Have I ever been here? Probably. I cannot recall a specific time I have been fully “In the Zone” as it were, but I know that I was close a week or two ago while working on finalizing a project for work.
Based on Manish Sinha’s definition of this state of mind, I cannot actually say that I have been 100% disconnected, with my hands on autopilot and my brain in full-logic mode. There is always some portion of me weighing this or that, examining bits of code to figure out problems, that sort of thing. It’s not really a zen experience where I am “one with the code.”
I realized only a few days ago that it has been NINE YEARS since we last cut our own tree for Christmas. That record was finally broken today when my sister, her boyfriend, and I went up Rist Canyon and visited the Christmas Tree Ranch.
This is a few miles up from the old Davis Ranch, which was caught in the High Park fire in 2012, but is basically the same format: drive in, get directions from the down-to-earth farmer that owns the place, park where he tells you, hike up into his property through the snow, meet a trio of fuzzy huskies, pick a glittery, snow-laden fir tree, saw it down six inches to the ground, then drag it back to your pickup truck to drive out while paying at the property gate. Yes, we drove my new/used truck that I bought in September!
I think the fact that it triggered my sister’s nostalgia button combined with the obsession of the mid-20th-century post-war Christmas music and the presence of her super-cool boyfriend, Andy Rudy, made this trip amazing.
Plus we stopped on the way down to pick up my Mom and take her home to help set up and decorate. Awesome times.
That is to say, we had gone to my house first and simply set mine up in a similar stand, but left it alone. A bunch of my newer tropical plants had been waterlogged, so I was dealing with musty smells as soon as I moved their pots. But later on, after I came home from church, I stopped by a Walmart and picked up two 100-light strings of LEDs. You know those $6 boxes you can get? Well, being FAIRLY excited to finally get mine decorated too, at least minimally, I went home, turned on some music and proceeded to break out those packages.
Let me just say – LED Christmas lights are the worst. “Warm White” constitutes a putrid yellow that is just as sterile and boring as anything. Plus a PWM or something to handle the 110VAC causes this flicker, especially in the clear glass mini-bulbs that makes that feeling of throwing up even worse.
Plus my tree stand, though similar to the one I used as a kid, and the one my sister got, is the most flimsy thing I’ve ever dealt with. The bolts twisted in the stand, and once tightened into the trunk of the tree, would actually twist out of place, tearing through the bark, and letting the tree topple anyway.
Depressed and kinda sad, I shut everything down and decided I needed to not worry about it right away.
Then Monday, I stopped by a Walmart again, this time picking up 300-light strings of incandescents. One package of white, one package of multicolored. As soon as I got home, I was feeling much more hopeful, though the tree was still wanting to topple and twist. However, as soon as I put that first white string in the outlet, I was FINALLY into it. THAT was the ambiance I was looking for.
An hour later, after a bit of re-stringing due to unbalanced white vs. multicolored sections, I finally decided to call it good!
Right now, the tree still wants to topple, but the top end rests against my internal gable and is pretty stable that way.
And despite not playing music WHILE stringing this giant plant, I did turn on my old go-to afterward while playing a game, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Everything, and marathoned the full collection of converted tapes and ripped CDs of 30+ years. More than makes up for Saturday night’s debacle.
So I guess I could say Merry Christmas. Then again, I WANT to say, “Hey it’s that time of year where I break out my Christmas theme for a blog!” I haven’t done this in a long while, and given that I’ve moved over to WordPress, I wonder if it’s possible.
Stay tuned for theme-like edits in the next day or two. As soon as I find time to break out my old copy of Photoshop and a few stupid photos of myself which I may already have somewhere on this server, I’ll drop in a new banner image of some sort!
So it turns out I spent the weekend in Henderson, NV with my girlfriend. She is a coach for CCSD, and today (Monday), I am also chilling/hanging out with her at work. Turns out this is relatively boring. However, it’s okay. I found things to do. Such as sit here, filling up her browser history with weird entries.
Heh. Well, I’m being good. Everything so far has been related to things like band, work, etc.
I also took a bit of time and helped by transferring this “Fluency Practice” document to MS Word in order to print for better usability. She told me that I can now hole-punch everything in the front office, but it’s hard to know where the front office even is, let alone where the hole punch is. I’m sure I can ask the front desk secretary though. I mean, why the heck not?
But you know me. Wandering around an elementary school by myself, armed with nothing but a visitor’s name tag is a bit daunting.
