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Archived Entries from November 2004

Insomnia is Fun!

My homework is finished but I still can't sleep. Groan. And I hurt my neck yesterday and it is now rather uncomfortable (probably why I'm awake).

I think I'm nervous about going to St. Louis as well. I'll get my oil changed before then, for sure, but I really, really, need to get my car in to the dealer to have them put on a new set of tires--mine are almost as bald as my scalp. I just hope the weather behaves and I'll probably be okay.

I'm stressed out about the dying dryer. Apparently the redhead called Sears and they are coming to look at it later this week.

The brand spanking new microwave has a problem with the fiberglass on the front of the door where a crack has formed and is starting to "unravel" if that makes any sense. And even if I can get Sears to agree to replace it, I just know this involves me taking the damn thing down and driving it back up to Champaign, and then being without a microwave for another two weeks while they get me another one. Groan.

At least I have my health. Oh wait, my neck is killing me.

Ahh, 4:04 a.m. A webmaster's favorite time of day. 404: sleep not found.

And it's too late in the morning, or I'd take NyQuil or something to knock me out. The problem is that it would knock me out for 6 hours and I really only want to sleep about another hour and a half.

Well this certainly was a Seinfeld-esque post about nothing. Oh wait, I needed to include a What's up with that?? Groan. Okay. Back to bed...

Posted: Tuesday, November 30, 2004, 10:04 am
Mood: Tired | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment

Homework is Finished

Ahhh. Much better. And with 4 hours to spare. And the homework was fun but I just had to force myself to make the time to do it, and other things kept getting in the way.

I think I may do the last homework this week, before it is technically assigned. I don't want to be in this situation again.

And, groan, I have to register for next semester....

It appears I'm only going to St. Louis for one night, which is quite cool. Drive down in the afternoon, go to dinner, watch Illinois spank Wake Forest "at the Hall" in a bar somewhere, get up in the morning and make sure the perfessors have their ducks in line (wow, two inside jokes in the same run-on sentence...), and come back home in time for dinner. Sounds like a good plan to me.

Hmm. Monday Night Football just started. Consulting? Or Football? (As I listen to the dryer in the other room going through its death throes....) Eh, I think I'm ready for some football (and sweats and slippers....).

I should probably change my oil tomorrow so I'm ready for my trip later this week.

Posted: Tuesday, November 30, 2004, 2:01 am
Mood: Better than Yesterday | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

So I'm Not Nuts...

I tried to be patient with this whole Quark fiasco. 5-8 day ground, and it has been 10 days as of today. And not only is my copy of Quark still in Nebraska, it has now been upgraded to "out for delivery." Which means it is on a truck on its way to someone's house, just not my house. And no, there isn't even a city called Villa Grove in Nebraska....

image of my UPS tracking information

Anyway. I e-mailed the company and asked them if they perhaps gave me the wrong tracking number or something. We'll see what they have to say...

Posted: Monday, November 29, 2004, 7:15 pm
Mood: Intrigued | 4 comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Winter blues

It's after 11:00 p.m. on a Sunday and I should be in bed fast asleep. Why not? Well, I took a nap today--that probably has something to do with it. Either way, I should be asleep by now.

I didn't go to Chicago for my Uncle Rick's funeral (that is tomorrow morning). I don't like funerals. I'm not thrilled with "my" family (in quotes because as far as I'm concerned, my family includes myself, my wife, and our two stinkpot children....). I found out the reason Uncle Rick and my father haven't spoken in 20 years is because said uncle didn't come to my mother's funeral way back in 1985 and never spoke to my dad about it afterwards. And my dad acted all broken up when Rick died. I have enough problems right now--I'm not getting back into this mess. (Well, and then I spent an evening on the phone, all conference-call like, with my two dingbat sisters who proceeded to spew all sorts of conspiracy theory that even Fox Mulder would probably have a hard time believing....)

So I worked for the better part of the day. I turned in a bill this evening that will cover the cost of a new dryer, which seems to have taken the spot at the forefront of the fantasy appliance team due to the monstrous sound it has been making lately. I replaced the belt a while back and noticed that the felt inside the front panel (upon which the dryer drum rests) was quite worn. I think that worn-out-ed-ness is what is causing the noise. I haven't had the time nor the energy nor the desire to mess with it. I'm actually even going to have a repair guy come look at it because I just don't even want to deal with it anymore.

As much as I'm trying to fight winter blues, I don't think I'm doing so well.

