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Welcome to my LJ, friends, strangers, and all those in between. Since not all of my friends who read this want to bother creating a Livejournal account of their own, I allow anonymous comments to be posted. But please, sign your name or something on each comment to identify yourself; otherwise, the curiousity will drive me nuts!
Here's what you do: you take some dried hot peppers. Don't have any? Buy a couple at the store and stick them in the oven at 225 for a couple hours. Anyway, you take those dried hot peppers and put them in a coffee grinder and grind them nice and fine. Then you empty a packet of hot chocolate (Land o' Lakes makes good stuff. Who knew?) into a mug, and then add a pinch of the pepper powder. Unless you're me, then you add three pinches and a sprinkle, then forget and rub your eyes. Pour in hot water, stir, and drink.
1) It's fun. That's good news.
2) It's rough on the fingers and feet. That's not a surprise.
3) Nobody says anything if you run out of tunes to play and start repeating yourself. That's a relief.
4) Find the sweet spot! It turns out that being near lines of little girls is lucrative. That's alliterative.

At Spoutwood I found a spot that got a constant cool breeze, which was important because it was pretty sweltering. By happy chance it was also right next to the pony rides. As a result, I had a pretty constant audience of young children. Dancing kids = tipping parents! I also figured out halfway through that if somebody takes my picture, I could smile and nudge my tip basket, and they'd be very likely to drop some money in. The end result? While other strolling musicians complained about not getting much in tips, I kept very quiet.

The pony rides at Maryland Fairy Festival never had the lines that Spoutwood did, but I had the advantage of positioning myself between the food vendors (who were often handing people $1 bills) and the nearest shady area. Absolutely adorable? The little girl who sat down in front of me through three sets and just stared, smiling. Also adorable? The little girl who yelled "bravo!"; whenever I finished playing.

I'll close this with a couple of my favorite photosCollapse )

Originally uploaded by aikinut
I'm fascinated by the underwater ice in the lee of the rocks.
"Making pie" is not a euphemism, but is much more fun than expected.
Boondock Saints!
Now that I've seen the sequel, I really want to watch the original. Plus my son hasn't seen it yet, and clearly this gap in his education needs to be filled. So if anybody wants to come by tomorrow around 6ish and enjoy it in HD on the 65-inch screen, you're more than welcome.
An ex of mine used to say that if you ask me what time it is, I'll tellyou how a watch works. My new supervisor appears to be the same way. Holy crap is that annoying!
ETA: This Saturday! That's November 7th, 2009.

The first monthly Sci-fi/Fantasy GeekTV night. This month, what better way to kick off the holiday season than with Death guiding a sleigh pulled by eight flying pigs?

I put 6:00 on the Facebook invitation. People are welcome to arrive earlier, and I'm not saying the show starts promptly at 6, but somewhere in there.

We'll be ordering out for dinner this time, probably pizza, maybe Chinese, so bring $5-10 for that.

I know this is short notice but there's a reason for it being this weekend that I'm not going to share here. If you can't make it, rest assured that there's always next month, which will probably involve Firefly. Or Buckaroo Banzai, depending on who wins the argument.

I didn't deliberately not invite anyone, so feel free to pass this invite along to anyone you want.

Folks coming from out of town are welcome to spend the night, but might want to bring a sleeping bag.
It turns out that I misunderstood slightly; the Owings Mills position wasn't a job offer, it was more of a "if they offered you this, would you be interested." I said yes, but now we need to set up a phone interview with their testing guy, and they don't appear to be in a hurry. Meanwhile, the Lebanon job wants me to start tomorrow. Just so we're clear, not working for them for two days this week means turning away close to $1000. That seems... unwise. I've looked over the consulting contract, and it's pretty simple; early termination of the contract at the agreement of both parties. So if the Owings Mills guys make an actual offer, and I decide I want to take it, I can just tell the Lebanon guys that it isn't working out.

But then, the guy who would be my supervisor in Lebanon says they'll all be wearing kilts in my honor, so I might like it there after all.
As of this morning, I've received two offers, neither of which thrill me very much.

Offer One: The Lebanon job, making $5-10K more than at my last job.
Why it doesn't thrill me much: First, because it's programming in the same language I've been doing for the last 10 years, and it's feeling more and more like a dead end. Second, because rather than a direct hire, their president wants to bring me on as a consultant for six months, which means *NO* benefits. Taking a day off would cost me hundreds of dollars. In six months, they'd hire me permanently. At least, that's what the guy I'd be working under says. I say, the president wants to wait until the first quarter numbers are in before deciding whether to keep me, and that makes me nervous. I don't want to be back in this boat again in April.

