journal for 2003-06-30

ending the month happy


I spent a good bit of time, last week, moaning about my budget.

It’s not that I’m losing money. Even at the rate I was consuming, I was amassing some savings and paying down my debts. What bothered me was that it was clear that I could really be doing much better at those two things if I just got a handle on stupid spending and poor planning.

I’ve done something I’ve done before, which is create a simple budget that should allow me to pay bills, enjoy life, and still work off stupid debts. I looked at a lot of free software budgeting and accounting programs, but none of them seemed to be what I wanted. I’ve got a cheesy little hack that I wrote while learning Ruby. It lets me keep my expenses in a nice little tab file, and it works quite well. I think that once I add some virtual accounts (like, money put toward a future expense) and reporting (like, how much did I spend on unplanned food in one pay cycle) it will be at least twice as useful, and that’s good.

Strangely enough, I decided to kick off this new budget by getting a loan and spending $2000 of it.


All the computers on are named after things from Alice—either Wonderland or Through the Looking-Glass. I thought it would be clever to reserve a subdomain, “deck,” for laptops and other transient devices. These could then given playing card names, like the cards from Wonderland. The only deck machine that’s been around much lately is knave, my laptop. (Gloria’s would-be Linux workstation, quite some time ago, was queenofhearts.)

The previous two knaves were both Dell Latitudes, and while they did their job admirably, they just weren’t the kind of laptop I wanted. I wanted something like the laptops I’d really enjoyed in the past: my Aero and my Duo. They were sweet little subnotebooks that ran nice, easy-to-manage operating systems (Slackware 3 and MacOS 7). The subnotebook is, to me, the perfect size of machine. I can type on it, I can fit code on its screen, and it doesn’t feel like a huge burden to carry around.

So, obviously I was really tempted when the 12” Apple PowerBook was released.

I’d been longing for one for months, and even though every once in a while I’d give up on it for a bit, the longing never really died. I wanted to go to the Apple Store to see it and get my hands on it and try the keyboard. I meant to do it some time ago, but we didn’t get to it. This weekend, though, we got down there.

Of course, by the time we were going, I had nearly made my decision already. I knew I could afford it, I’d done oodles of research, and I’d confirmed that the keyboard on the 12” was nearly identical to the keyboards on other PowerBooks. Once we were at the King of Prussia mall (about an hour’s drive), it would’ve been wrong not to buy one, I think. Yeah.

Anyway, we hit the Apple Store first, and I tried out the PB’s keyboard and oogled at other Macs. Obviously there were no G5’s there, but I was content to look at the iMacs and G4’s. I was surprised at how large the iMac’s base is. It’s not that it was big, but it was bigger than I had imaged.

We wandered around the mall for a little bit and looked at some other stores, including Sanrio (where I was sad to note the near complete disappearance of Nyago-based stuff) and Williams-Sonoma. I’d heard of Williams-Sonoma before, but I didn’t really know what they sold. In case you’re in the same boat: it was fancy kitchenware. I was pretty darn impressed, actually. Gloria saw some pots and pans she really liked—I thought they were cool, too. We saw lots of neat utensils and tools. We will totally go there again someday and get Stuff For the Kitchen.

Shortly after that, we went back to the Apple Store. Gloria said, “I think it likes you. I think it needs to come home with you.” And I admitted, “Yes.” And then I bought it.

It was a little bit of a pain. I’d applied for an Apple Loan earlier in the week to see if I’d be approved, but there wasn’t an easy way to save my approval for later. I could “decide later” but that didn’t seem to remain an option if I wanted to close my browser. Apparently declining wasn’t the right thing, either, because my saleslady (I’m sure she has some silly title like Expert or Genius or something) was pretty non-plussed and had to call the loan people. Who cares? It went through.

I have an illustrated version of this story: less words, more pictures. ===== zombies (kinda) ==== After buying the laptop, we did just a little more wandering and then went back to the car. We stuck the box in the trunk and went over to the United Artists across the street and saw 28 Days Later. Apparently down in KoP they don’t have a half hour of previews, because we got there five minutes late and the film had started; still, we’d only missed about a minute or so, it seemed.

The movie was good, but not totally awesome. It had zombies in it, more or less, so I was bound to give it a passing grade. The ending, though a happy ending, was pretty well done. It made me long, again, for Dusk of the Dead. Sigh! (A quick search tells me that Dusk of the Dead may actually be in the works. Sweet, sweet zombie movies!)

I should rent Day of the Dead sometime so I can rewatch it and let Gloria “enjoy” it, too.


We’ve skipped the gym for a few days now, and I think that’s Absolutely Great. My weight is doing fine, because I’m eating reasonably, and I feel good and rested, and we’ve gotten to just sort of loaf around and read and relax and stuff. Oh yeah.


Support for Ogg Vorbis sucks in iTunes. I thought the plugin I’d seen would make it work. Technically, it does. In practise, it’s useless. Since the iPod, too, has no support for Ogg, I might just have to start re-ripping my music. Suck. I want to support Ogg, but I want my music to be portable.

Maybe I’ll do what phun suggested and rip everything to FLAC. Still, that’s a big freaking hassle and it will use at least three or four times the space. Probably more. Oh well.

Written on June 30, 2003