A busy weather day and a meetup!

Perhaps the only thing that could have pulled me away from my sweet-as-all-hell personal street level Doppler radar setup (more gushing on this in a second) would have been a Lowcountry Blogs meetup. It was great to meet up with everyone again — within walking distance, to boot. It was my first time ever going to Little Thai Too on King Street and the food was excellent. Great, great choice. :) It was, as always, a great time (this time devoid of a heartbreaking Charger playoff loss). As usual, our resident award-winning photo blogger Joan is first with photos. (I took the second picture on that page, by the way — and Joan has the most hardcore camera I think I’ve ever tried. I struggled to find the shutter button amongst the lot of ’em! :))

This was a good weekend, overall:

Friday was absolutely nutty with rescuing a web server and other things, so I felt as if the time was right to brush back up with some Linux server administration. To this end, I brought the rack-mount machine formerly known as briscoe (now known as sassything — don’t ask) back online (over a few glasses of Yellow Tail chardonnay). It’s only visible behind my firewall, though, and really, really needs to be hardened up a bit, if only for my own sanity.

Saturday began with ambitions of getting some school work done ahead of time. That didn’t work out too well. I did run up to my parents’ and took care of a few loose ends with my taxes, though. Then, I went to my co-worker buddy Greg’s house for his birthday (which was today). I had some badass ribs up there. Good times.

Today started in the afternoon with a text message about the threat of severe weather for today. I then proceeded to trick out my copy of GRLevel3 with all sorts of sweet stuff and basically watched thunderstorms roll through until the meetup. GRLevel3 is effing awesome. It takes Level III NEXRAD data from the National Weather Service and overlays it over a basemap, does animations, all sorts of stuff. The best part of this program is that one can take pretty much any GIS data you want and import it into the program. I was able to download a GIS shape file with roads in various counties in South Carolina, import those roads…and bam! Instant street-level Doppler, just like that. It’s freaking awesome. It costs $80 (I’m running the trial right now) and considering its power, it seems to be well worth the money. It does a great job monitoring warnings, shows a graphical view of warned areas (and whittles them away as the NWS issues warning updates), points out hail-producing and rotating thunderstorms, and gives you a bajillion different NEXRAD products for analysis. For a weather nerd like myself, this is pretty close to heaven on earth.

Mother Nature obviously wanted to make sure I got a thorough evaluation of the product today, as those storms that marched through were no slouches (though we only got a couple claps of thunder downtown). There were some tornado warnings earlier in the southern tip of SC (Jasper County, etc.), and I was able to pick up where the rotation was occurring on the radar. I highly recommend this for those with an interest in storm tracking (a lot of chasers like this software), because the ability to import GIS data makes this tool about as flexible as an Olympic gymnast.

And so Monday begins…one more wild and crazy week before Spring Break. I’ll make it.

“My world is spinning…helplessly…what’s going on…”

I think Gavin Friday sums up the state of my mind this week so far. This is turning into one of the most mentally demanding weeks I’ve had in years.

Luckily, tomorrow’s Thursday, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. (No, it’s not a freight train headed my way.)

Academically, things are clearing up a bit. I have really only one more week and a couple days before spring break kicks in. Most people complain spring break is too early; in most years, I would agree with them. This year, it’s coming at the absolute right time. I desperately need the escape. I’ve secured the time off work, so that is a major plus. For the first time since my first year of college (2003, yikes!), I’ll have a break that I can actually look forward to.

Funny anecdote: Today, I took a test in my biology class. One of the extra credit questions was, “What are your plans for spring break?” I replied that I would experience life as a member of the kingdom Plantae and spend a week as a vegetable. (I also have an itch to drive to Florida to catch some Grapefruit League baseball.) Here’s hoping I get maybe three out of the potential two points — the informed wit has to count for something.

Funny anecdote no. 2: I still had Meghann’s favorite Incubus song of all time stuck in my head as I walked into my biology lab. Today’s lab was about conduction of heat and how it affects paper butterflies (don’t ask). My TA then said “Butterflies fly better when they are exposed to heat…the warmth…” It took all of my willpower not to bust out into song right then and there.

