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Archived Entries from March 2005

This Is the Year...

I am taking control of my lawn.


No more crabgrass. I'm not dealing with it anymore.

Fortunately for people like me there are so many helpful resources on the web. Well, it isn't like my work with the Integrated Pest Management people hasn't let me cross paths with any weed scientists or anything....

I learned a neat tip today when looking for when I should apply fertilizer with crabgrass preventer (I was going to just do it today, to be honest...). I read that when forsythia bushes start to bloom that it means that the soil conditions are right about the way they need to be for crabgrass germination. (Thanks to the weed folks at Iowa State for that tidbit). And I just so happen to have a Northern Gold Forsythia in the corner of my front lawn. Guess what I'll be checking as SOON as I get home this afternoon?

I was told last year that the best way to control crabgrass is to not cut the lawn too short, which stresses the "good" grass and makes it easier for the crabgrass to take over. Now I've also read that I should be overseeding my lawn as well, and with pretty good frequency.

I've always been under the impression that simply spreading grass seed does nothing other than feed the birds, but apparently since I already have a lawn in place, that isn't quite the case. It looks like some big monster bags of grass seed are on the next list for Menards!

Posted: Thursday, March 31, 2005, 8:46 pm
Mood: Just Dandy! | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment


I love Spring.

And with Spring, comes storms. And the first monster is 20 miles away and bearing down at this very minute.

I love it!

I've backed up my main drive data to the second drive, and am in the process of Stuffing my last few contract jobs and copying them to the Linux fileserver in the Nerdrium.

Woo hoo!

(I'll shut this machine, the G4, down and unplug it and remove ethernet cables and such--a bit overkill but its the first one of the year!)

The Linux server will stay up as well as the WinXP box and the kids' machines (assuming either of them are on now...).

Okay, I need to go grab a beer and my lawn chair and head to the front porch. Woo hoo!

Posted: Thursday, March 31, 2005, 2:00 am
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My Blog Is Like a Pillow

I'm happy to have it back. I'm weird, and it comforts me.

So I finished up the new template for the Center web site on Monday, which was quite cool. I have a monstrous header that is now simply an include file, as well as a footer that is rather large as well. Add in a few requests for Javascript files and the obligatory cascading style sheet, and my final page template has a whopping 23 lines of code/text/

I started 'populating" pages today. I hope to get most of the rest of them done tomorrow. I wanted to be finished by tomorrow but I'm sure that won't happen. I told the bosses end of the week--I should make it by then.

We'll see how it goes.

Oskee Wow Wow!

Posted: Wednesday, March 30, 2005, 4:27 am
Mood: Half-Drunk | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment


So right-to-life-ers are now threatening to kill members of Michael Schiavo's family if Terri dies.

Explain this logic to me.

You aren't related to anyone involved.

There was a tragedy, 15 years ago, and someone is finally going to be put to rest.

And in protest of that, you're going to murder a family.

Makes sense.

I implore anyone that reads this, including my wife--if I end up in a situation where I'm a vegetable, pull the plug. Give me drugs that make me die. Light me on fire. Anything.

I don't want to "live" in that state. And I just hope that my family would not be as stupid and selfish as Terri's family is being. It's been 15 years.

Go get a therapist, people.

Making Terri "live" another 15 years is only stealing 15 years from your own lives. Let her rest in peace and be done with it.

And yes, this comes from someone who would do anything to have his mother alive again. Anything--but have her "alive" but brain dead in a hospice somewhere in Florida.

Moving forward sucks. I'll attest to that. The sooner you start, the sooner you'll finish. And there are more important things to deal with.

Or something.

Who knows? Okay, new post...

Posted: Wednesday, March 30, 2005, 4:13 am
Mood: Confused | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

My Dumb Neighbor

My stupid neighbor is at the city council meeting tonight (I saw her car just now as I went to the grocery store...).

She better not even be up there griping about the waste water from my pool...

I was out digging in the yard today after work (yay!) and splitting a great big hosta into parts and moving it around (yay!) and there she was, in her window, looking at me from behind her curtains. Whatever.

And I was thinking about my scheme to divert the water so that it won't get anywhere near her yard, and the logistics of what I had to do next, and thought I'd write her a nice letter and apologize for being "formal" but I hadn't seen her out in the yard in a while, etc., etc., and let her know that the water problem would be taken care of this year and to let me know if she still had a problem with it after I theoretically fix the situation.

And also politely let her know that I need to fix some of the boards on my fence that is three feet inside my property line and that I might have to move some of the junk that she has piled up against the fence that is, well, on my property.

Nicely, of course. And maybe even nicely note that I spoke to "my attorney" in Urbana about the subject and while he didn't think there was a problem with the water I thought the neighborly thing to do would be to divert it somewhere else.

If that stupid woman is up at the city council meeting bitching about the runoff from the pool there will be no diversion. The stuff piled on my fence will be thrown away--no questions asked.

And you want to bring on a problem? That attorney is the husband of my boss.

And he has had computer problems. And I fix them. For free...

His exact words (when I talked to him about this stupid, stupid infantile situation) were "I don't know a judge in the state of Illinois that wouldn't lecture her and throw the case out of court--you have nothing to worry about."

I should explain that this woman makes a living by suing people. Her husband worked for the railroad, and didn't want to work anymore. So he conveniently fell off a train car. And sued Union Pacific. And they settled (duh). She slipped on a crack on a sidewalk and sued the city. The settled. She pulled out in front of some old woman and slammed on her brakes. The old woman is poor as all hell right now, but by golly my neighbor got her money out of it. She even went to court with a neck brace and the whole nine yards.

And the next day was up on her roof helping her husband re-shingle the house. Hmmm.....

I need to express that I'm not worked up right now, necessarily. I don't want the redhead thinking that the record got stuck on a scratch again.

I'm not upset. But neither am I going to be taken off guard.

If this stupid woman thinks she's going to continue to try to exacerbate a situation that I had resolved to diffuse, she's got another thing coming.

But you know what? I don't care. Spring is here! It really is!

I got to dig in the yard today!

I have so much to do. I don't even know where to begin! Unless that dumb woman purposely puts herself on my radar, she's off of it for the time being. I have too much other (good!) stuff to worry about.

Blip.... Blip....

Oh, and for anyone that cares: I had a great day at work today too! I hope to have the new Center web site in production on Wednesday (it might be more like Friday...).

Check it out now so that you'll appreciate the changes come Wednesday/Friday... Click here

(Note--I "inherited" this website. From a really nice person who I respect very much. But I hope everyone will find the new look much, much more easy to use and quite more appealing.)

Oskee Wow Wow!

Posted: Tuesday, March 29, 2005, 1:50 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Just Like That...

N.C. State == gone....

Duke (a.k.a. "The Turd") == lost to Michigan State.....

What's that? Did you say that the Big Ten is weak?


Um, the ACC has ONE team left. And they play shortly.

THREE Big Ten teams are in the Elite Eight.

And I think any of the three of them can just as handily school the heck of of NC the way Duke was schooled, the way NC State was schooled, and the way Wake Forest had their butts handed to them by the Illini earlier this year.

Go Big Ten!

Go Illini!

Oskee frickin' wow wow, folks...

Posted: Saturday, March 26, 2005, 3:11 am
Mood: Excited | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Rough Week

Besides the emotional trauma from my blog fiasco, my work week has actually sucked as well...

I finally got the ColdFusion back-end working for the web site that "we" bought from the outfit in New York. Except "web site" isn't really a web site--it's more of a content management system. And my bosses want different categories, etc. Which is a re-working of this CMS.

So I'm redoing the entire back-end starting tomorrow. I may not even tell them. The web pages will look the same, but the back-end crap that the dingbats in New York produced will be long gone.

Consulting has kicked my ass this week, but the money will (hopefully) be worth it.

I'm grumpy. I'm tired. I'm worn out. I'm still irritated about that thing.

Yet it is 10:30 and I'm having a beer and screwing around posting on the internet.

My blog. My website.

If you don't like it, move along.

Thanks, mnep.

Posted: Friday, March 25, 2005, 4:32 am
Mood: Exhausted | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Thanks, folks.

Sorry to be a weenie-whiner.

The recent happenings caught me off-guard.

Regardless of all else, this is my site. My blog. I pay for this. I wrote my own blogging software (yes, I too chuckle every time I refer to this hack as "software").


And yes, it is unfortunate that what has happened in the past month or so has happened. I shouldn't have made the comment about the television, no matter how silly the response was to that comment.

I think some other things that were said were unfair. And those things should have been said in private, not on my web site. There is a generational gap. My mother-in-law wasn't trying to be malicious--she just doesn't exactly get how this all works. The community, if you will (and yes, my community is small, but that's just fine by me...).

The white list is gone. The Nerdrium blog is back open for business.

Like Bartles and James, I thank you (both of you!) for your support. I have thought about this for several days, of course...

Oh, for christ's sake. This melodrama is ridiculous!!

Yes, I was pissed. I'm over it now.

I will deal with the meatspace problems in meatspace.

And yes, the white list was replaced with a black list. If they want to go out of their way to be difficult, let them.

Grr, baby--very, very grr.....

Who's next?

Posted: Friday, March 25, 2005, 4:06 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Tee hee....

Kansas lost. FUBS.

Tee hee.....

Posted: Saturday, March 19, 2005, 10:17 am
Mood: Awesome | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment

It's over with, at least...

My talk went off today without a hitch. An external hitch, anyway--internally I was shaking like a, well, something that shakes. We actually went to Bamba afterwards and I couldn't finish my burrito because my stomach was tied in such a knot. (And I didn't even get close--I probably threw a third of it away...).

Everyone seemed to think I did okay, but I'm a pessimist and still assuming that they are probably just being nice. We'll see.

In fact, we'll all see if we want to. They filmed it and are going to present it (like they have past talks) as a streaming video presentation on the webmasters web site. Groan.

I've been kinda cool on this whole blog thing lately, partly because of the "quick, run and tell mom and dad what Mike said on his blog today" aspect, but I think that's going to change. I had a nice talk with my therapist today about a number of things. One was that she's old fashioned and didn't understand why on earth I would want to have a journal that anyone in the world could read. I explained that sure, anyone in the world could read it, but only a handful of people actually did. And I don't think I write anything in here that is that personal. I told her that I think having this out in public keeps me honest. I've explained multiple times before--I don't write because I am trying to entertain. I don't write because I'm trying to pander to anyone that might read this. I write for therapy. The redhead thinks that part of my misery (which feels like such a strong word at this point) is that I love to express myself in writing and just don't have time to do it anymore. This is easy. No chapters. No order. No style. I just write.

