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I went in to work on Wednesday too help finish up the rest of the conference "packets." I brought the kids with me--we stopped at evil WalFart on the way and picked up Fantastic 4 and a 10-pack of microwave popcorn. I put the movie up on one of my 23-inch flat panel monitors, cooked up some 'corn for the kids, and went into the hallway and got to work. After a few hours we were finished with packets so went home.

The next day I had to go back into work to finish up some loose ends--it ended up being like 6 hours worth... The kids went to Gwammo's house, so they were happy as clams.

I did a half-dozen loads of laundry today and cleaned up the kitchen and rest of the house for my bride, who was stuck working for most of this week.

The kids and I have been playing foosball like mad, and the redhead and I have been discussing plans for redoing the basement playroom area and getting a "real" foosball table.

We'll see how it goes....

Posted: Saturday, December 31, 2005, 6:19 am
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Christmas Break

We've made it through Day 2 of my Christmas break (well, the kids' break too, of course...).

I walked to City Hall to bring the redhead her antibiotics. I walked out to the farm to deal with Budge's iPod. I walked on the treadmill for a mile, and then rode the bike for a mile.

My right arm is killing me from playing darts the last few days.

Oh, and I walked to the store this afternoon to get stuff for dinner. Calories burned? Not sure. Gas used? None.

I think I may appreciate this break. Normally I get stressed during this week of the year. But honestly? I need a week off. Carats and question marks and variables fill my waking and sleeping mind--it's about time I get back to being human again.

And really, I am happy to get the exercise in. I am right now scared to death that I am a few weeks away from, well, death. Gosh that sounds so ominous. I know I'm out of shape. I know I'm getting "old." Something has to change. And I feel like my body is giving me my last chance. I shouldn't be taking little pills every morning--I should just get in shape and be healthy.

I'm too young to be taking little pills. I'm not my father (my adopted father, and I only point that out so that this next statement makes sense)--I don't have the congenital heart disease that plagues his family. (There's always a chance that I have congenital heart disease from my natural father, of course--my point was that most of the males in my dad's "real" family are doomed to die of a heart attack. Not a matter of "if," but a matter of "when.")

So we got the kids a Star Wars foosball table (very, very cheap--the ball rolls all over the place if left to its own devices) and an electronic dart board. And the redhead and I are thrilled. I was worried that I only got the boy a single PS2 game and no legos, and that he'd be disappointed, but now I'm thrilled. We've spent so much time playing darts and foosball, and really, that's how it should be.

The redhead and I are at the point where we are talking about remodeling the basement playroom and adding a bar and a hard wood floor and installing wainscoating around the room, and making it a totally cool "game room." And after having played as the battle droids the past few games, I'm already anxious to look into what it would cost to get a "real" foosball table.

I have to go into to work for a couple of hours tomorrow to help our secretary with putting together some registrant packets (I'm going to stop and get Fantastic 4 for the kids and let them watch it in my office on one of my 23 inch monitors...).

I'm happy. Happier than I have been in a long time. And I'm quite optimistic. I think 2006 is going to be our year.

Posted: Wednesday, December 28, 2005, 2:55 am
Mood: Optimistic | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Post-Christmas Hangover


That about sums it all up....

We "did" Christmas Eve at our house this year, so my mother-in-law wouldn't get stuck having to plan for two get-togethers. We had a total of 16 people here, including my wife's siblings, her parents, Uncle Bill and family, and Granny, of course. We did the appetizer thing--meatballs in a crock pot, another crock pot of "dog puke" (cheese and salsa and stuff mixed together), a few trays of teriyaki chicken wings, sausage-stuffed mushrooms, a relish tray, crackers and cheese, and of course a half-dozen bottles of wine. The redhead and I were both a bit frazzled at the start, but as people settled in and all of the food started coming out of the oven, things relaxed and we had a nice time.

After "the adults" all left, I played a little euchre with my two brothers-in-law (Billy and Dustin) and Billy's wife Jen. Then Billy and I were tasked with putting together the foosball table. Groan. Way too much red wine... Needless to say, we didn't finish it.

The dang kids got up at 5:30 a.m. on Christmas and already had all the presents sorted into piles (groan...). After tearing through everything the redhead and I went back to bad for a few hours while the kids entertained themselves. At noon it was off to Grandma's house for dinner. Papa fried a turkey and Gwammo cooked a ham and a beef tenderloin (or something that was beef--I just ate the turkey and stuffing and potatoes...).

My mother-in-law is so funny. She got just about everyone a 25th edition Rubik's Cube for their stocking along with a bunch of coupons for iTunes. And that's because she got us iPod nanos. Yep. Aunt Molly, Uncle Budge, Coley Goofus, my son, and I all got an iPod. The redhead didn't get one, because I had already told Grandma about my "big" surprise--I bought the redhead an iPod shuffle from Overstock. I knew that Al was getting a Nano from Grandma, but didn't realize I was as well. So now my big surprise of the iPod shuffle kinda got overshadowed--no big deal. My son also got a PlayStation Portable, so he's just thrilled.... And Papa and Grandma bought Em horse-riding lessons, and she was just blown away. The redhead and I are pretty sure we know where this is going to end up in a few years...

