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Archived Entries from March 2007


Saturday

I think that I'm kidding myself by thinking that I'm going to get out and golf nine holes this morning before anyone else in the house wakes up...

We're in "scattered thunderstorms" mode, and while the radar is rather spotty, I'm sure that it will still be quite dark at sunrise. And by the time it lightens up enough to see a golf ball, I'm sure others with the same idea as me will be on to it as well, and the whole point of my going early is to avoid "others."

Marc and I are hopefully going to play this afternoon, so playing this morning isn't imperative, I just figured I could sneak out there and get nine more practice holes in without the pressure of having anyone else around.

In other related news, I registerd tricitycc.com yesterday and spoke with one of the board members about doing a web site for the club. I told him if nothing else it can be used for a marketing tool (how to sign up, map of the course, etc.) but that we could also have forum boards for members, places to log-in your scores, etc., etc.--I mean, I kinda do this kind of stuff for a living...

Well the University has finally decided that it is going to keep all the copyrighted Chief imagery and logos to itself (which is probably a smart move) and set a time frame for when companies have to stop manufacturing clothes and other items with the Chief logo and name, etc. (not sure how they are going to enforce a copyright of the word "CHIEF," however...). Looks like we'll have to bring back Squanto. If you goofy left-wing hippie do-gooders thought things were "hostile and offensive" before, just you wait.... Oh, you don't like my T-shirt, you say? It's as protected by freedom of speech as your bumper sticker labeling me a racist is. Stick that in your bong and smoke it.

Okay, I'm going to go eat something and get dressed on the off chance that the weather clears and I can sneak out for nine...

Posted: Saturday, March 31, 2007, 9:54 am
Mood: Pleased | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Methane

I have just watched one of the most moronic commercials on television that I have ever seen.

It pictured a cow in a pasture, chomping on grass. Then a voice asked what the similarity was between cow farts and cigarette smoke. The answer? Methane.

Terribly awful for everyone, that methane is.

What a moronic analogy.

So let me guess.... the next thing the liberal, hippy, Subaru station wagon-driving folks are going to want is a removal of all cows. After all, they're all vegans anyway (the hippies, not the cows, although I guess the cows are vegans too--maybe if we get rid of cows we can get rid of hippies under the same mandate...). No more cigarettes, and no more cows.

I don't smoke, and I don't like second-had smoke. But let's have some damn common sense.

Anyway....

Posted: Thursday, March 29, 2007, 1:46 am
Mood: Mildly Irritated | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Sore Muscles

Oh boy am I ever getting old. I feel awful today. Part might be from golfing on Sunday, but most of it, I'm sure, is trying to be Superman and digging out those two huge bushes yesterday. I didn't know if I was going to be able to get out of bed this morning.

And I have a headache thanks to getting my first baldness-related sunburn of the year. Wonderful.

Well my new web hosting package seems to be working well. It's fast (even when my last set-up was working, it was slow as molasses to do anything, and FTP clients typically timed out rather often) and quite reliable (so far) and these folks seem like they have their act together. Some people are still complaining on web hosting forums that they can't get into their account at the other place.

It's going to be 80 today, but start raining tonight and then throughout the rest of the week, and then we'll be back to Spring-like temperatures in the 50s and 60s starting on Saturday. More golf?

So get this, in order to prevent blogspam on this wonderful on-line journal, I came up with a rather unique solution. Okay, it's not that unique--it's akin to setting up a router to only allow wireless connections to specific MAC addresses (which I do). Basically, if you try to post any sort of link in a comment, it is immediately discarded--I don't even see it. The user (ahem, or 'bot) gets redirected to a page telling them that nobody is allowed to make any posts with HTML links in them. Now, assuming that a comment is posted that doesn't have any HTML links in it, a row is written to the database with that comment. A few things are checked first--most notably the user's IP address. If I already have a comment in the database that is marked as verified with your IP address attached to it, you'll forever be able to comment all you like, and the comments will appear immediately. If, however, you don't have a verified comment in the database the row will be written with a value of "no" for the verified field, and that comment will not appear on my blog unless I go change it to a "yes."