And if nobody wants to read it, that's just fine. I don't read it afterwards either. But I like to write it.

So anyway, partly because of a generational gap, and partly because she's a therapist who has had many clients tell her that they don't want to keep a journal because they are deathly afraid someone might find it and read it, she can't for the life of her understand why on earth I'd keep a journal, and make it publicly available.

Hmm. I don't have sexual issues. I don't have issues with controlled substances. My mother died when I was 15. My dad remarried and there was some turbulance. And I never grieved properly. And now it is 20 years later.

(tangent approaching....)

Back when I was the general manager of Cochrane's on Wright Street, there was a night that I was managing, and I was half-wasted (pretty much every night) and I was walking down the basement stairs to my office with a cash register till and I had a bottle of Bud Light resting in one of the upper compartments of the register. Well, I slipped about ten stairs from the bottom and went flying. Money went everywhere, and somehow the bottle managed to hit the basement floor before I did and shattered--right before my right hand landed on top of it. Ouch.

Several years later I went in to my doctor's office to have minor surgery to remove a piece of glass that was lodged in the palm of my right hand (several years == more than five?). It had been embedded pretty deeply but as it worked its way to the surface, I would feel a sharp pain when, oh, catching a baseball with my bare hand, etc. I could even see the dark spot under my skin. My doctor explained that when people have accidents involving glass (or any of various other materials) that it can take years for the shrapnel (for want of a better word) to work its way to the surface. Believe it or not, just the other day I picked a smaller (grain-of-sand-sized) piece of that bottle out of my hand (I think, anyway--it was brown and was under my skin and I scraped and scraped and popped it out).

My point is that my anger, my grief, my screwed-up-ed-ness has taken a while to bubble to the surface. And lo and behold, here it is. Much of it has been here the entire time, of course. But I'm at a point in my life where I can, and should, deal with it.

Am I embarrassed about it? Why would I be. It's not my fault.

If people want to snicker and criticize me because of the meth lab that I run out of my basement, that's probably well-deserved.

But criticize me because I have issues relating to my mother's death and I'm being man (and husband, and father) enough to realize that I need to deal with them? Why should I be embarrassed about that? I'm not trying to impress anyone.

So anyway I told her how I could have an "anonymous" blog if I wanted to, and while people could read it, they wouldn't necessarily know that it was me, but that part of this whole "project" was that I wanted to write the blogging stuff myself. I wanted to do the database stuff. I wanted to do the PHP stuff. I'm a frickin' geek, for crying out loud! (<napoleon>Whadd'ya ya think--a freakin' twelve gauge! God... Idiot!</napoleon>). I told her about the mood thing and how I could add a new mood if the one I wanted wasn't in my list, and how the list grows with each new addition, etc.

She said to me something like "too bad you don't keep track of your anger and sadness level" or something like that.

Oh boy. How cool!?!

I'm going to add a new (well, transparent) feature to my blog. On my "enter your text" administration page I'm going to have a few more areas that have to be filled out. "Anger level"--1 to 5. "Sadness level"--1 to 5 (like with one end being sad and the other being happy). And one for the weather--cloudy, rainy, sunny, etc.

THEN I need to learn more about the "gd" part of PHP.

And then be able to plot anger level vs. time. Sadness level vs. time. Sadness level relative to the weather...

Ooh, ooh, ooh. So cool. We're pretty sure that I suffer from seasonal depression. We're pretty sure that my happy/sad level is a curve with a pretty regular frequency.

Well, by golly, I'm going to make it so that I can plot that. I'm going to be my own psycho-scientific fair project. What fun!

Oh groan. And I just realized that those programmer dudes from NIU are coming down tomorrow to "pick my brain" about the whole on-line grant proposal submission system thing that I built. I can't wait until this week is over.....

Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2005, 3:57 am
Mood: Happy | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment


Well I didn't lose my job today--that's a good start, I guess.

I'm glad I wasted all weekend worrying about it....

What happened Friday is a long and involved story and I'm not going to explain it here and get dooced over the whole thing. I apologized this morning and the powers that be didn't seem concerned so I will lose sleep over it no more.

I'm glad I wasted a weekend worrying about it....

So anyway....

I re-did part of the online PHP/MySQL grant proposal thing (on short order) this morning. During that process I removed many of the inherent problems from beta.0.1.

I'm glad that I had that to occupy me most of the day. Now I'm back to worrying like hell about the talk I'm supposed to give Wednesday on campus.

Like I know anything. Who am I to be explaining anything to anyone.

I'm terrified that I'll be transparent. That people will see that I'm not as big of a geek as I portray myself to be. Or something like that.

And you know, that makes no sense. I'm being my pessimistic self. I'm fretting over questions that might be asked of me that I can't answer. I'm waiting for some ass in the audience to badger me about how PostGRESQL is cooler than MySQL.

That's not the audience that will be at this talk.


Anyway. My poor boy is sick. His sister can be a faker, but he isn't. He tramps through life just fine until a bug gets the better of him, and when it does, he's stopped in his tracks. It doesn't happen very often, but right now my boy is just plain sick. And as always, I pile the guilt on myself just for good measure. I can stand to have a "day off" to get caught up on some consulting stuff and to finalize the silly powerpoint thing for Wednesday. And now I feel guilty that it is convenient for me that I have a sick kid. I don't even know that that makes any sense.

I'm still fighting this cold or whatever it is as well. The "antiseptic" that I have been ingesting seems to not be as effective at this point as it is normally. Time for some NyQuil.

