Unmitigated Disaster...

This week has been just ridiculous. Simply absurd.

Last Sunday afternoon I left for Roswell, NM, yet again, because my customer "didn't have time" to install the latest version of our software. I was there for less than 24 hours. I landed at 8:00 pm Sunday and left on the last flight out at 3:45 pm Monday. I sat down at their computer at 7:00 am Monday, installed the latest version, and it worked without a hitch. I was so mad about being there that I couldn't even be excited that it worked. After all, I had spent days and days in our testing lab making sure it worked, but they couldn't even bother to install it to test it themselves.

When I got back, I had three days to write some code for a HD video capture card (it was supposed to be more, but I wasted all that time getting ready for and traveling to Roswell). In this case, the capture card came with a software development kit (SDK) from the manufacturer that we had to pay 5000 bucks to use. For 5000 bucks, I figured that it would probably be the easiest thing I'd ever done. Well, the SDK consisted of about 40 pages of documentation and about a dozen sample applications -- none of which came close to doing the very simple thing I needed. On top of that, the sample applications very devoid of any useful comments. The comments that were included said things like, "//bill was too lazy to fix this, so I'm going to hack around it too", and my personal favorite, "//NOTE: convert ignored for now do [sic] to excessive laziness."

It took 3 twelve hour days to get it figured out. Talk about cutting it to the wire. On Friday afternoon, the co-worker who needed the capture card stuff spent the afternoon in my office as we integrated his code with mine. He left at 6:00. I left at 10:00. Enough said about that.

And then, something not about work at all. This afternoon, I decided to fix my bathroom sink. About a year ago, the puller that raises and lowers the drain stopper stopped working. In my own extreme laziness, I just pulled out the stopper altogether and have been operating without it for about a year. Not a bad deal, really, except that I've dropped a lot of pills down that drain that I might have been able to rescue. I'm guessing the fish downstream of me are well medicated.

So, for whatever reason, I picked this afternoon to fix the stopper-puller-thingy. I remove all the junk from underneath the sink. I fiddle with the stopper mechanism for about 30 minutes, and then it's off to Lowe's. I find the part I need. I buy said part and return home. At home, said part does not work with my old drain stopper. "Universal" my eye. Shoot. I go to Dick's Hardware (yes, it's really called that), and find another stopper. I buy said stopper. This one works. Whew.

I am reassembling the sink drain, specifically the p-trap, when one of the pipes breaks. This isn't cheap plastic crap people, it's chrome plated galvanized drain pipe, and it cracks and splits apart as I am tightening the connectors. Sigh. As sewer gases waft out the open drain pipe, I realize that I have to go to Lowe's again. In contrast to the stopper, which you can live without, the sink is basically unusable if the drain isn't hooked up, and I'm going to need to buy a new p-trap.

Fortunately, the new p-trap installed without incident. I'm still not sure it was worth it, though. Why is it a universal law of home repair that every task will require at least 3 trips to the hardware store? Well, I hope the world sleeps better knowing that I now have a functioning drain stopper puller thingy.


Lying, Cheating, and Stealing

Have you ever met someone famous? Yeah, you probably have. Up until 3 weeks ago, the most famous person I had ever met was this guy:

No, not ALF, the other guy. I was twelve, collecting money for Primary Children's Medical Center, something they called "Pennies By the Inch." Man, I hated that fundraiser. You were supposed to go around and suggest that people donate a penny for every inch of their height. Not only was it mathematically challenging for someone with a weak command of the twelves time-tables, but there's also no heavier way of donating to a charity.
Anyway, we were knocking doors like little Amway people in a local trailer park. Behind one of those doors was Alf's grouchy owner. Surprising to say the least. Apparently his mom lived there. Unimpressive on many levels, I know.

Then, I met someone truly remarkable. And I don't mean met as in "saw at Sundance" or the "he came and spoke at my ward once". I actually sat down and had a meal with Dick Rutan:

I can tell you're impressed. Old guy in a flight suit, real cool, right? Well, this is one serious dude. A real life John Wayne of the airplane world. He flew jets in Korea and Vietnam. In the latter conflict, his job was to take out gun emplacements. Meaning that he would fly around until someone was stupid enough to shoot at him, and then he would dive in and blow them to bits. He did get shot down once, but he was able to nurse his plane to the gulf of Tonkin before he ejected so that he'd be picked up by the Navy instead of the Vietcong.

When that was all over, he left the Air Force and kept flying. It worked out well because his brother designed and built airplanes. In 1986, he was the very first person to fly around the world non-stop. Then in 1997 (at 59!) he did another around the world flight in a plane he had built himself back in the 70s.

He's now 72 years old, and he flew his plane from LA to Portland to meet with a group of us doing a demonstration of some pretty cool airplane stuff that I'm sure you're not interested in. After the demo, we all went out to dinner, where he regaled us with even more stories from his life (definitely not PG). He also offered a toast:
"A toast to lying, cheating, and stealing.
If you lie, lie only to keep a friend.
If you cheat, may you cheat death.
If you steal, steal the love of a beautiful woman."
Cheesy? Under normally circumstances, most certainly. But from someone like him, I'll allow it.