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A Rayote's Journey

2nd June, 2008. 12:28 am. Posted using TxtLJ

Back in CA from RailsConf, it was awesome! Lots of contacts.

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29th May, 2008. 9:46 pm. Posted using TxtLJ

Arrived in Portland, and i'm doing well--heading for BoF session!

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29th May, 2008. 2:52 am. Posted using TxtLJ

This message posted via SMS to test the feature. I wil also be trying Twitter.l

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19th March, 2008. 11:14 pm. E-Democracy Bar Camp, March 2, 2007, Washington DC

Hello all,

I went to a barcamp in DC on the 2nd. The topic was e-democracy. I really like the barcamp concept, as it is very impromptu and organized in large part by the attendees. If I stay here in Orange County, I am seriously thinking of trying organize a Ruby barcamp. I will seriously need to research it ... and get lots of help. There's not much indication of another meeting of the Orange County Ruby Users Group.

I took some notes on the conference. I know they're not as clear as I'd like, I might clean them up later. I also took some pictures. I've posted both the PDF of my notes and the pictures -- sorry the service isn't the fastest host, but I don't have the time to really design a nice page for this all (that's why I am blogging it). If I can hunt down usable hosting, I might do it up as a real page. But I'd like to put the photos up so that others can tag them (and the PDF too, might as well), I could code that, but for that I'd need more than hosting, I'd need access to install my code on the host. Or I could use another photo-share service that allows for that. I picked the one I did as it had no limits to number of files, and didn't resize the files downward (which flickr did to me for my photos of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival).

Cheers!

Current mood: exhausted.

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15th March, 2008. 9:02 pm.

Assuming I can finish my packing early, anyone want to do something on my last day in (hopefully) a long time I will be in the DC area? (I got another gig in Southern California ... a week-long 'working einterview' but if it goes well I am staying on for 3+ months).

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7th January, 2008. 1:22 pm. Back in Virginia

I'm back in Virginia, have been since mid-December. I am looking for a new gig (or permanent job, even), but the going is slow. (Hopefully it will wake up some soon, post-holidays). I need to post my resume to more places, and start looking on more job boards. I'd really like to live in Portland, Oregon or the Bay Area if not in Canada.

I have been doing one of my own Rails projects -- a small one to create data migrations (easier than the generator). Right now I'm AJAXifing it so that it only shows one migration, with one table and no fields at start up and you click to add a field or a new table.

I tried updating my desktop and now X windows doesn't start ... I have posted to ubuntu_users community, and have a few responses. I need to post back what they need. Even copying the config from the working LiveCD didn't do it.

New Years was fun, I spent it at the nookery, as I have for the past many years.

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6th December, 2007. 6:38 pm.

Does anyone know of a place that might have a room for rent for a short period (possibly becoming a longer period, if I find work near it) in the DC region? I'll be flying back next week, likely Tuesday or Wednesday. I will pick up my car, but I don't have a place to stay. I am going to be checking craigslist as well, but I though I'd ask here, as it would be cool to room with others I know.

I also need a mailing address badly -- I need to be able to get my check for the work I did in October, which is soon to be issued; and the check for the Mac computer I bought for work, and my November and December checks as well. Even if someone doesn't have a space for rooming or know of one, if you know of where I could get mail that would be cool. I could let the contracting company know the address and maybe have a check waiting for me in VA/MD/DC. This I can always solve with a post office box rental, later once I get into the city.

On the job front, I have possibilities in NYC, Columbus, OH, and Minneapolis, MN. And I had a phone interview for a very short term (4-6 week) job in the LA area with Sony, but for a markup position. I don't think I'll be offered it, as I didn't have any sample code to offer, nor am I that far along in CSS (I do know HTML backwards and forwards, though, as I've been using it for over 12 years). And just today there was an inquiry if I wanted to work for 3-6 months in San Mateo; that would be really cool too. (Another Rails job).

Once I get back to the DC area, I really need to get after Kaiser to get something more done about my sleeping; I am not getting good rest, even with the CPAP. I think that's what mostly contributed to the job change here ... I can't write code while super-fatigued. :(

I look forward to seeing folks in DC again. And at least I will be able to say goodbyes here, as I will be around for the Prancing Skiltaire party on Saturday, and go to the Golden Compass outing on Sunday.

Current mood: exhausted.

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28th November, 2007. 8:41 pm. heading back east

Looks like I am likely to be heading back to the East. It seems the LA Times was looking for a much more senior developer for the position. While I'm senior relative to IT overall, I am not for Ruby on Rails. I had only 8 months experience, which is more than year less than their other developers. So, I have been given notice -- my last day will be 12/7, at the end of a development cycle (an 'iteration' as they call it).

At least I have learned a lot here, including agile methodologies, and SCRUM. The whole planning for an iteration is good; it lets all the development team understand much better the code.

If I don't get an offer by about a week from now, I will book a flight on around the 11th or 12th back to IAD from LAX. I will also then need to pack up and ship a few boxes back to MD or VA; and I don't really have anywhere to ship them to just now.

I will also look for shot term housing in VA or MD, while I look for work.

There has been some interest from recruiters, especially for a few jobs in NYC and another job in Columbus, OH. In fact, like 3-4 recruiters have queried me about the Columbus job; I was careful to ask who the client was when I heard the same town name and saw the same specs on the job. It is very bad form to have more than one agency submit a candidate -- it will likely disqualify him or her for the position.

