Work Travel Considerations

[Note : Reposted on the proper blog.]
So I am doing a lot of travel back & forth to Seattle for work. And I got to thinking – while the reimburse me, it would be nice to consolidate the spending into a single account for both tracking and liability purposes. Does anyone have a recommendation for a credit card with a good travel program? This would be something I can dedicate to travel, and pay off after every check comes in from the office, and would be used exclusively for business expenses when I travel (airfare, hotel, food, etc).

Posted in Personal, Work | 2 Comments

I’m not dead, even if that was close one

So last week I flew out to Seattle for one of my regular visits.[1] Lots of good work-stuff was done, and as has been mentioned elsewhere at least one adventure was had on the ground.

Getting on the ground was probably the biggest adventure. See, we were flying right into the snowstorm that hit that weekend. The majority of the flight was uninteresting – I read a WH40K novel while the in-flight movie (Moneyball – not too bad) played in my new Skullcandy Hesh Headphones[2], but the landing into SEATAC, in the middle of a snowstorm – it was exciting. Exciting in the “re-evaluate your life and do you have anything you should have done before you died because, well, shit this might be it instrument landing roller-coaster with applause and cheers when we finally touched down” kind of landing.

It’s amazing what you think in that moment. And the fact that, life has been pretty good of late, and that maybe there is *ONE* thing you should have done, an it’ll be a lot of work, but hell, you can fix that and it’s not really that big a deal…

…except maybe it is, and oh my that’s going to take a lot of work, so you better get to it, my boy.

And then you’re on the ground and it’s all OK, and maybe, just maybe it wasn’t that big a deal.

Or was it?

[1] I’m REALLY sorry I/we didn’t have time to hang out with anyone this trip, but work and weather pretty much ate my life this trip.
[2] I’m a Skullcandy fanboy now. I bought a pair of Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds a few years back based purely on the logo design and my need for earbuds. I had no idea who they were, I just knew they were on sale and looked neat. It turned out that they sounded FANTASTIC. So I bought another set when I needed some iPhone earbuds that didn’t cost an arm and a leg, and when THOSE sounded fantastic, I was hooked.

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2012 Convention Schedule (as it stands)

The 2012 Convention Schedule as we know it to date :

  • Jan 5-9 –  MagFest – National Harbor MD
  • Feb 24-26 –  MystiCon – Roanoke, VA
  • Apr 6-8 – UrsulaV Art Show Opening, B&N Event – Beaumont, TX
  • May 25-27 – ConQuesT – Kansas City MO
  •  Jun 13-18 – AnthroCon – Pittsburgh PA
  • Aug 24-26 – Bubonicon – Albuquerque NM

There are a couple of other things on the radar, like a fan meet & greet at some point when we’re in Bellevue, WA, and a couple of other trips that we haven’t finalized yet. Looks like another busy year, and I know I’m excited to be heading out for our first con of the season tomorrow!

Edit : corrected the location of MystiCon. Also had to remove the Fan Meet & Greet date, since I was premature in scheduling that. Sorry!

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Where I slept in 2011

I saw this on a friend’s journal, and figured it made for an interesting look back. And so :

– Pittsboro, NC (naturally)
– Williamsburg, VA
– New Orleans, LA
– Orlando, FL (two locations, one trip)
– Chicago, Il
– Pittsburgh, PA
– Bellevue, WA (three different trips)

Many thanks to the awesome people we got to meet and hang out with in all of those fine places. I’ll have a list of when and where Ursula (and I) will be in 2012 (that we know of so far) later today.

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Hello 2012

2011 was a fun ride, for the most part – good company, good travel, good gaming, good friends, and a good job all sort of blend together into what is qualified as, I think, a good year. 2012 started with good friends, so I’m hoping that sets the tone.

I’m pretty sure we have more of the same in store for 2012, so I’m cautiously optimistic about this one. Later this year will mark the 4the anniversary of Ursula and I starting to go out, followed by the fourth anniversary of her moving in. Four amazing years, all of which have their ups, downs, and wibbly-wobbly bits[1], but all have been on a generally “upward” trend. I couldn’t have done it without her – or you – my friends, readers, and listeners.

Here’s my wish for 2012 – that it is better than 2011, and that we all be able to find (more) happiness in it.

