The final stretch

There is a lot to update, but I’ve been deliberately holding off. Without a doubt the biggest news is that after the better part of eight years since I began living in the United States, I finally have a green card.

This has been an ongoing process that has been a nearly constant source of stress for me, especially as I started down the final stretch of the six-year period for which you are allowed to be on an H-1B visa. (If you’re doing the math and wondering how I’ve been here for 7+ years, I was originally on a TN visa that allows professionals to work temporarily but doesn’t lead to immigration.) There was never any substantial danger of my getting kicked out of the country or anything (I’d reached the point in my green card application where I could renew with my current company on an annual basis anyway), but getting it at long last is a huge deal.

I actually was a bit hesitant even posting about it now, as it came with the incorrect date of birth printed on it and I had to send it back with more forms and documentation to get a new one issued. I already managed to jinx the process up once a couple of months ago, the point at which my labour certification had finally been approved and all that remained was for them to finish processing the green card application, which to me seemed trivial by comparison. I let my breathing relax and my guard down, only to receive a Request For Evidence that demanded several pieces of information (including my long-form birth certificate; I can empathize with Obama now) that I didn’t know if we would be able to provide to their complete and utter satisfaction. To make matters worse, you aren’t supposed to leave the country while your green card is still being processed, and I had a trip planned to Canada next month, right at the end of the 60 day period they can potentially take to process your response to the RFE. A conflict was pretty unlikely – if they just so much as got the approval notice to me, I could get my passport stamped and travel without the card itself – but if there was a request for additional evidence or some other problem then my travel plans were probably hosed.

The immigration service has a website you can use to check on the status of your application, and I was checking it compulsively, sometimes even multiple times per day. Its status of “Request for Evidence Response Review” never changed, when one day I received a piece of mail from Lincoln, Nebraska, where the processing centre is. My heart went boom-boom-churn-churn as I opened it, not to a notice saying that they needed more evidence, or a notice that my petition had been approved and my green card was on the way, but to my considerable shock and disbelief the actual green card itself, and documentation that said (among other things) “Welcome to the United States”.

The card alone is something of a technological beauty, layer upon layer of holograms, digital inscriptions and security measures way more advanced than any other piece of identification I possess. It even comes with a little insulating sleeve to prevent its RFID signature from being read wirelessly. Upon discovery of the error in my date of birth I was hesitant to part with it, as it’s such a magnificent trophy and represents so much to me. I don’t know how long it will take to get a replacement issued, but I’m not terribly worried about it as I am now a registered alien (with a number and everything) and can get my passport stamped in time for the trip.

Beyond the actual card, though, what it represents is huge. The autonomy to work for whomever I please, the ability to get paid for my extracurricular activities (ie. theatre), the right to stay and live and work without the difficulties of obtaining a visa or the existential threat of unemployment leading to deportation. As far as getting rid of monkeys on my back goes, this one was a gorilla. I can’t believe it’s been almost eight years.

Oddly enough, the website didn’t report my status had changed for another week or so after I’d received the card. It still thinks we’re in the “Post Decision Activity” phase that comes before the card is actually produced.

It’s not like my life was on hold this past month while all this was happening. There’s some page-two news as well.

Sister Mary ran its two weekends, and wrapped. Our audiences were pretty small but the show was decent, and I was glad not to have to commit too many resources to it while everything else was going on. And if nothing else, I managed to get some cute photos for my gallery from it. Here’s a taste:

pageant 02 explanation 03

Yes, I am the back half of a camel for much of this show. It’s not even the worst experience I’ve had playing an animal’s hindquarters.

In the world of finance, I received my new American Express card that’s supposed to net me some impressive cashback for groceries, gas and department store purchases. After having it a couple of weeks, though, I realized that the 1% it gets back on other purchases was leaving a fair bit on the table, considering how much Elizabeth and I eat out. So I wound up also getting a Citi Forward Visa card that gets 5 “points” back per dollar spent at restaurants, as well as on various entertainment and purchases. The “points” don’t convert exactly to “percent cashback” (although I can potentially get an equivalent 5% value depending on what I use them for), but it’s better than the 1% the Amex gives me, and the card has no annual fee so it’s no skin off my nose to have it.