Offer Two: The Owings Mills job, making $0-5K less than I was making in my last job... doing Software Quality Assurance
Why it doesn't thrill me much: I'm okay with possibly making less than at the last job; I'd expected that with moving to Java. But moving over to QA has me nervous. The recruiter says the plan is for me to be able to move over into programming within a year or two, but that right now my Java experience is just too inadequate for them to take me on as a developer. I made enough of an impression on the interviewer as a smart guy that he wants me on the team, just in a different role.

I think I'll take the Owings Mills QA tester position, in the hopes that it will ultimately be better for my career. As long as I can get back into development within two years, I should be okay. Note that QA testing in this arena is almost paying as much as ten years of experience is getting me in my former career path. Even if I wind up staying in a QA career, I'd probably still top out higher than I would if I stayed with the old path.

Owings Mills, here I come, I guess.
Going to the PA Ren Faire today (Sunday, the 25th). I'd love some company.
It's no levitating mouse, but it's still pretty cool. The best part would be gazing in your lover's eyes and having circuitry gaze back.
A follow-up to this post: I had to laugh when, two days after I wrote it, I watched the episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in which she gets telepathic powers, and wouldn't you know, she's annoyed by someone else's earworm.
It occurs to me, for no apparent reason and quite out of the blue, that the worst part of being a telepath would probably be constantly getting other people's earworms stuck in your head.
Steven Seagal, who has been working as a Louisiana police officer for the last 20 years, and will now be in a reality show on A&E about it. Hm, 20 years ago would be 1989, right about when "Above the Law" came out. I know that two years after that, he was still actively teaching at his Aikido school in Los Angeles, so clearly this was not a full-time gig. I'm not sure it would even count as part-time; I mean, that's one hell of a commute. Either way, the show looks like head-shaking fun.
Season three of The Guild features Wil Wheaton in a kilt! I'm greatly amused by this, even if it is one of those crappy Sportkilts.

ETA - Aaaaand, he's wearing it backwards.
Bridgin' Accomplished!Collapse )

Stream after

Done in time for the party, which, by the way, was tons-o-fun. I had several people tell me that the pictures don't really do it justice, so if you weren't at the party, you obviously need to drop by and see it.

Oh, and if you're wondering why it's so darned longCollapse )
I hadn't mentioned it earlier, because I didn't want to jinx it, but it looks like it doesn't matter. I had a job interview scheduled for this Friday, but it's been canceled. Seems a budget cut meant the cancellation of the project I would have been working on. On the down side: it would have paid $25,000 more than my last job, and that would have been nice. On the up side, it would have meant a 1.5 hour commute twice a day, and I wasn't looking forward to that.

I may need to make the art hiding in my back yard a *little* less hidden. Ah well, it's a work-in-progress anyway.
Hey Muse, Queen called, they want their sound ba... oh, wait, they haven't really done anything good with it since 1983, so you can keep it. Enjoy!
Let the mid-life crisis commence! I'm gonna date me a gorgeous twenty-something model.
I'm turning 40! Join me September 19th, as I say goodbye to my misspent youth, and hello to my misspent middle age!

There will be a barbecue in the afternoon/evening, and music, dance, fire performance, and good conversation into the night. I have space for a small bonfire, and plenty of room for fire spinning.

Indoors there may also be movies and video games on the 65-inch HDTV.

Anyone who makes it through to the morning, or who can't make it the night before, will be treated to an omelet brunch Sunday late-morning.

Please bring food and/or drinks to share, and a lawn chair or two. The stream is one to three feet deep and fun to wade in, so you may wish to bring a suit and towel.
I'll be providing soft drinks, beer and mixers, hamburgers, hot dogs, and something from the smoker (if we get it built in time).

Between the guest bedroom, the reclining sofa, the fold-out futon sofa, the floor and the acre-plus yard (for campers), there's plenty of space for over-nighters, plus two nearby hotels if you just have to be like that.

Weekend-long guests welcome.

Feel free to bring friends!

Directions and standard caveats here
Is it me, or does this article seem to gloss right over the most interesting part: that we can freaking levitate stuff now!
No, I'm not the cool older guy who'll buy you beer. I'm the guy who will tell you that you need to lay off for a couple hours, because you're *this* close to being "that guy". Also, "coolest older guy you know" isn't really a compliment.
Last night I updated my resume on Monster.com to highlight the Java skills I've been leveling up. Today I received an email from my former employer informing me of a possible Java position. The irony? The recruiter apparently had no idea I was ever an employee.
It's hard to drill holes in 18' long beams during a downpour.

Back story:Collapse )
40th birthday party on Sept. 19th. You're invited. Details and official invite to follow.
Raccoons ate out of my hands again tonight. One of them is a little glutton, and another is definitely the runt of the litter. He's the most timid of them, and hangs out with mom most of the time. Mom was so cute; still torn between "free food" and "scary human", she kept edging closer and closer, reached out, touched my hand, then ran like hell without taking any food.

Clicky for more piccy
Originally uploaded by aikinut
I have the local fauna eating out of my hand now.