Jonathan Field - Maker of Random Stuff

Monthly Archives: January 2007

Burn Update

It’s been exactly two months since Sophie’s burn, and she just sent me a new unretouched self portrait that shows remarkable improvement. I haven’t seen her since the beginning of December, so I can’t give any more detail than the picture itself, but she says that depending on the lighting you can still see some coloration problems. The doctors say that it can take six months for a year to things to reach their final level of healing.

The only thing I can even notice in this photo is the slight reddish spot under her right eye, and that is very minor. It is a bit weird because we are almost 100% sure that was caused by the doctor examining her on the first week’s checkup. There was no sign of anything there before that exam — it was smooth and even with the rest of the healing skin. But the doctor rubbed around there with dry gauze, and right after that exam the spot under the eye showed up and has been reddish ever since. Guess the doctor should’ve gone a little lighter.

Should heal, but I think she looks great, in any case.

But my arm scar is way cooler.

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I’m going to cry

Not just because Alberto Gonzalez is evil incarnate, and not just because my grandfather was imprisoned without habeas corpus for five years in communist Poland, but because the story is almost a week old, garnered only minor press attention, and even if covered is unlikely to raise any serious concerns in the majority of my countrymen.


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Thanks to the efforts of Matthew at work, several of us went on a little trip today to visit the Nevada Atomic Test Site. It’s a Rhode Island sized stretch of the Nevada desert that was home to some 900 atomic explosions between 1951 and 1992.

The area is still pretty active today, with ongoing subcritical tests and a radioactive disposal program. Check out the cool flyer I got! I just love that flyer. I also learned, at the Area 5 Radioactive Waste Management Complex that the proper handling of low grade radioactive waste is to bury it under eight feet of loose soil. Really. And that temporary strorage (read: 14 years) of high grade radioactive waste is best done in a canvas tent. Really. And you thought disposing of this stuff was difficult!

There were some pretty impressive craters, some clobbered bunkers, twisted bridge girders, and a house that looked a bit under the weather, but for the most part, anything that was close enough to ground zero got blown away completely and anything that wasn’t didn’t look all that bad. You wouldn’t _think_ 900 atomic bombs had been detonated here. Of course 800 of those were underground. From overhead parts of it do look kinda messed up, but driving through most of it doesn’t look that different from the rest of the natural Nevada wasteland. Except for being radioactive and all.

And I guess it’s not even that radioactive. Except for a few hot spots (like Area 5) they say you’ll get about as much additional radiation on the tour as you would on a commercial airliner. That’s the official story anyways. And who am I to argue? The jackrabbit we spotted only had one head, and the joshua trees looked about as unhappy as they do everywhere they grow.

Still, I rather hope they don’t go through with Operation Divine Strike.

In the end, it was a pretty cool trip. Nothing seen was that impressive in itself, but there’s a sense of enormous historic and scientific significance which I appreciated. It was just neat to be where not so long ago man played with toys of the gods.

Oh: the Atomic Testing Museum at the end was well done. Ethiopian for dinner. Wikipedia articles on nuclear physics for dessert.

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Ah, Chemicals!

So I don’t know if it was the eventual buildup of no sleep, a change in my mental state, or the placebo effect, but last night I got my melatonin and I fell asleep nicely and before midnight. Slept well, too.

On the other end of the spectrum I have to say that I am now officially a coffee person. Only a two or three cups per day person, but that is an extreme change from a couple years ago when I wouldn’t eat coffee flavored icecream. Now I’m hitting our single-serving coffee brewer here at the office regularly. Kona Light Roast with hazelnut coffeemate is my new best friend.

Brent met the team, and they unanimously approved of him. Now he’s talking to the big boys…

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Trouble Sleeping!

I haven’t had this much trouble sleeping since the week of the warehouse startup!

I guess that wasn’t that long ago though, so I may have to start revising my self image of being an easy sleeper.

I only managed a couple hours the last few nights each, but I’m still not tired tonight at 1AM.

I’m pretty anxious about all the soon-to-be-goings-on. I bought my tickets to Johannesburg today… via Senegal. Should I be embarassed that I had to look on a map to remind myself Senegal wasn’t in central Asia? In any case it looks like I’ll be in Dundee for exactly two months… March 10th through May 10th.

Selling the house… and formulating plans for what to do after South Africa. Weird to buy a return ticket to a place when you no there isn’t going to be anything there to return to!

Also brought in Brent Cromley to meet the team today. He is currently the premier candidate for taking over the Director of Development responsibilities at Zappos. Brent is a good guy… I’m rooting for him.

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Way Back Machine

Okay, so something that I wanted to write about a while ago but never got a chance to:

Way back on November 4th, just a few days before leaving Kentucky for good (well, not for “good”, but you know), I went to Churchill Downs to see the Breeder’s Cup. Despite the name it’s not a drinking container for hetrosexuals, rather, it is a famous horse race.

I didn’t go on a whim, of course, and I didn’t go alone. I was generously invited by Ready Electric who not only did the electrical work for the warehouse, but also features the blandish exterior of the Zappos building in their rockin’ flash intro. They offered the Zappos folks six box seats in a prime spot. Despite asking around to try and expand our social horizons, we ended up bringing the usual suspects.

