2006

Finishing School Or Going Bust

Next semester at San Jose City College will be the breaking point for finishing my associate degree in computer programming on a part-time basis while working full-time for the last five years. I need two advance classes to graduate. If the two required classes don’t get cancelled for low enrollment next year, I can graduate. If the required class I need to take next semester gets cancelled, I just might give it up entirely.

This past semester was hard since I felt like I was spinning my wheels after I lost interest in the two classes that I took but didn’t need to graduate, and I pretty much took all the available optional courses that I can take.

I waited three years for the C++ class that was held up due to a lack of funding to renew the site license for Microsoft Visual Studio. Unfortunately, according to the head of the computer department, teaching C++ on Linux doesn’t represent “real world experience” as every professional programmer must know Visual Studio. Never mind that the textbook also has side-by-side Linux examples.

Meanwhile, my entire classroom programming experience was in Java. Unlike Microsoft Visual Studio, the school doesn’t need to buy a site wide license to teach Java. Although you can get a job with Java, knowing only one programming language can limit your future opportunities. I really wanted to learn assembly language and C++ before I graduate.

For the spring semester, I’m taking an unusual combination: Data Structures and Ceramics I. The first class is a graduation requirement. The second class is one that I wanted to take during my first tour through college in the early 1990’s. If that schedule works out, the fall semester will be similar with GUI Programming and Ceramics 2. Assuming, of course, nothing gets cancelled.

Christmas Day 2006

Super Nephew (Christmas 2006)My Dad came down from Sacramento on the morning of Christmas Eve. He accidentally took his nighttime medication instead of his daytime medication, spent the entire afternoon snoring away in my green chair. He woke up, had dinner, took his nighttime medication again, and snored away the night in my green chair. I’m thinking about putting the green chair out on the balcony for New Year’s.

We spent Christmas Day at my brother’s place with his family in Morgan Hill. One of the little kids on my sister-in-law’s side of the family got a Superman fake muscle and cape set. My nephew—who wore Superman pajamas as a kid — couldn’t stop himself from wearing it. My family is looking forward to the New Year as baby mania is in full rage with my nephew and his girlfriend is expecting their first child.

Thanksgiving 2006

Thanksgiving Turkey 2006I spent Thanksgiving Day with my brother’s family in Morgan Hill. My nephew and his girlfriend are expecting their first child next July. Since my nephew was born on New Year’s Day and his girlfriend was born on Labor Day, they are hoping for the baby to arrive on the Fourth of July. I think the men folk—harden baseball and football fans—was horrified after the dinner to hear that the mother-to-be was planning an elaborate tailgate party in the hospital parking lot.

I spent Black Friday working out at the gym first thing in the morning and cooking an 18-pound turkey in the afternoon. I skipped the entire shopping scene as I had already virtually stampeded Amazon. The Nintendo Wii was gone in the first minute. I tried to get an XBox 360 Core System for $100 USD but it took ten minutes for the web page to load up with the announcement that all 1,000 units were gone. I haven’t had this much fun since the early 1980’s when my mother punched out two other mothers at Toy “R” Us to get a Cabbage Patch Kids doll for my niece.

A Flu Shot For The Midterms

I got the flu shot for the first time a few days ago. That was interesting experience, as I have a fear of needles. I had an old doctor who always wanted two things from me as a young child: a finger up my ass and a blood test. I told no one about the finger thing since he was a doctor (my mother wasn’t allowed in the examination room). We later found out he got a kickback from the testing lab that drew my blood when he suddenly retired to Florida. The test lab was later shut down during a criminal investigation by the police.

With free flu shots available at work, I went to the exercise room at the appointed time. I made an ass out of myself in front of a dozen coworkers with my fearfulness. Amused by the sight of a big guy jumping in and out line over getting a flu shot, they insisted that I cut to the head of the line.

The nurse told me to relax since I have such a big arm muscles that I wouldn’t feel a thing. I stared hard at the wall that had these diagrams on how to exercise the right way and the wrong way, trying to focus on anything. I smelled the pungent scent of alcohol and felt the burning sensation of the alcohol being applied to the skin of my upper left arm. Then the nurse said it was all over.

I didn’t feel a thing.

When I asked her if she was mistaken, she told me to leave. My coworkers were clapping as I left the room in a daze. The pain around the shot area didn’t kick in until later that night. The problem with taking the shot in the left arm is that I sleep on my left side. It was no fun taking my Finite Math midterm exam the following night with a sore arm and being sleep deprived. I got my flu shot and a “C” on the midterm.

Watching Nature On The Train

My trip home from work got delayed at the Caltrain train station in Mountain View. The conductor was trying to get a pair of drunken college students off the train, as they came back from an afternoon baseball game in San Francisco. The train car reeked with the smell of alcohol that the air would catch on fire with a match. Unlike the conductors of yesteryear who would not hesitate to throw someone off a moving train, the conductor can only beg the couple into leaving the train.

