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Archived Entries from August 2007


Ancient Empires

Our daughter is up at the high school with Papa watching the football game.

The redhead, Alex, and I just spent the last hour watching a show on Food Network, or Travel Channel, or one of those about "top ten places to pig out."

I know about the jillion-pound burger at Penn State (not on the show), and several other such silly things, but by the end of the show I was, well, pretty disgusted.

(alert--I've had some wine....)

I don't know that this ever happened in my growing-up household per se, but when I was a kid there was a "people are starving in China" mantra. This meant that you needed to eat your food because there were people "abroad" who were less well off. (Is it irony? Now we're all fat and our nations' debt is owned by China...)

I'm becoming a liberal. Dammit.

Let's go back to being just an atheist Republican for a second....

It's not like we'd forward that extra food to China (uh, who apparently don't need the aid) or anywhere else.

But watching people gorge themselves is so gross. Yet we watch. And then they puke it up. Yay college!

....

We finally got our new salary notices today. "Confidential."

I'm disappointed. Well, sort of. I'm kind of mad.

I got the "average" amount. I've never gotten the "average" amount. I got a highest mark in every category of my annual review with my supervisor. What's the point of getting a "perfect" if the result is an "average" raise?

I know that our Governor has screwed all of this up, and I hope this is a situation where everyone just got "average" so that they could hurry us through so we actually get paid next month.

In the job shifting stuff last year I got about a 20% increase in pay. I have no reason to complain. I just have to keep telling myself that....

I had resigned myself that I wasn't going to get a raise. Yet I checked for that envelope every day after our jerk of a Governor finally did what he did. Surely I'd do better than average.

Nope.

There's an old adage "When people say it's not about the money, it's about the money." And I'm going to say that yes, this isn't necessarily about the money. II do think my feelings are a bit hurt. Or something. As it stands, I'm just going to put the entire increase into mutual funds, so there will be not extra cash flow either way. But still....

After a stellar review, and struggling through whether or not our governor was going to allow us all to get paid, I get the "average."

This needs to be a bad golf shot. It's been hit--let it go away.

I got a 20% increase last year. Let's keep remembering that....

Don't get me wrong.

I love my job. I have a cool office all to myself.

But today was Christmas and while I wanted a Schwinn I got a Huffy.

I'll live.

And if you consider my thoughts on these "pig-out" places throughout the U.S., maybe I'm acknowlediging that I'm being greedy.

Posted: Saturday, September 01, 2007, 2:26 am
Mood: new | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Autumn?

We were finally able to turn of the air conditioning and open the windows last night. It was wonderful. This morning I'm even going to wear a long-sleeved t-shirt to work (over my regular t-shirt, because it isn't going to be cool all day long...). The kids are back in school. I get to close the damn pool in a few days. Ahh. I love Fall.

And that's the end of $300+ electric bills for the year as well. Phew.

I haven't had much to talk about lately. I've been busy at work. I've been playing some golf, but not lots.

I was supposed to go fishing with Marc again tonight but he's playing in a golf tournament all day on Sunday and Monday and his boss kind of put the kibash on being gone tonight as well. I know how that goes... (Settle down, Betsy--I'm teasing you...)

Anyway. Not much new to report.

Posted: Friday, August 31, 2007, 10:56 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Dicks

So I needed a new driver. I'm not going to get into exactly why I needed a new driver, but let's just say that I'm not quite sure where my last driver was. No big deal--I bought it from my buddy Marc for ten dollars....

So being the geek that I am, who doesn't like to interact with salespeople (especially salespeople at big chain stores--and we'll understand why, again, in a few sentences) I went on-line to peruse golf drivers.

I do my homework when making purchases. I read reviews. I visit multiple web sites. Well I went to a certain web site, for a national sporting goods store, that, well, rhymes with Rick's Porting Woods. And there I found a couple of decent-looking drivers (not that I know what I'm looking for, necessarily) in a price range that I was comfortable with. Remember, I'm still awful at golf, and I'm not about to spend $500 on a driver that is not only not going to make me any better, but is also going to make me $500 poorer. I'll spend whatever it takes to get what I need, but I'm not spending the most I can just so I can tell people I have the same driver that Tiger uses. I did some more research, printed out a page, and headed to, uh, Rick's on the way home from work.

When I got there, I couldn't find the driver I had looked at on-line. In fact, I couldn't find just about any club under $200. After looking around a while, an "older fella" finally came over to ask me what I was looking for. I took the printout from my pocket and handed to him, and was quite suprised at his reply.