Backing up a bit: Tuesday was the final day to drop a class without penalty. After some deliberation, I decided to let my history class go. The amount of writing I’m doing this semester probably is illegal in some states, so it’s a good thing I did. Yes, I’m still a full-time student — just not at the heavy 16-hour courseload anymore. This may permit me to breathe a bit — we shall see.

On an extremely positive note, tomorrow is expected to be effing gorgeous. I saw something about mid-70s with sunny skies. I can dig it. A look at the long-term forecast shows less in the way of bone-chilling highs and more in the way of mid 60s. Perhaps there’s something to that groundhog thing after all. Perhaps “Fair Weather” by Trammell Starks will be appropriate fare for tomorrow?


Anniversaries and more

So today marks thirty years of marriage for my mother and father. Pretty impressive, I must say. We went out to dinner tonight (I was a half hour late after passing out in my reading chair upon my arrival home — oops) and had a great time. I couldn’t be more thrilled for them — thirty years is a long time.

On a side note, there’s nothing quite like a bacon-wrapped filet from Longhorn. I rarely eat steak these days (in sharp contrast to two years ago) and so this was a real treat.

Aside from the lovely dinner, today was a very weird day. I rolled out of bed, still suffering from writer’s block on the paper, and put it on hold. The full deal isn’t due until next month — the professor just wants milestones (I don’t really blame him). I just couldn’t wrap my head around it just yet. It’ll come to me in time — and hopefully well before the March 22 due date. ;)

Work brought along its own sets of challenges — namely server hiccups that prevented me from getting a lot done for an hour and a half. There’s nothing more frustrating than the lovely Windows networking stack (and this is in Vista, too — some things seem to never change) causing system lockups because my home network drive became unavailable off and on throughout the day. Dreamweaver, which I have to do a lot of work in for the IT pages, went haywire and I was about to smash it with a ten megaton uber-brick. Here’s hoping tomorrow is a smidgen more productive.

One thing that I’ve come to really love in the last couple days is something called Outlook Anywhere — known in geeky technical terms as Exchange RPC over HTTP. This is a complex system that basically permits me to use my account on the College’s Exchange server in Outlook 2007 at home just as if I was connected in the office — WITHOUT establishing some sort of VPN connection. It works by routing the Exchange calls over HTTP via the Outlook Web Access server. It’s bloody brilliant. Typically I’d have to log into the Outlook Web Access server and have a very clumsy, limited interface to work with my Exchange calendaring and e-mail. Now I can use the full capability of Outlook 2007 (really, a dream to work with — it’s easily the best Outlook ever) at home. It even downloaded all my categories for my flagged e-mails and tasks. It’s quite awesome, and I can finally properly synchronize my phone at both home and work with the same server.

Speaking of phones…the announcement of the Motorola Q9 makes my decision over getting the Blackjack in a few weeks not so crystal-clear. The Blackjack isn’t getting Windows Mobile 6 as an upgrade (at least not as of now), and the Q9 has that. The Q9 also can do 3G data at double the speed (the Blackjack does 1.8 Mbps while the Q9 is capable of up to 3.6 Mbps) and…well…it’s Motorola. I know with the Motorola I will get good reception in most places that the Samsung is sorely lacking, and I know Motorola will have a competent Bluetooth stack (another weakness exposed in the Blackjack). These are two things that are pretty important to me. The keyboard on the Q9 appears to kick the Blackjack and original Q’s ass as well. One thing is for certain: I am in a bind here. Should I wait, or should I just go for the Blackjack now? I do like Samsung — I used an N625 for several years and thoroughly enjoyed it — but some of the things I’ve heard about the phone are starting to make me take pause.

What’s the song for the day? I’m not sure. There were a lot of songs. I do believe it will be yet another Incubus cut — “The Warmth” has been stuck in my head pretty much all day, and thus got several plays on the iPod today. It’s a great song.

Cube monkey removed from typical habitat…

The last two months have been marked with frantic development of new Web pages for CofC’s Information Technology apparatus. Apparently word got around the office that I knew a thing or two about HTML (where do they get such ideas?), so I was drafted into the jungle and started chipping away at the project; first a few pages, and then a few more, and now all of a sudden I have a decent amount of control over the whole shebang. It’s kind of nifty. (This is what has been keeping me away from The Blog off and on over the last several weeks, among other things.)

