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Archived Entries from June 2008


My Footprint

Boy I have lots to talk about....

(But to start, for any geeks out there, I'm in one of those "pleased with myself" modes right now. Rather than fire up the annoying campus VPN client so that I can SFTP to my desktop Mac at work, I instead used a terminal and SSH'd into one of my webservers, then SSH'd through that to my desktop machine, then got what I needed, tarred it up, and SCP'd it to home, where I already have keys in place so I don't need to enter a password--boy the work to home connection goes a lot faster without going through VPN....)

We've had a lot of excitement because of the flooding these past few weeks. (And I temper the following with the fact that I'm well aware that our friends in Iowa and along the Mississippi River still aren't out of harms way, and are dealing with much more catastrophic situations....).

Villa Grove, of course, flooded again. These aren't 100-year floods for us. They're "every other-year" floods, or so it seems. Fortunately for us, we're on "high ground" so we don't get water, we just have to deal with the water from one side of us getting to the other side of us, and then toward the river.

The golf course is essentially ruined, and again, I'm thankful that some grass on the club got ruined and not my house, unlike what the folks in the rest of parts of town, or, well, people in Des Moines, are going through.

I didn't think to go take pictures of the water covering route 130, or Front Street, because, well, that happens every other year, if not every year. Yeah, three creeks converge right at that spot, whether or not there's a town on top of that spot--it gets wet.

Em and I did take the puppy down to the golf course to see how things looked. It wasn't pretty.

Of course, the golf course starts with the first tee block and goes out and around and ends with the ninth green, right back at the start. Here's the view of the ninth green from the first tee:

We walked up the first fairway, which while "dry" was squishy with each step, and took a picture of what was the second fairway...

I have more pictures that I'll post later, perhaps including not-yet-taken pictures of the aftermath. But let's just say that it's a mess.

The weather has heated up and cooled off and of course everything gets wacky because of the rapid shifts of temperature during the Spring. The other morning I caught the pool steaming...

And you know, I complain about the pool, and taking care of it, and yet there are times when I take stock of what's going on, and I really am very fortunate. Yeah, it's a pain in the neck. Yeah, it's expensive. Electricity for the next three months will be $300+ each month. But I can pay it. And I can pay our mortgage. And all the rest of our bills. And while we may skimp on things from time to time, we're doing fine. It could be a lot worse. The redhead realizes that. I'm yammering on too much. I'm happy. We're in a good spot. If the biggest problem I have right now is that the damn golf club is screwed up, I guess I'm probably in good shape. Anyway.

So we had some babies. Bird babies.

The redhead has a wreath thing hanging off a hook on the front of our house, and because it is under an eave (which is a word, Safari, so quit with the underlining) a momma Robin built a nest on it. Of course she complained and flew off any time anyone came in or out of the house. Hey, Mrs. Robin--I pay for the house--you don't. I didn't give you permission to put your nest there! Leave me a can of worms for going fishing or something, at least. Well she had three eggs, and each "made it" and then there were three babies. I snapped photos of them from time to time--they grow quickly.

Well I went to mow the front yard the other day, and as I took the first pass along the bushes and mulch to the front of the house, one of the birds panicked and flopped and "flew" out of the nest and landed on the stoop. Oh boy. I instantly let go of the handle thing on the mower so it would shut off. Now what do I do? I slowly approached the bird and it half-flew over to the mulch under the pin oak in the front yard. I hurried inside and grabbed the phone and called my mother-in-law. Do I grab it and put it back in the nest? She said that yes, I could put the bird back in the nest, and that birds don't smell (like bunnies) and the mother wouldn't "discard" that bird because I touched it. We agreed that it wasn't like it was a bald eagle, but I didn't want to rid the world of a robin because of something I did. (It's not like it was a grackle...) So I went back outside and slowly moved toward the pin oak.

And the little $#%^&er took off and flew (about a foot or so off the ground) all the way across the street and into Josh and Marci's yard. Okay, then. I guess that one is out of the nest. Burden of proof? All on the birdie. I tried. (I hope it survived...)

Well, the thought behind this post, sort of, has been to mention that I've been considering my carbon footprint for a few months now. I've been steadily changing bulbs to those twirled low-energy fluorescent ones. I'm going to install gutters on the pool house and collect that rain in barrels for watering the plants, etc. The redhead and I have ridden together to work every day since she's started at the Big U. (Heh, and they have a sliding rate now for employees for how much it costs for a parking pass, so she's going to sign up for a pass in the parking garage where I park and the next day I'm going to go and cancel mine....). Seriously--how stupid is it that I have pay to park to go to my job? Anyway.