Back at home we played some foosball and I hung the kids' dart board. We played Harry Potter "Scene It." Needless to say, I didn't do very well. I got one blurt-out (whoever says the correct answer first wins that round or whatever) correct, but only because I just pulled a random Harry Potter character out of my butt before they even finished reading the question and I accidentally got lucky. While I didn't do well with Harry Potter, I did kick the kids' butts today playing Star Wars Trivial Pursuit. And I think my wife got an insight into just how big of a nerd I really am--not only was I answering questions but I was reciting dialogue from before and after the scene in question. And I've been beating the kids at foosball and darts all day long as well. Aren't I a good dad?

Okay, I think I need to go play the winner of the foosball game that I hear in the other room, so I can school whoever it is that wins...

Posted: Monday, December 26, 2005, 6:55 pm
Mood: Exhausted | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Okay, Where Was I?....

I suppose I could build in functionality to all this to allow me to edit previous posts, so that I don't have to add on a second part, but really--I have too many other "important" things to do. Maybe at some point.

So today we packaged up the packet things for the Technology Conference. And most of us weren't going to come to work today either, but we did because we agreed that it would be more fair if we all got together and helped rather than make one person do everything.

And it went quite smoothly. Until, that is, we ran out of Conference Proceedings books (because the printer failed to deliver the amount they were supposed to...). Once we realized that there was no way of getting the rest of the shipment until next week, we packed everything else up and put it back in our lab (a huge room that we "occupy" that is right across the hall from my office....).

At any rate, the boss-boss decided that we should go out for lunch, so five of us met at a bar called "Jupiter's" in downtown Champaign. We had a few exotic (by my standard) pizzas (one had an almost alfredo-type sauce that had mustard in it, and it was actually really good, and I'm not a "tryer."). And we had a few drinks as well. My "old boss" and I arrived first, and when the young lady asked us what we wanted to drink I simply turned and looked at him---are we going back to work after this or aren't we? He ordered a glass of wine, so I ordered a beer--question answered.

The five of us had a good time. It is really neat to get out of the office every now and again and let it all hang out. Well, I should also note that I'm 36 and the next closest in age to me is 50. But still. I had fun. We had wonderful conversation.

Wine-induced rambling is wonderful. I should starting having a couple of glasses before I go to therapy every week.

So we started discussing Christmas. And one of them noted that there are people that don't like Christmas. Without even thinking I said "I don't like Christmas." All four of them looked at me.

I don't like Christmas. Christmas forces me to interact with other human beings--some of whom I am related to, and some of whom I am not. Most of the "not" bunch is easy to avoid--I stay home. I go to work, and I go back home. Shoppers at the mall? Ick. No need to be around that mob of people.

And then there is family. A touchy, touchy subject for me.

I have a wife, a son, and a daughter. And if someone offered me the chance to take those three people and go colonize Mars, I'd do it. I don't "need" any other interaction. I think my bonds with my wife and kids are so strong that they afford me little else.

I don't not get along with my dad, and my two sisters, and that whole side of things. But e-mail is plenty good enough for me. The fact that I live by e-mail and they don't? Well, if they want to talk to me, they know how to get a hold of me.

I'm actually much, much closer to my wife's family. I do very much consider my mother-in-law as my surrogate mother. She really is. She's quite wise (albeit a bit goofy sometimes) and has nothing but the best interests of any of us in her heart. Papa's umbrella covers more people than probably realize it. And for that I'm utterly thankful--I can never pay that man back what I owe him, monetarily or otherwise.

Phew. I didn't mean for this to get so maudlin. But this is my therapy. So I will forge ahead.

Heh. I just typed "forget" when trying to type "forge." And we wonder why foreigners have a hard time learning English.


The kids just came upstairs and started screwing around. And now I'm smiling and have completely lost track of what it was I was going on about. So I'm going to wrap this up and get started on the french bread.

Sorry. I think we call it "freedom" bread now?

Posted: Thursday, December 22, 2005, 11:18 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Christmas Blues

This would probably be more aptly titled "Holiday Blues" but I'm so sick of the damn word "Holiday" that I could puke. I'm not the least bit religious, but the damn holiday is "Christmas." If you don't like it, too bad. I don't go over to Saudi Arabia and bitch that they are celebrating Ramadan. Get over it.

That said, I'm sure we can all tell where this post is going... And actually, it isn't that bad. I was standing here cooking dinner (well, heating up spagetti sauce and cooking italian sausage...) and rambling to myself in my head and realized that I should be writing this down.

This whole endeavor, after all, is part of my therapy. Writing helps me. I make it public because, well, who really cares, and also because I think it keeps me semi-honest. And if people don't like it, they can read elsewhere. Right?

Sheesh. This didn't start out as a defensive post....