Finally, some other big (although not green-card big) news is that while the Market Theatre that houses Unexpected Productions (where I do Theatresports) is being renovated by the Pike Place Market, we will be moving to the Intiman Theatre, a gorgeous, professional space at the Seattle Center that has won Tony awards and national recognition for its productions. It so happens, you see, that they’ve recently fallen on hard times and had to cancel their season, which has made them available for our much smaller-budget operation.

So, I will soon be performing Theatresports on one of the most well-renowned regional stages. I’m trying not to let it get to my head. Ironically, the Intiman was actually the venue for Theatresports 13 years ago, before they got the opportunity to have their own theatre at Pike Place Market. So there is a lot of significance to this return that goes beyond it being a simple renovation hiatus.

All that and more to come next month… Elizabeth is graduating, we’re going to Canada, and hopefully summer will truly arrive.


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The science keeps moving forward

Rehearsals for Sister Mary are coming along. We need to be off-book this week, and I’ve been negligent on learning my lines so far… I will have to get on it this weekend. I’m grateful that I don’t have a huge line-load but still have plenty to do in the show. Our camel costume is unfortunately made of a very insular fabric and is going to make me sweat like a pig, but on the bright side it meant cutting holes in the top of it for our heads to poke out of, so we will actually be able to be present and acting in the scene instead of just a giant puppet.

Right now the biggest problem I have with the show is that we rehearse at our director’s house, and her dogs keep triggering my allergies. Even though she keeps them outside, the place is very clean and it’s on hardwood floors that don’t retain pet hair the way carpets do, when you’ve had animals living there for years it just becomes part of the atmosphere. I keep meaning to see an allergist again… I tried immunotherapy for a couple of years with no luck, but the science keeps moving forward and I want to keep exploring it, if only I had the time. My allergist is in Seattle, and driving there is already a pain, and the bridge tolls haven’t even begun yet.

I finally applied for a new credit card to replace the rewards one I had… an American Express Blue Cash card that gets 6% back on groceries, 3% on gas and department store purchases, and 1% on the rest. I was uneasy about getting a card with an annual fee, as I don’t like feeling like I need to spend money in order to make the card worthwhile, but it won’t take much in the way of grocery purchases to clear that amount. This will be an interesting experiment for me: as I enter the world of being an American Express cardholder I will finally begin noticing and paying attention to what cards are accepted where, as while I think Amex is accepted most places I do my major shopping I know that it’s nowhere nearly as ubiquitous as Visa and MasterCard. So I’ll still have my regular BoA Visa as a back-up, with its ill-performing World Points rewards and inability to do auto-pay.

I don’t often talk about the little things on the Internet that I enjoy, but Dr. McNinja is a brilliant webcomic I’ve been following for a couple of years now. The storytelling and the comedy are both top-notch, and the art is as good as most professional comic books I’ve seen. The author was at Comicon when I did improv there two years ago, but I missed meeting him (although Elizabeth managed to get him to autograph a copy of one of his print editions for me). This past year when I was doing improv there again, he wasn’t in attendance. I hold out hope that one day our paths will cross for real.

I keep meaning to get around to finishing off my blog post about the new entertainment system I put together… I’ll see if I can muster up the time this weekend. It is a holiday after all, but it is a busy one.


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A good and endearing trick

Woo, I’ve been bad at keeping up with this. I’ll try to fill in some blanks…

Spelling Bee had its run and closing. It was a fun show and a good show on the whole, and a good role for me, although it was a struggle for me not to feel pigeon-holed in the character. I’ve uploaded some photos to my gallery, so there’s that. If I seem a little melancholy about it, it’s because this was a show I truly felt divided on. There were some terrific performances and it was a terribly fun show both for the audience and everyone involved. I also got to meet and work with some excellent new people. It kind of made me feel like I was a one-trick pony, though, even if people thought it was a good and endearing trick.

I had no plans to jump into any new projects after this, but during the run I was asked to be in the cast of a production of Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You that opens next month. I agreed after doing a little homework on the play… it’s Christopher Durang, who I like (although the only other play of his I’ve known is The Actor’s Nightmare), and the part is small but substantial… I’ll be playing a guy who confesses to being alcoholic, abusive and suicidal, so it should be an interesting acting exercise, and hopefully a dose of medicine for the one-trick-pony syndrome I contracted in Spelling Bee. The commitment is light enough that I think I can manage it without stressing out too much, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover the woman playing the title role is someone I’ve worked with both on Urinetown and Lysistrata, and is (in my esteem) an excellent actor who should do quite well with it. Our first rehearsal is in a couple of hours, so we’ll see how that goes.

