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A new car! [Aug. 10th, 2018|10:32 pm]
The other exciting thing that's been going on lately is we bought a new car!

The minivan is pretty clearly on its last legs, so we decided to finally bite the bullet and get a new vehicle.

Jerry did a lot of online shopping and decided that a Kia Soul was a good fit for our budget that still had enough cargo room to haul a bunch of martial arts weapons around. We were able to go over to the K'GoGos' place (three? weekends ago) and were able to test-drive Cris's, which was a nice no-pressure way to check out that we really did like it.

So then we started looking for ones we could buy. I will say that the entire car-shopping process is a lot easier than it was the last time we did this. Not only is absolutely everything listed online, there are also website like cargurus that will tell you what's a reasonable price for that particular vehicle.

So Jerry did all the online shopping and I went to the credit union and got a loan preapproval and ran the numbers to figure out what we could comfortably afford and did the in-person looking at the top candidates. (Many of which had already been sold.) My mom also looked around some in Nebraska for us, since cars are often cheaper out there. She found one that was likely, but the guy selling it couldn't deal with a SMART preapproval, so that ended up being a no-go.

Anyway, after a lot of looking and prepping, we found one we liked and decided to go for it, so Thursday two weeks ago we drove all the way down to Centennial to buy it. Turns out the other thing that the internet has made easier is that you can just google "how to negotiate a car price" and get a bunch of good advice on that part of it, too. The one we were looking at had a posted price that the websites said was a fair deal. The dealer had signs posted declaring the fixed amount that they add on to the negotiated price (to cover costs and their baseline profit); we followed the tips we'd found online and got them to reduce the price by that amount, so that put us back into "fair deal" territory when all was said and done, and it was within our budget, so we decided that was good. (We figured they had come down by a fair chunk and weren't likely to come down further by that much again or even anything close to it, and we didn't care enough to spend a lot more time haggling over a couple hundred bucks, so good enough.)

The actual buying was then a little bit adventuresome, because the salesman sent us off to the finance guy, and there I discovered that I'd left my checkbook at home! Whoops! We were on a time limit at this point to get Jerry back up to Boulder for work, and we didn't want to make another trip all the way back down there to finish things off, so there was a little bit of a scramble to get it all sorted out. We figured out that we could put most of the down payment on the credit card (hey, free miles) and then we ran over to a nearby Wells Fargo to pull cash out of the ATM to cover the rest. We hit the limit on how much I could pull out with my card, but fortunately Jerry had his card, and we were able to get the other half of it with his, which gave us enough to go back and have the entire down payment we'd planned for covered and not have to redo all the financing. Woot!

So we drove home with a new car. It's a 2017 Kia Soul with only 17k miles on it. It's dark brown with a white top, and Jerry dubbed it Cappuccino (Cappy for short) because that's what it looks like. It's very nice, and we are very pleased with it.

(Postscript: To add to all the excitement, at the same time that we were dealing will all this car buying, we had a clog in the pipes that resulted in an overflow of blackwater into the laundry room. Super gross. We got a guy to come and snake the drain, and then a couple days later it overflowed again. Fortunately, this time it was only graywater from the washer. We had a warranty on the work, so the guy came back and did it again, and this time it seems to be all fixed. The basic problem is that he was going through a 1.5-inch pipe (where the overflow happened) to try to clear a 3-inch pipe where the clog was, and it's hard to get the snake in there. The other fortunate bit is that it only affected the upstairs plumbing and the washing machine drain, so we still had usable toilets, kitchen, and shower downstairs and in the basement. The previous owners of our house appear to have drywalled over the pipes where the cleanout is, so if it happens again we'll probably have to cut a hole in a wall, but at least at this point we're pretty sure where to do that, and it'll be in the garage or the laundry room. So that was an adventure. A gross, gross, adventure involving lots and lots of laundry.)
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Family weekend [Aug. 10th, 2018|10:04 pm]
My parents came to visit last weekend. They brought us a great big bowl of tomatoes and a bunch of cucumbers from their garden.

You know, when I was young, I thought I hated tomatoes. Eventually I realized that I hate bad tomatoes. You know, the styrofoam-y flavorless out of season ones you get on junky sandwiches. I love good tomatoes, although I generally pick them out of salads and sandwiches because I usually prefer them on their own. I have been eating lots of ripe tomatoes just sliced and salted, and they are wonderful.

Anyway, my step-brother's girlfriend's ex-husband (yes, really) passed away recently, so they came for memorial stuff and so on. On Saturday afternoon I drove up to Central City to join them at one of the little saloons for a sort-of-wake. We lived in Gilpin County when I was in my teens, and I actually hadn't been to Central City since they passed limited-stakes (ha) gambling. (I've been to Blackhawk, which has been utterly subsumed, but not Central City.)

