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Archived Entries from April 2007

Free Day

My daughter was sick yesterday, so I stayed home with her. I had some work to do in the morning (posting an electronic newsletter for one of the people in my "group" at work). And this particular newsletter is one of the few things that I actually do using Dreamweaver. Normally when I code web pages I use a text editor, because I think Dreamweaver tends to "get in the way." However, in this instance, the newsletter is originally created in Word and Dreamweaver actually does a pretty good job of handing text and tables when the are copied and pasted. Sure, I have to do a lot of clean up, but copying-and-pasting and then cleaning up, in this instance, takes the least amount of time than any other option.

But using Dreamweaver at home always makes me realize just how old this poor G4 really is. Since retiring from freelancing and not having to use Quark for anything lately, this computer has seemed quite spiffy. Of course a 200 MHz Pentium is spiffy when it's just being used for e-mail and web browsing (and that's assuming that it's running Linux and not Windows, of course...).

No golf for the past few days--it's been rainy and dreary since about Tuesday.

However, sunny and 70s today and tomorrow! It's about time the sunny/rainy days work out so that we have dreary work days and sunny weekends. I think the redhead is planning on going and buying (well, and planting) flowers and stuff today, so I may sneak out and play golf today. And surely we'll play tomorrow as well.

Speaking of gardening...

One of the large chunks of lilac bush that I planted that was just two thick trunks coming out of the ground with a small amount of roots and no greenery is alive. It was one of the last pieces I planted, way back by the compost heap (basically right on the other side of the fence from where it was originally). I figured I had a 50-50 shot of it living, and as it turns out, it is. It has green leaves shooting out of both sides of both branches. How cool is that? I'm such a green thumb....

Tonight we're having friends over and having a fire (assuming all the wood isn't too damp...). I'm hoping to burn the last of the sticks and such that are all over the compost heap so I can get back to turning the compost and getting it to, well, compost.

Oh, heh--so get this. Last year (and in previous years) I've bought mulch by the bag, either from a garden center or lately from the gas station uptown (they buy and stack pallets and pallets of bagged mulch on the side of their parking lot). Well, my neighbor (the good one) gets that dark brown mulch delivered to his house (this year he even had the delivery guys spread it around all his flowerbeds and such--what fun is that?). So last year papa went to the local nursery and bought two pickup truckloads and brought it out to the farm to do their beds and such. It was like $80-100 per load. I asked him earlier in the season if he was doing that this year and he said he wasn't, but that if I wanted to use his truck to go get some for myself this year, I was free to do so.

My plan was to go to the landscape recycling center in Urbana and get bulk mulch from there--it's cheaper than the bagged stuff (by far), uh, doesn't come in a bag, and is literally recycled from branches and such that people bring to the center. I'm no Al Gore, but I do what I can.

Well my mother-in-law called me yesterday from the car as they were leaving town to go have dinner in Indiana with the redhead's older brother. She told me not to go get mulch because papa had taken a truck up to the recycling center and got a huge load of mulch for us to share.

A semi-truck.

"You mean one of the big box trucks from the farm, or one of the semis?" I asked.

A semi-truck.

He took one of the grain semis from the farm and had them fill it up. And, he said, it was cheaper than the two pickup loads that he got from the nursery.

As soon as the ground behind the machine shed dries up a bit he'll dump the whole load back there and I can come get however much I want. How cool is that? A freakin' semi-truck full. Don't ever do anything halfway, I guess....

So I got a bunch of laundry done and a few bathrooms cleaned yesterday while home with the geerow (who is feeling much better as of last night, thank goodness) and today hope to spend much of the day outdoors. If I can get the last remnants of debris burned and out of the way I'll be quite happy. Hopefully it'll be dry enough for me to get a fire going...

Well, I just threw another load of sweatshirts into the dryer. It's still dark out so I think I'm going to go back to bed...

Posted: Saturday, April 28, 2007, 10:17 am
Mood: Tired | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment


I went to a lunchtime "brownbag" on CSS with one of our campus experts a year or more ago. Thought I had it, but didn't. I went to a CSS class on "accessibility" for a day with our campus accessibility expert. Still didn't have it. Poured over .css files and .html code from the expert I spoke of first, who is building an empire for himself on campus. Didn't get it.

Bought a book by Eric Larson, the web's "expert" on CSS--more confused than ever. I've poured over websites, tutorials, and source code.