Golly, and I was going to spend this time writing about how I installed a third hard drive in my Quicksilver G4 by mounting it in the zip drive bracket (that I had to drill out because the screws didn't line up). Oh well. Maybe I'll make a Nerdrium article about it.

Bleh. Good night...

Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2005, 5:47 am
Mood: Anxious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

The Tournament

I think there is a better than average shot that Illinois will not make it to the final game.

HOWEVER, if they do, I don't think that Duke, or North Carolina, stands a chance.

Mark my words.

And make fun of me later.

I can see that there are several teams in the country that can beat Illinois.

Duke and North Carolina aren't on that list.....

Posted: Monday, March 14, 2005, 4:09 am
Mood: Grumpy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Lousy Week

I don't even know that I'm happy that it is finally Friday.

I'm filled with feelings of being a bad father and an even worse husband. I think part of that is because I haven't been sleeping well this week and last night was going to hang out with the wife, but then I had our pal Jeff over for dinner (and wine, of course) and I ended up falling asleep on the couch (I think, anyway). All I had to do was hang out with her for an hour after Jeff went home and I couldn't even pull that off.

And of course, I was up at the crack of dawn again this morning which means I'll probably fall asleep early again tonight.

I just hope she's not too irritated with me today.

Work is piling up, both in the office and at home. I need some motivation. I need something to get me going. The roller coaster is definitely at the bottom of the hill right now, and it's a long way up.

Well, I had a sort of bright spot during my morning drive that I should share.

There's this silly song by Kiss called "Beth." It was on the radio this morning when I was driving to work... Beth I hear you calling, but I can't come home right now. Me and the boys are playing, and we just can't find the sound. Just a few more hours, and I'll be right home to you. I think I hear you calling. Beth what can I do? Beth what can I do? Well, relatively early on in our relationship, when I was living by myself on campus but wasn't in school anymore, and was working at the bar and also at a stupid pizza place (because I couldn't pay my bills) I had given the redhead a key to my apartment. She was working at that time as well, and would sometimes come over to my dump of an apartment and wait for me to come home from the pizza place.

One night I left her a note that said something like Bets I know you're waiting, but I can't come home right now. I'm busy making some pizzas, and I just can tell you how... much I really love you. I'll be home by 2. I hope that you're here waiting, oh Betsy I love you. Betsy I love you.

I really hated being poor. But at least I was probably a better husband than I am now, and we weren't even married yet...

Posted: Friday, March 11, 2005, 1:54 pm
Mood: Terrible | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment

PHP and MySQL: An Introduction

by Michael Greifenkamp
University of Illinois Extension

So this whole powerpoint experience hasn't been as dreadful as I thought it would be (yet). I'm already up to slide number 7. Only about 40 more to go. I hope I can get it done before the end of the day tomorrow.

That way I can present it to the family this weekend (to see how long it takes, etc.) and as an added bonus the kids will know how to make database-driven web sites afterwards. My son can add that to his repertoire right after C++. Stinker.

I didn't sleep well last night. I got up at 4:30 or so and actually took a shower and got dressed and came to work. It is nice being the only one on the road (and getting the very first spot on the bottom level of the parking garage to boot!).

This week has totally dragged on. It doesn't help that I don't really feel like I have accomplished anything either. Ho hum. While I'm excited that I was asked to give a presentation on campus, I'll be happy when it is over and done with.

I will say, however, that it is much easier preparing a talk about something I know about. Unlike a speech class, or whatever, of course, where you use index cards and keep an outline and use clever tricks to remember what to say when--this is tons easier. I know the material. I don't need to "memorize" what goes along with the "How a .php page is served" slide. I didn't go look up in a book what happens--I wrote down what happens, because I understand it. So I don't need notes. Or something. Kinda cool.

Oh well, back to powerpoint hell....

Posted: Thursday, March 10, 2005, 2:49 pm
Mood: Anxious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment


How interesting. Apparently two main huge cables for our cable company got chomped today and cable TV isn't working.

But my internet connection is? So the connection between here and their local hub is working, and they must have a switch there that goes into an internet trunkline, but the television signal comes from further away. Interesting.

The redhead and the kids are upstairs watching Napoleon Dynamite since they can't watch any TV shows. And quite frankly, I love that movie, but I'm just not in the mood. Ho hum.

My annual achievement evalution meeting went great today. There was more talk of what was being done to make sure the funding would still be around for me if this whole budget snafu occurs than about what I did last year. He was curious what my future plans are. I told him, of course, that if possible, I want to stay at the University at the very least until both kids are out of college, and that's 10 years away. And that I'm not currently looking for another job and won't until he comes to me and says that they will absolutely be out of money in nine months or whatever, etc. Of course, we really did go into pretty good detail over what I accomplished last year, etc. It's very nice to feel valued. I spared him an explanation of how to create a private key and a public key so that a user on one machine can secure copy files every night without having to enter a password each time, and how the cron job backed everything up each night. All-in-all, it was a great meeting. Nothing to be nervous about at all.

I did end up missing the "brownbag" today, but that's okay--I had figured I wouldn't be able to make it. I just want to know what they covered so that I don't waste precious time repeating "how to make a select statement" or anything like that during my talk next week (today was "basic introduction to databases, SQL, and scripting languages" or some such thing). Speaking of my talk... I actually have TWO Powerpoint slides done already. Woo hoo! I made a master slide and everything. The only problem is that I made the background dark green, the header text a tan color, and the main text white. Well, when I highlight the main text, the highlight window is white so you can't see the text. (How stupid is that, Redmond...). I'm sure there is somewhere I can fix that setting. And people wonder why I abhor Powerpoint.

