Information Frustration

I went to a chiropractor earlier this week, chosen specifically because his office is close to my apartment, and his website didn't seem as "new-agey" as the closest chiropractor (about a block closer). Monday was the new patient consultation and preliminary x-ray pictures. Tuesday was discussing the x-rays, treatment options, and a quick adjustment and massage therapy session.

Things I've learned but should not act on yet:
My left leg is 7 mm shorter than my right and has been since childhood. Up to a 5 mm difference is considered normal. Doc says I will have to wear a 3 mm lift in my left shoe from now until forever.

Because my left leg is shorter, my hips are uneven and to compensate for the difference my back muscles have been trying to pull the left side up. And in pulling the left side up, the muscles have been pulling at my spine as well, putting a curve in the lowest section of vertebrae.

I carry my weight unevenly, putting about 20 more pounds on the left leg than the right.

The curve in my low-back is followed by a compensatory curve and twist in my spine between my shoulder blades, putting my right shoulder slightly higher than my left.

I carry my head too far forward, putting additional stress on my back and straightening the natural curve in my cervical vertebra.

My back muscles are nearly constantly tensed, flexing against each other. Annoyingly this has made them strong enough to carry my weight in the bad spinal position and mask most of the symptoms.

Treatment for most of my spine includes the lift (not worn yet) and periodic adjustments and massage therapy to train the muscles to relax and shift the spine back to normal alignment.

Treatment for the cervical column will take at least a year and will include a foam wedge to lay on for a few minutes at night and a weighted headband which will force me to keep my head back or topple forward. The weighted headband treatment cannot begin until my back is no longer in pain.

So now I'm left with knowing what's wrong, and how it can be fixed, but I've been told not to adjust my daily life until the chiropractor says so, in order to determine which treatments are working.

Now that I'm conscious of it, I find it difficult to not try to maintain a better posture.

Follow up exam is scheduled for Friday.
GitS - Laughing Man

Fundamental Interconnectedness

In light of the recent news of a Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency series on BBC4, a post on the fundamental interconnectedness of all things has been brewing in my head.

Tonight it comes out, but really only talks about one coincidence I haven't already talked about in these journals.

I went on a date last Friday with a lovely young woman, and things seem to have gone fairly well. We went to a pub for dinner, then wandered around downtown Seattle for a few hours until we were both half asleep on our feet and she had to get to bed to be at work in the morning.

The coincidences begin a few years ago, when she was living in Colorado with her then-boyfriend. As it turns out, she lived near where I grew up, and worked in a Mexican restaurant in the same shopping center where I worked for Walgreens and RadioShack years prior. While I was in Oregon, she was working a few blocks from the house in which I grew up. She moved to Seattle, leaving the boy, around the time I moved back to Denver.

She grew up in San Diego, an admittedly large city in a large state, but not far from the city of Solana Beach, where my grandparents lived, and where I vacationed with my family on many Christmases.

This could all just be the human mind's propensity for seeing patterns and connections where none exist.
Rak - DanVann

2010 Christmas Wishlist

No one has asked for it yet, but I keep meaning to update last year's list and post it. This is a list of things I would like to have, but recognize as luxury items and will not likely buy them for myself.

LAST UPDATE: 11/21/2010 12:15 AM (GMT -8)
As for the new stuff:

  • A new battery for my laptop. Sony Vaio model VGN-FE780G A few months ago the battery stopped taking a charge at all, so for the moment I have a light-weight desktop computer.

  • In lieu of a new battery, a new laptop. Perhaps a netbook type: small and light with long-lasting battery power. I've been thinking about one off and on for a year or more, mostly to replace my paper notebook when I'm in a restaurant and writing.

  • Rockband 3 + Keyboard (Wii)

  • LEGO Rockband (Wii) could be fun, but it would likely be little more than more songs for regular Rockband.

  • Same goes for The Beatles Rockband (Wii)

  • There's a LEGO Harry Potter game coming out, from the same people that made the LEGO StarWars, LEGO Indiana Jones and LEGO Batman games. I have yet to be disappointed by a LEGO game from the TT Games studio.

  • While I'm on a LEGO kick, pretty much any LEGO set. In the last few years I've emerged from what many adult LEGO enthusiasts refer to as "the dark ages" and my love of the little plastic bricks is growing again.