I think school is the problem. I have homework due tomorrow. All it takes is for me to shut my office door and do it, but the thought of it has still festered for the last several days. I'm at that point of the semester. The very same point that all but ruined my first attempt at college. The point of no return. The point where it was too late to drop classes, too far into classes that a hail mary pass at final time would fix things, and too far past the point that pleading to an instructor would help.

I'm not behind right now. In fact, everything is right on schedule. I'm almost certain that I have the best point total in the class--the single class I am taking. I understand the class fundamentals almost entirely without the book because, well, I'm a nerd and understand this stuff.

But I can't sleep. I'm brooding. What in the hell am I trying to prove with this whole endeavor?

Do I really, really, really think that I'm going to suffer through 3 more years of this to get a second bachelor's degree so that I can suffer through however-many years more getting a master's degree? And for what? I'm 35 years old. I'm not 20 anymore.

Better job? Doubtful. Chances are that I'm going to stay put. I have great benefits. Half-off tuition for the brats (who are a year apart and will spend at least 3 years going to college at the same time--and that's assuming they aren't dumbasses like their dad and take forever to finish...). I don't have strict work hours. I have my own office and can buy computer equipment at will (well, for the most part). I pretty much decide what I want my job to be. How can I beat that?

Approval from my father. Perhaps. The scenario outlining my dropping out of college could take up, well, more than one of these nasty run-on blog posts--that's for sure. The struggle to be so mad at one person yet still deep down inside try so hard to grasp for that person's approval could quite very well be the root of this whole mess. Yes, that sentence sucked, and I'm not fixing it. But again, what a dumb reason to go back to school.

My mother. I was a straight A student when my mother was alive. It all went downhill after she died. Just how much of that am I allowed to write off as teenage trauma? How much of it is actually my responsibility? Before she died, I got a perfect score on the math section of the pre-SAT as a high school sophomore. Two years later, I didn't understand calculus. And I shunned my nerdiness. Will going through with this whole back-to-college thing fix something in my head as far as I grieve about losing my mother? I was going to go to MIT or Stanford. And a year after the proverbial fan was smeared with feces, I ended up at the University of Illinois.

Ego? I currently deal with a loser of a network administrator that has a Statistics degree that knows about as much about computers as my dad does (but spews all sorts of lingo non-stop to confuse the professors that don't know any better). Not that there is anything wrong with being a geek and having a non-geek degree--that's the situation I'm in right now. But somehow will a new degree, or degrees, allow me better ammo to blast the losers that write me off as a "well, you just do web pages" person?

I also think part of it could be that I think it is fun (for the most part), enjoy learning, and realize that since it costs me nothing, why not keep going to school? Groan.

Okay, I'm tired of writing.

I think it's time for bed.

Posted: Monday, November 29, 2004, 5:58 am
Mood: Restless | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

United Parcel Service

11:00 p.m. on Friday.

And my copy of Quark 6 is still in Omaha, Nebraska.

I don't understand.


Posted: Saturday, November 27, 2004, 5:06 am
Mood: Confused | 4 comments | Article URL | Post a comment


But it sure feels like Sunday.

We cooked our bird today (thank goodness I got it out of the fridge at 2:30 this morning...) and it was awesome. My mother-in-law kept trying to get me to use a turkey bag. Her turkey had burnt skin on the top and the white meat was all dry. The way I did mine today was to put a stick of butter in the cavity of the turkey (along with some veggies, etc.) and then cover the entire pan with foil and leave it that way for the first couple of hours. Then I removed the foil and basted the bird with the melted butter about every half hour or so until it was ready. The result was a perfectly golden brown skinned turkey with perfectly cooked juicy white meat. Quite good. Turkey bag my butt....

Of course we spent 3-4 hours preparing for all of this, and were finished eating 15 minutes after I cut up the bird. Funny how that works. (And then there's an hour of clean up afterwards as well.)

Next week is not going to be much fun. Sunday night I have to drive up to Chicago and stay overnight at my dad's house so we can go to the funeral Monday. And besides the fact that I have no desire to be around all those people, I'm sure they will do a full catholic mass as well. Groan, groan, groan.

Then it's going to be like pulling teeth to get them to let me leave to come back home. "Why can't you stay for lunch? Why don't you stay for dinner? Why don't you stay the night again tonight and go back Tuesday?" Not to mention the fact that I'm going to have to be in St. Louis for a day or two (and hopefully not more) later in the week.