The job in NYC sounds more interesting, and also will pay far better ($50/hr on W-2) vs. maybe $45/hour 1099 in Columbus. The NYC job also will be being submitted with per diem, if I maintain a place in VA. For that I could easily rent a small room which I would have for weekends on occasion and to fall back to when the contract ends. It would also be good for the landlord as I wouldn't be there weekdays and most weekends. :-)

If anyone reading this knows of other Ruby on Rails developer opportunities, please let me know. Likewise if you know of a place to rent in the DC metro region (as I don't have a job when I get there, the location is not so important. If I did find a local job, I could always then look for somewhere closer to live).

Current mood: crappy.

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20th October, 2007. 9:36 pm. Doing well enough in LA ... brief return visit to VA

I'm doing well enough here, not getting enough sleep (which worries me, as it lowers my work productivity) ... but otherwise OK. I am seeking a room of my own, I can't keep staying as a guest on someone else's couch. But I need to be in a safe place, and not too far from downtown (where I work). And I don't want to pay a really huge rent ... I could handle $900, but not $1500 or more for a place of my own. I'd prefer a shared situation of course.

I will have to see how I will like LA, my feelings so far are mixed, but I'm generally upbeat, and I see a lot of neat places etc as well as the less than neat places.

The next weekend of the 25-28th (Thu-Sun) I will be back in VA to remove my stuff from my former residence. I was hoping to get some help with it, but it doesn't seem that I have any volunteers yet. *sigh* It will be very rough to do all of it alone. I'm seriously thinking of seeing if I can afford to keep my car and keep it parked in VA for trips there, and in case I want to move back East (or to take a week vacation and drive it to CA).

Current mood: accomplished.

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10th October, 2007. 3:15 am. Arrival in LA

I arrived fine in LA, I have a host who is putting me up for a short time while I find a place to live. More after my first day of work tomorrow.

Current mood: tired.

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1st October, 2007. 1:50 am. Taken the LA job ...

Now, is there anyone in the DC area who'd like to come and help me in getting ready for the move? (Basically, it will be going through what I have here, and deciding on what to keep, what to move, and what to toss/give away). I will probably in the week also need to make a trip to my locker in Kensington to get a few things, and also toss from it what I can so that I can have room for some stuff from my house. Oh, and I will need to arrange for car sale, and for movers for what I do take to SoCal with me. :-)

There will also be bookshelves available, given in first priority to any who help me. And I'll feed them of course. :-)

Current mood: excited.

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27th September, 2007. 5:52 pm. Another Turning Point, a Fork Stuck in the Road

I've got two wonderful life options now ...Collapse )
As the song with the title above says, "It's something unpredictable, but in the end is right." I think I will do well with either option, I will do fair, honesty, hard work in return for my pay. And I will also pursue life with gusto with either option. I have the above factors to consider, and once I see both contracts, there might be other factors (but probably nothing that significant). If I knew either option would accelerate my gaining a Canadian skilled worker visa, or if either option would lead to finding a mate, yeah, that would trump all the others (or at least be a *very* high factor). I certainly hope that I will have "had the time of (my) life."

Comments are quite welcome!

Current mood: contemplative.

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15th September, 2007. 3:14 pm. Bored ...

Anyone local to me (DC region) want to hang out tonight? My mood is a lot better around others. :-)

Current mood: bored.

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6th September, 2007. 1:12 am. My contract eneded a few months early

I got back from Feral! to find that the contract has finished for my job. So now I'm without work. :-(

Anyone know of any Ruby on Rails jobs that are open? I do have plenty of leads to track down, but it never hurts to find more. :-)

A Feral! report will follow later. I need to go into full-time job search mode, at the early end of the contract my boss is only giving me 2 weeks' pay.

I'm going to be looking pretty much anywhere, although I'd favor my favorite areas of Toronto, SF Bay Area, Vancouver, Portland (Oregon), and Seattle.

Current mood: distressed.

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27th August, 2007. 10:46 am. Leaving in a few minutes for Feral!

I'm leaving in a few minutes to take the local public transit (the TTC) to Yorkdale Mall to catch the bus to Feral! I'm so ready for this (after missing it last year).

I'm likely next online on Saturday.

Cheers all!
Blackfeather Tanfur

Current mood: excited.

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26th August, 2007. 2:23 am. Won't be reading LJ for a while

I'm off in Toronto, in preparation for attending Camp Feral!. It is the highlight of my year, and now it has two years since I last went (last year it sucked, I had to miss it as I hadn't the money to go, or rather shouldn't have gone as I was not working).

Hopefully I'll get plenty of pictures, and also actually write a con report this year.

But I probably won't be able to catch up on LJ when I get back in town, the number of f-list posts will be more than I can read ... after 2-3 days I often can't read that far back (my eyes blur trying to follow so much), let alone nearly a week.

Anyway, I am having a good time. No, a fantastic time. My best wishes for everyone out there. Love you all!

Cheer,
Blackfeather

Current mood: content.

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21st July, 2007. 9:43 pm. My photos made the SI website!

Hello,

I blogged here a while back about going to the Smithsonian Folk Festival. I took over 100 shots there, and uploaded almost all of them to Flickr in the 'visitor' photography gallery for the festival. Well, the folks at the Smithsonian selected 5 of my photos for their slideshow of visitor photography of the festival. To see the slideshows, follow the link, then the links from there to the Mekong River and Roots of Virginia by visitors.

(I registered on Flickr as "festival photographer", as I couldn't find the password for another account at the time, I later realized it was just my normal Yahoo account, but not till after I created festival_photographer.

Mekong River -- 3 photos of mine in the slide show, #46, #47, and #51 (of 76)
Roots of Virginia -- 3 photos of mine made it, #22, #23, and #24, (of 40)
Alas, none made it for Northern Ireland, that's OK, I didn't take that many there.

I got an email which said they were impressed by the quality and quantity of my photographs. I claimed any great talent in photography, I just point the unit at what looks interesting and snap, on autofocus. :-) I guess even a beginner can get luck, sometimes, in his shots.

Current mood: creative.

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19th July, 2007. 12:29 am. Office Chair?

Hello all,

I was wondering what my readers' experiences are with various office chairs. I need an office chair for my workstation area I've set up in my room. Any nice chair I've seen is several hundred dollars; some are over $1000. I will need something I can sit in comfortably all day (8+ hours, potentially on a weekend). I want to do a lot of writing, and also a lot of coding (both for iedro.org, and for my two Ruby on Rails projects, the nutritional one and the writer's concordance. This will help with two of my top four items for my off-time during the week (the others are getting rid of junk, and exercise).

Any suggestions are most welcome, in what I can do for an affordable chair.

Many thanks, all!

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17th July, 2007. 12:23 am. I had a wonderful weekend

Friday night I went gaming at chez_turtle in Ashburn. I didn't win but made a good showing in Entdecker and Grave Robbers from Outer Space.


Saturday morning and early afternoon, I helped Protius move, as did zenwolph and kj_roo. Around 3-ish I took my leave of them, and went to have dinner and see the new Harry Potter movie with an old group of friends with whom I used to game. I'll be visiting them next weekend.

Sunday I went with rebelsheart and amras_wolf for lunch and saw Transformers. We hung out for a while at Tango's, and I then dropped Amras off at his door on my way back to Virginia.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to post about my request for advice on office chairs. :-)

I'm also eagerly anticipating the arrival of my vanity plates ('TANFUR'). The person in charge of ordering them at my auto dealership misheard me and originally ordered 'PANFUR'. I don't have to use those if they do arrive, as the corrected plates will arrive later.

Cheers all!

Current mood: tired.

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9th July, 2007. 11:40 pm. Folk Festival

I attended the Smithsonian Folk Festival over the weekend, on Friday after work and on Saturday. Friday I mostly stuck to the Mekong River exhibit area (and a bit of Northern Ireland), and Saturday I saw some of the Virginia exhibits, attended the dances given by the Virginia Indians (and danced in the Friendship Dance). Saturday evening, I saw much of the Live Earth concert, the DC part. It was at the National Museum of the American Indian, out front (the East side). The musicians were (almost*) all Native Americans, ranging from Rock/Classic Rock to Punk** to Blues to Reggae. I liked most of it, especially the Reggae musicians, and the Punk Rockers. The concert(s) was/were part of the "Indian Summer Showcase". I missed hearing Al Gore speak on Saturday morning. *shrugs*.

I took over 100 photos at the festival, which I've shared on the official Folk Festival Flickr group. They will become part of the Smithsoan's record of the festival, along with all other photographs by the public which have been/will be share. And of course, there were quite a few official photographers as well. My photos aren't yet captioned, some aren't even rotated yet.

Sunday I went to see a documentary film, "The Trail of Tears", at the NMAI. It was quite fascinating, and told the tragic story very well. I stayed for the discussion with the director afterwards. Sunday evening I went gaming, and played "Arkham Horror", and we won (it's a game where [usually] the players all win or all lose, it is a cooperative game).



* I can't say for sure if the member of Native Roots who was identified as Jamaican was or was not, Native American. All others had a listed tribal (as compared to nation-state, identification).

** The Reddmen were featured on Grey's Anatomy.

Current mood: exhausted.

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11th June, 2007. 10:22 pm. Car

I finally got a car, just about a week ago now. It is working mostly fine, although I'd like the brakes to be tighter. I have a '97 Subaru Outback, dark blue. I need to call the dealer and give him the information if I decide by tomorrow that I do indeed want a vanity tag (I'm think "tanfur", with Animal-Friendly tags).

This Friday I'm to go back to the eye doctor, for a follow-up on the Surgery of May 3rd. I'm doing well, thankfully. The only question will really be how fast I'm healing, and how much I should still take of the eyedrops he gave me (part antibiotic, part steroid -- I assume for anti-inflammation/swelling). I do have a hard time remembering (and being able, when I remember) to take them 4 times a day.

I'm also well on my way to getting a new box assembled, an Ubuntu machine, likely. I'm thinking of going for Ubuntu as I was easily able to get wifi working on it, and I'd like to have both machines I will be using personally with the same OS (I will put Ubuntu on this laptop after I get it working on the desktop, so I'll always have at least one system working). The laptop is currently running Vista ;-( Yuck!

Current mood: accomplished.

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12th May, 2007. 8:31 pm. Freedman's and Contraband Cemetery, Alexandria, VA

Today I decided to go into Alexandria, VA just to chill out a bit before I have to pack for Railsconf. I went to see the Archeology Museum, which was closed a half hour early. But there was a notice up that there was going to be a rededication of the old Freeman's Cemetery that afternoon. It had been long lost and mostly forgotten, even to elderly life-long residents of the town. It was under a gas station and office building for many years. Parts have been lost to mining clay, to construction of the Beltway, and probably some is under Washington Street or Church Street. It was only used for a few years (1864-1869) for the massive immigration of those fleeing slavery. Conditions were pretty bad, so there was a high mortality rate.

I didn't know that some ex-slaves were called "contraband", as the Union classified them as "contraband of war", so that they wouldn't be required to return them to their 'owners' as it stood in law at the time.

The ceremony was nice, but I was most touched by the "lumieres" of which one was made for each person recorded as buried in the cemetery. (The list has over 1800 names).