I still don't hate it as much as I hate Dreamweaver, but maybe that's because I haven't used Powerpoint as much...

Grrr. The other day I actually used Dreamweaver to make a frameset because I don't ever use frames and rather than go look up on the 'net how to do a frameset, I knew I could probably open Dreamweaver faster, make a new page, and tell it to make a frameset. Did that, it asked me if I wanted a vertical or horizontal split--of course I didn't care, and then clicked "okay." So, I only needed one frame--I'm basically putting a calendar from an outside web site onto a page on our web site for one of the graduate students. Anyway. Then I go to the source code, manually input the URL for the calendar, delete the non-necessary extra frame, and try to save the file.

"You must have at least two frames. Dreamweaver is adding the extra frame and modifying your code." Aaaaargh.

Bull-oney I have to have more than one frame. Stupid Dreamweaver. Grrr. So I just re-did it in BBEdit. A much nicer program than stupid Dreamweaver.

"Oh we do everything in ColdFusion because you can use Dreamweaver."

I don't WANT to use Dreamweaver. Grrr....

Anyway... Sorry for the rant.

What on earth was I talking about? Oh, my Powerpoint presentation. I was just going to do a set of html pages, but part of the schtick of all of this is that after the fact people can go to the webmasters web site and download your presentation for future reference. So maybe I'll learn something during my Powerpoint sojourn.

Well, I don't know much else. Therapy was pretty good today. If there is one single thing I could say I appreciate about that hour every week it is that she always makes sure to try to explain to me that this isn't my fault. I put so much pressure on myself, and blame myself for so much stuff--my anger, my fear, my sadness. And she reassures me that it's not my fault, and that's a good reassurance to have sometimes. Oh well.

Come on Spring...

Posted: Thursday, March 10, 2005, 12:22 am
Mood: Restless | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Yearly Evaluation

My yearly evaluation is today. I'm kinda nervous, but only because, while I've always considered that I work for three professors, one of them was my actual boss for the past three years, and subsequently did my yearly evaluations. I'm on different funding now, so now one of the other three is my actual boss, and this will be the first year that I have had my evaluation done by him. No legitimate reason to be uneasy, I guess, but again, there is a bit of the "unknown" factoring into my nervousness. I'm sure everything will go fine.

I need to get my talk about PHP and MySQL finished--I present it a week from today.

Well, I suppose I should head off to work as the car is warming up on the driveway and with gas now at $8 per gallon, I shouldn't be wasting it...

Posted: Wednesday, March 09, 2005, 12:38 pm
Mood: Nervous | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment


So I had a bit of a meltdown last night. I had a few glasses of wine. I was frustrated, I think, that I wanted to get one of my consulting projects caught up before dinner and hadn't (I got up at 5:00 this morning and finished it before going to work).

I've been down lately. I'm under pressure (mostly my own) to get the new ColdFusion-driven web site at work up and running (and I don't care what people say--PHP is way easier to deal with than ColdFusion. Dreamweaver and all this scripting stuff stinks...).

So after kids went to bed, and I had given up on working, I plopped down in one of the laz-e-boys in the playroom and turned on the kids' television. And started flipping channels. And stumbled upon "Rocky."

Oh boy.

My mother loved Rocky. I remember when Rocky II came out we piled into the car--my parents, myself, and my sisters--and spent what seemed like an eternity waiting in line on North Avenue to get into the "Sky Hi" drive in movie theater. My mother loved the first couple of Rocky movies. She was devastated after the first one. I don't think it was the boxing match as much as it was the struggle for Rocky and Adrian to get their lives on track. Or something.

Well Rocky was on t.v. last night. And I can't help but watch it.

And the memories tear me apart. I don't know if seeing Talia Shire is part of the problem, in that she remotely looks sort of the way my mother did in the 1970s...

Big awkward glasses, demure presence....I don't know.

I started crying like a baby. I don't know that I've cried that way in 20 years. Heck, I'm getting teary-eyed now. I miss her so much. I'm so scared. Yoda is right--fear does lead to anger, and anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering. But don't think Hitler. And I'm not sure about the "hate" part. While it's true that I don't like Dick Vitale or my stupid neighbor to the east, hate is a pretty strong word.

But I'm fearful. I have two children and a wife and their safety, thier lives--everything--causes me fear. I'm not ready to die right now, but by god, I'm not letting any situation happen that would allow any of them to die before me. I'm obsessed with that. I'm mortal now. I didn't used to be mortal. But I'm mortal now.

And this control that I have to exert, over life itself, is painful. I worry every day when my wife drives to work. I worry about the kids when they are in a car with grandma going to Champaign and she's pointing at birds instead of watching the road (and yes, she drives a Mercedes and not a Yugo so they are "by default" safe when with her). I'm afraid of heights now. I hate to fly. "NTSB is trying to determine what caused the plane to crash..." Gravity caused the damn plane to hit the ground. Duh.

Fear does end up lead to suffering in a roundabout way. My suffering.

