Finally, a few moments of peace.

It feels like I’ve been running on all cylinders for a few weeks now. There’s only a couple of big things, really, and a trillion little tiny things. The good news is that I’ve gotten a lot done, and I’ve finally gotten my to-do list down to a manageable five things (it peaked recently at about 38).

So let me try to fill you in on what I’ve been up to.

The car is working great, and it’s inching closer to its first scheduled maintenance (basically an oil change). Whenever I take it in—might be a few more weeks—there are a couple minor issues I’ll have them look at: The radio is a little wonky for a minute or two after starting it in very cold (sub-freezing) temperatures, and there’s a slight, occasional rattle in the passenger door handle. Minor issues, at best, in an otherwise excellent vehicle.

DMV got all the title work done (took them forever, it seems), so I finally got the title number I needed to order my custom plates. “MOOT PNT” should be arriving sometime soon.

I was asked to speak at Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church is Chantilly, Virginia, about the Society of Saint Andrew, so I was doing that yesterday afternoon/evening. It was originally scheduled for several weeks ago, but we got snowed out and it was rescheduled to today. I think it went fairly well.

Regardless, I’ve been stressing about the speech on-and-off for a month or two, so it’s great to have it finished!

I finally got an external USB 2.0 hard drive. I’ve been talking/wanting to get one for a while for backup purposes, but had wanted to get some more important things out of the way first. The drive is large enough (250gb) to do a complete backup of Katia’s hard drive, so a full bootable backup is now a part of my monthly data process (in addition to the CD and iPod-based backups of particular critical data, which I’ve been doing for years).

I’m a little paranoid about my backups. On or around the 1st of each month, I create a compressed and encrypted disk image file of all my critical data (mainly the original files for my writings, music, web sites, etc.). This disk image file us usually about 600mb, so I burn the image file on to a regular CD-R (which goes into a fire & waterproof safe with 4 years worth of previous backups) and a CD-RW that I clear each month (which stays in the laptop bag). A copy of the image file is also stored on my iPod (which usually stays physically with me). Then I create the complete back up of my hard drive on the portable drive.

The chance of every copy of my data being destroyed by system failure or catastrophe is essentially nil, unless the catastrophe is big enough that I wouldn’t survive it anyway. So it would be almost impossible for me to lose any significant volume of information (absolute worst case—hard disk failure on the 31st of some month—I’d only lose new things from that month). Additionally, the 4 years worth of CDs in the safe allows me to go back and recover files that may have been accidentally deleted in computer changes or through general carelessness.

I got burned once by a hard disk failure; I’m not letting it happen again!

Melissa and I also got a mailbox at one of the local UPS Stores to try it out for three months. If we like it (so far so good) we’ll keep it. It works much like a P.O. Box, except they’ll sign for UPS and FedEx packages and stuff like that (and the address looks more professional). There are a number of reasons why we got the box:

First, our leasing office doesn’t sign for packages. Our options to this point for taking deliveries had been to either pick up packages from the UPS, FedEx, or other facilities (time consuming) or have them shipped to work (which is what we’ve generally been doing). Now we have a regular, normal address we can have things sent to and pickup is close to the apartment.

Second, we wanted a good mailing address to put on the internet. Domain name registrations (of which we have many) require a valid mailing address, and these are publicly viewable. I’ve never liked having our real mailing address available to the public through this method, so we’ve changed them to the new mailbox. As an added bonus, I can put the address on my contact page too!

Third—and this is what put us over on getting it—is we want a mailing address to use for our business endeavors and other projects. Melissa is getting her jewelry business up and running on the side, so we can use this new address on her business cards and invoices and so on. It will also allow me to make some personal contact cards with a valid mailing address that doesn’t give away where I live.

I also have my own project in development (top secret ;-) but moving ahead) which will need a published address, so this will be it.