I was driving up Clear Creek Canyon (which I haven't done in ages) and about five miles from town I hit a huge traffic jam that was just creeping along. (We found out later that a rock climber had fallen, and the road was actually completely closed. Yikes!) After five or ten minutes had passed and my phone was still saying that it was 36 minutes to my destination, I pulled a U-turn and headed back downhill, figuring I'd cross over to I-70, go up to Idaho Springs, and trying going up over Ohmigod Road. Once I had signal again, I discovered that actually, the Central City Parkway, which is a 4-lane highway going up over the hills from I-70 directly to Central City, is now a thing that exists. So I took that instead.

I spent all of 45 minutes there; I said hello to Dave & Michelle, saw a couple people I knew from middle school, and then Mom & Larry were heading out, so that was it for me. More of the physical town still exists than I expected (lots of old historical buildings), but the place that it was is pretty much gone.

We had a good visit while they were here; we spent a fair amount of time all sitting around the living room quietly reading together, which was nice. We took them to Wishbone for dinner on Sunday, and they headed home Monday morning.

On Saturday evening my parents were wiped out from a full day of socializing, so Jerry and I were able to go to a party at the Kuma-Go-Go's house. We stayed a lot longer than we expected to, and had lots of great socializing with chosen family and good friends. 'Twas delightful.
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CHVRCHES [Aug. 8th, 2018|11:12 pm]
I got to see CHVRCHES on Monday! Geoff (Pyro) called me up on Friday and very kindly asked if I would like to join him and Adam and Jeff L. for the show, and I allowed as how that sounded delightful, thank you very much. And indeed it was!

I slept in, worked a half day from home, and caught up on chores, then met them down at the Chop House for some dinner. (My stomach was a little off, so I had the French onion soup and a salad, and that was just right.) We did some catching up, then carpooled over to the Ogden.

There was a line, which was a little odd, because doors were supposed to be open, but we waited a bit... and then a bit longer... and a bit longer still... and it turned out that there was a power outage and they couldn't let anyone in! In the end, we stood in line for almost two hours; the doors didn't open until 9. Adam unfortunately had to bail, since he had to get up at 5 and couldn't stay out that late. And we got rained on (briefly). But really, it wasn't that bad, and mostly it was standing outside talking with friends for a long time instead of standing inside talking to friends for slightly less time before and between sets, so I didn't mind.

The opener was Pale Waves, and they were pretty decent. They also got onstage and started playing right away, which everyone appreciated. They had the bass turned way, way up, and I really dug that. (Long sustained bass synth notes at body-vibrating volume = yes please, it turns out.)

CHVRCHES finally came on at 10:30. It was an excellent show. About half the songs were off their new album (which I'd been listening to), a handful from the second album (which I have), and the rest from their first album (which I don't have but clearly need to get). "We Sink", which I hadn't heard before, is like, optimal tweedly-boop music.

Having only seen the band as animated in the video for "Bury It", they looked quite a bit different than I expected. Lauren is tiny. She could pass for about 14 years old. Iain looks like an uncle to the rest of the band. And Martin is a lot more... soft nerd than his animated self. He sang lead on two songs, and he dances like he's only partly in control of his body. It was awkward and adorkable.

They had a good light show, and the live performance added a lot to the music. And the bass! Again, so much bass. It was AWESOME and made me very happy. Even with a long wait and getting rained on, it was an excellent show with good friends, and delightful all ways round.
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Late June, Early July [Jul. 10th, 2018|10:12 pm]
A month since my last post? Bad me! Well, it's been pretty quotidian. Plenty of things, but nothing dramatic.

Some social gatherings: went to a party at Channan's and another at Mitch's on Pride weekend. Jerry made takoyaki at the latter, which was fun. Both were pleasingly low-key-but-social. Also had a Douglas over when he was in town weekend before last. And then last week on the 4th we went to Bob's and floated around in the pool for a few hours before a big thunderstorm blew in and rained/hailed us out. I did the traditional fireworks-watching in Broomfield afterwards; Jerry stayed home all tuckered out. David, who's borrowing our guest room for a while, came along to Mitch's and Bob's.

Work stuff: I had a big two-day meeting for one of our projects the week after my last post. I had to do a lot of prep, but I had my ducks in a row and got my hour-long presentation ready in plenty of time and it all went smoothly. Things are going swimmingly with my new student assistant on the fire project; she's very keen, and we were able to get code from the guy who generated a bunch of the data our collaborators are using, so it's all zipping right along. Jerry ran his first week-long martial arts camp (wooden weapons) for his school, and that went well.