All I want is for the wife and kids to be happy and have whatever they need to get through their lives. My life unravelled when my mother died (someone tell me if "unravelled" is wrong). I, quite frankly, don't give a crap about the problems in the rest of the world--I just need to make sure that three other lives don't unravel. Okay, I'm spent. I need to go help send the stinkpots to bed...

Posted: Wednesday, March 09, 2005, 1:44 am
Mood: Fair | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Tae Kwon Griffey?

Hmm. So I got to thinking in the last, oh, five minutes.

(I'm like an Intel processor--I run seven kajillion instructions a second but none of them are worthwhile....)

Maybe I should sign up for a Tae Kwon Do class.

I need the exercise.

I've proven that if I sign up for a class that I have to be at that I will go. I just don't seem to have the "oomph" to force myself to get on that damn treadmill every night.

It has been proven that I have some inner bitterness--some anger or something that drives me. That picture of the tool from OSU shows the same thing. I'm a stupid punk too. I'm angry. I pay a therapist every week to try to help me find out the cause of that anger. Is it because my mother died when I was 15? Or because my dad re-married? And there are dozens of things in-between those two events. I live the American dream, yet I'm still pissed.

I don't think it is money. I think that even if I made $4,000,000 per year I'd still be the way I am. I look at that kid in the Luther Head photo and see the same thing. Can that irritated-ness be fixed?

I don't know where I'm going with this.

But maybe some zen-master (and don't anyone gripe at me if that is the wrong term) can find a way for me to have an outlet for my aggression, get a grip on my anger, and maybe lose some weight in the process, I can afford to spend the $50 a week (or whatever it is...). And if I have an "appointment," I'll go. Signing up for a gym membership isn't the trick--I have a gym at home.

Posted: Tuesday, March 08, 2005, 3:31 am
Mood: Curious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Not Bitter, Honest...

Honestly, I'm really not. I always sort of thought (not being a basketball guru) that losing a game would be a good way to motivate the Fighting Illini. It has seemed to me that their steam has totally gone away during the second half of the season--and again, I'm just a geek, not a basketball expert.

I think they needed this. Anyway...

I still want to know who the hell this punk is:

What are you thinking? Luther Head is a half-foot taller than you and can probably kick your butt in under 5 seconds.

And if he doesn't, hopefully someone else will.

Your team can't even play in the tournament because your coaches spend more time bribing players than they do recruiting them. And don't even get me started on Clarett and your corrupt football program.

And go away with your "THE Ohio State University" baloney. Lose the arrogance factor already. Illinois is still a better school... (According to U.S. News we're 37 and they are 62....)

Anyway. I'm more irritated that AP writers have given North Carolina first place votes. We lost to Ohio State, a team that has won 18 games. North Carolina has lost three times. Once to The Turd, once to a team (Wake) that we beat by a kajillion points, and once to Santa Clara, who is 15-16 on the year! I hope we meet OSU in the Big Ten Tournament next week in Chicago and just demolish them like we should. I hope we meet Kansas, and North Carolina, and The Turd in the tournament. And I hope we crush the heck out of all of them.

And I hope Dick Vitale and his smaller-than-average, err, business get hit by a bus. "North Carolina, baby!" Shut up already! Jerk.


I guess I was happy...

Posted: Tuesday, March 08, 2005, 1:00 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment


My whole body is sore. Good sore, but sore nonetheless. It hurts to type.

I moved the entire compost heap yesterday to ensure that every little bit of it got turned. Ugh. I did extract several buckets of perfect compost from the middle of it, which is cool. I think I have enough compost for a while--I'm not bagging the grass this Spring/Summer (which makes my mowing life a lot easier as well...).

I moved bucket after bucket of landscape rocks from the south side of the deck but it still looks to me like I'm not making any progress. Oh well.

It's shaping up to be a fabulous Spring and I'm absolutely thrilled about that. But right now I don't feel so good...

And yes, the Illini lost at Ohio State. And I agree with coach Bruce Weber--much better to lose one now than in a few weeks during the tournament.

It's too bad that "the Turd" couldn't beat North Carolina. I'm not in any mood to listen to Vitale talk about North Carolina should be the number one team in the country, even with 3 losses (and one to what amounts essentially to a junior college...).

Oh well. I wasn't ever a huge basketball fanatic before this season, and I'm sure after this season is over with I still won't be a huge basketball fanatic.

Okay, it's almost 5:00 a.m. Back to bed for another hour or so, or work on the Annual Meeting Abstract Book for an hour before getting ready for work.

I think I'll go back to bed...

Posted: Monday, March 07, 2005, 10:42 am
Mood: Tired | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment


Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

Equinox in two weeks! Woo hoo!

It is supposed to be in the mid 60s today! I just finished up one of my consulting projects (woo hoo!). I have one that I need to do more work on this morning but that is close to being finished as well. Then I have one left to get started on (and I think I need to be quick with it, which means working every night this week after work...).

Come on solar radiation....

Oh, and Go Illini!

Posted: Sunday, March 06, 2005, 3:07 pm
Mood: Happy | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Oh, and as Long as I'm Complaining...

Baseball season has started. Groan.

Someone wake me up when it is over. Oh wait, that's like 9 months from now...

Baseball players are a bunch of whiny, overpaid ninnies. Boo hiss.

I'm going back to bed...

Posted: Saturday, March 05, 2005, 12:07 pm
Mood: Grouchy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment


I wonder if my insomnia is somehow related to my consulting?

