Saturday, January 20, 2007

Halfway to 60

Oy vey.

According to one of my co-workers, yesterday wasn't just my 30th birthday. It was officially the day I was halfway to 60 years old :)

I have to say, normally I kind of lay low during birthdays - I'm not particularly fond of people 'fussing over me' and getting too much attention, but yesterday, in all honesty, was probably the best birthday I've had in many years. When I got to work I was welcomed by balloons at my desk, a card with messages from everyone, and a gift from the ringleader and my "work-wife", Misty. I was escorted to lunch at Kincaid's (just to ensure that my arteries feel like they're 30 years old too) and a good time was had by all. I was actually pretty happy to be 30 for some reason.

I think it really was an eye-opener for me too. For the past... well, for the past 10 years I guess, I've always been the 'pup' at work. Surrounded by my seniors, I've always been very aware of the fact I've been the youngest of the group. Even at my most recent job I was - if not the youngest - one of the younger members of the team. Yesterday the number of people who let me know that they're "right behind me" - or a couple of years younger - was actually very surprising. I guess of course it's a glaringly obvious natural progression but for once I actually feel that I'm surround by a very appropriate mix of people older, younger, and the same age as me. Of course I do realize this just means that in years to come that "older" faction will thin out as some of them wither away from old age and get replaced by teeny-boppers, but for now I'm really quite satisfied with my age.

When I got home from work, Rowan and Camden were anxious to meet me with hand made cards, which is just about the best thing a dad can ever receive (until they're driving my car, then I just want them to fill it with gas occasionally) and Emily had made a fantastic chocolate cake.

Dave, one of the usual poker crowd I kick around with, just bought a house with his fiancée, and my birthday also marked his first hosting of our home game yesterday. It's seriously been a long time since I played poker with real flesh and blood opponents and I don't think I've ever been more eager to sit down with chips and throw cards around.

I didn't do terribly well from a poker perspective (although I think I managed to build a nice reputation for myself) but it was a really fun night that ended WAY too late (around 4am, with me getting back home around 5). Ed surprised me with a gift, a poker book he and I have been talking about recently, and while I was distracted, he also managed to sneak a very cool poker cake out from someplace, adorned with mini-cards representing our favorite suck-out-and-win-a-lot hands [J-8 (autowin) and 8-3 (snowman 'tater-legs)] in a showdown, chips and all. I wasn't expecting anyone to do anything for my birthday except maybe try a little harder to take my money (it didn't take much trying last night though) so Ed certainly suprised me there and made the night something extra :) Thanks Ed!

So... overall, a really good birthday. Today Emily allowed me to spend a surprising amount of time in bed, to recover from an aggregation of SEVERAL late late nights this last week, and by the time I was actually up and about and useful (shamefully, probably not until about 3pm) I was able to muster just enough energy to do some mucking around with the kids. Now all that's left to do is to have a nice relaxing evening with her, watching a movie or something. It was nice to be able to play poker last night but now I gotta get my wife fix too :)

Did I mention, for the first time in a long time... I actually feel pretty great! Wow. Who'd have thought something as traditionally depressing as a landmark birthday could have such a positive effect? :)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

It's official, I'm a rebel.

Yes, that's right. I'm not in the line at Wal-Mart behind 200 pubescent others waiting feverishly for my copy of The Burning Crusade, the next installment and must-have expansion for the World of Warcraft. Was I tempted to get in my car and go get my copy RFN*? Sure. A little. But my practical side kicked in. I have gift cards to use at Best Buy. Of COURSE they'll have copies tomorrow, Wednesday, Thursday, etc. Of COURSE they won't be sold out. After all, it's not a Nintendo Wii or Playstation 3. People are DYING to get their hands on one of those.

We seem to know how to stock the shelves with software, after all. Hardware, that's another story.

I suppose I could try to get the expansion for $10 cheaper too, and pick it up at Fry's. But then I'd be without a manual, game key, game media, or some other essential item that a forward-thinking Fry's employee has already surreptitiously taken home and listed on eBay for a bargain price.

So yeah, call me a rebel, but I'm not rushing out just yet. I'll wait it out a couple days, maybe pick it up over the weekend. I think a few years ago I'd have been at the back of that line, shuffling along with my ankles in shackles, waiting to receive my ladleful of digital gruel with the rest of the inmates, but here I am, being all pragmatic and stuff. Likely for the same reason I'm not using my $100 worth of Best Buy gift cards to buy this badass Samsung 22" widescreen LCD panel, instead convincing myself that I'll just be better off buying the Acer equivalent, which is $70 cheaper and seems to have a better contrast ratio but a crappier stand. I realize that I could run into Best Buy tomorrow and pick up the Samsung and I'd get immediate gratification, but using $100 of free money to save only $30 over a similar product doesn't seem to make sense to me. I guess it would be too much to ask that Best Buy carry a better assortment of products. - Or that newegg accept Best Buy gift cards for payment :)

Today I worked from home, due to "inclement weather". And by inclement weather I mean below freezing, with precipitation. An everyday occurrence this time of year for about 30% of the world but for some reason here in North Texas, we can't quite cope with it. It happens at some point pretty much every year yet it's always impressively devastating, with people sliding all over the place, slamming on brakes and bouncing off of each other while sliding gracefully over a slick overpass. There's always the amusing images on TV of the guy who can't figure out why flooring the gas in his unladen rear-wheel-drive pickup truck doesn't seem to be moving him in a forward direction. "Maybe the wheels aren't spinning fast enough, how can I apply more gas?"

...I just hope tomorrow is equally as devastating. I could actually get to like this working from home business :)

* Right F***in' Now

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

WoW Downloader woes

Seems like every time it's time to download a patch for World of Warcraft, the crappy P2P downloader has a problem on my machine. Although, yes, I hate the P2P downloader with a passion (P2P essentially murders my VoIP phone line during the download period, and for about an hour or so afterward as poorly updated clients with my IP still listed bang the crap out of my internet connection waiting for an answer - "You were there 30 minutes ago!! Where the hell are you now??") - It's not actually the downloader that's the problem. It's my Linksys router. It's severely lacking in features - it barely skims the surface of the plush functionality of my previous, now defunct, WebRamp device.

For some reason on this particular device, the WRT54GP2, a dual-line VoIP wireless router, Linksys didn't feel that I needed the ability to reserve DHCP IPs for specific MAC addresses so that my 'flagship' machines have a guaranteed address. No problem, just hard code an IP on those machines right? That'd be fine if Charter's DNS servers didn't seem to change every month or so.

Anyways, I figured I'd give this INCREDIBLY poorly documented 'port triggering' crap a run for its money and well, what do you know, it works. Hopefully now it won't matter what IP I have. When the downloader starts requesting connections, the router will automatically set up forwarding to the IP I'm currently using. Greatness.

Here's the configuration for the WoW downloader in case it's of use to anyone: