I Donated Blood and All I Got Was This Crappy Hospital Bill

The New York City Blood Center keeps calling me every morning. I’m at work so all I see is that I have a missed call on my home phone, they don’t even leave a message.

I’ve only donated blood once so far in my life. The other time I tried to, I was deferred since I’d been to a tropical country and I could have contracted malaria. Now that I’ve donated blood and found to have the universal donor type (O-Negative,) they want more of me!

I’m glad to help, really, but let me explain about what happened the first (and last) time I donated blood.

[Read more…]

Things to Always Keep in Your Car

I recently found this article off of one of my favorite websites, LifeHacker, which called readers to list some of the things that they always keep in their car. It was based off of this article from Budgets Are Sexy.com which discusses the 5 things that the writer always carries around with them in their car.

That got me thinking about myself and what I carry around. Until the end of last year or the beginning of this year I had the bad habit of not carrying a emergency roadside kit with me, especially considering the amount of trans-state traveling I do throughout the year, this was a disaster waiting to happen. I now carrying a roadside kit, albeit a very cheap one, which contains a set of jumper cables, a bunch of tools and wrench pieces, and flares. My car is small and the battery isn’t huge so I think the small jumper cables will be enough but I found earlier this year when a friend’s battery died that they were no match for her gigantic SUV (oh, the joys and benefits of having a super-compact car…! :-) Have I mentioned enough about how much I love my car?)

I realized that I have been doing some things right. I always carry a sleeping bag with me in the off chance I will have to do some dirty work underneath the car or, heaven forbid, if I need to sleep in the car for some reason. My car seats are reasonably comfortable (for me, some relatives and friends hate them) and if I’ve had to nap in the car I’ve done so successfully. Then again, I take after my father who is capable of nearly sleeping anywhere save for sleeping standing up.

The article did bring up something I haven’t thought about. I should probably keep an extra set of clothes and maybe even shoes, just in case I find my travels taking me someplace that I can’t get home to change or I messy them with bad weather or car trouble. I also don’t have a first aid kit which seems horribly overlooked considering how accident-prone I am.I’ve also been meaning to get a travel sized flashlight but have yet to stumble upon one. It also seems like it would be a good idea to keep some sort of energy or granola bar in the car since I’m hypoglycemic and I’m intolerable in that state.

Here’s a broken down list of things I usually keep in my car:

  1. Sleeping bag
  2. Roadside kit & Tire fixing tools
  3. Portable dog crate
  4. Reusable grocery bags
  5. Napkins
  6. Umbrella
  7. iPod/iPhone charger/axillary connector kit.
  8. Backseat cover for dog and dog harness
  9. Things to donate/return
  10. GPS

Here’s some things I should think about keeping in the car:

  1. Extra set of clothes/shoes
  2. Sweater
  3. First Aid Kit
  4. Energy or granola bars
  5. Flashlight
  6. Coupons

Die Antwoord Rock My Socks

Dima ran off during one of the opening acts and bought himself a Zef Side T-shirt.
Dima ran off during one of the opening acts and bought himself a Zef Side T-shirt.

Last month, prior to going on our Aruban adventure, Adam’s friend Dima convinced us to go see Die Antwoord down in Williamsburg that Sunday night.

Apparently I’ve been living under a rock for the better part of a year (or I don’t follow Boing Boing which, no I don’t) and have never heard of them. Before going, I watched their “Zef Side” video on YouTube and didn’t really pay attention. I wish I had because I had a killer (not to mention HILARIOUS) time at the show on July 25th.

I have no idea who these ass-clowns where, they were terrible!
I have no idea who these ass-clowns where, they were terrible!

The night started off desperately slow. Whoever was the tech did a horrible job because the amps were turned up way too high for the venue and I did something I’ve never done before… bought ear plugs! It was Williamsburg, so obviously the place was crawling with 30 year olds or older hipsters which just made the experience annoying.

The first act was ridiculous, and not in a good way. Three very plain white guys were on the stage. Two on mics and one on a MacBook computer. Really, I would have been better off being at home watching the two slackers from down the street running head first into each other than wasting my time watching these dude jump around the stage lip-syching to their “awesome beats” occasionally screaming into the microphone about how awesome everything is.

I don't remember this group's name either. I was about ready to leave.
I don't remember this group's name either. I was about ready to leave.

It was a gift from God when they were finally done. I was in search of ear plugs and found some by the bar which made the rest of the night much more bearable.

The second act wasn’t much better and the booze at the bar didn’t dull the pain. Do they just pick these guys off the streets? It looked like a bunch of homeless scenesters on drugs floating around the stage. The sound was just noise, but I’m sure they had some sort of important thing to say about world peace, capitalism… or puppies… I dunno, I wasn’t paying much attention.

Die Antwoord
Die Antwoord rocks the stage

I’m glad I decided to stay because nothing could have prepared me for the next set coming up.

