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Archived Entries from April 2008


Sorry, But I Cannot Resist

So we had this obnoxious Chief Illiniwek argument over the last ten years, and the whiny politically-correct liberals who aren't doing their jobs finally "won," with some help from the helpless NCAA. If only our non-corrupt state officials would have stood up to the NCAA the way our school tried to....

Anyway......

I turned on Wheel of Fortune tonight and it was a college-based show and was being filmed in Chicago. Three kids--one from Illinois, one from Mizzou, and one from Northwestern--participated.

The young lady from Illinois had a nice embroidered sweatshirt that said "ILLINOIS" with the Chief logo for the "O."

Racist! Hostile and offensive! RACIST!

The young woman on the show was African-American.

Get up in her face, you hippies, and call her a racist.

I'm sorry that I go on and on about this, but I truly have to point out the hypocrisy when it appears.

Again, we have people who are vandalizing cars in C-U who have Chief stickers on them. Seriously? Who are the grown-ups here? Just like the people who write on the bathroom stalls about Dubya. Grow up, and use a normal avenue to get your (useless) opinions across.

Well, apparently the polls now say that the awful, awful Clinton woman has a better chance of beating McCain than Obama does. Barrack is still ahead in the delegate count, but I'm about ready to give up and get the McCain sign in the yard. Morons. Seriously--Hillary? Ugh. She's awful.

School is going well. Our project should be finished on time. And the study guide for the final in my computer engineering class basically told us what we needed to look up and write down before the final.

Hey, the redhead stared her new job today. She loves it and they love her.

Thank goodness.

Posted: Tuesday, April 29, 2008, 2:44 am
Mood: Happy | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Busy Weekend

And my only regret is that I didn't get out to the golf course at all. Oh well.

I did, however, get the front yard mowed. And after that I finally dealt with the mailbox situation.

My father-in-law and the guy that used to live across the street from us (actually, he moved before we bought our house) put new mailbox posts in the ground maybe 12 or 13 years ago. They just drove them into the dirt and didn't use concrete to hold them in place. One of them was white and the other one was flat black. And the mailboxes themselves were old and rusted and didn't match. So, when Josh and Marci moved in across the street, I asked them if they'd mind if I painted both posts and replaced the mailboxes. They offered to help pay for it, which I declined--I just wanted them to match. (And I was being polite in asking, but really, both posts are in my yard...).

So I painted them and replaced the mailboxes several years ago. But they have deteriorated greatly since then.

Well, I was going to just get two new posts for $20 each, paint them, and replace the old ones. But what nagged at me was what I could do to make sure that they were both straight and aiming the same direction, etc., etc. Yes, my OCD still rears its head from time to time. I thought maybe I could attach boards to the bottom of them, at ground level that would be hidden by the iris. That still might not do it. Then I thought what if I attached them at the bottom and maybe ran a board across the back at the top of them.

Then after several weeks of this churning as a background process, the light bulb lit up. Why do I need two posts? How about I just make something with a single post and put both mailboxes on it?

So Saturday I headed up to Champaign. I had a coupon/card thing for Lowe's for $10 off any purchase over $50. So I made a list of a bunch of stuff to get to make sure I spent the $50. The wood for the post, two new mailboxes (may as well--they're only ten bucks each and the red flag had broken off of ours), copper cable connections for battery cables for the golf cart (just to have a few more spares), quart of outdoor white paint for the downstairs windows that badly need to be painted, furnace filters for the pond, more hanger iron, and maybe one or two other things.

I normally don't shop at Lowe's. I realize it is a home improvement store, but I don't like the ambiance. Nobody is ever helpful or friendly there. They never have enough check-out lanes open. And I can't ever find anything.

But I had this coupon. And after 15 minutes of walking around with a cart, I couldn't find anything on my list. And as usual nobody was around to ask. So I left the cart and got in the car and went to Menard's, where I should have gone in the first place.

Three different times I was asked by someone if I needed help finding anything. When I was putting the mailboxes in my cart a guy asked me if I needed anything and, since it was next on my list so I figured I'd ask before going and looking, I said stick-on numbers for mailboxes. I saw his eyes dart to the right and then back at me before he spoke and I turned as he started to tell me to realize that, yes, they were right behind me. When I went to get the white paint (and spray paint for the post) I was looking at cans of paint for about 30 seconds before the paint guy came over and asked me if I needed help finding anything. I love Menard's! I don't think I'll ever step in Lowe's again.

So I came home with my goodies and dragged it all into the back yard and got the circular saw and the drill out and had at it. I'm very, very pleased with the results (before and after shot):

Both old mailboxes broke off at ground level when I tried to pull them out. I got the shovel and dug a hole around where the left one had been and managed to get the bottom part of the post out, which left a nice, already-shaped, hole for a 4 x 4. I jammed the new post in and banged it down to the proper height, and then dumped a bag of concrete in the bigger hole and added water. This thing won't rot off at ground level.

Hmm. Let's see. Then I tinkered with the golf cart some more, as the bottom piece fell out of the side that I only used one strap on, and the back right battery was teetering precariously on the single strap of hanger iron. I drilled another hole into the frame and then ran two straps from each so I now have four straps total under the right-side batteries. That should do the trick.

I also opened up my small water garden. I had to scrub out the pond thing and then I did the thing with the furnace filters and the screen, etc., to filter the water going to the pump (like I did last year). I haven't added the fish yet, because I think we might get a frost tonight or tomorrow. I'll transfer the fishies once winter breathes its last gasping breath of the year.

On Sunday the redhead and I transferred a bunch of plants to Aunt Molly's house. We had a number of ferns on the north side of the house that have been reproducing and working their way out into the yard, and they'd just get mowed over by me so we figured we'd dig them up and move them. We also moved some phlox and a rose bush that was in a bad spot at our house.

That's the one thing I can do that makes school and work disappear--dig in the dirt. I forget about everything. It's awesome. My OCD keeps me so focused on lining up plants perfectly and digging the holes perfectly, and making sure everything is the correct depth, etc., etc.