I've got a pile to get through over the next couple of days. And now it is 5:00 a.m. and I'm wide awake. Of course I had wine with dinner last night (and dinner wasn't very good so I didn't eat much) and I think I fell asleep on the couch in front of Battlestar Galactica. Oh well, just another one that I'll have to get Tod to burn me a TiVo'd DVD of....

And yes, I can gripe that dinner wasn't good. I cooked. Chicken on the grill. I think it was a situation where it was fine, but after spending the time to cook it, I had little desire to look at it, much less eat it. Everyone else seemed to like it, and while I could see that my wife might attempt to keep opinions to herself to spare my feelings (note: "might"), I guarantee that if the kids thought it was gross I would have heard about it. If nothing else, it would have given them an excuse to quote Napoleon Dynamite. "Gr-oss!"

I hope it rains all day today and tomorrow. I have a lot of work to do and I'd much rather spend the weekend outside, so if I'm going to get through this pile, I need some negative weather help from mother nature.

Yesterday I stayed home from work. I had to take the nerdlings to the dentist at 1:00 and with it being a half-hour drive to the office, there's little point in me going to work for a half day. Besides one of my two bosses is out of town, so it wasn't like I would be missed...

It reached 50°F yesterday! I spent a whole bunch of time working on my rock conversion project on the south side of the deck. There was a hosta in the midst of the sea of rock that I was hoping to dig up and split and transplant. Well, I got the rocks moved into manageable piles and started pulling up the black weed-block felt stuff because I was sick of seeing the corners of it poking out from everywhere, I found out that the genius that planted the hosta did so in the dirt on top of the felt. They hadn't bothered to cut a whole in the felt thing. So when the felt came up, so did the hosta. I quickly peeled it off the felt as best I could (because, of course, its roots were determined to get through the felt) and ended up with nine sub-hosta. Fish out of water, and getting dry fast.

So I enlisted the help of the kids and we went out to the back corner of the yard to the berm with the three huge pine trees. I got the kids to dig me nine small holes, and fetch a watering can full of water, and we transplanted all nine little sub-plants. The redhead guesses three will make it. I'm slightly more optimistic and said five. We'll see how it goes...

I got to go to the last home Illini game the other night. It was fun--Gene Keady of Purdue is retiring at the end of the year and our coach, Bruce Weber, was an assistant for Keady for 18 years, so they had a special presentation at the beginning of the game. And, of course, we kicked their butts.

A young couple was in the two seats in front of us, and were obviously on a date. They seemed more interested in each other than the game at times. Which is fine. Perfect. That's what college kids do. Well, any time a big play would happen and we'd all rise to our feet, they were semi-oblivious and would tend to linger on their feet longer than everyone else. Which at one point prompted the old crabby white trash townie woman behind me to start griping "down in front!"

I understand the sentiment, I guess. But the first time she started it was with four minutes left.

Of intermission....

Yep. The Illini had taken to the floor from the locker room before the second half and everyone got up and cheered. Then we sat back down (except for this couple) while the team warmed up. Warmed up--you know, like lay-up drills? And this stupid woman starts in with her "down in front!"

They were warming up. Nothing to see here. And SHUT UP. She continued this throughout the start of the second half any time the kids were idling on their feet for more than a moment longer than they probably should have been. Shut up lady! If you don't like it, then you stand up so you can see.

I'm very goofy about the relationship between the students and alumni and the local population. As far as I'm concerned, the school and its athletic programs belong first and foremost to the students. They go to school there. They pay to go to school there. They own it. The teams, the traditions--everything.

Then there are people like me--alumni who were once part of the first classification but have now moved on to bigger and better things. Of course, I'm also in a separate side-group as well as I am an employee.

Then there are the locals. Nothing to do with the University other than that they have the geographic link with it in that they live nearby. Especially the older ones feel somehow that they are entitled to some ownership because they live in close proximity and have "been there" for two-dozen years or more.

Nope. Not your school. Never has been and never will. Unless you get off your butt and go to school there.

And the redhead will probably start a fight with me when she reads this tomorrow, even though she thinks I'm slamming her and I'm not. Want to be a fan? Great. Refer to them as "our team?" That's great too. It's no different than being a fan of the Chicago Bears.

But that doesn't entitle one to any semblance of "ownership"--assuming, of course, that anyone reading this understands the definition I'm trying to impart with my use of that word.

As a student I was always half irritated by the old townies that never attended the school but acted like they knew everything about everything and that we were idiots because we were from Chicago and it was our first year on campus. And I think that irritation has stayed with me.

I finally shot that stupid old woman a dirty look and she quit her incessant griping. I was half-tempted to poke one of the kids in front of me and say, quite loudly, "Can you two do me a favor and please sit down because if I have to listen to this stupid old woman behind me bitching any more I'm going to get pissed." Go back home, white trash lady.

Note that everyone in the place is wearing orange and she had on a ratty old faded RED sweater. Grrr.....


Posted: Saturday, March 05, 2005, 11:56 am
Mood: Fair | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Pool Discharge to Sprinkler System

Well, it appears that a typical in-ground sprinkler head can handle 3 gpm of water flow.

And from what I can gather on the internet, the pool pump spits out 80-100 gallons per minute.

That's 30-ish sprinkler heads, if I do my math correctly...