Some goof from southest Asia yesterday post a comment that just said "Hi. Bye." and listed his/her name as "Test." What are you testing? Unless you write something that I think is worthwhile, or can spoof one of about a half-dozen verified IP addresses, you won't EVER have a comment appear. Your "test" goes absolutely nowhere. So unless one of the other five people that has posted a comment here wants to share their IP address with you, you're out of luck. Quit wasting your time with your "tests." Sheesh.

Okay, enough griping. If the redhead would ever get her hair dried we could head to work.... (just kidding honey)

Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2007, 12:59 pm
Mood: Exhausted | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Removal of the Bushes

No, not the President. Even I don't have that kind of power...

But the weather was going to be nice today, and I know that the ding-a-lings that live next to me would both be at work, and my bosses are all in Canada, so I figured it would be the perfect time to try to dig up the lilac bush and transplant it out at the farm.

Much easier said than done, but I sort of figured that would be the case.

Here's the problematic bush in question:

This thing was huge. And the whole existence of these kinds of landscaping "items" are to block the view of my neighbors' yards.

A refresher for those that don't know the situation... The little town we live in requires homeowners that wish to construct a fence to put the fence inside the property line by three feet. The idea is that you then have room, on your own property, to go "outside" and maintain your fence if needed. Well, the original owners of the house happened to plant a couple of pine trees, a mock orange bush, and a lilac bush on the outside of the fence, but well within the three feet "buffer."

And we got new neighbors to our north last year, and, well, let's just say common sense isn't a strong point. He hacked down the mock orange and was about to start lopping apart the lilac bush when I saw him and ran over and told him not to. I don't think he believed my telling him that they were on our property, and to make a long story short, I don't trust that he won't attempt to do something to these two beautiful bushes the next time I'm not looking.

So under the cover of sunlight, I mean, under the cover of everyone else being at work, I decided the time was right to get the bushes out of there and transplant at least some of each of them to my in-laws' house out at the farm.

The first thing I needed to do was give the lilac bush a trim.

And no, the irony wasn't lost on me when I was lopping apart this bush that the purpose of this exercise was simply to prevent my neighbor from doing the very thing I was doing. So I lopped it all apart and started digging. Unless you're faced with a similar situation, I'd recommend never trying to dig up a 20+ year old lilac bush under any circumstances.

But I got it out of there, and transplanted a huge chunk out at the farm, and several smaller pieces in my own yard--hopefully they will survive and get big enough to go back to blocking the view... (Speaking of which, hey neighbor, why don't you worry about that concrete slab and ugly dog kennel before worrying about the bushes that aren't even in your yard?)

Like it wasn't ever even there.... I also went and finished the job I started last year of getting the rest of the mock orange out of the ground and transplanted. This was the bush that he had chopped to the ground (all so he could keep his brush fire going...).

The mock orange ended up coming out in multiple pieces. I re-planted three or four of them along my side of the fence, where they can go back to blocking the view but are saved from my neighbor's loppers.

And now I'm sore as all get-out. Between this and golf yesterday, I can barely move. I'm getting too old...

Posted: Monday, March 26, 2007, 9:45 pm
Mood: Accomplished | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Lazy Sunday

So I don't much like this whole waking up in the middle of the night thing that has been happening again lately, but if that's the worst of my complaints, I think I'll live.

I played golf today! Marc and I went out at 9:00 or so and only played 9 holes. When we got to the club the clubhouse was closed so we couldn't get a scorecard and I noted that it probably wasn't a bad thing that we wouldn't be able to keep track on the first outing of the season. Well, for me it was probably closer to being the first outing in seven or eight years. I didn't do very well at the beginning, but I started to figure it out again and got progressively better by the time we decided to call it a day.

I'm going to like this whole golf thing....

Oh, I successfully reupholstered the backs of the two seats of the golf cart on Saturday afternoon, and they actually look quite nice. I'm sure that it could have turned out better, but I'm also sure that it could have turned out lots, lots worse. Marc gave me a couple of replacement wheels that he had lying around (the ones on the cart previously were totally rusted), and I hosed things out yesterday and the cart now looks more like something that belongs at a golf club and less like a farm implement. How nice for me.

