Archive for October, 2009

WiIntegration

I realize that the last few posts on this blog have been a bit depressing to read. However, I needed to get some of those things off of my chest, and this blog was my method of doing so. Now, it’s time that I regale you of a more entertaining adventure that I have had of late.

Having never really had much of a job before (or at least never a job that provided me with enough money to live on), I had always been relatively reluctant to spend my money. Sure, I would treat myself now and then to a new book or CD, but never quite to the magnitude that I have recently come across. With a steady income stream, and a stable budget for that incoming money, I began to find myself with more money than I knew what to do with. Each week, I’d try to get rid of some of my “fun money” by going on impulsive spending sprees. DVDs one week. CDs the next. Books the week after that. I was spending more money on these things than I had ever been used to. It’s quite an exhilarating experience, and now I know why people can go into credit card debt so easily. Luckily, I had at least some restraint, because week after week, I’d still have more money left over in my “fun fund” than I was comfortable with.

It was around this point that I decided to make a more substantial purchase from my “fun fund”. I had been upgrading my computer system steadily since I arrived in Huntsville, which was done at a quicker rate than I usually have upgraded my computer. With a widescreen LCD monitor and replacement speakers (which were actually needed, since the old ones decided to give out on me), I felt that I was ready for a video game system to be added into the mix. My decision on which system to get was rather simple, actually. I already had bought quite a few Gamecube games over the years, and I knew I had at least one Wii game back in Colorado, so my decision to go out and buy a Nintendo Wii was an eventuality. Making the decision was the easy part.

When I got to Best Buy (after fixing a problem with my new Reward Zone membership), I made a discovery about the Wii that I was unaware of. It seems that other systems, like the PS3 or the XBOX 360 have the capability to utilize HDMI inputs, of which my new LCD monitor had two, in addition to the VGA input that my computer was currently using. The Wii, however, does not. It seemed rather odd to me that a nex-gen system like the Wii wouldn’t have this option, as it seemed to be the way most inputs were going, due to the High Definition revolution taking place across all planes of technology. I left the Best Buy Wii-less and went home to do some research.

One of the deciding factors in purchasing a Wii now, instead of months ago, was that the price had recently dropped. This price drop was the first time that the Wii had dropped in price since its release a few years back. How could I not pass up this opportunity? Well, as my online research soon showed me, that discount would be somewhat of a moot point. My predicament was now that I had no way of hooking up a Wii to any screen that I had at my apartment. The $30 craigslist TV that I went through so much trouble getting just so that I could watch the cable TV I was paying for only had one input, and that was for the cable. No extra A/V plugs. Nothing. Next, my computer monitor, which did have extra inputs, only had HDMI inputs. Since there did not exist any way of getting extra inputs into my television, I ran across a rather interesting solution.

As it turns out, there is one way to get a Wii to display through an HDMI input. This method requires a converter box, that takes the A/V (white, red, and yellow cables) signal and “upgrades” it to HDMI. Unfortunately for me, the cheapest of these converter boxes (which are only available online) was about $100. At this point, I was insistent on getting the Wii (which I had not bought yet)  to work with my current setup. Since I had the money, I essentially “gave up” the discount that Nintendo had given me on their system to buy this converter box. As soon as the box got to my apartment (a little more than a week later), I ran out and purchased my Wii. When I made the purchase, I also included a few extra things that I thought I would need, like some Wii points for online material, a virtual console controller, and (of course) an HDMI cable to connect between the box and the monitor.

I had it in my mind that my Wii would easily connect to the internet via some sort of hardwired connection, since it would be on my desk, and my internet router was a  mere two feet from where it would end up. I knew that the Wii had some USB inputs, and I figured that I would connect to the internet that way. Oh how wrong I was. When I got back to my apartment and hooked up everything, I learned that I was missing yet another piece of equipment. I still find it a little odd how Nintendo was so smart as to make it very easy to access the internet via Wi-Fi, and yet not have any sort of HDMI connection cable. As it turned out, I needed one more piece to this puzzle. The LAN adaptor.

Once again, I went to Best Buy and returned with the final piece. I plugged everything in and was set to go. Sort of. Once again, I came smack up against a wall of operational failure. Everything was plugged in and everything was working, but I still wasn’t getting internet. I did a bit of back and forth between the Wii and my computer and finally figured out what the problem was. Essentially, it had to do with my cable modem. I was glad that I figured out how to fix it, because the alternative was looking like more money out of pocket for a router. Final solution: switch the cable coming out of my modem from the one going to my computer to the one going to the Wii, then power down the modem for a restart. This then configured the modem for the Wii, instead of retaining the configuration for my computer. Of course, I have to go through the whole process again to get internet on my computer once I’m done on the Wii. Still, a small price to pay for not having to pay a price.

