Breaking When It Should

Everything breaks, that’s just the nature of life.  It’s something you just need to learn to accept, and once you accept that you can learn to work with it.  There is a very important piece of our world that breaks quite often.  That’s right, I’m talking about fuses.

While working on putting my motorcycle back together, the electrical system suddenly stopped working.  I didn’t have time at the moment to look over everything, but I had some time today and two things.

  1. Occam’s Razor holds true
  2. Sometimes Honda likes to hide fuses in random spots

There is a fuse box on the front of my motorcycle, right underneath the headlight.  There is also a rogue fuse that is clipped inside of the ignition solenoid wiring harness.  After tracking that down I found it to be blown, and while it’s a bit of a pain as I don’t have any spares at the time, I’d rather have the fuse blow than have to replace all of the electrical mechanics that could have been fried.

Tonight Erin and I also were fortunate enough to have dinner with one of my former coworkers Nate, and his girlfriend Toni.  We went to Matt’s Bar, which is a bit of a famous place in town.  They are home to the Jucy Lucy, which is two hamburger patties with American cheese melted in the core.  It is absolutely delicious, and matched with a pitcher of Summit and a basket of fries, it makes quite the meal.

The bummer news of the week is that I tied for 3rd place in the CloudSpokes challenge I competed in.  Since my code wasn’t accepted as a winner, I’m free to do what I want with the source written for the contest, so here it is!  It’s definitely not the prettiest code, but it was a fun challenge in storing OAuth tokens in a postgres database, and then using those access tokens to transfer information at a later time.  Maybe when my server is behaving better I’ll do a write up the project, but for now I’m just releasing the source.  If you want to see a working implementation, check out  User credentials can be deleted at any time, so if you become uncomfortable with the access that the webapp has, you can revoke their access.

No one is going to be able to read this for another two weeks anyways, but I’ll keep trying to post so that there is content once this server is WAN accessible again.

Call me a bee, ’cause I’m busy!

And that’s pretty much the long and the short of it.  When I was little I never understood why adults were always so busy, and now I realize it’s because there is so much going on in life.  On Friday last week there was a bank robbery downtown, so when Paul and I went to get lunch there were a few city blocks that were completely off limits.

No one allowed…

Work last week went smoothly, but there seemed to be a bit of a rush on Friday as a big project was going to be coming up that would require some snappy turn-around.  Time for “download meeting”!

Pale ales have been scientifically proven to help brain flow (citation needed).

It was something that really reaffirmed my decision to come up to Minneapolis and work for GoKart.  They seem to follow the saying “Work hard, play hard”, something my father has always told me my entire life.  While a meeting starting at 5:15pm isn’t exactly what everyone desires on a Friday, ingesting some delicious beer while doing so definitely made  it a comfortable way to work.

Friday evening we hung out with Val again (who you can learn about in this post), and made our way to Brasa and the Acme Comedy Company to watch some standup comedy.  Dinner at Brasa was delicious, and turned out to be a good suggestion by Josh (yet another coworker) as it was a decent selection of American food, of which Val really wanted to experience more.

Seasoned beef, cole slaw, candied yams, cornbread, red beans, and guacamole.

Ok, well the guacamole isn’t exactly American, but it was delicious.  After that we swung by the comedy club and watched a few amateurs, a good feature, and then the headliner, Pete Lee.  I quickly realized that a lot of jokes revolve around double meanings, innuendos, and other “tricks” in the English language.  The good news is that Val seemed to have a good grasp of the language and understand most of them, and when he didn’t I would lean over and do my best to explain the joke.

Yea comedy!
Double chin, for the win!

On Erin and I attended the 2nd Annual Twin Cities Beer Fest.  For $17 each, we got all-you-can-drink access to over three hundred micro-brews.  It was a total blast, and we definitely got our $17 worth.  I lost count of how many beers I had sampled after a while, and I just couldn’t hold the hammer straight while playing hammerschlagen.

Just a small subset of all the beer options
This is the first VW Bug I’ve seen that I actually wanted to drive
I hit it once, and only one.

We were home by 10:30pm and crashed.  When you start drinking at 3pm, you get tired so much sooner.  Overall we’ve been making a ton of new friends, and I’m happy with how projects at work are ramping up.  In my small amount of spare time I actually worked on competing in a programming competition at CloudSpokes, and I’d love to write about my experience, but until the judging occurs mum’s the word.

Keeping Busy

How time has flown by.  It’s already Wednesday and I barely even noticed.  Monday was the first full day back at the original GoKart Labs.  Breakfast snacks were there before I even got it, and made it a wonderful start to a Monday.


On my lunch break I finally had time to take in my MSO and sales tax reimbursement check from Illinois to the Minnesota DMV and register my Camaro.  I had previously visited the DMV and hadn’t had all of the paperwork necessary.  The lady who helped me was nice, and gave me a “skip the line pass”, so when I went in the second time I only had to wait about five minutes before I was helped.