  • It occurs to me I do not have any long-sleeved shirts other than dress shirts. A sweatshirt or two might be nice. Probably 2XL

  • Memories of the Future: Volume 1 by Wil Wheaton

  • Also by Wil Wheaton, the audio book versions of "Just a Geek" and "The Happiest Days of Our Lives"

  • My wishlist at

  • Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere BBC Miniseries. I saw this at Mile Hi Con this year and quite enjoyed it. I have the book as well.

  • My wishlist at (I hope that link works)

  • Coraline (Widescreen) Gift Set I absolutely loved this in the theater, and I'm curious to see how the 3D works at home.

  • Stargate: Atlantis DVDs. At the moment I have none, so any would be a good gift.

  • Sony PSP handheld gaming system.

  • Dungeon Maker PSP game

  • Scribblenauts (Nintendo DS game)

  • This American Life Live DVD (Return to the Scene of the Crime) or pretty much anything else from the This American Life store

  • Dungeon-A-Day 1-year membership

  • A new pocketwatch

  • Scott Pilgrim vs The World DVD

  • Scott Pilgrim vs The World Graphic Novel boxed set

  • Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage OR Black Lagoon Complete Boxed Set

  • Ergo Proxy Boxed Set


A rare moment of idle time.

Life seems to have settled in to a routine. Not overly busy, but constant and with little flex time.

A great deal of my time is taken up with commuting now. I wake up at 0615 to be at the bus stop by 0630 to arrive at work around 0730. I leave work at 1600 and usually arrive home between 1745 and 1800. Yes, my commute on the way home is nearly two hours, owing to the vagaries of bus schedules. A good 45 minutes is usually spent waiting at a stop.

I've tried three different routes with two or three transfers and have not gotten home before 1740 except on the exceedingly rare occasion one bus is early by the same amount another is late and I can eliminate a 30 minute wait entirely.

There are two consolations: I'm not spending money for gas for the commute (work gave me a transit pass) and I have three hours a day I can dedicate to reading. I finally read The Graveyard Book (two days) and Tales of the Red Panda: The Crime Cabal (one day) as well as some others from my To-Be-Read stack.

Work is going well. Last week I was chosen to check other peoples' work in the training database to make sure they were ready to work on the live database. This week I was among the first pulled off of other projects to focus on a new, high-priority area with ambitious goals and aggressive deadlines.

And it rained today!

It's been hot and sunny most of the time recently. I do not sleep well when the weather is too warm, so I've been spending the majority of my break time napping at my desk. Quick 10 minute cat naps which are almost, but not quite, entirely unlike actually sleeping. Mostly I've been relying on my new 1 liter Thermos. I throw some tea and hot water in there in the mornings and by the time I get to work I have tea (generally over-steeped, not always terribly) and it stays hot until the last cup.

But today it rained. I was unprepared for the rain, so spent my bus stop waits standing in a light mist (it wasn't raining hard by the time I left work) in shorts and a t-shirt. If not for the wind it would have been almost pleasant. Tonight I should sleep well.

I keep hearing snippets of fiction in my head on the bus; they're scenes or feelings related to stories I've written, how to improve them, the next scene in a sequence, etc. but I am no longer in the habit of carrying my journal with me everywhere, so I haven't written them down.

"Do you think we're alcoholics?" my roommate, duaiwe, asks one afternoon, handing me a bottle of beer and opening another for himself.
"What makes you say that?"
"Well ... we have, at last count, seven bottle openers and two cork screws."
"And the mini-fridge in the computer room dedicated to beer."
"I fail to see a problem with that."
"The problem is, the beer fridge is nearly empty. Again."
"I begin to see your point ..."

Truthfully, we usually only have one beer each a night, with dinner. Most of the drinking gets done on a weekend when people come over to play board games. The fridge was well stocked before the last board game night, and turnout was lower than expected, so we've been chipping away at the remainder for the better part of 9 or 10 days now.

Dream log: My dreams are taunting me now

In a dream last night, I was late getting back to work from a break. Unusually, I could run in this dream (usually when I run in a dream it's like running through chest-deep water), but I had to run through a crowd, and what seemed to be a department store, specifically the sleepwear section...

