Monday, November 28, 2005

Tool of Satan

Work has "assigned" me a Nextel cell-phone; fortunately, I didn't have to sign any papers, so I personally haven't made a pact with the Devil, but I still have to carry his ubiquitous instrument of Evil.

The thing doesn't work at my house (which is another reason I avoided buying one for myself); no coverage. (I live on the side of a mountain, in a radio "shadow").

I tried to send it a custom ring-tone, but it can't decode MP3, and it won't save .wav files.... Hmmmph.

Any hints as to what I have to do to load a custom file? It will play the .wav file, just not save it. It's a Motorola i560, which is supposed to be somewhat "ruggedized"; we'll see about that.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Starr Hill Brewery

If you are ever in or near Charlottesville, VA, grab a beer from Starr Hill Brewery; the two I tried were both very good. Their beers are also available at some Charlottesville-area grocery stores in bottles.

Thanks to Katie Terry for helping me find this beer. More importantly, congratulations on the new job in Atlanta.

(Katie: How much do I have to pay to put you on retainer?)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Where is my rake?

Where did I leave that rake?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Auction, Corn Oil, and Football

I'll try to keep this short & sweet. 'Try' being the optimal word.

Left the house this morning to go to a surplus auction: Various of the local aerospace, defense, and tech companies sell their surplus items at absolute auction every so often; this new auction company has just taken over after a hiatus, but they hope to have an auction every month.

So, I register to bid this morning: standard auction process: fill out the form, show ID, and tell 'em how you plan to pay. "Mastercard," says I. "Oh, we should be able to take that by the time the auction is over," says the auction lady. "Huh?" "Our credit card machine is still at the airport; UPS should have it here by 9:30am"---that was at 8:55am this morning, and it was presidential of things to come.

So about 8:56, I walk into the room with all the surplus, hoping to look around a bit before the auction starts at 9, but figuring that I can just look while the auction proceeds (just look over the lots a few minutes before the auctioneer gets to those lots). Except the auction rules are that once the auction begins, you must stay in the seating area, and can't wander around!!!--giving me less than 4 minutes to look over everything & decide what I may or may not want to bid on.

The reason they did it is because of theft & allegations of theft; not that they've had theft before (being their first auction of this type), but that the past companies doing this auctions (Bentley's, Auction Factory) have had complaints (Ex: "when I bid on this computer, it had 2 gigs of ram in it, and now it has none!"---completely unverifiable, except in cases where the computer is obviously too old to have ever had 2 gigs of ram in it). But it is not standard auction procedure; I've never been to an auction where they don't: 1) show you the items for bid 2) let you look at the items for bid on your own OR 3) some combination of 1 & 2.

Things only got worse from not being able to walk around.

Like, the biggest red-neck auctioneer, Colonel Bill or something, was god-awful-hard to understand; I mean, I've been to auctions plenty of times, and the auctioneer speaks real fast and rattles things out & never shuts up--fine--but add a portion of good-old-boy, Tennessee redneck, crappy PA system, and a huge cowboy hat to weigh down his old cranium (and I mean old), and you had something nearly incomprehensible.

So he starts the auction, but no one can walk over to see the items for bid, for "security" reasons, never mind the item is a block of aluminum that weighs 990lbs and can't exactly be stolen without anyone noticing. And they aren't showing the items (holding them up, pointing them out, describing them---nothing like that---just "lot 1").

Which is of course, why God invented auction catalogs; so you have a written description of the items contained in the lot. The auctioneer asks who else still needs a catalog--we'll get you one. Oops!--the owner of the auction forgot to print any out beforehand, so no catalogs! Sorryeeee! That, combined with other poor organization, lack of any spectacularly good items up for sale, and more smoke than a bar... well, it was a call for railfanning.

So I drove to Decatur, which wasn't that far from the part of Madison I was in.

Which leads to (keeping the details of railfanning short)... While there, CSX was switching cars at the Bunge plant along the river. They make crude corn oil at the plant, best I can tell. How do they make it? Read all about it.

(Kind of scary, corn oil extraction. I mean, you *ingest* the stuff).

After a couple of hours, I did go back to the auction. Cause there were people there I knew, and cause 2 or 3 lots were vaguely interesting, though by no means did I need to buy them (2 or 3 lots of insulation used in refridgeration systems, if you really want to know). I missed them by about 10 minutes, but no loss.

So I left again, to go see Bama lose.

At least John Parker Jose Enrique Frankie Aaron Biff Jones Smith Wilson showed promise for next year.

(WTF is the deal with everyone saying "John Parker Wilson"? Can't it just be John Wilson, or JP Wilson?)

Never did find out if the credit card machine arrived at the auction.

Confidential to BS: Next auction scheduled for Dec 17th. Consider this your invitation.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

They're back...

Checked the mail, and low & behold, what did I get?

A brochure, invitation style, for the Technology Recycling Center. What?--it goes on to say "Remember the auctions at Bentley's or The Auction Factory? Well, IT'S BACK".

