Why, Why, Zed

Have a vacation coming up in mid-September. Nine days off. Right now, my highest plan is to visit Toronto; would be my first trip out of country. So many things to plan and expect. I need to find some way to carry money or a credit card while I’m there. I need to get my phone unlocked so I can buy a SIM card and a prepaid plan once I land. I need to book the flight. I need to book my lodging (hopefully a bed and breakfast). I need to assemble a list of things that would be cool to do and see. I have a few friends in Toronto that I’ve been wanting to meet in person for 18 years, so that will be good.

Ultimately, I just want to get away and feel like my life is worth living (my job is killing me).

If anybody has any advice, I’m all ears.

Repairing the Dripping Faucet of the Time Sink

So, I’ve been negligent to this journal in the past month. Not unusual, but so much has happened and I haven’t shared. I know I should document at least some of the exciting and mundane things just to keep you people coming back. So negligent. For that, I’m sorry…but not that sorry.

Eh, five or six weeks back I quit IRC for good. I’m done. When I think of all the time I’ve wasted on that chat medium, I weep. That’s time I will never get back. Well, it wasn’t a total waste; there are some really awesome people on there. I mean IRC is just a tool for communication and nothing more, but the ratio of awesome people to absolute dicks (who are dicks just for the joy of it) makes the medium not worth the effort. I met some good people, and I really miss them. But the rest of the people, fuck ’em.

I now have a lot of quality time available. I don’t have to expend so much mental energy constantly defending myself with wit and face-saving antics that I’m too fatigued and demoralized to be productive. Now I feel better about myself. It’s like turning up the squelch control on a noisy receiver; click, and it’s no more noise. It’s amazing. And oddly enough, I don’t feel lonely anymore since I’m now paying attention to the here-and-now. I’ve always felt like I was staring at the horizon on a long, dark, starless night trying to communicate with people just beyond, but now I’m looking at the campfire in front of me and finally connecting with the people who’ve been sitting next to me for so many years.

Case in point: I met a girl. Ok, actually, it’s more complicated than that. We’ve known each other for eight years back when she was in a shitty marriage. Saw each other for the first time in a while at a coffeeshop and decided to chat face-to-face; that evening, my laptop stayed in its bag. We’ve been hanging out quite a bit, nothing serious. Just good times and lots of laughs. Bringing some levity and sanity to things. People need more of that. IRC never gave me any of that.

And now, something that isn’t related to IRC: a month ago I noticed my eyeglasses were starting to break and it was only a matter of time before the whole thing came apart, so I went to the optometrist. Got a wild hare and decided to get contacts; it’d been ’93 since I wore them last, so I wanted to try again. Well, after the first 10 days, my eyes were so dry and irritated I had to stop wearing the contacts. Eyes got seriously bloodshot; looked as if I had pinkeye. Had to start wearing my new glasses.

Well, two nights ago I decided to try the contacts again; my eyes were finally clear, no redness. I put them on before going out for the evening; returned home four hours later and promptly removed them. Eyes were so dry that I scratched them while removing the contacts…I’m so out of practice. Woke up Saturday morning to the brightest red eyes I’d ever seen this side of the movies. They’re still embarrassingly red two days later. That’s all the evidence I need to tell me that I can’t wear contacts, which is a shitty realization considering how much I’d invested in those fuckers. I’m not sure if the contacts themselves are carrying a bacterial load or if their surface is rough from wearing them or if I’m allergic to the cleaning solution or whatever. All I know is that I can’t wear them, and I should probably consult my optodoc before trying anything else. Hmph.

In other news, my job lately is quite stressful. I don’t want to dwell too much on it considering this is Sunday night, the calm before the storm. My workload has been building up on me faster than I can process it, and I feel I’m on the verge of collapse. It’s not worth the 10% pay reduction I got (everybody got a paycut, thanks to the economy…whatever). It’s a job, and it supports the lifestyle to which I have grown accustomed, but the Depression-era rearing I had beaten into me tells me to not knock it because “I could be flipping burgers”. But c’mon. I’m getting new assignments and “side projects” every time I receive an email. And everybody wants their numbers in the early part of this week. Well I’m here to say that shit ain’t happening.