So that’s my story. After a week and a half of essentially jury rigging together various connections and converters, I finally have a working Wii pumping out entertainment through my widescreen LCD monitor and stereo sound system. In the end, I feel proud that I was able to get everything to work. And now the problem of too much expendable income is no longer a problem . . .

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HermiThoughts

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” – Proverbs 16:18

Most of my acquaintances right now have wives or girlfriends or nearby family that they can talk to and vent to. I am hesitant to intrude on others lives because I feel like I would be a bother to them, since we have only known each other for a scant three months. It’s also somewhat uncomfortable when you’re in a room of people and you feel like the ((2*n)+1)th wheel. A strange thing happens when you have no one to talk to. When you’re all by yourself, thoughts become loud. The only presence that gives my mind something to do is my own. And within my thoughts, I can work out some of my troubles. I suppose it started about a month ago. When something as emotionally huge as a breakup hit me, I searched inward and found some interesting things about myself.

First of all, I have found out how I interact with problems and situations. After five years of Engineering school, I have trained my mind to solve problems in the same manner. It doesn’t matter if it’s a homework problem, or climbing a mountain, or a project, or a role in a play. Everything that I came across, I solved in the exact same way. As an Engineer, I have taught myself to break things down into components. If it’s climbing a mountain, it’s just a series of consecutive steps. A role in a play? Individual lines that are broken down into sentences then further into words. At the smallest components of problems, the entirety of the problem doesn’t seem quite as big. I can take a step. I can memorize a word. These things I can do, and through the continual conquering of the small parts, I can conquer the whole as well. Unfortunately, this method of solving problems and situations only works if people are not involved in the equation.

People in general are still somewhat of a mystery to me. Sure, I’ve spent many years interacting with them, but I still can’t figure most of them out. Occasionally I can categorize them, but that only ends up making bigger problems down the road, because no individual can really be categorized in anything other than their individual category. Still, after a while, I had developed a sequence of steps to help me interact with others. It’s not until recently that I really took a look at that process and realized that things aren’t working out as well as I had hoped.

Relationships are tricky. It doesn’t matter if it’s a family relation, or work, or romantic, or even just casual. One misplaced comment or action can sometimes be a trigger for larger events. I’ve recently come to the practice of speaking my mind, so as to be at least somewhat honest with others. Perhaps I need to build up my filter again. As of late, I feel like I come across more extroverted than I really am. “Loose lips sink ships,” is probably a good realization that I came across after a recent incident with someone. I think that even if I had handled the situation more discreetly than I did, it still wouldn’t have changed anything. I should have just kept my mouth shut.

I think this only skims the surface of the problem. Some of the advice that I have been given is to make sure that my attitude is aligned with positive growth. My initial thoughts on this were that my past experiences had shaped my attitude, and that there wasn’t much I could do to change how I react to situations. Past rejections, past injustices, past hurts. I thought that every time that I was hurt or rejected or denied justice in the past built up to my reactions to current rejections, injustices and hurts. However, this is still just the surface of the problem. Why would I be the victim of so much emotional pain? The answer is as old as time itself.

I usually like thinking that I don’t really care what others think about me; but until recently, I have realized that this is not the truth. Every time that someone insults me or brings some aspect of my being into question, I will get defensive and even angry at the thought that someone would think lesser of me because of part of me. This, I have discovered recently, is vanity and pride. Usually these two items are interchangeable, but there is a bit of a difference between them. Vanity is caring what others think of me, where as pride is holding myself in a greater position than I really am. It is the combination of these two faults that made me feel like I must correct everyone who was wrong. What I really need right now is to be filled with humility and to just be able to let things go. If someone is wrong, I should just leave it at that.

Occasionally I think that I should have some counseling just to talk through my thought process with someone who actually has some qualification to tell me if I’m on the right track. For the time being, I think I’m making progress, but pinpointing the problem is only the first step. The next few steps will be to let God rebuild me as a more humble individual. This process will be difficult, as I still harbor some of that pride and the stubbornness that goes with it. I also need to gain the courage to step out of my comfort and pursue the interests that I enjoyed in college. It was through these interests that I met some of the people who actually understand me for who I am and what I’m going through. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers, gentle reader. It is hard to go through a difficult time in ones life since the end can sometimes seem so far out of reach.

