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So I went to work really early today, because I knew I was going to have to leave early. Two of the bosses fly out to DC tomorrow so I figured I needed to be as available as possible before they left--in case they needed me to do anything last minute for them. Also, I had to upload some powerpoint presentations and send out a notification today for a teleconference that happens later this week.

And of course, of all days, I had to leave at noon so I could be home in time for the cable modem repairman who I was told would be at my house some time between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m.

The powerpoint stuff wasn't completed until this afternoon, so I had to do everything from home (create a couple of web pages, upload the files, send out notification, etc.). Thank goodness the cable connection behaved through all of this.

The cable guy showed up at 5:30. Sheesh.

The good news is that I walked on the treadmill for 20 minutes before I had to pick the kids up, and then walked for another hour later in the afternoon. Woo hoo!

The redhead had a fabulous day at work, and got in to see the dentist so he could figure out what was wrong with--I mean, what he screwed up when he put in her bridge.


Posted: Tuesday, February 01, 2005, 12:01 am
Mood: Fair | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Dang Cable Modem...

My cable modem connection at home has been experiencing outages, for hours at a time. Yes, I've disconnected the cable and power. Yes, I've waited before hooking it back up. Yes, my bill is current and paid. I finally called them yesterday and they said that it isn't an area-wide outage. I don't know if that is good news or not. A guy is coming to look at it this afternoon.

Oh wait, I guess I talked about this yesterday....

Today is the first day of work for the redhead, and then she has to go to the dentist afterwards because something is wrong with her bridge. Ick.

I actually exercised a couple of times this weekend! Saturday I rode the exercise bike for a half hour, which was cool. Sunday I stopped riding after about ten minutes because my shoulder started to hurt--we have one of those bikes where the two handles move back and forth so your arms move while you are pedaling. I suppose it is a better workout, but for some reason my shoulder was sore... Undaunted, I hopped off the bike and onto the treadmill, and walked for another 45 minutes. My son asked me how fast I was going and when I told him his reply was "that's not very fast, dad." Come here, you little stinker... Sheesh. I tried to explain to him that walking at a normal, sorry--"not very fast" speed for a long time was better for me than running as fast as I can for two minutes before collapsing.

I was really sore afterwards, which felt good. I walked during the entire second half of the Purdue-Michigan game. I don't know that listening to music is enough for me when doing this--I get bored too easily and become too aware of my exhaustion level and want to quit. But watching a ball game makes me kind of forget what I'm doing, if that makes any sense. Good for me!

So after sitting in the garage all weekend, I fully expected my car to be a weenie this morning. And of course, it started right up (all six cylinders too, which was amazing). How bizarre. Stupid damn thing...

Posted: Monday, January 31, 2005, 3:53 pm
Mood: Blah | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment

Two Weeks Until Payday

The redhead starts her new job tomorrow, but obviously won't get a check for a while. I have a small amount of consulting money coming, but my pay day for my "real" job isn't until the 16th. Unfortunately, during the whole rush of consulting money the past few months I was more of a grasshopper than an ant. This will be an interesting two weeks...

Well, yesterday was fun, at least. It snowed Saturday night and most of the day yesterday, and it was about 32 degrees outside--perfect snowman, snowball, snowfort, weather. The kids decided on snow forts, and were having a slow go of it. That's when I directed them to take up positions on either side of the driveway, about halfway from the garage to the street. I then proceeded to shovel the driveway, angling each shovelful of snow at one of them or the other. They had pretty cool forts by the time all was said and done. My son grabbed some sticks and made them stick out of the top of his fortress wall and called them barbed wire. When my daughter did the same I commented that hers were "Barbie" wire. Tee hee.

We had a good snowball fight afterwards. The kids are still so small that I have to really try to not hit them anywhere important (i.e., the face). My best course of action was usually to wait until they were reloading or turned the other way and I'd try to hit them (lightly, of course) in the back.

We were going to have friends of ours over Saturday, but one of the chitlins apparently wasn't feeling well so the redhead cancelled those plans. Unbeknownst to her I had asked my pal Jeff over as well, and she wasn't quite in the mood for entertaining so I called him and cancelled. I think he was irritated but having when it comes to deciding who should be catered to I do have to note that I have to live with my wife every day.... Anyway.

So we had steak for dinner, and I actually thawed them first instead of trying to grill them when half frozen. I cooked them perfectly. The baked potatoes were great, and the redhead even made Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix stuff, so the salad was pretty good as well. We watched some show about these people trying to be the next home decorating maven (I hadn't seen it before but the wife and kids knew all about it...). All-in-all it was a pretty darn good day.

Oh, and of course, the basketball team won as well. The game at Michigan State on Tuesday should be interesting...

My darn cable modem has been cutting out--usually really early in the morning. I've tried the entire reset scheme of unplugging the coax and power cables, waiting a minute, and plugging things back in, but that hasn't helped. All of a sudden, at some point during the day, it just starts working.

I'm half wondering if it isn't temperature-related, since it happens overnight (the coldest time, presumably) and seems to fix itself somewhere around the middle of the day. Either way, I get to take a half-day of work tomorrrow because they are sending a cable guy out to look at it some time after 1:00 p.m.

I hope the redhead has a good first day of work tomorrow!

Posted: Sunday, January 30, 2005, 5:10 pm
Mood: Good | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

The Silicon Chip Inside Her Head...

I just read on Headline News that today is the 26th anniversary of that girl going postal by a playground in California. How bizarre. And how bizarre that Headline News would dig that tidbit up for the news today. Anyway.

Thank goodness this week is over with, even though it isn't, necessarily. One of my bosses is merging a bunch of powerpoint documents today (that have been submitted by various other professors throughout our region of the U.S.), and will be calling me at home if he has problems. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

I actually slept well the last couple of nights (yes, I know it is 6:00 a.m. right now, but that's much better than 4:00....).

Freezing rain, sleet, and snow today--what fun! I'm glad I don't have to go anywhere.

Well, I'll try to write more later. I'm just not very motivated right now.

Posted: Saturday, January 29, 2005, 12:16 pm
Mood: Anxious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Okay, So I'm Not Going to Bed Right Now

I don't think "ambivalent" can be used as a mood, but what the heck.

I'm all caught up with my school work (this semester has been a lot of fun so far--the instructor seems really cool, and well, I just have a good feeling about it). While work has been hectic, I should be all caught up by the time I leave the office tomorrow. And the redhead starts work next week. Thank goodness.

Now back to scheming about those dual 19" flat panels that I've had my eye on since before Christmas....

Our friends Tod and Margaret are coming over on Saturday, and I'm really looking forward to it. Tod and I basically hide downstairs from the girls and talk geek shop. For hours. With lots of beer and wine. Good times. I don't know if they will have their kids with them or not--they still haven't determined that part yet.

Well, I don't have much else to write about. I was headed upstairs to watch television with the redhead for a little while before hitting the sack, but she's watching Dateline (or some such program) and as soon as I entered the living room she said "you're not going to want to watch this..." so I did an about-face and headed back down here to my cave. Apparently the segment is over with, so I'm going to go back upstairs and watch the news with her (I really tend to not like television news-magazine stories that involve bad things happening to kids, so I'm guessing that's what the story involved...). Anyway.

Good night from the Nerdrium...

Posted: Friday, January 28, 2005, 4:03 am
Mood: Ambivalent | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Thursday Evening

Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday...

Both Jeff and Tod are taking tomorrow off, so I guess I'll be eating my Friday burrito alone. Oh well. I'd play hooky too if I didn't have so much to do.

This week has been brutal. I'm glad it is almost over with.

We had Casey's pizza for dinner tonight. Nobody felt like cooking, and I'm broke, but we did have 10 box-top coupon things so we got a pizza for free. Not too shabby, and the kids were pleased.

I did a couple of hours of consulting, which was kinda nice.

I accidentally found an e-mail address via Google for my old next-door neighbor when I was growing up. Maybe I'll talk more about that tomorrow--I'm ready for bed right now...

Posted: Friday, January 28, 2005, 3:21 am
Mood: Worn Out | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Fear the Turtle

First off, kudos to Maryland for beating "The Turd" last night. Yay!

So my mood is improving (note the "Mood: Improving" to the left of this post...). Apparently "Fear leads to Anger, Anger leads to Hate, Hate leads to Suffering" wasn't completely made up by the Jedi Master, Yoda. Fear is why I have been angry this week. And not fear of a battle station, but fear of being poor again.

It hasn't settled in emotionally yet that the redhead starts a job next week. And I'm standing on the edge of the cliff, looking down, at a place I've been twice before, and didn't like either time. And I'm afraid of falling down there again.