The boyfriend was so plastered that returning to the living wasn’t a viable option for him. The girlfriend kept pulling his arms, slapping him in the face, doing a lap dance to arouse him back into mobility, cussing at the conductor for not helping her, and announcing to everyone that this wasn’t a normal day for them.

Unsuccessful in getting the couple off at the Mountain View station, the conductor signaled for the train to depart. When the woman tried to take her clothes off to revive her boyfriend with sex, she got into a huge shouting match with the conductor. Alas, the boyfriend was too far gone. The rest of us were enjoying the show as the girlfriend strip down to her black underwear.

As the train pulled into San Jose four minutes late, the station supervisor and a pair of cops were waiting. All the passengers except for the couple had to leave the train as this was the last stop. Unlike today’s train conductors, cops can arrest and manhandle passengers off a non-moving train.

A Power Outage Without The Heat

After my Thursday night finite class, I stayed late to study for my Unix Administration II class since I had a midterm on Monday (yesterday). Creating a backup script using the tar command to excluding specific files from being compressed into an archive was a bit tricky to put together. It’s amazing how the clock can say 11:00PM one moment and 1:00AM the next moment. I got up late enough to miss my Friday morning commute that I had to work from home.

At midmorning I heard a familiar “ka-POP!” sound from somewhere outside the apartment complex, the lights dimmed and overall power significantly reduced. Unlike the last time something like this happened, the fish tank filter pump didn’t gurgle, the UPSes weren’t beeping their alarms, and it wasn’t hot as heck that morning. Had enough power to keep the low power stuff running without trouble, including my laptop and new DSL modem. I continued working until full power came back on a few hours later.

Watching Someone Almost Get Splattered

I got off the southbound light rail train on my way home from work, and walked over to the crosswalk to wait for the northbound train to leave the station, when I noticed this young woman with a cellphone to her ear walking towards the departing train. She was completely oblivious to her surroundings.

I remembered what the shuttle bus driver at the Caltrain train station in Mountain View told me earlier this year about a suicide he witnessed. He saw the guy jump in front of a speeding baby bullet train, got splattered into big meaty chunks and the woman standing nearby got splashed with blood from head to toe. The shuttle driver, being in the merchant marines for 40 years and seen far worse, wasn’t bothered from watching the police dump chunks of the guy into garbage bags.

The train horn blared in passing. The woman jumped backwards in little bunny hops, as the train rush past her by mere inches. She screamed into her cellphone that she almost got run over by a train. After the train left the station, she walked into the crosswalk against the light. While still talking on the cellphone, she almost got hit by a delivery truck but didn’t notice as she went on her way.

What The Painters Didn’t Clean Up

After my balcony got splattered by a paint spill that dribble down from the balcony upstairs, the painters had to clean up the mess, repaint my balcony and buy me a new patio chair a few weeks ago. Working from home the other day, the superintendent stopped by to test the smoke detector, and we had a rather interesting conversation.

“Did the painters—”

“Nope.”

“—clean up the mess?”

“Nope.”

“They didn’t?”

“Nope.”

A quick phone call got the head painter committed to coming over at noon. The smoke detector worked fine and superintendent left. The painter showed up at 2:30PM just as I was getting ready to go somewhere. He paid me $10 USD for the patio chair and painted over the floor of the balcony in ten minutes without leaving a paint ring or paint foot prints inside my apartment. As for the paint splattered chair, I’m keeping it just in case my balcony gets splattered again. Who to say that spilt paint won’t strike the same spot twice?

Outlander Gaming PC Case Upgrade

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You can’t play a scary game like F.E.A.R. without screaming like a little girl and kicking the computer. It doesn’t help that kicking the computer causes it to reboot and you’re swearing like a little girl as the unsaved game disappears into the bit bucket. For several months, I put up with system reboots after bumping the case or plugging a memory stick into the front USB connector, or holding down the power and reset buttons to turn the system on. There’s an electrical short somewhere that I haven’t located. It was time to get a new case for the gaming computer nicknamed Outlander.

Over the Labor Day weekend, I put in an order with Newegg for the Cooler Master Centurion 5 full tower case. I wanted to get this particular case for about six months but haven’t had a good enough reason to buy it. But F.E.A.R. helped me overcome my fear of a thinner wallet, as I wanted to finish playing the game.

When I put the system together in the old case three or four years ago, multiple hard drives and CD/DVD drives required multiple 80mm fans (two in front, two in back, and one on the side panel) to cool the system. The drawback with all those fans was too much noise, especially since the CPU and graphic card had their own loud fans.

The new case has a 120mm fan in the back, an 80mm fan in the front, and a ventilated top-to-bottom front to keep the system cooler and quieter. My gaming rig is a lot simpler today since I have one hard drive, one CD/DVD drive, a passively cooled video card, and a low-noise CPU fan.

As with my recent file server case upgrade, I left the floppy drive out as I rarely used one and can always use the USB floppy drive.