coolerbythelake: (Default)
So . . . this is continuing!! There is more!!!

Today I just got another check from the government - this one from the U.S. District Court of Columbus, Ohio, in the amount of $32.45. What the effing eff. I bought an iPod Nano off of eBay 8 years ago - in 2006!! - and because I got ripped off and reported it to the US Postal Inspection Service, I'm still getting money back. They caught this guy and made him pay.

So, $69.58 + 26.24 + $32.45 = 128.27

I don't recall how much money I got back from eBay, but . . . I think I got all of my money back now (unless I actually came out ahead).

So, I guess this just goes to show, that if you want to make money off of eBay, there's more than one way to do it. Also, I guess it goes to show that the wheels of justice do grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine.
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I am not sure what prompted me to log back into this thing tonight, but I figured I would totally blog.

I'm still working at the hospital, and things are going pretty well over there. It has been a lot of work lately because we merged with another hospital group. It just wrapped up in the past couple of weeks, but still hasn't tapered off completely. And today we got an email saying that this other hospital merger has gotten additional approval, and is likely to also go through. That would probably start up at the end of this year, but it basically means 3-4 months of a lot of work.

Friend-wise and confidence wise, I feel like I'm in a pretty good spot. I sometimes think back to notions of my younger self, and think of how scared I was just to be myself. I think some of that still lingers, but I have people around me who know me and accept me. I guess maybe I feel like there's less to prove. I really don't know. You'll have to forgive me - I haven't blogged in a while.

One thing that has been going well is our Linux User Group. This one hosting company, Rackspace, donated a crapton of server resources\ to our group, so it makes it really easy to put things up on the web or to run workshops where people can have their own test servers. I put together our website, chicagolug.org, and we recently started using GNU MediaGoblin as a hosting platform for hosting our pictures and other media.

MediaGoblin is really cool because you can host pictures, music, videos, 3D-Printing models, ASCII art, PDF's, presentations, and more stuff all on the same platform - all of it together. They're working on federation, too, so different instances of MediaGoblin will be able to talk to each other. Unlike Flickr and Youtube and such, where everything is centralized - MediaGoblin makes for decentralized media hosting. We've just started using it, but the site is up here: media.chicagolug.org.

We've also set up a chump bot that allows us to share links from IRC, chump.chicagolug.org. I need to set up the page indexing on that so that you can see the different day archives. The pages are being archived, but right now you can only see today's page.

So, yeah, I guess I'm doing a lot with the LUG, and am learning a lot about server administration and things like that. It's a pretty good group.

I'm not sure how much I'll be back around here, but I thought I would peek my head in and say hello.
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I'm totally loving this comic.
coolerbythelake: (Default)
A friend from the nidge is now apparently homeless. The same person that I wrote about before (he had stayed at my house). He went from place to place to place over a month or so, never for very long. If you look at where he stayed over the past year or so, his tenure at each place grew shorter and shorter. Trying to fight off homelessness . . . it is weird to see the arc of it like that.

A group of us got together at a cafe last saturday to see what all we could do. Some people have let him stay at their place, others aren't really willing to, and some just lament some of the choices (and lack thereof) that got him here. The concensus seemed to be that we'd all be willing to chip-in on anything like clothes for an interview, money for a security deposit, and other things like that . . . people weren't willing to have him stay at their place for longer times. We also know how prideful he can be about things, and so we would be willing to offer help in researching support resources for him if he wanted help with that (he had gotten upset at people who mentioned various community resources because he said it insulted him - that mentioning of these things inferred that he hadn't looked them up before). How were they to know? Why not just say, "Thanks - I have tried those, and it didn't work out."? That would be fine to say.

While the attitude he showed wasn't so endearing, we also think that he's just battling depression. When you see things like this . . . sometimes it's like the person who is talking isn't really the person, it's the depression. So it makes it easier to somehow to let things like that roll off your back.

There was one of us who was there that seemed to still be particularly trusted by our now homeless friend. He agreed that he would send the note. We just want him to know that we aren't going to 'unfriend' him - that we do care - we just aren't sure what to do. Aren't sure how we can best help.

Anyway, I'm not sure what all else to say about it. It sucks, but I can't have him stay at my place again. In talking with another friend, she was just hoping for some kind of wake-up for him, but not in a "hit rock bottom," kind of sense, but just that he would realize what he really had to change, that some of that stubbornness would go away so that he could do what he needed to do to get things going. He's smart. He can be charming. He has crazy good computer skills. We don't know what to do . . .