[1] I blame her for my new vocabulary.

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RSS Woes

As many of you might have seen (or heard), Google Reader recently got “updated” to a new UI and backend. It now talks to Google+ (good) but stripped out almost all the features that the hardcore reader users like myself actually USED – the friends feeds, public sharing options, the Next/Previous Buttons, and the really nice navigation sidebar that would show the read/unread feeds, folders & tags, & etc.

If you’ve been watching the social networks, you may have also seen how the users reacted : badly. And to top it off, both Google and several commentators have basically taken the stance that we should suck it up and deal.

Since the web UI has taken out everything I used and liked (and then dumbed it down to an interface that is barely equivalent to the old mobile view), I started looking at standalone apps that I could use instead.

What I was looking for :
– The ability to use Google Reader as a “sync point” – that is JUST to save read/unread marks and the feed list.
– In not using Google Reader as a sync point, some kind of Sync function
– iOS, Windows, Mac, and Linux support

Turns out there is no single RSS reader that does this. What I’ve done is try to find what works best for me on each platform. Here is what I’m using now. All of these sync to Google Reader, so when I switch platforms, my read/unread and subscriptions carry over. Additionally, all of these are FREE (or free with ads and a paid ad-free version).

– iOS : Perfect RSS (free with ads, paid without). May people recommended Reeder, but I like the UI for it better
– Linux : OwlRSS (free). It’s based on Eclipse, and supposedly runs on OSX, Linux, and Windows. On OSX it was dreadful, but on Linux it kicks ASS.
– Windows : OwlRSS again. I’m surprised that this app runs so well on Linux and Windows, and blows on my OSX Lion machine.
– OSX : NetNewsWire (free with ads) which has been the standard on OSX for several years.

There are also some apps that I tried and felt were dreadful in handling RSS :
– Thunderbird
– Outlook

Seriously guys, RSS support feels bolted onto these apps, and each assumes you read your feeds in that app and ONLY that app. Plus the disk usage and caching used in all of them will KILL performance if you have more than about 10 feeds that update a LOT.

So that’s what I’m doing, and I’m interested in hearing what other people are doing.

I understand the new gMail Look & Feel is not a happy thing either, but I use desktop/phone clients for that these days.[1]

[1] I’d go back to running my own mail server, but gMail does have damn good spam handling…

Posted in Personal | 1 Comment

Local Lunch Thursdays

For those of you who listen to KUEC regularly, you’ll notice we’ve become more and more involved in the local food scene here. There are serveral local businesses – Lily Den Farm and Abielicious Bakery[1] in particular – that produce foods superior to what we can get in the grocery store for a reasonable cost.

So, when one of our favorite coffee shops closed last week, we decided that we needed to do more than just talk about how awesome the scene is. We’re making the effort, once a week, to eat lunch at a local establishment and follow that by working[2] from another. Maybe we can help keep smaller businesses going with our dollars – the small, local, cool guys are hurting just as bad as everyone else in this economy (maybe worse), and if we don’t get out and spend money with them, our local scene won’t be around anymore.[3]

So, last Tuesday we had lunch at Angelina’s Kitchen and then went to work in the coffee shop at Davenport & Winkleperry.[4] And that was VERY cool – I was doing my server work, watching the iPhone news, and drinking great coffee. [5]

This week, after looking at the schedules and such, we’ve decided the best day for local lunches moving forward is Thursday, and are planning accordingly – lunch in a local establishment[6], followed by work in a local cafe/coffee shop/etc, then the Farmer’s Market.

I’ll try to post updates on how this is going, as well as some reviews as we go along.

[1] Abi’s Banana Nut Muffins are now my breakfast of choice. While I don’t have to watch my gluten as much as some others, she’s producing options that don’t suck.
[2] One of the advantages to being 100% telecommute for me is that I can do this every day if I wanted to.
[3] On one of the local mailing lists it was asked what would happen if every reader spent $40 a month in town on local businesses, vs. going into the bigger cities and towns for the same things. I plan on finding out.
[4] The ONLY coffee shop in town with indoor seating and wi-fi that’s work-friendly for what I do.
[5] And, if I get out regularly, I won’t turn into any of these people
[6] There are a lot! Expect reviews!