Wednesday at 4:30 brought news that I was being moved temporarily into an office across campus so that I can be closer with those working with the IT Web and have a relatively quiet workspace from where I can concentrate. I honestly enjoy the cube farm that I typically find myself in, but it does get loud in there. I mean, it’s a shop — it comes with the territory.

So, I moved my stuff all the way across campus on a seriously inadequate plastic cart that is so sensitive to every little bump in the sidewalk/road that my hand was vibrating for a good five minutes afterward, and then dragged the cart back across campus again (in the spirit of being nice, of course). The office, currently serving as a quasi-break room in the absence of a permanent person to put there, is unfortunately devoid of windows (but has a sweet set of ambient lighting that immediately took the place of the horrible fluorescent lighting). Still, for a life-long cube dweller, a two-week vacation in an office is uncharted territory. It most certainly is quite easy to concentrate there. Good times.

I’m moving back to my usual digs on March 1, which isn’t a bad thing, either. I’m sure I’m going to miss the hustle-and-bustle and relative anonymity of the shop in a week or two.

Yesterday, I went to grab lunch at (welcome to) Moe’s at the corner of King and Calhoun, for the express purpose of returning to the office with it so that I could read the Internet(s) as I was eating. Then, all of a sudden, “If Only” by Ryan Farish went off in my pocket. A good friend from high school, Heather, was on the other end — so instead of retreating to the office, I got to meet up with her and catch up on things. It had been a while, so that made what was ultimately a low value 36 hours to that point quite a bit better.

I think the song of Thursday ended up being “Dig” by Incubus, from their latest release “Light Grenades.” Because, you know, we all have someone that digs at us. I know I sure do. (And no, she’s not mentioned in this post.)

That’s pretty much Thursday, in a nutshell — we’ve made it to yet another Friday. YES. Later on today, I’ve got a followup on the passion party controversy at the College with a twist I was even shocked to see. More on that later…have a good one, folks.

Valentine’s postmortem and more…

Overall, this year’s Valentine’s Day wasn’t bad. Clad in my new favorite shirt — a brown long-sleeve T with the CNN logo in camo and “Baghdad Bureau” in darker green Helvetica Neue Medium Condensed underneath (it came straight from CNN Center) — I went out the door, starting the day off just right musically with a barrage of AC/DC (Back in Black and Shoot to Thrill, to be exact) and went on from there.

There was a bit of a tense moment where a police car was rounding Coming Street onto Calhoun at a pretty good clip, running hot (lights and sirens). At the same time, students began to cross the street. I was like “WHOA! HOLD IT!” and the officer was able to get around, despite the fact that some people didn’t pay attention and were thus halfway in the middle of the street until the officer reactivated his sirens. People just have to keep looking as they cross the streets, ESPECIALLY on Calhoun Street, the land of emergency vehicles.

All in all, today had its moments of hyper-mushiness, sure, but it wasn’t as bad as it probably could have been. After having had the opportunity to display hyper-mushiness several years ago, I no longer look at that with the scorn that I once did. Perhaps the free candy handed out in my classes today helped this situation…I’m really not sure. I also think that the post-work venting session about women with Tom in Applebee’s over beer and relatively unhealthy food was not only a great way to blow a gift card but also soften the blow of the day as well.

Tonight has been a mixture of homework and studying, complete with a Ryan Farish and Gavin Friday soundtrack. I think the song of the day is “The Big No-No” by Gavin Friday off his 1992 release “Adam & Eve” — it’s got a pretty sweet piano part in it and it’s really sung well. It’s one of the edgier Friday tracks in existence. I listened to it several times today in transit from place to place.

Funny anecdote regarding music and my habits listening to it: Two days ago, while using a public terminal waiting for class to begin in the Stern Center lobby, I was bopping along to “Together We Will Conquer” by Ryan Farish on the ol’ iPod nano, doing a little bit of air bass guitar along with it (if you haven’t heard this song, I recommend it with a giant subwoofer, the bass is that good). A girl walks up next to me and remarks, “You know, I’m trying to find mine so I can jam out like you, it looks like you’re having a good time!” Hey, what can I say — I can’t help it. I do have a good time with my music. I’ll bop along to it, tap it out, air guitar it, even sing it down the street when no one is around. I’m what they call an active listener. :)

Finally, I think it’s oddly appropriate that The Weather Channel had a small malfunction today and Trammell Starks played. After all, he is the unofficial romance music provider of JaredWSmith.com. So yeah, that was cool.