Well our final project is due a week from today and I think we'll actually make it, which is awesome. I'm still nervous about the final but I just looked at the study guide and he has 50 carefully laid out "know what this means" or "be able to explain how this differs from that." That's great because it's open book, and open notes. I'll just go through that list one by one and have every single one of them answered.

I'm still nervous about the Chinese Century class, but I got an A on the midterm, and perfect scores on each weekly task, so there's no reason to suspect that I shouldn't get an A on the final. I do have some reading to get caught up on.

But finishing the project needs to happen first. It'd be great if we could get that done by the middle of this week.

Posted: Monday, April 28, 2008, 2:29 pm
Mood: Anxious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Rickrolled!

So I just got rickrolled by my own car radio as I was pulling into the parking garage this morning. Seriously? Radio stations still have that song in their on-air libraries?

Speaking of stupid songs, I also heard the first few seconds of Hannah Banana's new song again this morning. That's about the time it takes for me to recognize what it is, and reach and hit the button to change the station. But I'm a bit perplexed by her lyrics. "I've got my sights set on you, and I'm ready to aim."

Isn't having your sights set on something the same thing as aiming at it? I mean, I'm not a hunter or an army sniper or anything, of course. But don't you lay really quietly in the brush, and flip open the caps on the front and back of the scope, and then look through it and line the reticle up with the target? The "sight" if you will? Isn't that aiming?

I guess she is the daughter of the Achy Breaky guy, so maybe I shouldn't be so surprised.

Two more weeks....

Posted: Thursday, April 24, 2008, 12:32 pm
Mood: Happy | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Happiness

So if I haven't already made this abundantly clear, I'm thoroughly stressed about college, specifically these next two weeks.

We have a huge group project (I hate group projects) that is due a week from Monday. All the other "teams" in the class have four members. We have three. And one of ours, up until the other day, was AWOL for the past month. The group project is a significant portion of our final grade.

I don't like group projects, even in Australia.

While this is all building up to a magnitude 5.2 quake, I don't think I've been that awful in my spousal or parental duties. There are three other people that might vote otherwise, but I think I'm still being reasonable, and am hanging in there.

I'm being way to melodramatic about this.

School at 38 is rough. I care too much. I keep telling myself, and others, that I've signed off for this semester and we'll let the cards fall as they may. That's not quite true.

But I'm having a hard time being motivated. I'm in a half-panicked mush.

Okay, that wasn't the point of this post.

I just took the dog for a walk. It's dark, and warm but with a cool breeze, and quiet.

I have a lot to be happy about.

My wife loves me. I love her beyond words. And she "keeps me real." There's no way this school baloney would happen without her patience.

My kids are awesome. I think they are the ones that have been cut short too much by all of this school business. I hope that they get the message that they need to do school "right" the first time. They will. They're smarter than I am.

I enjoy my every-now-and-then evening walks with the dog. He's a good puppy. And walking around the neighborhood is a much more, I don't know, experience, than driving in and out of the driveway and seeing the rest of it only occasionally out a driver's-side window. it's quiet. No planes overhead. No traffic rolling around. I passed the president of the local bank and his wife, who was Em's teacher last year, and had a friendly interchange. I truly enjoy this small town.

Golf is keeping me sane too, in some weird odd way.

I need to breathe and relax and be happy. Our housing market is somewhat of an oasis from the desert of plummeting over-valued houses. We don't have an ARM or anything like that which might be a cause for concern. Life is good here. The mutual funds tanked a few months back but are hurrying back up. My car is still running. We're going to trade the redhead's Torrent in for something more reasonable (most likely a Camry) and while gas prices are annoying, they certainly aren't a life or death issue.

Sorry. I'm just trying to talk myself down. It's all good.

Two more weeks and school will be finished.

For now.

I've been through some pretty rough stuff. Surely I can get through these next two weeks.

Posted: Thursday, April 24, 2008, 2:04 am
Mood: Hanging On | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


More (Sorry)

Again I say, who decided that Keith Olbermann from SportsCenter all of a sudden knows more than anyone else about anything (other than sports, of course)?

And Chris "Hard Ball" Matthews just made some comment about how the Democratic race is between a woman and a black man.

WHAT THE $#@%?!?!?!

It's between two people.

I don't hate Hillary because she's a woman. Duh. She's an awful person who happens to be a woman.

I don't support Barack because he's black. Sorry--African American.

Jeeez, is it so hard to listen to people and decide who you agree with based on what they think and will do?

I still don't get the Olbermann thing. Dude, you weren't any cooler than anyone else on SportsCenter, and no, none of us give a $#!T about your political views.

Get over it.

Go Sox.

Sheesh.

Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2008, 3:28 am
Mood: Ornery | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


I Forgot a Couple of Things

Most importantly (yes, I'm pretty much blinded by school right now...) the redhead got a job today. She starts Monday at the College of Education at the Big U.

She's relieved. And happy, most deservedly so.

I was never worried. Honest. She'll do great. This will be great for her and great for us.

The other thing....

I'm so sorry, but I really, really very strongly dislike Hillary Clinton. She's still losing. Yet she's all smug. I mute the television when she's talking.

Do the people that hate Bush dislike him the way I dislike her? I mean Bush might be dumb, but Rumsfeld and Cheney were the "evil" forces behind him--he's just, well, the good ol' boy that he is.

Hillary, on the other hand, is herself evil. I can't stand to listen to her. Sure Bush has a tough time with the English language, but she's absolutely awful. She's evil. I don't like her. Here's my list of who I'd rather be president than Hillary:

She's awful. She's vindictive. She's not a nice person.

I learned an interesting lesson when I voted for Bush over Gore and Kerry--don't vote for the guy who'd you'd most like to have a beer with--vote for the smartest guy in the room. (I'll give Gore the nod, but not Kerry--he was the dumbest candidate the Democrats put up since Walter Mondale...).

