February 5th, 2004

Enterprise Bridge

What I've been up to

Before I get to that, Dave Lemson got this shot at O'Hare. Note what's hanging from the jetway.

Someone on a mailing list full of fellow UIUC graduates asked for a general status update for the last two years from people on the list. This was my response:

In our last episode, Jason Luther expounded:

> What have the tuna fish been doing for the last two years? 

A lot of sitting around not being all that productive.

I quit Qualcomm in November of '01, having cashed out back in August.
I hung around long enough to finish another review cycle, in which
I was again not-promoted.  In need of a change of scenery, I had the
means to simply take time *off*, so I did.  I've been out to Las Vegas
a few times to meet up with friends down from Chicago.  Atlanta for
Thanksgiving once.  Williamsport, PA twice for the Little League
World Series.  Home and Peoria for last spring's high school
boys' basketball finals.  (Glenbrook North finished third.)

Summers and falls I've signed up for the baseball PE class run by the
local community college.  I'm out on the field with 19- and 20-year
old kids, almost all of whom played varsity for schools in the toughest
county in the nation.  (If you follow the majors, you know local names
like Prior, Blalock, Chavez, Wells, and Glaus.)  I manage to hold my
own and not make a complete idiot of myself.  It's just an opportunity
to work on a game I love playing (on Sundays in a local rec league)
even if I'm not (and never will be) very good at it.

Most of the time I can account for is spent up at Poway HS, assisting the
football, basketball, and baseball programs.  I'm the head scorekeeper
for the first two, and the PA announcer for the latter.  I also wind up
handling anything technical that arises.  Broken scoreboards, miswired
PA systems.  Restoring ancient message boards with blown triacs and
missing control software, by reverse-engineering the driver circuit
boards and building a parallel port interface.  Running web sites,
writing perl scripts to summarize game statistics for a season.

I've worked a couple of the baseball camps we run for the younger
kids in town over the summer.  I've been dragged into scorekeeping
for, and more recently assistant coaching the 13-and-under travel
team that a bunch of them are on.  (Their head coach is the older
brother of one of the kids, who graduated a couple of years ago
from Poway.)

Another one of the kids, his mom teaches Spanish at the high school,
and is divorced from his dad, who doesn't get around so well.  I've sort
of been adopted as an older-brother figure for him, which consists of
me catching bullpens, and getting my ass kicked at 1-on-1 basketball
and chess.  It's kinda nice, his only siblings are two older sisters
finishing or just out of college, and mine are three yougner sisters,
two of whom I was old enough to hope turned out brothers while mom was
pregnant with them.  We both have something always wanted and always
missing from our lives.

Aside from that, I've written a small daemon in C to watch a modem for
Caller ID data, and hand it off to LED message signs hung in the house.
I've hacked my TiVo to add extra storage, run a web server, and let me
download programming off of it.  I pieced together a process to edit
that programming and burn it to DVDs playable in consumer DVD players,
complete with menus and chapter stops on the (deleted) commercial breaks,
entirely with the use of free software.  I've built an archive of every
episode of "The West Wing" and "The Wire" this way, with new seasons
of "The Shield", "Jeremiah", and "The Sopranos" coming up.  Currently,
I'm fleshing out a new MythTV box, designed to replace the TiVo, which
uses a couple of Hauppauge MPEG-2 hardware encoder/tuner cards.

I have yet to figure out what to do with the mountains of VHS tapes I'm
obsoleting by buying or recording the same material on DVD.

I've been in my house in Poway for five years as of this past New Years'.
But I was very nearly dragged back to Chicago this summer.  My old
athletic director at North is now at New Trier, and tried to hire me on
for the new sports information director position he created.  It would
have been the sort of things I've been doing for free for fifteen years,
but with a paycheck.  It would've also included some web development
and apparel development and sales.  (NT alums are a rather loyal bunch.)
Alas, Things Changed and he was forced to hire from inside.  Barring
another rare opportunity like that, I have no plans to leave San Diego.

The plan was to start looking for another job last month, leaving
an ample reserve to safely bail out should it turn sour.  But the
folks sold the house after 27 years, so going back for a week or
two in March to help them sort, pack, and move to their new house
in Wadsworth, on top of the time for two sisters' weddings in
May and June, would be a lot to ask of a new employer, so I'll
wait 'till April.

Also, I read comics.