They apparently aren't related to the company that runs the on-line store. They just let them "use the name." But the things for sale on the web site have nothing to do with what they do at the store.

I don't know what most people remember from their consumer economics class in high school, but that sure frickin' sounds like bait and switch to me. Come to the web site, find inexpensive items that fit your needs, then show up to the store where they don't sell any of those inexpensive items, but have plenty of overpriced expensive things for sale.

And it gets worse.

I get snob attitude from the sales guy. Like why would anyone want to buy a driver that was that cheap? I ask if they have anything under $100 and he says he has one club and points me to it: $99.97. Okay, buddy, while that's 3 cents under $100, that's hardly what I meant.

So he starts to "half-help" me and points me at things and "deals" as he leaves me to go help customers that surely must have been much more important and wealthy as I was. So I left.

And of course, I fumed.

Am I missing something here? Please remember that I do my best, all the time, of not looking down my nose at anybody. I was there once. I went back to college and finished my degree at age 25 while my wife was 8 months pregnant and after graduation took a job "in my field" for $6.50 an hour.

$6.50 an hour! And this was in the mid 1990s--not the 1950s or something.

I've been at the bottom. It sucks. I'm pretty proud of my (our) progress since then, and I'm still not finished climbing. Anyway.

I have two secretaries. I have never once "told" them to do something for me, although that's what a lot of people "in my profession" do. I ask, very politely, if I need something. I offer to do it myself, if I can. I thank profusely. I am absolutely not better than anyone else.

But it sticks in my craw when the sales guy at the sporting goods chain store acts all snobbish to me. You have no idea what my situation is, dude. Just because I find it silly, at this point in my "game," to buy a $300 driver doesn't mean I can't afford one. Why hit crappy shots with a $300 driver when a cheaper driver will let me hit the same crappy shot? I'm not that proud....

I need to write a book--"Why Chain Stores Suck So Much."

Are you kidding me that you're going to act all better than me because you frickin' work at, er, Rick's? Seriously?

"We are not at all related with the on-line store." Same logo. Same schtick. Looks related to me. But I'm just a dumb consumer.

Bait and switch. And I'll never shop at your crappy store, on-line or in person, every again. And yes, I'll probably write a letter tomorrow--not that it will matter, but it might make me feel better.

The bigger question for me is: why am I having trouble sleeping again. I've been up at 4:00 a.m. for the past two weeks. I'm back on my blood pressure medicine, so one would think that I'd be sleeping better, not worse.

I'm anxious, though. School? That's the only thing I can think of. I need to buy my books and get the first stray assignments turned in--maybe that will make me feel better.

I should have taken the summer off. C'est la vie.

Okay, I'm going to go cuddle up with the redhead and see if I can't at least get a couple of hours of sleep in....

Posted: Saturday, August 25, 2007, 10:06 am
Mood: Tired | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Busy Week, continued....

Tuesday I took a half-day at work. We get a huge number of vacation days per year, and I never use them all, because it is hard for me to take a "traditional" vacation. That is, I can't just not be around for a couple of weeks. Well, that sounds somewhat arrogant. I could. But it's easier to not do that. We have a pool at home. We take extended weekend getaways. Two weeks away from work would drive me crazy.

So anyway, everyone else was out of the office, so I decided to take the afternoon off on Tuesday and do something I swore up and down I was looking forward to when I took the job on campus.

Jeff and I went out for a beer. Actually, we went to Firehaus (warning, nasty Flash-based web site...), the place that I talked about a few posts back that used to be R & Rs. When we got there the big firehouse garage doors were closed, and we had wanted to sit at the ledge, semi-outside, and watch people walking by. But the doors were closed. So we ordered a couple of beers and asked the waitress if we could sit outside. She said that was okay so we moved out to one of the two tables on the other side of the sidewalk from the bar. After we finished our beers the manager appeared and asked us if we wanted another round, and politely explained that technically we weren't allowed to have beers out there and that the waitress just didn't know. So he opened one of the firehouse garage doors for us. Perfect! We told him that that's what we wanted to do anyway.

We had a great time. We mostly talked about his love life, which definitely took a few hours to has out. Of course our conversation had to turn to politics (he tries so hard to be a hippie, but he's full of baloney--I know better....). I told him I was one of the more liberal Republicans I know--I'm an atheist, I support a woman's right to choose, I think "the gays" (and I say it that way only because I'd have no problem hanging out with them and joking about it) should have every other damn right that we "non-gays" do. And I was leaning toward Barack Obama. Until, that is, he started his crap about saying that if any union went on strike he'd go picket with them.

Puh-leeze.