. . . as for me, things have been remarkably good other than that. My job is going well, I feel like I have a better support network of people around me than I've had in a long, long time, and I've been doing lots of yoga which has me feeling better, too. I know that's not much to say, but it's enough considering that I haven't posted here much lately.

Hope everybody out there is swimming along well enough. Be well. Eat some cheese.

Apartments

Jul. 5th, 2013 11:37 pm
coolerbythelake: (Default)
I searched for homes in the price range of 1.5-2.5 million USD today . . . because I can totally afford those. I'm not sure why I searched that price range, but I found a place that's for sale where I used to live. Here it is: 3312 N. Leavitt.

It was my first apartment in Chicago, and it looked pretty different at the time. It was a green three-flat, and my roommate and I shared the second floor apartment. It was an interesting place. It had a heater that sat in the living room with an air vent that pulled in fresh air from the outside, heated it to super-hot temperatures, and then discharged it's scalding breath at your feet. I slept with my bedroom door open all the time because that was the only source of heat in the entire apartment.

The hot water heater was in a small closet just off of the kitchen. When the hot water heater went out, People's Gas came out to fix it . . . the repair person took a look at the setup, and then completely disconnected the hot water heater from the gas line - he said it wasn't up to code, and was a fire hazard. A day or so later, a Polish repair person (hired by my landlord) came by and re-connected the hot water heater. Problem totally solved.

My roommate and I split the rent of $750 a month, which was pretty cheap for the time. We didn't find many apartments in that price range, and didn't have much time to search for one (we had to get back to Iowa, where we were moving from . . . ), and we just settled on that one. I still always think of that move whenever I go past the Starbucks and Clark and Belmont. He and I were going to split up for the day and check out different apartments, and that Starbucks would be our meeting point when we got back from our apartment viewings.

Our apartment had a small deck off of the first floor, and I remember going out there some nights and having drinks with the downstairs neighbors. We played some guitar, and they told me that they liked how I didn't play Knockin' on Heaven's Door like Guns N' Roses played it (I learned a couple Bob Dylan songs from a "Bob Dylan 5-chord Songbook," but wouldn't remember how to play them now).

It also had a small patch of grass in the back yard, and I used to swing golf clubs back there and practice chip shots. It's kind of sad that the new place has the entire back yard covered-up by a deck.

Anyway, cheers to my old apartment which is now a mega condo / single family home. :)
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My friend Chris shared a thoughtful post about hackers dealing with depression.

http://dustycloud.org/blog/on-hackers-and-depression

To me, he's one of the few people who, when he writes can make me think and feel at the same time. It's worth a read, if only to support him in his dealings with depression, to maybe make you feel less alone if you deal with depression, or to help you understand a friend or loved one who struggles with depression.

Cheers, and thanks.
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It was just a little party. I am wearing a green and blue shirt, but you kind of have to play where's waldo to find me.

This was maybe the sixth or seventh year of this annual party, at least for me. Some faces change, but it's always such a festive night.

I recited a poem by David Kirby. Like last year, I took the time to commit it to memory.

David Kirby - The Afterlife )

Peace in 2013, my friends.
coolerbythelake: (Default)




Sorry to let you down, blog!

I had a good Thanksgiving with my mommu. I got down fairly early on Wednesday, and though that night was tough, we hung out a lot and it was a pretty enjoyable weekend. The first night there she seemed very anxious - the most anxious I've ever seen her, actually. Her hair was disheveled and she seemed kind of hunched over. At dinner, she didn't even look at me very much. I think living by herself has been difficult, and perhaps she was also just nervous about me coming home for some reason.

If going home after the loss of a loved one is difficult, this is how it was difficult. I tried to not press it too much, and just tried to be there with her.

We talked about personal things / how we were each getting along some, but we also just hung out. We watched the entirety of Season 1 of Homeland together. We didn't mean to, but we both just got into it, and kept wanting to watch more episodes. It's a really good show.

We also got to meet my brother's fiance's family. Holy shit, yeah, I hadn't mentioned on here that my brother got engaged, but - yes. Tis true. The last week in October he found out that he got a new job, got engaged to his girfriend, and they both did an iron-person event. It was quite a week. Her family seems like a good family, as much as you can tell by eating lunch with someone, anyway. And we really like my brother's fiance a lot. We're just really happy for my brother. And really happy that we'll have another cool member in the family.
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From Wikipedia:
To return to the six-pointed stars in the Chicago municipal flag. By the terms of the competition under the rules laid down by the Chicago Flag Commission in 1917, the use of religious symbols, which included the cross, the star and crescent, and the two triangles, one reversed and superimposed, was barred, for obvious reasons. [1] The five-pointed star, symbol of a soverign State, was also considered out of place, for reasons which I hope have been made equally obvious here. Chicago is a city.