And that fear manifested itself in my being a grumpy pain-in-the-butt this week.

I'm ready for Spring. I'm ready for sunny, warm days. I'm ready for getting back to my landscaping project(s). I'm ready to have the money to build a new computer. Or three.

My car wouldn't start right away this morning. I had to actually tap fuel injectors before I got it started up. And then it still had 2 cylinders not firing. Part of me thinks I should just get a different car when the redhead starts working, but why waste the money? It's not like it is "dangerous" that the car is sometimes a pain in the neck to start. I just have to tap the damn injectors, but once they get going, it isn't like they stop when I'm driving along. So the worst thing that could happen is that I get in a situation where maybe all the tapping in the world won't get the car to run? Big deal. It isn't like I don't know a half-dozen people that live in my town that work here on campus as well. (And hey, starting next week the redhead will be in town as well). So I think I need to just buck up and deal with the stupid thing, and drive it until it is totally, absolutely, dead. Sure would be fun to have a spiffy new car, though. Oh well.

Well, while I'm still very much looking forward to this week ending, I have made some breakthroughs in the past couple of days. I found out that the reason I couldn't connect to my test server using CocoaMySQL is because the new version of MySQL (4.1.x, as opposed to the 4.0.17 that is on the production server) uses 41-byte hashes instead of 16-byte hashes from the old version. Using "old_password" will force it to use 16-byte versions in the user table, and then CocoaMySQL works just fine.

AND, I also got my ColdFusion datasource connection working for the new IPM Center web site that I'll hopefully have up and running next month. That was a treat to deal with, but it is working now and I'm quite thrilled that it is.

I actually have consulting work to do tonight. Note that for two weeks when we didn't know about the redhead's job situation I had no work to do, and now that she gets a job now I get some work. Oh well.

Posted: Thursday, January 27, 2005, 8:03 pm
Mood: Improving | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Grumble, grumble, grumble...

Why am I so grouchy? I mean, I've been miserable lately.

Work is going well, although I've been busy. The consulting has died down from the frenzy it was in December, but I'm still doing a little bit and having some extra money. The redhead found a job that she'll be happy at.

The kids are healthy. (And happy!)

Why can't I be happy? Why can't I sleep through the night.

I just don't understand....

Posted: Wednesday, January 26, 2005, 7:18 pm
Mood: Grumpy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Battlestar Galactica

So I'm like the recent episode "33" (woo hoo--Rolling Rock!) of Battlestar Galactica where every 33 minutes the Cylons catch up with our heroes.

Except my routine doesn't involve human-like robots bent on destruction, and is closer to 24 hours than 33 minutes....

That is, once again, it is 4:00 a.m. and I'm awake. WTF?

And yes, I'm getting ready to have something to eat because i'm starving.

I need to get back to bed because I have a lot to do at work today....

Posted: Wednesday, January 26, 2005, 10:19 am
Mood: Exhausted | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

A few things...

One. Don't use "quotes' in the title--it ejects everything after the first quote, hence a couple of nonsensical titles a few posts back. (Note: fix that...)

Two: Cheap server service == crappy server service (no offense "Vincent"). I'm glad nothing important lives on because sometimes it is available, and sometimes it isn't. And a 90% uptime guarantee does nothing when it is 4:00 a.m. and my site is down and I want to Blog.

Three: That's it. Back to regularly scheduled programming....

Posted: Wednesday, January 26, 2005, 3:02 am
Mood: Not Too Bad | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Shall I Say

So get this bizarre turn of events...

The redhead didn't hear back from her second interview on Friday. Both she and I knew that that wouldn't be good news...

And it wasn't. She got the call today--she didn't get the job.

Why didn't she get the job? I don't know if I mentioned that 60 people sent in applications, eight were interviewed, and two were interviewed for a second time on Friday.

Well, the person that got the job already worked there.

Let me explain... This real estate outfit already has a huge office in Champaign. They are opening a new satellite office in Urbana. They needed a new receptionist for the new Urbana office. That's what the redhead applied for (and was interviewed for). And, again, how do you beat someone that is already in the company?

Longer story here, that she found out from the head cheeze, and I'll spare the details at this point. It should be known that he was quite impressed with her during both interviews.

But essentially, the redhead gets the job of the woman that left to go to the satellite office. Woo hoo!

It still isn't full time, but we're not concerned. Foots in doors is better than no feets at all (ancient parable, I'm sure...).

And now it is time to climb. The debt is paid off (for the most part), the freezer is full of meat, the cars are paid for, and nobody needs braces yet. I want to build the checking account buffer back up to at least the $500 I had in it before Christmas break (that is, I "lied" about deposits so that the actual number in the register didn't reflect another $500 or so that was in the account--saved us a ton of money on accidental overdraft charges...). I want to have a couple thousand in "emergency" savings." And then it is time to grow from there.

If I can get a little help from some troublesome fuel injectors, and some patience from a quartet of oxygen sensors, and a healthy family that needs to stay that way for a few months, it is quite possible we could be in fabulous shape by the time summer rolls around. But the plane is no longer gliding--the engines have re-started and we are climbing into the sky.

I'm very, very optimistic right now. I think I may sleep well tonight!


Posted: Tuesday, January 25, 2005, 1:11 am
Mood: Thrilled | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment

Baby Steps

I actually rode the exercise bike for 20 minutes yesterday. It felt kinda good, to be honest.

Here's my next baby step--quit eating during bouts of insomnia. Almost every day I wake up between 3:00 and 4:00 and watch Headline News for an hour (well, or I blog) and then go back to bed. And every time I make myself something to eat. I don't think that I'm necessarily hungry, but it seems like the "thing to do."

I was good about it this morning--I watched a full hour of CNN/ESPN and didn't have a bite to eat. (And I still haven't had anything to eat yet today).

Every little effort helps, methinks.

Still no word from the place the redhead interviewed with last week. I'm guessing that if she doesn't hear anything today, a bong letter will be appearing in the mailbox tomorrow or Wednesday, which totally sucks. That means it is probably off to the temp agency later this week, which then makes me feel crummy because then I feel like I'm making her go back to work. Oh well.

Posted: Monday, January 24, 2005, 2:49 pm
Mood: Anxious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

No News Not Good News...

Well, apparently the second interview went well, but they didn't call yesterday afternoon with a job offer. Hopefully they decided to mull it over the weekend and make a decision by Monday.

We hope.

I just hope we can forget about all of this until then (it's not like there's anything that anyone can do about it at this point) and enjoy the weekend. Really, really crappy weather and nowhere to go--sounds like a good excuse for family game day!

Oh why can't I ever sleep through the night anymore?

Posted: Saturday, January 22, 2005, 9:14 am
Mood: Exhausted | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

The Redhead

I just love her....

She has her final interview later this morning. 60 applicants, of which 8 were interviewed, and it is now down to 2. I can't handle this kind of stress--I'm glad she's a stronger person than I am....

I've spent a lot of time the past 48 hours reflecting on our time together. I'm scared to death about this interview today. The job would be an absolute perfect fit for her. I don't even want to talk about it right now. I just hope she gets it.

I must admit that part of me is of course thinking about this whole situation in terms of our finances. I'm in the midst of a complete consulting lull, and while the University pays the bills, there aren't thousands of dollars left over afterwards.

But I've been doing a lot of reminiscing about the early years of our relationship. We were unbelievably poor back then. When our son was born we lived in a tiny, tiny two-bedroom apartment in V.G. (that we had to paint before we moved in--her dad owned the building but doesn't anymore, I don't think). Gross old shag carpet. An avacado green fridge. After our daughter was born we had moved up in the world. Instead of a gross two-bedroom apartment we lived in a gross two-bedroom duplex. We had stray cats living under the place, and it always smelled like cat urine. Blech. My daughter had her days and nights mixed up and wouldn't sleep except in this swing-thing that we had, that ran for 20 minutes at a time and as soon as it stopped she would wake up.

I had finished up college by the time the kids were born. My first job was as an assistant book editor at an outfit in Champaign. Perhaps the term "sweatshop" would be more appropriate. $6.50 per hour. I had been making more money at the bar job that I had quit to go back to school. It was ridiculous. The people there were weird. The management acted like they were these all-important high-and-almighty executives. And the woman that ran the place, well, she was just bizarre (and I'm pretty sure she died a few years back...).

The redhead was actually making more money than I was at the time, working for the optometrist who would later go broke and then shoot himself in the head (idiot). After six months at the sweat shop I was talked into taking a job at a liquor distributor, for $8.75 an hour. That job lasted all of two weeks. I had been approached by the husband of the woman that babysat our son--this guy had been one of the delivery drivers that I dealt with when running Cochrane's during my break from college (and his dad was the Coors Light truck driver--I still see him sometimes when I'm out on campus). Anyway, this distributor had just had a few people quit and really needed the help. The reason they quit? The company was getting bought out. Duh. I started the job and lost it two weeks later.