And I told Jeff (sorry, you folks can stop reading at any point...) that I empathize with Dems on social issues, but I can't stand that they want to take my hard-earned tax money and give it to people that don't want to work. This country isn't based on socialism. I work hard. And it hasn't been easy. I started pretty durn close to the bottom--right about the time the redhead and I first met up. But we've busted our asses, and guess what happens when you do that? You succeed.

Anyway--that's too much of a tangent/tirade. My point was that I understand that some social programs are needed, but spending tax money to make sure that everyone who isn't working continues to not work seems irresponsible to me.

Then he told me I was throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

And when we start that kind of cliched crap, I stop talking about politics. I have a wife and a family and a house, and I'm not going to get into what's exactly financially prudent.

But we quickly changed subjects, and it never got nasty, of course. This is the one person I will talk politics with, even if I don't like dealing with it all the time. We have good discussions, and when he starts preaching, I explain that I don't want to talk about it anymore.

Either way, it was fun to be on campus and watch people walking by. I've sworn to myself that I was going to enjoy being on campus, like taking an afternoon off and having beers, and it never has really materialized. With the amount of vacation time that I get that I can't take, I need to do that more often.

Okay, I have more to talk about, but I'm going to end this post lest I somehow lose it. I'll start a new post about the errant golf club later.....

Posted: Saturday, August 25, 2007, 1:02 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Busy Week

I have lots to talk about, but still not much time tonight to get it all in. This week has been busy, but fun.

Most importantly, or $#%@^&% governor has finally signed a budget so theoretically I I think I still have a job, even though my last one-year "notification of appointment" ended last week.

Today on the way home from work I had to stop at the credit union and get some cash because I left the checkbook at home and had to stop at the store in Champaign and get some stuff for dinner. I left the credit union and went south to the Windsor road intersection, where I was going to turn right. The light was red and there were two cars in front of me, and I didn't have enough room to get around them to turn right on red. No big deal--I wasn't in any hurry.

So some guy who was behind me gets right up behind me and throws his arms up in the air! And it wasn't like he was turning right too--he was going straight.

Let me get this straight--you can't go anywhere either, you're just irritated that you are car number 4 instead of car number 3?

People in Central Illinois amaze me. People in Chicago and the surrounding areas can be jerks, but people around here can't drive to save their lives, and the fits they throw about nothing are really bizarre.

And my bitterness goes further as I had to assume that he voted for herr governor since his YOON-yeen probably told him to vote Democrat no matter what and he didn't have enough sense to think for himself.

So yeah, I'm glad I held you up for, well, 10 feet. Sheesh.

I have more to write about, and didn't mean to write quite so much here tonight, but figured I'd get the part about the gritball and his jeep written. Settle down, dude--even if I turn you're still sitting three cars back at a red light.... My goodness.

I've been tense lately. I don't think I have even realized how tense I have been. And it's because of this budget business.

I'm happy it is over, but I'm still somewhat fuming.

Anyway. Maybe more later....

Posted: Friday, August 24, 2007, 12:14 am
Mood: Fair | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Last Day of Summer

Thank goodness. The kids go back to school tomorrow. They've been at each others' throats for the past few weeks and the redhead and I are both ready to get them back on a schedule and get them the heck out of the house during the day.

We had a pretty good weekend. Well, maybe just a pretty good Saturday. Betsy and the kids went to Wal-Fart on Saturday to get school supplies, which ended up being somewhat of a mistake as everybody and their brother was there--including hordes of the 40,000 college students that descended on Champaign-Urbana late last week. Ooh-that reminds me--schools starts for me today too...

Anyway.

Saturday night we shipped the kids off to Papa and Gwammo's, and after cooking a couple of steaks had a nice (albeit quick) late dinner. Then we went down to the country club for a couple of beers where I found the cover for my Odessey putter (yay!). Then Marc and Peggy showed up. Whoops.

The reason we shipped off the kids is because Marc's 40th birthday was on Sunday and Peggy had asked me earlier if we'd go to the VFW on Saturday at 9:00 for a last-minute semi-surprise party. And while we were having a few pre-party beers at the club they showed up. I think that we probably didn't need to come up with a lie, but it seemed like the right thing to do, so we stammered through something about leaving to go to dinner or some such.

Marc seemed surprised when they finally arrived at the VFW. Our friend Darren was DJ-ing (and doing karaoke) that night as well.

That's Marc in the middle talking to his friend Tim, who is on the right. To the left are our neighbors across the street, Josh and Marci. I have a bunch of other photos but most of them aren't very good. Of course there are a few of Steve giving me the finger--those are always fun. There are also a bunch of out of focus shots, and then two shots of the redhead and I singing karaoke--I look absolutely possessed in one of them.