I can program in C, C++, Java, PHP, ColdFusion, and now apparently something called "scheme," but I couldn't wrap my head around cascading style sheets.

And at at the Webmaster's conference today, I had a choice between several concurrent sessions... One was a session on AJAX, which people buzz about but I'm still not sure is useful to me. And another was CSS taught by the first person I mentioned in this post.

I wanted to go to AJAX. But I need to get CSS figured out first.

I want to learn Perl too. And maybe Python (although I hate British humor and think that it's silly that a modern language cares about "spacing"--but that's another argument altogether...)

So I went to the CSS session.

And I get it now.

No kidding.

The presentation itself might have been a bit confusing, but a cornerstore was placed into my head that made everything else come together.

I've got it.

I'll have a new CSS-driven web site ready in a few weeks. Okay, maybe just a template. But trust me--I've got it now.

I'm excited!!

Posted: Friday, April 27, 2007, 3:15 am
Mood: Ecstatic! | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Not Happy Smiley....

I came home early today--well, I got to work way early and came home somewhat early. At any rate, Em and I went off to play golf at the country club. I should have known better--it was quite busy. While I can get to work at 6:00 and attempt to leave at 3:00, all of those bankers leave at 3:00 anyway. Dang it....

(I'm being half-silly, of course...)

So we skipped way out into the course and drove until we got to an area with few people before or behind.

I played bad. I hurry when I'm by myself. The opposite of my "old self" is now true--I used to hate playing with groups and thought playing by myself would be wonderful. Not the case.

Anyway. Enough about golf. I played 3 holes and Em and I went home. She didn't care--she would have been bored to death sitting through 9 holes.

Would you believe I'm having a hard time with my career?

Heh. Not quite so dramatic. But I've blossomed from a web guy into a Linux server administrator, database specialist, and added all sorts of other stuff along the way.

But now I'm back to web stuff. I have a bunch of web stuff to do and redo. And there's almost a fanatical push on campus to make everything utilize CSS.

I can do what I want, of course, but really, CSS makes the most sense. Even if they take nice anti-aliased web sites, and redo them in a "brownbag" lunch seminar using CSS and try to claim it looks as nice (and it doesn't) I still think I should go that way.

I don't like that people can change their font size and screw up the way the mouseover buttons work.

I still am having a hard time with moving images around the screen, which again gets screwed up depending on how you do it and whether or not the user adjusts their font size.

I'm spending hours and days messing with this. I've bought books. I've looked at other code. I've talked to people.

And if I could just use tables, I'd have this all done in a few days. But CSS is the way of the future. Or something.

The WWW is only ten or fifteen years old. Am I really that out of the loop already?

I understanding removing content from formatting (or formatting from content) but this is getting ridiculous.

The bosses are going to want the same looking thing that we had to start with--complete with rounded corners that were table cells and buttons that were graphics that looked and lined up the same way no matter what the user did to their font size.


In other news...

So, does it seem odd to anybody else out in the world that if you're in the "educational" field and you go to sign up for RedHat Linux "webcasts" (and/or other training) that the site that has the information is using .asp pages?

How about Carahsoft, which is presenting a whole bunch of presentations about the upcoming release of the new version of Allaire/Macromedia/Adobe ColdFusion 8 "Scorpio" using PHP instead of ColdFusion to power their pages?

Or am I the only person that's that cynical in the world?

Yeah, I'm just in that kind of mood....

Posted: Wednesday, April 25, 2007, 3:10 am
Mood: Not Thrilled | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

No Shiver in My Bones Today

The forecast for this evening is rain, but all the weather places I've checked (okay, so it's only the campus weather page and say it's supposed to be partly cloudy today and not rain until after the sun goes down.

Which I think means that my butt needs to get in the shower now, and work 7:00 to 4:00 today, and see if I can fit in nine holes before dinner. Em asked me yesterday if she could ride along.

Ooh, and I need to write a note to her teacher--I'm glad I thought of that.

Okay, I need to get going for the day. Maybe I can get to work at 6:30 if I hurry...

Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2007, 10:25 am
Mood: Tired | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Happy Monday

Thank goodness for my friend Tod....

He's a good teacher and mentor. And I'll leave that at that. Burritos on me this Friday. Actually, webmasters is this Thursday, so maybe we'll do Bamba then. And maybe I'll leave early and golf on Friday, depending on the weather....