That's a whole separate fiasco that I'm not in the mood to get into right now.....

As it turns out, that was the beginning of my road back to nerddom.

Throughout all of this my wife was utterly supportive. There's no way I could have survived everything on my own...

At one point I told her that we were like "two sticks in the mud." A stick in dry ground will stand up straight, but once it starts raining, the dirt turns to mud and the ground will be less stable and the stick will fall over. But no matter how muddy it gets, if you prop two sticks against each other, they will be able to continue standing. And that's what we have done--leaned on each other. Like two sticks in the mud.

I'm scared to death for her right now. This job would be so perfect for her. And I know she would be perfect for them. So I continue to hold my breath....

However, even if the dice don't roll her way this morning (and I really hate saying that...) we'll be okay. Unlike Nute Gunray (or whatever his name is) and the trade federation, we will survive this. The temp agency that got her the last job she had will find her another one. They are the same people that got me on my feet after the liquor distributor fiasco.

She deserves to get this job today. And I really hope she does, for her sake. For our sakes. The other morning before I left for work, on the day of the first interview, I told our daughter to behave and not be a pain in the butt that morning, because mom had an important interview, and it would be good for all of us for her to get that job. She later explained to her mom that "dad said it would be good for all of us if you got this job..." She's hilarious.

She has a flat spot on the back of her head from sleeping in that silly swing cradle for the first year of her life--right where the middle of the back of her head met the edge of the swing seat.

Well, I'm going back to bed, where my own personal fusion reactor is currently keeping the temperature at a balmy 90 degrees, even though it is freezing in the house right now. I hope I have good news to report in 8 hours.

I love you, honey. Good luck today.

Posted: Friday, January 21, 2005, 10:14 am
Mood: Tired | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

The Diet-Coke of

The redhead apparently kicked butt at her interview this afternoon. Sixty people sent in resumes, they interviewed eight today, and it is now down to TWO. This Friday she goes in for a second (and final!) interview. I don't know who is more nervous--me or her. I have full confidence in her, of course. I hope this all works out. I almost can't wait to find out what happens....

I spent therapy today lamenting about my status quo and my whole "missed the train" post. Apparently I've found it convenient to just blame my father for everything. "What if your mom was just sick, and didn't die, how would things have played out?" I don't necessarily like dealing in "scenarios." Sometimes I don't wonder if my therapist just said "dude, it was twenty freakin' years ago--get over it" what the outcome would be for me. We're now at T-plus-more-than-half-my-life from this. I have to raise two kids, and continue working (I hate using that term for this) at my wonderful marriage. Oh and I have a career too. I don't have time for this mom dying $#!% anymore. Yet it continues to fester.

I hope the redhead gets the job on Friday. It will be a perfect fit for her. Okay, I'm not talking about it anymore until I know something... No need to report that to him until we have something to report! (Thanks, Nute...)

Work today was fun. I finally erased my "old" Dell and installed RHEL 3.0. Tomorrow I'll do Apache and MySQL and PHP and all of that baloney. I just hope that ColdFusion will let me install it on a second behind-the-firewall machine... I still like PHP better...

Oh I really hope the redhead gets this job...

Posted: Thursday, January 20, 2005, 12:49 am
Mood: Anxious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Job Interview Day

The redhead has a job interview this afternoon. And of all the resumes she sent out, we think this would be the best job to get. It's part-time, 9:00 to 4:00, but the location is perfect (right up route 130 in Urbana) and the 9:00 starting time means she can still take the kids to school at 8:00 and have plenty of time to get to work. And a quitting time of 4:00 means she'll get home at the same time I do.

She doesn't need health insurance (she's on my coverage at work, and nobody in town offers better insurance than the University, and since both kids are also on my insurance, I wouldn't even save any money if she weren't on my coverage plan...) and we're not that strapped for cash that working 35 hours vs. 40 hours is going to make that much of a difference. The hours and location would be just perfect. I'm keeping my fingers crossed....

In other news, I finally got the old Dell Optiplex up and working (with a new install of Windows 98!) thanks to a donated hard drive (since the one I bought for a dollar on eBay was no good...). I even hacked the wiring so that I could install an old case fan (which is loud as heck, but it won't be in my classroom...). My mother-in-law is thrilled, which makes me happy, of course.

I just erased the Dell in my office that was running RedHat 9.0 and installed RedHat Enterprise ES 3.0. Now it will truly be a test server, with an exact copy of everything from the production server. That way, if there's an explosion in the server room, I can switch the IP address on my test server and keep the web sites up and running.

Posted: Wednesday, January 19, 2005, 3:39 pm
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The draft around the windows in my office is ridiculous. I mean, it is freezing in here. My hands are starting to get numb from typing. I need to bring a tube of caulk in here tomorrow and seal the cracks where the wooden window frame meets the cinder blocks--I can literally feel a breeze all the way around the window. I'll have to add that to my list.

And I need to order dry erase markers so that I can remove that from the list. Golly, I'm so organized now.

Okay, I'm going to head across the hall and use one of the computers in the lab so that I can make a RHEL boot disk.


Posted: Tuesday, January 18, 2005, 3:38 pm
Mood: Cool | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

The Nerdrium

I decided that "clean the Nerdrium" was the object that I wanted to cross of "The List" today, so that's what I did. Most of the cleaning problem in here is the dust that is conveniently harvested by multiple computers and their multiple fans. Blech. When I was a kid I had something called a "clean air machine." It was basically a small plastic thing with a fan inside and an air filter on the bottom, and you just turned it on and it sucked air and dust into the filter. I can't find such an item anymore, and I'm not spending $600 on a room ionizer or some such b.s. I just want a clean air machine.

Well, a while back I ordered a bunch of different sized fans from American Science & Surplus. I got several small fans that were either for laptops or for video cards (what I wanted them for is a long story, and it didn't turn out, so there's no point in telling it--they are in a box on a shelf now...) along with a monster fan--bigger than the normal (is it 60mm?) PC case fan. I think it is the size of the fan in my Quicksilver G4, but I'm not sure. Either way, it is lots bigger than a "normal" case fan. I could totally build a small enclosure out of wood and put a screen on the bottom of it and then cut up a furnace filter into squares and build my own "clean air machine." I just may add that to "The List." The biggest problem is that I'd either need something to convert AC to 12 volt DC, or more likely, knowing what a hack I am, I'll just solder alligator clips to the end of the two wires and hook it up to a cordless drill rechargable battery. Surely a fan would run for several days--it can't possibly drain that much power. I suppose I should look into that...

What I need to do is find some useless piece of non-working junk around here that plugs into the wall yet whatever it does is actually DC current and gut it. Okay, back to the present....

So there's a lot of dust down here. Well, I sucked up most of it with a dustbuster after using a can of compressed air like a leafblower.

The big thing I needed to take care of was to throw away my broken 19" monitor. Just to be sure, I shut down the redhead's PC and hooked it up. And it worked. Huh. I don't have any idea what the problem was with my G4, but the monitor seems to be working now. We'll see how it goes.

So now instead of a 19" monitor on the floor I have a 17" monitor on the floor. Sheesh. (Well along with a broken 15" and an old Apple 13" that both need to be pitched...).

I also took the "broken" Asus nVidia GeForce FX 5200 card and installed it in the PC to see if it still works. It does, but the fan really is loud. Without going through warranty baloney, I wish there were a way I could just buy a new fan for this thing. I mean, honestly. (Who throws a shoe?) So I put the ATI 7500 back in--it also needs the have its fan replaced. I realize graphics cards only cost fifty bucks, but I can't bring myself to throw away something that isn't obsolete, that works, but that has a bad fan. (This must be the part of dad-instilled behavior--he would order parts for a ten dollar toaster not just because he's cheap, but also because he knows that replacing a broken part will return the toaster to working condition--I'm normally more of a "throw it away and buy another one" kind of guy...).

So anyway, I spent some time dealing with a 4 gig drive that I bought on eBay to put in an old Dell Optiplex (Pentium 200 MMx with the maximum 128 megs of RAM!!). When I tried to format it way back when it got halfway and quit and said the drive was corrupt. So I unplugged the internal zip drive of the XP box and plugged this drive in as slave. I downloaded Western Digital's utility program and first ran a "quick scan" that ended up looking like it was going to take hours. I cancelled that and told it to write zeroes, which surprisingly, didn't take that long. Back into the Dell it went, and I booted up with the Windows 98 boot disk. I still think the drive is screwy. Using FDISK it took four tries to create a partition--it "checks" the disk first, and after getting to 100% the first time it simply started over. After getting to 100% the second time it asked me again if I was sure I wanted to delete all information. Another couple of trips to 100% and it finally said the partition was created.