I hope everyone has a great Thursday. I’ll be back whenever I can come up for air. :)

“And on my stereo…is Caruso.”

The official song of tonight is Caruso by Gavin Friday from his 1995 release Shag Tobacco. The rhythm is just ridiculously infectious, and it’s just a damn good song. I first got to know Gavin Friday back in 1998 when I received the “music from and inspired by Mission: Impossible” album for my birthday (the other one was Top Gun), which included a remixed version of his song “You, Me, and World War Three.” I became obsessed with the song over the summer as I was lamenting lost puppy love. One of the first websites I used streaming media on was Gavin’s official website, where I watched the video for You, Me, and World War Three and got to learn a bit of his background (seems him and the U2 guys are tight; I think that had something to do with his song being on the M:I record, as Adam Clayton & Larry Mullen of U2 performed the Mission: Impossible theme for the movie). He was the first artist I really researched on the Internet, and would certainly not be the last. It was a treat to acquire Shag Tobacco this week — it’s a pretty neat album, kind of out there.

Other notes from this Thursday, now etched into history:

  • Regardless of your stance on Anna Nicole Smith, the ultimate tragedy in her death is that her six-month-old daughter is motherless and there’s no telling who the father is. Sick, unfortunate circumstances. It seems a decent-scale investigation is unfolding, too.
  • Wade Phillips is the new Cowboys coach. Seems ESPN’s analysts don’t like the move much — but would Norv Turner really have been any better? For that matter, what will Marty Schottenheimer do about his top assistants? Yikes!
  • You know, if you leave astronauts up in cramped spaces long enough, things will eventually happen. The Lisa Nowak Affair was probably bound to happen — perhaps not quite with the 36-hour-drives and Pampers involved, but still…talk about a real “anti-gravity love song” (with apologies to Incubus).
  • Seems WordPress 2.1 changed things up a bit with regards to displaying blog posts — it no longer permits me to restrict by the number of days to view, but rather show the x number of last posts. The WP 2.1 installer set this number to five, which reflected my previous number of days to allow. I’m not sure I’m too thrilled with this change — what if I blog a bunch later today? Forget catching the last several days’ worth of posts. I’ve always had five days of posts since the old Realm days, so a workaround appears to be in order here.
  • I’ve got my eyes set on a Samsung Blackjack, but perhaps I should hold off and see what devices will run on the upcoming Windows Mobile 6? All indications are that this is a fantastic release. Perhaps Samsung will do an upgrade for Blackjack customers…haha. I don’t think firmware upgrades of that magnitude have ever happened before. No time like the present to buck a trend, though. ;) WM6 looks really good, and I just might wait for it.

Tomorrow will be a frantic Friday, I’m sure, but I’m going to try and reestablish a little bit of blogging rhythm and at least squeeze in a post or two tomorrow. If not, happy Friday!


Another late night on the Internet(s)…

You know, with my return to work just a few short days away (Tuesday, to be exact), I really should be working on getting my sleeping patterns in better alignment. However, with New Years’ tomorrow night, perhaps this will work out to perfection. Tough to say. I’m still debating on what to do. I’m leaning toward the walking to a random bar thing though. At least it’d be something out of the house for a change.

In any event, last night was the night of bullet points. Tonight, paragraph-sized blurbs, sans bullet points, but with bolded subject headings in all caps.