And I have homework due Monday night. Drat. And a huge pile of consulting work to do. Woe is me.

Posted: Friday, November 26, 2004, 11:38 pm
Mood: Grouchy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment


We had dinner at the in-laws' house yesterday. It was quite good, of course (but our turkey today at home will be better, and I definitely make way better stuffing...). Budge and I killed a half-dozen bottles of wine (some there, and then some back here afterwards). My head is killing me. I guess it is a good thing that I woke up with a splitting headache at 2:30 a.m. so I could get our turkey out of the fridge and into a sink full of water to complete the thawing process.

I think the redhead somehow volunteered us to make breakfast for "everyone" later this morning as well.

I took some Advil and should probably go back to bed and try to sleep off this hangover. Ugh.

Apparently one of my uncles died of a heart attack the day before yesterday so it looks like I'll be having to travel to Chicago for a funeral on Monday. Wonderful....

Okay, back to bed. Ooh, this hurts.

Posted: Friday, November 26, 2004, 9:16 am
Mood: Tired | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment

Quark 6

I finally broke down and purchased Quark 6 for OS X. I'm excited, actually. No more OS 9 for me. EVER. Woo hoo!

And I just checked in with my UPS tracking number and it appears Quark left Chicago at 4:00 this afternoon, which means it should arrive at the Urbana hub this evening and hopefully, hopefully make it down here tomorrow. That would just be absolutely wonderful.

For some time I have been looking into purchasing a new video card for my G4 so that I can have multiple VGA monitors. I was going to get a new PCI card--an ATI 9200--that has both a VGA and a DVI port, so that I could theoretically power three monitors if I wanted to. So that everything matched, I was going to put this 19" monitor on the PC, move the 17" that is on the PC to the Linux box, and then put the 15" that is on the Linux box in my mother-in-law's classroom and THEN purchase two new matching 19" monitors for this computer.

Quickly thumbing through MacMall's catalog before filing it in the trash I found 19" LCD flat-panel displays for under $300! (Well, barely under...). 19" VGA monitors are still in the $150 range. So... That means I could get a cheaper video card (perhaps just a single AGP card to replace the piece-of-junk nVidia GeForce 2MX that came with this thing) that would power two DVI monitors (you can get ADC-to-DVI connectors, right?) and instead of spending $300-$400 on two VGA monitors, spend just $600 for two 19" flat panels. Oh think of the extra work space I'd have, both on my desk and on my virtual desktop. I'm going to need to do a bit more research on this whole situation now. (Think of it this way--a 23" Apple flat panel like I have at work costs $2,000. I could get WAY more desktop space with 2 19" flat panels, and it would only be $600!).

With Christmas coming up, I don't know that I can swing this before the end of this year (which stinks for tax reasons) but it definitely opens my options (and makes it much less of a situation where I need to get the two VGA monitors before the end of the year...). I think that I'll get the new 120 gig hard drive, another 512 stick of RAM, and then of course also have Quark, and that will be my write-off for the year. Not much, and Myrna (our tax lady) will be irritated with me for not telling her ahead of time that we are going to probably owe money at tax time, but I think this is the best route at this point.

If only I could write off DVDs and PlayStation 2 games....

I'm excited. The Nerdrium will look totally cool with dual 19" flat panel monitors. Then I need to start building a new PC so that I can make the current box the Linux server and put that poor thing to rest...

Yes, yes, dear redhead of mine--I'll replace the toilet in the big bathroom upstairs and get a new stove and fridge before I do any of this. And have the black car looked at as well.

Posted: Tuesday, November 23, 2004, 11:04 pm
Mood: Happy | 4 comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Yay, It's Friday....

Okay, it's really only Tuesday, but I'm taking the day off tomorrow and starting Thanksgiving "break" early. (Actually I'll probably be working on consulting stuff all day long, if the truth be told...).

It looks like we'll be heading to the in-laws on Thursday and then having our own turkey with just me and the redhead and the kidders on Friday. And hopefully relax. I think this year I might not get as big of a turkey as I did for us last year. With leftovers in mind last year I bought the biggest turkey that the store had--it was monstrous (and took forever to cook...). Tee hee.

I added some new blog functionality today. Well, maybe functionality is too strong of a word. I made an anchor in the comments page now so that if it is a long entry, and the link to the comments page is clicked, rather than starting at the top of the entry (that I assume has already been read) and having to scroll down for the comments, it skips down to the anchor placed at the first comment automagically. How fun to use good old html.