Now we're formatting. 4 gig disk. It has been over an hour since I typed "format c:" and we're at 17 percent completed. It's hosed... I'd love to get this machine out of here--it's for my mother-in-law's classroom. (Yeah, the stupid football team gets new uniforms every year, but my mother-in-law has to count on me to get her new computers. And "new" is an 8-year old machine with a 7-year old operating system on it. Absolutely pathetic...).

Oh, now we're at "trying to recover allocation unit 171,670". It's hosed. I guess I'll be spending another ten bucks on eBay...

Other than that, the mess is picked up, for the most part. I'm still irritated that I never got my dual 19" flat screens. Maybe once the redhead gets a job (hopefully this week!) I can start saving some money again. The consulting cash flow has ground to a halt, and I don't expect it to start again for quite some time--if ever again (I have a feeling that raising my rates may have had a somewhat-expected side effect, that is, they may not need me anymore....). Oh well. As long as the redhead finds a job it won't matter, and I'm actually enjoying not having anything to do when I'm home. It's sort of odd, actually.

Well, 24 is on in a few minutes. See? What fun! I can watch television shows again now that I'm not working every night!

Oop--and we're up to 18% completed. I may let this booger run just to see if it ever finishes.

Posted: Tuesday, January 18, 2005, 1:52 am
Mood: Accomplished | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Holey moley...

Who says alcohol isn't a depressant? My goodness. (Although I do still think that George Clooney et al. are a bit misguided in their actions...)

Well I'm much better today, at least. I actually slept through the night last night (I made it all the way to 7:00 a.m. without waking up!). And just now I got through an hour-long nap. How wonderful.

The children have been bouncing off the walls since they haven't been in school since last Wednesday. Not to be mean, but they have been driving me and the redhead nuts (aargh!). So today they asked to go to Grandma's house to play board games. And Grandma was okay with that, so off they went.

Then I snuck off to Champaign and got a couple of burritos for myself and the wife unit. Mmm. Perfect for inducing a nap.

Hmm. Cleaning up the Nerdrium is on my list. Perhaps I should get busy so that I can cross something off....

Posted: Monday, January 17, 2005, 9:41 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

I Don't Like Hollywood

Show me again, oh E! Entertainment News, just how much money is spent to give "gift baskets" to weirdo actors and actresses to appear at the Golden Ass, and Silver Tabloid, and Platinum Gramatica award shows. THOUSANDS of dollars.

Yet they hold telethons to raise money for tsumani victims.

Hey, Clooney--write a check.

You know, I don't accept any reason that any foreign country has to hate the U.S. I love my country. And all other countries can kiss my butt, whether or not they moderately dislike Bush, or completely hate him.

But sitting here at home, in my "wealthy" country, I get ticked from time to time. No typo. I'm not tickled.

I'm not privileged. I don't make millions. Yet there are more than a dozen that do. LOTS more. Thousands make millions. Probably more than that.

And they implore me to give?

YOU give.

YOU quit wasting your time messing with politics. YOU quit accepting gift baskets at stupid, moronic award shows. YOU start helping out people in THIS country before giving money overseas just to make yourself feel better.

Oh, it was so rough when you started out at Julliard and couldn't make ends meet. I DON'T CARE. You are a millionaire now. I, while arguably more talented than any of you, am not.

"But I'm speaking out for John Kerry because he speaks for all of us..."


I should not post after having a glass (or three) of wine....

This country needs a legitimate third party.

Posted: Monday, January 17, 2005, 5:07 am
Mood: Irritated | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Glass Half Empty

I'm fearing my mid-life crisis right now. I know not everyone has one, but the redhead and I have both acknowledged that if it happens to me, it could be a really, really bad thing. And it is on its way...

Selfish? Yes. Probably. But I want more. I want to have made an impact. I want to leave a legacy. I want fancy things and fancy houses (yes, plural) and neat stuff. I don't want to worry about bills. Ever again.

And I'm still not there yet. And I'm 35.

Why am I in school right now? I took my first quiz today in my new class. So I'm going to spend 4 years getting another bachelor's degree, and then who knows how much longer getting a master's degree. And what for? To teach computer science at a community college and make less money than I'm making now? (And I'm not just spouting right now, money-wise--I know for a fact what brand-spanking-new Ph.D. types make when they are first hired on as "associate" or "assistant" professors, or whatever they are, at the university where I work, and it is only a few grand more than I make. I don't for a minute think that instructors with master's degrees at the local community college make more...).

Aaargh. I hate feeling this way. And feeling this way makes me feel guilty, to boot. I'm fortunate to be in a pretty durn good situation.

I'm feeling old, and I need to not feel old. And I can't help it. The computer/internet revolution whisked by me while I spent several years after my mother's death trying to be "cool."

I never got to M.I.T. I never got to Cal Tech. I could have. I hesitate to say that I should have. This was out of my control. A pretty good baseball pitcher, who is on his way to the top, has his career ended on a fluke batted ball that ruins his throwing arm. He'll recover, but he'll never pitch the same again. No, not like that. Maybe a pitcher that gets into an auto accident that isn't his fault. And things just change.

The train left the station without me. And I'm now running alongside the tracks, hanging onto a suitcase with clothes sticking out the edges, desperately trying to catch up, but the train is long gone.

I don't mean to sound regretful. "I could'a been a contenda'" isn't usually my style.

But sometime soon it is going to be clear that I need to push my own whatever-the-hell-it-is "drive" out of the way, and focus that energy on the kids. It's not about me anymore. And it shouldn't be about me anymore....

Posted: Monday, January 17, 2005, 2:14 am
Mood: Maudlin | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

The Garage

I almost forgot to mention that I finished cleaning off my workbench yesterday. What a mess.



Now that my workbench is all cleaned off, I just need something to actually work on. Well, and it needs to be about 20 degrees warmer--it was freezing out there yesterday..

Speaking of freezing, it isn't exactly balmy in the house right now either. And everyone else is still in bed. And I was just upstairs and the redhead looked so cozy. I think my pillow is calling my name...

Posted: Sunday, January 16, 2005, 1:20 pm
Mood: Tired | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Burritos and Football

I started this blog for several reasons. For starters, I think, I thought it would be fun to write the "software" myself using PHP, just to see if I could. (Yes, I use the term "software" very, very loosely...). I'm very happy with the way it is progressing. However, probably the main reason that this gob of 1s and 0s exists is to help me therapeutically. I like to write. I like to express myself. It helps me to not bottle things up inside.

I still bottle things up inside much too often, so I won't for an instant say that this is a cure.

Anyway, the idea behind this was for me to express my thoughts. Not to start discussions with people. Not to argue with people. I'm not explaining this correctly.... I guess what I'm trying to get at is that I wanted a "space" where I could pretty much say whatever I wanted, and I didn't necessarily have to be influenced by what anyone else thought about what I had to say. I like to discuss things with people, for the most part, and there are times that I do so. But the blog was about me, and my thoughts.

And I should pause here and note that I'm not complaining--I'm not suggesting that this has turned out to be anything I didn't want it to be--that isn't the case at all! I'm perfectly happy with the way things are going here. 100%!

Sheesh, I make no sense at 6:30 in the morning.

(And I just heard a noise outside one of the Nerdrium windows--I bet a damn raccoon just got into the garbage tote thing...)

My point, if I can ever get to one, is that I know that a half-dozen or so people read what I write here. Duh--I can tell because of the "comments" section, if nothing else. And I'm glad that people are interested. (Although I don't know why anyone would be, I guess). I just hope that I don't ever get into a position where I am pandering to an audience. I want to continue to be me. I don't want to second-guess what I want to write, because I might think "Hmm, this might bother so-and-so, so I better not write it." If people want to disagree, fine. I'm not saying people should agree with everything I say (note: if anyone does agree with everything I say, they need to be in therapy too...). And again, I'm happy that people read this, and enjoy it when people post comments. I just want to stay true to myself, or something.

I don't know if I'm making any sense at all.

Now, all of that said, at the behest of one of my favorite Oregonians, I added a craptastic search feature. It's basically a MySQL one-liner, and it is by no means uber-useful.

And I've only mentioned burritos (have to search for both burrito and burritos) six times. So there...

Posted: Sunday, January 16, 2005, 12:34 pm
Mood: Happy | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment

Three-Day Weekend

Three straight days with nothing to do. No work, no consulting, no stress.