Now, lest you fail to understand, getting box seats to the Breeder’s Cup at Churchill downs is nothing to sneeze at. Aside from the cost, there’s a lot of Kentucky heritage involved, imposing a fair bit of responsibility on the guests to properly enjoy the all-day event. Not to mention that this was the last weekend the four of us would be together in KY, sniff, sniff. So we decided to go all out.

For the ladies this meant dressing up in their finest, and acquiring some sharp looking hats. For me and my ragged assortment of threads, it meant buying a whole new outfit. Together we made a strikingly handsome group, I say.

So a day at the races… I’ve never been to a racetrack before. The place was pretty much packed with a wide cross section of people, and the mood was like what I’d expect at any sporting event, but it felt a little like old times. Like, you know how I know all about “old times” at sporting events. I think it was mainly just that the grounds and building had a classic early American feel; and though there were certainly a lot of people there, it just felt designed in a smaller world. In any case, I decided to dust off my old gambling addiction and give the horses a try.

I went and bet on the first race — just $10 on the one with reasonable odds (4:1) and a cool name to win. The others put some money down too, and then we went to the box to watch. The race itself was very short and more exciting than I’d expected. Watching those horses thunder by was thrilling, and best of all, my horse won! Right off the bat I turned $10 into $40! Wait, not so fast! I had to go collect my winnings. When I did, however, I found that I must have messed up when placing the bet because I had actually bet on some horse with a lousy name. And I would never do that. So $10 down, and mildly frustrated I sat out of the betting for a couple races. The ladies still dropped some money, and had a few minor victories. They kindly comforted me and encouraged me to try again.

Eventually I got my guts back and I bet again, this time for a horse with slightly worse odds (8:1) to “show”. Now, I didn’t really know what I was doing. In horse racing, the horse either wins (1st), places (2nd), or shows (3rd). So I figured betting on a horse to show meant it had to come in third place. I happened to be out ordering some good ol’ grease happy nibbles when the race was on, and so I watched it on the nearby screen. The horse I bet on came in 2nd, so I crumpled the ticket and placed it on the counter as I was ordering. When I got back to the box, I explained my bet and how I’d lost. Lisa’s eyes went wide as she explained to me that actually I’d won — a bet to “show” wins if the horse is in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place. I’d won, but discarded the ticket! I started rambling about how I wasn’t meant to gamble, but the girls convinced me to go look for the ticket since I sort of knew where I had left it. I fought my way through the crowds, back to the grease emporium and much to my surprise, there it was, still crumpled, still next to the napkin dispenser. I cashed it in for a small profit that turned my fortunes around.

I bet several more times (I think there were 10 races total) and I did well. The most exciting had to be the last race, when Lisa and I both bet on “Invisor”, an Argentine horse. Lisa is of Argentine descent, and she played bookie over the phone for her brother and her dad, who happened to be in Argentina at the time. Melody and Charlotte bet on other horses because they did not understand that the only way that the day could possibly end happily is if Invisor won, and who would bet against that?

The race began, and almost immediately Invisor was lost near the back. The cameras train in on the front of the pack, and as the horses cover the far side of the track, you watch them on the big screen. Invisor was completely left out. Our hearts sank. As the horses round the last bend, the big screen stops coverage for some reason, I guess because you’ll be able to see them yourself in a second. When the big screen stopped, Invisor was a lost cause. A few seconds later when we could see them in the home stretch, Invisor had somehow managed to pull out near the front! We freaked out. We stood on our chairs. We screamed and waved our arms around wildly. It was a close one, but Invisor carried the day! And we were happy. So happy in fact, we cracked out a pair of real Cuban cigars that we had been saving for the right moment and we lit up. Talk about living large. It’s all about those special moments, bitch.

Really though, it all couldn’t have gone down any better. Looking and feeling fine, sipping mint juleps with three cool chicks in the Rolex section, and finishing with the big win. The big win basically meant I broke even — covering all my other bets plus the food and drinks for the day. Very respectable.

I was surprised, actually, how much I enjoyed the races themselves. Having been in Las Vegas for almost three years now, I’ve never found any of the gambling to be even remotely enjoyable, forget about addictive. Sure, I throw a dime into a slot machine when family or friends are in town… who wants to be a downer? But I never understood the appeal. Horseracing, on the other hand, was legitimately fun. I think it’s a combination of the fact that you seem to be able to win just often enough to avoid feeling like a total chump, and the fact that you’re not betting on on the wrong side of some mathematical formula that the house has worked out: you’re betting on real life hopes and dreams of the horse and jockey team. It’s definitely got some appeal.

And yeah, the mint juleps probably helped.

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Out with the old…

If memory serves, I think this will be the first new year’s eve I spent alone. But here I am at home now, and about half an hour to go. No pity in that; until a few minutes ago I was at a happening party at Tony’s place with the Zappos crew and assorted hangers-on. It was a PJ party, where everyone was supposed to wear pajamas. I wore a suit and tie with slippers.

But Lisa was there too, and she left after a bit because she prefers to spend the coming of the new year in quiet contemplation. I liked the sound of that this year, for this point in my life, so I left the party as well. Quiet contemplation to begin shortly.

I signed divorce papers today at Starbucks.

What was it I said last year around this time?

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