Today the folks at work (including myself) were planning on being absent from Turner Hall. However, we needed to "assemble" about 800 bags for the Crop Protection Technology Conference, which takes place the first week after the holidays. Normally our secretary takes all of the materials home and she and her husband assemble the bags because she's overly anal retentive about how they are put together (not that there is anything wrong with the anal retentive part, of course).

She shouldn't have to do that, and this year we decided that was the end of that ritual. She can be all the concerned that she wants over how tidy they are, but really, we're no different. My boss (and please don't ask why I know this--it just came up in discussion once) rotates his underwear drawer so that they all get "even wear." And you know what? I can see that. You know how when you open a package of hamburger buns and they are round on three sides and then the one side was where the buns were all attached? When I make a hamburger I line the sides back up so that the "hinge" side matches on the top and bottom. Weird? To you, maybe. Not to me. The point is, I don't think our crew has any problem with paying attention to detail.

Drat, I need to get to the store and get a bottle of wine before the redhead gets home. I'll add to this later because I have a lot I want to yap about...

Posted: Thursday, December 22, 2005, 10:38 pm
Mood: Wonderful | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Woo hoo!

It's 4:30 in the morning and I'm wide awake. I just love it when this happens!

Maybe I need to be medicated or something. This is getting ridiculous. As best as I can tell I'm worried sick that I have nothing to worry about. How stupid is that?

Nobody is going to be at work today except for myself and the secretary, so it isn't like I'll be busy. Besides, I get to be out of the office for probably most of the morning because I have to go to the doctor one final time for my fungal situation. (Gross!)

Oh well. I guess I'll go see if SportsCenter is on, or otherwise get a taste of the Headline News spun to me in the way only CNN can spin it....

Posted: Wednesday, December 21, 2005, 10:47 am
Mood: Anxious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment


I almost forgot to tell about what an exciting day I had on Sunday....

I haven't been doing much freelance work lately--the outfit that I get jobs from is going through some staff changes right now so all of the freelance work is kind of in limbo until they get settled down. Which is fine with me, actually. I'm enjoying the break.

But part of the problem with "breaks" is that I get antsy with nothing to do and end up driving everyone else in the house crazy. Well, a week or so back we scored a new set of linens from my mother-in-law. I believe my father-in-law's exact words to her were "I'm not getting in that bed again until you get rid of those new sheets" or some such. She had just purchased them, and they weren't cheap. Score!

Well, so then we talked about the ugly wallpaper in our room. (It's actually on two walls and the other two walls are painted antique white...). We decided that we'd like to paint those two walls in a very, very light shade of brown that sort-of matches part of the pattern on the new comforter, if that makes any sense. But first, the wallpaper had to come down. Meow...

And I had double the fun! Here's what the wallpaper looked like before I started:

Pretty ugly, right? We thought so too. So I peel off the vinyl (or whatever it is) layer, leaving most of the backing paper and glue attached to the wall. Normally I use something called Zif Wallpaper Remover, but the redhead hates the way it smells and convinced me to subsitute liquid fabric softener instead, because that's what they do on all of the home improvement shows on HGTV. Fine. I was always pretty sure that the 95% amount of warm water did as much as the 5% part of Zif stuff anyway. So Snuggle it was. And how nice for me: after I removed a few sections of flower paper, I found that it wasn't gray paint underneath, it was another layer of wallpaper.

Yep, them'd be pretty little white birds on a gray background. Groan. And no--no matter how hard I tried, I was not ever able to get pieces containing both levels to come off at once. So I had to remove the flower paper, remove its backing paper, then remove the bird paper, then remove its backing paper. Like I said, it was double the fun.

I did make a lot of progress, though:

I got the entire east wall (the longer of the two walls) cleared of paper, and most of the north wall as well (I had to so I could put our bed back where it goes). I think I'll probably try to finish up removing the last section sometime this week so that I can paint next week when I'm not at work.

Posted: Tuesday, December 20, 2005, 2:04 pm
Mood: Improving | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

'Twas the Week Before Christmas...

I'm sure everyone wants to know whether or not the casserole thing was any good. Apparently she liked it, surprisingly. I even tried a bite and thought it was okay, but she seemed not only excited that I had made it for her, but I guess she enjoyed it as well.

She's still feeling crummy, though, which sucks.

We went Saturday and (theoretically) finished up our Christmas shopping. We were going to make several stops, but we started at Target and ended up getting everything else we needed from there. We mostly just got pajamas and underwear and stocking stuffer stuff (shampoo, etc.), including a "Vote for Pedro" shirt for out son (Yesss!). I was very patient and didn't get myself all worked up about being around people and having to wait in line--I'm actually kind of proud of myself. But yeah, no need to do that again for a while.

This is the first year that we aren't getting my son any sort of Lego anything. He must have a bajillion of them, and anywhere you turn in our house you are bound to find something Lego. And we decided this year that enough is enough. But I'm having a hard time with this--every year we open presents, and he goes off by himself afterwards and spends the rest of the day building whatever it is that he has received. I mean, even before playing a new video game, he'll go off and build his Lego project. But not this year. Ho hum.