Ack. Note to self: change the "Post a Comment" e-mail notification feature thing so that when I post a comment I don't send an e-mail to myself telling me that a new comment was posted. Sheesh....

Anyway. I made the kids breakfast (sausage links, scrambled eggs, toast, apple juice, and milk) and cleaned up and now I'm ready to tackle the garage and lift some weights as well. First to go is the broken 19" television perched atop the upright freezer. Then I have a 7200/75 to dismantle (already priced things on eBay--it really is not worth enough to even mess with, so away it goes as well). Actually, it is mostly dismantled anyway, I think. I'm pretty sure the CD drive has been removed and I know it doesn't have a hard drive...

Next I need to make it so that the various yard utensils have a nail from which to hang--there are way too many of them in corners of the garage and just laying around in general.

And I really, really need to get my workbench cleaned off. There's no room on which to actually do any "work."

There are several bags of clothes that have been accumulating--I need to throw them all in the trunk and go to Goodwill on the way to work on Tuesday.

That weight bar is going to be cold...

Posted: Saturday, January 15, 2005, 4:03 pm
Mood: Excited | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment

Oxygen Sensors

I replaced the oxygen sensor on a Grand Am we used to have several years ago. There was one sensor, right on top of the exhaust manifold, right inside the engine compartment. It was $20 and took only a few minutes to replace.

Now the engine light of the redhead's Aurora is lit (and has been for a while), it is pissy about starting when it is cold, and, well, it has 99,800 miles on it.

So I went to to price an oxygen sensor.

It doesn't have one.

It has four.

Dual exhaust, two catalytic converters, with a sensor before each and after each catalyst. Groan. Okay, so it will be $80 to $100 instead of $20. I can live with that.

Nope. $70 to $100 each. And I have to buy or rent a special tool to get them out (and I wondered why Oldsmobile was cut from the GM lineup...).

I think once the redhead gets a job and we get the mattress paid for, and a few other loose ends tied up, I'm going to replace one or both of the cars.

I'm so sick of dealing with the damn cars all the time. I'm so tired of having to coax my stupid car to start and have all six cylinders run from the get-go. I'm tired of my headlights blinking when I touch the brakes.

And yes, most of the problems that the Aurora has are honestly probably because I ran off the road last winter. I'm still not thrilled about how much more expensive parts are for it because it is a "luxury" car. You can't tell me the technology inside an Aurora oxygen sensor is any different than the technology inside a Grand Am oxygen sensor. Okay, you can tell me. But I won't believe you.

The stupid thing is, I'll probably replace it with another Aurora...

And as much as I'd love to get rid of my stupid car and get myself a used Lexus, I'm sure that I'll continue to drive it, and continue to complain about it, and continue to work on it, for several years to come.

Posted: Friday, January 14, 2005, 10:56 pm
Mood: Blah | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Battlestar Galactica

..starts tonight! I can't wait.

Even though the redhead has already started giving me crap about it, I'm really looking forward to it. I thought the miniseries was really cool last year and was hoping that wouldn't be the end of it.

Even the geeks on /. seem to think this show is a good thing...

Is it time to go home yet?

Posted: Friday, January 14, 2005, 9:13 pm
Mood: Content | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

The Buck Stops Here...

Well, it finally happened. I now weigh over 200 pounds. That would be just fine if I were 6'2", but I'm not. I'm 5'8". I try to ignore it, but I get winded walking up two flights of stairs. This is ridiculous. I have an exercise bike, a treadmill, and a 305 pound olympic weight set at home, and I'm 40 pounds overweight. I say 40, and not 60, because I don't know that I can ever get back to the 140 pound range (high school?). I'm not Arnie, by any stretch, but I do have a good amount of muscular mass, and without making that go away, I don't think I can get much below 160.

But rather than make this too insurmountable, let's stick with something less ambitious. How about 190, or even 180. I have to start somewhere.

And it really isn't my diet--I really don't eat an abnormal amount of food. The only food I shouldn't be eating is leftover pizza at 4:00 a.m. when I can't sleep. And I would bet that if I'd lose 20 pounds my apnea would get better and I wouldn't be waking up at 4:00 a.m. every other day... I don't drink a lot of pop. I guess I probably intake too much beer... Either way, exercise must be the answer.

I have to start doing something. I'm not getting any younger.

Posted: Friday, January 14, 2005, 2:48 pm
Mood: Grumpy | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment

More Basketball

I should start by explaining that I know virtually nothing about basketball. I never played it as a kid (organizationally, I mean), and I really, really, am more of a computer nerd than a person that knows, well, pretty much anything about sports. The redhead was captain of her basketball team in high school, my father-in-law is a relatively accomplished high school basketball coach (for both boys' and girls' teams), and even my father was a pretty good basketball player "in the day."

(Note: but I can fix the printer when it won't work anymore...)

Anyway, I've grown to be more of a basketball fan since coming to college. And my interest has continued to increase. And while of course I was a fan of the Bulls when they did their "threepeat repeat," after coming to college I now understand the people that says that college sports are much, much better than pro sports (I still like pro football, but the NBA needs to raise the rims by 2 more feet, have a 10 second shot clock, move the 3-point arc out another few feet, and play 10 minute halves instead of however-long their quarters are now...).

Golly, have I mentioned that my Alma Mater is ranked number 1 right now (and is still undefeated?).

I kinda hoped that Iowa State would have knocked off Kansas last night. The further away the number 2 team is, the better. Kansas is "number 2." How fitting.

And now I'm torturing myself watching NC State play Duke, at Raleigh, NC. Come on, Wolfpack. I've disliked Duke from the moment I ever had an opinion of college basketball. Laettner? Jerk. Bobby Hurley? Jerk. Now Elizabeth Hurley on the other hand... Oh wait. What was I talking about? Oh. Duke. Tee hee--speaking of "number 2."

NC State was up by ten. Now they are losing. Groan.

However, after watching Kansas v. Kentucky over the weekend, and Duke v. NC State tonight I can promise one thing--Illinois is way, way, way better than any of those teams and would crush them in minutes.

Take that from this 5'8" white guy, whose frat brothers and bar employee friends called "Wilson" because if someone would quickly pass me the ball it'd slip through my hands and imprint the logo on my forehead...

Okay, I don't have anything else to say of importance. Not that I place any importance in anything I say in this blog. This is therapy to me. Oooh, I think I hear cheering from the other room, so I'm going to get back to the game (I've been relegated to the kids' 27" television in the playroom so the redhead and our offspring can watch some cheesy reality show on the "good" TV upstairs...).

Again I say, "Go State!"

Posted: Friday, January 14, 2005, 1:40 am
Mood: Not Too Bad | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment

Rain Day?

The kids don't have school today. Not because of three feet of snow, but because of the torrential rains we've had the past week. My guess is that most of the country roads are covered in water and the busses can't get through.

I'm keeping a close eye on the weather--this rain is going to turn to freezing rain and snow, and I don't want to be at work (30 minutes from home) when it does...

The Illinois basketball game was awesome last night. They were a bit sloppy at first, but they got their act together and played pretty darn awesomely.

Of course I always enjoy seeing the Chief perform at halftime. And singing the Alma Mater still almost brings tears to my eyes when I realize just how lucky I am to have had the opportunity to attend college.

The best part was at the end of the song (...Vic-tor-y, Ill-i-nois, Var-si-ty!), the crowd ended the last syllable of Illinois with a hiss. (Ill-i-noissss instead of Ill-i-noy). Our new football coach, Ron Zook, during the press conference announcing his hiring said on television that he was excited to be here " the University of Illinoisss." (He pronounced the "s" at the end--even the Sportscenter people picked up on it and made fun of him....). Anyway, I guess that isn't that funny, but I was amused.

Posted: Thursday, January 13, 2005, 3:32 pm
Mood: Good | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Airplanes and Basketball

Dumb title. Oh well. I guess I don't even know why I title these silly entries anyway. Ho hum.

I said "airplanes" because a ton have been flying over my building today. We are northest of the airport, and several miles away. I think the reason for the traffic today is the weather--more specifically, the wind direction. Willard (the airport) has two long runways that cross each other like an X. Anyway, for the most part I'm pretty sure that they come in from the northwest and land on the northwest-to-southeast runway. Today, because of the wind, they are coming in from the northeast--right over my head.

I guess I didn't realize quite how many jets landed at little ol' Willard every day. I knew that the American Eagle Embraer flies back and forth to O'Hare several times a day, and that Delta has a few connections to Cincinnati, but I had no idea that this many jets flew into Champaign every day! I mean, several an hour have been coming in to land.