This weekend also marks my return to improv, which I’d been staying away from while I was in Spelling Bee. I’m performing in no less than five shows this weekend, including two Theatresports and some Mother’s Day-themed shows. Last nights shows were okay but not great; we’ll see if tonight is any better. One thing we have going for us right now is some huge audiences thanks to a ton of tickets that were sold on a daily-discount website (we nearly sold the house out last night), so at least there is no lack for audience energy.

I’ve been spending a little time trying to figure out what to do with myself financially. This is largely prompted by the anniversary of the credit card I got exclusively for the miles that came with it as a bonus, which I promised to myself I would cancel before I had to pay the annual fee. I’ve now kept that promise but have been stuck trying to replace it with another card that delivers what I consider to be decent rewards without creating a bunch of hoops to jump through. This in turn has led me to examine some other financial aspects of my life, like what I’m doing with the multiple 401ks I have sitting around from previous jobs. I should also be looking at refinancing my mortgage if I’m serious about saving. Unfortunately I have no real aptitude for this kind of stuff. I’ve been looking into recruiting a financial adviser… I’ve had a couple of recommendations and may pull the trigger on it soon.

It’s nice that we’re starting to see some brighter and warmer weather, but we’ve still got far too much of the cold and damp going. I hope summer comes soon; I could use a good summer.


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A tangible network

UPDATE: I forgot to post a link to this preview article for Spelling Bee, in which I am both quoted and photographed! I sound very scholarly in it.

The last few weeks have been busy, busy, busy. Most notably, Spelling Bee opened and had its first weekend of shows, and we are upon our second weekend as I write this. I was terribly exhausted by the time we opened but we put on a good show and folks are enjoying it, so you should go see it. (It looks like tonight and tomorrow are already sold out, so that’s pretty excellent.) It’s hard not to have a good time at this show!

One of the great things I get from theatre is the opportunity to work with new people, and there are some very talented and skilled people in this show that I’m very pleased to have had the privilege to perform with. Over the years as my circle of friends and colleagues has expanded the size of the community has continued to shrink, and it’s been very enriching feeling like there is a tangible network of these hard-working, dedicated people out there that I am a part of, and towards which I have been able to make a positive contribution.

Still no word about rescheduling of our annual condo meeting. Are we going to just shut down like the federal government?

In tech news, I at last received the final component for my new, home-brewn DVR system, and I’ve had it up and running for about a week now. There have been some initial glitches with its operation but in spite of those it’s lived up to expectations and is proving itself to be a vast improvement over what I had previously. I intend to document the thing in its entirety in an upcoming post.

That’s all for now,


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Find out where it lived

Spelling Bee is moving along at something of a blitzkreig pace. We open April 1, a scant twelve days from today, and it feels like there’s still so much to do… we’re rehearsing most nights, though, so I’m certain we’ll get it all done. I’m starting to gain a bit of confidence with my part, but there is a ridiculous amount of random information I need to retain, even with my cheat sheets and cue cards that I’m allowed to have on stage. The cast is talented and a lot of fun to work with, and the show should be entertaining. We run all through April and tickets may be purchased online if you’re interested in seeing it.

This was a pretty good weekend for Theatresports for me. I got to emcee on Friday, which is something I’ve missed doing and enjoyed returning to. I then played on a fun team on Saturday, and while the show wasn’t as narrative-heavy as I’d like it managed to have a healthy number of charming moments that I feel good about in it. There’s a chance I’ll be able to continue doing some Theatresports while Spelling Bee is running, since Theatresports doesn’t begin until 10:30 and Spelling Bee is only a 90-minute show. I hope I can pull that off, although I know I’ll probably kill myself from exhaustion if it’s more than just a few times.