Politics: Everything is on fire, but walking around in a cloud of outrage and anger just eats my time and energy without generating any kind of useful change, so I try to stay focused on doing good where I have leverage that matters, which is mostly municipal board stuff and being productive at work. I did go to a protest rally about immigration policy weekend before last. The speeches and suchlike don't do much for me, but I figured I could contribute positive vibes (and headcount), so I wandered around thanking the volunteers and telling people I liked their signs. And I ran into Joe and we discussed things like framing the issues, which will be useful at the board meeting tomorrow.

Entertainment: I read a new Bujold novel and then spent a week re-reading a bunch of her other books when I was feeling sick of my own thoughts. Ran Star Wars and the second session of D&D. Started Pandemic: Legacy back up with Karen & Chris and we may finally finish it soon! And we saw The Incredibles 2, which was enjoyable. Not fantastic -- I think the novelty of the premise was part of the joy of the first one -- but solidly entertaining.

And a couple weekends ago my ex-stepmother, Glenda, was passing through town on her way to go visit my sister Mollie (her daughter) and her new baby, so she stopped by and picked up the stuff from Grandma's house that I've been holding onto for Mollie. So I got to sort through a bunch of stuff of my Dad's to figure out what to send along to her. I found a couple letters from back when he was married to my mom, before I was born, and I realized: my father was always a really impractical romantic. (My mom confirmed this when we talked on the phone the next day.) And I think that explains a lot about our relationship. Because that is so very not me...
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Rainbow beard plus catchups [Jun. 10th, 2018|10:07 pm]

I colored my beard rainbow yesterday! Sorta for Pride, sorta just for pretty. Here's a pic of me & Monkey at Chris's birthday BBQ. Yay! This was after he had spent the day teaching small children to punch things and I had spent it at a retreat for the municipal advisory board I'm on (which was good) so we were both tired; he went home to crash not terribly long after, while I stayed to play board games (Cash & Guns and an unexpected win in 7 Wonders), but today we were both wiped and did nothing but sit at home and recuperate.

Life has been busy busy the last few weeks, although not with anything much interesting. Jerry's working more hours in the evening, so I've shifted my schedule a bit to match. Which has been helpful for getting things done; we have a new student assistant who's still in the start-up phase where she comes to ask me questions pretty frequently, and there have been lots of meetings and talks going on, so there are a number of tasks that I can get a lot more done on once everyone else has gone home and I can focus. (And it's not like my brain is ready to do much before noon anyway.) It's amazing how productive student assistants can be, even with just undergraduate levels of know-how, because they don't do anything expect work on the tasks you assign them. No emails to answer, no meetings to attend, no organizational reporting to do, no high-level planning and long-term strategizing, no projects to prioritize and deadlines to plan for, they just work on the to-do list you gave them and all of a sudden they've finished in three days the thing you were expecting to take three weeks and now you have to come up with more things for them to do!

We ran the first session of the Monster Island D&D campaign for the bears. Their party of five 3rd-level characters annihilated a "very difficult" encounter of six regular and one mutant sahaguin with clathrate grenades that theoretically should have been CR 8+, so I think they'll be able to stand up to fire-breathing T-Rexes and suchlike. I just have to finish writing up all the procedural content generation systems we're gonna use...

Went to the pool party at Bob's on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. (Jerry stayed home and out of the sun, after spending all day at Boulder Creek Festival on Saturday for work. Happily, his neck only turned brick red, not lobster red!) Dropped by Nick's on Friday the 18th for Michael's graduation party, which means a post-college friend's child who I remember being a baby just graduated from high school, ack what is this "time" thing I'm not sure I approve.

So yeah, 'bout like that.
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Lake Steam, work stuff, and a full social calendar [May. 15th, 2018|11:18 pm]
So two weeks ago I was feeling tired and creaky, and decided that I needed a massage. So I decided to follow the recommendations of various bears and try out Lake Steam. It's an old-school Russian/Turkish-style steam bath and sauna, and you can also get a good massage for a very reasonable price.

It was good. I first went down on Wednesday evening, but there had been a scheduling snafu, and I couldn't actually get a massage. I decided to go in anyway, and the attendant comped me the $20 entrance fee. The sauna was very hot, and the steam room was very steamy. Like, difficulty seeing more than 5 feet steamy. I enjoyed the hot tub the most, and spent a fair bit of time going back and forth between the hot tub and a cool/cold shower. I also rescheduled for Friday evening, and got a good 90 minute massage that cleared up a lot of muscle tension. Amusingly, I also randomly ran into people I knew on both visits! (Gene & Brandon on Wednesday, Noah on Friday.)

