Dec. 5th, 2010 06:09 pm
gwalla: (a failure is you)
So today I got lost in San Francisco on the way to the test, hit another car (not very hard and there was no visible damage, but we exchanged our info), and, once there, failed the fuck out of the exam. Then I managed to find a way home, but traffic was insane.

This day has been a thoroughly miserable experience.
gwalla: (language buff)
I think I did OK. I hope I did better than last time. The essay portion actually came pretty easily, and it wasn't just regurgitating my previous HW essays—it was still a bunch of direct comparisons between English and Japanese, but it wasn't phrased the same, and I covered some stuff I didn't in the HW, like some more parts of grammar and the writing system—so I'm happy about that. Still not too confident about the JLPT 3 this Sunday.
gwalla: (test failure)
Facebook and Mozilla apparently don't get along. I can't post status updates from my home computer. If I click on the "What's on your mind?" box, it goes blank, changes size a little bit, and doesn't accept any input. If I type anything, the browser thinks I'm trying to do a find-in-page, because it doesn't recognize that box as an object that takes focus.

Why in the everloving fuck do so many sites insist on rolling their own text input widgets? They're inevitably slower than normal ones (Last.FM really took the cake here for a while, with a text widget that would make a network call for every letter typed just so it could display a little "376/500 characters" thing) and usually glitchy. The vanilla text boxes work fine! Use them!

The threads in the support forums indicate that this problem has been around for the last couple of months, and are full of people saying that they've gotten no response from tech support.
gwalla: (shit)
I was told that an alert on TV said that BART and the union representing train operators and station agents had come to a tentative agreement and the impending strike had been averted. I went on SFGate to confirm it, and yes! Hooray! I won't have to swim across the bay to get to work tomorrow!

Then I made a big mistake.

I scrolled down to the comments.

I now want to kick everybody in the teeth.


Jul. 29th, 2009 03:46 pm
gwalla: (bad hair day)
Okay, got that all straightened out. Apparently it was hitting my daily card limit. Got that raised, called United to tell them to try again, and it went through. The confirmation email is sitting in my inbox.

No thanks to AT&T, which kept goddamn dropping my calls to the bank, garbling the audio whenever I tried to give them my account number, and just generally being useless. You'd think they'd have coverage in downtown San Francisco, but apparently not.

Still need to get a hotel for two days at the end there.
gwalla: (shit)
No, I don't have my tickets! Apparently my card number is not clearing, so they've got the tickets on reserve until I clear that up. Considering that this card is my fucking ATM card, and I know I have enough in my account to cover the expense, I am fucking pissed.
gwalla: (flash eurgh)
Nothing makes you appreciate the skin on the soles of your feet quite like not having it anymore.

gwalla: (told you i was hardcore)
Yesterday was my first kendo practice as a participant rather than an observer.

I got to practice late, due to stopping at home and voting in the stupid special election. Got chewed out a bit for that. The head instructor assigned one of the senior students to take me into another room and get me started. He showed me the proper way to bow (actually, it's basically the same in aikido), the basic stance, and how to move around in that stance.

While a lot of aikido movements are derived from sword work, there are very significant differences, which translates to a whole lot of habits I need to learn to break. For example, the stance is much narrower in kendo than in aikido (since there's no threat of being thrown): feet about one foot's length apart rather than shoulder width. Also, while the weight is supposed to be on the balls of the feet in both, in aikido the heels should be barely touching the ground ("just enough to slide a sheet of rice paper underneath" as one of my instructors likes to say), while in kendo it should be more pronounced. Aikido stance has the knees bent far enough that you can't see your toes, while kendo has the knees straight but not locked; along with the raised heel this made me feel like I was standing almost on tiptoe the whole time.

The instructor who was assigned to me said I was picking it up really quickly (it sure didn't feel like it!), so he also showed me how to hold the shinai—the bamboo sword—properly and had me practice the footwork while holding it, which makes it even harder since you have to have proper form in the arms as well as the legs and trunk, and you have to keep the sword from wobbling as you move. Apparently they usually don't have people start even holding the shinai on the first day, but I got accelerated a bit. Having some body awareness from previous martial arts experience helps a lot.