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Spider Lilies with 0pt-0ut, Mechanikill, Dark30, ShadowBunny, Orgavin, and JoeHendrix

So last night I hauled my ass to Raleigh to catch Spider Lilies at Shakedown Street as part of SIGNAL 2011.

And it was awesome.

Continue reading

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All we ever do is eat and play music

Looking over my last few posts, you’d think my life had become nothing but food and music. Far from it. But I can’t talk about work too much (it’s a good job but busy), a lot of my life gets documented by Ursula, and Google Plus has become my social network of choice for quick updates and near-realtime discussion (replacing twitter, I’m afraid), so the only things of interest I have to post about are the In The Evening updates and what we’re eating that isn’t being reviewed on Kevin & Ursula Eat Cheap.

So I’ve not got much to say here, except : we ate this fantastic pork roast earlier this week, and it was DEAD SIMPLE to make. It’s just not fast. Tell me what you think.

Cider Pork Roast

One 2-lb pork roast
One bottle Crispin Hard Cider Stout
About a cup of “regular” apple cider
1 lb yukon gold potatos
1/2 lb baby carrots

Rub a bit of salt and pepper on the outside of the port roast. Place in a slow-cooker fat-side down. Pour the Ciders over it – it’s OK if it doesn’t cover the roast. Set to “low” and forget about it for 3 hours. After 3 Hours, turn the roast over, so the fat-side is up, and replace the lid. Forget about it for 3 more hours. Chop the potatoes into 8 pieces. Add the potatoes and carrots to the slow-cooker. The liquid should just about cover the roast now. Replace the lid, and forget about it for 4 more hours. Remove the roast, and pull it apart. Serve with the potatoes and carrots on the side, using the juice as gravy.

Shred the leftovers, and place in a bowl with enough “juice” to soak them. Re-heat for sandwiches later.

Note: This did not cross-post properly to Livejournal/Dreamwidth, so I had to push the date up to today (2011-09-24) and update. Sorry to anyone who gets a dupe in their feed)

Posted in Food, Personal | 1 Comment

Food doesn’t have to be pretty

So I’m at the farmer’s market today, and there is a table out with the words “Ugly Peach Sale” on the sign. So I ask and find out that (a) an Ugly Peach is one that has a blemish or a crack or a spot on it but is perfectly fine to eat, and (b) two bucks a basket. Two bucks for 6 fresh peaches bigger than my fist is a BARGAIN even if they are ugly. So I buy some. And we have one or two as a snack with goat cheese and feel really decadent.

And then at 7:30 we’re looking at the remaining 4, and the toaster oven and I’m wondering out loud if I can roast the peaches that way and Ursula asks if Peach Cobbler is out of the question, and I hem and I haw and I check the pantry, and by 9 she’s eating cobbler[1]. And I guess I did good, because she looked REALLY REALLY guilty while she ate it.[3]

Fresh Peach Cobbler
4 large just barely ripe firm peaches
1/2 tsp kosher salt[4]
1 tbl white sugar
3 tbls brown sugar
Bisquick biscuit dough (see side of box)[5]

Instructions :
Pre-heat oven to 425F. Slice the peaches into wedges, leaving the skin on. Place in a deep baking dish or dutch oven. Sprinkle on salt, and toss with your hands. Same with the white sugar, then about half the brown sugar. Let the peaches rest while mixing up the biscuit dough. Spoon dough on top of peaches, drop-biscuit style, then sprinkle or sift remaining brown sugar on it. Cover, and bake in oven for about 15 mins. Remove cover and continue to bake until dough is golden brown. Remove from oven, and let cool for about 20 mins in a closed microwave. Serve warm with whipped cream.

Full disclosure : I’m pretty sure this will get you laid.

[1] I would LOVE to have had some, but dude, I’ve already crushed my diet for today, and the blood sugar spike isn’t worth it.[2]
[2] HOWEVER, I will need a shot of carbs at breakfast…
[3] I found her sitting in the dark, eating the cobbler, hunched over it and looking like “I will cut a bitch who tries to take this away from me”
[4] Amounts on the salt & sugars are complete estimates. I just sorta sprinkled on until it looked right, which is how I normally do this sort of thing
[5] Judge all you want, but it works just as well for this as busting my ass and scratch-making biscuits.

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