At the end of the evening a bunch of us came back to our house and went skinny dipping (yeah, it was one of those nights...). The highlight was that apparently Shannon ended up going in the house wearing only a couple of well-placed pool noodles (this is according to the redhead--I was in the bathroom or something). We didn't end up going to bed until like 4:00 a.m.

And boy did we pay for it on Sunday. We went and got the kids and went out to breakfast and then went home and back to bed. The rest of the day was spent on the couch. Ugh. I'm not 25 anymore....

Okay, I need to go to work...

Posted: Monday, August 20, 2007, 10:54 am
Mood: Exhausted | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Looking the Part

I might still not be able to play golf worth a $#&@, but at least I'm getting better and better at looking the part.

The next step is to increase the width of the side door on the pool house so I can get the cart in there. Actually, I need to go measure the width of Marc's cart, a Club Car, and see if it is as wide as my 1973 EZ-GO. Hopefully I'll buy a used Club Car next year (I should be able to get a used one from a local dealer in Champaign for $1,500 or so), and if they are narrower (is that a word? more narrow? huh--I guess either of them work...) than my cart and can fit into the pool house as is, I won't make any modifications.

Hey, I did shoot an honest 50 for nine holes at least once this year. Maybe we'll break 100 yet....

In other news....

Today has been a good Saturday. I got up early and folded a lot of laundry, and I don't know if it is "conspiracy theory day" or something, but between the Travel Channel and History Channel there have been shows all day about UFOs and Bigfoot.

We all know that I don't personally believe anything that I haven't experienced/seen first-hand (or that is overwhelmingly understood to be true by the majority of scientists or whoever involved....), but I'm still amazed by all of this kind of stuff. How many shooters were there when JFK was killed? Who cares--he's dead. End of story. And I think Roswell truly was a weather balloon. And sure there have been plenty of hoaxes.

But still... I don't rule out the existence of extraterrestrial life. We'd be arrogant to think we're unique in the universe. I just want them to come visit me. Heh. I'm like Mulder--I want to believe.

As far as bigfoot goes.... While it's hard to fathom, there really are large parts of forest in this country that have never been explored. I find the whole bigfoot thing much harder to believe than UFOs ("Nessie" too) because surely if this thing was going around there'd be a dead one here or there. Or poop. Or dead carcasses of whatever "it" eats. Or something. Surely someone somewhere would have some sort of evidence for something that is supposedly actually on earth. So bigfoot might still be a maybe, but I file it closer to "while maybe possible, probably not..."

The kids are with the in-laws this evening.

Which means we're goin' out! w00t!

(Speaking of w00t--junior has acquired Halo for PC and has been doing nothing but playing it the past few days. Actually, if the redhead is going to stay on the phone much longer, I might have to go downstairs and check it out for myself--he seems to think it is pretty cool.....)

Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2007, 9:59 pm
Mood: Great! | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Sails Minus Air

Earlier today I read an editorial at the local newspaper that bothered me. It suggested that a couple of laws--both well "out" of our area--were ridiculous. The first noted that a Chicago alderman had proposed a tax per bottle on bottled water. The second had something to do with a town in Louisiana passing a bill that would make it illegal for people to walk around in pants that were purposely too big so that their underwear were hanging out.

I wanted to reply. But I had to create an account first. It seemed apparent to me that few people had signed up when I was able to get "Mike" as a username.

I posted my reply. I was polite, but made my point.

And my reply was deleted. I checked later and there were no replies. Are you kidding me?

So I got all hot and bothered and posted another comment and said that I hadn't said anything profane and wasn't mean to anyone (I wasn't) and that there wasn't any point to allowing comments if they were going to be arbitrarily deleted. (I believe the term I used was "willy-nilly.")

Well, my comment is back.

Am I a total anomaly that I don't toe a party line?

I vote for Republicans, generally, for one simple reason: I have ambition. I try hard. I work hark. I do what I have to do. I make more money than some people, and make less than some others. But you know what? I am worth every damn penny I'm paid. I busted my butt to get from where I was to where I am now.

Statewide socialist healthcare? We already have that (sort of). Why throw more money at it? I work hard. I pay a ton for "quality care" health insurance. Ask anyone from Canada how socialist health care works and they'll tell you that it stinks.

While I understand that there are people who have serious problems, there are already things in place for that. Medicare. Medicaid. Social Security. The reason those are failing is that people that don't need them are taking advantage. And throwing more money that way isn't the answer.

