Saturday, June 07, 2008

Late Night Listening XXIV: Back to Basics Edition

Tonight's selection is Linda Ronstadt's cover of Neil Young's exploration of amorous paradoxy: "Love is a Rose".

Many of my musical loves were inherited, and the Ronstadt gene comes from my father, who owned many of her albums from the 70s. My mother accused him of having a crush on her a time or two. I remember hearing this song played on the turntable several times, but with the onset of adolescence, I soon forgot about this song.

It was an afternoon sometime in the summer of 2006 when I heard this song played on The Loft (XM-50). The fiddle riff (do fiddle's have riffs?) is unmistakable. I also think the guy that does backing vocals was a regular on other recordings from that era, and I love the blend of their voices.

Bidding an Electronic Friend Good-bye

It is appropriate I commemorate one of many song/memory reunions fostered by XM, for today, I got into my car to find that my trusty XM Roady, which I had owned since the end of 2003, was stolen sometime between Thursday evening and Saturday morning. I wasn't happy about the loss. That means I'll have to call their Listener Care line to deactivate the radio and have them mark it as "stolen" so that the thief or his customer will never have the privilege of using it or activating it.

Although the prices on satellite radios have come down quite a bit since that Roady was bought, I probably won't buy a new unit for the car. For one thing, I seldom drive my car anymore, save for short trips to the store. Second, newer hardware requires a different power supply, which means I'll have to have some sort of stereo shop rip out the old wiring and put in new.

Let's move on to current events, shall we?

The First Job Review

The big news item this week was that I finally had my first "quarterly" job review. The review was supposed to have taken place after March, but since we were so swamped with the template/rendering system rewrite, my boss decided to postpone the review until my other coworkers' reviews came up.

The review went really well. I got high marks on all aspects of the job, and got a couple of areas where I needed improvement.

First, although we're supposed to be an agile shop that does frequent releases and baby step development projects, I still get the urge to scope my projects to be as feature rich and complete on the first pass as possible. My boss noted that from my change logs that I worked really long and late hours to get things done, and he was worried that I couldn't sustain that pace of development.

Second, he said that I needed to speak up more during meetings with non-technical staff, raising questions and objections when issues arise. He thought it might have something to do with a lack of confidence in my own views (can we say "self validation issues"?). He said when I did raise concerns during our daily status meetings, my comments were very useful and help make the product better.

The update notification feature code that I had been writing for this release went live on Wednesday, with a test configuration that just uses my employer's blogs. So far it has been working well, and the president of the company sent me an e-mail on Friday afternoon saying that Do-No-Evil's update detection for her own blog now is much faster because it gets pings from our servers when her post goes live.

Wife Stricken by Virus

On Thursday, my wife fell ill to what was later diagnosed as a virus. Like most viruses of this variety, there is some lower gastrointestinal distress, and hers was to the extreme. So bad, she experienced bleeding. By early afternoon, she called one of the ask-a-nurse hotlines, who then recommended that she pay a visit to the ER. I got a call shortly before 3 pm asking me to come home early. I grabbed the next available bus, and I was home sortly after 4 pm.

She drove herself to the ER while I watched the kids. She was released around 8 pm after having had an IV and a blood draw. They ruled out bacterial infection and asked her to get in touch with a GI specialist to verify that she was OK. She was mostly back to normal on Friday, and hasn't been afflicted since.

Annual Dance Recital

Longtime readers of this blog will recall that both of my daughters attend a dance class on Tuesdays. This weekend is the school's annual recital.

I was asked to work a spotlight again, and since I knew the school's owner already looking for a second spotlight guy to replace the one whose final year doing the job was last year, I agreed so that she wouldn't be in a bind.

The show takes forever to perform, with 42 numbers performed over two acts with a 20 minute intermission. The spotlights are used only on solo numbers and duets. Rehearsing the show is literally an all-day affair, with light and stage crew showing up at 9 am and not leaving until 4 pm.

Complicating the show this year is that the middle school whose auditorium we rent for the event is undergoing some sort of renovation work that involves some really old audio equipment. Consequently, the in-house communication system that allows the stage crew to talk to the guys operating the spotlights is completely out of service One of the crew members was going to try to see if he could borrow some mobile radios from his workplace so that we could use those instead.

Some of the scrap audio hardware was still still lying around, and that was an interesting sight in itself... An vintage Ampex reel-to-reel tape recorder, some metal boxes that required battery backups, one of which was an ancient Eveready 67 1/2 volt battery, dating from the days when the brand was still owned by Union Carbide. I didn't even know they made such things.

As I arrived to the middle school, I got a sober reminder of how things could be a lot worse. I have been horribly behind on the news over the past week, basically peeking at the computer trade press, personal blogs, and the national news, just to see if Hillary had conceded yet. I wasn't aware of the devastation that had been wrought nearby.

A little over a week ago, a bad storm hit the east side of the Circle City, complete with a bona fide tornado. The apartment complex just north of the middle school looked like it had been bombed. While reading news from the past week, I realized that the gas station, where I had stopped to buy a bottle of orange juice, had made the local news.
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