The site is at the corner of Washington and Church Streets, Alexandria. It is on the southwest corner. The Google Maps Satellite image still shows the gas station and office building. But the city bought it all out and those are now gone.

I have some pictures from today, I'll put them up on Flickr or some other photo hosting site if there's any interest. :-)

Oh and I ran into someone I haven't seen in like 20 years or so [anneb] (I know has been a long we knew each other, as she called me "Elladan", a *very* old nickname of mine). Small world, isn't it? She was there as a photojournalist.

*hugs all*
Blackfeather / Helgi

Current mood: enlightened.

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12th May, 2007. 8:25 pm. OK I'm good to go

Dr. Youssri has assured me that it is 99.9% likely I'll be fine to fly out to Oregon. The "bubble" that I thought was in the eye was either debris left from the operation (something not cleaned out), or if it was a bubble, it would have been very small, as it is was so close to the retina. And even the last little bit that was there on Friday was gone by this morning. So I'm off to Railsconf!

Huzzah!

Current mood: chipper.

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14th April, 2007. 4:08 pm. Portland in May!

I'll be attending Railsconf in Portland, Oregon. It runs from the 17th to the 20th, and I will try to get tickets to fly out for the 16th, and return the 20th.

I'm very excited. And now, I to find someone to commission to do a nice personal business card for me, to hand out there. I'm not good at slick, professional design (what I do is more functional). Does anyone have any recommendations as to whom I might commission?

BTW, I was told by the eye doctor that in my case I'll be fine to fly by then (some Vitrectomy patients need longer, depending on what they replace the vitreous with).

Current mood: accomplished.

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7th April, 2007. 12:09 pm. Kaiser rescheduled me

Alas, Kaiser (my HMO) called and told me the surgeon will be out of town on the 19th this month, and I was rescheduled for May 3rd. *grr* Oh well ... it will make it easier to move on May 1st, at least!

I still could possibly use some help on the 4th of May, in getting into downtown DC, possibly from Silver Spring, and then back -- to Annandale, preferably (or if there's a furmeet that night and a fur would take me, that would be *wonderful*. I probably won't be feeling the greatest a day after surgery.)

Cheers all,
Blackfeather / Helgi

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4th April, 2007. 12:22 am. moving!

As for my moving coming up in May, the new landlord wants personal references. I'm posting here, asking for someone to volunteer so I don't have to ask anyone, which might be awkward for them.

He basically told me he just "want to be sure I'm not crazy". That anyone couldn't find even one person to speak for them would be pretty sad, I imagine.

Anyway, anyone out there willing to volunteer? Comments screened so one can reply without telling the world; I will of course unscreen if you want (just so in the reply).

Thanks all!

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27th March, 2007. 11:26 pm. Health Update

Hello all,

On April 19th, I will undergo outpatient surgery, an operation known as vitrectomy. I need to be there at 08.30 for an operation at 10.00, and the surgery is maybe 2 hours, tops. I then have some time to recover and then will go home. I don't know how I'm getting there and more importantly, back, yet. The next day I need to go into DC, and was told by the appointments person that I shouldn't even be taking the metro, but driven in (as the right eye will still be covered).

This operation is 99% successful, and hopefully this will help with the very bad vision in the right eye (where I'm now legally blind -- just legally, not totally, though).

All this is dependent upon getting clearance from my primary care physician; I have an appointment with her on 16th. I also meet with the surgeon on the 6th, after which lab work will be done to be available to my PCP when I meet with her for the clearance. I did some searching on Dr. Youssri (the surgeon, and a retinal opthamologist) on the net, and was fairly well reassured about his qualifications. (Hopefully Cairo University has a good med school!)

In other health news, I should be starting a new regimen of exercise, and taking more care in what I eat. I had two nutritional classes today (one at work, and one at Kaiser; the one at Kaiser was a prerequisite to getting an appointment with a nutritionist).

I'm sleeping better, now that I have a CPAP, I am more rested, but I still have some sleepiness. Hopefully a better living arrangement, more sleep, and better nutrition will help with that.

Current mood: accomplished.

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27th February, 2007. 8:04 am. CPAP

Hello all,

I'm doing much better these days.   Just yesterday I went swimming (I was the only one who turned out for the "exercise meet", but oh well ... ).  Yesterday morning, I went and picked up (and was instructed on the use of),  a CPAP machine.  Ironically, I don't snore much at all if any.  But I was diagnosed as having mild (intermittent) sleep apena.   I also had excessive leg movements, something that Kaiser (my HMO) will look into, including possible kidney problems.  I need to go and get more blood drawn for the tests.

I slept more hours than usual last night, and started on the CPAP machine, so I am much less fatigued than usual.  I hope this keeps up!

I will clearly need more time to get used to the CPAP machine, I wasn't sure but I think it might have shut-off at night, perhaps in shifting, I caused the air to leak out and it auto shut-off.  I also learned last night how bad the air is my room, when I had to take off the mask it smelled like someone had just spread that  powered carpet-cleaner stuff all over the floor -- all chemically and not at all pleasant.  I really *have* to move out of that place.  I hope I can find somewhere in the next few days so I can notify my landlord, Mario, by March 1st.

I am also a bit concerned that if I ever do find someone I want to spend the night with, that cuddling up will be physically difficult with me on the CPAP machine.  This must be a common problem. I will research online, and if I don't find good information, will have to contact the sleep technician at Kasier.  It is a distant dream right now, though.

This is being posted via Zoho Writer, a free, online word-processor, which the has built-in ability to post to blogs.  I haven't seen need for anything fancy, so maybe it wasn't the best idea, but I wanted to try it out.  Zoho has other free tools, much as spreadsheets, wiki, etc.