The teasing at school has gotten worse, and I'm going to send a note to Barb, Em's teacher, tomorrow, so that we can meet and discuss this. Not meanly--it's not Barb's fault, of course. The best solution is going to be to coach Em to have a thicker skin, I think. Being the smartest kid in school should be the least of her problems. So we'll see.

Okay, I have some Star Wars fan films that I've never watched before (never paid much attention to...) to watch...

Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2007, 2:19 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment


What a great day! What a great weekend!

Last night the redhead and I and Darren and Shannon met Marc and Peggy out at the clubhouse--rather, Darren and Shannon met us there and Betsy and I went a snuck in a few holes with Marc and Peggy before it got dark. I love this!

We went to the VFW when the clubhouse bar was getting ready to close (at midnight) and had a good time there as well. Yes, I know I'm not supposed to go to the VFW but the redhead was with me so I was pretty sure I was safe. Yay!

This morning, with both kids still "gone" the redhead and I went to breakfast in Tuscola. I love my wife! She's totally cool. Way cooler than me. I know I sound like a total dork, but I really, really love my wife. :)

So then after we got home I went and played golf. (Duh). What fun! I played well. Marc and I actually played with a few more people, and it was a lot of fun. I wasn't stressed. I took my time. And I played well! My off-the-tee game has improved immensely--I didn't screw up one shot from the tee. My chipping needs some improvement, but I'm happy to deal with that--getting a hold of the ball on the tee is the single most important thing that I wanted to work on.

I had a great weekend. My dad turned 70 today (no kidding!). I need him to get the heck down here and play some golf...

Posted: Monday, April 23, 2007, 2:18 am
Mood: Ecstatic! | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment


Thank goodness Spring seems to be here for good.

I've spent almost all day today outdoors. This morning I mowed the front yard, with a nice back-and-forth pattern (as opposed to up-and-down or the usual ever-shrinking square pattern). I moved all of the firewood, including the logs that were up on the deck (from when I trimmed the green ash in the fall) and stacked them neatly behind the poolhouse. I watered all of the bushes that I transplanted. I sucked up the last remnants of the leaves. And last but not least I opened the water garden. My wooden board covered with plastic bags didn't keep the water out, unfortunately.

Well, I guess I don't care that there was water in it--I just didn't want it filling with snow and freezing and cracking. So I emptied what water was in there, sucked out the worms and such with a shop-vac, got it all cleaned out, installed the pump with the screen contraption that worked so well last year, added all the rocks, and filled it up. Ahh....

Then I ate a quick sandwich and headed down the street to the country club to take part in the annual "clean up day." Sheesh. Marc made it sound like we'd rake some leaves, pick up some stray branches from the fairways, etc., etc.

Not quite.

We cut down trees, trimmed a whole lot of branches, burned brush, cut out old stumps. I'm exhausted. After we finished up we headed back to the clubhouse for a couple of brews and then I came home and showered.

We are without both children this evening (Al at a friend's house and Em with Papa and Gwammo) so I think we're going to head down to the clubhouse and be socialites. How elitist of us. (Tongue fully placed in cheek, of course....)

So nobody is at home right now but me, so I thought I'd blog (the redhead drove Em out to the farm and must be "visiting" with her parents).

I have a "feature" in my goofy blogging software where I can mark posts as "private"--it basically writes them to the database, but they aren't ever displayed. Unfortunately, my "last updated" isn't yet smart enough to know not to claim there's a new post if that new post is "private."

And the private post wasn't that big of a deal. I had a few glasses of wine and was venting. My daughter is having a hard time at school right now. "Hard" because a group of kids picks on her and makes fun of her because she's the smartest kid in the class. How aggravating! She's nice and gentle and sweet (at school--not necessarily at home all the time...) and the teacher's lover her. Her friends love her. But this one group of mean kids gives her grief because she's too smart.

Okay, I'll not get further into that rant. But suffice it to say I never expected to have to have problems at school because the kids did too well.

Anyway. We'll get her into Uni in a couple of years and put this mess with the gritball kids behind us.

Oop--the redhead just got home, which is good because I'm ready to start making dinner...

Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2007, 9:21 pm
Mood: Awesome | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Outrage, Fear, and the rest...

By the time one of my co-workers came into my office this afternoon to tell me about what happened at Virginia Tech, I had been reading about it and following the story for hours.