And speaking of video games, I've been trying to cool his expectations as far as his "loot" goes. I'm not sure I understand the logic--if he asked for three things from "Santa" and only got two, he'd understand and that would be okay. Yet now his expectations are much greater, and I don't know if it is that he's older, or that it is because he's wise to the whole "Santa" thing. But now he seems to "expect" more. And I should say that he's a good, good boy, and he won't act disappointed or anything, but he keeps talking like ol' "Santa" is bringing him dozens of PlayStation 2 games. How about more like just one PS2 game (BattleFront II--I can't wait!). And while I realize that you let me know that you just finished up Jak 3 over the weekend, that still doesn't change the fact that you aren't getting Jak 4. Sorry. At $50 a pop, I think one game at a time is enough (and the kid must have 3 dozen games already).

This is awful. I'm totally waffling between strict-parent-guy and acting-like-my-mother-in-law-guy. I don't want him to be disappointed. But you know what? Too bad. One new game is plenty.


Okay, another week, another dollar.

Posted: Monday, December 19, 2005, 2:08 pm
Mood: Content | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

My Poor Bride

Our daughter managed to contract a sinus infection and bronchitis a few weeks back, and while she's long since been to the doctor, been put on Mucinex, and for the most part recovered, my wife is now quite sick. I feel awful for her, and this is one of those instances where I start having control problems, because I can't control this. I wish nothing more than for her to feel better instantly, but there's nothing I can do about it.

So I made here breakfast casserole. She's still in bed, of course, but hopefully she'll get up in the next 20 minutes or so when this is (theoretically) done. I sauteed a diced green pepper, part of a red onion, and a tomato, and added them to five eggs which I had whipped together with some milk, and poured it over some bread pieces in a casserole dish thing. I bet it is going to be awful. So, I cooked enough veggies so that if she wants to make her own omelet or something she can do that too.

Ooop. She's up. Gotta go....

Posted: Sunday, December 18, 2005, 3:34 pm
Mood: Relaxed | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Even Grouchier...

...if you can believe that.

It is starting to hit me--I really, really just did just miss getting killed today. And I don't mean to whine, but really. And I even went back to make sure he was okay. Grrrr....

And our governor is stealing from our retirement funds to pay off debt, and now he's... Okay. I'm stopping. I'm not going to even get into it.

At least the people in Iraq look like they are genuinely happy to be allowed to vote.

Here we're not picking a prospect out of a pool of candidates--we are forced to choose between the total jerk, and the other guy that is maybe or isn't maybe a bigger jerk.

I'm mad, still. And this blog software stuff should block this post, but I'm guessing that my "theoretical" blocking function isn't working (it's probably commented out?).

I'm mad. I just need to go to bed.

Posted: Friday, December 16, 2005, 4:20 am
Mood: Grouchy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Is It Friday Yet?

I'm so aggravated on so many levels this morning, and to top it off I missed getting killed on my way to work by literally one second.

Today is going to be a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day. And I'd rather it wouldn't...

So yeah, it's totally foggy outside today. I drive in the fog with my parking lights on and my fog lights turned on. Get it? They are called fog lights because you use them in fog. Let me put it this way: your headlights serve two functions--1. To help you see the road (and everything else) when it is dark out and 2. To help other people see you. Now, if it is light outside, there are times when you don't need your headlights to see any better. In fact, there are some instances, like driving in heavy fog where headlights actually just reflect against the fog and make it even harder to see. In this case, your best bet is to just use your parking lights. People can see your lights, but you don't need your lights to see. A neater feature in the fog are fog lights. They are as bright as headlights, but they are low to the ground and do not cause the light reflection that happens with headlights, because they aren't aimed the way that headlights are.

So don't flip your brights at me when I'm driving along, during the day, in fog, because my headlights aren't on. You can see me just fine, and turning on my headlights would in no way make it easier for me to see.

And yes, I had just passed a state trooper. I'm sure if I were violating the "light rule," that I would have found out. Have some common sense, people.

Then it gets even better. People have different comfort levels when it comes to their speed in certain weather conditions. I try, in general, to be patient and not do anything stupid and if I'm behind someone slow, so be it. Yes, last week when it had snowed, but the roads were clear and nobody else was around, I did pass a woman driving 30 miles per hour because there was no need to be driving that slowly. (Her license plate was "N JESUS" and she had a bumper sticker that basically said anyone that believes in Darwinism doesn't have a spot in heaven--GROAN).

Well, today I decided to leave the 45 mph group in Philo and turned off Route 130 onto Philo slab. As luck would have it, I ended up behind another 45 mph group, so I took the first right and decided to drive through the country the rest of the way. I'd rather drive 45 by myself through the country than follow a pack of idiots down the road.