Have some ambition!

So anyway, the editorial that I replied to dealt with two "bad ideas."

The first was that a Chicago alderman proposed a $1 per bottle tax on bottle water.

As those tools on the Guinness commercials would say--"Brilliant!"

Especially in Chicago. For years a company, Hinckley & Schmitt, was the primary supplier of bottled water in Illinois. Where did their water come from? A secret spring? Some mountain in the Alps? NO. Their water is Chicago/Lake Michigan tap water.

So yes, a tax for bottled water in Chicago makes someone like me agree. What they have out of a bottle is the same thing that they get out of a drinking fountain. Bring a cup from home and use that--that's what I do at work.

Bottled water fills landfills. Creating plastic bottles wastes petroleum.

And I'm not a liberal.

Have some sense.

Note to self: no matter how mad, let's quit the blogging-with-wine thing. At least I get one more step before this actually gets posted...

Posted: Friday, August 17, 2007, 2:00 am
Mood: Frustrated | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Chicken Ultimates

Back in my college days, well, and my in-between-going-to-college days, there was a bar on campus called RR Sportsgrill, or "R & R's." It was owned by the same family that owned the bar that I ran. Actually, it was the first bar that their father owned from way back when (it was called "The Wigwam," and then later became "Round Robin" which is where the RR part came from..).

Anyway, they used to have these sandwiches called "ultimates." Basically they were sandwich ingredients wrapped in pizza dough and cooked in a Blodgett pizza oven--like a hot pocket, expect infinitely better.

When I was running the Office II--for that brief six months before my father-in-law used his Jedi Mind Trick and made me go back to school--I actually tried somewhat successfully to get them on the menu there. The small convection oven thing just isn't the same as a big old pizza oven.

Well R & R's closed a number of years ago and went under very extensive remodeling and has re-opened as Firehaus (warning: irritating Flash-based web site...). And they don't make "ultimates" any more.

So the other day, for whatever reason, I was waxing nostalgic and thinking about how good it would be to have an "ultimate" again. I know, I know, we can rank this up there in my top "most lamest blog posts." You can all quit reading any time you wish, of course....

I decided to try to make one at home. And it actually worked out really well!

It's a grilled chicken breast, with two pieces of swiss cheese and a few pieces of bacon, wrapped up in pizza dough (the kind you buy at the store in one of those rolled-up things). I baked it in the oven, flipping it once, until it started to turn a light brown. And of course, I served it with barbecue sauce, just like they would have at R & R's.

Boy was it good.

Okay, I need to quit writing about food and get to work.

Even though technically I don't have a job today....

Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2007, 10:33 am
Mood: Okay | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Last Day on the Job

Sort of.

I'm going to try very, very hard not to go on a long, drawn out rant about how much I dislike a certain political party in the state. I'll try to be a grown-up about it, but this is quite frustrating.

I am employed with a one-year contract that gets renewed every year. I think technically it is an "appointment." And, oh, about every July I get a copy of my new "notification of appointment" that tells me the details of my upcoming year's contract--how much money I'll make, whether I'm full- or part-time, etc. Several of my readers are in this very same boat.

Well the last day of my yearly contract is August 15th. Yep, that's today.

And I haven't seen my NOA yet for next year. None of us have.

You see, the governor of our fine state can't get along with the legislature of our fine state--even though the governor, the majority of the house, and the majority of the senate are all members of the same political party.

So months and months after it was due, we still have no state budget.

Which means I don't have a new appointment.

Well, I'm up nice and early, and ready to head in to my last day on the job. I'm sure we'll have an e-mail waiting this morning from the president of the University telling us that even though we don't have a job, we need to keep coming to work.

I wish these petulant children would grow up and pass a budget already....

Posted: Wednesday, August 15, 2007, 10:09 am
Mood: Irritable | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Molly and Cole

Well, it's official--we've finally married off Aunt Molly.

(Thank goodness....)

The ceremony was short and sweet, though maybe not quite as short as the one the redhead and I had 13 years and a few weeks ago. But we didn't have Aunt Pam pontificating at our wedding either (or did we? I don't remember...).

She read something from Billy Graham (yeah, I know--groan) that said that all marriages needed three things: love, faith, and maturity.

Love? Okay. Faith? Uh, maybe. Maturity? I was suppresing laughter at this point and only lost it when Cole's Uncle Mike, to my left, snorted.

Yeah, it was a pretty fun ceremony. Molly lowering her voice on the "or poorer" part of "for richer for poorer" was another highlight. Tee hee.