My daughter gave me her darn cold over the weekend. I seemed to fight it okay yesterday, but I think it is getting the upper hand today. I bought a bunch of DayQuil liquicaps yesterday for ammunition, so hopefully we can gain a foothold today and keep this thing in check. And I was even able to buy two packs of them--apparently two is under the "any more than that and we suspect you are using it to make crystal meth" limit imposed at the dollar store. Because if I really wanted to make meth, I couldn't just either a) go back in the store every hour and buy two more packages, or b) have my toothless girlfriend go back and buy two, and have her other toothless friends go buy two each, and so on, or c) buy some at the dollar store, then the grocery store, then the gas station, etc. Although maybe it takes more than a half-dozen packages to blow up a trailer. I mean, to make crystal meth. I wouldn't have any idea. Being hopped up on the DayQuil just by itself is psychedelic enough for me. Now I just need a couple of pops of sudafed sinus medicine and a bottle or two of Code Red and I'll be completely in la-la land.

We moved my webserver to a new rack yesterday at work. I'm not totally sure of the motivation, but one thing that changed was that instead of having both powercords attached to a Y cord that plugged into a single UPS, now each power supply is attached to a separate UPS. I was kinda nervous about moving the server, because I had to hope I that I would remember how to start everything up again. I mean, I checked uptime before shutting down and the server hasn't been booted in 248 days--I can't remember last week, how was I going to remember what I did to start things up 248 days ago? Ooh. Just had deja vu and it was recursive--I felt like I was in a situation where I was feeling like I had been in another situation before. How bizarre. Anyway.

I need to buy RedHat maintenance today. I better do that now before I forget....

Posted: Tuesday, November 23, 2004, 3:08 pm
Mood: Lazy | 4 comments | Article URL | Post a comment

"That Bono dude...."

Heh, heh, heh.

"Uno, Dos, Tres, Catorce..."

Okay. Let me get this right.

"One, Two, Three,.....Fourteen?"

Gee. I'm glad it sounds cool to you, Bono. Maybe I just miss the point of the song. Or maybe you look like a fool to anyone that speaks Spanish.

Of course, I've missed Bono's point since he decided to go from singer to political maven.

Okay, back to Monday Night Football where I can hopefully unwind.

Did I mention that I really don't like the Patriots?

Posted: Tuesday, November 23, 2004, 2:36 am
Mood: Grumpy | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Not bad for a Monday

Holey moley did I get a lot of consulting work done this weekend. Of course, now I'm totally worn out, but this is okay. It is interesting just how worked up I was from being so far behind. I'm almost totally caught up now (just waiting on a question to be answered so I can proceed with the last little bit).

And only a 2-day week this week. I think I can handle that. Well, technically it's a 3-day week, but I have a feeling there will be a lot of closed doors on Wednesday, so I may as well take the day off as well.

I think we may get an announcement later this morning regarding a coaching change for the football team. Thank goodness!

Posted: Monday, November 22, 2004, 4:30 pm
Mood: Relieved | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

No Time to Blog

I'm working my butt off today with my consulting stuff. I'm still totally swamped.

I'm watching Episode II while I'm working, and something just occurred to me.

On Geonosis, C-3PO says something to the effect of "Oh, that R2, he's always getting himself into trouble."

Um, didn't R2 and C-3PO just get introduced on Tatooine for the first time right before they came to Geonosis? I'll have to talk to my kid about this....

Back to work....

Posted: Sunday, November 21, 2004, 8:56 pm
Mood: Busy | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Mood: Overwhelmed

Is "overwhelmed" really even a mood?

The bed arrived yesterday. It's huge! I hope the redhead likes it. I didn't sleep well last night at all, but I'm not ready to blame the bed just yet.

I took the day off yesterday to wait for said bed to arrive, and spent the day trying to catch up on my pile of consulting work. I got over to my client's office at the end of the day and turned in a 1/2 inch pile of work and picked up an inch high pile of work. That seems to be how things have been going lately. Every time I drop work off, I have a greater amount to pick up. The money is fabulous, but this is, well, overwhelming.

I'm probably going to have to work most of the day today and tomorrow, and even then I doubt I'll be completely caught up.

At least I finally bought Quark 6 so hopefully later next week I can finally be rid of Mac OS 9.2.

Okay, I need to get to work. Well, maybe instead I'll just go back to bed for a while....