Edit: had to go in and fix the HTML, as Zoho put in the usual \&\lt\; instead of < ... perhaps I need to learn to use it better.

Current mood: productive.

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15th February, 2007. 10:06 pm.

FC was wonderful, and all the smaller meets since then.

But I lost my cell phone. If anyone would like me to have your number, please (re)send it to me, as I have only been able to reenter maybe 12 out of like 200+ numbers. I have moved from TMobile to Nextel as my carrier. Hopefully I'll be able to figure out a way to backup numbers on my new phone using the microSD card. :-) And if you want my number, leave a message. My number hasn't changed, I ported over the TMobile number to Nextel.

I have screened comments here, in case anyone would like to leave their number(s) for me.

*Hugs*

Thanks all!

Current mood: tired.

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21st December, 2006. 11:51 pm. Productive, FC

I'm getting to be more and more productive at work. I guess that's in part from learning better the technologies I am using (Ruby on Rails), and part just "getting into the swing of things."

But why I'm really posting right now, is if I can find someone from my f-list who might have crash space at Further Confusion. I'd like to buy a ticket ASP, but only once I've arranged for a room (and also buy a pre-registered membership, too). I've just reached my financial goal for being able to go this year (first time since '04, I think). Huzzah!

Drop me a line if you might have space in your room (or know of someone else who does). If I don't hear in a while, I'll try the FC forum or FC LJ community. Email or an LJ comment both work fine. Or IM me if you have it and see me on, or phone as well. Just contact me. :-)

Thanks all!

(User pic above was, BTW, taken from the plane flying into or out of a previous FC; it is my 'travel related' posts icon).

Current mood: excited.

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3rd December, 2006. 8:45 pm. Concert, move

Hello,

I finished moving all my stuff to Annandale from Silver Spring. I called Enterprise to see if I could return my rental car tonight as a drop-off. The operator of their 1-800 line said that would be no problem. So I showed up, and the whole site was fenced and locked. I called back the 1-800 number and was told that there are *no* sites with a drop box anywhere nearby. I could have dealt easily enough if they had just told me that I couldn't drop off the car, but this has caused me a lot of time and a bit of cash for gasoline. I had the operator at the 1-800 number put this on my rental record. I'll see what they say tomorrow when I call the rental office.


I'm mostly posting this to see if anyone local wants to take in a concert tomorrow -- anyone I know who'd like to go, I have one extra free ticket to a conecert. "Robin Bullock joins multi award-winning husband and wife team Al Petteway and Amy White." in a celtic guitar style concert. I'm offering as I *won* two tickets. I'm sorry I didn't post sooner. The conert is in Bethesda, MD (on Old Georgetown Rd. near I-270). The concert starts at 7.30 P.M.. Let me know (hopefully someone will want to go!) Post here, and I'll check email in the mid-afternoon/evening (or call my cell for anyone who knows the number).

IMT event page.

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1st December, 2006. 6:46 pm. Lots going on

I had a really wonderful time at MFF, and then on Thanksgiving weekend at Darkover con. Alas, I did not take the time to commision a badge at MFF, which I really wanted to do. What I didn't feel like was trying to decide amongst so many very very talented artists there.

By now, I'm mostly moved to Annandale, VA, from Silver Spring, MD. I have left in the old place a few boxes worth of stuff (plus refridgerated and frozen food), but most importantly, still have a table and three bookshelves. My landlord loaned me his land-boat (a really huge old station wagon, more like the size of a mid- or large-sized pickup), in which I was able to take two bookshelves and my bed. My old landlady is being generous, and is allowing me through the weekend to finish moving stuff out. I can take everything but the table and bookshelves myself in the rental car. I have a volunteer but don't want to mention the person's name here in my LJ for privacy. :-)

Hopefully I'll start writing more soon. For one thing, my previous Wednesday night and Friday night activities are now too far away; I'll only likely hit them when I'm able to work offsite those days and drive over during the day when the traffic isn't so bad.

*hugs all*
Blackfeather / Helgi

Current mood: hopeful.

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15th November, 2006. 4:35 am.

Last night after work I went over to the GMU Aquatics Center to have a healthy small meet with some other area furs. When I first located the others (the place is really big), kurradragon and Furio (don't know if he's on LJ) were stretching in the hallway. Later, Midnightwolf (not the LJ user midnightwolf98) arrived with Wyndchaser. We all swam a lot, and I and Furrio hit the exercise machines upstairs. We (less Kurra) went to Denny's. Denny's was without water and not a great experience.

But the main thing is I've started some exercise. If the GMU center actually offered an annual pass, I'd buy that once I got a car. If not, there's still Audrey Moore county rec center with an indoor heated pool.

Thursday I fly out to Chicago. I arrive fairly late, but I'll be there until Sunday evening. I plan on attending a lot of the writing program, and I've also volunteered to be a "Carny", for the theme of the con is "County Fair."

If I know you but it has been quite a while (and it has for most non-DC area furs), I'm sorry if I might not recognize you -- it has been two years since I made MFF, and longer for some other cons. Even Feral has been like 14.5 months ago. I have a poor memory, especially for folks I don't see but very rarely. (I was thinking of posting this warning even before I saw that animist had posted something similar in his LJ. :-) EDIT: Oddly, on editing it has now allowed me to set the user pic for this post!

PS -- I'm using the web client to post this, and it isn't letting me change the friggin' icon, I wanted one other than the default. This might have to do with restoring an interrupted post which was saved automatically (Ubuntu froze up on an attempt to spell check).