My condo board attempted to have its annual meeting this past week. Out of 101 units, we were 11 units shy of having a quorum, which was simultaneously annoying and depressing. They are going to attempt another one next month, and hopefully we’ll get enough people there to at least keep business from grinding to a complete halt. One of the women there confided in me that she believed this was the homeowners’ way of “sending a message” to the board, which pissed me off to no end, if for no better reason than one of the purposes of the annual meeting is to hold an election for new board members, and if people wanted to really send them a message then it seems the courageous thing to do would be to show up and vote a new board in rather than wasting the time and money of everyone in the association. I am frequently annoyed by both the cowardice and the attitude of entitlement that so many people in this complex display… there are plenty of things the board does that I disapprove of, but I recognize that they are volunteers doing the work that nobody else wants to do, and it baffles me the way people are willing to complain about their work without ever offering to step up themselves. At many of these meetings I’ve observed that there seems to be some kind of mental disconnect for people that keeps them for understanding that we are all paying for this, and that when we need to reschedule a board meeting, for example, the cost of mailing everyone, renting the space, having the management company attend, etc. comes out of all of our own pockets, not just the board members they want to stick it to. And then they somehow expect to win over the opinions of people like myself, when they a. refuse to show the commitment to even show up to meetings (let alone invest the time and effort that the board does), and b. make us pay for their antics. Grrr.

In more condo news, I took a crack at what was a first in home repair for me: fixing the leaky faucet in the kitchen. That faucet has been dripping on-and-off ever since I took possession, but until recently I’ve been able to get it to stop for the most part (or at least drip at a slow enough rate that I don’t notice it) by yanking the articulating handle around in some kind of mysterious, visceral routine. Over the past few weeks, though, I’d been gradually forced to acknowledge that the situation had worsened, and that the faucet was going to drip no matter what kind of mojo I worked on that lever.

I’ve been hesitant in the past to fix it for two reasons: I’ve always thought that replacing that countertop (and getting a new sink as part of that process) would be the next major upgrade I did to this condo, and – perhaps more significantly – plumbing terrifies me. Water-related repairs take a lot more effort, care and accuracy to do things correctly than many other home projects I’ve done, and the damage caused by a leak if you screw up can be enormous. And yes, fixing a leaking faucet usually only means replacing a rubber O-ring, but my particular faucet has a much more complicated repair process that requires replacement of springs, rubber stoppers, a ball chamber, etc.

I got the necessary repair kit from Home Depot, which was an adventure in itself, since I identified the several parts I needed online and confirmed on their website that they were in stock at my local warehouse, but then could only find one of the parts on the shelf. I had to go through two associates who were unable to help me find the remaining ones, and listen to both of them brush me off  when I brought up the website, claiming that it didn’t have any specific information and only a general catalogue, before I impatiently explained to them that no, these days the website told me exactly how many were in stock at each location, and that according to it there were actually sixteen of them in this very building, and that I only wanted one of them if they would be kind enough to find out for me where it lived. In the end the second guy sold me an after-market repair kit instead of looking, which I was hesitant to take because there was nothing on the packaging that said what original parts it was compatible with, although on visual inspection the contents looked like they matched well enough and there were few enough alternatives on the shelf that it was probably correct.

Doing the repair was no picnic, as there weren’t very specific instructions and the kit had multiple sets of springs and rubber seats to choose from that were all very similar and hard to compare to the old and deteriorated springs and seats. The rubber seats also didn’t fit well onto the springs, and there was nothing in the instructions that detailed how to deal with them. It took me a couple of tries to get it right, and I freaked out a little when I first turned the sink back on and it actually leaked worse than it had before, this time from the base as well as the spout. I also found some minor dripping from the pipes under the sink, which had me really worried since it was nowhere near the faucet, although it doesn’t appear to have persisted after I completed the repairs and may have just had something to do with how I was manhandling the faucet. I eventually got everything more-or-less correct and it no longer leaks, although I’ve told Elizabeth we need to be gentle with it, and I am still shining a flashlight under the sink for the next few days to make sure everything is copacetic.

Someday, I would like to get that entire counter and sink replaced. Someday.


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Minor-league fame

Rehearsals have begun for Spelling Bee, although I was only called twice this past week and once was for a one-on-one session, so I haven’t really had much opportunity yet to see where the show is heading. My hope is… good? The cast sounded incredible when singing through the opening number, so at least it should be pleasing on the ears. My part is mostly acting and I only get to sing in two short songs at the very end, but they still had some complex harmonies that were pretty intimidating to me when I worked them out before rehearsal with my singing teacher. Then the music director told me she wasn’t really concerned what I chose to sing for those parts and suggested lines that were mostly melody anyway, so I no longer need to worry about that, it seems.

This weekend was the Emerald City Comicon, at which our group NERDprov got to perform again, as well as having a special nerd-oriented Theatresports with the women from performing alongside us. Both shows were fun and I feel as though we’re improving as a group, but since we only perform a few times a year it’s been pretty incremental. We talked it over after the show and it sounds like there might be the drive to increase the regularity with which we both perform and rehearse. It’s interesting… all of us see potential in the format, I think, but it’s difficult to have a clear trajectory when you don’t have an actual producer or similar person taking ownership of the project.