So I'm driving through the country, and about a mile from Philo slab there is a T-intersection. And I am not kidding--I missed getting killed by a second. I was driving along, going 45 or so, and all of a sudden, out of the fog, comes this white Ford dually from my right, going probably 60 miles per hour. I had enough time to floor it, exclaim "HOLY $#!%!!" and gritted my teeth and braced for impact. If I had to guess I'd say he missed me by a couple of feet at most, and then flew into the field to my left. Maybe not quite a field. Hmm. The road to the east of where I was (that he was flying down) is paved, but then it turns into more of a dirt tractor road to the west of where I was--so maybe not technically a T-intersection. Here:

I was on the north-south road going north. He was on the road to the right--the paved part--and was travelling west. And being the concerned citizen I am, I even turned around at the next intersection (a mile later) and went back to see if he was okay, or if he had flipped his truck in the field (yes, he was going that fast...).

Nope. I passed him as he came barrelling north. No wave. No "Sorry I almost just &*%#ing killed you back there."


And don't even let me get started on how mad I am about work right now.

We need to move to Australia.

Posted: Thursday, December 15, 2005, 2:54 pm
Mood: Angry | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Home Sweet Home

One of the reviewers suffered a cancelled flight from State College, PA, last night and was unable to get to our meeting first thing this morning. So, I stuck around until his flight arrived today to make sure that he didn't have any computer-related issues (of course, he had a powerbook just like mine, so I knew that he wouldn't have any problems with the CD...).

Normally I would probably have left at 10:00 this morning, but I instead stayed around until around 3:00 p.m. Which means I made it home by around 5:30. Semi truck after semi truck after semi truck on I-70. I was only gone for an evening, and I did have fun hanging out with Jorel (misspelling intentional), but I'm really, really glad to be back home.

The redhead is a bit under the weather and took some Benadryl (or something) and conked out around 8:00 or so. I hope she feels better. I sent the stinkpots to bed around 8:30. Of course, I'm wide awake.

So I poured a glass of Shiraz and just sat through "Dinocroc" on SciFi. Sometimes a tacky movie with a predictable script is just what the doctor ordered. Gee, let me guess. Even though it quit banging on the door of the sealed-off tunnel, now that the evil woman from the genetics lab has arrived, the creature will still be alive. What fun!

Now I get to catch the last half-hour of "The Hulk," a movie that I know I started once but never finished. And Wade Garrett from "Road House" is the general in charge--perfect!

Okay, I don't have too much else to write about. I'm a bit mentally drained at the moment. I'll write more at work tomorrow.

Posted: Wednesday, December 14, 2005, 3:27 am
Mood: Relaxed | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

St. Louis, again....

My old pal Joel met me at the bar at the Adam's Mark and we then headed to Friday's for dinner. (Service: fair, food: okay). It was great to catch up!

Sometimes I think there is a silver lining to these business trips. It would never occur to me to go drive to St. Louis to waste time with Joel, but I'm glad that when "forced" to come here it occurs to me that it would be a good time for an opportunistic meeting.

Joel's a fun dude. He's saved me from multiple beatings back in our bar days. And I was thrilled that I was able to "repay" him when he was brought before the student affairs dean (get this--the guy's name was, and I kid you not, "Dick Justice") because of a small problem in front of Joel's fraternity house. I was an "expert" witness because I knew (theoretically) how the local police acted during some situations. It was all rather silly. A guy was being a total ass... Okay, I'm not going to explain further. But Joel was the least problematic part of the situation. Anyway.

We had fun! And when I got back to the bar (in time to call the kids) the bosses were still downstairs in the hotel bar so I joined them for a Stelli and then proceeded to sound like a moron when they asked me to explain my software design of the whole grants review process to one of the reviewers that was with them. Heck, that sentence didn't even make sense. Now multiply that by a few beers and my trying to explain session variables in ColdFusion. Thankfully we called it a night and headed back up to our rooms.

Speaking of which... I still have a very nice view of the river but this certainly isn't the fancy schmancy suite that I had last year that faced the arch and was probably three times the area of this room. But I'm not complaining....

I had some quasi-interesting thoughts while driving today (it takes about 3 hours to get from C-U to St. Louis...). I'm obviously very concerned about my need to keep going to school, and I spent a good deal of time focusing on it today. Why am I going back to school in computer science? Why not rhetoric? Or history? Or why not get an MBA (which I started, once...)? Computer Science seems like such work. So many other things seem like they wouldn't be much more than memorizing. "Learning." Well, heck. Give me a book and I can figure out just about everything. Computer science is more about "2 x 2 is 4" and "the square root of 36 is 6" so "now go figure out the total of every prime number times its next-lowest even number is." I'm not making much sense. But C.S. isn't about repeating facts--it's about taking those facts and building upon them. Or something. I'm just rambling....

I need to get to bed so that I can be somewhat cognizant during this review process tomorrow.....

Posted: Tuesday, December 13, 2005, 3:48 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Busy Weekend


On Saturday we decided to tackle the big closet in our bedroom. My trunk is now completely filled with stuff for Goodwill. I think we bagged up maybe a dozen bags of good clothes to drop off, and another half dozen bags that we threw away (stuff that was stained or ripped, etc.).

Then I started in on the wallpaper. And how nice for me--as I started getting the wallpaper backing to come down, I found that there was another layer of wallpaper underneath. So I have twice the job that I thought I did. Groan.