Current mood: rushed.

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17th October, 2006. 6:42 pm. Getting a new (for me) used car ...

But I don't know what car. I'm asking all of you out there who might know of anyone selling their car (or even if you are selling yours), and is within reach ( a few hours' drive) from the Washington, DC area.

I figure it would be great if I can keep this one a year or so, by then, I should be able to afford (for cash) any kind of car *I* would want. I am also trying all the usual suspects, like Craigslist and Google Base, and asking friends. As I'm not real experienced with cars, this is not going to be an easy task.

If I had the luxury of choosing a type, it would be a Japanese station wagon (such as e.g., a Subaru Legacy). But right now something to get myself around is most critical.

Anyone know of any cars for sale?

Current mood: busy.

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16th October, 2006. 12:02 pm. MFF?

Anyone out there have any space in a room to share for MFF? I'd like to go, and need to start planning now. Please leave me a note here (screened for your privacy), with details if you might be willing to offer a room space at Midwest Furfest.

I can now afford at go to a few events per year! Yeah! :-)

Thanks all!

Current mood: hopeful.

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26th September, 2006. 5:41 pm.

I got a storage locker and moved in the last of the stuff that had to be out of the old house.

Tomorrow, I rent a car for a week and mabye a hotel in Chantilly, so I don't have to worry about scheduling and arriving on time for the first day of my new job. I get a laptop to telecommute. more later ...

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19th August, 2006. 3:27 pm. Move and new job

I am now *partially* moved (a move of only a few miles), to a room in an house. There are kitties as a warning to any who might visit.

I've started a job, retail (Borders). It is physically *exhausting*. I'm not used to being on my feet for hours and hours at a time. Hopefully I can keep it as long as I need but well that's hard to say for sure.

I am hoping to go to someone's celebration tomorrow, but I only just now RSVP'ed. D'oh! Chaos reigns in my life. Hopefully I can hear back with invitation directions.

I'm rested now but about to go out for working this evening. Gah! The job is interesting certainly, but there's no time to actually enjoy the presence of the books, by any browsing etc. while there, as there's always lots to do, and I owe the employer while on clock to do my best.

Also the eye doc called me last night and we chatted -- I can continue now with the Acular eye drops (see earlier post on that).

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10th August, 2006. 8:16 pm. Please ...

I need help in my ongoing move. I have already given out many boxes of books, and recycled quite a few bags of papers. But I still have a lot of stuff to go through, and could use help.

I need most someone with a way to transport bookshelves. I will be taking three or four bookshelves to my new room, and I am in the process of packing them with the books I will have there. One shelf is already filled with the material it will hold at the other end, and one is partially full. I need to clear out two more.

I'd also like someone there for moral support. I'm basically tossing out 90%+ of my possessions. That's a very good thing, but painful while it is happening.

The move is only a few miles, to near the Forest Glen Metro station (just about 1 mile from it).

In addition to my gratitude (and feeding you for the time you're helping), I will have a lot of SF&F books (and general books) for giveaway; what I don't take to my place or give to any helpers will go to the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (for SF books), and I will take to sell at Bonifant Books the other books (and what they don't take will go to the Wheaton Library bookstore.

Oh, and I have had two interviews with Borders -- I'll hear by next week (if not by the weekend) if they are interested in hiring me. At like 23% of the pay I was getting at Worldcom, I will have to learn to be very thrifty. At least they do have health insurance plans (even some form of coverage for part time workers). I might not be saving anything, and even still loosing a little ground, but much slower. And it will give me time to get the Sun Certified Java Programmer. I need to get my speed up a bit for that (based on the sample test from a study book).

Current mood: rushed.

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2nd July, 2006. 2:28 pm. Looking for housing

Hello all,

I'm looking for a place to live in the Washington DC, USA, area, near the Metro. I have a few weeks. Any suggestions are welcome. In the mean time I have a lot of stuff to give away, like books, magazines (fiction magazines, so being old isn't so bad), plushies, fabric, etc. Leave a note or email me if you have any suggestions or would like some of the stuff. Thanks.

I'm actually pretty glad to get rid of stuff -- too much stuff can be a burden.

Hugs,
Helgi / Blackfeather

Current mood: busy.

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27th May, 2006. 7:36 pm.

Bad news medically -- my mother is in the hospital. She has low blood sodium, (and Manganese and Potassium) and they are keeping her there until they can bring the levels up to normal.

In case anyone's wondering, that's why I'm not at Balticon this weekend. If it weren't for a medical emergency, not much could keep me from such a convention.

Does anyone really read my journal not from their friends-page? I am thinking of switching to sponsored mode, for the extra icons and image hosting. But I don't want to weight anyone down with advertising. But somehow I think most folks read via their friends page, where you don't see the adverting in sponsored accounts.

Current mood: worried.

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14th May, 2006. 1:05 am. Reasonable Salary?

Folks, I'd like to know if what I am hoping for in a salary is reasonable, or if I'm asking too much. I had been under the impression that the market for Java developer is hot enough that I could ask for about what I was earning in 2002 at Worldcom (that was $65k, I'm asking $70k, figuring at worst I can negotiate). I'm a mid-career IT professional, with 15 years in IT and over 10 in programming. I know I'd need to start to some extent in the beginning with Java, but everyone does, no? I also am OK at writing, better than a lot of technical folks I've seen at places I've worked.

I thought that the asking salary isn't so bad as a few jobs I was sent on the recruiter told me he could get me even more than that; some consulting positions were up to $60/hour. There, again, my long unemployment came back to bite me.

