November 2007 Archives

okay, so back to the weekend, and the story with the element...

i got up in the morning (friday) and called the honda dealer (howdy honda) in austin i'd left the element near (on the side street near the service entrance). i spoke to a lady (whose name i immediately forgot) and i told her my element was parked nearby because i had it towed there yesterday (thanksgiving) but no one was open. oh yeah, and i left my keys at the valero nearby because y'all don't have a night dropbox for keys. this seemed to confuse her, but she said "i guess we can have the van driver go by and get them or something." i explained the valero assistant manager said honda people come in there all the time. still sounded confused. i explained about hitting an exotic animal, then she said "oh, you have body damage? you'll need to take it to a body shop and get an estimate and such for insurance work. we don't have a body shop." okay, so that's a complication. i explained why i wanted to take it to a honda dealer (to get the 60k maintenance done, and replace the windshield under the class action lawsuit settlement) and asked which honda dealer(s) in austin had a body shop. she said she didn't know. i also had to explain i wasn't in austin. i'm from houston. no, i'm not in houston either. i can't get to my vehicle. i'm 2.5 hours away. i asked about honda dealers with body shops again, and suddenly she remembered something...she has a brother who works at a body shop at a honda dealership up in round rock named classic honda. how did she forget this the first couple of times i was asking? i don't know. anyway, she said she'd contact him and let him know i was going to call, and he'd take care of everything.

i decided at this point to call my insurance company to let them know i was going to have to get my vehicle towed from where it was up to classic honda in round rock. once again there was much confusion about the car being in austin, me being from houston, but currently being in brady. (why? i had an incident number and most of this information had already been provided.) they eventually decided it was okay, but then they couldn't find a classic honda listed for austin. huh. the lady at howdy honda had told me the classic honda place deals with state farm all the time. nope, no listing. the state farm guy suggested i could use one of their premier partners, which meant i could then take it to any other premier partner if i wasn't satisfied with the work. otherwise i'd have to deal with the shop directly myself over any issues. i didn't know any shops in austin, but classic wasn't coming up so i just picked a place the state farm guy said was near where my car was. i then had to explain about not knowing if my keys were still at the valero or if howdy honda had picked them up. he said he'd contact the body shop and let them know my vehicle was coming, but to find out where the keys were and call him back so the tow truck driver could get them.

i hung up and called howdy honda back. this is where it gets important that i recall the name of the woman i talked to. which i couldn't. so they transferred me to some guy. i explained to him that my car was parked on the side street by them and i needed to know if they got my keys from the valero. he seemed confused by the whole thing, but when i explained i had talked to someone but couldn't remember her name, he put on a big huff-n-puff production about how he was going to have to find out who i talked to and find out what was going on. he said he'd do that and call me back.

i waited about ten minutes, then decided he probably wasn't really going to try very hard to take care of anything. i called howdy honda back and explained that i had talked to a woman in service but couldn't remember her name, but i didn't know how many women worked back there so maybe it could be figured out. turns out there is just one evidently. (it makes that guy's whiny response about having to figure things out seem pretty lame.) the receptionist transferred me to her phone, but it bounced back unanswered. tried again, same thing. she said i could leave a voicemail, or she could let her know i was looking for her. i said i'd just try back later.

so i decided to call the valero and find out if the keys were still there or not. i called and a woman answered. i asked if marie was there. no, she'd left about an hour ago. was steven there? no, he didn't come in until tomorrow. i explained about my keys being there near/in a register. no, no one told her about any keys and she hadn't seen any. she didn't know anything about any honda people coming in to pick any keys up. but she had a line at the register, so could i call back in about 10 minutes? great. i surmised from this the keys were probably still at the valero. hopefully.