The Comicon itself was fun to spend a few hours walking around with some of my fellow performers, although it’s not exactly the kind of convention that plays to my own nerd qualities. The main webcomic I take a serious interest in – Dr. McNinja – was sadly absent from the convention, although I did pick up this awesome Law & Order coloring book from the same company that distributes his wares. It was also fun to visit the Night Zero booth (the photographic comic for which I portrayed a zombie hunter) and say hi to the people I knew there. My convention-companion (conpanion?) Cheryl and I waited in line to get our photo taken with Wil Wheaton, but he unfortunately refused to give me the noogies that would have made it possible for me to add him to my collection of other awesome celebrities that have done so (and the notably less awesome). Maybe I should have held out for Brent Spiner instead, on the hopes that he would take an interest in my appreciation of his musical theatre work (in particular 1776).

Other than those elements, the convention doesn’t offer a lot to me. I took a greater interest in all of the costumes this year, though… it’s a remarkable little sub-culture, and there’s something of a status-game for those that partake of it, based on the number of photos that get taken of you. It’s its own brand of minor-league fame, I suppose. The costumes ranged dramatically in quality and none appeared to be store-bought, and while many were no better than garden-variety Halloween fare there were some really stand-out ones including a couple of very realistically molded Batman costumes and a guy with fully-feathered mechanically-spreading angel wings. And lots of shape-hugging and body-revealing stuff on many of the ladies, of course, sometimes to a more visually-pleasing effect than others. It makes me want to recreate my Dark Helmet costume of about a decade ago, which was brilliant and I tragically never got any pictures of. I probably wouldn’t do it unless I could find out how those guys created their custom-molded bat-suits, though, as the cardboard and papier machĂ© technology I used back then doesn’t feel quite up to snuff anymore.


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Got the better of my judgment

I have to struggle to remember what’s happened these past few weeks. I’ve been in kind of a holding pattern of non-specific busywork that I’ll probably remain in until summer or so, and it just has me feeling tired most of the time without being able to attribute it to any single overriding factor.

Which isn’t to say there hasn’t been stuff happening. I’ve been keeping up with improv and had a pretty full social calendar. There are far too many shows with friends in them that I need to go see in what remains of this month. I’ll try to pull out some highlights from what’s been happening.

I had my biometrics appointment for my green card application a couple of weeks back. This felt like a real milestone for me, although in truth it happens in parallel to the application process and really isn’t indicative of anything other than that I’m still in the queue (two separate queues, to be precise). The technology they use to read your fingerprints is very cool; you can watch on the screen as he rolls your finger on the device and it identifies the patterns in your skin. I desperately want this six-year ordeal to be completed, and the closer I get to making out the light at the end of the tunnel the more I ache and burn for it, but all I can do is wait while the bureaucracy churns its way through the backlog of people ahead of me.

I have, perhaps, dodged a bullet earlier in the month when I was invited by a friend to audition for a show he was directing with his new theatre company. I made it clear that there were an absurd number of conflicts with performances next month and rehearsals I have for Spelling Bee, but he asked me to come out regardless and they would sort out conflicts with the Spelling Bee crew if I were to be cast. So I went out, and for a number of reasons that got the better of my judgment: their theatre company interests me and I am interested in the work they are doing and where their future lies, I don’t do much non-musical theatre these days and it’s always good to get sucked into a regular play, and in the end I simply like the people involved, and I like what they are capable of. Another thing surprised me when I did the callback: I actually like the play as well. It’s The Firebugs, an adaptation of a German play about a family that lets a couple of bold but transparent arsonists into their home, and because of politeness keeps failing to kick them out even though they are clearly planning to burn their house down. The play is unapologetic about its societal metaphor and I am normally hesitant to get involved in a show that is so heavy-handed with its politics, but as we were reading in the callbacks I became… well, I think it’s too much to say enchanted with it, but I quickly realized that I think it’s a good script with a lot of potential to captivate an audience, and not just a soapbox for the playwright.