After more than four hundred designs had been made by me, I finally struck upon such a six-pointed star as had never appeared in any flag before, peculiarly and singularly a Chicago star, made by a Chicagoan for his greatly loved city, by an American in the tenth generation in this country, whose ancestors had fought against Great Britain, for the most American of American cities. It differs from all other stars in use in European heraldry and in State and National flags and coats-of-arms, and is specifically for and of Chicago and nowhere else on earth because its points are straight and not like the usual heraldric etioile curved like flames, and because these points subtend an angle of only thirty degrees, instead of the sixty degrees subtended in the star made by superimposing a triangle.

----
I wonder if the "barred, for obvious reasons," item would cause a fuss on Fox News or something like that today.

Still, pretty neat to read the history behind how the flag of this city was created.
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I stayed up last night to follow the Curiosity rover landing. Everyone is falling all over Bobak Ferdowsi (and rightly so), but this guy, Steve Collins, was also one of my favorites from the night.

It was really cool that so many things went right during the night. They kept saying that they expected the signal to drop out occasionally, but it rarely did.

I took some screencaps in the minutes leading up to (and following) the landing. I'll create a quick album of them soon and will share it.
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My Mom called last night and left me a message saying that she did something today, and that Dad said she should mention it to me. I was having dinner with a friend from ADP before seeing Batman, so I wasn't able to pick up. I texted my parents, and told them I would call them today.

I gave my Mom a call while I was on my lunch break, and she told me about a discussion that she had with a woman from her water aerobics class yesterday. The woman was saying something about Sally Ride, and how she liked what Sally did, but thought less of her when she found out she was a lesbian. My mom asked her why that mattered, that Sally Ride being a lesbian doesn't change what she did. I guess that the woman thought it was a choice, and that she has known people who used to be gay, but weren't gay anymore. My mom thought that it's likely that those people weren't ever gay to begin with.

I don't recall all of the other details, but she seemed more mature and matter-of-fact about it than I recall her talking about these things in the past. She seemed self-assured - that this anti-gay bigotry was clearly just this woman's issue, and wasn't something that was up for debate in her mind. Not forcing it on the other person, though - more just wondering how someone could still think that way.

My mom told me that, when people ask about her kids - if they are married - she tells them that one of her sons is gay, and that the other was just a bit slower with dating. I didn't know that she was so open about my being gay, so I'm glad that she told me. It was pretty cool to hear.
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This past weekend I volunteered at the Pitchfork music festival - I've done it a couple of times in the past, each time doing something different there. This year I was one of the people who put wristbands on people who were over age 21.

I didn't actually have to check their IDs - there was another guy who did that. At first it was kind of slow . . . I think the guy I was paired up with had some kind of mental impairment. He seemed like the kind of guy in school who would maybe have gotten teased a lot because he always talked too loud or something like that. He would check people's IDs and then tell them something about the year that they were born. A lot of people were born in the year that Mary Lou Retton won a Gold Medal in the Olympics while others were born in the year that Ben Johnson was busted for using steroids. A lot of his recollections had to do with car models that began or ceased production in that particular year.

Most people didn't really seem to mind. Or else they didn't really understand what he was talking about. I just kind of let him go. :)

For a while I would see the people who came up to me - see their faces - but after a while it just became a sea or wrists. I worked very quickly. There was such a huge variation in wrists. Some people (even some men) had wrists that were so narrow that the band would loop over itself. Others it didn't seem like the band was going to make its way across in one go. I tried to make sure that the band lined-up on the tape side so that I would, "spare the hair," as one guy put it. Another guy was made fun of by his friends because his arm had virtually no hair.



They all came and went so quickly, but I didn't want to be "that guy" to comment on everyone's wrists. A lot of people said, "thanks," though. So I would smile and tell them to, "enjoy the show," or some such.

The ID-checker stopped providing birth-year factoids as it got busier. He would just call out, "Good!" once he confirmed the validity of the ID, and that a person was of age. There were people from all over - Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Belgium, California, Washington, New York, Ohio and Indiana.