The Torrent has 28,000 miles on it, and has been less-than-satisfactory (to me) to say the least. The anti-lock brakes idiot light is on now. So is the traction control. It has weird issues about the engine. I'm sick of dealing with it. I'm still so damn livid that we bought it with a standard 3-year, 36,000 mile warranty and a month later GM announced 5-year, 100,000 warranties, and yet they send me mail monthly asking me to pay to upgrade.

I don't know. I'm soured on GM because of all of this.

My other car is an Oldsmobile Aurora. It's 12 years old and has 145,000 miles on it. It's the best car I've ever owned. It's starting to have some goofiness (back passenger window won't go down, etc.) but it's a trooper. The engine hums along like it's brand new, the car is comfortable, and the ride is wonderful.

Yet GM gets rid of Oldsmobile. Cadillacs are too expensive and can't compete with the German cars. Chevys just plain stink (sorry). The only decent line of GM cars left is Buick, and the only reason they survived when Olds didn't is because the LeSabre is built in Canada. (My dad has always driven Olds and Buicks, and I love both). Sorry, maybe some Pontiacs are okay, but the crossover SUV thing that we got isn't.

So I talked to the redhead.

We have a year and ~8,000 miles left on the warranty.

I sent out feelers for a hybrid Camry. What they want. What we owe. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Nobody can get new hybrid Camrys around here. And haggling on prices is almost non-existent.

Well I looked into 2007 and 2008 "regular" Camrys, with fewer than 20,00 miles, alloy wheels, sunroof, black paint, and there are tons of them--just none locally.

I think I'm going to wait until the end of the crazy summer buying season and then unload the Torrent and get a one- or two-year old Camry up in Chicago. Our payment will be lower, and our mileage will increase by more than 50%.

We're saving more and spending less. Thank goodness for the University of Illinois.

And really. So I am that bad republican. I'm not going to sell my house and build a hut out of hemp and not let the kids bathe. But I think I'm adjusting our lifestyle slightly, and I hope that every little part helps. I have a goal to not use either of the cars on the weekend. Two weekends ago I walked "into town" (about a mile) once and rode a bike twice, but never used a car. Last weekend I had to use my car because I bought mulch.

And that's another thing (groan, and I was going to end this post...). I've always bought cypress mulch from the hardware store (or the gas station!) every year. My in-laws were buying the dark brown "expensive" mulch from a local landscaper. Well, last year I asked to borrow a farm pickup to go get the "dark" mulch from the landscape recycling place up in Urbana.

Instead, my father-in-law took a semi-truck from the farm and had them load up the entire thing. It was a lot of mulch.

They used what they needed and I used the Gator to get what I needed to our house.

The result? I have weeds EVERYWHERE. People have complained for years about the amount of garbage in the recycled yard waste. I don't mind picking that out. But I have weeds that I've never seen before in places where I've never had them before, and I can't help but blame the mulch.

So what's my threshold? Buy evil mulch in plastic bags (made out of petroleum) or make multiple trips 25 miles away with several garbage cans to get problematic mulch from the landscape recycling place? I'm going to stick with the mulch from town, and not spend a $10 round trip to the landscape recycling place.

I replaced all four bulbs in the geerow's overhead light/fan with the energy saving ones. She's the one that spends the most time in a room with the lights on (which is fine--I'm just saying...).

Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2008, 3:03 am
Mood: Fantastic | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Just Like Hal Jordan

Tell me that my wife isn't the coolest wife a geek could have. Check out my father's day present that she gave me a couple of days early. I couldn't wait to come to work today, just so I could wear it...

She rocks!

Posted: Friday, June 13, 2008, 2:50 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Suspension of Disbelief

So it's raining and raining and raining, again. I dumped out about three inches from the gauge earlier.

I decided to fold some clothes and watch Wrath of Khan for the seven-thousandth time (I may do Empire Strikes Back next).

I know I'm supposed to suspend my disbelief to enjoy movies, but sometimes after you watch a movie over and over and over again, cracks start to appear in the veneer.

Why were they out looking for planets or moons to use for Genesis? Why not just use Regula? It seemed like it was just a nice round rock of a moon. Having the "second phase" underground wouldn't have mattered.