Hmm. Of course, I don't know anything for sure until I actually check the specific specifications for our model pool pump. But the instructions on the internet for checking what your water flow rate is just won't work for me. "Start a timer, then turn the hose on and see how long it takes to fill a one-gallon bucket." Uh, I would guess that the pool discharge pipe could fill a 10 gallon bucket in just a few seconds. It would be almost impossible to get a one-gallon bucket anywhere near the thing--it would probably blow the bottom out of it...

Oh well. If nothing else, maybe I'll just stick to the 2 inch PVC pipe, still run it underground, and have several, err, "geysers" in the yard every time I need to empty water. That still solves the stupid neighbor problem, it just isn't as cool as in-ground sprinklers...

Posted: Thursday, March 03, 2005, 5:19 pm
Mood: Awesome | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

My Therapist Rocks!

So I've been in a funk for the past couple of days. I've been moving through life in a haze, like Max Payne in one of his dream sequences. Okay, maybe not that hazy.

I apparently have a form of OCD (obsessive-compulsive behavior, if you don't know what it stands for) that sometimes gets me stuck in a rut. The way she explained it to me is that if you take normal life as a record being played, that sometimes mine skips and gets stuck and the same thing goes over and over and over again. And my processor gets bogged down with the seemingly infinite loop and until someone bumps the stereo and it gets off the skipping track, I sit there in misery and confusion.

What I do is that I take possible future scenarios of, well, whatever--it doesn't matter, and try to compute every single possible sequence of outcomes. The latest one happened to involve the pseudo-feud with my stupid neighbor over the pool backwash.

The scenarios I was running through my head involved how I could get her to strike first and then I could lash out and hopefully scar her enough (and scare her) that she would leave me alone forever. Like a cat that tangles with some outdoor animal and learns its lesson and doesn't do that again. But I need her to make the first move. Listing the scenarios is pointless, but believe me, there were a whole bunch of them. I guessed my move, her response, my response, her response, ad infinitum, and bogged myself down to the point of uselessness.

$i = 1;
while ($i > 0) {

That'll run. (Well, the fake "worry" call won't work unless there is really a function called that, but that doesn't matter...). But watch what happens to the machine with that process going.

That's how I've been for two or three days.

So with some devil advocacy, and some insight on my part (I'd like to think) as well, we've gotten the record to get past the scratch.

In Clear and Present Danger the President gets into a situation where a good friend of his was murdered because the friend was, well, he had some dealings that weren't legal and he screwed some people over. Anyway, he's worried about how the media will pester him about their relationship and one of the advisors tells him to distance himself, etc. And my good pal Jack Ryan says something to the effect of "no, don't do that--if they ask you if you were friends, say you were 'good friends'--if they ask how good of friends, say you were 'lifelong friends.' Then they'll have nowhere to go with it...."

And that's what I'm going to do with the evil woman behind me. I had devised a way to fix the water situation (before the record started skipping), which was the initial cause of our problematic situation. So, I go through with that and fix the drainage problem (I'm going to install in-ground sprinklers that water my grass with the discharge from the pool--it will be so cool!). Then I politely let her know some time and prompt her to please let me know if for some reason water is still getting into her yard, etc., etc. And, like the media in Clear and Present Danger, she won't have anywhere to go with that. She can't get mad at me--I fixed the problem. There's nothing else to gripe about. I've been a good neighbor. And if she continues to be nasty, then unlike my pal Dubya who managed to step on some toes and not get the support (that I think he, and we, deserved) for the war in Iraq, how can my wife and mother-in-law not agree that I am being treated unfairly by this stupid woman? If I do everything I can to be a good neighbor, and she is still being nasty??

At that point even France might agree with me.

Anyway. What a long, dumb story and situation. I'm going to take the high road. And I think it will work. And hopefully I will no longer live in fear of being in my back yard. And I really enjoy being in my back yard. Yay!

Posted: Wednesday, March 02, 2005, 10:54 pm
Mood: Awesome | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Clean Teeth

I realized last night that I had a dentist appointment today. It went well--no cavities!

I feel sort of weird emotionally lately. I don't understand. Oh well. If spring would ever get here I'm sure my situation would improve...

My stupid car is misbehaving again. So is the damn cable modem. At least I can get the car going by tapping on the stupid fuel injectors with a screwdriver--unfortunately that doesn't work with the cable modem.

Apparently Illinois' basketball team made the cover of Sports Illustrated. Also, that is apparently a bad thing because teams supposedly always stumble after appearing on the cover. Good thing I'm a skeptic.

I'm looking forward to seeing the game tomorrow. Oskee wow wow!

I hope my mood improves by then.

Posted: Wednesday, March 02, 2005, 6:50 pm
Mood: Pensive | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Go Away Snow!

March is finally here, which means Spring should be getting close. And then it has snowed for the past 24 hours. I mean, come on. Old man winter needs to let it go already.

So with the new job the redhead can apparently "buy" a week of a time share for $125 at various locations throughout the country. How totally cheap! And it is a condo, not a hotel, so we could even save money by cooking our own breakfast and stuff. How cool is that? The best part is that there are several within driving distance, which makes it even that much cheaper.

My consulting workflow is picking up again, which is kind of cool. And the next to jobs I have they want to pay me all at once at the end, instead of having me submit a bill every week or two. Much cooler because that way I'll get a whole chunk of money that I can actually do something with, rather than nickel-and-dime away a few hundred dollars every week and having nothing left to show for myself.

Well, I don't have too much else to talk about. I hope it warms back up soon...

Posted: Tuesday, March 01, 2005, 4:45 pm
Mood: Pretty Good | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

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