In search of a new gym?

Since I started at Isilon, they’ve provided a free monthly gym membership at Rain Fitness. Rain is super-convenient being just half a block from the office which is also convenient to home since the office is just four blocks from my apartment. In two weeks, my office is moving just south of Pioneer Square and the corporate membership with Rain is over at the end of October. When I get back from Rome, I’ll need to have a new gym lined up. And thanks to EMC I’ll be paying for it myself again.

For me, the gym must be convenient or I’ll never go. It also has to be open early because if I don’t go before work, I’ll never go (and I get to work at 7:30, so the gym must be open by 6 at the latest). I seldom go to the gym on days I don’t go into the office, thus it makes sense to have a gym closely located to my office vs having one located close to my house.

That said – depending on the bus routes, there’s nothing stopping me from continuing to go to Rain in the mornings then hopping a bus and heading to work. In fact, the 24 picks up at 7:06, the 15 picks up at 7:18, and the 19 picks up up at 7:31 all within easy walking distance of Rain and gets me to the office between 7:30 and 8.

Thus for the last half of September and the whole of October I’ve decided I’ll try both methods. I’ll take a week working out at Rain in the mornings, and then a week trial at a couple of the gyms down in the Pioneer Square area to test that approach out. Then with luck I’ll have everything figured out by the time I get back from Rome and really need to burn off all those calories I consumed while there!

Creatures of context

I just finished watching I Am Legend which spawned this though: we are all creatures of context.

And really: duh. But I’m going to expound on it anyway because this is my stupid blog.

Unlike Athena, we are not born fully-formed into the people we are today. We evolve, adapt, and change based on the experiences in our life. Our experiences form our life’s context. And context is vital to understanding someone.

When I meet people, or people meet me, we don’t immediately acquire that context. We only see the person in that moment in time. Spending more time with people builds up your knowledge of the context of their life. You start to see more of their personality which reflects how they see the world. That’s the present context which is useful, but not as important as their past context.

The past context is the one that really formed us. And when adults meet for the first time, there’s much more past context to learn and it takes more time to learn it. Sadly, none of us come with the cliff notes version of our lives to hand someone (although if we did, it would instantly cure all forms of insomnia) — the only way to acquire it is slowly over time.

Being cognizant of this is important to me when meeting new people. I don’t have their life’s context. I don’t understand their relationships with family and friends. I’m evaluating them based on my life’s context and vice versa. I need to let people tell their own story and try really hard not view their life through my context.

[And sadly, I’m not following my own advice and routing this to /dev/null because for some reason I find this is important for me to come back to later.]

IBM blog entries unlocked

Given that I’ve been out of IBM for 9 months, I think it’s ok if I unlock some of my previously-locked work-related blog posts.

Sense a trend here? I’d get great ratings and even a promotion and yet the salary increases were a joke. This is a major reason why you lost me IBM. Right. Here.

PS: Isilon, hope you’re paying attention. If I’m considered a top performer, I expect to be compensated as such. Just a heads up.

Grandmothers get it

While talking with a friend tonight I remembered, and referenced, the letter my grandmother sent me after I came out to her. I distinctly remember posting it in a blog entry but a search for it tonight turned out to be a slog because the entry was locked and thus not indexed.

Turns out that, not surprisingly, I locked several entries between April and July in 2009 — that one included. Tonight I unlocked most, but not all, of them. In particular I unlocked the August 4th entry containing the letter from my grandmother – which I’m reproducing here because it’s just that good:

Dearest Casey,

It was so good to hear from you. The news you told me was no surprise to me – I had suspected the situation for a long time. I know you didn’t wake up one day and decide to be gay – it is an inborn thing and is natural to you but the average person views it as unnatural, because it doesn’t follow the norm. They need to stop and evaluate all the couples who co-habitate. In my opinion there is not much difference.

Of course I had looked forward to your children to love, but my love for you has never changed and never will. You are a part of me and Papa and we have always been proud of you. Just be happy and people will learn to accept the situation. I wish you every happiness.

I love you –

Two years later and I still tear up reading it.

New website goes live

Monday evening I made the new Peel, Inc.1 website live: This is the fourth major version of the website since the domain first appeared circa 1998. The first three versions can be found on the Way Back Machine (sans some stylesheets and images by the looks of it) and were released, roughly, in 1998, 2004, and 2006.

Unlike the prior versions, this one is not designed by me, but by a real designer: Peel, Inc.’s lead designer Jenny Polk. Hence why it looks so much better than all the prior ones. The original plan was for Jenny to design the page frameworks in a tool that would export sane HTML/CSS and hand it off to me to massage into the individual pages. I figured, it’s been 20-something years since the first WYSIWYG HTML tools, surely they’ve come leaps and bounds and do Smart Things. No, oh no. If anything they’ve gotten worse with the advent of CSS (no, Fireworks, I don’t want the whole page rendered into a bitmap and broken up into tiny separate images each within their own absolutely-positioned divs!). Instead she designed all the pages and handed me a PDF of what she wanted it to look like and I dove into vim to put it down into code. After getting past my issues with the CSS box model it went fairly smoothly.

There are still layout things that I’m not completely happy with. It would have been easiest to specify a “page size” in pixels and design everything to that. I hate websites like that, although now I realize why designers do it that way. Instead I designed what I really wanted: a fully-fluid design that scales decently with the window. It isn’t perfect, window sizes < 950 pixels wide don’t layout ideally and sizes > 1200 pixels wide look a little sparse, but it was the best I could do with my crappy CSS skills. With today’s screen sizes these seem like reasonable boundaries.

