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today's productivity, followed by detailed database geeking

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today's productivity, followed by detailed database geeking

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While at work, I finally filled out my insurance information, which I had been procrastinating on for four weeks. Then, after a full day of work, I came home and, while ostensibly picking recipes for which to shop, instead messed with recipe indexing for about an hour while chatting.

Realizing that I could easily spend all night doing that, I stopped and spent half an hour on an involved rearranging project of recycling between the apartment and my car. My car has become a travelling recycling station, and it really rather sucks. It's back under control for now, though.

With the recycling ducks all in a row, I drove out to the nearest recycling dropoff with five bags of full of paper, cardboard and plastic. The collection box was full again, so clearly folks are using it. I feel happy that we're recycling instead of just tossing everything, though the 20 minute round trip is kind of a pain. I hold off until I have several stops along the way when I do that run.

On this occasion, my next stop was Petco. Got three kitty litter refills, and the new 30 gallon bins are on a fairly crazy sale so I picked two of them up as well, bringing us to six. Also got a new scratching post for my clawed kitties; eventually I will repair their old one from NE that they've shredded, but every time I took it away with that intent they switched their attentions to the furniture, and I gave it right back to head that off - so now I have something to put in its place. While at the store, I also asked the clerk about my account weirdness (in brief: had an account in NE, they couldn't find it once I'd moved back here, but once I set up a new one, the NE one reappeared and interfered with me actually filling out my info and getting my new discount card) and she let me know how to take care of it - gonna have to call in, awesome.

After that I swung by Maxwells and got yummy food. Like Jesters, they are having a sale so, just as I did at Jesters, I tried something new to me, in this case the pork sandwich, as well as my beloved Maxwell Street polish. The pork was not breaded, so was actually pretty good for my diabetic self, and fairly good though not amazing. Pitching most of both buns meant that the protein remaining was just about the right amount of food for my dinner. I did have onion rings as well, though, and I have no regrets.

After that I went to Jewel and bought ridiculous amounts of sweet things for baking. Now that I have victims coworkers to help eat things, I feel like I can indulge.

Last thing I did was put on The Mummy while I cleaned in the kitchen, crushed some cans for recycling, and tried to get cooking set up in time before bed. No go on that last, though I have half the elements of Tuscan Bean Soup prepped for when I do cook it. I'm considering going out tomorrow night, but there's so much to do here I may just be responsible and stay in.

- - - - - - -

Since I've had recipe indexing taking up a large portion of my waking mind of late, with the ultimate goal of creating a database, it seems a good time for me to make myslf a status report on my progress.

My self-learning of SQL is at a standstill. I got some wonderful help on the initial stages, but that foray showed me that there is a whole cloud of skills that are needed simultaneously to use it, and I don't even know in what order to attack them. I also think that for study of this type, some kind of class work is going to be a better learning tool than meandering through on my own. I still intend to learn SQL, but the new plan is to use the tuition reimbursement and any related resources available to me through my new job to figure it all out. Not sure when, either - until I finish learning the job itself, I don't feel I'll have the brain room to take classes, too.

This was a frustrating realization. I've already put cumulative weeks worth of work into building up the information from which I mean to create tables, and though there is at least as much still to do before attaining the misty someday goal of completion, I want the work I'm doing to become useable in the near future, not months from now at the end of a long learning curve.

I considered going the cheaper route of either buying or downloading freeware of a recipe database framework built by someone else, but I rejected the idea. I don't really feel like dicking around with something that may not be what I want, with no guarantee that it will be customizeable (or even work at all).

I also spent several hours looking into Eat Your Books, an online index for print cookbooks. I want to point it out, as it looks like it will be awesome once it gets out of beta and they get more cookbooks indexed. If any of the five books I searched for had been indexed, I might have been willing to cool my jets in the interest of efficiency - why make an index myself when it already exists? There is a bottleneck in their process, though: they currently have about 900 books indexed, which included none of the five I checked. While they hope eventually to make user upload possible through the use of online forms (I had a very nice email exchange with one of the site owners and got some background information), they aren't ready for it yet, with no word on when they will be. I think the idea is ultra-spiffy, and I'd be looking for ways to help with the beta if I didn't have my own fish to fry, but the current lack of uploadability kills the advantage for me. I'm not really the target audience of their very cool idea, anyway. What I really want is to build my own.

At this point I should mention that I broke down yesterday and bought a copy of Office 2003 Professional on eBay. Buying Access instead of building it from scratch feels like a copout of some kind, because I wanted to do it all myself, but given all of the above info, I decided that Access is the right way to go as a half-measure. With learning SQL outright tucked firmly into "eventually," using Access will give me the tool I need to do what I want NOW. Also, I was given a quick SQL primer at a party a few months ago (complete with "the rest'll cost ya" spiel), and... I already knew everything that he told me. He offered a perspective I didn't have (and only sort of grasped) on how it all fits together - a difference which makes sense, considering the way that I learned it, digging down through the top of Access rather than up through the bottom with SQL - but the bulk of what I need to understand about how relational databases are structured is evident within Access itself, even if it is covered up with the usual glossy Microsoft point-and-click surface. Working with a database I create from scratch should give me a further grounding in those relationships, and the dusting of SQL information I picked up so far may help me dig deeper into the underpinnings.

So, this is what I'm doing for "fun." Just today, I read in Warren Ellis' blog, "...the difference between eccentrics and lunatics is that eccentrics get paid." Guess what that makes me...
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