And speaking of the cart, it had no problems making it through the nine holes yesterday. I think the batteries are in good shape--I didn't notice any difference in speed from the beginning of the day to the end, and Marc commented to that affect as well.

And Kansas lost! (Hey, so did NC!) Of course god forbid I express an opinion about basketball on my personal weblog... Anyway....

So we had some friends over Saturday for a weenie roast, and the weather actually cooperated. It was a bunch of fun, even if we couldn't get the fire to work well (even after I gave up trying to get it to work well and Steve took over it still didn't do well).

It was a lot of fun. And I didn't try to walk anywhere....

Today, after golf (and lunch), the redhead and I took the kids to Walnut Point State Park and we walked on one of our favorite trails. We then decided to come home and load up the bitTorrent and go fishing at the local reservoir. It was quite relaxing, even if we didn't even get a nibble.

The bosses are all out of town the next few days for a meeting in Canada. I think I'm going to take an impromptu day off tomorrow and as soon as my goof neighbor leaves for work go and try to dig up the lilac bush that he's repeatedly tried to kill (even though it is not on his property) and move it out to the farm where at least my mother-in-law will get some enjoyment out of it. How fricking hard is it to understand that the fence is not the property line, and that everything on the three feet outside the fence is still my property? Mensa my butt. This way I can at least get this thing dug up (hopefully) and moved out of harms way while this goof isn't at home so I won't have to hear from him during the process.

Anyway.

I guess that's all I have to talk about now. I sure hope the lilac bush situation tomorrow (later today?) isn't as awful as I expect it to be....

Posted: Monday, March 26, 2007, 5:34 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Let\'s Keep It That Way....

I've been faithfully checking the weather all week, and so far it is still supposed to be sunny tomorrow.

We're having people over for a weenie roast this evening (well, we'll probably be cooking the hot dogs in the microwave the way the weather has been...) so I need to get busy on the house...

Posted: Saturday, March 24, 2007, 1:39 pm
Mood: Happy | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Golf Balls

Yeah, dumb title, but even putting titles to some of this drivel seems silly. or something.

So I went and bought a box of golf balls today, the first time I've ever purchased golf balls. I bought the cheapest ones I could find, of course. I'm sure that with the way I will probably golf this year that the choice of balls used won't make a bit of difference. That sentence made sense. The box of balls (I hope someone other than me is chuckling as I keep talking about, uh, balls...) claims that they fly "straighter." The first time I hook one I'm going to sue.

I'm really looking forward to playing golf this year.

On a lighter note, the thing from the insurance company showed up for my little ambulance ride. Just the ambulance--I haven't heard from the hospital itself yet. $750. Thank goodness I have quality care and not the HMO plan--I'm getting stuck with about $200 of all of it. I'm guessing the hospital bill will be in the neighborhood of two- to three-thousand dollars, and I'm guessing (hoping?) that I'll get stuck with only another couple of hundred dollars of that as well. This will still be the most expensive "walk home" that I've ever taken.

We had lunch with Steve and Susan today, and joked that we need to get me a collar and one of those "invisible fence" systems so that if I try to leave his house, or the VFW, or anywhere else, that I get zapped.

When it comes down to it, this whole situation really isn't funny, but I think if we peek into the "how serious it really was" area, we'll be rather depressed, maudlin, and everything else. Stupid, yes, but everything worked out okay, and if I get off with only having to pay $500 or so, I think we'll have gotten off easy.

Enough about that.

I finally took the time today (nobody else was at work) to install/configure mailman to hopefully deal with our "Bulletin" notification list. For the past few years we've (I've) been using an awful, awful notification system that I whipped up rather quickly and have needed to replace since almost as soon as it was put into production. My notification system queries the database for all "verified" e-mail addresses (over 3,000 now) and goes one-by-one through the result set and "mail"s each address with the notification message (passed through a web form). It takes forever to run. I usually send it right before I go to lunch and hope that it finishes before I get back. It's soo bad (how bad is it?) that I have to use Internet freaking Explorer to run the page that does everything. Safari will time out (yes, I've tried changing all sorts of Safari settings) and I think Firefox does as well. Only stupid Explorer will sit there and wait an hour for a page to get returned from the server to the client saying that the messages have been sent.