a few minutes passed and jennifer called me. she asked if i'd gotten in touch with her brother. i said i'd called state farm and they couldn't find classic honda, so i'd ended up letting them pair me up with some premier partner or something. i was also trying to figure out if they'd picked up my keys from the valero. she acted confused as to why i'd think they were going to pick up my keys from the valero. (which would mean they're still at the valero... somewhere ...hopefully.) she explained then that the place is called classic and they sell toyota, honda, and hyundai. so state farm might have it listed under any of those. (and i remembered they mentioned classic toyota.) but she said she'd call her brother and tell him to call me and he'd take care of everything.

very soon after hanging up, ralph from classic toyota honda called me. i explained what was going on, and he said he'd send a tow truck down and get my element. i told him the keys were at the valero and he said he'd send the tow truck driver by there, just let them know someone from rr towing would be by to pick up the keys. he then told me he'd fax me a release form to approve the work. he also said he'd call state farm and get everything squared away with them. i also gave him a fax number to send the form to for me.

i called the valero back and talked with the lady there again. i told her the keys should be under, or by, or in a register, and be wrapped in some paper. she started looking around and found a key with a fob. mine? but they're not wrapped in paper or anything. okay, well, they're still probably mine. okay, so there is going to be a towing guy from rr towing coming by to pick up the key. how long was this going to be, because she wasn't going to be there all day. (guessing) hopefully the next 20 to 30 minutes. thanks!

i then called state farm and let them know i was going to be going with classic toyota honda instead of caliber. i had talked to a guy named ralph and he should be letting them know what's going on. they told me they weren't a premier partner so i couldn't take my car to any other premier partner if i wasn't happy. i said that was fine.

hoping everything was finally resolved, i left with my dad to head down to our land in mason county and take care of a few different things. mission accomplished, we headed back to brady.

a few hours had gone by and there had been no fax. i'd also not heard anything about the status of my car or keys. i called ralph and he told me my element had just arrived, and the fax should have been sent but he'd check into it and send it if necessary. he said they should be able to get the state farm inspector out on monday to look at it. the fax arrived, so i signed it and faxed back it and an explanation of what other work i wanted done while it was in the shop. (which i'd also explained over the phone.)

a little later, i got a call from someone from caliber trying to figure out how i needed to set up this appointment and schedule a tow truck. *sigh* i explained that i had chosen to use a honda dealer and state farm was supposed to have called them to let them know. they thanked me and hung up.

this all happened friday morning and afternoon.

on tuesday i got a call from my state farm agent's office asking where my car was. in austin? i explained it should be at classic toyota honda and i'd been talking with a guy named ralph. they said they'd figure it out from there.

other than that one call asking for some info, i've heard nothing about anything from anyone. is my car being repaired? is it at a honda dealership with a body shop in round rock? is the other work i wanted being done?

i hope so. but i have no idea.

1955 bel air 2-door hardtop

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well, i'm home and thinking i'll head to bed. i've got things to enter in ye olde blog, but for now i'll go ahead and reveal my "major" purchase. yep, if you read the title of this post then you might have a good idea -- it's a black 1955 chevy bel air two-door hardtop. i stopped at the family place in art and took a couple of pics. so here you go:

1955-belair.jpg

1955-belair-hardtop.jpg

i managed to get it and get it back to houston. and not hit any exotic animals.

wednesday we got out of work a couple of hours early, so i took the opportunity to drop by the bank and do some stuff related to my "major purchase". afterward, a coworker and i went to a starbucks and sat and talked for a couple of hours -- which was nice. then i went and did the radio show. i headed home, did some laundry, and hit the bed around 1am.

this morning i managed to drag myself out of bed around 6am. i finished packing and getting everything ready for my trip home, and headed down the highway. i stopped in colombus and filled up my gas tank. about 15 miles on the other side of colombus something very odd happened to me...