Like everyone else, I'm not happy. I'm quite upset.

The details of what (exactly), how, and why have yet to be released.

I can't imagine how any parent of a child at Virginia Tech feels right now.

And yes, it could have happened anywhere.

It's already become politicized. I'm not even going to go into what either side has said--you can read the news yourself. But they are both being childish. People got murdered today. This is no time for petty political crap, especially when neither side can really accuse the other for why this happened. How about we accuse the shooter?

I mean, really. Being a fun-loving atheist, I don't believe in hell any more than I believe in heaven. But when I walked to the parking garage this afternoon, I wished that there were a hell. I wished that there were a place to go after death for that person that locked up doors with chains and murdered people--fellow classmates, as I'm guessing.

He killed, and then left the building with no repercussions. A huge amount of misery that reaches well beyond the bounds of the Virginia Tech campus was wraught by his hands, and he gets to skip town and avoid the fallout. That makes me about as mad as any of the rest of it.

I squeezed my children a little tighter than normal this evening. I don't think they knew about what happened today. Thank goodness.

Too bad all the college-aged children in Virginia weren't as lucky.

Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2007, 2:34 am
Mood: Upset | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment

Great Day!

I started today with the intention of doing nothing. I thought I might play golf, but that was about it (and Marc went fishing and the course was busy so I decided against playing by myself today...).

So I moved a lilac bush, and also moved the "parts" that I had planted in my old "garden." I put them back by the tuliptree, where the old blue spruce had been. The lilac bush in question wasn't part of the thing that I had hacked apart--I had purchased a bush from a nursery a few years ago (well, five or six years ago--I bought it using a gift certificate that I got when I left my job at the oil chemists place...). I had planted it in a dumb place in the yard, and it never did well. I suspect part of the problem might be that my neighbor Pete has his yard sprayed on a regular basis and that I'm sure some of that crap ended up hitting this bush that was right inside the chain link fence. I'm not irritated with Pete, of course--whether overspray hurt it or not, it was still in a dumb place in the yard. I moved it back between the tuliptree and the back corner of the yard, and then also took the last temporary remnants from the bush that I tore apart and dug up and put them there as well.

Here's a picture, but it's hard to see because of the fence in the background:

Em totally helped me, and it was a great father-daughter bonding moment. Not that we're already bonded, I guess, but I enjoyed her being around and helping me dig in the dirt, which is one of my favorite things to do.

I also seeded the garden from last year. I ran into Tony and Lucas at Mr. Gilles' hardware store (Tony went to school with the redhead, and his son Lucas is one of Alex's best friends--I came home the other day and listened to a message from Lucas to Alex on the answering machine that said something like "Hey Alex, look outside--it's totally hail-rific..."). I told Tony that the only thing dumber than my digging up that area of yard to move the playhouse that couldn't be moved and then planting a garden was to then buy grass seed and try to make it a part of the yard again a whole one year later....

I used the bagger on the mower and put down the seed first and then dumped the grass clippings on top, so that the birds can't get to the seeds. The big round spot just to the left of the old garden is where I had originally planted the tuliptree--really dumb location.

Sheesh--this is such a lame excuse for a weblog. I'd apologize, but I pay for this and you don't. Or something. :)

Speaking of losers like me, I've been following this whole Don Imus thing (although that comparison isn't fair--I'm not quite that big of a jerk). I was, however, a bit slow on the uptake--I went to register "" yesterday but I was a week late. Someone beat me to the punch.

I can't decide what is more stupid--his comments or the big deal that was made about them. Who really cares what Don Imus thinks or says? Roll your eyes and be happy that you're a less-stupid person than he is. I don't know.


I had a great day today. I did some programming using the "scheme" language before taking the quiz for my on-line class. I wouldn't say it was "cool" but it was different, to say the least.

I'm on a good path. I should have done the computer thing to begin with. I'm happy that my wife and family and employer are letting me follow this path now. People think I'm a computer person because I can fix the problem with their printer, but I'm happy to be learning and dealing with the part of it that is so much more complicated than that. Or something. I'm happy to be a nerd.

Okay, my hands hurt from all the yardwork today--enough typing...

Posted: Monday, April 16, 2007, 2:27 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment


How cool for me--the redhead and the kids are going to get haircuts (like I said) and probably groceries for dinner and stuff for tonight. And probably go out for lunch.

And I'm going to stay here and fold about 70 loads of laundry.