So when I was offered an extremely prominent role by the director I found myself unwilling to turn it down, even though I knew it would wreak havoc with my life that persisted even after the show closed, as I would be both under-rehearsed and over-exhausted when Spelling Bee opened. It wasn’t until the day before the first rehearsal that the director called me and we discussed the situation, and he (with much empathy) told me he’d thought twice and changed his mind about casting me, as it was just inviting chaos into the production and he had to acknowledge the ripple effect it would have on the rest of the cast, the show and himself in addition to me. I concurred and while we both regretted that I wouldn’t be in the show I don’t think either of us suspected for a moment that he had made the wrong decision.

Again in nerdier news, most of the parts for my new home theatre computer have arrived and I had both fun and frustration assembling them. Some of them needed to be returned or replaced. Unfortunately, the key component that lets it receive multiple TV signals is backordered even worse than I thought, and probably won’t be arriving for months yet. So in the meantime I have a very cool-looking device that can do just about anything except for watch TV, the main purpose it is intended to serve.

This weekend is the Seattle Festival of Improv, and once again I am mostly a no-show for it, although I will be taking a couple of workshops this afternoon that I decided to jump on at the last minute. Hopefully that much will keep me from feeling like a complete burn-out.

Rehearsals for Spelling Bee start at the end of this month, and I think there is a chance that they will actually increase my energy, even though I’m sure I will be tired from it.

That’s about all there is to report. I spend the rest of my time treading water and staying awake, patiently waiting for more interesting times and for the ennui to subside.


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Mucking about

Last weekend I had my car broken into for the second time in four months. Sometime between midnight and 1:30 AM, down on Alaskan Way by Unexpected Production’s theatre, someone smashed the driver’s window and ransacked every car along the row. I know better than to keep anything of value in my car… in fact, the only things they stole were an old computer and networking equipment that I had been meaning to take to the recycling centre for months.

That’s small comfort, though, when it’s 2 AM and you’re sitting on a pillow to keep the shards of glass from cutting into your rear, with the cold wind whipping at your face the entire time.

I called the same auto glass company as last time. The guy they sent did a much shoddier job than the previous one… I wound up having to spend about ten minutes with his vacuum picking up the shards of glass he plainly missed. Unlike the last time, though, a dent was left in the frame of my car door, which the auto-glass guy identified as being something that should be fixed or else it would cause trouble for the window. That’s going to set me back another $250, putting me well above my insurance deductible but not enough to make a claim for it worthwhile, unfortunately.

It hurts that this happens to me when I go to Theatresports, as that’s a hugely important and rewarding part of my life and I hate having such negative experiences associated with it.

In nerdier news, I’ve spent well over a year now exploring options for improving my household’s TV-watching options. Having a DVR in the living room is great but it’s inconvenient not being able to watch any of the programs in the bedroom. The cost of equipping the bedroom with a similar DVR and going HD with it would be quite expensive, but even if I went that route the two DVRs wouldn’t be able to share their content. I’ve explored some alternatives including TiVo and Moxi, but all of them are deficient in ways that makes it hard for me to justify the additional cost. So in the end what I’ve done is purchased the equipment to build my own Home Theatre PC, a custom computer that will both act as a DVR and be remotely accessible from the bedroom over the network, such that the bedroom will be able to watch both live TV and share the DVR with the living room without an actual cable connection being present.

All in all it’s an expensive project costing me upwards of $1,000 in equipment, but as a result I will be able to significantly lower the monthly cost of my cable bill since there will be only one incoming connection that the entire condo feeds off of. And the best part of this home-brewn solution is that I will get the best customization options available to me, with a state-of-the-art interface that doesn’t do things like spit ads from Comcast at me when I do things like use the onscreen guide.

At least, that’s what I hope. It’s all based on Microsoft’s Windows Media Center software, and it’s been extremely difficult to dredge any solid reviews of it up from the Internet that cover the entire span of use cases I intend to put it through. I’ve asked on Internet forums and received some helpful responses, but not a lot that really answers all of my usability questions. I don’t know anyone with a similar system that I can examine for myself, and even the brand new Microsoft Store that just opened up in Bellevue Square doesn’t have a demo of it running. So I’ve been spending months and months hemming and hawing, not wanting to commit to the investment without some way of knowing it will do what I want it to. But I ultimately realized that evidence was never going to present itself and I would need to take a leap of faith if I wanted to make it happen… so I did so, and ordered all the parts this past week. It will be the first computer I’ve ever assembled, although I have done plenty of upgrades in the past that required similar mucking about in the internal hardware. I intend to document the process and the result, and it should be interesting.