Today I have to travel to St. Louis for the evening so that I can be the I.T. Geek at a grant panel review thing tomorrow morning. It's not that bad of a gig--I drive down tonight, stay in a fancy hotel, go out for drinks with my pal Joel (one of my groomsmen--he worked for me at the bar in college as well) who lives down there, get up nice and early in the morning, make sure 10 people's laptops can read the CD that I made for them, sit through a couple of reviews, and then head back home. The whole review process ends up taking about three days, but I get cut loose at the first break on the first day--quite cool.

Well, I need to get back to getting power strips and ethernet hubs packed, along with all of the paper copies of the reviews (sheesh--paper is so 20th century...).

Posted: Monday, December 12, 2005, 4:01 pm
Mood: Anxious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Snow Day!

We got our first winter "storm" yesterday. It started about noon and snowed all afternoon and throughout the night.

Since I don't like driving in snow. Wait, check that. I drive fine in snow. Let's try this again... Since I don't like driving in snow with all of the moronic drivers in east central Illinois, I tend to try to get home before things become too much of a mess. It started snowing at noon, and I left work at 12:30. And my drive home was still somewhat stressful.

The kids got out of school early (at 2:00), and I spent the afternoon shoveling the driveway while they built snow forts.

When Grandma dropped them off the first thing my son asked me was if they could play in the snow or if they had to get their homework done first. Call me a bad parent, but I looked at him in disbelief and replied "why, play in the snow, of course!"

You can do your homework later--right now there's snow to be played with (in?). You may as well play in the snow in the daylight and do the homework inside at night, because if you do the homework first, by the time you finish, it will be dark out and you won't be able to play in the snow.


My mother would have made me come in and do my homework first. So there.

Well, the snow was falling at a fast enough rate that by the time I finished the driveway I had to go back to the beginning and start again. I ended up going over the entire driveway three or four times.

The kids don't have school today (but don't know that yet). My "policy" is normally that if it is too bad out weather-wise for the kids to go to school, then it's probably too bad out for me to drive 30 miles through the country to work, and I just take the day off. Unfortunately, I have two or three things that I have to do at work today (that must get done today, and I have to be at the office to do them...) so I'm not going to be taking a snow day.

However, I'm letting the kids sleep in. I'll take them to Grandma's house when they get around to waking up. And I'll wait until every other moron from town has made the drive up Route 130 to Champaign-Urbana and is out of the way, and then I'll go to work.

Okay, time to go shovel the driveway again...

Posted: Friday, December 09, 2005, 12:46 pm
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What to Do?

As I drove down Front Street in town I happen to see a white Mercedes coming toward me--it's Grandma. Except I'm on my way to her house to get the kids. I give her a quizzical look as she passes me and she flails her arms around in her funny half-hysterical way that she does. I didn't see the kids in the car (I thought maybe she was taking them with her to the grocery store or something) so I figured they were with Papa. And a minute later my phone rang. Yep, Gwammo was on her way to a meeting at the school.

So I get to their house and they are in the kitchen with Papa baking cookies. "Oh, they just got here," Papa said. He told me to go home and Joyce will bring them home when she gets back from her meeting.

Well, the redhead doesn't get home for another half-hour. I have no consulting work to do. The house is picked up. I checked work e-mail and there was nothing of importance there. And I'm sure that I spend plenty of time alone and don't realize it, but right now I feel like something is wrong, like I need to be doing something. I could watch TV, I guess, and maybe fold some laundry--that doesn't sound compelling.

I guess I could go start making dinner...

Posted: Wednesday, December 07, 2005, 10:27 pm
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There's a Fungus Among Us!

Okay, I just had to say that...

I got my stitches taken out this morning. Then they made me go back and sit in the waiting room because they had a call in to the pathologist to see exactly what the outcome of the biopsies was. They didn't know already? That kind of made me nervous.

Nothing to worry about. No cancer.

Just a fungus. Two weeks of Lamisil tablets and I'll be all cleared up!

How nice for me.

Oh, and I fixed the background of my smilies so that they are transparent now--no more white box. Not that anybody would notice that other than me...

Posted: Wednesday, December 07, 2005, 6:28 pm
Mood: Pretty Good | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Grade School

In an attempt to open up my psyche (so she can hopefully fix it), my therapist has given me a multi-page set of questions that I'm supposed to answer regarding my experiences in grade school.

I don't like this....

As far as "full" memories go, that pretty much starts when I met the redhead, and even then, things non-redhead-related are often shut out. I keep that stuff locked up for a reason. I don't want to go there. I don't want to look inside those boxes. For any reason.

There's no need to. I have my wife and kids, and that's all I need. I don't need memories of grade school. Of high school. I simply don't want to think about it. Ever again.

I picture my memories as all being in a huge vault. And inside that vault are floating globules--packages of memories. (Like the Klingon blood in The Undiscovered Country when they didn't have gravity, but black, not pink...). And I just avoid touching them as I meander through life.

And I guess it isn't like there's anything terrible in there. I just don't have any desire to look backwards any further than about 1993. It's not important. It doesn't matter. I have what I need right now.