I'm just surprised it took so long for it to happen in this town, with all the money, projects, companies, etc...

No website I can find, but details are as follows: Doors open Saturday Nov 19th at 7:30am, auction starts at 9:00am. Location is 9040B Madison Blvd, Madison, AL. Phone 256-464-7985.

That's all I know right now, and I just got the brochure today... I hope to go to at least some of the auction (Bama v. Auburn!) and will make a report.

(An hour passes)

Addendum: I guess I didn't explain the history very well: Bentley's Auction had a contract with NASA, Boeing, Teledyne Brown, and others to liquidate their surplus property--computers, electronics, test equipment, burned up satellites!*, scrap metal, furniture, appliances, trucks, and anything else a government agency or private company may own. Bentley ran the auction for a number years, and was getting NASA record returns (ie, NASA got more money from selling surplus using Bentley as auctioneer than NASA gotten using government auctions), but ultimately NASA switched to using GSA Auctions (and I'm sure the revenue has since gone down; the auctions suck).

Anyway, Bently tried to make a go of it without NASA feeding supplies too---ie, only private companies---but they ultimately decided it was too much hassle or expense, and pulled back out of Huntsville (Bentley's still runs auctions in Texas & New Mexico).

After a hiatus, a seemingly-crooked (or at least more poorly run) auction took over selling (non-NASA) surplus; the same companies I listed above, plus Huntsville Hospital and a few US bankruptcy Court auction-items. This was known as "The Auction Factory" as the auction was held in Huntsville's only(?) remaining former-Cotton Mill, Lowe Mill (at one time Huntsville had 4 or 5 total Cotton Mills; all the others have since burned or been torn down; parts of Lincoln Mills are still around, but I'm not sure any of the buildings left were original to the Cotton Mill---Some of the buildings at Lincoln Mills were actually offices where (at least parts of) the Saturn V blueprints were drafted... but that's another blog entry, maybe, some other day...).

So, uh, where was I? Oh, yeah, this crooked-seeming guy took over, ran the auctions for a number of months, and then quit, cause attendance dropped off after a while**. So it's been a year or two of no auctions.

*See James Bamford's Notes, CNN's article, etc

**I think everyone started seeing the guy was dishonest. Dishonest?---you decide: the auctioneer would be working 2 or 3 bidders--you know, "$50, now $55, now $60, do I hear $65?--now $70?" and all of a sudden the owner of the auction would holler out "$150!", and the auctioneer would just keep on, not missing a beat, with "do I hear $155? $155!--how about $160?"--this on items that may or may not have been worth $65 to$70 (I wouldn't have bid that much). After the fact people would be like, "whoah!--it was at $70--the next bid should have been $75 or $80, not $150!--what happened?". I noticed it the first time (I hope), but it took a number of other attendees a while to figure it out, I think, but I do know at least once when the jerk tried it, they got stuck with the item and it didn't sell, cause no bidder could be found that hollered the much-higher bid.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Job frustrations

I like my job. Mostly. But the things I dislike about it are getting more & more & more & more & more annoying.

I hesitate to list specifics, on the chance that people I work with might read this; and being that my name is on this blog, it's not that far a stretch, I don't think.

But I'll say there are multi-level leadership issues. And there is some funny business involving the (now former, now laid-off) secretary.

The leadership situation should be "temporary", but of course, with the government, that can be a really long time.

There are a few other things that are slow in coming too, but again, I shant elaborate, except to say that most of my good friends know where I'm trying to get to...

Ergh. Maybe this venting-to-the-blog would be more effective if I hid my true identity. Fuck.

Friday, November 11, 2005

'Tis the Season... for bootlegging

Went up to TN today to get some civilized beer (rather than the Swill, Swill Light, Ultra Swill, or Swill Select that are available in Alabama). Found a fair selection of winter ales; both Harpoon and Sam Smith's seasonals. Picked up Sam Adams' winter mixed-case (6 beers, 4 each) last week at Costco.

Of course, that's just the seasonal stuff... I got lots of other *good* beers while I was up there too; one of them was a Dog Fish Head around 20% abv!---wowsers. (Here it is, listed as "18%+abv").

Also picked up some Trappist Ales I haven't had before---will have to report on those under seperate cover. And various other "high gravity" & high alcohol beers not otherwise available in the state of Alabama.

Grabbed two different types of Cooper's Australian beer (don't let the Fosters commercials fool you; Fosters is Australian for "Canadian Beer").

Oh, and I picked up what I believe to be my first Austrian beer. Turns out, it's a winter seasonal too, I just didn't know it. It's 14%abv. It's here.


Monday, November 07, 2005

Things I need

I need this.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Things that suck

Being the bearer of bad news to good friends... Sorry L.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Last night in HSV

Found this bad lad in Huntsville last night at the Depot.

No pics of my own from last night, but I do have slides somewhere....