The reception was awesome. It was a whole lot different than the sandwiches and lemonade in the fellowship hall of the church that the redhead and I had... (ahem).

How fun. And now Cole and Molly can sleep in the same room of their new house. Uh, as far as all of the older relatives need to know....

The whole "living together" thing has been somewhat of an annoyance to me (as if anybody couldn't have guessed from that last paragraph). The redhead and I lived together for a year or two before we got married. This isn't 1920 anymore.

I'm tired of the statistics about how many couples get divorced who lived together first. Um, the divorce rate is so high that I can't see blaming any one thing for it.

I think living together is a good thing. Sure, love is a part of marriage. But so is mowing the yard, and paying the bills, and getting the oil changed in the car, and figuring out how to replace the washing machine when it breaks and you have no money because you're young and poor. Marriage is a partnership, not some prince-and-princess love story. And if you can figure out before you get married that you want to be in that partnership, you'll have a better chance at having a good marriage. And yes, I'll definitely say that I know what I'm talking about.

We wish Molly and Cole all the best. Yes, and their stupid dog.

Posted: Sunday, August 12, 2007, 12:11 pm
Mood: Relieved | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Like Jeffy from Family Circus

This makes the most sense if you start from the bottom and work your way up...

Yeah, it's that hot and humid and gross outside...

(Don't tell me that I went to school here for 7 years and didn't learn anything...

Posted: Thursday, August 09, 2007, 10:05 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Apple Macintosh

Warning: Fan-boy alert!

Yesterday afternoon I was helping our departmental network administrator work on a troubled PC that is used by someone that I work with. Well, it was more like I was standing there and he was administering the treatment.

At one point I said, without being ashamed, "we wouldn't have to mess with this kind of stuff if everyone used a Mac."

I'm a fan-boy. I fully admit it. And I'm right.

His response? "Yeah, but then they'd all want to run Windows on it."

I said nothing.

They'd want to run Windows? Want? Who in their right mind would choose Windows if given the option? People run Windows because that's what they're used to, because they haven't been given a choice. Who would want to run Windows?

There's nothing you can do on Windows that you can't do using OS X. Okay, let me rephrase that. There's nothing useful that you can do with Windows that you can't do with OS X. Playing games and installing desktop spyware doesn't count. There's Office of OS X. And Photoshop. And Dreamweaver. You can burn CDs, make movies, listen to music. Heck, there's stuff that's easier to do with OS X than with Windows.

We don't worry about what version of VirusScan we're running. We don't have to run Spybot every week. I try to open attachments that I'm not expecting just for fun.

My computer doesn't crash. I can have two dozen applications open at once and it doesn't pause.

Okay, sorry for the rant.

Posted: Thursday, August 09, 2007, 11:50 am
Mood: Perplexed | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


New Look?

What do you think?

Heck, actually I don't even know if this blog submit page will work, since I made the changes earlier and didn't bother to submit a new post.

While the avatars and smileys were neat, I think they were getting a bit tired. Livejournal this is not.

The list of months and years of previous posts was starting to get on my nerves, and I implemented a little bit of javascript and CSS to make them expand and collapse, similar to what is done on many sites on the 'net. I added a new banner, and, well, you few readers can figure out the rest for yourselves.

This blogging thing is still fun. I'm not thrilled that I've been so busy lately and have let it sit around for days (or weeks) at a time without being updated. Hopefully this new and more streamlined set-up will motivate me to post more often.

In other news, it's still hotter and muggier than heck here in Illinois. Blech.

Posted: Thursday, August 09, 2007, 2:13 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Computers

Well the good news is that I think the sound I'm hearing right now is not, in fact, a failing hard drive. I think it's a fan.

The bad news is that I think I have a fan that's failing.

Grrr...

And my external hard drive power supply at work died at some point in the recent past. Not that big of a deal, because since the time I have had it I've installed a second (400 gig) internal SATA drive, and there isn't much difference backing up to it as opposed to backing up to an external drive.

At this point I think it would be easier to replace a hard drive in this poor old G4 than to replace the fan. I just need to suck it up and get one of them fancy Intel powered Macs.

Uh oh. That sound just got a lot worse.

I think I'm going to shut this thing down and deal with it when I get home tonight. Okay, off to work...

Posted: Wednesday, August 08, 2007, 11:34 am
Mood: Irritable | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


The Clinton News Network

(Also known as CNN...).

Okay, so before going back to bed I checked in on cnn.com to see if there was anything newsworthy going on, other than this bridge collapse thing.