Hillary is awful. She's mean. She's more of a "politician" than anyone that has ever been president. She's hungry for power.

And I don't see that one thing that she proposes would help our country any more than what Bush has done.

She's going to FRICKIN' NUKE Iran? Are you kidding me?

I've said it before, I'll say it again. The Reagans, Bushes, and Clintons have had their turn--time to let someone else have a try.

And as a Republican, John McCain is a fresh change from the right-wing evangelical crap that the Bushes (and more importantly the Republican Congress-members) brought about us. He seems to "think" about stuff rather than just agree with what Cheney says.

But I still think Obama is our best bet. I, as a voter and taxpayer, am willing to gamble that over the next four years Barack Obama will do the best job.

And I'm a Republican. (And an atheist--isn't that a hoot?)

Let's let this ship set sail under Obama. I'm happy to watch it go its course.

But it will be awful if Hillary is allowed to run this country. I'd much rather listen to a good ol' boy who can't properly read and puke out a sentence during the State of the Union than listen to her awful evil hyperbole.

She's a bad person. I don't think she's the smartest person in the room. And I certainly don't want to have a beer with her (or her philandering husband).

It's either Obama, or McCain.

Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2008, 2:58 am
Mood: Ornery | 5 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Grad School

Sorry to keep beating a dead horse. Or maybe an alive horse that *wants* to be dead.

I got my official printed letter from UIS today.

And I just registered for Fall.

Oh, what am I doing?

Graduation is two weeks from Saturday.

Yikes.

Em and I golfed yesterday. I played seven holes and Em played one or two. Tonight Alex and I played three holes (the two that I didn't finish last night plus the first hole, where we hooked up with Tony and Lucas).

Seven holes last night plus two tonight == 49 strokes.

The important part of that is that on the par 5 yesterday I shot a NINE.

Yeah, I had two or three pars and two or three bogeys. I bogeyed 8 and 9 tonight (both par 4s) and the parred 1 (which didn't count, of course--we were just screwing around--but I hit an awesome drive and then a beautiful seven-iron that landed on the green....).

Anyway.

I'll be happy when school is over. Less than two weeks before the big project is due...

Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2008, 2:12 am
Mood: Trying to Be Relaxed | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Small Town Ego?

It sometimes sucks to be right all the time.

And I'm not talking politically, even though Mr. Knox was there.

My mother-in-law is on the board of the local township library. I created a website for them the last time one of these fly-by-night "I know about computers" (tm) people showed up and started a dial-up network company and donated "space" to the library. Of course, they went away, as they do, and so did the library web site.

Well, the library wants a web site again. As well they should. Theirs was not obnoxious.

It was dated (wink) but not obnoxious.

So I've been asked to do the web site again. "Can we get our hours listed?" Oh my, how times have changed.

I'll be connecting (uh, hopefully) to search databases from the state library system, and doing, well, all sorts of other stuff.

Nothing that is extraordinary to me, and which will be good for them (poll--my use of "which" is correct, yes?)

I was initially irritated about tonight, because I forgot I was supposed to go to the board meeting and, well, I'm worse than Sheldon from Big Bang Theory when it comes to changes in plans. But I put on a happy face and the meeting went well.

And when they talked about one of the regionally-local computer "experts" that they waste money paying to fix their probably-not-badly-infected computers, I started to speak up and then caught myself. I don't need to get into this any more than I have, no matter what I think of these local jokers that know as much about computers as Alex does.

Running SpyBot does not a computer "expert" make.

(I'm not one either, but I'm sure I can do at least what they do, and much more, and, well, have an actual understanding of what's going on, than the typical "OMG, we're computer people" do.... I don't care if you were in the military or not....)

Sorry--I'm a jerk.

I don't have any desire to spend the rest of my life running a consulting business. I don't even do it on the side anymore. But I guess I still get irked at the dorks that don't know $%#& from "shine-ola" who can still can convince the "regular" public that they are somehow some "expert." That was a bad sentence. The freelance computer people who are dorks but not nerds can't acknowledge bad sentences--don't trust them....

I love Spring.

If you don't have a big, heavy car with a monstrous steel frame, and a fuel-injected (small block) V8 that literally makes the car jump when you hit the edge of town and you floor the gas pedal with the windows down and the sunroof open and "Dance the Night Away" by Van Halen blaring through the CD player/stereo--you're missing out.

I tore through the country, and the car felt great and the exhilaration was awesome.

And the car in question gets 21 MPG and has 144,000 (or so) miles on it. Grandpa Don, who turns 71 tomorrow (heh--I bought him a $50 gift card to a nationwide sporting goods store and wrote "buy some new balls" on his card...) would be proud. I don't know.

Have you seen her? So fine and pretty, fooled me with her style and ease.

Yeah, I'm still really, really stressed about school right now. I'm doing all I can to remedy the situation. Two more weeks.....

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2008, 1:49 am
Mood: Ecstatic! | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Grad School

While this wasn't quite as dramatic as getting bonged by UIUC, and while I wasn't as nervous as I was before (I've still had the rug yanked out once and wasn't going to take anything for granted), I got my e-mail from UIS today:

Dear Mike:

I'm sending this e-mail because you will soon receive confirmation from our Office of Admissions and from the Computer Science Department that you have been admitted to UIS and accepted into the M.S. in Computer Science Degree Program. Welcome!


Again, whether or not this is a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen. She told me in the e-mail that they discourage graduate students from taking more than two classes per semester or more than one in the summer. I don't think we'll need to worry about me taking too many classes....

In other news, I talked my pal Jeffrey into joining the country club this year, and we went out and played 18 holes yesterday afternoon. It was fun. Marc ended up joining us for the second nine holes, and we picked up a fourth along the way (actually and a fifth for the final hole...).

I need to get a hat--I'm burned to hell.