In the end I’m very happy with the new design. Jenny did an amazing job and it’s by far the most professional looking website the company has ever had. I’m 95% happy with my execution of her design. Maybe after a couple of months I’ll come back and give the CSS a fresh look to see if I can’t iron out that last 5%.

1 It’s become obvious that new coworkers and Seattle acquaintances don’t know the skinny on Peel, Inc. It’s my family’s printing/publishing business based out of Texas. I’m the not-so-humble IT guy who wrangles the 1s and 0s in whatever form they take and have for the past 20-something years. You never escape a family business.

My mama raised me right

On a Friday in the middle of June around 4p CST, my tenant in Austin called and said they were having some AC problems. And AC problems in Texas in June are a Big Deal.

I got off the phone with my tenant and called McCullough Heating & Air. To my surprise they were able to get someone out there that evening! I gave them my credit card and asked them to bill me after the repair was completed.

A few hours later they called and gave me the run-down on the repairs (thankfully quite reasonable) and said they’d charge my credit card and send me an invoice in the mail. I talked with my tenant and she said they were professional and seemed to do a great job. I was quite pleased.

July rolls around and I notice that the repair never showed up on my credit card. I called McCullough who brought up their records and it shows the account as being paid, presumably by the tenant. I sent the tenant an email asking if she had paid them and if so how much it was so I could get her a check ASAP. Having sent the email I didn’t think about it much further.

Yesterday my tenant let me know she hadn’t paid them. Something was amiss. So I called McCullough and explain the situation. I told her I was fairly certain they hadn’t received any money. The receptionist said the computer records showed that the account was paid but said she’d pull the paper tickets and figure out what was going on and call me back.

Today I receive a phone call, and sure enough some wires had gotten crossed and they hadn’t, in fact, gotten paid. She asked if they could just bill the credit card on file and send me an invoice — yes, please. They seemed surprised I’d called to give them money. Really? My mama raised me right.

Now lets see if I actually do get billed and an invoice sent to me in the next couple of weeks.

Sparks, or lack thereof

I’ve been going on lots of “meeting people dates”. Just getting together with new guys for coffee to test the waters. Lots of them. And from these I’ve been acquiring lots of acquaintances. From all the “dates” I’ve had maybe three people were friend material. One of these is rapidly becoming a good friend (hi J!). With one of them I felt the spark of there-could-be-something-more but if he had a similar spark, it seems to have cooled on his side and I’ve decided the ball is firmly in his court.

Based on the interactions of some of the guys I’ve met they’ve felt sparks on their end (I’ll throw modesty aside for a moment and say that in some ways I’m a catch so this doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable) but it’s not been reciprocated on my end.

I’m looking for mutual sparks. Sparks of potential deep friendships. Sparks of potential relationship material.

I’m tired of meeting nice people but it not going anywhere. Meeting nice people is great, but as an introvert I like having a smaller set of close friends, not these wide nets of acquaintances. I think there are still slots on my dance card for “new friends” but it’s to the point where I can be more discerning and start focusing less on some of the folks who are acquaintances taking up space on my social calendar. Otherwise, I won’t have time to see if there’s someone out there where the sparks are reciprocated.


I moved out of my parents house when I was 16 to go to college. I graduated and become completely financially independent when I was 21. For over 11 years I’ve had a stable and lucrative job — 10 of them with one company. I’ve come out of the closet. I’ve bought three cars and sold one. I’ve gotten married. I’ve gotten divorced. I’ve bought two houses and refinanced one of them. I’ve moved to two different states. I carry only asset-backed debt. I save for retirement.

And yet despite all of that – I still don’t feel like an adult. I expected at some point in my life feeling like I’d made that transition from childhood to adulthood but it’s never happened. And part of me wonders if I made that transition earlier in my life than most people do. I’ve by no means had a tough childhood, but I’ve always been insanely responsible. Early on I associated better with people my parents’ age than my peers. And while I have done my fair share of stupid things (the ones that spring immediately to mind were with John Bariou) none of them come close to stories I hear from others and I don’t regret any of them (instead I cherish them).

So if we define adulthood as some level of maturity, some degree of responsibleness, some amount of self-reliance then perhaps I’ve been an “adult” most of my life. Or perhaps that idea is entirely too self-serving and the reality is that no one has a sense of “I’m now an adult”, that it’s a gradual progression from childhood that goes unnoticed internally and can only been seen by others.

Maybe I’ll revisit this post in 20 years after I’ve seen my nieces and nephews grow up.

In the Next Room, or the vibrator play

Last night I saw In the Next Room with Nick, Drew, and Michael at the ACT Theatre. It was a rip-roaring comedy that takes place around the 1880s just after the dawn of electricity. The story revolves around the treatment of female hysteria with the newly created medical device: the vibrator.

I love shows like this because while being entertaining, they expose you to a bit of history you might not be familiar with. I’d no idea before hearing about the show that “hysteria” was a recognized medical symptom, or that vibrators when they were first introduced were quite respectable (with ads appearing in Needlecraft, Modern Woman, and Woman’s Home Journal) — quite a change from today’s view.

Mixed in with the comedy are some more poignant themes that the modern audience can relate to: loving someone that goes against society’s accepted norm, unrequited love, and a couple who love each other but are not sexually satisfied in their marriage. I found the first act to be funny whereas while there are most certainly funny parts in the second act, it also resolves (or leaves unresolved) some of the more serious themes making for some somber moments.

I thoroughly enjoyed the show and would recommend it to any locals. The run is just now starting so go buy your tickets now.