Of course there isn't. But I found this blurb on the front page interesting:

"Federal data show that nearly a quarter of the nation's bridges longer than 20 feet are categorized as 'structurally deficient' or worse, including the Minnesota bridge now crumbled in the Mississippi River."

Um, yeah, I'm pretty sure my kids could figure out that the bridge that is crumbled in the river is "structurally deficient." Well, "or worse."

My son would say: "Hello, captain obvious."

Hey CNN, how about your junior editor re-writes that sentence and we try it again, okay? While I know what you're getting at, that sentence is terrible.

Okay, I'm really going back to bed this time...

Posted: Friday, August 03, 2007, 7:46 am
Mood: Cynical | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Citizen Review Boards

Yeah, yeah--it's 2:00 a.m. and I can't sleep. I really need to go pick up my blood pressure medicine refills. Who has the time?

Anyone up for a fun challenge? Let's play "follow the nerd's bizarre train of thought." Ready?

Some residents of the City of Urbana (of which I am not a resident), including many on the City Council, are calling for a "police review board." There have apparently been some "situations" in the past where said Urbana residents think that the police department has "stepped over the line."

The right-wing law-enforcement supporter in me thinks this is ridiculous. Let the cops do their job. The politicians in Urbana, as far as I'm concerned, often waste their time on frivolous hippie liberal agendas, and sometimes this review thing appears as one of them. Remember, this is a group that tried to (or maybe did?) pass a city-wide resolution saying that Urbana was against the war in Iraq and wished that Bush would be impeached. You know, because everyone in the country is concerned with what a bunch of hippies in Urbana think.

I think the initial calling for a police review board might be racial in nature, and I'm so not going there.

But let's again reiterate that generally I'm in support of law enforcement agents on every level.

Except now I'm a bit torn, and that tear sort of stems from logic that I've pretty much believed in on several levels.

When hippies scream bloody murder that Bush and company put a system in place to monitor what people check out at libraries, I'm one that follows the logic that if you aren't doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about. Don't check out multiple books on how to mix explosive chemicals week after week, and nobody at the NSA is going care what you are reading. Freedom isn't free, or some such. While I don't hope for a big brother-like future, I don't want my government closing their eyes and letting anyone read and do anything that they want, especially when "those people" are going to do something that might hurt my family. The government doesn't have the time or resources to follow me around, because, well, I'm not doing anything.

Still with me?

Here's where my logic gets semi-contradictory.

Why the outcry about a citizens review board? We should all trust the police department in Urbana (or anywhere else). They work harder than we do (theoretically). They put their lives on the line for us. Et cetera.

But part of me has to take my right-wing logic and apply it here as well.

If the police in Urbana aren't doing anything wrong, what do they have to fear from a citizens review board? Right?

Should my department at work make a "web project and database specialist" review board? Why not? I'm not doing anything wrong (as far as I know). Let them waste their time following me around and checking up on me--the same logic I take with the federal government. If they want to waste their time checking up on what I'm reading at the library, let them. (Uh, and I haven't checked anything out from a library in years, but anyway). I tend to follow a "lady doth protest too much" when citizens complain that their "rights" are being trampled on. Go live in Canada then. Good luck with the health care situation there.....

But really, if the cops in Urbana aren't doing anything wrong, one would think they would welcome a review board. Hell, I'd think that if there were good cops and bad cops, and I were a good cop, it would be quite nice to have an independent review board say as much about me every year.

Why the huge outcry? If the cops have nothing to hide, what's the problem?

Everyone jumps to the conclusion that this review board, made up of citizens, is going to put a stranglehold on the police in Urbana.

But part of me still looks back at the history of the creation of our country, and quite frankly, it is up to our citizens to take matters into their own hands. And if the public wants a "review board," they should get one.

And if the police in Urbana aren't "doing anything wrong," then they should have nothing to worry about. Nobody is calling for disbanding of the police department. It is the right, the duty, of the folks in Urbana to do this.

Had enough of this rant? Okay, me too. I need to get another cup of water and go back to bed...

Posted: Friday, August 03, 2007, 7:34 am
Mood: Curious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Gasoline

Has anyone else said "Hey, how cool--gas is all the way down to $2.61 now" recently? Is that pathetic or what? I guess it still beats $3.30 per gallon. And when the redhead and I carpool (which hasn't been a lot recently, but oh well) that $2.60 turns into $1.30, so that's bearable.

And I know people disagree with me, but I'm going to say it again.

I am so ready for this summer to be over with.

My dad was supposed to come down to play golf today, but it's going to be 100+ degrees outside, and that just plain wouldn't be any fun so we're going to postpone that outing.

