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Archived Entries from December 2007


I Am Not Legend

And I'm not a legend, either.

But I am the only person in the building right now. Mine is the only car in the parking lot. It's quiet.

I woke up at 5:00 or so this morning and found myself to be the only occupant in my bed, which was strange, so I went downstairs and the redhead was at the kitchen table in her nightgown checking e-mail. Apparently our son had been up throughout the night with an upset stomach (ahem, to put it nicely). All I have to do today is print out registration cards for the two conferences at work, so I threw on sweats and headed up here. The redhead has to work today, which is silly, but she's going to stay home until I return, which will be right after the last 58% of the cards print for the second conference.

I was going to come in tomorrow and print cards, but there's really no reason to. The first conference isn't until the 9th, and there will be plenty of time to get caught back up before then (and what's one day's worth added to the upcoming long weekend?).

So anyway.

We had a good Christmas. We did Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at our house because my mother-in-law contracted shingles. Yikes. She's much better now, however.

We had appetizers and wine on the Eve and then cooked a prime rib on the Day. Normally the redhead and I stay up late on the Eve and wrap the rest of the presents after the kids go to bed, but I'm getting older and getting sleepy sooner and the kids are getting older and staying up later, and, well, then there's the whole wine thing, so I was out cold before we had time to finish up with the presents. So the redhead and I woke up at 2:30 in the morning on the Day and finished up with the presents.

And, as turnabout is fair play, to make up for kids waking us up early on Christmas Day to open presents, we got the kids up early this year. Yep, at 3:00 a.m. Stinkers.

The kids probably knew that they were getting golf clubs because they got to open one present from their stocking the day beforehand and both opened up golf balls. I bought Em a full set of women's clubs, that the redhead can use as well, rather than messing with kids' clubs. I got Alex a new golf bag, a new driver, and a new putter (and he can use my old irons). Alex also got a couple of new PC video games, some custom t-shirts that he wanted that I made at CafePress, and some other stuff that I can't remember. Em got some new basketball shirts and shorts, golf accessories, and some books. And I'm sure the redhead will scold me for not remembering everything the kids got, but that was two days ago, and the only reason I'm even saying anything about it is to build up for the finale.

Alex has been bugging us about getting an electric guitar for some months now. After conquering both Guitar Hero II and Guitar Hero III he thinks that he's the next Eddie Van Halen and wants to prove it to us. We, of course, told him he was crazy if he thought we'd ever get him an electric guitar. Just as crazy as Em was at thinking that we'd get her a cell phone at 11 years of age. And we explained before Christmas that the kids needed to remember that the dog was a present too. So after opening presents, we hoped it was clear that the golf clubs were their "big" presents for the year.

Then I went upstairs and returned with the last two presents. Both kids were stunned.

While not a Gibson or a Les Paul (or some other kind that he kept talking about), Alex couldn't believe his eyes when he opened the guitar. I talked to my pal Larry Gates months ago about this and asked him for advice, and he pointed me at a guitar made by a company called First Act. It was relatively inexpensive (as far as things go) and came with a "starter" amplifier, as well as a beginning guitar book and extra strings and picks.

Em got her cell phone, a Samsung model that is cooler than the one I have. We decided on the pre-pay plan, because while I was talked into letting her have a phone, I'm not about to add her to our family plan and have my next bill be $250 because she sent 7,294 text messages. She has spent the last 48 hours programming every little aspect of the damn thing, from the background pictures, to our phone numbers, to setting alarms for when she has basketball practice.

But the present I had the most fun giving was to the redhead. One day when she was bored she discovered a web site for something called Homestar Runner. And once when we were driving in Champaign she saw a car with a Homestar static window cling and insisted that she get one. So I figured what the heck, and ordered them several weeks back. And the best part of the present was that I got her a t-shirt as well for Trogdor, the "Burninator."

It's sort of an inside joke, but apparently the Trogdor/Burninator song is on one of the Guitar Hero play lists, and the redhead sings it all the time, especially when cooking. "Burninating the Dinner...." I've never sat through any of the Homestar flash videos, but both the redhead and the kids got a kick out of the t-shirt and the static clings and bonus bumper sticker pack.

I apologize that this post has been meandering around from point to point without much structure, but I haven't posted in a week and am trying to get it all in...