FOOTBALL: So Week 17 has arrived, and the Giants, for all intents and purposes, are in the playoffs. Three NFC East teams in the playoffs…pretty amazing how that all went down. Wow, the NFC is a terrible conference. With this in mind, the Panthers need to start Brett Basanez tomorrow, though it appears Jake Delhomme is healthy and will go. Meh. Low-impact game in New Orleans. It’s interesting; if the Panthers lose tomorrow, this will mean that in every even year of the John Fox Era (2002, 2004, 2006) they will have gone 7-9. Every odd year brings at least an NFC Championship appearance. So, by virtue of mere year numbering, things are looking up in Carolina next season. :)

I fully anticipate the Chargers finishing their season 14-2 with a win over Arizona tomorrow. Then again, the Cardinals have actually started to put together something resembling decent football, though this week they’ll be without Leinart. I hope Marty leaves the starters in — maybe play LT a little less in favor of Michael Turner (this may be blasphemy, but letting LT have half the game off in favor of Michael Turner doesn’t really take that much away from the Charger offense — Turner is a fantastic runner in his own right and would be a starter on over 3/4s of the teams in the NFL) — but he needs to give Philip Rivers time to tune himself up for the playoffs. He certainly could use it, though the comeback win in Seattle was more than encouraging.

One random college football thought: Tommy Bowden hasn’t been fired yet? LOL.

PERSONAL WEEK OFF REFLECTION, ETC: It’s been nice to have a week off, though I’ve felt kinda crappy for most of it. Maybe it’s the whole being sedentary and wandering around the house thing. Who knows. It’s been a nice break though. I’d like to think I actually accomplished a few good things, especially with rearranging the room. I really do like it better, but there is one thing that is blowing my mind: My Bluetooth mouse has not performed very well on this side of the room. In fact, I relocated the receiver to the monitor which has made it better but there is still some interference over here that is nuts. I’m tempted to get an RF meter to see what’s going on, though that’d be one expensive tool (though it may be worth it in the future as well).

One thing that didn’t happen was the relocation of the Nightwind server to my room in favor of Healer running the weather station, but that will be postponed indefinitely as I continue to work out the power situation. I also need to change the light bulb of the overhead light. Not having the overhead light is — wait for it — low value. Though I will say this: I hate replacing overhead lights that are extremely high up. First, I have a thing about ladders — not a big fan. Second, this is one of those glass things I have to carefully rotate off, and yeah…ugh. That’s going to be fun.

MOVIES I WILL CLAIM TO BUY IMMEDIATELY BUT NEVER GET AROUND TO DOING SO: Snakes on a Plane comes out on DVD January 2. I never saw it in the theater, so I totally missed out on the cult aspect of it. I’ll still probably get it, though — just not on January 2nd. I’m not sure when I will — depends on when my impulses find Amazon. :)

COMING UP: I’ll be working on a “2007 Predictions” post of some kind to be scheduled for later on today, I think. That could very well close out the blogging of 2006, though!

Catch you all later…


2006, In Memoriam

I must be at that point in my life where time begins to hit the third gear and accelerate a bit more, because 2006 just flew by. A lot changed again this year — but unlike 2005, this year started to show real strides forward toward serious improvement in my life. In many ways, 2005 set up 2006, and did it pretty much to perfection. So, in the tradition of many an insomniac blogger such as myself, how about a look back at the year that was 2006?

Feel the BRRR!

It was a chilly one out today — not to mention rainy, nasty, gloomy, depressing — the kind of weather that, as we all know, I abhor. :) While tomorrow will be sunnier, it’ll be the beginning of a serious cold snap. Can you say upper 20s? Yikes! Perhaps winter has, at long last, finally arrived? Or will it just rebound to 70 in a couple weeks like it has in the past? Time will tell. Charleston is such an interesting weather town.

So last night was the party. It was quite good — no real complaints. I had fun, met some cool people, and there was the little bits of drama mixed in (as per the norm at most parties) — good times, overall. I was there far, far later than I had anticipated though. Today started for me at about 1:30 PM. Whoops. Haha. Oh well…

At 4 or so I made the drive to my parents’ place and we had excellent chicken soft tacos and watched the Cowboys squeak by the Giants. That was a really good game. The best part about today came in two sub-parts, though: The Chargers won, and the Colts lost. This means the Chargers have a share of the AFC lead (the Colts still would be seeded #1 for their better conference record). Things are looking very good for the Chargers right now in terms of a first-round bye, but they’ve gotta keep up playing for the next few weeks. This will go down to the wire, for sure.

Other than that, there isn’t much to report for today…was pretty standard, as Sundays go.

And with that, let exam panic begin. :)


It’s Saturday, the first day of the final weekend before a week or two of piledriver-free final exams.