That Saturday I helped Gwen celebrate a birthday, joining her and several others for an escape room down just off 16th Street Mall, followed by dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory. (Jerry was working and unable to join.) The escape room was fun; it was casino-themed and had some interesting use of tools and such I hadn't seen before. We beat it, so I'm 7 for 7 now, woo-hoo!

Work was kind of annoying last week because the high-performance systems were down all week due to power problems up in Wyoming, and the universe decided to fill the gap with lots of meetings and phone calls. And sure, they were useful and productive meetings, but I have a couple big tasks that I really need to make some progress on, and not being able to work on them all week does not help that situation!

Nevertheless, since Jerry had the time on Thursday morning, I played hookey and we went to see Avengers: Infinity War at a new (very nice) mondoplex down in Arvada. I enjoyed it! Rather more than I expected to, given that I knew it would be the grim chapter in the overall story arc. I'm just really glad that Marvel has figured out how important it is to mix some humor in with the drama and to have some variation in mood and tone to keep these things from being just unrelenting.

Mom & Larry were passing through on their way to go fishing last weekend, so that evening I met them and Dave and family for dinner at Cheddar's over in Thornton. And then went to games night at Chris's. And then on Friday we had dinner with Van & Ron (plus Jeff Stoner) at Wishbone before they headed out on their latest voyage.

The weekend before last we finished up Jon's Eberron adventure, and this past weekend I spent all day Saturday doing prep for running a session zero for the wilderness exploration campaign that Jerry and I are co-GMing for the bears. It went well. I think it will be fun!
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Birthday, Mom Visit, Spring Is Sprung [Apr. 30th, 2018|09:56 pm]
Ugh I am tired and creaky. Not sure if there's a reason for it (Getting to bed too late last night? Skipping breakfast for a blood draw this morning? Whatever's making the air all hazy today?) or if it's just the Olds, but okay, journaling now before I put it off even further.

So a week ago it was my birthday. Woo! I didn't really do anything on the day to celebrate, but it was really nice to get happy birthday wishes from people all day on Facebook. Responding to all of them gave me a moment to think about and appreciate each well-wisher, and that was a gift in itself.

My mom came out to visit last weekend; she arrived on Friday night and took off Sunday morning. Friday night Jerry cooked a tasty Japanese dinner, and Saturday was mostly downtime for me, but that afternoon we went and did one of the escape rooms in Broomfield (Themescape) with my mom, Neal, Kate, and the Ottems. It was a sort of Indiana Jones kinda thing, and it was good. There was a laser! (A terrifyingly bright laser. When turned on, you could very clearly see the beam in the air, and okay, yes, there was quite a bit of dust in the air, but still.) Afterwards we all got dinner at the kebab place in the same shopping mall, and it was a nice way to celebrate a numerically-uninteresting birthday.

Jerry and I also finally saw Black Panther and enjoyed it thoroughly. It deserves every penny of however many umpty-jillion dollars it finally end up grossing.

The usual other social stuff: boardgames with bears and others, a couple Star Wars runs, Unmunchkin, etc.  Jewel of India for dinner last night with David, who is borrowing our guest room for a bit.

I think the trees are blooming late this year. I'm seeing flowers all over, and it's late enough that I don't think we're likely to get a late snow that will kill them. The flower buds on the crabapple outside our house are just about to pop, and it looks like it will be glorious.
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The Prodigal Tongue [Apr. 25th, 2018|09:41 pm]
I've been reading Lynne Murphy's Separated by a Common Language blog for years, and I happened to see on twitter that she was giving a talk at CU-Boulder on Monday of last week. It was pretty lucky -- I'm not on twitter all that often, and it was only mentioned the day before. It was late enough in the afternoon not to totally disrupt my workday, so I decided that I would bail out early from work and go, what the heck.

I had figured out the previous week while attending a CWA talk that rather than trying to find parking on/near campus (which can be pretty awful), the easy thing to do is park at the shopping center at the bottom of the hill and just catch a bus, since I have a bus pass and they come every ten minutes or so along Broadway. So I did that, and managed to just barely miss the Skip. But happily, a lady who was waiting at the light saw me running for the bus and being ignored by the driver and pulled over to offer me a ride! So that was nice. And I actually got to my destination about thirty seconds before the bus did. Thanks, kind stranger!