SECONDLY, this weekend has been awesome. We didn’t do much outside. Sushi and Dim Sum, but other than that, it’s been chill at home. And yet, we have had an AMAZING weekend.
Coming back next month for the VNV Nation concert will be fun, albeit short, and then her coming out two weeks after for Christmas will also be awesome. I’m glad I stayed the extra day, though. Would have hated to go home today, let alone at all, though you know at some point it has to happen.
Now let’s see about that hole punch so that I don’t waste her ENTIRE afternoon…
Oh wait…she came back, finished with her meetings, and now we’ll be introduced to the front desk lady and figure things out as far as punching holes goes.
Said Yate Fulham: “And just how do you arrive at that remarkable conclusion, Mr. Mayor?” “In a rather simple way. It merely required the use of that much-neglected commodity – common sense. You see, there is a branch of human knowledge known as symbolic logic, which can be used to prune away all sorts of clogging deadwood that clutters up human language.” “What about it?” said Fulham. “I applied it. Among other things, I applied it to this document here. I didn’t really need to for myself because I knew what it was all about, but I think I can explain it more easily to five physical scientists by symbols rather than by words.” Hardin removed a few sheets of paper from the pad under his arm and spread them out. “I didn’t do this myself, by the way,” he said. “Muller Holk of the Division of Logic has his name signed to the analyses, as you can see.” Pirenne leaned over the table to get a better view and Hardin continued: “The message from Anacreon was a simple problem, naturally, for the men who wrote it were men of action rather than men of words. It boils down easily and straightforwardly to the unqualified statement, when in symbols is what you see, and which in words, roughly translated, is, ‘You give us what we want in a week, or we take it by force.'” There was silence as the five members of the Board ran down the line of symbols, and then Pirenne sat down and coughed uneasily. Hardin said, “No loophole, is there, Dr. Pirenne?” “Doesn’t seem to be.” “All right.” Hardin replaced the sheets. “Before you now you see a copy of the treaty between the Empire and Anacreon – a treaty, incidentally, which is signed on the Emperor’s behalf by the same Lord Dorwin who was here last week – and with it a symbolic analysis.” The treaty ran through five pages of fine print and the analysis was scrawled out in just under half a page. “As you see, gentlemen, something like ninety percent of the treaty boiled right out of the analysis as being meaningless, and what we end up with can be described in the following interesting manner: “Obligations of Anacreon to the Empire: None! “Powers of the Empire over Anacreon: None!” Again the five followed the reasoning anxiously, checking carefully back to the treaty, and when they were finished, Pirenne said in a worried fashion, “That seems to be correct.” “You admit, then, that the treaty is nothing but a declaration of total independence on the part of Anacreon and a recognition of that status by the Empire?” “It seems so.” “And do you suppose that Anacreon doesn’t realize that, and is not anxious to emphasize the position of independence – so that it would naturally tend to resent any appearance of threats from the Empire? Particularly when it is evident that the Empire is powerless to fulfill any such threats, or it would never have allowed independence.” “But then,” interposed Sutt, “how would Mayor Hardin account for Lord Dorwin’s assurances of Empire support? They seemed –” He shrugged. “Well, they seemed satisfactory.” Hardin threw himself back in the chair. “You know, that’s the most interesting part of the whole business. I’ll admit I had thought his Lordship a most consummate donkey when I first met him – but it turned out that he was actually an accomplished diplomat and a most clever man. I took the liberty of recording all his statements.” There was a flurry, and Pirenne opened his mouth in horror. “What of it?” demanded Hardin. “I realize it was a gross breach of hospitality and a thing no so-called gentleman would do. Also, that if his lordship had caught on, things might have been unpleasant; but he didn’t, and I have the record, and that’s that. I took that record, had it copied out and sent that to Holk for analysis, also.” Lundin Crast said, “And where is the analysis?” “That,” replied Hardin, “is the interesting thing. The analysis was the most difficult of the three by all odds. When Holk, after two days of steady work, succeeded in eliminating meaningless statements, vague gibberish, useless qualifications – in short, all the goo and dribble – he found he had nothing left. Everything canceled out.” “Lord Dorwin, gentlemen, in five days of discussion didn’t say one damned thing, and said it so you never noticed. There are the assurances you had from your precious Empire.” Hardin might have placed an actively working stench bomb on the table and created no more confusion than existed after his last statement.
It works! I was a bit annoyed that the wordpress atom feed was only XML based. However, I do consider myself pretty good at googling things, and so I found this PHP library called “SimpleXML” which solved a LOT of stuff for me.