I'm fascinated with airplanes and flight, even though I personally hate flying (no, I don't know how that makes any sense). It scares the hell out of me. Yes, I know all the statistics. Yes, I know it is safer than driving. And yes, after I get off of a plane I do realize that it is never as terrible as I think it is going to be. I just have this whole problem with gravity. I think what happened is that I became mortal as soon as I had kids....

So I'm going to the basketball game tonight with my friend Tod. Well, it's against Penn State so I'm not sure just how much of a "game" it will be... It's always fun to go nevertheless, and I'm really looking forward to it. And, of course, have I mentioned that we're Number One?? Tee hee.

I do have three words about tonight's NCAA basketball games in general, however. "GO IOWA STATE."

Yes, we're better off without Bill Self, but I still want him to lose. And keep losing. And have terrible teams. And get fired. And then look back at what he had at Illinois. And think "maybe I shouldn't have been a selfish jerk and gone to Kansas." Okay, probably not. But a guy can dream, can't he? As long as Kansas loses a game before we do, I'll be happy...

Okay, back to work...

Posted: Wednesday, January 12, 2005, 7:30 pm
Mood: Cool | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Much better

Well, I am now all caught up on my consulting work, which means no more immediate money for a while, but I'm sure the redhead will find a job soon. And I'm thankful to be caught up. And I think she's thankful to get out of the damn house.

Drat. I need to go fix the treadmill.....

Posted: Wednesday, January 12, 2005, 2:34 am
Mood: Improving | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

A Little Better?

I don't know if my mood is improving, or if I'm just too worn out to continue being grumpy. After all, being as grouchy as I have been lately is really a lot of work!

I think it helps that most everyone else has been out of the office yesterday and today, and not that interaction with any of them is ever bad or anything, but I think I just like sitting alone in the dark.

Apparently school started yesterday. Whoops. I suppose I ought to get the book at some point. Apparently we'll be doing some work in Java, which should be fun. I haven't played with Java since my 12-month incarceration at Illinois Power in Decatur several years back.

The redhead had a job interview yesterday that seemed to go pretty well, and I mailed two more resumes out for her today that were both for jobs for which she seemed like she'd be a great fit. We'll see how it goes. The flow of consulting money slowed down to a trickle after the first of the year, as expected. I can't decide if I like the money better, or being able to come home and be finished with "work" for the day.

Oooh. Battlestar Galactica is on SciFi tonight. And I think I'm grilling ribeyes for dinner, so tonight could shape up rather well. Hopefully by tomorrow my grumpiness will be completely rinsed away.

Well, I guess I don't know much else....

Posted: Tuesday, January 11, 2005, 8:47 pm
Mood: Improving | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Cynical Insomniac

Or maybe insomnial cynic.

I even took NyQuil before I went to bed last night and here it is, 4:30 in the morning, and I'm wide awake. I need to start lifting weights again when I get home from work or something so that I'm more tired when I go to bed. Or something.

So I trust that the countries of Europe, along with Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Sandra Bullock, multiple Nascar drivers, and the NBA are planning on donating millions of dollars to help out with mudslide relief in California. Oh, they aren't? Huh. I thought people were expected to help out in times of crisis. I assume the head of the UN will lambast everyone this morning for not doing enough, since even though it will take years to rebuild roads and houses and such, waiting a week to donate money is just plain evil.

And I'm reminded of the fact that there are starving children right here in the U.S. And kids that don't have warm enough winter clothes. Yet my children are both embroiled in a school contest to see which classroom can collect the most money to send overseas. And the classroom that gets the most gets a pizza party. Sheesh.

Okay, I need to shut the hell up and go back to bed.

At least those jerks at CBS got canned. If only they would have fired Rather as well (yes I know he's already said he's resigning in a couple of months).

Posted: Tuesday, January 11, 2005, 10:56 am
Mood: Grouchy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Worse Than It Was for Alexander

I think I need to change my "mood tool" from a pull-down menu (with a textbox to add new ones, of course) to a set of checkboxes. That way this morning I could check "grumpy," "grouchy," "irritated," "uptight," "stressed," and add "aggravated."

It's not even 7:00 a.m. yet and this is already shaping up to be a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day.

I'm uptight because I planned to cross three things off my list yesterday and instead we spent the better part of the day at my in-laws' house. Which was fine--I figured it would be good for me to decompress and hang out with the redhead's family, whose company I more-or-less really enjoy. A couple of football games and a basketball game were on the agenda, along with a lot of food (of course). But Kansas won. And I hate it when Kansas wins. And then the Vikings won. And I hate it when Randy Moss wins anything.

Fine. They are just sporting events. But I wasted my afternoon not getting things done that I wanted to get done in anticipation of Bill Self getting his butt handed back to him at Kentucky. And it didn't happen. How silly to be irritated by the outcome of a college basketball game, especially when it isn't even my team. I think I'm more irritated that I wasted my time than anything. (That is, if Kansas would have lost, I still would be irritated about wasting the time, but I would maybe have been slightly less irritated...).

So today is "garbage day." And garbage day is always irritating because, well, I have to take out the garbage. In a perfect world I could take it out the evening before and be done with it, but we have a raccoon problem, partly due, I'm sure, to the fact that there are goofy old white trash folks in our neighborhood that leave scraps out to feed them. Groan. So I have to leave a cinder block on our garbage tote thing so that the little bastards can't get into it. And I'm sure if I left it out at the street with the cinder block on it the garbage men would either drop it onto my nice concrete driveway and break either the block or crack my driveway, or they would just not take my garbage at all. Either way, the tote doesn't get dragged to the street until before I leave for work. Think it's not going to be a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day? Look at the stupid lengthy paragraph I just wrote complaining about taking the garbage out. Sheesh....

Then my car decided to be difficult. Of all the days. I think no fewer than 3 cylinders were not firing when I started it. One turned on a few seconds later, but two were still stuck. Grrr. So flashlight and screwdriver in hand I started the process of tapping away at the fuel injectors to get them unstuck. One of my brakes is still scraping, which means it might be the front left brake, which I haven't looked at (I took the front right tire off and those pads seemed fine so I decided not to do the front ones). And I'm really getting sick and tired of the damn lights blinking every time I press the brake pedal. Chasing that bug down needs to be on my list... Stupid car. I try to be patient. I try to be thankful that I don't have a car payment. But on mornings like this I'm ready to shove than thing off a cliff and just go buy a new car. I suppose it is a good thing that there aren't any cliffs, or even any somewhat steep hills, within hundreds of miles of central Illinois.

So I'm a few blocks from the office, and a Honda whips around a corner and is tailgating me in a residential neighborhood where the speed limit is 30 and, get this, I'm driving 30. "I'm about to slam on my brakes, dude" I said after his headlights almost disappeared from my rear-view mirror because he (assuming it was a he) was so close. He must have heard me, because then he flipped his brights on. Pedal to the brake. Brights off. Foot off the brake. Brights on. Pedal on the brake, and I all but stopped in the middle of the road. Brights off and I continued. At that point the street widens to two lanes in each direction and we approached a stoplight (where I needed to turn right). I was hoping this person would pull up next to me, and in anticipation of that I rolled down my window (at least something on the stupid car still works). Fortunately, I guess, he turned left just as the yellow left turn arrow turned off (but before the "main" light turned green for our direction). And I almost turned around. That is the kind of mood I'm in. And two blocks later, when I was almost at the parking garage, I almost turned around again. Now, who knows where this person would have been by that time, but that's how irritable I am today.

I suppose I should get to figuring out where the piece of paper is that has the specifications for the web registration form/database that I'm supposed to have done by this morning.

Today is going to be a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day.

I think I'll move to Australia.

Posted: Monday, January 10, 2005, 1:18 pm
Mood: Aggravated | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment

This List Thing Is Cool...

I went and worked on Dr. Gray's computer this morning. I hate PCs. I hate Windows. And this morning cemented those facts even more. I installed the card (a 256 meg PCI card--no AGP slot) and had to jump through some hoops to get the Dell to see it because I had to disable the bully-ish onboard video....

The new card is installed. DirectX 3.0c is installed. But The Sims 2 still doesn't work. I don't know what else to do. Fortunately it seems everyone else in the world can't get the stupid game to work either so I don't feel too bad.

I'm liking my "List" thing. I got the redhead's oil changed today and actually also replaced the rear brakes on my junkmobile. (And noted that I need both rear struts replaced on my car, which I sort of suspected...).

The redhead has an interview Monday, and has also sent out resumes and cover letters to two other jobs last week. I'm thrilled that she was able to stay at home as long as she did, but I'm happy that she's going back to work. For her sake more than anything.

Oh, and in case anyone cares, Illinois is still undefeated and is still Number 1.