What do people in the industry think? It could be possible to ask for too little, and be passed over ("if he's only asking for $foo, there must be something wrong"), but I certainly don't want to overprice myself, either. I haven't been able to find any on-line salary surveys which help

This all comes from a casual conversation at a party I was at this Saturday; the sentiment that was conveyed to me (what I understood from it anyway) was that the schools are churning out so many Java developers that they're "a dime a dozen", especially those at the entry level, and even if there is a high demand, the supply is even greater. The same person told me that the certifications are getting to be worthless in the real world. I've know that about other certs (to remain nameless) but was hopeful that wasn't true about Sun certifications.

*sigh* I really, really, need to figure WTF I'm doing wrong in my search. I'm reasonably intelligent, hard-working, and fairly knowledgeable, with a number of years in the industry. What am I doing wrong, to go so long without work? It isn't like I'm not trying.

Thanks, all. I know others have far graver things going on, but my whole life is on hold, in essence, in wait for a job. No long-distance travel, no romance, zilch, nada, zip.

Current mood: worried.

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28th April, 2006. 4:13 pm. Fiction Writer's Assistant

I am busy trying to write a program to help fiction writers. Before I actually start a more formal design which will lead to coding, I want to be better assured of just what fiction writers might want to keep track of, and the basic navigation between screens. What I have come up with is just a preliminary idea, and I am very open to additions. Changes can be made in the middle (especially in adding or possibly dropping fields), changing the navigation is a little bit harder, but not by much.

Data tracked, and some linkingCollapse )
And I have some ideas of what technologies I'll use, but any suggestion there are also welcome.Collapse )

If anyone has any suggestion, I'm ready to take them now. After any suggestions here, I will take this to the various writers' communities I am on, and ask for their input.

Thanks so much!

(EDIT: A few spelling corrections. Thanks, efbq!

Current mood: creative.

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6th April, 2006. 4:34 pm. Legally blind, hike

I was at the optometrist today, to get a new prescription. I'm OK to drive, but I am legally blind in my right eye (20/400, even with the best possible corrective lenses). But my left eye can be corrected to 20/20, and the combined prescription will give me 20/20 overall. My prescription includes a polycarbonate lens for the left eye to protect it, as it is mostly what I have left for vision.

I need to get new glasses, but I'd really rather have along someone with at least a little bit of fashion sense, this will be possibly $500 for glasses (between the frames and the special lenses). I will (hopefully) be living with the new glasses for several years, at least.

I really hope the Kaiser retinal specialist opthamologist will find something that can be done for my right eye when I visit him in another 2.5 months (right about the summer solstice).

In much happier news, I went on a wonderful mountain hike on Saturday (April Fool's Day). It was far more than I'm used to. My knees were really hurting that day, but a hot pack on them helped and they were OK on Sunday, but other muscles were hurting. By about Tuesday the last of the soreness was gone. I need to get out more, and have more challenging walks. 2-3 miles (or about 3-5km) on fairly level ground, especially urban area/paved area isn't a problem. But I walked around 12-15mi (19-24km) on Saturday and that was a bit past the comfort zone. My thanks go to dcseain for organizing the hike!

Current mood: hopeful.

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10th March, 2006. 5:26 pm. Brief update

Well, a local recruiting shop has had me in for an inteview, and submitted my resume to a client. They seem to like the resume at least and want an interview. The job would be up in Baltimore, south of the Inner Harbor. I'm excited about the possibility of working.

I also want to record a really cool dream I had Tuesday night, I thik it was. I was riding a kangaroo ... kind of like one migh ride a horse or a camel. It was so cool ... I usually don't record dreams here, but that one was too cool not to share.

The Java study group is nearly finishing our course of study. Tomorrow is the last day. I will still need more study on my own, especiall y on the topic of threads.

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25th January, 2006. 12:41 am. Slow job search progress ...

But at least there's some progress, which is better than things have been for a long time up until last month. It turns out at the AOL gig they didn't have the budget to hire me. And the DNC, it seems, needed someone with heavier back-end skills (e.g., more MySQL or Oracle) than I have. Today I went in for an interview with a recruiter. They migh have a job to send me on an interview if the client wants to interview more than the three candidates they've already sent them. They also wanted a chronologically-oriented resume, rather than the "chrono-functional" one I was suggested to write up by POAC.

Wednesday (today) I go out to a networking event organized through POAC, the "I-495 interest group", for residents of the DC 'burbs. I will need to print up some business cards there. I'm also going to suggest those involved in business networking websites/communities such as Ryze add each other to 'grow' our networks. In this subject matter I'll be posting in a few days, all the various communties such as Ryze, Friendster, Orkut, etc, for those who would join my contact groups. I even have an invite (or more than one, they don't say) in Orkut for those not yet a memeber.

There is still no results from my visit to the retinal specialist. I am on a 4x a day eyedrops. It seems the retina is inflammed. The opthamologist still can't figure out what's going on, but he hopes (I assume) that the special eyedrops will help with the retinal inflammation. I'd really rather try just about anything before any surgical options.

I need also to look for housing and and a car as well right now. The major thing will be that the housing will have some kind of 'escape clause' if I find work that is not within commuting distance. (The lease on my apartment in Bloomington was written such that I owed the whole 11.5 months rent, even if I wanted to leave early; I quite understand a month's rent penalty if I left early. But the rest of a year?) I'm also going to see about something to start bringing in some income, to at least slow the outflow of my savings. I'll probably look at bookstores (e.g., Borders or Barnes and Noble) or tech stores (e.g., Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA). Hopefully I would be able to find something part-time, so I can still interview if anyone is interested in hiring me for an IT job.