I ran past a cute, short young woman with short red hair, but in running past my shirt caught on something and while trying to twist away from the snag without losing too much momentum I ended up sort of dancing with her. We laughed and in short conversation she said she had a boyfriend but had only recently started going out with him and I was already more fun. At one point I picked her up in my arms and her train of thought was completely derailed by the comfort of it. Whatever she was saying turned in to "You can hold me like this any night..." (or something similar) as she closed her eyes and relaxed.

Some nagging part of me reminded me I was still late for getting back to work, so we exchanged usernames (she also worked at Google, and usernames equate to email addresses) and something woke me up from the dream. She had an unusual name that sounded something like ebony and ivory mashed together. I can't remember it now.

Who Am I? Part Two in a series. How do I see myself?

Relevant lyrics:
What have you learned,
Now that you've been burned
By the girl who used to be the center of your world
Who used to be your center of gravity
And now you're so unsure
You're like a squirrel out in the middle of the road
You're halfway there but don't know which way to go

What have you learned, can you remember?
Now that they don't know what to do
Now that they miss your heart of gold so badly
This is what I'd say if I were you
It's in a treasure chest that's buried in the sand
But the X does not mark the spot and I do not need a hand
And if I burst out into flames without your guidance anymore
Just scatter me across the sea and you can kiss my ashes from the shore

Samantha once said I was comfortable to be around, calming or relaxing. I believe she is not alone in feeling this way.

After she said that, I realized that's a component of how I see myself: an emotional rock onto which my dear friends can anchor themselves when they need some stability, or grounding. I know at least two of my friends have called me in tears, in the midst of an emotional crisis, and ended the conversation feeling at least a little better. I think I've said it before, but it bears repeating; I extend an open invitation to my friends: if you have my phone number you may call me anytime, day or night, if you need someone to talk to. I may not be coherent in the middle of the night, but I will listen and be as supportive as I can.

My favorite D&D character recently is my dwarven warden. His role in combat is to keep the enemies focused on him and to take damage instead of the rest of the party, and he's remarkably good at it. He has 113 hit points, but an enemy may need to deal as much as 300 damage to him before he falls, considerably more than the rest of the group combined.

I want to see myself as Protector or Defender, but recognize I lack necessary training in physical defense. alarin612 has helped a bit in that area, but he cannot do everything in the limited time we're in the same place.

The Protector self-image plays a part in which women I find attractive, leading me toward the smaller women I could easily carry or shield by virtue of standing between her and a threat.

This is at odds, perhaps, with my passivity in relationships.

The pattern recognition part of my brain has a lot of work ahead, trying to identify common threads in past relationships especially, but also in life in general.

Moving and settling in.

I've got most of my small items moved, basically as much as I could fit into my car in three trips. Planning to rent a van or truck this weekend or the next to get my big items. With two exceptions everything can be shifted by one person, though some are easier with two. The two exceptions are a black marble end table and a La-Z-Boy recliner.

The new apartment is awesome and spacious with a few quirks.

Quirk the first: The wiring. It will take me a while to get used to which switches operate which lights/sockets and I may end up making labels for them.

Quirk the second: It's on the fifth (top) floor, but the elevator only goes to the 4th floor (and the penthouse, which is not us) so I give directions within the apartment like this: Take the elevator to the fourth floor, turn left and go up the stairs until it gets dark and that's our door.

Quirk the third: The office/den. There's a small room off the living room which I think must have at one time been part of the balcony but was recently enclosed to make a small, sunny room with windows covering the three exterior walls. duaiwe and I were setting up his computer desks in there and trying to get them near level. On a whim, I put the level on the floor and discovered the floor is at a decent slope.

Quirk the fourth: My bedroom has an exterior door. Handy for getting in/out without going through the rest of the apartment, as the door leads onto a balcony that goes around to another door in the stairwell outside our front door. The quirk comes from the fact that we don't have keys to my door, and neither does the landlord. So if I go out that door, I either can't come back in that way, or can't lock it behind me.

These things aside, the living room has access to a small South-facing balcony that overlooks downtown Seattle and the Seattle Center. We have an excellent view of the Space Needle and Elliot Bay (I think). On the 4th, I stood on the balcony and watched four different fireworks displays.