there was a lot of traffic on the highway, but at this point there was no one around me. i had just passed through a very small town and was just back up to highway speed when i saw something moving in the median to my left. (71 is a divided four lane with a wide ditch median at this point.) i looked over and saw there was some kind of animal coming onto my side of the road from the median. it was moving sort of slowly, but i was somewhat entranced by the oddity of seeing such an animal out on the highway. i was starting to slow down when it decided to run across the road. i hit the brakes harder and started veering to the right, thinking i could go past it, but then it took off like a shot and managed to get directly in front of me. i pushed the brakes hard and managed to get down to maybe 15 or 20 mph before i popped it. i was on the shoulder at this point. it flew off into the ditch on the side of the road and i came to a stop. at first i thought i'd just knocked it around, but then i looked back and there were a couple of pieces of my vehicle on the highway. some cars came by and drove over them. i soon realized my engine light was on, so i shut off the car. i got out and saw radiator fluid. i went around front and saw this:

bad_element.jpg

yikes. it knocked part of the grill off and pushed my radiator into the fans and the engine. my license plate had been knocked off, and got driven over a few times before i went out and retrieved it. other than that, everything else appeared okay. i was fine.

i went and looked at what i'd hit. i saw it take a breath or two, but it was pretty much going to die. you see a lot of deer running across highways in central Texas, and it's not all that uncommon for a car to hit one. but that's not what i hit. what in the world did i hit, you ask?

blackbuckantelope.jpg

evidently a black buck antelope. i was actually laughing when i called my parents to tell them what had happened. i was also laughing when i called aaa and state farm. "yeah...uh...i just hit...uh...some kind of exotic gazelle or antelope or something on u.s. 71." i kept making jokes about keeping it and mounting the head or the horns. i wish i could have, it was cool. unfortunately, the tow truck driver didn't have a saw with him, and neither one of us had a tarp for me to put it somewhere. the tow driver was pretty impressed when i took him around to show him what i'd hit. he said that was probably the oddest thing he'd seen like that, except for some guy hitting an elk on i10 or i35.

i decided to get towed to austin. my mom and dad drove from brady to austin to pick me up. i left the element at howdy honda in austin. unfortunately, they didn't have any kind of key dropbox and they were closed for the day. i ended up leaving my keys at a valero nearby, and i'm supposed to get the honda guys to go get the keys from the valero store in the morning. it should be fun trying to explain all of this over the phone and get it all taken care of.

if things go well, this could be good all around for me though. i've been meaning to take the element in for its 50k maintenance, as well as getting the windshield replaced for free as part of the element class action lawsuit settlement. plus i have full coverage on it so i should only have to pay the deductible. i'll get some new outer parts, and they'll have to troubleshoot the airbag sensor system since the front got popped.

plus now i should only have one car with me in brady that needs to go back to houston, if everything else goes as planned. more on that later...

"a rocket...man." --shatner

friday night i had to work for maintenance, so i went into work after lunch. some people were having kind of weird problems with ftp and ssh. it sounded like a firewall or network issue, but eventually we determined dns was exhibiting some odd behaviour. i was trying to figure out what was going on for a few hours, then they contacted a brilliant guy they use as a contractor and he figured it out in about 15 minutes. granted, he got to get the information it had taken me/us a few hours to collect, but i hate it when i work diligently on something but can't figure it out -- and then someone else solves it quickly. one of the main things i'm taking away from the experience is to use dig when you're trying to diagnose/troubleshoot dns issues. for whatever reason, i stuck to analyzing log files and using nslookup. i stayed for the downtime, although i did pretty much none of the stuff i'd planned because my brain and nerves were shot.

saturday i spent most of the day with the potts family. first i went around for an hour or two with sue and the kids, helping them take care of errands for the afternoon and evening event. which was the art crawl. jack had put the bohemian photography studio in it, so he was showing his work, along with a few other artists, and some bands were playing. i was there for basically the whole art crawl timeframe. one of the artists, whom i had met once before (but never seen his work), does really cool mixed media stuff. jack said he thought i'd like it, and he was right. it's very detailed art work, along with collage and print, plus objects and texture (etched glass, lighting, shadow boxes, metalwork, etc.). really cool looking stuff. (it reminded me of some of dave mckean's stuff.) i got to see a whole lot of people coming and going, plus a number of people came by and hung out that go to kaleo and/or know jack in other ways. after 7 hours of that, i was pretty ready to go home and decompress for awhile.