A ways in the head instructor called us both back into the main gym so the senior student could practice with the others. He had me continue to practice the footwork for the rest of class.

Class is two hours long. I was carrying my body weight on the balls of my feet for about an hour and a half straight with only brief breaks to check and adjust my posture, and sliding around like that with straight knees is the equivalent of doing a ton of calf raises. My feet and Achilles' tendons are not happy with me.

This group is a lot more formal than my aikido club. It's quite traditional. Which is good, because it's kind of a cultural lesson as well (and a change of pace). But it also means that if your form isn't good, sensei hits you in the offending limb with a shinai to make you shape up! "Straighten those knees!" *SMACK* "HAI, SENSEI". Also, bowing out at the end of class involves sitting in seiza, the traditional Japanese kneeling posture with the feet tucked under the butt, on a hardwood gym floor for what seems like ages. I'm used to seiza on mats, but a floor with no give is something else entirely, and my feet have lumps on top that don't straighten out completely. That hurt a lot.

So, to sum up: I got smacked around with a wooden sword, made the balls of my feet sore, wore out my calves, and crushed the tops of my feet.

I'm going back tomorrow.
gwalla: (aww crap)
Anybody got any leads? Starlock's not going this year, and I haven't gotten any bites at the CRFH forum (of course, I haven't hung out there in ages—I only just found out that it'd moved from the Keenspot Forums—so most of the people there don't know me from Adam).

The only available rooms I could find for July 23­–27 that weren't out in freakin' La Jolla or something were for about $355 a night, which over that time frame (and with taxes etc. figured in) comes to OVER 9000 $2000 total. I'm desperate for a room, but not that desperate. The hostel has no vacancies.

I also looked into a couch-surfing connections site, but I'm a little dubious.

gwalla: (headdesk)
Well, I managaed to royally hose my OS last night. I was trying to upgrade from Fedora 6 to Fedora 8, but when I tried to boot it after the upgrade finished, it said that it can't find any of my RAID arrays, and went into kernel panic.


Fortunately, I at least had the good sense to back up my /home directory beforehand. So most of my stuff still exists. And, actually, I think I may be able to access my arrays when I boot from the rescue disc, so once I get a new external HD (my current one is full), I can probably slurp down my /usr directory and then just do a fresh install.

But still. Fuck.
gwalla: (can't brain today)
Tonight I managed to slap myself in the eye with a pho noodle covered in spicy broth.

In related news, a bean sprout up the nose is a potent reminder of the importance of stereoscopic vision.
gwalla: (bad hair day)

Tried to replace the default case fan for my new PC and only succeeded in ruining the screws. Fuck. Guess I'm gonna have an LED fan after all. Hopefully it won't be too noisy.

I had the idea to pull my existing HD out of my current PC and stick that in, so I could continue to boot Windows off of it with my old data intact. Is this possible? Will Windows shit itself if it finds itself on a system with a different mobo & processor? I'd like to find out BEFORE I try it myself.

Whatever happens, I'm going to back up my data first. BTW, anybody have any suggestions on that front? I was looking at FireWire external drives and they were crazy expensive. USB drives aren'tall that much cheaper, either. Seems like a big waste for something I'd probably only use twice (once to copy all of my data, once to copy that data onto my new machine). I don't have a DVD-R drive, and I have waaaaay too much data (a nearly full 80GB drive; my documents & settings folder contains over 56GB) to just burn a bunch of CDs.
gwalla: (magma)
Today sucked mightily. I'm in book print this week, which normally I don't mind, but the books I'm getting seem to be a bad batch and keep getting mangled in the printers. The men's room is closed due to it catching on fire over the weekend. Also, a fire alarm got pulled today and we had to evacuate for a bit. No fun.