So anyway, I really need to have mailman deal with this and not some server-side PHP page. Ick.

I think I may reupholster the back seats on the golf car tomorrow. I sure hope the rain lets up before Sunday....

Posted: Saturday, March 24, 2007, 1:07 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Almost Friday...

Well the redhead and I are running a little late this morning, so I figured I'd blog while she finishes "getting ready."

I talked to Marc yesterday (he pulled up on his way home while the kids and I were playing HORSE on the driveway). It looks like we're going to make our maiden voyage to the golf course (well, my maiden voyage, not his) this Sunday. Hopefully the golf cart will be able to hold a charge long enough to get me through 18 holes.

Speaking of the golf cart, I went to JoAnn Fabrics yesterday in search of vinyl to re-cover the back seats of the golf cart (the boards on the back of the seats are totally rotted out). It was in the back left of the store, right where I was told it would be (thanks, Ms. N!). I got a yard of it for ten bucks (the little old ladies in the store seemed amused that I had no idea how to go about buying fabric...). They had cushion material as well, but it was $28 a yard, and I don't need new cushions that badly. If anything I'll go to Dollar General and buy three or four $1 foam pillows and MacGuyver something. $28 for foam--sheesh.

Have I mentioned yet how happy I am that Spring is here? Almost overnight everything has gone from dreary to green, and all sorts of stuff is beginning to bloom.

And that includes the huge lilac bush, which means I'm going to need to take a day off work early next week and see about digging it out of there and transplanting it out at the in-laws' house before my damn neighbor kills the thing when I'm not looking. I'll probably get what's left of the mock orange out of there too so there will be nothing on that side of the fence for my neighbor to chop apart. Some people....

I did a lot of yard work the other day but I have so much more to do. Trees and bushes need to be pruned, the grass needs to be fertilized (I think the kids are old enough now that I can safely do the back yard this year and tell them to "stay off" and they actually will...). I need to get the floor done in the playhouse (that has been a treat--not).

The kids walked home from school yesterday. Well, or most of the way home--I was headed home from work at that point and picked them up when they were a few blocks from home and drove them the rest of the way. After we got home, Em told me how thankful she was for air conditioning. "What are you talking about?" I asked. Well, the house stays cool during the day now if we leave it closed up because it's in the shade for a good part of the day, and it doesn't get warm out until the afternoon anyway. So she thought the a/c was on. Um, not for at least two more months, if not three. Then she said "are you going to come outside and play basketball with us, or do you think it is too hot out." Em, it's SEVENTY-FIVE degrees out. Anyway.

Okay, the redhead is ready to head to work (finally)....

Posted: Thursday, March 22, 2007, 1:45 pm
Mood: Happy | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Dreary Day

Hey, but Spring arrived late yesterday afternoon!

Well the golf cart charger seems to work much better now that I've replaced the plug with a new one (exposed wires and bent plug-ends--no wonder it was popping the GFCI outlet at the farm after being turned on for only a few minutes....).

My daughter has been dying to drive the golf cart now that it is fixed, but I explained to her that she wasn't going to be tooling around the neighborhood on the golf cart like, ahem, some of the other pain-in-the-you know what kids a few blocks away are wont to do.... Well I let her drive it around in the yard yesterday afternoon, and even though there isn't much room for her to maneuver, she still drove in circles and figure 8s, laughing the entire time. Ah, to be a kid...

Okay, I need to get to work--I have a busy day ahead of me...

Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2007, 11:36 am
Mood: Amused | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Emergency Room Fun

Well the redhead and I carpooled today, which was good for me for a couple of reasons... First, we saved $5 in gas (and made Mr. Gore happy all at the same time) and secondly, well, this sounds mean but the redhead instant messaged me later in the morning and told me that she wasn't feeling well (she's been sick the past few days) and wanted to go back home and go to bed. Fair enough--but we rode together so that means I'd have to go home too. And there's no way I was going to turn around and then drive back to work after taking her home (which if nothing else would defeat the point of "First," above...). So we had lunch, she took some drugs and went to bed, and I spent a couple of hours in the backyard doing "Spring cleaning."

The weather is gorgeous--it's 55 degrees out and lots of stuff is already poking out of the ground, and several of the varieties of bushes are budding out. Spring starts in what, four or five hours? Thanks GOODNESS!

So now I'm going to have a brew, maybe walk to the bus stop and wait for the kids (not with the beer, of course--duh), and then depending on the homework situation shoot some hoops on the driveway with the kidders.

Well as all this silliness was going on with my previous web hosting company, I managed some silliness of my own, although it wasn't silly at the time...

We had some friends over for dinner, and as usual shared a number of bottles of wine. Two of the friends that were over were from out of town, and haven't fully "appreciated" this little podunk town in all its glory. So at some point I suggested to my friend Steve (who has lived here his whole life--he and the redhead started going to school together in kindergarten) that we take Tod (the out-of-towner) up to the local VFW to see if our other friend Darren was there. Dumb, dumb, dumb. But off we go.

At some point Tod asked to be taken back to my house so that he and his wife could go home (it was getting late).

Well, a bit of history/explanation is maybe in order. I have this odd thing that happens now that I'm old and don't drink like a 19-year-old anymore. Any time we enjoy too much wine and maybe have a few beers, and stay up late, I "disappear." At some point, without warning, my body basically tells me "Auto shutoff in 20 seconds--you have 20 seconds to get to bed. 19. 18..." And without warning, "Where's Mike?" My wife knows this. Our friends know this. It's amusing to them--it happens all the time.

So at some point at the VFW I left and tried to walk home. And it was icy out. And I decided to take a short cut and walk down the train tracks and over the narrow bridge over the river.

Yeah, it doesn't sound very funny anymore, does it? It wasn't.

At some point I fell on the tracks and hit my head. I don't know if I was knocked out or not--I'm pretty sure I was. It hurt like hell. I got up again and kept going. I fell at least two more times--and fell like a cartoon character, with my legs going straight up in the air and landing on the back of my head.

I finally made it home, where the redhead was none too pleased, because she had called our friends at the VFW and nobody knew where I was. Then I showed up in the doorway with a goose egg the size of a cantalope on my head, and I was covered in blood.

She called 9-11. Thank goodness the ambulance showed up discreetly without lights and sirens and such. I tried to talk the paramedics into putting a bandage on it and letting me stay at home, but they insisted that I go to the hospital.

So off we went. Seven metal staples and a CAT-scan later, and I got to watch the sun start to rise as we drove back home.

I'm a moron. I'm lucky to be alive. I'm lucky that the redhead doesn't want to divorce me over how stupid I am.

No more impromptu visits to the VFW, and I'm never going out ever again without my wife being with me, period.

I can't wait to see the bill for all of this.....

So that's my story. My friends and wife have been making fun of me ever since. The staples were taking out a week ago and I'm finally able to shave my head again (the ER people were impressed by the fact that my head was already shaved so they wouldn't have to do it before putting the staples in....).

Okay, I think I just heard the bus go around the corner--I'm going to go walk and meet the kids.

Posted: Tuesday, March 20, 2007, 8:20 pm
Mood: Happy | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


No Comment...

Hmm. Comments aren't working. Surely the cause is that the comment page is looking for database information in the wrong directory, but I'm not going to mess with it right now--I'll deal with it tomorrow.

Well I finally got the golf cart working this afternoon--okay, too much has happened since my silly website went AWOL.

Let me explain, no, let me sum up.

Wow (after reading back a bit) I haven't talked about much in the past month or more. Sheesh.

I'll save the story about falling on the railroad tracks at midnight, knocking myself out, finally getting home, and going to the ER in an ambulance story a few weeks back for another time. I dinged my head today on the roof of the damn golf cart, right in that spot, and boy did it hurt. But anyway....