sunday morning i got up and decided i wanted to go to a movie. there were two movies out i was pretty interested in seeing, but the new coen brothers movie sounded a bit dark and violent, so i decided i'd see the other. i decided for sure once i saw it was a limited engagement playing only at river oaks. it was starting in 15 minutes, so i just got dressed and put on a cap and took off. the movie in question is before the devil knows you're dead. it has philip seymour hoffman, ethan hawke, albert finney, marisa tomei, etc. i had, for some reason, been under the impression it was a black comedy. i was very, very wrong. it started off exciting enough, seeing marisa tomei mostly and completely naked for a few minutes. but the movie is basically a non-linear telling of people making bad decisions over and over and destroying their lives and the lives of those around them. it centers around a botched robbery, but the characters already have issues (some more than others) and they just spiral into a nosedive straight down the pit. i had bought some hot tea before the movie, but i completely forgot about it until the credits were rolling. so the movie was good -- as in it was gripping and absorbing, and the acting was good -- but i walked out feeling like i'd just been beat up by the offensive line of a football team. which isn't necessarily a bad thing -- it's just not exactly what you want to experience while still groggy from getting up. i won't say it's as emotionally traumatic as requiem for a dream, but it knocked me around. perhaps no country for old men would have been a better choice for an early movie after all (i'll see it soon, probably).

after the movie i drove over to ikea and ate a late lunch, then had a meeting with jack and sue and emily. they're trying to get some stuff worked out with the business and such, and i am trying to help in some way. while there, i looked around at coffee tables and candle-related items and other such things. but i ended up only buying a bed for my cat, lenin. hopefully she will like it and start using it, instead of leaving hair all over my bedspread and sheets.

from there i met jack at his office, then we went over to the warehouse live. i assisted jack in shooting mewithoutYou. i had to take my wallet chain off, and they were wanding at the door, so i had to hide all of my contraband. but we went in and jack set me up with a camera on a tripod and i took a bunch of pictures. i think some of mine even ended up looking pretty good. after that, we went back to jack's office and i helped him do some stuff with his powermac g5 and leopard.

monday i made a pretty major purchase. it's going to be complicating my thanksgiving weekend plans. i'll be providing more information about that within a few days, i'm sure. if you listened to the radio show this evening, you've already heard me talk about it.

monday evening i attempted to install leopard on a new hard drive i had put into my powermac g5. the install never really started because the erase hung, so i gave up after a few hours and put the old hard drive back in. i'll try again sometime later. tuesday evening i installed red hat enterprise linux 5.1 on four servers. they no longer appear to have the minimal install option (unless i missed it), which was nice in rhel 4. i was also confused by the fact that using the text install made me need 4 disks after i narrowed the install options, while using the gui install made me only need 2 disks with the same options checked. i opted to use the gui install.

is this thing on?

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well, gee. i'm still not feeling in the mood to write up all of my exciting raid-5 exploits. for fear they may continue happening. let's just say a lot of my free time the last couple of weeks has been occupied with raid recoveries. somehow, they've all been successful. at some point luck has to run out.

besides doing lots of tech support outside of working hours, i haven't done too much. last wednesday (nov 7th) was the last fundraising edition of technology bytes for that drive. they had been installing a new board since the weekend, and because of the way we do the phones (differently than almost all other shows there) they had to let us use the new board. so i was the very first person at kpft to use the new board live on-air for a show. it was funny because they were working on it while the show was going on, so as the show progressed the buttons and dials necessary to make things happen were changing. fortunately it went alright. wednesday the new board was in a stable configuration and it performed wonderfully.

tuesday i used a coupon at border's to get a few cds. i could get the discount on up to 3. for some reason, i had the most difficult time finding a 3rd cd. i must have spent an hour browsing the cds before i found something that felt right. even then it wasn't an "oh yeah! i must have that!" i also picked up a 4th cd because it was $7, but they ended up giving me the discount on it too. bonus! here's what i got:

  • * elephant - the white stripes (third man)
  • * get behind me satan - the white stripes (third man/v2)
  • * from the muddy banks of the wishkah - nirvana (geffen)
  • * vintage collections - hank thompson & his brazos valley boys (capitol)

speaking of music, i managed to rip all of my country and blues cds onto my mac. (well, except most of the compilations.) along with some other stuff that is also ripped, i've filled up the 20-gig ipod. i guess once i start ripping the rest of my music, i'll have to exclude stuff from the ipod...or get a bigger ipod.

related to the ripping, last weekend i bought a memorex optifix plus cd cleaner and repairing thing. i had a cd that wasn't ripping and it had scratches on it. i got the clean/repair tool home and opened it up, and there was a bottle with whatever stuff they use to clean and smooth out the cd surface. it said to put three drops on the cd, no more. i took the lid off and squeezed and nothing happened. wondering if it was supposed to be a watery liquid, i pulled the dropper top off to look in the bottle. it was a lotion-like material inside. so i figured maybe i just wasn't squeezing hard enough to push the thicker liquid through the dropper. i put it back together and squeezed harder. suddenly pretty much all of the contents in the bottle had blown all over the cd, the cleaner apparatus, and me. *sigh* i cleaned it up and used some of the material a few times to clean/repair the cd. and, of course, the cd still wouldn't rip correctly. good times.

i ordered and got a mac "power" icon t-shirt from panic.com. it'll be interesting to see if i get more comments on it than my other computer-themed t-shirts.

this last weekend i did a heck of a lot of laundry. i also picked up some cool skull and bones halloween candles from target for around 90 percent off. and i went by microcenter and used a coupon they sent to get a free 2 gig usb flash thumb drive. i ate at sylvia's enchilada, which was wonderful (i hadn't eaten there in some time). i had the "el paso", which is three cheese or beef (i had beef) stacked enchiladas. and yes, i got the fried egg on top. delicious! saturday evening i hung out with sue at the potts house and we watched junebug. i thought it was going to be more of a comedy. it's actually a kind of slow-paced, altish-feeling sort of film. it's got some funny stuff in it, but i don't think i'd even call it a black comedy. it's kind of got the feeling of dropping you into the middle of a situation, then pulling you back out without really explaining or resolving a lot of things. maybe it's a little bit schizophrenic in style and delivery. but overall i liked it.

i've also failed to mention that a few weeks ago i watched 2046. it's a foreign film (asian), a little bit of sci-fi but mostly sort of film noir. (it flips between the future and early to mid 20th century.) visually it is quite arresting. the story seemed kind of sad because the characters never seem to really figure things out, they just go with how they are and what they know. but i guess that's like real life usually, so it's not a bad thing to portray it that way.

after a long time away from my logitech harmony remote, i finally spent a bit of time over the weekend doing some updates. my initial experience was sort of long and frustrating, so once i got it working right i didn't really feel like messing with it. well, this time the experience was much better. i added two things to it. one is the ability for it to (with one button) set up my stereo to play music streaming from itunes via my airport express. the second is a one-button setting that turns on the tv, dish, and stereo, then sets the channel to one of the sirius satellite channels. it's basically a quick way for me to click one button to listen to satellite radio. i also changed the main music button so when i press it sirius starts (instead of it going to the cd player).

scott hatch visits houston

well, after doing some work at jack's (from my last entry, nov 1st), the next morning he phones and texts me around 8:45am sounding a bit frantic. somehow, the raid-5 system i'd set up on a linux box for him had simultaneously failed two disks -- thus putting it in a non-recoverable broken state. a 1.5 terabyte raid volume isn't something you want disappearing on you. i talked to him for awhile and said i'd look at it later or over the weekend, hung up, and went back to my training for work.