AtlantAgain

Another few weeks pass, and yet again I was off to some part of the country for travel. This time it was Atlanta for a Radar course at the Georgia Tech Research Institute. This time it was also different because I drove there instead of flying. That was definitely nice and provided for a little more of a relaxed travel environment. Last time I was in Atlanta, I was there to see my cousin who happens to live there. This time I wouldn’t have much free time to spend with anyone other than the coworkers I was with. I have also discovered a perk of having a birthday away from home.

When I was in Colorado for my last business trip, I traveled up to Fort Collins to spend some time with my family. Since that was the closest that I would get to spending my birthday with my family, we celebrated as much. Of course, this mean that I got a home cooked meal and some birthday presents . . . and a cake. The cake was made by my littlest brother and was good, despite having a very candied coating below the frosting and having writing on the cake that looked like “Happy Birthday Beavis”. Needless to say, I appreciated that time with family. Fast forward to the actual day of my birthday. This was the day that I traveled down to Atlanta and met up with some of my fellow CDP coworkers at the hotel. I took advantage of the Manager’s reception at the Embassy Suites, then it was on to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, which was a new experience for me. We finished the night at the pool of the hotel and the hot tub that was associated with it. Spending that time with my new friends definitely made it a great birthday, but it did give me time to reflect on the past year and all the things that I had done.

In the past year I had participated in a play (in which I had a huge role) and a musical. I received my Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. I started my first job and moved to Huntsville for some independent life. I also had a wonderful six months in a relationship. It’s sad to see it go, but I need to move on. Now that I’ve had some time to grieve about it, I’m starting to come across some deep issues within me that need to be worked out. Still, talking about it helps and the more time I spend in the company of others, the better.

What will YOU have?

What will YOU have?

In terms of actual business that went on while I was in Atlanta, I can only tell you that there were some interesting pieces of information that I learned about radar which helped me get a deeper understanding of the radar systems that we deal with. So often we only get the system level explanation, with no depth, but now I have a little more knowledge on how some of the technical aspects work, which is kind of what I’ve been craving recently. Outside of the training course, there was the standard travel activities. I really don’t want this to seem like I travel to these places only to go to baseball games and eat at expensive restaurants, but that’s what ends up happening anyways. Since we were in Atlanta, our group saw a Braves game, which in itself was an adventure for me.

Definitely not as packed as Fenway

Definitely not as packed as Fenway

Apparently there was need for increased security, because when I got to the gates of Turner Stadium, I was told that I would have to go back to the car and leave my keys inside. Yeah, I can’t figure it out either. What if I was driving only myself? Then I’d have to go out to the far reaches of the parking lot and lock my keys in my car. Stupid, right? Still, I complied just so that I could get in and enjoy the game. However, that was only half of my adventure. Since everyone else was already inside and seated, I had to find my way to my seat by myself. My ticket said that I was on level 3 and there was an “L” next to the section number. Logically, I thought that this meant my seat was in left field. I trudged up to the fourth level on the left field side where I learned that I would have to go down one level and “through the glass doors.” This was quite the experience for me, because this was the fancy level of the ballpark. However, as it would turn out, I was on the complete opposite side of the stadium. I had to huff it all the way over to the right field area just to finally sit down.

Roll deep!

Roll deep!

It wasn’t really an exciting game until the last inning, when the Braves actually appeared to put forth some effort. Now I think that my grand total of baseball stadiums visited is now at five. Now that my fifth business trip is done, I have some observations about hotels. I signed up for the Hilton Honors program so that I could get points for my personal use. This means that I can go to any Hilton-type hotel and rack up the points. Of the three types of Hilton hotels I’ve now stayed in (Hilton, Hampton Inn and Embassy Suites), Embassy Suites definitely has the best perks. Not only does it have free breakfast, but there is a Manager’s reception that happens in the evening that has free alcohol. Good times. Also, the Embassy Suites has two rooms per suite. One for sleeping, and one for relaxing (there’s also a bathroom too, don’t worry about it).

Now that I’m back in Huntsville, it’s time for a long streak of staying in town. Actually, I’m looking forward to it, as travel was starting to get a little stressing on my body, both in food intake and sleep deprivation.