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Grinding my teeth in silent outrage

Our vacation to Florida was a big success on the whole, if bookended by less-than-stellar travel experiences. We spent three days in Orlando visiting Universal Studios and particularly The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, followed by a week down at Sanibel Island off the Gulf Coast where we were able to spend some time in the sun and with my family.

I got a number of photos of both the theme park and Sanibel. I’m especially proud of this one:

DeLorean 2

You might notice I’m wearing my leather jacket in the photo… the first couple of days we were at Universal, it was down near freezing, and actually colder than it was in Seattle. That was a bit disappointing but it mercifully warmed up by the time we got down to Sanibel and the more leisurely part of the vacation.

Sanibel was beautiful, and with the warmer weather than last year a much better experience for the three primary activities of biking, swimming and laying on the beach. It’s just nice to walk around in shorts and get my vitamin D from the sun instead of artificial gummies, frankly, but the beautiful scenery and majesty of the ocean is a big factor as well. I’m a big fan of all of the birds on the island, and there is an aviary that I enjoyed biking to where we got to feed and even (on one occasion) play with the birds there. There are plenty of photos, but I also got this cute video of a bird bobbing its head back and forth:


If the vacation itself was meant to renew us, we paid the price for it in our travel experience. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary happened on the way down, but it was a three-legged flight with Southwest during which we couldn’t leave the plane. It was about eight hours all told, and I had naively failed to bring a proper meal on board with me, and was both surprised and disappointed to discover Southwest doesn’t offer any in-flight meals for sale.

If that was stressful, it didn’t begin to compare with our flight home with Delta. That was only two-legged with an hour and a half layover, but our first flight wound up being delayed over two hours, meaning we would be unable to make our connecting flight. So they rerouted us through Atlanta, which as last-minute alternatives go could have been worse, since it was only scheduled to arrive three hours later, although it meant a much more tiresome four-hour layover. My only concern in all of this was that Elizabeth and I be able to sit together on the flights. The flight to Atlanta wasn’t a problem, but it was also just a short hop from Fort Myers. I was infinitely more frustrated by the second leg.

They wouldn’t assign us seats until the gate opened an hour before the flight, so I waited patiently for that to happen, and was first in line to make sure we could get our seats together. Sure enough, we got boarding passes with adjacent seats assigned to us and good to go. Then, as we were actually boarding the plane, as they scanned our boarding passes new slips suddenly printed out, reassigning us to different sections of the cabin, both to middle seats (and myself in front of the exit row, so I couldn’t even recline). That was a five-hour flight, and I was grinding my teeth in silent outrage through most of it.

It’s taken a while to get back into the swing of things at home – perhaps evidenced by how long it’s taken me to get this post up – but we’re mostly returned to our routine at this point. We’ve been seeing our friends a lot (in no small part due to Elizabeth scheduling them for free massages as part of her coursework), and that’s been nice.

I also made my return to the Theatresports stage this past weekend, and that was surprisingly fun. I performed pretty decently, I thought, with several strong scenes throughout the evening. Saturday was unexpectedly cool because I was scheduled to run lights, but one of the other players was feeling sick and traded out for the less stressful job with me. We ended up selling out the house and having standing room only, though, and it felt really great performing to such a large and enthusiastic audience.

Here’s to a happy new year,


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A good kind of tired

I’m very tired, but it’s a good kind of tired. It’s that time of year when there are just a ton of social engagements and preparations to make for the end of the year. Tonight alone we are managing to cram in both a wedding (which is unusual in and of itself: a wedding on a Monday evening in December) followed by the holiday party at Unexpected Productions.

Yesterday was my thirty-first birthday, and it was about as nice and low-key as I could have wanted, although we still went to a friend’s cabin for her family’s annual dinner/bonfire, which meant two hours of driving and my allergies coping with their dog.

We’ve been mercifully lucky when it comes to weather, with the temperatures hanging around the mid-forties and not dipping below the mid-to-high thirties. Yesterday alone the weather report called for snow mixed with rain, but instead we had beautifully clear skies and temperatures in the forties. I hope I’m not jinxing things, but we’ve only got one more week before Elizabeth and I jet off to Florida for two weeks… I’m hoping with all my might that the snow continues to hold off until then. (And then, of course, that we get sunny, warm weather while we’re in Florida and not the record low temperatures we had last year.)

Not much else worth reporting at this time. I’ll try to catch this blog up after the holiday…


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