While the group set up a face of a man with progeria was projected on-screen as a screen saver. His name is Leon Botha who I later learned is a performance artist from South Africa who has become somewhat of an auxiliary member of Die Antwoord. He has appeared in a few of their promotional materials as well as their music video for “Enter the Ninja”

Soon Ninja (Watkin Tudor Jones) and Yo-Landi Vi$$er appeared on stage and began their set. The hipsters of Williamsburg loved it. It was so campy but at the same time were very valid rhymes, beats and electric sounds. Both of them wore matching white sweatsuits adorned with random graffiti. Later during “Rich Bitch,” Yo-Landi would don a heavy winter jacket and break away from the sweatpants to show off skin-tight gold leggings that she would display to the front row and offer her rear for them to smack. Ninja would also get into the wardrobe changing game and show off his iconic “Dark Side of the Moon” boxers made popular by the “Zef Side” YouTube video.

All in all a good night was had by all and afterwards I ended up downloading their EP available from iTunes. It was just announced recently that they have signed with Interscope Records and plan to release a full CD sometime soon. Hopefully, we’ll get to hear more of the stuff released from “$O$” record that was distributed for free earlier this year.

You can find more pictures at Brooklyn Vegan’s website as well as more about how Die Antwoord totally are more awesome than M.I.A. who was pretty disgusting and sucked at her set the night before.

Postgres 8.4

Last year, you may remember me fussing with a new installation of Snow Leopard and trying to get Postgres to behave properly.

At my most current job I’m still stuck on Leopard and just began a project maintaining our installation of Redmine that requires PostgreSQL. We’re behind an iron-clad proxy server (which is a pain in itself) due to the nature of the company, but I was working from home that day and had the luxury of just disconnecting from the VPN and was able to use the one-click installer provided by EnterpriseDB which was a relatively painless procedure. I don’t remember it being so pleasant last year. I’m not sure if the one-click installer is new, I probably installed everything by source last time. In the hopes that within the next few months (I can only dream) I’ll get one of the new snazzy MacBook Pros they’re rolling out to the Online team, I can do it “properly” then and can afford to be lazy now.

I was quite impressed at the tools available in the installer that placed themselves in my /Applications directory by default such as pgAdmin III and a cute SQL Shell that automatically launches the psql command line tool. My only gripe with the one-click installer was that by default it installed postgres to the /Library/PostgreSQL/8.4 directory instead of /usr/local so previous postgres configurations in my extensive dotfiles were a little mucked up until I realized what I had done. Nothing a little bit of symlinking couldn’t fix, but it did drive me insane wondering why psql wasn’t in my $PATH.

Back from Aruba

Family at Brazilian BBQ
Family at Brazilian BBQ

Last week we got back from a five-day trip down to Aruba to relax and, more importantly, scout out possible wedding sites! When I say “we” I mean me, Adam, my sister Jennifer, my mother, and Adam’s mom and dad. It was a whole family affair! After all the walking around and scouting, at the end of the week I swore that if my dad had come along on this trip too I would have seriously been tempted to just elope right then and there!

We stayed at the Occidental that is an all-inclusive hotel. That gave us all our meals for free as well as access to a bunch of water sports. We were able to finally get some kayaking that I’ve been dying to do since I first did it on a river up in New Hampshire a few years ago on a camping trip the first summer I met Adam. He wasn’t able to do it with me that time because his Grandfather passed away right before we were scheduled to make the trip, so it was really nice to finally be able to kayak with him.

Jennifer also snagged us a couple of hours of dedicated boat time Sunday morning at 9am which had to have been the perfect time to do it. It was still quite cool before the sun began to soak the beach and because it was Sunday morning, the boats and water skiers weren’t in the port yet to cause wakes.

Adam, me and Jennifer on the boat
Adam, me and Jennifer on the boat

We rode on the boat from Palm Beach to the light house and passed the bed and breakfast we stayed at last February. I definitely prefer the calmer, non-touristy side of the island. The beach sand isn’t as “nice” and curated but I think that is what makes it special.

After breakfast, Adam and I ran away and rented a Jeep for a day to off-road to visit some of the places on the island that we missed the last time we were in Aruba. Our main objectives were the Natural Bridge (or what’s left of it,) the Arikok National Park, and Baby Beach. It would have been nice to go to the Natural Pools but you would have had to really go off-road in that part of the park and our vehicle wasn’t up to the challenge.

We spent most of the afternoon going down to the Natural Bridge and snapping pictures too close to the edge of the cliffs. We then took the Jeep to maximum potential and rode around off-road to visit a few places in the park. One of them was a beach with a deadly rip-tide. We got our feet wet and were entranced by the almost translucent crabs that were desperately trying to shovel sand out of their hole-homes. (Very cute by the way!)

We stopped by the caverns just before exiting the park and were able to walk all the way in due to the holes open to the outside to let sunlight in. It was deathly stuffy in there due to no air flow which had been keeping me relatively comfortable while walking around outside in the blazing sun.

To finish off the trip, we managed to twist around and find our way down to Baby Beach. The thing about Baby Beach is that it is incredibly still, and has an extremely gradual slope so you are able to walk all the way out to the edge of the cove and still have your head  above water. It was here were we took our second try at snorkeling. Last year I had a less than desirable experience snorkeling at the bed and breakfast due to the abnormally harsh waves and I basically froze and had a panic attack in the water thinking I was going to drown. Adam had to physically drag me back to shore. Suffice it to say, I was quite anxious about trying to snorkel again!