I also did some more maintenance/modification to the cart yesterday morning. The back left battery still was leaning more toward the center than I liked, so I took one of the huge L-braces that I was originally going to try to use to hold up the batteries (before I settled on the hanger iron) and actually attached one to the bottom of the seat, and when the seat is down and properly in place, the L-brace keeps the battery in question from leaning over. Quite clever.

And this was a good thing because the rusted metal piece that the battery used to sort-of sit on broke off on the 8th hole yesterday as we were driving down the fairway. Whoops. Apparently the hangar iron is holding...

I also attached a piece of wood to a hinge and attached that to the bottom of the seat so that when I lift it up from the back to charge the batteries I can fold out the piece of wood to prop up the seat. Previously I was using a plastic watering can--heh.

Lastly I attached a piece of plastic rope to the bottom back of the seat so I can use that to lift up the seat, rather than just pulling on the vinyl to get the seat up.

My wife still thinks I'm a dork, but I'm happier with the cart now. I just hope all those pieces of hangar iron will continue to support the batteries.

Well I suppose I should register for a class for the fall.....

Posted: Monday, April 21, 2008, 3:11 pm
Mood: Half-Scared | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Earthquake!

Well that was fun!

So for some odd reason the dog barked at 4:30 or so this morning and it woke me up, even though he was downstairs and I was, of course, in bed. As I sat up in bed I thought "WTF? Why is the house moving back and forth?" I mean, it was really moving. I initially thought that maybe there was a tornado outside or something but there wasn't any noise, if that makes sense.

The dog only yelped the one time, but I got up after things quit shaking and walked downstairs. I looked at him, he looked at me, I shook my head and went back up to bed.

This morning I woke up and thought "that was a weird dream." Why on earth would a tornado move the house back and forth? I'd either level it or not level it, right?

It wasn't until I opened a browser and went to CNN that I realized what happened! I wasn't dreaming!

Holy moley that was weird. I mean, the house wasn't shaking and vibrating--it felt like it was literally moving back and forth.

My dad up near Chicago said he slept through it (so did the redhead--who was irritated when I told her about it and she wasn't awake when it happened...). My brother is in Carbondale, which is pretty near where the epicenter is, so it will be interesting to see what happened down there.

What fun! (Especially since they made it sound like there was little damage from it and nobody got hurt....).

Posted: Friday, April 18, 2008, 3:20 pm
Mood: Tickled | 3 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Why Grad School at UIS Will Be a Good Thing

Here's the class I'm going to sign up for in the fall:

CSC 570G: Linux Implementation/Admin Practicum

Students will learn the skills necessary to install, customize and administer the Linux operation system. Emphasis will be placed on learning the professional and technical knowledge base required to implement and administer the Linux operating system in networked environments ranging from a small office to a large distributed enterprise architecture. Requires Departmental Approval.

I think I can probably hack that. Heh. "Hack." I'm funny....

Posted: Thursday, April 17, 2008, 1:25 pm
Mood: Exhausted | 4 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Go Back To Bed...

So I've finished my fattening late-night snack and am ready to go back to bed, but I'm even more irritated than I was when I woke up.

Are the people that decided that Keith Olbermann was somehow relevant to "real news" because he was one of the umpteen guys on Sportscenter with the exact same schtick the same people that thought Bill O'Reilly would be a good barometer of how America feels simply because he worked on Inside Edition or one of those other Enquirer-esque shows? Settle down, Keith--I really don't care what you think, and quit getting in my face about it. What were the top 10 plays again?

And what's with this whole "McBush" thing? Sorry, but sometimes Democrats are just plain morons. McCain is so politically divergent from Bush that it isn't even funny. Does anyone at all remember the vitriol between the two when both were running for the Republican nomination eight years ago? Of course not.

And while I'm still voting for Obama--and am vehement about it as well, believing in his hope for the future of our screwed-up country--why does Bruce Springsteen's endorsement make front-page headlines? Who cares? Just because people are "artists" and make a bunch of money selling records, or making movies, or doing television shows, doesn't make their opinion matter any more than anyone else's. And if anyone votes one way or the other because some "celebrity" says so, they're a moron. Thanks for your opinion, Bruce. Now STFU. You're not even relevant musically anymore.

Please concede soon, Hillary, so our country can move forward. You and Bill had your turn, as did countless Bushes. Let's let someone else have a try.

Three more weeks. I hope I can keep it together that long....

Posted: Thursday, April 17, 2008, 9:06 am
Mood: Irritated | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


School

There are just over two weeks of school left.

The "Chinese Century" class is going well, as it has been. I've been forced to stay "caught up" every week.

The "Software Engineering" class? Maybe not quite so well. Telling us during the first week that the due dates for the various quizzes were soft dates and that we really just had to have all of them done before the end of the semester was a bad idea. I've done a pretty good job on keeping up on them and have most of them done, but still.

And don't even talk to me about the "real world" and how stuff works out there and how you should be able to work without strict deadlines to finish projects, etc., etc. The "real world" is the problem here. I have too many "real world" deadlines that have been taking precedence over this silly class.

We have this monstrous semester project, and while I'll fully admit that I haven't exactly contributed my 33% so far (I'm quickly making it up now that the programmer has finished his part) on of our three team members has done a lot of talk and not a lot of much else. So now I'm scrambling to get what I need to get done plus what he needs to get done.

And part of me hopes that he does completely fade away so that when we turn in a project that is only 75% completed we can blame the whole missing 25% on him (and again, there are only 3 of us, so theoretically we'll have gone above and beyond to come up with three-fourths of a project between the two of us...).

These projects, in and of themselves, suck too, I might add. I'm tired of "real world" scenarios. I'm in the "real world." Not everyone that works with computers is part of a team writing Java-based software in a team situation. In fact, most of us aren't in that situation. Yet there's one instructor at UIS that forces this scenario on everyone for everything. Not everyone creates a "programmer's manual" before writing software. Those aren't always the steps. I don't know.

Three weeks until graduation.

And maybe this summer I can get some sleep.

Meanwhile, I guess I need to get the Glassfish (Java) server restarted...