We should have internet at the new place on Friday, but for now I'm using the internet at Jon's old apartment across the street from the new apartment.

If you want/need my new address, send me an email or a phone call or something.

Who Am I? Part One in a series. Meltdown

Relevant lyrics to this entry, from the Carbon Leaf song "Meltdown"

Should I base my decisions on the feelings that I feel
Or base my feelings on decisions and pretend the feeling's real?
I wait for good times and peace to live and love
Pretty soon we'll find my time's run out; my heart's turned to dust.
'Cause the world keeps spinning whether you live or you die
You could go it alone or leave your footprint on some hearts and minds.

Had a conversation with Samantha about "us" and me and where we stand and helping to figure out where I'm going.

As much as neither of us wanted it, we agreed it will be better in the long term for us to remain friends instead of the friend/relationship superposition we had. Knowing that no matter how I try to manage it I will fall for her and be emotionally wrecked for a time when the relationship inevitably ends, we decided to end it early and remain friends, avoiding awkwardness and tension at work.

This is also made slightly easier in that we no longer carpool together, so we won't have that hour and change alone together bookending each day.

With how much I miss her right now, my rational mind says ending it early is a Good Thing. My emotional mind wants the rational mind to die in a fire.

I did come to one conclusion in the conversation: I enjoy helping people, and want to leave people better for having interacted with me. This ties in with having rewatched James Stewart in Harvey recently, and the great quote from the character of Elwood P. Dowd:
Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be," — she always called me Elwood — "In this world, you must be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.
Little White Mouse - Filthy Jake

Working, moving again, etc.

Some news I've been meaning to post for the last week or so, but haven't.

After having read the Non Disclosure Agreement and receiving verbal confirmation about what I can and can't say, I can now tell you where I'm working.

I'm part of the maps team at Google in Kirkland.

How awesome is that? If you told me five years ago, or even two months ago, that I'd be working for Google, I'd have called you a liar and told you to get out of my office (or off my lawn, depending on what sort of day it was). But now here I am. The team is too large for the facility at the moment (there's construction going on to expand, and should be done soon-ish) so we're split into two shifts: 0645-1415 and 1445-2315. I'm in the latter group, so I"m not sure of the time on the day shift people. Once the building is finished we'll all be working 0800-1730. I can't tell you all the awesome perks that come with working at google, but suffice it to say it's enough to offset the weird schedule and the commute.

The commute is a killer; 45 minutes on a good day, up to an hour and 15 minutes with really bad traffic. It's mitigated by the next bit of news: I'm moving again! To Seattle proper this time, specifically the Queen Anne and Mercer area. This should cut my commute time in half, unless the 520 bridge explodes or is horribly messed up. The move in date for the new place is July 3, which may not work out so well, being Independence Day Weekend... But the office will be closed on the 5th and 6th too, so I have a four day weekend in which to move. But also two unpaid holiday days that week ... (normally they would be paid, but because I will not have accrued 1000 hours by that time, I don't get paid holiday time. This is policy of the staffing firm I work though, not Google policy).

I'm also driving a carpool for four people who can take a bus in to work, but can't take one home because the buses stop running from Kirkland to Seattle before our shift ends. My route home takes a detour through the Capitol Hill area before dropping the last person off in Kent. The drive home tends to take about an hour in light traffic, but the others have agreed to pay me for giving them a ride, so I won't complain.

I'll be living with duaiwe, who's moving from one building to another about 50 feet up the street.

As I said, I've been meaning to blog this, but hadn't yet. Before I was working, I had plenty of time to stay caught up on blogs and comics and the youtubes, but now I'm either at work, on the road, or sleeping, save for a few hours before work and a bit of time after I get home. Except for the occasional twitter post, I'm staying off social networks when using work computers (partly company policy, partly my mild paranoia).

But tonight I have a few hours to kill. It's also the first weekend since I started working. I have to catch a bus to the airport in a few hours to get to Colorado for my sister's wedding on Monday, so I've decided to stay awake until I get to the boarding gate, rather than sleep for ~2hrs at home and then nap again in the terminal.

If I'm feeling ambitious, I may do a write up of the Steampunk elements at this year's Anime Central for the Wings of Steam Blog.