I think it's to make up for the rather awesome weekend I just had. On Friday night I went to the San Francisco Symphony to hear Michael Tilson Thomas conduct a few Stravinsky pieces and one Takemitsu piece. MTT has a reputation as a great interpreter of Stravinsky, and he's one of my favorite composers, so it was a nearly ideal opportunity to finally check out Davies Hall and the SF Symphony. I caught the pre-concert talk, which didn't really help me understand what was going on later, but was still enjoyable. Someone apparently had a heart attack or something like it right after the talk, and someone actually shouted out "Is there a doctor in the house?" I never thought I'd hear that said seriously. Given the absence of EMTs in the lobby, I think it turned out okay.

The performance did not disappoint. The first half was two Stravinsky pieces: the Symphonies for Winds and the short ballet Apollo (not staged). Both were great, but Apollo really stood out. After the intermission was Fantasma/Cantos by Takemitsu and Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms. The piece by Takemitsu is for clarinet solist and orchestra, and the soloist was Richard Stoltzman, for whom it was written. The piece really didn't do much for me—it relies on big washes of sound, while I tend to prefer pieces where it feels like every note counts—but I did like Stoltzman's clarinet tone, which almost felt jazzy in places (I was not terribly surprised to read in his bio on the program that he had done some work with jazz artists). The Symphony of Psalms involved the SF Symphony Chorus as well as the orchestra, and was dazzling. The second movement is a double fugue between chorus and orchestra!

Then on Sunday I took my dad to see Dave Brubeck playing at the Masonic Auditorium as part of the SFJazz series. Dave is looking a little shaky these days (he's 86!) and his voice is cracking, but he can still play piano like anything. He played two sets: one with his current quartet, and one with a big band. His quartet is very cool: his saxophonist doubled on flute for one piece, his drummer can pound out some great rhythms, and his bassist played with a bow for one piece. The big band included his quartet as well as additional saxes, brass, and a percussionist (marimba, glockenspiel, and miscellaneous untuned percussion, I think). I didn't catch the titles for the quartet set. The big band played, among other things, his Theme to Mr. Broadway (for a TV show that had the misfortune to go up against The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in its heyday) and expanded arrangements of Take Five and Blue Rondo a la Turk. They also played a fairly recent piece titled Elementals. It's based on a simple heartbeat rhythm and the melodic motif A B C, and from there branches out into a Gregorian "chant" (instrumental), a Bach-style chorale, polyrhythm, polytonality, and swing, and finally ends up in a Schoenbergian twelve-tone form. Fantastic stuff. They ended with a version of Take the "A" Train.

After that we went to Absinthe for cocktails and chatted about current events, philosophy, education, etc. over our drinks and desserts of fruit and cheese.
gwalla: (headdesk)
That was very nearly the biggest mistake of my life.

Rewind. I found out earlier today that the hotel reservations for Comic-Con had opened up, but by the time I tried to get one they were all sold out. Shit. I tried a few times, but got nowhere. So when I got home from work, I tried again. Still nothing. I decided to bypass the SDCC booking service entirely and go straight to the hotel websites, because maybe they kept some rooms aside for other guests.

I was batting zero for a while, but then the Holiday Inn On The Bay let me make a reservation. Awesome! I select the cheapest option (about $187/night) and go through the whole thing, give my credit card info and all that, and click confirm.

The total comes to over $7,000.

I had accidentally selected June 25, not July 25, as my arrival date, but correctly entered July 30 as the departure date. I'd just reserved a 2-bed room for 35 days. And to get that lower price, I'd taken the advance payment option, which you still have to pay for even if you cancel.

I tried to correct my reservation on the site, but it wasn't working. So in a panic I tried to call the hotel (nobody there but an answering machine), then Holiday Inn's main reservation line. The woman there tried to shorten my stay to just the 5 days in July I wanted, but it wasn't working. Apparently they're booked for those days (although why it allowed me to reserve a room for those days as part of a longer stay makes no sense), and she insisted that an advance payment reservation couldn't be cancelled. I was on the verge of crying, and getting nowhere. I suggested that she shorten it down to one day, any day,not necessarily in that 5-day range, that I'd just pay for as a stupidity tax. I was really grasping at straws.