Is it possible that Regula is just too small? When they show Reliant on one side and Enterprise on the other, it looks like it's probably only a mile or so in diameter. Maybe that's why.

Well, if it really were to scale and were that small, I'd bet Regula wouldn't be round like a moon. Not enough gravity. It'd look like any of the other mish-mash shaped asteroids out floating around in space.

So where does the sunlight inside the "second phase" cave come from? And the water for the water falls? Was it really running down, evaporating, and then raining up in the tippy-top of that cave? And if that cave was as big as it looked, and Regula is as small as it looks, they must have hollowed out the entire damn moon and only have a foot-wide shell of an outer surface.

And they have power to beam the crew from the cave to the "beaming room" on Enterprise but then they have to run to the bridge? Why not just beam them right to the bridge?

And if Khan had the coordinates to beam up Genesis, why not just beam up Kirk at the same time? I mean, really. Right?

And nobody can see more than ten feet away in the nebula, but after Khan starts Genesis and Enterprise takes off, they're still viewing Reliant on their view screen even after they themselves are out of the nebula. Huh?

We suspend our disbelief and we are entertained. -- "Mystic Rhythms" by Rush

Rain, rain, go away already...

Posted: Saturday, June 07, 2008, 5:56 pm
Mood: Soaked | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Hey, 1,000th Post!

Although the first post on this thing is actually #2, so I'm guessing that #1 was a test post, so maybe this is really only the 999th.

Anyway.

Well I'm mostly moved into my new office. It was a bit of a squeeze to get all of the shelving unit things the way I wanted them, but I managed to get them all where I wanted them to go.

Yesterday the redhead and her new office mates went and got a pedicure together after work and then went out for drinks and appetizers at Biaggi's. Since we've been faithfully carpooling, I took the opportunity to meet Jeffrey out at Buffalo Wild Wings in Savoy for a few tall glasses of Newcastle. Mmm.

We had a bit of a chore getting home afterwards because our lovely town is mostly under several feet of water. Again.

I dumped four and a half inches of water out of the rain gauge in the back yard. And of course, it doesn't matter how much water we get--it matters how much rains down on the miles of cornfields north of (and elevated from) us. The river is still up over both Front Street and Route 130, as well as a lot of Main Street. (Even before the river was over Route 130 and Main Street yesterday morning, we saw a minivan at the Main Street and Harrison intersection that was in water that was up over its headlights. Whoops...)

Today we had to go well east of town and then north in order to get to work. What a sloshy mess.

I'm just thankful that we're on high enough ground that as long as it stops raining, even if the town is flooded, we're in good shape. My boss, who lives about 30 miles west of us, had water in his basement and was up all night with the shop vac because his sump pump couldn't keep up. Yuck. He said several houses in their town looked like little islands because they were surrounded by water on all sides.

I don't know that we're supposed to get any more weather today, so the water might go down somewhat. I think we're due for more rain tomorrow, and that could be troublesome.

I walked the dog down by the country club last night, and as expected the ninth green was completely under water, as was most of the second half of the fairway. That will be a fun mess to clean up when the water recedes.

I need to bring the camera with me next time.

Posted: Thursday, June 05, 2008, 4:18 pm
Mood: Happy | 4 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


How Could I Have Forgotten?

I almost forgot to mention that this is end-of-awful-evil-woman day! Yay!

And we think our current president is a dingbat--how could anyone be this obtuse about a situation and yet continue to claim to be the best candidate for the job? Obama isn't even campaigning against her anymore--he's started in on McCain.

Go away, HIllary. It's sad that the people in New York were silly enough to elect her--I'm glad that the rest of the country didn't buy into her evil, spiteful campaign.

The next nail biter will be whether Obama has the sense to pick someone other than her for a running mate. I definitely do not think that they would be a "dream team." She'd only want to be VP in hopes that something tragic might happen to Barack.

While I didn't appreciate the choice eight years ago, I'd go with that guy from Vermont or New Hampshire that quit the Dems to become an independent however many years ago. What's his name? Joe Lieberman. He's a moderate that could possibly win over some old fogey McCain voters. Or try that Edwards fellow again. I don't know. Just please let's be done with Hillary on a national level. I'm sick of looking at her and even more tired of hearing her voice. Yeesh.