But she's not going to be thrilled if I show up this afternoon and haven't made an attempt at this. It sucks having to do stuff that I don't want to do....

Oh well.

I get my stitches out today and (hopefully) find out what the creeping crud on my leg is...

Posted: Wednesday, December 07, 2005, 1:29 pm
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Happy, Happy...

I have talked in the past to my therapist about making a web page that I can go throughout the day and choose my mood from 1 to 10 and have it entered into a database (and keep track of the unixstamp as well) and after a certain amount of time extrapolate the results and draw a graph.

This has to be on a sin-type curve. It just has to....

At any rate. I wanted to post a picture of the tree, so here goes:

I tried several different lighting schemes (without using the flash) and probably should have tried with the piano light off, but this was the best of the ones I had....

The kids ended up staying with Grandma today for an "extra" period of time, as she asked them to decorate her tree. I had already thrown Italian Beef into the Crock Pot (at 6:00 this morning) so the redhead and I ate sans children.

Posted: Wednesday, December 07, 2005, 1:30 am
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"IT" has Arrived!

The big surprise for my wife (it's actually not that big of a deal, but she doesn't know what it is, and I'm tickled that I was able to get one for the price that I did...) has been delivered and is now sitting (presumably) on the floor of the garage, just inside the door (people door, not car door).

Another (actually lots more expensive) present for the redhead is apparently on the FedEx truck right now and should be delivered today as well.

It looks like most of the crap for the kids should show up tomorrow or Wednesday. Actually, BF 2 was delivered today as well, in the same UPS drop-off. That means I should get to the garage before I go pick up the stinkpots. Christmas is so much easier when I don't have to go deal with shoppers...

Busy, busy, busy at work today--I can't believe that it is after 3:00 p.m. already and I'm just now coming up for a breath of air. I learned a lot today about something neat called a "LEFT JOIN" in SQL. Say you have a table of "states" and another table of "major cities" and you want to query and list each city, state combination. Well, if there aren't any cities in that table that match a given state (say, for instance, we forget about Anchorage and pretend that there aren't any "major" cities in Alaska) but we still want Alaska to show up in our result set, if we do a simple query that would involve part of the where clause with something like cities.stateID = states.stateID. If there are no cities that have the same stateID as Alaska's state ID in the other table, Alaska won't get returned at all.

If we instead do (before our where clause) something like LEFT JOIN states ON states.stateID = cities.stateID, we will get our entry for Alaska (one row) with NULL listed in the cities field.

That probably wasn't a good explanation. Maybe I'll get around to writing a silly "article" about it, now that I understand it better. Anyway. Almost time to go home!

Posted: Tuesday, December 06, 2005, 9:18 pm
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Back to Work

Well everyone survived yesterday. As it turns out, my dauther has bronchitis as well as a sinus infection. And she's been walking around coughing for two weeks and hasn't complained one bit about feeling crummy. She's one tough little stinkpot...

My son was feeling much better by the time I got home. He spent the day watching a bunch of shows about ghosts on the Discovery channel. After the redhead got home from the doctor's office with Em she headed into work for the afternoon. Poor Em was under the impression that she wasn't going to be able to go to the Christmas Concert because we were making that the consequence of staying home from school. No... The school doesn't let you participate in extra-curricular activities if you don't go to school that day. We're not just being strict parents...

We're working our way through our third snowfall of the season. At least people are remembering how to drive in the winter again.

Well, I have a somewhat busy day ahead of me so I should get back to work....

Posted: Tuesday, December 06, 2005, 2:44 pm
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Oh Christmas Tree...

We finally caved in to the wishes of the children and went and got our Christmas tree yesterday. And I think we're finally getting wise to the "system." Every year we go to a local place where they let "customers" drive around in a golf cart while choosing the perfect tree. After finding it, the high school kids that work out there will come cut it down, drag it back behind a four-wheeler, and then put it on the shaker-thing to get rid of all the dead needles. Then they wrap it up and into the back of the truck it goes.

And we used to spend forever picking out a tree. It was different this year, however. I think we were all freezing our butts off and were on the same page--we drove out to the middle of the field, picked the first halfway decent tree we could find, and held up the orange end of the pole (to let them know we had found a tree).

Within minutes we were back in the warm truck with the bundled-up tree in the back. We got it home, I put it in the tree stand and strung the lights, and then the kids were let loose with the ornaments.

The redhead and I went outside while this was going on--I hung the last strand of white lights on the front of the house, and she wrapped the front porch poles with the evergreen wrapping stuff (and hung two wreaths on the front of the garage). And now that it is all said and done I think both the house and the tree look great.

I finished up the initial typesetting of the book I'm working on last night (thank goodness). Now let's hurry up and get to the corrections--I need to submit a bill and get paid for that monster because I just added up how much we've spent on Christmas....

Uh oh--sick kid back at home. Looks like I'll be working a half-day (the upside, if there is one, is that this means we'll get out of having to go do the Christmas concert at the school tonight--does that sound mean?)

