Sunday, April 30, 2006

Well, my two week project out here in Silicon Valley is over. It's time to go home. It'll be good to get back and sleep in my own bed, even if it's only for a week or two. Because as it turns out, it looks very much like I'll be back here in just a short while. And this time, I'll be bringing the wife and kids, and we'll be staying awhile. That means in short order, I need to find a lawn care service to take care of the yard while we're away, and a new cell phone provider for while I'm out here. Normally, I'd just stick with what I've got (and I will), but T-Mobile pretty much sucks out here. I don't get any signal at all at the office where I'm working, and it's spotty at best in my hotel room and other key locations. I've already made reservations at a nice extended stay facility. Two bedroom apartment for the same price as a hotel room. Not bad. I could probably get something MUCH cheeper if I went through a realtor, but since the client is paying for T&E, and they'd normally be paying for a hotel room, I don't have a problem taking an apartment that costs the same amount. Makes my life easier when I don't have to also worry about setting up utilities.

Well, I've stayed up way too late mucking with my computer. After several hours of trying to get a desktop I liked out of Windowblinds and failing miserably, I just gave up and went back to my standard "Windows Classic" desktop. Black background, standard colors. Nothing fancy. Exactly what I was looking for in Windowblinds and couldn't find. That's the trouble with skins. They're almost always fancier than what you want. I like nice clean interfaces that don't have a lot of extra crap. Maybe that's why I like Google so much. For all the information they give you, it's extremely low key and clean. Google Talk is the same way. That's why I chose to use Gtalk as my primary interface and even set it up to communicate with my Yahoo!, MSN, and AIM contacts.

But I'm running on and on again.. It's really time I got to bed. I've got to fly out tomorrow and need to get some sleep.

Good night!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Originally uploaded by Ergophobe.
Ok, so after I went to Napa, I took a quick look in the old GPS to see how far it was to Reno. I knew it wasn't too far away, and since I've never been, I figured I'd go check it out if I could. As it turns out, Reno is only a 2 hour drive from Napa. Plenty close enough for me to get out there by dark and start gambling.

Driving out there, I was quite surprised to start seeing small patches of snow. Keep in mind, I live in Atlanta, GA. We get a dusting of snow once or twice a year. This is late April. Spring time. Shorts and T-Shirt weather. I was NOT expecting snow. It had never even entered my mind. I knew I'd be driving through the mountains to get to Reno, but SNOW? And not just a little bit. There were stretches of road where the snow plowed to the side of the road was easily 9 feet deep. I just had to take some pictures. Besides, it was pretty too from the mountains.

The downside about not planning your trip to Reno is that there's no guarantee there will be anywhere to stay when you get there. Just about everyone was booked up. I got lucky after checking 5 other casinos and managed to get into a room at the Nugget which had just opened up. I dropped my "bags" in the room and went downstairs to find a place to eat. The buffet was closed, and the only food to be found that wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg was in "Ruby's Cafe". Basically, Waffle House grade food. Actually, no. Waffle House food is better. But it was sustenance, and that's all I wanted.

I got to gambling around 11:30 or so. The only game I really like to play is Roulette. I found a $1 table and changed a Franklin. It took a little while for Lady Luck to find me, but after I'd lost about $60 or so, I went on a winning streak that shot me all the way up to about $250 dollars. I should have quit then, but I was there to play, not to win, so I kept going. Met some nice folks while I was at it. Even had a lengthy discussion about the origins of the word "Gringo" and the goods and the bads of illegal immigration with a local Mexican who was playing the table as well. The dealer said it's rare that he sees people talking about important stuff while playing and drinking, but it was a refreshing change. As it got later and later, my luck started to dwindle. I went back down to around $20, and almost gave up. I put my $20 on the middle column and it hit, putting me back up to $60. I did it again and went to $80. Then I hedged my bet by putting another $20 on the first column. Lucky thing I did, too. So I finished the night right where I started. Nothing lost, but nothing won. I went to bed about 3:30am.

That's where it got ugly. My lovely bride had apparently been calling for quite some time from Panama. I apparently had no signal. My lovely bride is very jealous. Put two and two together, you get one angry latina. It's two days later and she's still ticked at me. And I still don't know what I did wrong.

But that's life in the fast lane!

Originally uploaded by Ergophobe.
Rather than be trapped in my hotel for the weekend, I decided I'd take a road trip to Napa Valley on Saturday. I did a quick google search to see what wineries were in the area, picked one that I knew the name, and sent the address to my cell phone. I'd say that's a pretty good use of Google Maps. Anyway, I then went to the car and transcribed the address from my cell phone to the GPS and off I went to the Beringer Vineyards.

Now, I know next to nothing about wine. I know my favorites are White Merlot and White Zinfandel. The true white wines are too sweet, and the full red wines leave a bitter taste in my mouth. But I figured I'd learn something, so I signed up for the "Taste of Beringer" tour. I had to wait a couple hours for this, so I amused myself by taking some photos with my cell phone, and browsing through the two gift shops. I didn't find anything really great to buy, but I couldn't leave without at least buying something, so I picked up a variety pack of wines and a DVD that teaches about wine (after the tour of course).

So the tour wasn't very exiting. As predicted, they took us into the caves, showed us a bunch of barrels they use for aging wine, showed us Jacob and Frederick's wine collection, and gave us a lot of pretty useless information. What I did like was the wine tasting. I've never done a wine tasting before. The tour included a "flight" of 3 different reserve wines, a Chardonnay, a Merlot, and a Cabernet Sauvignon. I could stomach the Chardonnay, but neither the Merlot and the Cabernet appealed to me. I'm not saying that means they were not good wines. There were plenty of people there who were quite impressed by the quality of the reds. I just don't have a taste for red wine -- yet. I didn't have a taste for beer when I was 16 either, but boy did that change when I got to college! I'm going to take a crack at learning to drink wine like a connoisseur, thus the DVD. Maybe I'll even make a hobby out of it.

Well, as the great Forrest Gump used to say, "That's all I have to say about that." Not the greatest ending to my fine story, but there's really nothing more to tell.

Monday, April 24, 2006

I'm sort of starting to think about maybe someday moving my domain away from my "free" web hosting company. I've recently moved my DNS to FreeDNS by, and my e-mail to Google for Domains. I've been using Flickr for awhile now to host my photos. And since I'm both a Google fanatic and a lazy slacker, I thought I might as well move my blog to a free hosting system owned by Google. Now the only work I have to do is post (a massive undertaking for me, I'll admit). Granted I lose a little bit in the functionality department. I did have my blog in Wordpress that I could do just about anything with using plug-ins, but I'm using an old version and don't feel like making the effort to upgrade it. Besides, my free hosting is only free until the hosting provider realizes I haven't given them any money in a couple of years and shuts me off. Can't have that happen!

It's a shame Blogger doesn't give me the ability to import. I guess this will just have to become my first post on the new system. I'll keep the old blog around for as long as I can, but since nobody reads it, I'm sure it'll die off sooner than later.

So welcome to my "new and improved" Fear of Work blog! Maybe this time I'll keep it more up to date!