Sound pathetic?

I'm also going to watch A New Hope and maybe follow up with Episode V depending on how long they're gone.

And I can crank up the surround sound and enjoy it as loudly as I want to.

It's rainy and dreary outside so there won't be a glare on the television from the sun.


How nice for me.

(And as weird as it sounds, I like folding laundry. It's one of those things I can do where I can definitely see that I've accomplished something...)

Okay, I need to go find a battery charger thing for Alex's Playstation Portable.... Sheesh.

Posted: Saturday, April 14, 2007, 2:24 pm
Mood: Excited | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Too Much Stuff

While the redhead and kids and I do our best to get rid of unwanted stuff, either by taking to Goodwill or recycling (or throwing it away otherwise), we are still inundated with stuff. And today is the type of day where that starts to eat at my nerves--it's raining outside, the redhead and kids are going to get haircuts and go shopping, and I'm going to attempt to get the house cleaned up because we're entertaining guests this evening.

And every time I open a closet, it's filled with stuff. Over-filled with stuff. Cabinets, drawers--the same thing.

And while I'm sure everyone's home has their share of clutter, for some reason I get really bothered by it. I'm an anti-pack rat.

Anyway. This isn't that big of a deal, and I should shut up while I'm ahead or the redhead is going to kick my behind when she reads this...

So I came home yesterday and fit nine holes in before dinner. I was able to get to work super early so that I could leave early, and since nobody else was around late in the afternoon, it worked out perfectly.

I didn't play well, however. By about the fifth hole I finally had to stop and tell myself "I could be at work right now." I love having flexibility in my schedule.

Well the redhead is out of the shower which means I can go start another load of laundry....

Posted: Saturday, April 14, 2007, 1:50 pm
Mood: Anxious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment


It's been so long that I've had an emotional rollercoaster ride that I didn't know how to deal with it well. And in retrospect, it wasn't even that big of a dip. Oh well.

I've been focusing a lot on golf lately, which has been different since we're back to having crappy weather. Fortunately we're not in as bad a shape as my pal in Iowa but we're getting there. My boss was actually in Minnesota the past few days and he went up through Wisconsin on the way there and down through Iowa on the way back and said the ride back took five hours longer than the ride there.

And we're now supposed to get an inch of snow over the weekend.

Are you serious? I mentioned that I played golf in shorts a few weeks ago, right?

And let's not get sick of me talking about golf, by the way. Now that I'm not consulting anymore, golf is it.

Unfortunately, my computer and typesetting skills are better than my golf skills. But I'm out in nature (and often have a beer in hand) when playing golf, so I think golf wins.

I think the best part out of this is that I don't get totally upset when I don't do well with a shot. And I think that not getting worked up is a reverse-snowball effect. Screw up the shot, sigh, and prepare for the next shot--no fit, no anxiety. And I've done less "preparing" as well--I don't take two or three practice swings before every shot any more. I get up to the ball, I line up, and I swing away. No sense wasting a "good" practice swing and then having a crappy swing when I actually line up to hit the ball.

When I was in high school I used to occasionally play tennis with my best friend at the courts over by his house, and often times I'd go bananas when I'd make a bad shot. I don't mind losing. I don't mind being out-played. But losing because I'm making mistakes is different than losing because I'm playing against a better opponent. And that's not to say that Brian wasn't a better opponent--I'm sure he was. I'm sure he still is. But when a pretty good, fun volley ends because I biff a shot, it would make me, well, lose my cool.

I believe Brian wrote in my yearbook about such events something like "relax big guy--it's just a game." And honestly I remembered exactly what he said before I wrote those last two paragraphs and now my brain is all mumbly-jumbly, but it was something like that.

So I don't do that anymore. I think golf will be fun.

So yay for me.

Come back Spring! I'm not ready for more winter!!

Oh, and this is sort of an addendum....

You know what the biggest page is on my web site, according to "hits"? It's the page to post a comment.

I've gone through all sorts of hoops to stop the spam. Nobody gets posted by default unless their IP address is already in the database. Nobody (other than me) gets to post a comment with any sort of html links in their comment. It even simply completely discards any form data that was submitted from a page other than itself ("people" were making pages that had their own form fields that "submitted" to my submit page). Is robot-blog-spam really that rampant? They bang and bang and bang away at my blog, and not only don't their posts appear, their post don't even elicit a database query that could (but wouldn't) inject malicious SQL. Nothing happens other than an http request from the server. You're wasting your time....