I'm also in a Java certification study group. We're studying for the Sun Certified Java Programmer certificate. I'm hoping that will help convince emplyers that I know enough Java for at least Junior developer positions. (In Perl, I would be a Senior developer). There are nine objectives and the group is going to try to take them one per week. The SCJP doesn't sound that hard, but the next certificate I want (the developer certificate (SCJD)) invovles writing a project. That sounds more fun, and it would also provide me a sort-of 'portfolio' to showcase my work.

It is somewhat sad that I had to miss FC again this year, but it will hopefully motivate me to work even harder at finding work, and soon (so that by the time of next FC I'll be able to take leave; and even more importantly, leave for Camp Feral. I've made every Feral except the very first one, I'd like to keep up with doing so. I submitted a story for the FC convention booklet this year, but I never heard back from them. My story ("Playing the Game") was very much on-theme, and heavily critiqued; I'd like to know if they did include it (I could see them doing so without telling me, since I had to remind them to send me my comp copy for last year's story; which I haven't received (I don't know if they sent it and the mail lost it, or they didn't send it)). At least if it wasn't published, I can make a small tweak in the story, it would invovle no more than a change in (or addition of) one sentence which would make it a much better story I think (something which would show character growth).

This post has gotten a bit unwieldy, do folks think that if I go so long and have so much to post, I should break it up some? Although I headlined with the job information, I could have broken the post down into three or four parts.

Cheers all,
-- Helgi / Blackfeather

Current mood: sad.

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26th October, 2005. 8:57 am. A few minor updates

Arg, posted to the wrong journal ... (to writers_journey, my writing journal, not this, my personal journal.). No comments there yet so I think I will remove it there).I

had an interview last Thursday, and called the recruiter back on Tuesday. The client wishes to hire me. It is a six-month assignment in Northern Virginia (Ashburn), at AOL. Finding work for the first time in years is very good news. The job doesn't sound all that interesting, but some of the work is in Java, so I will have some paid experience there. Assuming that it goes through (the finance guy is out of town till Friday), I'll be moving down there, somewhere between Leesburg and Sterling (especially Ashburn) or in Reston. A slightly longer commute (Reston to Ashburn) on lower capacity roads in 2000-2003 wasn't so bad (but then again, then I varied my hours, starting a day at 7 or 10). I could probably find a room in a house somewhere (the cheapest likely option, especially for only six months).

I also am about to make some final tweaks on my story, "Playing the Game" to submit to the Further Confusion convention booklet. Maybe with the job I'll be able to attend this year. And maybe even buy a copy of last year's booklet, considering I don't even have one (never got one sent for publishing there last year ;( ).

BTW anyone else having gmail problems lately? Last day or two I keep getting 'try back later' when trying to send a email. It took like 10 minutes of constant trying recently to get a message to be sent.

Current mood: relieved.

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13th October, 2005. 1:04 am. Announce: New Fiction Writing Wiki (hopefully)

(crossposted to sfwriters, sfandf_writers (some communities pending moderator approval) and my personal journal blackfeather and personal writing journal, writers_journey; my apologies to those who see it multiple times. If need be I can create an LJ community for updates on the wiki.) Also posted to sff.workshop.critters Usenet newsgroup. If there's some interest shown here, it might help convince the staff of wikicities to host this wiki. (And convince me to continue with the project).

I've just proposed to Wikicitites the creation of a Fiction Writing wiki.

I'd like to see a wiki as a repository of articles on writing fiction. I see it as mostly focused on the craft, but with possible articles on marketing advice and on the writing lifestyle.

My Wikicities proposalCollapse ) has just been submitted, so I am not promised a reply before a week has passed. In the mean time, I'd like to see who would like to actively participate in the wiki. I will certainly help in whatever way I can.

Thank you, all!
-- blackfeather

Current mood: creative.

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30th September, 2005. 4:03 pm. Writing, Critiquing, Job Hunting

I've been pretty blase lately; I have been doing a fair bit of writing, but I wasn't any too happy with the first draft of "Playing the Game", a story I wrote targeting Further Confusion's con booklet. At least the NOVA SF writers' group will have a look at it.

I got off one critique yesterday, and hope to do enough this week to catch me up, which will also qualify me for bonus credit (an MPC, most productive critter).

I am blase in part since I keep getting contacted by recruiters with positions I don't qualify for, such as the latest one that needs an MS in chemistry or biology. If the recruiter had scanned my resume, he'd see there was no such degree. I think that would have been faster than sending off an email to me ...

Also I'd like to read some of Ray Kurzweil's books, especially about life extension. I think he's optimistic about the "singularity" occurring so soon. Certainly, science and technology are growing at an ever-increasing rate, but we are still a long way from the "singularity" as described in a lot of SF in the last few years. I don't mind the life extension he speaks about, but I'd rather not be merged with a machine, thank you very much!

*shrugs* I'll see what happens.

Current mood: blah.

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13th September, 2005. 1:44 am. Folk festival

I went to the Takoma Park Folk Festival on Sunday. The festival was great, I got the chance to learn about a lot of organizations in the area, and listen to some cool music. Alas, I did get slightly sun-burned. I have been applying Aloe Vera to the burn and will keep doing so so long as it hurts.

I might volunteer for the DC Green Festival coming up, if I am not working first. It would be interesting, I might be able to help, and might make new friends (or at least contacts).

Current mood: crispied.

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6th September, 2005. 11:33 pm. Thanks!

Thanks to whomever it was, who gave me two months of paid account time. :-) *hugs*

Current mood: grateful.

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