friday evening (nov 2nd) scott hatch (burnt toast vinyl - myspace / website) drove down from austin (he was in the middle of two weeks of training in austin) to hang out with the potts clan, and me. i was at the geek gathering that evening (which went okay), so jack and scott and emily met up with me at tropioca. jamie showed up and was going to see clouseaux at the continental club. we'd thought about going to the continental club, but ended up heading to the west alabama ice house instead.

at the ice house, i managed to run into some of the guys in todo moto. i'd first seen some of them at leon's lounge back in early october. they ride around on mostly cafe racers, rat bikes, old stuff, frankenbikes, etc. and they looked like guys that would pull a knife on you if you made fun of their scooters. i knew i needed to meet them. : ) i spent a good while talking with one of the guys and he seemed pretty cool. he said they hang out at west alabama, so i'm guessing i'll probably run into them some more.

from west alabama we headed over to the house of pies (where jamie joined back up with us). scott got an appetite for the house of pies from the last few times he'd been down this way a few years ago, so he was adamant that he be able to eat there. of course, they were out of bayou goo. gah. the night ended after the house of pies (at least for me).

saturday i got up and joined scott, jack, sue, and simcha for the saint arnold brewery tour. i managed to remember to take all of the extra wooden tokens i had laying around, but i once again forgot to take about 20 empty 6-pack containers. oh well, they were still out of beer glasses with their logo in black so i guess it didn't really matter. i still managed to leave with more tokens (6) than they give out (4), but i did use all of the older ones i'd been holding onto.

i headed home and did some stuff around the house (like take a nap) while the others went by the house of pies, the menil cy twombly gallery, and the midtown spec's. scott picked up a number of different kinds of beers that he thought i might like. mostly stuff that doesn't taste much like "normal" beer. i tried three, one i liked, one was okay, and the other not so much. we had met back up at the bopho loft, so emily ordered some pizza from frank's. i really like frank's pzza. since i don't hardly ever go downtown anymore, i rarely have it these days. eventually at some point i left and went back home.

sunday i met up with the potts clan, emily, and scott at le peep in rice village for brunch. i love their granola pancakes. after brunch i headed back home, where i did i don't recall what for a couple of hours. that accomplished, i went over to the bopho loft to say goodbye to scott and to start trying to work on ye olde raid-5. (the story of which i'll save for another post.)

phliKtid halloween disguise(s)

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okay, i got the pic of me (taken by chris) from chris and mary's halloween party. here is a cropped version of it:

phliKinator-crop.jpg

the original can be found here.

sunday afternoon was a beautiful day, so i took my motorcycle down memorial and met up with the potts at a tcby. it'd been a long time since i'd been to a tcby. you can taste the yogurtness in the ice cream, although it's good. from there i headed back to the potts house, where i played with the kids in the front yard for probably a couple of hours.

monday after work i helped marty transport a new couch he and christine had bought over to their house. afterward, we all went to the potts house for supper. it'd been awhile since i'd seen marty or christine.

on wednesday, the actual day of halloween, i wore a similar costume to the one i'd worn to the time traveler party -- except instead of the arnold mask i wore a skull mask. i wore it around work, then i actually wore it while riding my motorcycle around in the evening and night. (and i got my fair share of stares and double-takes.) it was somewhat hard to see out of, particularly when going 30+ mph -- but it's worth risking an accident and possible death for something that looks cool. i didn't really mean for it to be ghost rider, but that's what most people thought of. i usually offered that later i was planning on dousing my head with gasoline and lighting a match, but everyone needed to be there to see it and take pictures...seeing as i could only do it once.

here is one (cropped) pic of me from that evening:

phliKphone-crop.jpg

if you'd like to see the original version, along with a couple more pics jay took at the radio show that evening (plus his humorous storyline to go along with the pics) -- head here to jay's blog.

halloween night i dropped by border's and used a coupon to get something, plus i got something else that was on sale...

  • * with the lights out - nirvana (dgc)
  • * better off dead - john cusack (paramount)

this evening after work i met up with jack and emily at pei wei, then i went over to jack's office and reconfigured his network. i added in a new router he'd bought and modified his apple airport express stations. hopefully all is good there now.

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