I went in for a few hours today (a Sunday!) to get a head start on the week. Hopefully I got the last part of the data collection for one of the tasks; spent three hours on it in the lab by myself with no distractions. I’ll crunch the numbers tomorrow after I kick off some benchmark runs for another task. Hopefully everything will have been for good. At the least, I got three of my required 40 hours done; everybody (on top of the paycuts) also has time limits if they’re hourly. Yeah, awesome. My checks are shitty; everybody’s is. Probably why my workload’s building up: nobody else has time left to do them. Feh.

Dammit. I’ve dwelt too much. Moving on.

The Ruby On Rails project I’m building for my site is progressing well. I have basic user functionality written and now I’m moving along into file uploads, doing all the groundwork for everything that stacks on top of it. Once I had my user and login admin code mostly finished, I decided — just for fun — to write a test harness to check it (I can’t check everything by clicking in a browser). Wouldn’t you know it, there were holes and flaws and errors and problems aplenty in my code. Who the hell put those there? I am so damned glad I worked up the testcases. Rails has a pretty powerful facility for writing tests. Now, since I’m starting work on the file upload feature, I think I’ll follow this programming methodology (some call it “extreme programming”) by sketching out an idea of what I want to the software to do, composing the tests to check for that functionality, and then writing the project code to make those tests pass. It’s a goal-oriented approach, and thankfully it’s keeping me on track.

And all this because of the free time I have available after I ditched IRC. Can you believe that? I certainly can.

Leaving IRC, Shutting Up

IRC is the worst place to go if you have something to say.

No matter the message, no matter if you’re pontificating, ranting, trying to convince someone, convey your viewpoint, or call out for other people who agree, it’s the worst place to do it. There’s always going to be one motherfucker who has it out for you. He will issue the smallest number of words to completely derail you and reduce everything you’ve just said to the level of worthlessness.

“Why don’t you just blog about it?”

I’ve had enough. I’m not in with those people. Haven’t been for years. Trying to hold on to some shred of respect and fight for my own relevance. As in real life, so in IRC. This morning was a cascade of insults and issuances that pushed the thorns in a little deeper, and I’ve had enough. I cannot grow a thicker skin; I lack that ability.

I’m done with the oneupmanship. Done with the wit. Done with the insults. Done. I’ve parted all but one of the channels I’m on. It’s been a long time coming, but today was just too much. I don’t IRC from work anymore because I find it destroys any of the concentration I desperately require there. I only IRC in my free time now, and even that time is better spent doing something else. When my IRC window is open, I can do fuckall with any of my projects. Somebody speaks, the window scrolls, and there’s my attention running away.

Hi. My name is Shawn. I’m a recovering IRC addict.

So if I can speak my mind in a monologue on my blog, and if I can have realtime chat on one of many instant-messenger platforms, and if I can debate and argue on untold thousands of web boards and forums, and if I can share files with people in a lot of ways, then what use is IRC? What relevance does IRC have? It is obsolete, then. A ghost town. The domain of oldschool curmudgeons who do little more than idle unless it is to put some else down.

So I’ve done the one thing I do best: leave. I’m voting with my feet. You can say I’m “emoparting”. You’d be correct. You are always correct.

It’s been a long, unproductive ride.

Ok. Time to get things under way

Good. Journal engine works. Works well. Good.

I’m up here at Mojo’s, per my usual. Sitting and not doing much while my laptop is in front of me. What am I doing? Chatting with the people who aren’t here instead of the people who are, and closing everyone out with headphones. This is an odd turn of events. And I’m not even working on program code.

Shawn the Antisocial

So, ok, it’s time to pick back up with my website engine. Really is. I had some forward momentum going before I got my laptop and began work on the journal engine. With one new-year’s resolution down, I have 3 more to go. My website engine is one of them.

Man, the laughter and joy around me is astounding. Perhaps I should join them, eh? Hmm.

Ah, here’s a quote my friend Rachel sent me:

“You know the world is going crazy when the best rapper is a white guy, the best golfer is a black guy, The Swiss hold the America’s Cup, France is accusing the US of arrogance, and Germany doesn’t want to go to war.”