Posted: Thursday, April 17, 2008, 8:42 am
Mood: Stressed | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Emily Dickinson

I'll tell you how the sun rose,
a ribbon at a time.
The steeples swam in amethyst,
the news like squirrels ran.
The hills untied their bonnets.
The bobolinks begun.
Then I said softly to myself
"that must have been the sun!"

But how he set, I know not.
There seemed a purple stile
which little yellow boys and girls
were climbing all the while.
Till they reached the other side,
a dominie in gray
put gently up the evening bars,
and led the flock away.


And it's been cloudy for a few mornings, but today for sure I could tell that the sun was rising north of due east--Spring is definitely here.

I sure hope we can get everything done for our semester project in my software engineering class. I'm not optimistic.

Oh well.

Posted: Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 1:15 pm
Mood: Fair | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Unemployment

So I don't know what the hell I was just dreaming about, but suddenly it hit me.

They calculate unemployment based on your past two quarters worth of salary for the employer that is laying you off.

So Jody #@$%ole going and telling my in-laws that I had quit on the day I got terminated, rather than working out the rest of the day, and hence couldn't get employment was a total crock (yes I know that wasn't a sentence--it's 3:00 a.m....).

I had worked there for ten days. Previous quarter? $0. Quarter before that? $0.

What a jerk. And the huge problem that caused with my in-laws. And bad feelings. And them yelling at my wife about it.

And none of it mattered anyway because I had only worked there for two weeks.

Of course this is the same #$%@ole that went on to lose his wife, because, well, he's a loser. Then his dumb kid got all drunk and was driving like a moron out in the country south of town and flipped his fancy car that his loser dad had got him, ejecting his best friend from the car--who later died, of course.

And of course the salesman job that he got with the liquor distributor (that he got for lying to us about whether or not the warehouse in Champaign was actually going to stay in business--the whole center of this lying mess) he pissed away.

Now he owns some inflatable party toy business and has one of my poor neighbors convinced that he's booked 365 days a year and is pulling in a quarter-million a year. Uh, okay. He'd be driving a Ferrari if that were the case. What's he driving? Oh, right. The Buick that his dad gave him. His kids drive semi-fancy cars, of course. The same son that killed his best friend lives in the absolute trashiest part of town with some girl and his kid from some other girl.

And I caught all that grief about unemployment that I never would have been able to collect.

Let's not forget that I went to the temp agency the very next day and had a new job. No. Nobody remember that.

Just remember that I quit a job that I had for 10 days. A job that I took under false pretenses from that Jody #$%@er. A job where I was lied to on a daily basis about whether or not I'd still have a job in two weeks. And the grief and anger of my in-laws was directed at me and not that schmuck.

And all over unemployment that I couldn't have collected anyway.

Honey, let it go and come back to bed...

Fine, dear.

#$%@ole. And his name is Jody for crying out loud. His parents couldn't even come up with a boy name.

Posted: Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 8:29 am
Mood: Irritated | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


I Almost Forgot

The redhead actually has a job interview this week on campus, which is cool--she got a letter in the mail last week from a unit hoping to hire someone right before they erase the ledger and do the re-testing of everyone.

She also is taking some sort of typing test for "extra help" which is a way for people to start working on campus on a semi-temporary basis with the hope and intention of "earning" a full-time job. This is part of a plan hatched by our pal Susan, who, unlike most of the rest of us, actually can "get" you a job here, so to speak. (Sometimes it is totally obnoxious being a University employee because any time you tell anyone where you work the first thing they usually say is "can you get me a job there?" Um, no. I don't have anything to do with hiring or firing anybody...). So without divulging too many details that are unimportant at this point, hopefully this "route" goes well.

Less than a month until graduation. Or did I say that already....

If I can just make it through these next three weeks....

Posted: Monday, April 14, 2008, 1:19 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Getting Old

Let's just say that for the first time it has really hit me that my body can't come close to taking the abuse it used to be able to absorb.

We were supposed to do a mini putt-putt bar crawl on Saturday, but lo and behold, I got up in the morning and was informed that one of the offspring had a birthday party to attend. Whoops.

Rather than drive up to the bowling alley in Savoy, turning around and driving home, and then going back up there in two hours, I brought a book (Software Engineering, 8th edition--fun stuff) and figured I'd just sit there for the duration (well, the party was 1:00 to 3:00, and it takes almost a half-hour to get there, so the layover, if you will, would have been closer to an hour).

The redhead got her severance money on Friday so she and Em went shopping while we were gone (heaven forbid we leave any money in the checking account for more than five minutes *>duck!<*).

Since we missed the putt-putt train we decided to stick close to home and the redhead and I went down the street and had a few beers at the club Saturday evening. It was a lot of fun. I did some sort of shot involving Red Bull with the club treasurer--blech.

Yesterday was uneventful, since, well, I didn't do anything but lay around and moan. Well, actually, we took the kids out for lunch at a Chinese buffet place that the redhead have had lunch at a couple of times. It's was over $60! For a fricking buffet! The bill was like $57 and change before the tip! We'll never do that again. "Crazy Buffet," indeed. Sheesh.

Anyway. I need to get the nose to the grindstone and get school and my degree wrapped up. While I've pretty much "checked out" of all of this, I still need to make enough of an effort to actually get out the door. And then we'll take the summer off and see what happens in the fall.

Posted: Monday, April 14, 2008, 11:39 am
Mood: Exhausted | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Thank Goodness That Is Over With....

Ugh. What a waste of time. Sorry if that comes off as arrogant....

As expected, I did better than average on the verbal part of the GRE and I smoked the quantitative analysis part (780 out of 800--w00t!). There were two essays as well, that have to be "graded" by humans, of course. I'm sure they'll be less than compelled by my writing style. The whole time I was "composing" I was thinking "can I go back to work now?"

Considering that UIS doesn't necessarily care what I score--they just want me to have taken it--it was of course hard to get motivated for me to care.