Posted: Sunday, January 09, 2005, 2:50 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

The List

Oooh, my therapist is going to be thrilled.

I have finished "The List" that I started creating last night. It's pretty cool. I feel more organized already.

If only it weren't so damn freezing in here. Sheesh. I need to bring a tube of caulk in this weekend and seal around these stupid 30-year old windows. Brrr....

I hope I can talk Tod into doing Bamba today for lunch (we had it once already this week, on Monday...).

Oh well. Not much else to say. I'm just happy with my List creation...

Posted: Friday, January 07, 2005, 4:43 pm
Mood: Accomplished | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment

Tsunami fallout

I should have just gone to bed.

And left alone.

I don't trust independent "relief" agencies, no matter who they are (for the most part).

I'm not throwing away money that can be later spent on my very own children, just so I might feel better. Sandra Bullock gave a kajillion-jillion dollars. Good for Sanrda Bullock. I don't have that kind of money....

And I don't like feeling selfish. But I'm not donating a hundred bucks anymore than I'm going to quit my job and join the Peace Corps and fly to Southeast Asia to help out with "relief efforts." I'm a father first, to my kids.

But I still have feelings that linger beyond that point.

I'm adopted.

My natural mother was a model who was having an affair with a married man who himself already had several other kids. And she got knocked up. And he wasn't going to leave his wife.

I shouldn't even be here.

Yet I am. And someone took care of me. And while I've pretty much said that my family sucks, they probably only mostly do because of the, well, virtual "tsunami" that happened when my adoptive ("real" to me) mother died in 1985. (Hence my therapist, who has the crummy job of trying to sort all of this out 20 years later...). They're still my family.

So now has a story about children who have lost their parents. And my heart melts.

I don't trust aid organizations (did I say that already?). Someone, somewhere, in the U.S. or elsewhere, is getting a chunk of that money for sitting behind a desk. There is no way that all "relief" money gets to the victims.

I'm also livid that the "rest of the world" even thinks to make comments about the U.S. government not giving enough. I'll try to take a virtual valium and not get started on that tirade...

I'm not throwing a hundred bucks away. Or a thousand. College for stinkpot number one is T-minus 9 years away.

I'd have ten kids if we could. Okay, maybe not that many. And no, I'm not upset that we don't have any more. I got snipped. It was the right thing to do. And the redhead and I made that choice together. Things are perfect. Really.

My heart strings get tugged when I read the websites about orphaned kids. Well, it happens any time I read about kids. And I can't stand to watch tsunami coverage anymore. All they talk about is moms letting go of one kid to save the other. No! How? How? How can that happen? I'd drown myself. I'd skewer myself on a tree. I'd find a way. There is no "letting go of one."

And now there are parent-less children.

I could help that way. I'm certainly not wealthy, but I could afford to adopt a child. The parties might not be as extravagant every weekend (kidding), but if the right things were taken care of...

And again. That's not fair. It's not fair to stinkpot 1 and stinkpot 2.

I have two children. I'm not a 50-something millionaire. My resources are already tied up in two "investments."

I wish I did have more money. I wish I could adopt, well, all of those kids. But I can't.

I think therapy next week needs to involve more than what I did over my Christmas break (not my therapist's fault--I get started talking and don't shut up...).


I need to go to bed...

Posted: Friday, January 07, 2005, 6:03 am
Mood: Overwhelmed | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

PDF files

I've spent most of the night working on a PHP-based list for me to keep track of what I need to do. It sounds silly, but I try to keep track of all sorts of stuff in my head. And I become overwhelmed.

My therapist couldn't believe that I didn't keep "to do" lists. Something about the satisfaction of crossing something off of a list and making it go away. Apparently everything psychological is about closure.

I'm not going to keep lists on paper. I don't have time. I have several duties--home, job, consulting. I can't just keep post-it notes all over the place.

Duh. I'll put it all in a database that I can access and modify from anywhere.

How fun!

I wrote most of the PHP pages tonight. I have a few things to tinker with tomorrow (I've had a few brews, and have resigned to the fact that I'm not getting any further tonight...). What fun!

Class starts up again soon. I've already applied and have been approved for my tuition waiver. Now I just need to come up with the guts necessary for asking my old boss for the $104 on-line fee that the waiver doesn't cover. Without being too cocky, I think they really are thrilled to have me around, and they have been quite good to me (and yes, now I'm speaking generally about all three of them--there are three entomologists and I was hired and mainly worked for one of them for a year and half, then switched to being under the control of the other two so that I could, well, still have funding that would keep me employed..). At any rate, we have money in the account that used to pay my salary, and it can still be used for other things. And they support my going to school. And they are willing to pay for my on-line fee.

I just hate asking for stuff. I guess I haven't worked at the U of I long enough.....

Okay, I'm going to bed....

Posted: Friday, January 07, 2005, 5:32 am
Mood: Happy | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment


I was going to order a new blower wheel for the dryer over the internet, but thought that I should call "that place in Savoy" beforehand and see if they might have one in stock.

"That place" is an appliance repair/parts/dealer store called H.S. Grindley Co.

And they have them in stock.

Wonderful! This whole dryer mess will be over with shortly.

Now it is just a matter of seeing if the dopes at Sears will give me any sort of credit for that worthless service call. And yes, I will bring it to their attention that I'm probably going to be buying a new oven in the next few months and a new refrigerator before the end of the year, and I'll be more than happy to go anywhere other than Sears if they are going to be difficult about that hundred bucks.

I wish I would have brought my digital camera with me in the car. The trees around here are all covered in ice and it looks really, really cool. Maybe the ice will stick around for another day and I can take some photos tomorrow.

Posted: Thursday, January 06, 2005, 7:25 pm
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220, 221--Whatever It Takes...

Note to self: When working on an appliance, especially one that is 220 volts, unplug the damn thing before tinkering around.

Oh, and don't ever call Sears to fix an appliance ever again. Ever. Ever never, never, ever.

On a good note, I found out what was making the horrific noise in the dryer--that the dork from Sears fixed (and then it was doing it again a week later...). The inside of the blower wheel has been rounded out, so the drive shaft--that has a flat edge that should match a flat edge inside the blower--wasn't turning the blower wheel, but because the inside was worn irregularly, every now and then would catch and make a horrific noise.

So Sears dude put a hose clamp around the lip where the blower wheel goes around the shaft. Grrr....


And I can order the part from for $17.30 and have it shipped tomorrow.

See what happens when I work too much? I neglect stuff like the dryer, that I could have fixed but didn't have the time to mess with it. So now I am fixing it, now that I have the time.

And sitting upstairs on the fridge is a bill from Sears for $110.

(Note: I must also give very good webmaster kudos to haven't been there in probably a year, but the last thing I ordered from them was a lint screen for said dryer. When I showed up just now to their home page, clicked on "search for parts" or whatever it says, the form fields were already filled out. Maytag, dryer, and whatever the 12 digit model number is. Very, very good. They made me happy enough with that little cookie-fied goodness that I'm almost not livid with Sears.... Almost....).

In other news, I installed a new temperature sensor thing on the redhead's car, so it doesn't blink "60" for five minutes after you turn the car on because it can't detect the outside temperature. I was expecting $100+ for that sensor. Nope. $19.90. I'm just glad I didn't take the damn car to Sears, where they would have taped the broken one back together and said "I hope that works..." Sheesh.

Well, we were spared the freezing rain. So far, anyway. It was nasty in C-U earlier, but the trees here don't have any ice and the new temperature sensor in the Aurora claimed it was 38 degrees outside. The rain has slowed down as well, so the sump pump has calmed down. Ahh. Much better.

Oh, I got side-tracked and forgot to explain the 220 volt comment.

When removing the cover for the blower housing, I touched a socket extension to a couple of wire connections, and zap!. I didn't get shocked, surprisingly, but I was blinded momentarily and I think I fused my 1/4 inch socket to the 3/8ths adapter. Whoops. Oh, duh. I wasn't shocked because I grounded the wires to the metal bottom of the dryer. That's why metal cases are grounded....

Posted: Thursday, January 06, 2005, 1:33 am
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Freezing Rain

I don't mind snow. Even several feet of it. But freezing rain stinks. And that's just what we are in store for today. Supposedly it is going to stay to the north of Champaign, which would be good, but I'm keeping a very close eye on the local weather web sites--if it starts getting nasty, I'm outta here and headed for home!

I'm starting to get irritated with my car. It had two stuck fuel injectors when I started it this morning. Grrr.... Sure, it only takes a few moments to open the hood and tap around until they "un-stick" but come on--this isn't a 100 year old car with a hand-crank on the front of the engine. Is it too much to ask for the damn thing to just start up and run? I'm getting tired of putting $4 worth of fuel additives (Gumout and Heet) into the tank every single time I add gas (and if I don't, I end up with a situation like I had this morning). The LCD display on the radio is now officially completely dead, which isn't that big of a deal, but still. And the lights still blink when I hit the brake pedal--I need to figure that one out. And replace my rear brake pads. Groan.

