and job allowing) work-from-home-when-sick policies? It seems like the productivity loss from an employee coming in and getting others sick would be far higher than just having them stay home and not work at all, or work from home instead. It occurred to me last week, as I signed in for 5 minutes in the morning to post a “Not working today; sick” update, that there are many people that can’t do the same thing, and that really confuses and frustrates me. (Heck, even the fact that I didn’t have to ask for the day off, because I knew I had implicit permission and would be told to go rest if I actually tried to work anyway, is a thing many people don’t have or get, and is such a simple thing that it seems so many companies forget.)
  • It’s so bizarre to me that society has put such differing dollar amounts on skilled work. Artists usually make shit, and drawing well is a skill many people will never have nor can ever learn. Teachers make shit compared to the amount of work they do, and teaching kids is both incredibly difficult and incredibly important. Writers make very little, and assembling words together in ways that flow and just seem right is a skill that is both rare, and also immediately recognizable when you read it as something amazing. Heck, if you’re a skilled call-center agent who knows how to diffuse customer tempers and provide real service (and even just deal with people in the first place)… that’s also a heck of a skill, and you probably literally make minimum wage. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here typing words (I guess if you consider thingsLikeThis() to be words) and symbols into a computer screen and somehow that is worth money. The person that maintains the computer that lets me continue typing words in doesn’t make that much, but that’s skill too, in an area I have very little knowledge or ability in. I don’t know.
  • KoL has been interesting, in the monetary aspect, lately. It seems they’ve completely embraced the idea of premium content and putting insane amounts of power into paid things, which from the standpoint of a F2P game, really really bothers me. At the same time, given their declining revenue numbers, I can’t exactly blame them? (If you had only one revenue stream, and your continued employment relied on you making things people *want* to or *have* to buy, of course you would do it.) So the side of me that understands businessy things is fighting with the side of me that abhors things that feel like they’re forcing money out of me. I do greatly miss the old KoL days, when the paid things felt less important and the free things felt much more equitable, but I guess I still enjoy KoL enough that I’m willing to press on for now. On the plus side, there’s a couple recent things where they’ve done a standout job: the Witchess set, which unlocks awesome puzzles (and also, tangentially for me, powerful game items), and the LT&T Telegraph Office, which unlocks a lot of fun writing and interesting boss battles. While I still wish more stuff was available for free (free puzzles… who wouldn’t love that?), developer time is (non-trivial amounts of) money, so it only makes sense. But blargh?

Things and words and stuff.

Moved

Chris, Rob, David, Lea, and Keith came by yesterday to help us move the rest of our stuff from the apartment to the house, and it went rather quickly and smoothly. The house is now filled with boxes and things. Hopefully this’ll be the last move we have to do for a very, very long time.



We’ve had several weekends (and, amusingly, only weekends) of unseasonably warm weather lately. It’s weird to be in a heavy coat all week, then see people out running in shorts and t-shirts on the weekends. At least that means it was reasonably nice yesterday for the move… not so cold that people froze, but not so warm that it was uncomfortable given all the physical activity.

Life has been pretty uneventful otherwise. Work goes well, house goes well, gaming and climbing continue as usual.

Yay life?