I've quit freelancing (I think I've at least written about that) and a guy down the street from us, whose wife has known the redhead forever and whose daughter is one of my daughter's best friends, has been trying to get me to join the local country club for a couple of years now. Sorry, "country club." Well the redhead has actually gone along with this, so as of a few weeks ago, we're now members of the local "country club."

I apologize for the air quotes (web quotes?) but I still do a semi-rolleyes about the whole "club" part of it. Yes, yes, I grew up in the Chicago suburbs where country clubs were highly exclusive, very expensive (like you could only get in if someone else died and the initial price was tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for the "membership" and then the fees were thousands of dollars per year), and had wonderful golf courses along with huge swimming pools, tennis courts, fabulous dining, etc., etc. Our local "club" has nine holes, no tennis, no pool, and a clubhouse that is well, it fits in with most everything else in our frumpy little town. I'll stop my critique here before I potentially stick a foot in my mouth, but let's just say that I'm not feeling particularly "elitist" for paying $800 (or whatever it was with cart fees and such) to join the local "club" for a year.

It's a good deal--let's leave it at that. If I play golf once or twice a week for the summer the money I paid for this will be tons less than it would be if I played at public courses in the area.

Now, of course, I haven't picked up the sticks for years. Which is part of the reason I wanted to do this--I can go play at 5:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, by myself, before the redhead or anyone else in town (for that matter) is awake. And maybe the practice will help and I'll be more comfortable golfing with other people. Maybe.

So I had to get a golf cart (I'm totally rambling--sorry, I haven't had a working blog for almost a month...) especially since I paid the $120 "cart fees." Papa told me I could have the one at the farm, but it was "shooting fire" out the bottom of it when it was in "forward."

Last week I went and talked the local folks in Champaign about the problem, and they seemed to know exactly what I needed. A board, a wire, and a coil-thingy later and I was back off to the farm with my toolbox and a goal of a working cart. Then one of the wires to the coil thingy was melted through by battery acid, so I was off to the hardware store in Tuscola. Then a little thingy broke the first time we pressed the pedal after it was all back together, so I had to spend another nine bucks at the golf cart place today for a new switch thing.

But now it works. It's not pretty, but it works. Will it be the ugliest cart on the course? Of course! But if it gets the job done, quite frankly, I don't care. And if this all goes well this year, I'll spend the $1,500 for a good "new" used cart next year.

So the golf cart works, I've cleaned the dust off my clubs, and we'll see how this goes.

I'm excited, but a bit apprehensive as well.

Bored to death yet? Well, I'm tired of writing (for now). I'll tackle the visit to the ER tomorrow....

Posted: Tuesday, March 20, 2007, 1:59 am
Mood: Indifferent | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Am I Back?

Hello?

I think I've managed to revive everything, but not necessarily in one piece.

I always knew that having a site that gets updated from multiple computers and multiple locations might eventually cause a problem, because I don't have one good complete set of files for the entire site--well, I do, it's just on a server I can no longer access at a hosting company that I no longer do business with.

My best guess is that stray images here and there won't appear properly--I'll fix them when I find them.

Getting the blog database (well, and the rest of them, I guess) back was a fun chore. Somewhere in the creation of a backup from the old host (doing a MySQL "dump"), an odd character got inserted between every single character in that huge, huge file. Like in BBEdit if I used the arrow keys to move back and forth I'd have to press twice to move one letter. I tried to copy and paste that character into a search and replace but BBEdit would get confused and turn them all into spaces, which doesn't work either. None of my MySQL imports would work because of those special characters.

I finally was able to view them in vi editor, and found them to be a "^@" but in blue (with the rest of the text in white). A quick :g/control-V control-shift-@/s///g later and I was in business--it deleted millions of the things.

Anyway. Like I said, I'll try to get things patched up and back to normal as soon as I can, so I can get back to blogging.

Boy do I have a lot of stuff to talk about....

Posted: Monday, March 19, 2007, 3:45 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


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