On Christmas we had the in-laws over for dinner, which consisted of prime rib and twice-baked potatoes. We had never cooked a prime rib before, so we read a few recipes on-line, used and modified some personal bar/restaurant methods, and managed to come up with our own special method for making the prime rib. And let me say, it was awesome. So much so that I'm finally going to add a cooking/recipe category to the Nerdrium so that I can write down how we did it for the future. I also half made up a recipe for au jus that was wonderful as well. And the potatoes were fantastic.

Yay--the printer says that the final job is at 80%. Maybe I can get out of here in the next half hour or so...

What else?

Tomorrow night I'm going to the Illini vs. Loyola basketball game with my pal Darren and Sunday we're going to see the Colts play in Indianapolis (Shannon got him tickets to both games for Christmas). Molly is also having Christmas Take Two at her house this weekend because Billy and Jen and Will couldn't come up for "normal" Christmas because of the whole shingle situation. It will be a busy weekend, but should be loads of fun as well.

Okay, that's enough rambling for now....

Posted: Thursday, December 27, 2007, 1:43 pm
Mood: Fortunate | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Isn't It Ironic?

No, none of Alanis' examples are even close to irony, but this is:

Roofing company billionaire dies after falling through roof

10:54 AM CST, December 21, 2007
BELOIT, Wis. - Associated Press

The 91st richest man in the U.S., a roofing company billionaire, has died after falling through his home garage's roof, local authorities said Friday.

Ken Hendricks, 66, was checking on construction on the roof over his garage at his home in the town of Rock Thursday night when he fell through, Rock County Sheriff's Department commander Troy Knudson said.

Here's the entire story.

At one point in the article it says that he's "unfazed" by his wealth, and that it really means nothing because he couldn't spend it unless he sold the company.

"I'd have to sell the company, and I'll sell the company over my dead body."

Uh, well?

And yes, it is very tragic that this guy lost his life (although I'm sure inheriting billions of dollars will make the pill a bit easier to swallow--pardon my callousness....)

Posted: Friday, December 21, 2007, 9:28 pm
Mood: Amused | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


5:00 a.m.

It's down to the last couple of days before the holiday break, and I'm swamped at work, so I'm not at all surprised that I was up at 4:30 this morning. I threw a load of laundry in the washer, unloaded, loaded, and started the dishwasher, and then came down to check the news (essentially give the various washers time to finish up) before getting in the shower.

And of course I thought the following news blurb from the Tribune was worthy of a complaint:

"The mother of astronaut Daniel Tani--Rose Tani--was killed Wednesday when the car she was driving went around a school bus and past a downed crossing gate before it was struck by a train in Lombard, police said."

Yes, I realize that this is an awful thing. But I think it is awful when writers write like this as well.

The "car she was driving?" It makes it sound like it was Christine.

How about "when SHE DROVE around a school bus..."

I realize the poor woman got killed, but it wasn't the car's fault. Even though "it was struck" by a train (how about "before being struck?").

Anyway.

Well, since this is apparently public knowledge at work now, I suppose I can mention it here as well. Part of the reason I'm so busy at work is that a number of us are switching offices. The switch for the two bosses wasn't a secret, but the fact that I am getting a new office was. It is actually even bigger than the one I am in now--it's essentially a "double." It used to be a conference room and then was used by the Extension secretary to mount posters and store things, etc. Everything in there is getting moved out, I'm getting a bunch of RC-45 jacks installed, along with an alarm, we're having it re-painted, and I should be moving in the next few months.

The big boss had most of his furniture and stuff moved yesterday and my old boss who I call boss but who isn't really my boss anymore will be moving in the next couple of weeks. We've already had his room painted, but when the building was re-wired nobody had ethernet jacks installed in that room because it was previously used for storage. So I placed that order earlier this week.

And of course we're in the throes of the social security number removal program.

Anyway. Boring post, I know, but that's sort of what I've been up to this week. I think the washing machine just finished the final spin cycle....

Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2007, 11:21 am
Mood: Wired | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


One More Semester to Go

I just now got my final grade for my Intrusion Detection class. We had a final project (that was both fun and pretty cool) that was worth 40% of our grade, so really everything was up in the air until that got graded. My final weighted total for the class was 98%, so a better showing than the 90.1% I had in that silly Animals class.

So that all but ensures that I'll graduate at least cum laude next May. I can get an A and a B, or even two B's, and still be above 3.75. If I get two A's I'll score magna cum laude. I only keep talking about this because it drives the redhead crazy. Not sure if she's looking forward to graduate school for me or not. Oops. I'm not supposed to talk about it again until the admission decision is made in March.