The talk was at 4 and I had a conference call (video chat via skype) scheduled at 3, so I brought my laptop with me. I knew I'd have wifi (thanks, eduroam), so I just needed a place to take the call. I was prepared to find a quiet spot outdoors, but I figured if I went to the Linguistics department offices and asked nicely, they might have an unused conference room of some kind that I could make use of. And they did! So that was nice, also.

The talk was a lot of fun. Prof. Murphy has written a book -- The Prodigal Tongue -- about the love-hate relationship between American English and British English, and she talked about the main ideas in the book. Some of it was familiar from reading her blog, but she's an entertaining speaker, so it was well worth the time. The Linguistics department had some copies of her book available for purchase after the talk, and happily, I had happened to grab some cash that morning (which I don't normally do), and had just enough to buy one and get it signed! So that was especially nice.

Anyway, the whole episode was weirdly lucky, and I got a good book out of it. Yay!
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Anniversary, conference, parties [Apr. 8th, 2018|11:21 pm]
Last weekend was our anniversary! I mean, we now have a wedding anniversary in August, but we've been celebrating April 1st as our anniversary for long enough that we're not going to stop now. We decided to go do an escape room just the two of us, to see if we could pull it off. We did the pirate-themed Crimson Storm, and got through it in just under 35 minutes! It *was* the easiest room there, but it was still fun and an accomplishment. Afterwards we tried to go the Afghan place on 120th for dinner, but it was closed because it was Sunday, oh no! So we got sushi at Sushi Yume instead.

I dropped by Pyro's new place that morning for brunch and said hello to him & various others. And Douglas was in town and dropped by for the evening on Friday, so that was nice.

All of this last week I was attending the Software Engineers Assembly conference at work. Overall it was good; my only complaint is that it started early so I had to get up early, leave the house early, and deal with rush hour traffic, and that wiped me out pretty much all week long. I gave a well-received talk Tuesday morning. And the tutorial on Thursday showed some very cool capabilities coming down the pike for Jupyter notebooks that I am pretty psyched about.

Yesterday Jerry was off at the martial arts studio all day earning his brown belt (go monkeys!) and taking classes, while I got a haircut, ran to the store, and took two kinds of coleslaw to a potluck at the KumaGoGo's. Afterwards I went over to Tom Ottem's and played a boardgame (Elysium, sorta like MtG meets Greek mythology) with Chris & Joe.

We haven't been up to a whole lot otherwise; lots of being tired from work and weather and recovering from colds, mostly.
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15 years, a cold, colcannon, and Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 [Mar. 25th, 2018|08:45 pm]
So it turns out that my place of employment has a celebratory dinner every year for long-term employees who have worked there for 15, 25, or 35 years. And I started at the beginning of 2003, which is 15 years ago, so on Thursday afternoon Monkey got to join me for a fancy dinner reception and I received a big engraved chunk of glass, suitable for use as a blunt instrument in a mystery novel. ("The Case of the Curmudgeonly Climatologist", probably.) I discovered that a number of my colleagues were in the same cohort, which I hadn't realized. I also tallied up the number of honorees in each group and calculated the half-life of a career at NCAR, which turns out to be about 7.54 years.

And then I came down with a cold, so I worked a half-day on Friday and cancelled Star Wars on Saturday when it was clear that I had no energy for it. (I went to the grocery store that afternoon and bought four things and felt totally exhausted afterwards. Yeah.) I did mostly nothing all weekend, and am feeling mostly recovered today. (We did head up to Boulder and pick up a treadmill from one of Jerry's former coworkers; that wore me out.)

Also, I apparently now get aches in my long muscles when the weather changes. WTF? This is Not Okay. I did not order this service and I would like to cancel it and get a refund, please.

Had an excellent St. Pat's Day dinner at Chez Cinq Ours last Sunday. I always wish I could capture these events better, but I am terrible with episodic memory, so mostly it's just "we hung out with a bunch of great people and had a wonderful time being social and ate amazing food." Oh, and we introduced a bunch of them to Bridget & Eamon, since it was an Irish holiday.

Not a lot else. Nick came over Friday before last to visit and catch up; that was nice.

And I got on a weird kick and listened to about a dozen different performances of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 over and over while I was sick. There are some pretty cool visualizations of various classical pieces on YouTube. It took me a little while to figure out which piece I was thinking of, because Google is not yet smart enough to answer "what's the piano piece that goes buppa buppa buppa buppa buppa buppa buppa buppa buppa buppa buppa buppa buppa buppa buppa buh?" correctly. (Although amusingly, it will offer to autocomplete "what's that piano piece that goes" with "dun dun dun", and the answer is "Heart and Soul" unless there's a fourth "dunnn" in which case it's "Beethoven's 5th".)
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