She said she'd try something, and then there was silence. A lot of silence. For what seemed like forever. She briefly reappeared to say she was working on it, and then yet another ball-twisting eternity of dead air. Finally, she came back on the line, and told me that she got it cancelled. I confirmed that that meant that I wouldn't be paying for any of it, and she gave me a cancellation number to give to my credit card issuer in case the charge had already been registered. I thanked her profusely.

Afterwards I tried a few more hotels, but that experience had sucked the will out of me, and I gave up pretty quickly. So I'm still without a room for me and my friend. But at least I'm not in massive debt for no good reason.

I need a drink. And a heart transplant.
gwalla: (bad hair day)
Had an appointment with a personal trainer today (one session is free with gym membership*). It went pretty well. He showed me some good exercises (I'll be lucky if I can remember more than a couple though) and gave me some valuable pointers on how to use the seated row, lateral pull-down, and counterweight pull-up machines (turns out I'd been doing it totally wrong). Nice guy. I'm considering springing for a series of sessions, to build up a routine I can work on, but dear jeebus it's expensive.

Anyway, after that and about a half hour on the elliptical trainers, I went to the locker room to wash up and change into my street clothes...and discovered I'd forgotten my combination. I ended up having to go to the front desk and borrow the lock clippers to bust it off. I feel like a complete tard. Afterwards I went stright to Walgreen's and bought a new lock with a key.

*The first one is always free...


Oct. 28th, 2006 08:13 pm
gwalla: (aww crap)
er than a dog. Last night I was puking every hour on the hour, if not more often, for nearly the entire night. Pure bile tastes surprisingly metallic. That + explosive diarrhea = not fun. I was begging for death.

Slept for most of today. I feel better (re: not puking etc.) but still pretty lousy. My skin feels hot but I'm getting chills. I'm guessing it's some sort of flu.
gwalla: (aww crap)
Eve, if you're reading this, I'm sorry I missed the party. I'd somehow gotten it into my head that it was on the 27th. So I was all gearing up for it this week, and just checked the evite to see what time it was going to be tomorrow night...and it was on Saturday. Crap. I'd RSVPed and everything.
gwalla: (aww crap)
Okay, here's the deal. A friend has invited me to his Halloween party. Costume party, o'course. A theme costume party, and the theme is G.I. Joe.

I never watched G.I. Joe.

Sure, I was aware of it. I'd occasionally see some at friends' houses if I was over, and sometimes caught the "knowing is half the battle" end segments if I tuned in early for whatever show came on next (He-Man? I can't remember). And of course I saw ads for toys all the freaking time. But I never watched it, or paid much attention to the toys. I didn't even know there had been a movie until the advent of the Internet. Consequently, I have no idea who most of them are. Of the Joes I could probably pick Duke, Scarlett, Snake Eyes, and Sgt. Slaughter out of a lineup. From Cobra: Cobra Commander, Destro, Serpentor, and Baroness. And I couldn't really describe them in much detail (except maybe Baroness, whose rendering by BigBigTruck has been etched into my retinas). That's the extent of my knowledge. Well, that and the fact that Cobra Commander hissed "I was once a man!" in the movie, which I think I learned from X-Entertainment.com a few years ago.

So I need help coming up with a G.I. Joe costume. Preferably one made of items that are not difficult or expensive to acquire, and don't require heavy construction.

Doesn't help that I'm really not a costume person (as [livejournal.com profile] aurora77 can probably attest; getting me to even wear a pair of devil horns at BoardieCon a few years ago must have been like pulling teeth)
gwalla: (aww crap)
It has come to my attention that I have not known enough people. I'm filling out this godawful form for a background check for my upcoming job, which requires contacts to be listed to verify practically everything (schooling, periods of unemployment, etc.) and does not allow repeats, and I have run out of people who qualify. Argh.
gwalla: (shit)
I really shouldn't have read the flamewar on T Campbell's blog after drinking, because I am now feeling violently inclined towards many of its credulous subliterate participants.


gwalla: (Default)

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