In other news, it is absolutely gorgeous outside. I was up early this morning and everything was covered in white. From "freezing fog." It almost looks fake. Unfortunately the camera is on top of the fridge, so I couldn't take any pictures.

Believe it or not, I'm actually looking forward to Christmas this year...

Posted: Tuesday, December 18, 2007, 1:37 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Here We Go...

Oh boy.

Dear Applicant:

Thank you for your recent application to the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Receipt of this email confirms that the application form has been received by the department and the Office of Admissions and Records.....


This is still a good idea, right?

I just hope I'm busy enough next semester that I kind of forget about the whole grad school application. I won't hear anything from them until March 15th. That's going to be three long months.

I wish we'd get our grades for the Network Intrusion Detection class...

Posted: Friday, December 14, 2007, 2:22 pm
Mood: Nervous | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Pyromaniacs

I offer these photos only because I was looking though a flash card for something else and realized that I promised to post these. So here goes....

Remember my neighbor and how he cut down a thirty-year old perfectly good redbud tree? Here is his attempt at sating his need for having something on fire all the time. Oh, and part of the reason the pictures look crappy is because they are taken through a screen (I was painting Alex's room--I don't normally hang out in my house waiting to take pictures of my neighbor...).

So he cuts up a bunch of the branches, and big chunks of the stump, and makes a pile. Then he goes into his garage and returns with a full bag of charcoal briquets and stuffs it down into the bottom of the pile (that's when I rolled my eyes and thought to go get the camera...). Next he rakes up leaves all over the pile of debris. Because the wet leaves will be a perfect way to light a fire with branches of a tree that was just cut down.

Note the compound mitre saw right behind him. Previously, in his quest to defoliate his entire yard, he had used a circular saw to cut branches from trees. Besides the fact that you can't get the blade deep enough to go all the way through a relatively thick branch, and that the guide for the circular saw prevents you from getting close enough to the tree to properly remove the branch in question, it tells you in the manual for any circular saw in the world to use it on construction lumber only, and not on live wood. Why? Because sap, etc., gunk up the saw and ruin the motor. There's a reason chain saws exist, and a reason you use a chain saw to cut up a live tree... So he ruined his circular saw, and replaced it with a DeWalt compound mitre saw. A nice saw, to be sure, but not one I'd use to cut branches, or, well, anything other than wooden trim. And without sounding like a total captain obvious, my chain saw didn't cost $400.... (And that model is only similar to mine--I've had mine for probably ten years now...). Fine, it isn't a "real" chain saw, like a Husky or a Stihl, but it works quite well for a typical homeowner, and is much cooler than any of those crappy electric ones.

Anyway. He's going to ruin that perfectly good DeWalt mitre saw.

So he can't get the leaves to catch fire because (duh) they're wet. Lighter fluid will fix that. An entire bottle of lighter fluid.

Yay! We have fire! Thank goodness for lighter fluid!

And then in the time it took him to stand the bike up that was behind the pile (not sure why there was a bike in his back yard) and say "Shazam!" the leaves had quickly burned away and left the pile of wood and branches, and presumably, the bag of charcoal that was stuffed inside.

And just so we're all clear: I don't go around making fun of people just to make fun of them. I'm a nerd. I got picked on as a kid more than any of the rest of you. I promise. But my neighbor started this. He started cutting apart bushes and trees on my property, and then became indignant when I very, very politely asked him to stop. He even asked me several months after the first incident was long over with if he could once again cut the bush that was on my property back down to the stump on the ground.

My mother-in-law feels sorry for him, and will be quick to point out that he's in "Mensa" and is just so much smarter than the rest of us. And as I've said before, Mensa isn't that exclusive. My ACT was good enough for my being offered a membership--a membership that I then declined, having proven my point. Top two percent of the population? Hardly exclusive.

I can get into Mensa as well. Yet I appreciate nature and don't exhibit signs of asperger's syndrome. I can change my own oil. Heck, I just re-did my front brakes last weekend.

Eh, I'm just grouchy and very, very stressed about this graduate school thing. I should probably just close this window before clicking the "post" button (actually it says "format"--there are a couple more steps...). But I did say a while back that I'd post these pictures, and made no mention of what sort of commentary I'd offer....

Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2007, 2:33 am
Mood: Amused | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

Hmm. Part of me wanted "Be" to be lowercase, but since it is a verb (okay, the whole thing is an infinitive, right?) I thought it should be capitalized. But then it looks funny when "to" is not capitalized.