The absolutely best thing you can have at a DMV, a line-skipping pass.

Pretty soon I was out the door with my temporary sticker, and to celebrate Erin and I took a trip up to White Bear Lake for ice cream.

There was a nice park that we walked through.

More recently I enrolled in CodeSchool, not only to stay fresh with programming concepts, but also to branch out into new programming languages and frameworks.  While it’s a little pricey ($20 a month), it already seems to be proving its worth.  For lunch today I walked with Tate (coworker) to a Greek joint down the street that had absolutely amazing gyros.  As a bonus the guy behind the counter gave us both free pieces of chocolate cake!

The lunch of champions. Chubby champions.

While things have been busy, they’ve also been a total blast.  I’m having a ton of fun in this city, I’m really enjoying my new job, my coworkers are fantastic, and I’m happy to have a place with Erin.

Taking Advantage of Every Day

After I graduated college I quickly realized that many of my friends were moving away, and that social opportunities were quickly diminishing as I entered the business world.  As the Summer of 2010 began, I promised myself that I would take advantage of as many opportunities each Summer, and never pass up on anything fun.  That was the first Summer I made it out to Canada for a motorcycle rally, and have made it out to every one since.

I still maintain that promise to myself, and have been doing many things this year.  Fun activities this Summer have been:

  • Southern Ontario Wrench Day (aka Canada Hawk meetup)
  • Tom & Abby’s wedding
  • Matt & Deanna’s wedding
  • Camping/lazy-river with Erin and friends
  • Trespass America Tour in Milwaukee with Oliver
  • Having Olivia, Brad, and Dan come up to Minneapolis to visit
  • Flying back to Chicago to celebrate Brad’s birthday
  • DefCon 2012

Today Erin and I went to the MN Food Truck Festival.  We picked up VIP tickets off LivingSocial which allowed us to have unlimited micro-brew samples, which we definitely took advantage of.

Mexican Corn, BBQ Chicken Tacos, and Vegi Tacos

While we saved a good amount of money on our tickets for the event, I still wouldn’t consider it fully worth it, and will probably not care to go back next year.  There were about eight food trucks, and the line for each was about half an hour long, if not longer.  The line just to get our wrist bands took half an hour as well.  That said, I had a great time and I’m glad I had the experience.

Next weekend will be host to another Minneapolis event, the Twin Cities Beer Fest.  Public transportation makes drinking wonderfully easy, since I never need to worry about driving anywhere.  It’s gonna be a blast and I’m looking forward to another great weekend!

My Sweet Valentin

Yesterday was the kind of day that makes you lean back and say “Yea…. great day”.  It started off with Erin and I visiting the Lyric @ Carleton Place to sign and finalize our lease for September.  While it will result in a small increase in rent, it’s definitely going to be worth it and I’m looking forward to having much more space AND a dedicated office.  After that we swung by Bonnie’s Cafe to have brunch.  It was extremely tasty and I definitely wouldn’t mind becoming a regular there.  Bonnie’s is a hole-in-the-wall kind of place that only accepts cash.  There is a small wait staff, but I think that is part of what creates its appeal.

The “Around the Clock”

Upon filling our bellies we headed back to our current apartment to clean.  It had gotten a little messy during the week, but two hours of teamwork cleaning got it back into shape quickly.  Groceries were stocked with a trip to Kowalski’s, a quaint 24-hour grocery store on Hennepin Ave.  At 5pm I left to pick up Valentin and bring him over for dinner.

But who is Valentin, you may ask?  Last week GoKart Labs gave it’s employees the opportunity to work alongside Habitat for Humanity for the day.  While on site I met several great people, willing to donate their time while asking for nothing in return, and one of those individuals was Valentin.  He explained to us that he was a French student who came to America for the sole purpose of learning English, and the host family he was staying with told him that if he didn’t plan on doing anything he would end up being quite bored sitting in their house all day, every day.  I must say that I find it extremely admirable for someone to donate their time helping people in a country outside of their own.  He could have opted to sit in a bar each day, and drink away his time here, but instead he found people in need and offered his help.

Picking up Val almost felt like a first date.  There was the awkward drive to the house, a house I had never seen before and only had the address.  When I arrived the host mom and a few other people were outside.  “Uhh.. 3558?”, I sheepishly asked as I stepped out of the car.  “Yea! You must be here for Valentin”, host-mom replied.  “He’s just inside. VAL!!!!”  He quickly ran out, greeted me, and we turned to head off.  Though, I wasn’t sure about his stay here, rules that had to be followed, things like that, so I kindly asked the family, “So… does he need to be home by a certain time or anything?”  I realize he’s a full grown adult, but I tend to honor the requests of the head of the household when possible.  She kindly said he could come back whenever he pleased.