I'm just glad it is over and done with.

Hopefully I can register for Fall in the next few weeks.

My motivation for just about everything school-related is tanking right now...

C'est la vie.

Posted: Wednesday, April 09, 2008, 10:57 pm
Mood: Relieved | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Hmmm......

"Additionally, you will receive an e-mail within 15-minutes (sic) containing your appointment confirmation details."

I never got that e-mail.

But I have the printout of my receipt from their web site.

Wow. Commencement is a month from tomorrow.

I hope we can get our silly semester project done on time.

Why the hell is it so hot in my office? Shouldn't they be shutting down the heat for the year, not turning it on higher? My thermostat is turned all the way down....

Well I hope this silly GRE thing is easy today, since I did absolutely nothing to prepare for it. (UIS told me that there was no minimum score I needed to get, so I figured there was no need for me to be concerned about it...).

Hopefully the logic parts will be fun and the writing parts won't be too tiresome.

Posted: Wednesday, April 09, 2008, 12:22 pm
Mood: Curious | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Graduate Records Examination

I have to go take the GRE tomorrow morning at 8:30.

I have to go take the GRE tomorrow morning at 8:30.

I have to go take the GRE tomorrow morning at 8:30.

I have to go take the GRE tomorrow morning at 8:30.

I have to go take the GRE tomorrow morning at 8:30.

Please remember. Being a person that doesn't worry about standardized tests is not helping this situation. I just have to remember to go there.

Don't forget.

Turner Student Services, tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. Get to the office by 8:00 and I can be there in 10 minutes.

Kids get stressed about tests. All I'm stressed about is making sure I remember to get there.

I'm going to go put a post-it on my steering wheel....

Posted: Wednesday, April 09, 2008, 2:30 am
Mood: Okay | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Birdie!

It finally happened! Of course I was just out playing around with the redhead, but as far as I'm concerned it still counts.

I left work yesterday and when I got home the redhead and I grabbed some beers (the clubhouse isn't open on Monday) and headed down the street.

Interesting how well I play when there's no pressure.

We started at the second hole, which is a tricky par 3 through a bunch of trees, because the redhead had never golfed before and the first hole is rather long.

She did well for her first attempts. It is tricky for new golfers to not try to swing like you're hitting a baseball. She is picking it up quickly, however.

So I hit a crappy drive that went way left and ended up in front of the ninth tee block. I then proceeded to hit a nice 7-iron that landed about 40 feet from the green. And would you believe this? I hit a perfect chip that bounced once on the green and then went into the hole. Nice Par!

But it gets better. We played the fourth, a par 4, and then proceeded to the fifth, another par 3, this one with few trees but a nice pond between the tee and the green.

I hit a beautiful 3-iron that easily cleared the pond and landed about 10-15 feet from the green.

And would you believe I chipped it in again? For birdie! Woo hoo! Thank goodness the redhead was there to witness it because there wasn't another soul out on the course (I was really surprised--it was a gorgeous evening...). I think she was as tickled as I was about it.

We played a few more holes and then headed home. The golf cart, for the record, is fixed. It worked perfectly. And was just as quick going home as it was going to the course. Thank goodness.

Well I think I've given up on school. I don't mean given up like quitting, but I'm just ready for this whole semester and undergraduate thing to be over. I'm sure I'll get an A in my "Chinese Century" class, but I no longer care whether or not I get an A in my Software Engineering Capstone class, which I would need to graduate summa cum laude. At this point I wouldn't even care if I got a C. I'm just ready for this semester to end and for summer to get here.

Too bad it is supposed to rain this afternoon....

Posted: Tuesday, April 08, 2008, 2:45 pm
Mood: Ecstatic! | 3 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Cedar Fest

Sorry, I probably shouldn't touch this one, but I'm going to anyway.

So we have a dozen campus bars that fill up with kids starting early in the day and continuing into the night.

Sure, the police arrest underage people, and overly-intoxicated people.

But it's no "cedar fest." Google is your friend.

What a bunch of morons. And in half of the photos on the local (to them, not me) newspaper web site there were groups of kids taunting the police. If I saw a picture of either of my kids in a newspaper (or anywhere else, for that matter) taunting a police officer, ooh, let's just better hope they have more sense than that.

I hope the chancellor and mayor(s) and police chiefs are looking at this "cedar fest" business and realize that what we have here is small potatoes compared to that garbage.

Taunting police. Seriously. How did your parents raise you, anyway?

Posted: Monday, April 07, 2008, 3:41 pm
Mood: Amused | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Hanger Iron

Okay, "sore" isn't a mood, but that's how I feel and it's my blog, so there.

Well, apparently I'm not nuts. Okay, that was a bit broad of a statement. With regard to an experience I had over the weekend, my memory had served me well and I wasn't mis-remembering or mis-categorizing something.

I had a problem with the golf cart (again) on Saturday. Lucas' dad and I went out and played nine holes, (uh, then sat in the clubhouse and drank a few beers), and then went a skipped around and played a few more holes before he had to be home at 5:00 (to go to a Lions Club dinner). Well, we didn't exactly make it all the way home under golf cart power. Grrr... Fortunately Tim and Chris came along in their truck and towed us the last two blocks to my house.

I thought I was going to need new batteries, which are $60-$80 each, and I need six of them. Yikes. That's a quarter the price of a new cart.

Well I took the seat off Sunday morning to get a closer look, and see what's what. And I found a loose connection that was starting to corrode, and which broke off when I tugged on it. That'd be the problem...

Golf cart experts say you should check all your connections at the beginning of every season, and each month during the time you're using it. Well, I replaced a bunch of connectors a month or so before the end of the season last year, and well, was complacent. I never really checked anything this year before heading down to the course, and I guess this is what happens.

Fortunately I had an extra connector plug-end thing, so I took off the offending cable and replaced the end. While pushing around and tugging on some of the other connections, one of my batteries fell out the bottom. I've been expecting this for some time, but sort of dealt with it like if I pretend it isn't going to happen the next time I go golfing, maybe it won't happen.