And "Up" is a preposition, so really it shouldn't be capitalized either, right? The best bet would be to capitalize "to" just to make it all match and hope that, while that might be wrong, it could be forgiven in the interest of making it all "match."

So anyway. All the more reason that I should be a computer geek and not have my college legacy consist solely of a degree in rhetoric--a degree that I almost didn't get.

Thank goodness for papa. Going back to the day he told me to quit the bar job and explaining that he'd pay for me to go back to school and then realizing what that has meant for the last twelve years makes my brain go all Chuck-like and "flash" on that time period and realize just how important of a decision that was. By both of us. Holy moley.

And now I'm applying to one of the best graduate computer science programs on the planet.

Anyway.

I wrote my essay today, explaining my previous computer science schooling, and going all the way back to being a nerd in high school and then getting derailed from my path. We got from there to here, and that's all that matters.

I'm turning in my application tomorrow. And then we just sit and wait for three months....

Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2007, 1:52 am
Mood: Nervous | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


(No Title)

Ugh.

I don't necessarily want to be awake right now.

But my head hurts, and it is dryer than hell in our house, and I was thirsty. And of course, to remedy any of that first involves getting dressed and letting the dog out. So now he's all cozy back in his kennel and here I am awake.

I didn't get my grad school application turned in yesterday. However, I did make some progress on my "what I want to be when I grow up" essay with the help of our friend Susan. Maybe I can finish it up later this morning and get it turned in and forget about it. I don't like this kind of stress.

I don't like waiting for final grades either. I had a close call this semester. In my silly Animals in Human Civilization class I scored 180.7 points. Out of 200. Yeah, 180.0 is 90%. Squeaked by with that one...

I still don't know about the Network Intrusion class, although unless there is something seriously wrong with my final project I expect to get an A in there as well (I was at 96% of total points going into the final).

At least I've finally be able to beat Desktop Tower Defense on "medium."

Okay, I really, really have to get that essay finished today and my application finalized. I need to get some sleep....

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2007, 11:20 am
Mood: Anxious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Grad School Application

It's due Friday. Well, Saturday.

But it is getting submitted today. I'm not leaving the office until I write my "what I want to be when I grow up" essay, get my transcripts together, and get it all submitted.

School is done for the semester. This is the only thing I have left to do that is urgent this year.

Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2007, 3:18 pm
Mood: Anxious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Oh No...

They're going to tear down my bar.

It's been closed for years, but still. Tear it down? Really?

And I bet the Cochrane's don't own the building anymore, so chances of my getting any mementos are probably slim.

The building where the redhead and I started our journey is going to be torn down. I'm actually getting a bit emotional about it.

This sucks.

Posted: Monday, December 10, 2007, 5:01 pm
Mood: Unhappy | 3 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


One Semester to Go!

Well I finished up my "Animals in Human Civilization" early this week, and today I turned in the final project for my Intrusion Detection class (it is due in two days).

Phew.

The project for the Intrusion Detection class was actually kind of cool, and I enjoyed doing it. We had to run a sniffer (snort--see snort.org) on one machine and then have it capture packets, and then write rules to send alerts when certain packets were caught. Not very interesting to the average non-nerd, but I thought it was really cool. You'd be amazed how many electrons are inconvenienced when you go Christmas shopping on-line.

(And you'd be amazed how much traffic is simply going in and out of your computer at any given time...).

Anyway. One semester to go.

Up next week: finish grad school application (due the 15th).

Then maybe I can relax for a few weeks. Maybe.

Posted: Saturday, December 08, 2007, 12:02 am
Mood: Relieved | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


There Was This Joke...

...that had something to do with an Illinois farmer going to hell. And "the devil" kept increasing the temperature and the farmer didn't seem to mind. Finally "the devil" turned the thermostat way down, and the lava started to harden up, and icicles started to appear, and snow began to fall, and the hardened farmer, who "the devil" had hoped to break, was jumping up and down claiming that a certain college team was going to a certain bowl game.

Well, hell froze over today.

Yep, Illinois is going to the Rose Bowl.

I knew that there were all sorts of scenarios involving either Missouri or West Virginia losing, and even though both lost I still figured it was a long shot.

But really.

Illinois is going to the Rose Bowl. The "Granddaddy of Them All."

Oskee wow wow!

Posted: Monday, December 03, 2007, 2:13 am
Mood: Awesome | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


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