I'm not some security expert, of course. But for crying out loud--give it up, people....


Posted: Friday, April 13, 2007, 2:09 am
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It's been an odd few days (my last post was just the beginning).

I'm on a rollercoaster again, and that's not supposed to happen anymore....

But I'm hanging on.

And it's official--while I thought it was going to take another full year, I am, in fact, going to graduate from college (again) this December. I e-mailed back and forth with my advisor today and she laid it out on the line--I'm just about done. I'm glad at least she knows what is going on.

And for some reason this is hugely emotional for me.

I never went through the graduation ceremony the "last time" I finished college.

I know that I've beat this dead horse before, but maybe going over it one more time will shed some light on just how frickin' focused I am on this.

I messed up college. I went for four and a half years and then dropped out to run a bar. I didn't drop out to run a bar--that's sort of a misnomer. I dropped out, and ended up running a bar.

It was only after getting married and such that I had an opportunity to go back to college (thanks, Papa).

I came to college in 1987 and graduated in 1995. Bluto would be proud.

And I didn't go through the ceremony, at age 25. I went fishing. I was too embarrassed.

So now I'm back in school, and apparently I'm going to finish soon. And this time I'm going to go through the ceremony (which will be the following May, of course).

There's a pretty good chance I'll be graduating cum laude. Actually, I might graduate summa cum laude. They don't count my 90 hours of "transfer" credits into the equation.

And I really, really hope this makes up for what happened before. But I don't know who I'm trying to prove something to.

Me? Betsy? My dad? My in-laws? My mother?

And yes, I'm going to start graduate school at UIUC, as a computer science student, in January of next year. What the heck am I getting myself into?

I just need the weather to warm back up. The kids and I need to go fishing...

Posted: Tuesday, April 10, 2007, 12:41 am
Mood: Anxious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment


Oh boy. How to start this one out...

Betsy and the kids and I were going to go camping this weekend.

She and I both took a half-day on Thursday and a whole-day-off on Friday. We and some friend were going to head to either Forest Glen or Turkey Run State Park.

But the temperatures plummeted. And we've already taken the time off. So the redhead suggested we come up here to visit my parents. Well, my dad and my stepmother.

Sorry for the trauma that might come next. I've had a bottle of wine....

I have such an intellectual connection with my dad. I can't explain it. I'm fighting off all sorts of words to write because I don't want to be mean and I don't want to sound arrogant.

But lately I really enjoy talking to my dad.

We all went out for pizza today. Dad and Carol made a bad choice with where we went, and not because the pizza was bad (it wasn't--it was very, very good). My dad's impatience is ten times what mine is and he's never worked for a restaurant.


I miss my mom. I like Carol and all, but I wish my mom were around.

She'd understand me. We could have a beer...

I'm too emotional right now and shouldn't be blogging.

I lead an almost perfect life. The redhead and the stinkpots are awesome. If they were any more perfect, well, cliches are dumb, so I won't insert anything trite, but the kids are pretty cool.

I shouldn't even post this, but I guess I will.

And my whole point of this was to gripe about religion....

Posted: Saturday, April 07, 2007, 4:46 am
Mood: Anxious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Snow Flurries

I had to unhook the hose from the freeze-less spigot today and bring the water meter thing inside, since we're supposed to have a hard freeze tonight through mid-day tomorrow.

I played golf two days ago in shorts and a polo shirt.

And I was sweating when I was finished (uh, more from being out in the direct sunlight than over-exerting myself, but still).

And we had snow flurries today. Don't like the weather in the midwest? Give it a few minutes...

So I had a bit of an excursion today. My poor aluminum powerbook has taken a couple of coffee table to floor tumbles in the past year, and one of them bent the computer-side plug for the power cord to the point where I had to insert it and turn it "just so" to get it to light and be charging the computer.

Well last night it took another spill. And all the kings horses and all the kings men turned and turned the plug end and it wouldn't light, and the computer wouldn't charge.

No big deal! We have an Apple Store on campus now! (How cool is that!?!) It's in the new Illini Media building--the place that houses the Daily Illini (where I worked back in the day) and WPGU. It's in the building that they should have built rather than the disaster at 57 E. Green.... ANYWAY...

So it's new enough not to be in the phone book.