And the redhead's car complained to her yesterday that it wants an oil change. I guess I know what is in store for me this weekend.... I need to call about the plastic thing that covers the lug nuts as well since we seem to have managed to lose one of them. If only I were rich and could afford to buy a couple of new cars. Oh well...

Posted: Wednesday, January 05, 2005, 4:57 pm
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Church and Pr0n...

In a teaser blurb for the Channel 15 News tonight, the newswoman was talking about upcoming stories and finished with something about " adult bookstore that was built by a local church."


A church built an adult bookstore? I thought they made money with bake sales and car washes and stuff. That seems like sort of an interesting way to try to drum up money for the lord, eh?


Good day at work today. I was busy but the work I was doing was fun. I played a lot with Apache log files and with more Analog stuff. I really do enjoy learning every single day I'm on the job.

The ice storm is on the way. I was actually told by one of the bosses today that I should stay home if the weather is bad tonight/tomorrow. I didn't even have to ask. :)

I've had the last two weeks off, for the most part, but I'd be happy to stay home tomorrow. Tee hee.

Posted: Wednesday, January 05, 2005, 4:16 am
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Madman Standing by the Side of the Road...

Yes, that makes as much sense as "Karate Explosion," but it's just that kind of day. (Too lazy to Google? It's a lyric from Elvis Costello...)

I'm actually in a pretty good mood today. I think the fact that I spent some time alone with the redhead last night helped a lot. Get your mind out of the gutter--I didn't mean that. It's just that we spent all break together but so much time was focused on kids, and Christmas, and our holiday parties (one for family and one for our friends), and then I had to catch up on consulting the last few days, and Monday rolled around and I felt like I hadn't seen her in a week. So last night we actually got to sit and have a glass or two of wine and just talk. I think we probably stayed up too late, but it was necessary. I needed to decompress and just hang out and relax, and I think she did too.

I think her job search has now started in earnest. Which is just as I hoped--I didn't want her to worry about it after Thanksgiving and through Christmas break. I don't know that the University thing is going to work out. It's almost like they go out of their way to make it next to impossible to get hired on here. Oh well. Hopefully something else relatively local will turn up.

Well, I need to go create a web registration form (actually just re-work one that I already have) so I suppose I should get busy...

Posted: Tuesday, January 04, 2005, 4:05 pm
Mood: Improving | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Back to the Grind

I started the day grouchy. I actually meant to post but didn't have the time. My stupid car was being a weenie this morning again. This time cylinder 1 decided to be difficult. Sheesh. I guess having to pick at fuel injectors with a screwdriver when they want to be difficult is the price I pay for not having a car payment. Groan. At least the CD player still works. Tap, tap, tap...

I had fun at work today, even though I was busy (too busy to blog, at any rate). I spent a good part of the day moving last year's Apache logs and then downloading and configuring Analog. It was kinda fun. I spent a long time screwing with permissions. Actually, that part was easy--I had to keep jumping through Mac OS X hoops because Analog loaded into "hidden" directories. Directories that I'd normally see in Linux but I'm a dumb Mac user and can't see in OS X. Groan. I tried making some symbolic links and had to skip around to get what I wanted, but it is now finally to the point where I can change the config file easily and run Analog and see the results.

And of course, we used to have a version of this that was configurable on the fly with a Perl script on the old department server. And since none of them know how that works (they had someone from another department that sort of knows something do it for them) there is no point to bothering them with questions. I do think I might be able to make a set of PHP pages that can configure a "config" file on the fly and then run analog and then have a script that returns the resulting web page. We'll see how it goes. And yes, I'm sure that someone, somewhere, has done something close to what I want to do. Screwing with other people's software confuses me sometimes. Maybe I'm too old. Maybe I'm not enough of a geek. Maybe I'm just not efficient. But I'd rather do this all myself. I guess I think that I could spend two days downloading and reading ReadMe files and trying to configure someone else's stuff, or I could just start from scratch. Check out my cheesy blogging, er, "software." (Yes, I use that term loosely...).

Is this blogging "thing" useful to anyone else? Perhaps not. But I can change it, and add to it, and I understand when something happens that I wasn't expecting.

Anyway. Perhaps it is just a mountain that I wish to climb.

All the plants in my office were drooping quite badly this morning when I rolled back into work. I watered the hell out of them this morning--they're philodendrons, they should come back.

Okay, enough for now....

Posted: Tuesday, January 04, 2005, 3:35 am
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Apparently I'm just that bored that I'm going to blog some more.

I'm not one that normally makes New Year's resolutions, but I do have a few goals for myself. (Resolutions? What, like 1024 x 768 or something?)

I need to lose some weight. I'm not grossly overweight or anything, but I bet I could lose the blood pressure pills if I'd just drop 20 pounds. I'm sure part of it is beer, but I do think that my eating habits are mostly to blame. And what a vicious circle... I bet if I quit eating at 4:00 a.m. when I'm suffering from insomnnia (and then going back to bed afterwards) it would help the situation. But the sleep apnea is from being 20 pounds overweight, which doesn't help my blood pressure, which is probably most of the reason I have trouble sleeping. If any of that makes sense. I guess I'm just going to have to start exercising. I don't really eat breakfast as it is (except on the weekends when I cook for the kidders...). I'm 100% absolutely not giving up burritos (and probably not changing my lunch regimen at work in general). I don't eat that much at dinner time. I'm probably not going to quit drinking beer. How else can the equation be adjusted? I think exercise is going to be the sacrifice that must be made. But when? Sheesh.

I need to work less and spend more time relaxing with my family. And by "work" I mean consulting. There isn't much I can do about the University job work level (and I'm already pretty good about leaving that work at the office and not bringing it home...).

I would like to finish up some 95%-of-the-way-finished projects around our house. And I need to do that because I'm already scheming new projects and I shouldn't really start anything else until I absolutely finish up what isn't finished (just like I should get the redhead's Aurora looked at before spending money on new computer parts...).

I need to be a better dad. Part of my saying this is guilt from yelling at the kids late last night when they had a knock-down-drag-out at 11:00 p.m. that was totally ridiculous. But yes, I think that's an area in which I can always improve. And this also falls into the "less work" category.

Lastly, I need to be more organized. I think I would be much happier if I had fixed lists of things to do and schedules that were written down instead of trying to keep track of everything in my head. All that leads to is me eventually getting overwhelmed.

I'm sure that I could continue this list ad infinitum, but that's a good enough start for now.

Posted: Saturday, January 01, 2005, 4:08 pm
Mood: Improving | 4 comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Another New Year

100,000+ people died last week, and losers in Villa Grove were setting off fireworks last night because we get to put a new calendar on the fridge. "Happy" New Year? Not quite. Oh well.

Our celebrations now are certainly a bit different from my younger days when I was running a bar and spent every New Year's Eve working (and getting sloshed at the same time).

We did "surf and turf" last night for dinner. I cooked up four ribeyes on the grill and the redhead made french bread and shrimp scampi and a salad. The temperature outside was pretty good for grilling out, but the lack of sunlight at 6:00 p.m. didn't help. I pulled the grill from its usual spot on the deck to right outside the back patio door so that I could get some light from the kitchen. I think the steaks turned out okay.

Then we watched Napolean Dynamite with the kids. What a bizarre movie. It had some funny parts, I guess, but overall it was just, well, weird. It was interesting to note that the actor who played Uncle Rico was the same guy that played Lazlo in Real Genius.

Afterwards the kidders went downstairs and the redhead and I watched The Manchurian Candidate which stars my pal Denzel. I had consumed enough red wine by that point that I didn't really understand what exactly was going on. Maybe I'll watch it again today.

I have been good about getting my consulting work caught up the past couple of days. I think I'll be in good shape by tomorrow and won't have to cram in eight hours of work on a Sunday.

I think I'm leaning toward being grumpy this morning, and I need to quit going that route.

I'm probably just suffering super burrito withdrawal. (Hmm. Apparently their website now has a flash intro with a bunch of images of customers, etc., and I'm not in it. I'll have to have a talk with Antonio on Monday to see what the deal is. Yes, I'm kidding...) I wonder if they are open today... The redhead would be so irritated with me if I made a special trip to C-U just for a burrito. Grumble, grumble, grumble. I guess I'll have to wait until Monday.

Posted: Saturday, January 01, 2005, 3:30 pm
Mood: Cynical | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

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