Posted: Tuesday, June 03, 2008, 10:52 am
Mood: Ecstatic! | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Unorganized

The whole point of the subject of my last post was to talk about just how unorganized I am, not how I spent my weekend. That pretty much proves the point, I guess.

So I've been moving my office, and five years of being a slob has caught up with me. I have too much junk, too much paper, and too much unorganized garbage. I need to get a dumpster. Installation CDs for RedHat version 8.0. Floppy disks. Printouts of PHP code of who knows what. Magazines.

Moving is a pain in the butt.

Anyway.

So the redhead is going and getting a pedicure tomorrow after work and then going out for dinner and drinks at a semi-fancy-schmancy restaurant tomorrow night with her office-mates. She's really enjoying her new job, and they seem to really like her.

Well....

The country club has men's leagues on Tuesday nights, and the first Tuesday of every month they have an evening scramble. I played in the first one last year, and wasn't home for dinner, and was a bit tipsy when I did get home, and the redhead put the kibosh on men's first Tuesday scrambles. Which sucked, but I am a dad after all (even though it is summertime...).

Tomorrow is the first Tuesday of June.

Ever being the wheeler and dealer (said in jest, because I'm totally not that person--wheeling and dealing usually involves talking with salespeople and I pretty much hate dealing with anyone I don't already know...) I managed to leverage the pedicure event against the men's social scramble (does that sentence make sense? Do you leverage something against something else? Mrs. Marcotte--help me diagram that one...).

At any rate, I've been given the green light to play tonight. Woo hoo!

And it's going to rain all day. And apparently all night.

Just my luck.

And then there's a quandary involved. We are already going to have to drive separately tomorrow, which not only involves double the gas but also involves paying a meter for 9 hours (at 75 cents per hour, so almost seven bucks) because we opted not to waste the $35 per month for a second parking lot hang tag (and if we would have she'd still have had to park blocks and blocks from her office). If I'm going to play in this golf thing today we'll have to drive separately today too, because I think the scramble starts at 5:00 p.m., and that's normally when we'd be leaving work.

But if it is going to rain, we may as well ride together. But then if the skies part at 4:00 p.m. and the sun comes out, I'm going to be stuck in Urbana and not anywhere near a golf scramble.

What would Flying Spaghetti Monster do?

I think it's going to rain. Maybe I can play in the scramble next month.... I'm going back to bed.

Posted: Tuesday, June 03, 2008, 10:37 am
Mood: Tired | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Organized

..I am not.

This past weekend was the first "free" weekend I've had in a month. (Graduation, then graduation party the next weekend, then the alumni golf scramble fiasco the weekend after that). And I did a pretty good job of spending the entire weekend outside in the yard.

I vacuumed the pool first thing Saturday morning, but unfortunately it's going to need it again in the next few days. And I need to remember to get a chemical test kit this week since the one I bought last year leaked or went bad or something and I had to throw it out.

I mowed both the front and the back. Diagonals this week. What fun. It looks neat but takes significantly longer than the tradition ever-shrinking box method.

I got sunburned as heck mowing. It still hurts (although it is starting to itch now too--yikes). I spread some new grass seed on the area that used to be the garden, and covered it with a thin layer of dirt and compost. I burned the piles of sticks that we had laying around, and also cleaned up and burned a bunch of leaves and dead grass and such that was covering the compost heap. That was a treat.

I pulled a lot of weeds, but still have what seems like an infinite amount yet to go.

The pool is up to about 76 degrees--comfortable for the kids, but I'm going to need another 6 degrees or so before I hop in.

So check out what kind of environmentalist I am now. I went up town three times yesterday, and didn't drive the car once. In the morning Alex and I walked up to the gas station to get a newspaper. Then later in the morning I rode my bike to the hardware store for grass seed.

And they were closed. Grrr....

Around lunchtime Alex was lamenting that we didn't have anything for lunch (the redhead and Em were getting new contact lenses for the geerow and then going grocery shopping). So he and I rode up town and got my grass seed and then got him a frozen pizza from Super Pantry.

I even took the puppeh for a walk last night. With all of this exercise I'll have to drink more beer to "keep up." Heh.

Well I'm mostly moved into my new office space. I still feel "medium" about the whole situation. Oh well. The view is a lot nicer than looking out at the greenhouses. We'll see how it goes.

Posted: Monday, June 02, 2008, 4:21 pm
Mood: Sore | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


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