See at the bottom left of that picture where you can see the ground? There's supposed to be a metal plate there holding up the back of the battery that goes there. Whoops.

So I figured I'd take care of this once and for all and fix it for good (well, or at least for a few years). The two back batteries have a rusted out bottom as well, and they used to lean in and rest at an angle on the motor. That's all well and good but then the water and acid leak out of the vent caps when the cart is bouncing around and corrode the connections worse than normal (see the blue copper stuff all over the place in the top left). In typical MacGuyver fashion, I just jammed a couple of pieces of wood between each battery and the motor to hold them upright. Probably not good for the motor or the batteries.

I took off all the wires (after taking pictures like that one to make sure I put them back correctly) and yanked all the batteries. What a rusted mess.

So I drove up to Menard's to get some bolts and some "hanger iron." The guy in the plumbing department looked at me funny when I said that. "You know, the metal tape stuff that's about that wide and has holes in it every half-inch or so." I held my fingers about a half-inch apart. "Oh!" the light bulb went off. The package said "metal hang tape" or some such on it. I apologized and said that "hanger iron" is probably what my 70-year old dad called it when I was 10 and it sort of stuck. Obviously he wasn't irritated--the Menard's people are so much nicer to deal with than the crabs at Lowe's. Anyway.

I was relating this story to a friend later and asked him if he knew what "hanger iron" was, and he looked at me just the same way the guy at the store had.

But I'm not nuts. So there.

So I drilled and drilled and drilled (the non-rusted parts of the cart are made of some pretty sturdy, pretty thick metal--and I had new drill blades, to boot. I replaced rear holders for the front side batteries, if that makes sense, and then ran hanger iron from the front to the back on each side of the motor to support the back batteries.

I cleaned off all the battery connections with a wire brush, cleaned off all the wire ends with said brush, cleaned stuff up with WD40, and put it all back together. Then the moment of truth... And it worked!

I hooked it up to the charger for a good, long trickle charge and we'll see how it is, maybe, oh, later this afternoon...

I'm so sore today that I can barely move. Some of it is from actually playing a full nine-holes of golf on Saturday and "trying." Most of it is from bending over that damn cart and drilling holes and tightening bolts, etc. DId I mention that the batteries are heavy?

Then the kids and I worked on picking up the rest of the leaves, and pine needles, and I trimmed a rose bush and picked up sticks, and we had a nice little fire. I'm sore from raking. Sore from stretching. Sore because I'm not 22 anymore.

But Spring is here, so I'm not complaining.

Speaking of Spring, I think I saved my green ash tree. Well, or I may be arrogant in thinking I had anything to do with it, I guess. At any rate, it's full of buds this year, and looks much, much better than it did at this time last year. I may still have some selective pruning to do to it, but I think it's going to make it.

Graduation is in a month. I have a lot of work to do before then.

Posted: Monday, April 07, 2008, 1:26 pm
Mood: Sore | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Puppy Mills

Groan.

I just came downstairs to play more Lara Croft after watching a few minutes of what showed up on television after the movie we were watching ended.

It was a 20/20 (or some such) thing about puppy mills.

"Don't ever buy a puppy from a pet store." They mate the same dogs over and over and keep them in cages and do all sorts of mean things.

(For the record, Linus came from an Amish couple about 15 minutes from our house...)

At some point, however, this really bothers me.

Linus is still an animal. "They're not livestock." Oh, so it's okay for stuff to happen to cows but not dogs? The hypocritical-ness of this is ridiculous.

They're dogs. And if some suburban family buys a nice pup for a couple of hundred bucks, what's the problem? Yeah, I'd say to go to the humane society instead, but so what?

Euthanize them all, if that's what needs to happen.

They're animals. Sheesh.

Posted: Saturday, April 05, 2008, 3:27 am
Mood: Ambivalent | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Long Week?

I think being out of the office for three and a half days last week sort of screwed up my internal timing mechanism. This week has seemed unusually long.

I got a letter in the mail from the computer science department head at UIS congratulating me on finishing my degree and (get this) asking me if I'd continue my education and go to grad school there. I wonder if he was aware enough to find it funny when, probably on Monday or Tuesday, he signed that letter and gave it to his secretary to mail, and fifteen minutes later an e-mail appeared in his in-box from me asking about grad school. "Wow, that sure worked fast...." Heh.

Well yesterday was the redhead's last day on the job. Thank goodness. Her boss even took her out to lunch. How sweet. (You can guess and insert your own XML tags around that last sentence....)

Yesterday afternoon the redhead and the offspring went out to the farm to see cousin Will who was in town for the afternoon. I managed to talk the dog into letting me put his collar on and we went for a walk down and around the golf course. It wasn't that warm out, but I got in a good walk and the dog seemed to enjoy himself as well.

Sixty degrees and sunny on Saturday. I may play 27 holes... (Although I'm crazy if I think that everyone else in the neighborhood isn't thinking the same thing...). Two-ball starts tomorrow evening at 5:00 so I won't be able to hide out there too long. Maybe the creek will have cleared back up and I can make some good use of my new golf ball retriever....

Posted: Friday, April 04, 2008, 2:23 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Golf!

2008 is going to be the year for golf.

We paid for a family membership to the country club this year, which means the redhead and snotrockets can golf too. How exciting. I've been out with each offspring a few times, and can't wait to spend an afternoon playing golf with the boss herself.

I thought that winter would return me right back to where I was a year ago--that I'd have lost all the things I had improved on over the past year.

Surprisingly, nope.

When Alex and I went out the other day and I seriously tried to play the last few holes we played, it was amazing. Par, par, bogey. I don't know that I parred two holes in a row last year--in fact, I know I didn't. I probably made par a half-dozen times. And it was easy the other day. Took it easy on the swing but killed my drive right down the middle, checked my distance and took the right club and calmly laid the second shot on the green, and did a good job of putting close on the first and in on the second putt and that was it. Fun!