And I couldn't get it on Google.

And Apple's web site didn't have it listed.


I drove by it after dropping the redhead off at the building she works at in the Research Park, but I couldn't see a clear enough sign from the street, and it looked closed, so I didn't stop (which would have required all sorts of driving around the block, parking, walking, etc.--I was pretty sure it wasn't open). At 9:15 I left the office with my laptop and headed that way, hoping to catch a bus (way different corners of campus). I caught said bus, got dropped off at the closest point (actually no, but I wasn't thinking) walked a few blocks, and found out that they didn't open until 10:00. Dang it!

So I walked a couple of blocks back, toward the bus terminal in front of Henry Admin, and the bus was already there and I was a block away so I hurried down Wright Street (this will make no sense to anyone not familiar with campus) and caught it at the stop right across the street from "my" old bar, Cochrane's. All painted black and its windows boarded up. How pathetic to have such affection for a building. But in such a miserable time of my life that bar was my hope--my "task." I might have been broke, but I had something to keep me occupied and my mind not wandering.

And I met the redhead there. Score!

Yeah, I pretty much love that place. (C.O.'s is still open, and C.O.'s is a $#!t-hole...). Okay, enough bar reminiscing....

So the bus goes up through the engineering campus, and by the time it weaves its way back toward my office (the closest it gets is in front of Bevier Hall and I can do one of two things--cross the street and walk through ERML and then into my building, or go right into Bevier and go down into the basement and take the tunnel under the street, under ERML, and to my building.

I looked at my watch--wait, I don't have a watch. I looked at the time on my phone (my "watch") and it was already like 9:48. By the time the bus went and picked up kids at PAR and FAR (still further away from downtown campus) and looped back and everything else, it'd be 10:00.

So I stayed on the bus.

And at 9:55 I got dropped back off right in front of Cochrane's. I took the alley, crossed Sixth street, zipped across the parking lot, and entered the back door of the IMC building (uh, Illini Media Corporation, but I'm not still they are still called that but that's what they were when I worked there...).

And at 10:02 the door was locked. WTF?

I grabbed a copy of the paper from the stand in the lobby and sat down at one of the convenient seating areas and within seconds a young woman appeared and unlocked the door of the Apple store. Yay!

I followed inside (this is such a lame story, and I'm not sure why I'm offering it in such detail, but I'm just in that sort of mood...). I was just happy to be able to start running my mouth about what my problem/situation was. I don't know. It's like being back at the home castle or something. I was half-excited to be able to talk to an Apple person. They wouldn't make fun of me for using a Mac. Would understand my glee for using a computer that's better than a Windows machine. I was with my people.

So I started my story of the power cord and how I wanted to see if it was the power cord or the power port on the computer and if they had a cord they could plug in and I'd just buy another one if that was the problem and would they take a campus account CFOAPAL number and, and, and.

She told me the "genius bar" (but they don't call it that now, at least not here) was open from noon until 5:00 and I could sign up for a time to meet with the troubleshooting people.

Slight grrr....

I don't need the "genius bar." I know exactly what my problem is. You know, I've been using Macs for a long time. Since before the were Macs. I did profit-sharing for a Chicago law office (on the 86th floor of the Sears Tower) during the summer between grade school and high school using a computer that I advised the company to buy and I dealt with--a Lisa. That was 1983. Budge was born in 1983. Most kids in college now weren't born in 1983. No, I don't think I need your "genius."

But I was pleasant and prepared to go back there at noon, even though they wouldn't take a campus CFOAPAL number and I'd have to get my secretary to call with her P-card and pay for the part. While I was signing my name on the "genius" help sheet, I asked the young woman if they had replaced the campus computer store in the Illini Union as a result of the Apple Store.

Nope. Totally unrelated. So the campus computing store in the Union, a few blocks away, that sells Apple stuff (and stuff from Dell, etc.) is still there? Yep.

No kidding. And I bet they take CFOAPAL numbers....

So I leave and walk to the Union. And sure enough they were still right where they had always been in the southwest corner of the building. And once there they were happy to have me get my laptop out of my bag and plug a known-good working adapter into the machine and sure enough it glowed green and started charging. The young man there informed me that he was out of stock with chargers there but quickly checked stock at Central Stores (of which they are essentially an offshoot) and that they had 7 in stock and I could either have one delivered to me or... and I interrupted and said I'd go there on my way to pick up the wife and give them my CFOAPAL number and get one on the way home. Yay!