Back at our apartment, I started grilling hamburgers while Val chatted with both Erin and I. We learned he has a pilot’s license (only for gliders and small planes), has a girlfriend back home and is excited to see her, and many other fun facts.  My initial attempt and making grilling the hamburgers on the stove-top skillet/grill was a failure, and Erin had to make sure I knew how funny it was that I could simultaneously burn the outside while keeping the inside completely raw.  She kindly took over and grilled many good burgers, as well as three brats that we picked up from the deli.  Lettuce, tomato, avocado, and cheese were all prepared as toppings, though I passed on the cheese.  Unless it’s a Sobelman’s, no cheese for me.

Oh, and of course beer.

After dinner the three of us discussed music, Erin made a round of Gin & Tonics, and we talked about some of our favorite movies.  One of my coworkers, Kevin, invited us over to his place for a bonfire.  Another drive through this new city and we arrived, meeting a bunch of new people who were all extremely friendly.  I was quite happy, as several of them were developers, so we were able to “nerd it up” and talk about technology, videogames, etc, all while having a few and sitting around a nice fire.

Bonfire @ Kevin’s

Before I knew it, it was 1am!  Not wanting to stay out too late and be exhausted the next day, we headed home.  Today Erin and I are planning on visiting the MN Food Truck Fair, and I’m sure we’ll get to see Valentin again before he flies back to France in two weeks.

New Workspace

I currently work for GoKart Labs in Minneapolis, MN.  When I flew up for an interview, I met the current GoKart employees in their office, which is an awesome industrial styled space. Between then and my start date, something bad happened: the GoKart space flooded.  When I started working for GoKart they were in a temporary office hosted inside of Capella Tower, and while it was definitely a fun place, I am happy to have moved back to the original GoKart space today with the other employees.

Desk @ GoKart Labs

GoKart released a blog post that I was even quoted in!  You can read it here.  We had to pack up the old space earlier in the morning, and then after a slightly extended lunch break/pub crawl we unpacked everything at the old/new space!

By the time I finished unpacking and setting up my workspace, it was time to go home.  While I didn’t have a change to really crank out some good work with the new setup, I’m excited to start fresh Monday morning!

Expanding my DroboFS

A while back I bought a DroboFS.  It has treated me well, and over time I have expanded it’s capacity by adding larger hard drives.  Data Robotics even hosts a nice capacity calculator so you don’t need to guess how much overhead their “BeyondRAID” will require.

He’s been bitching for weeks that drive 3 is low on space
I also get reminders when my DroboDashboard comes up
New 2TB drive to swap out the 500G for
After ejecting, I get the “oh shit” red light
After the new drive goes in, all lights start flashing yellow
Drobo posts a notification
Let the 47th Annual RAID Rebuild Games BEGIN!!

I started up the rebuild right before I left for work, so after a full work day the RAID should be fully rebuilt.  I just have to hope a second drive doesn’t crash during the rebuild process, as I’d lose all of my data.  Fingers crossed!

Piggy and Dinner

Uncreative title, I know.  As some of you know, I prefer shaving with a double edge safety razor.

Exactly like this one

There are many reasons, but the top two are the fact that it’s incredibly cheap (only about 5 cents per shave), and that it makes shaving a much more enjoyable experience.  The only downside is that over time I accumulate a decent amount of not-so-dull razor blades.  Disposing of them can be troublesome, because if you casually throw them into a garbage bag, they can easily cut a hole through the side, causing other debris to fall out.  I saw a picture online of a guy who had painted a piggy-bank and turned it into a blade-bank.  I sent him a message, asking him how much it would take for me to get one.  A few days later I received one in the mail!

Beware! The holder of blades!
He sits next to my bathroom sink

So far he holds a single blade, but I’m sure over time he will amass many.

In other news, Erin made dinner last night and it was delicious!  AND it was vegetarian!  Really that was only because we forgot to buy chicken at the store, but the salad was amazing and I’m looking forward to leftovers.

Can you guess which drink was mine?

Honestly I’m not even sure if the lettuce was a special kind, but the salad included roasted sunflower seeds, chopped up chunks of tomato, strawberry, and mozzarella cheese.  I ate a whopping two bowl-fulls because it was so good!

After that we tried to whip up some cake balls.  Who am I kidding, Erin did almost all of the work, I just sat and watched.

Red Velvet Cake Balls

They are definitely going to be a mixed variety.  We were able to put white chocolate around several of them, but then it started become mushy, and the balls started falling apart, so the rest will be covered in actual cake frosting, which I think will still taste quite delicious.  Tonight we’ll be going out for sushi with Paul and his fiancé Lindsey!  I’m sure it’ll be a fun time, and I’m definitely looking forward to it.