It's going to be a good year.

I hope I can get my father down here more this year than last. It's a good reconnection. I'm excited.

Posted: Thursday, April 03, 2008, 2:35 am
Mood: Excited | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


The Spirit of Giving

We just finished up a wonderful dinner and I need to help the redhead with dishes and cleaning up the kitchen, but something has been eating at me for a few days and I wanted to get it off my chest.

It didn't start at Dollar General, but that's probably the least obtrusive or least demanding of the three scenarios that I'm going to grumble about. I went there the other day to buy toilet paper and a new razor (since I left my Gillette flexible multiple-blade razor in the shower at the Hilton in Northbrook). It was like $18.17 total and I was to get $1.83 in change. The clerk asked me if I'd like to donate the 83 cents to "promoting literacy" or something like that.

I don't like that. I don't like in-your-face requests to donate money. Fortunately for me I don't feel guilty about telling them "no, thanks." I have two junior high-aged children at home who are going to be headed to college before we all know it. I have my own "charity" to donate to if need be. I just don't like the confrontational aspect. I can always throw out a mailed request for money or whatever. Someday when I'm rich (heh), I'll look for ways to donate. Bugging people at the dollar store almost offends me.

So then I got a letter in the mail a few days ago. It seems one of my high school classmates was killed in a snowmobile accident. He left behind a wife and two young kids. And they sent a letter to everyone in our class pleading for assistance for this family. I had to get the yearbook--I didn't recognize his name (nor his face once I saw it). Of course, we had 607 kids in our graduating class, and 2,550 total in the school when I was there.

I don't like snowmobiles. Call me crazy and "no fun" if you would like, but the need to just fly zillions of miles per hour over snowy fields doesn't appeal to me. And yeah, I used to have a motorcycle. At least you can see the road and know what you're driving over. Snowmobiling has always seemed a little attention-deficit-disorder-ish for me. Like four-wheelers and the like. And anyone is surprised any time someone dies on one of those things?

When Papa won his Harley a few years ago (yeah, he's the luckiest man on the planet) and decided it was too small for him, I attempted to plead a case for it. (He ended up buying one of those monstrous Valkyrie motorcycles--not sure if they are Honda or Yamaha or what, but they're huge...). He told me no. "You'll kill yourself and I'll have to pay for and raise your kids."

Fair enough. Even though I was an experienced motorcyclist, I got the point.

Right now I have almost three-quarters of a million dollars of life insurance--some through work and some through elsewhere. I don't worry about what would happen to the redhead and the kids should something happen to me. It's taken care of.

If I were ever going to do something that is actually dangerous, like ride a snowmobile, I'd make darn sure that I had enough life insurance so nobody was throwing my wife a chili supper benefit afterwards.

Especially since that supper would suck because we all know I make the best Chili. Duh.

When I was 20 I couldn't afford tons of life insurance. I understand that. And I probably did more stupid stuff then than I do now. But I am, and this kid I never knew who was apparently in my high school graduating class was, almost 40 years old. We're adults. Some play is fine, but snowmobiling without life insurance is irresponsible.

So the third thing that's been bugging me that is also related is almost the opposite scenario. A couple who live north of town and who are well-known to the area were recently involved in a horrible motorcycle accident in Florida where they were vacationing. The husband has already had a finger and a leg amputated because of the damage (the wife is out of the hospital and presumably recovering well). He's not going to die, as I understand it, thank goodness. They have a son and a daughter, and their daughter is in my son's grade (she's part of the reason for the "Kenny" thing--anyway...).

Again, I don't know them well, and I presume that they are nice enough people.

People are throwing benefit suppers for them. Someone went to the city council meeting and asked the city to donate money. People have set up a fund for them at the bank.

This sort of stuff is expected in a small town.

Except these two people have more money than probably 95% of the people who are setting this stuff up and collecting and/or making donations. They've got more money than we do, that's for sure.

I feel sorry for them because of the circumstances. I feel bad for their kids, who are still going to school without mom and dad being there in the morning when they leave or when they get home. I'm glad they have a network of family friends to presumably help the kids through this. This is an awful, awful situation.

But let me reiterate--the two adults involved "have coin." (And technically, they neither live in our town nor even live in our county....). I know that when stuff likes this happens there are always people that are going to run around and have to "do something."

I don't know. Post a list in town where volunteers can sign up for a day to do their laundry or clean their house. Or help their kids with math if they need it--that's certainly something I could do much more comfortably than I would want to donate money. I know that people are trying to help, but asking all of the mostly lower- to middle-class people in town to donate money to a couple that is, well, probably somewhat well-to-do, feels misguided to me.

Okay, enough of that.

I applied to grad school this afternoon, again. They are apparently a little less stringent at my soon-to-be second alma mater than they were at my first. I need to take the GRE. My pal Jeff says it was somewhat easy but the logic problems were difficult and took too much time to complete. Mmmm. I like logic problems like Homer likes donuts. Sounds like fun. I think I'll sign up and take it this week (here on campus--at the "other" Turner Hall, coincidentally).

If I get told "no" this time I'm not sure I'll be able to handle it.

I'm sure the decision will be different this time, but I'm of course not going to get my hopes up. Shields up!

We had a fun dinner tonight. Nothing sounded good to me so the redhead got some salmon filets and some mussels, and to top it off, a couple of packages of crawfish. Yeah, crawfish.

The kids love seafood, or as I called it "mostly creek food." How wonderful. We never had seafood when I was a kid because my dad hated it. We even called him up after dinner to tell him about the mussels and the crawdads and how you break of their tails and break off the shell and then pull the green-colored parts out and dip them in butter and eat them. He told me he was ready to puke just hearing about it. Fun!

I know that Alex is a moose, but it's nice to get him to eat something other than pounds of red meat at a time.

Anyway. I graduate college again in just over a month.

We need to get our final project finalized. ....

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2008, 12:04 am
Mood: Cynical | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


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