I’m very glad to report that I was able to get over my phobia of snorkeling and enjoy the colorful aquatic life that swam under the currents. I took it bit by bit and was able to putter around under the water without freaking out and impressed Adam when I was able to catch up with him after telling him to go ahead and enjoy without me while I went at my own pace.

We spent the rest of the afternoon wading in the water and decided that we should head back because our mothers were probably having fits wondering where on the island we were. :-) On our ride back we enjoyed taking the top off the Jeep, listened to some local dance radio, and watched the sun slowly creep towards the horizon.

Adam and me at what's left of the natural bridge
Adam and me at what’s left of the natural bridge

Of course our main assignment was to find out where we wanted our wedding to take place. During the day we visited the different hotels along the coast at the high-rise hotels and met with the wedding planners and directors to get more information on what they offer. We narrowed it down to the Marriot, Hyatt and Westin. On Saturday and Sunday evenings, my mom and me or Adam’s mom and me scouted the beaches to watch people get married and to check out how their receptions looked. I was pretty set on going with the Marriot until my mom and I caught a ceremony and saw that they had placed the ceremony right next to the water sports equipment hut. Now, maybe it’s just me, but that would be a pretty ridiculous and ugly photo backdrop. We also took note of the beach traffic from onlookers since Aruba’s beaches are all public and the noise from nearby restaurants. After taking everything into consideration, I definitely think the Westin is the way to go. We even had a chance to talk to the mother-of-the-bride the day of her daughter’s wedding and got the low-down on their take on the whole ordeal.

Now I must do the hard part and try to figure out what exactly I want at our wedding. The wedding planner gave me a check list to fill out of my “wishes” but I can’t even begin to think what it is I want! I was never a girl who dreamed from a young age about my wedding and planned everything down to the tiniest detail. I think I would be happy if someone else just decided it for me and just made it classy and to our personalities after talking to us for a bit.

I better figure out soon, otherwise I’m going to keep getting nagged by the respective families and settle on the final date! :-)

Gmail Filters Suck

I hate Gmail’s filters.

I’ve been using Gmail for a number of years now, and the most irritating, hair-pulling experience is whenever I have to make changes to my filters. When I was in college, I used Pine in conjunction with Procmail and I was a happy little ducky for a long time. Then CCIS upgraded to Zimbra, and I thought, “Hey, I want to try that new stuff!” and got my email transitioned to the web client. Well, I couldn’t use my procmail settings anymore and while the filters weren’t as nicely set up and I had to deal with a lot more clicking than I wanted to, it was still fairly straight forward to get my mail directed to where I wanted it to go.

Now that I am graduated and have grown out of my college email address, the logical next step was to something like Gmail because hey, everyone™ uses that now, right?

Every time I have to make a change to one of my filters I have to take a deep breath and try my damnedest not to kill my screen in the process.

  1. You can’t logically order them. Every time you make a change, that filter goes to the top of the list. I have to do a text search to figure out which of my filters I need to edit.
  2. You can’t do an OR on two different types of fields. For instance, I’d like it to search for something in the subject or if the email is from a certain address. Impossible to do!
  3. You can’t do precedence. What is great about Procmail and even the mail filters in Zimbra, you can order filters to your heart’s content so you can check if it fits one filter and then nothing else is acted upon it. Gmail doesn’t have an indication to do this.
  4. Impossible to edit complicated filters. This is my filter to label things as “Shopping” so that they get shuffled off into a separate folder with a “Shopping” label instead of cluttering up my inbox.
    Matches: from:(*@masterbeat.com |*@stores.gap.com  | *@koss.messages1.com | *@e.victoriassecret.com |  *@athletag.delivery.net | *@shop.sephora.com | *@piperlimeg.delivery.net  | penews@perfumeemporium.com | *@giltgroupe.com |  *@ideeli.com| thegoodguideteam@goodguide.com | BarnesandNobleEmail@email.bn.com  | creativememories@nwlmail.com | *@trans-em.jetblue.com  | email@photo.cvs.com | promo@e.newegg.com | *@es.shoebuy.com  | *@es.bagsbuy.com | *@stewleonards.com | *@zipzoomfly.com  | *@gapinc.delivery.net | *drugstore.com | cbnews7@cox.net  | *gap.delivery.net | petperks@petsmart-mail.com |  News@insideapple.apple.com | *@pragmaticbookshelf.com  | *@e.staples.com | *@bedbathandbeyond.com | email@extracare.cvs.com)
    Do  this: Apply label "Shopping"

    That is impossible to edit in a couple hundred pixels input form field.

I’m sure there are other things about the filters that piss me off but those are the top four. In my opinion, Gmail really needs to step it up quite a bit and I’m disappointed there really hasn’t been any major changes since Gmail Beta. Gmail has the opportunity to have some really awesome filtering capability that integrates well with the label and folder system but it is just too frustration right now to be really useful!