Tomorrow my sister and her family are coming to visit and stay overnight. And that means cleaning house tonight and tomorrow. Ugh.

Saturday night the redhead and Em go out to dinner with my sister-in-law and her friends for her bachelorette party. Em and the redhead will come home before the bachelorette party stuff starts to happen...

Then I think we're going to Focher's house to see photos of his and Susan's trip around Lake Michigan? Of course, Ag Days will be going on at that time, so getting to his house will be a trick, especially considering the construction on Harrison street.

Next weekend is Aunt Molly's wedding, of course (finally).

Then school starts for the kids. Then school starts for me.

Then I'm supposed to go up to Chicago (Park Ridge, actually) for three days to attend an Advanced ColdFusion training class the following week. And I should probably replace the damn EGR valve before then, get a new set of tires, and do both the front and back brakes, including new rotors.

Theoretically I get a raise when the new fiscal year starts in a couple of weeks, but our terrible, terrible governor is still being difficult about the state budget, so for all I know, not only aren't we getting raises, but we shouldn't expect a paycheck on September 16th either. Groan. And the kicker is that all of the $#&%#@& involved with this mess are in the same political party. And I'm not going to be partisan and mention which party that is, because at this point it doesn't matter. They're all crooks.

Oh, and I'm in the middle of three huge projects at work and getting ready to start a fourth. Fun!

If I can make it to October in one piece I'll consider it an accomplishment. Close the pool. Shut off the air conditioner. Start sweatshirt weather. Ahhhh......

Posted: Thursday, August 02, 2007, 11:31 am
Mood: Apprehensive | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Missed Birdie

Has it really been over a week since I last blogged? I guess I've been busier than I thought.

For our anniversary last week I got a lobster from the grocery store and we cooked that up along with some steaks. It was awesome, like always.

I finished up my class last week, thank goodness. This is the second semester in a row that I've finished with more than 100% of the total possible points. Two more semesters to go, which is a good thing because I think I'm putting more and more pressure on myself as we get closer to the end.

And sadly, I'm not going to be able to graduate summa cum laude, even if I get an A in the last four classes. My GPA will be like 3.942 and you have to have 3.95. I recalculated everything over the weekend. I think the reason that the latest calculation puts me just short is that I previously thought I had five classes left, and not just four. Five more As would have pushed me past 3.95. At any rate, 3.94 will make me magna cum laude. And even if I get 2 As and 2 Bs in my last four classes I'll still make cum laude.

For something that I claim doesn't matter, I sure talk about it a lot....

So the boss and I took Monday afternoon off and came down to the golf course in the afternoon. He said he hadn't played in probably 10 years and I assured him that I wasn't any good so he had nothing to worry about. And then I proceeded to hit a beautiful drive off the first tee. And I'd say "whoops" except that I followed that up with a perfect 9 iron shot that bounced once on the green and then landed two feet from the cup. Whoops. Are you kidding me?

Two feet from the cup.

And yeah, I then proceed to miss my first-ever putt-for-birdie by a couple of inches. I didn't hit it hard enough. Not even to go two feet. I've never been so disappointed to make par in my life.

I hit a bad shot on the second tee, but followed it with another perfect chip shot that again landed on the green. And then I three-putted and had to take a 5. Oh well.

We had fun, and semi-surprisingly, we didn't talk about work. We played nine holes and then he headed home. I looked at the time on my cell phone and it was 2:30. And the course was all but empty, so I decided to play another nine holes by myself.

And at 3:45 I looked at my phone again. The kids are still at gwammo's house, and the redhead wouldn't be home from work until after 5:00. So I played another nine holes. But hey, isn't that the whole point behind belonging to the country club to begin with?

Oh, in preparation for playing golf with the boss, I finally fixed the seat of the golf course. I probably should have pulled the vinyl tighter than I did, but it looks a lot better than it did with the two huge holes on the corners of the seat. I'm satisfied with it.

Yesterday after work I took the kids uptown to play putt-putt golf at "Pop's place." It was really fun. And totally cheap--I think we should try to do it once a week or so. It was $12 for all three of us to play 18 holes. And afterwards Alex got a milk shake and Em got a banana split. We were going to ride our bikes up there but it was very hot and humid, and will be for the rest of the week.

My dad is supposed to come play golf tomorrow, but he's 70, so I'm going to get a hold of him later today and tell him that if he wants to postpone tomorrow, that'd be fine with me.

Anyway. Off to work...

Posted: Wednesday, August 01, 2007, 11:23 am
Mood: Content | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


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