So after my almost-two-hour excursion I still have no power supply for my laptop.

But I go back to work knowing that it's right within my grasp.

I checked the Stores web site and found that the power cord is $71! Are you kidding me? But I guess my choices are either spending $71 or, well, using my laptop for a couple more hours and then having it be dead in the water. So I guess I can understand the $71....

The redhead had some sort of meeting/lunch thing today so I had lunch with Tod at Chipotle (and used my $5 gift card that I got for participating in a "Lunch on Linux" thing about the release of RedHat ES 5 a month or so ago) and then went to back to the Apple Store afterwards to tell them that I didn't, in fact, need their help.

So the Central Stores web site says they close at 5:00.

I left work at 4:30. I stopped and got a bottle of wine.

And got to Central Stores at 4:42 (or so).

And nobody was in their small customer parking lot--cool, I won't have to wait and this should go fast--more concerned about being a jerk showing up right before close and being just one more person they have to deal with while they are trying to close up for the day. All I need is a cord--I have the exact campus store part number--this should take two minutes.

They were closed. Their hours, one the door, said they closed at 4:30.

I won't type exactly what I expressed aloud, but I'm sure you can imagine that it included a few foul words and questioned why their web site said 5:00 if they actually closed at 4:30.

So I left a bit frustated that I had wasted all sorts of time and still didn't have a new power connector, but of course quickly perked up after picking up my bride a few minutes later.

And she's going to read that and call me a smartass. But I'm not being one. I quite dig the redheaded one.

Especially since she spent her ride home hearing this whole story and now is going to read it as well. Heh.

And I got out the needle-nosed pliers and messed with the power plug thing and apparently found a shape that is "pleasing" to my Powerbook, so it is upstairs charging right now.

Heck, I rival Seinfeld for a story about nothing.

I guess I should start saying "What's up with that??" more.

Did I mention I played golf two days ago wearing shorts??

Posted: Thursday, April 05, 2007, 2:03 am
Mood: Semi-irritable | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment

Busy Weekend

Marc and I played nine holes Saturday afternoon. It went quite well. I hit the ball solidly almost every time, which was wonderful, even if I wasn't hitting it that far. My shots were straight, my drives from the tee were good, and my putting was okay. My chipping, however, needs some work. All in time.

After we finished we had a couple of drinks at the clubhouse, where I chatted with some people that I "know" but am never really in a situation where I'd talk to them otherwise. It was kind of nice. We went to our respective homes and I got cleaned up a bit and then the family and I met Marc and Peggy (sans their kids) for dinner at the clubhouse. It was really, really good. I had a whole fried catfish and a twice-baked potato and both were awesome. And it's right down the street! Who knew?

Yesterday I solved the bagworm problem that I've been fighting for the past two or three years. Permanently. How? Why, with a chain saw of course. Yep. I cut the blue spruce down. The top of it that has looked awful for the past few years looked even worse up close on the ground. We borrowed Papa's truck from the farm and the kids were a wonderful help dragging branches out to the driveway, and I had the whole mess cleaned up and to the city brush pile by 11:00 a.m. My wife, who thought I was nuts at 8:30 thinking I was going to get it done that day, was I think surprised and pleased that I got it cut down and completely removed (stump and all) in only a few hours. I told her I was the "Servpro" of tree removal--"like it never even happened."

I moved the tuliptree over to that area (it was in a stupid location anyway--I don't know what I was thinking when I planted it last year) and then transplanted a half-dozen or so hosta to the back by the fence. The redhead pruned the heck out of our monstrous rose bush and the whole area looks quite nice, if I must say so myself. I think next weekend I'm going to take a truck up to the Champaign County landscape recycling place and get a truckload (uh, or two) of mulch from them, rather than screwing with buying bags of mulch. I love Spring!

What else... Oh, I took the kids out to lunch in Tuscola yesterday to thank them for helping me so much with the tree--they were such troopers, and I wouldn't have gotten it finished that quickly without their help.

Okay, I need to get the garbage taken out and get to work. Hopefully I can maybe leave a bit early today and try to get nine holes in before the redhead gets home from work... It's going to be sunny and in the seventies today, and then be crappy for the rest of the week, so I think if I'm going to golf this week, I should try to do it today. We'll see...

Posted: Monday, April 02, 2007, 10:35 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

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