Posted: Monday, December 05, 2005, 1:36 pm
Mood: Pensive | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Christmas Shopping

Without giving to much away (since she's already acting half-irritated that I won't tell her what it is...) last week I ordered something for my wife for Christmas from I had never used "the big O" before, but when shopping around for this particular item, figured I'd give it a try.

As it turns out, they had 10 of them (or so they said). And they were $20 cheaper than at the other places I had checked. So into the old shopping cart it went. I filled in my credit card information, shipping information, etc., and clicked submit. Then, being the smartass I am, I went back to see if the 10 left had changed to a 9--or whether or not everything just said "hurry only 10 left!" to try to incite people to purchase stuff they don't need.

And it didn't say 9 left. It simply said "Sorry, sold out."

Uh... Did that mean I got mine? Really? Ten sold out in the few seconds it took me to enter my name and credit card information?

So I was a bit nervous that maybe my transaction hadn't taken place (even though theoretically I should have had one reserved for me the moment I clicked to add it to my cart, and that the 10 should have changed to a 9 at that exact second, not just after I had checked out...). I waited for a confirmation e-mail, and it just listed that my order had been "accepted." Well, that could mean anything. I remember sitting in an airport on Raleigh looking at a screen that said my plane to Cincinnati was on-time when it had in reality been cancelled hours before...

It shipped on Friday. Tee hee. I've already started tracking its progress. Yes, I got one of the ten. And yes, it is on its way.

The redhead and I closed the doors to the Nerdrium yesterday morning and, well, basically did all (or almost all) of our Christmas shopping for the kids. She sat at one computer with one list and I sat at another computer with the other list. And away we went. Most of the places I bought from had really inexpensive shipping, which was cool, because I would have bought the stuff whether the shipping was cheap or not. I hate going shopping. I can't stand being around mobs of people. Especially mobs of selfish, rude, and for the most part stupid Christmas shoppers. Blech. I have a few things for the wife that will force me to venture into the real world, but for the most part, Christmas is done and should be here within the next ten days.

I love the Internet.

Well, I suppose I ought to go back to bed.

Posted: Sunday, December 04, 2005, 10:51 am
Mood: Content | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment


The redhead and I have had an interesting existence together, and have gone through dating, marriage, children, losing jobs, finishing college, buying houses, and all sorts of other things.

Well, today we got around to cleaning out the downstairs hall closet (I may have mentioned that last weekend, or the weekend before that...). I loaded three bags of perfectly good (but too small for our kids) coats into the trunk of my car, and I'll drop them off at Goodwill on Monday. Well, the kids saw the JVC camcorder that I bought probably 7 years ago and obviously wanted to "play" with it.

It is one of the ones that uses the VHS-C format. It's VHS tape, but the tape cartidges are smaller. You can put them in an "adapter" tape and then watch them in a VCR. Each tape is only 20 minutes at "normal" SP (and 60 minutes at extended play). Before letting the kids go haywire with the thing, it occurred to me that for many years I meant to get some actual new blank VCR tapes and transfer the smaller tapes to them, so that the smaller tapes could be recorded over and used again. So at Dollar General today I picked up a pack of TDK VCR tapes, and this afternoon the four of us wasted, well, a few hours watching old videotape as it played from the camera and was recorded on the kids' VCR (and also displayed on the kids' TV screen).

Oh my goodness. This will sound so odd (well maybe not to those of you that have followed along with what an emotion freak I am...) but most of the reason that the camcorder didn't get much use for the past few years was guilt on my part ("imagine that," everyone says in unison). It was a spur-of-the-moment purchase. "We're parents of young kids--surely we need this, whether we can afford it or not." Yes, I charged it. And sure, it has been paid off for years but I still remember being as poor as we were at the time and I had wasted money on a damn camcorder.

And then I felt guilty that we had only used it a half-dozen or so times (and I had remembered wrong--we used it more than twice that many times...).

But after watching tapes of the stinkpots today, I determined that after one tape, every single penny that was "wasted" was worth it. We'll never get that time with the kids back.

It was so fun to see footage of our last two houses. To see the furniture that we had (mostly hand-me-downs). To see how we have progressed.

And that was just the background.

I don't remember the kids being that little. Was I working too hard? Was I that oblivious? Oh my goodness--these tapes are hilarious. I wouldn't trade them for the world.

I hope to have the rest of the "small" tapes transferred over to normal VCR tapes tomorrow. And then the kids can go hog wild with the camcorder and start recording as they see fit.

And I no longer feel guilty. What fun!

Posted: Sunday, December 04, 2005, 2:03 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment


We finally got snow yesterday!

Of course, the drive to work yesterday was a mess, and it still wasn't that great going home either.

I'm so glad today is Friday. I'm worn out. Although, I have to typeset the rest of the chapters of the book that I'm working on this weekend, so it isn't like I'm going to get much of a break. At least it's "Bamba Day".

Well, I don't have a whole lot else to talk about.

Posted: Friday, December 02, 2005, 3:52 pm
Mood: Good | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

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