I wrapped up my shift and met up with some friends who bought tickets to the event. I didn't think I'd have enough energy to make it through the evening, but I'm glad I stuck around. Sleigh Bells and Grimes were both excellent, and it was good to relax in the grass with my friends after being on my feet for much of the day.
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I finally finished paying off my bills for my prior kidney stone-related visits to the ER. Although I had insurance at the time, it was poor insurance, and I wound up having to pay about $4,000 out of pocket just for visits to the ER. Who knew that a CT scan was billed (before discounts) at $3,000? It only takes about 5 minutes to do a CT scan - how can it cost so much?

Fortunately, my recent visits / procedures were / are covered by my better insurance.

So, I've set up a plan to save up money over the next three years so that I can move out of my place. I mentioned this to my parents today, and they asked where I would move to. I told them that I'd plan to live in the same neighborhood, but just a different place. Something above ground and with an extra bedroom to house visitors when they were in town. I'm giving myself three years just to save up money.

I've created a budget spreadsheet to make sure my goals are reasonable, and have set up a recurring transfer of some money into savings.

On Friday I had a few drinks with two guys who used to be the Ubuntu-Chicago group with me. One of them said that he had $30,000 in student loans when he got out of school. That's so horrible. I hate that school is so expensive, so out of reach for people. That going to school can financially cripple someone even before they get a chance to get started in life. The expense of college has always perpetuated inequalities, but now it's even worse.

When I was out of school, I eventually got a full-time job making 31,000 per year. That was a lot of money to me. It still is a decent amount of money. But if you are making that much money and have 30k or more in student loan debt . . . it seems like it would be hard to keep your head above water.

On Saturday I went with a friend Ernest to see Snow White and the Huntsman, and then hang out with some gay dudes up at T's in Andersonville. Snow White wasn't horrible, but didn't seem very remarkable, either. This was the first movie I've ever seen with Kristin Stewart in it, and I had only kind of seen the memes that say she has only one facial expression - so I kept checking to see if she would smile. She did smile once, but otherwise . . . yeah, maybe she's not the best actress.

It was good to hang out with Ernest and the others, though. We made our way over to SoFo for a couple of drinks after we were at T's. It was a nice night out, and we had a good time talking in their outdoor seating area.

Today I've mostly been studying for a PHR exam that I'm taking next weekend. In studying for this exam, it occurs to me that I don't really need it that much. I had originally gotten certified when I worked at ADP because they thought it was good for us to have the cert. Now that I'm at my current job, I don't feel like I need it so much, but it's still a "nice to have" so I'll give it a try again.
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I have my stent removed tomorrow, which will hopefully mark the end of my long run of stonyness. I say hopefully because the nurse told me that I may experience back spasms that feel similar to the kidney stone after they remove the stent.

Apparently they apply some gel to numb me, and then just go to town with removing the stent. It is supposed to be over in a minute or two. I've read mixed reviews - some say that it doesn't hurt, that it just feels weird. Others say it hurts a lot.

Even if I do get back spasms, though, they are supposed to settle down shortly afterwards. I think I'll be in good shape.

Although I laid on my couch for a good portion of the holiday weekend, I did get out for a haircut, and for my neighbor's croquet / gin drinking in the shade party. The haircut was with Connie, who has been cutting my hair for the past year and a half or so. She's seen me through a lot - losing my job, being without a job, going on trips, not sure if i was getting a job, getting a job - keeping me looking good the whole time. It was my last cut with her. She got prego and is moving off to Vegas with her soon-to-be fiancée. Awesome. I am actually going to miss her, though. She was all kinds of cool.

The afternoon party was hella awesome, too. I just brought two big pitchers of lemonade with strawberries in it because I knew that I wouldn't be drinking gin, and I didn't even play croquet, but I still hung out there for several hours. And people totally dug my lemonade. Either that, or they were drunk and they could drink it with gin. We hung out in a park just off of Berwyn street, west of Lake Shore Drive. There is a huge willow tree there, and it has sort of become our hang-out spot over the past couple of years.

I made my way back home around 5pm, and saw some of my neighbors sitting out on their front lawn. I sat in the grass with Kate, Larry, and Menachem while their their cats roamed the yard. It was a relaxing end to the weekend, and I didn't even have to move around a lot.
coolerbythelake: (chi-city)
I missed this announcement when it came out, but I think this is good news.

The FDA will have to approve it, of course, but apparently it is likely that they will.
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