Posted: Saturday, November 20, 2004, 12:43 pm
Mood: Overwhelmed | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment


I was going to make time to post a nice long diatribe about my new crusade to rid our neighborhood of cars the evening of Halloween, but I was brought back to the ground after receiving an e-mail from an old friend and co-worker.

One of the copyeditors that I work with very closely found out several months ago that her husband had cancer. Today the doctors have determined that this week will be his last. I'm stunned beyond words.

My thoughts are with you Marguerite. I can't even imagine...

Posted: Wednesday, November 17, 2004, 1:25 am
Mood: Quite Sad | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

You know, sometimes I impress even myself...

So what's with my penchant for Star Wars quotes (or variations thereof) lately? DORK.

I'm in a fantastic mood! I just checked my UIS e-mail and found that we got another homework assignment returned. I got 19.5 out of 20 (he noted that while I didn't get a perfect score, I did have the highest score in the class--while such things don't necessarily concern me, they must to some younger folks who are geekier than me...). At any rate...!

There was a particularly perplexing problem on this assignment, or at least it seemed that way to me. Here was the question: "Design an algorithm that, when given an arrangment of the digits 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, rearranges the digits so that the new arrangement represents the next larger value that can be represented by these digits (or reports that no such rearrangement exists if no rearrangement produces a larger value). Thus 5647382901 would produce 5647382910."

I had three theoretical answers, and coded one of them.

1. You could create an algorithm that checks to make sure that there are 10 unique digits in the number, as is required. Then simply add 1 to the value being checked, and see if it has 10 unique digits. If it does, that's the answer. Otherwise, keep adding 1 and checking to see if there are 10 unique digits--the next one the algorithm gets to is the answer.

My instructor circled that and wrote "Yes!"

2. This way would be a mess, but should work: determine every possible unique variation of the digits 0 to 9, then sort them, then go through the list comparing the value of the test number. When it finds a match, grab the next higher number in the list and that's the answer.

My instructor wrote "Decent, but slower than" and drew an arrow to the first option. And I knew it would be slower, which is why I didn't list that as my final answer.

Okay, hold onto your trash can lids, kids....

3. The way I ended up programming it is quite an icky mess as well, but it works... I started by taking the number all the way to the right of the string of digits and comparing it to the number to its left. If the number on the left is lower, it then compares the next two digits, and continues until it finds two digits next to each other where the digit on the left is greater than the digit to the right. That's the "critical" value. Next it sorts all the digits to the right of the critical value and finally swaps the critical value with the one in the group to the right that is just greater than it is. Then I had it spit the list back.

His response? "That's it! EXTRA CREDIT +1. OUTSTANDING!"

I tend to be so critical of myself anymore. My exhaustion must play with my self-esteem or something.

But I literally threw my arms up and gave a "woo hoo!" when I read this tonight. I tied my brain into such a knot trying to figure this out. And I did figure it out. And, algorithmically, I figured out the best way. And coded it. And it works.

(Terrible user interface, and there is an assumption that you enter 10 unique integers 1 at a time....)

And if (god forbid) anyone wants to download it and compile it for grins, go right ahead. It's in C so gcc or g++ should work fine. [But remember, it expects single-digit integer, (return), single digit integer, (return), etc., ten times. I just ran it for the first time in a month and tried "9876453012" (enter) and when I didn't get an answer right away thought I had an unforunate loop or something. New terminal window, "top", and, well, nothing going on. The dorky little program was just waiting for me to enter the next 9 numbers. "Duh, dad."]

Woo hoo! One extra credit point. I wonder if the entomologists will give me another pay increase because of that.....

Anyway. I've been a negative nattering nincompoop lately, and I'm actually pretty damn pleased with myself right now.

Posted: Tuesday, November 16, 2004, 5:13 am
Mood: Ecstatic! | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Tell Me Why? I Don't Like Mondays.

Actually, I'm having a pretty good day--I just think I already used "Happy Monday" as a title and figured a nod to Mr. Geldof would be apropos today.

My silly car acted up again this morning. I didn't drive it all weekend and this morning it was not happy about starting. Not one but two cylinders weren't firing. I was pretty sure that it was more than one, but I did the screwdriver trick in the driveway and one of them got going and it sounded like all was well--it wasn't until I went to drive down the street that I realized I was still one beer short of a six pack. Sometimes if I just floor it I can get it to "pop" but such wasn't the case this morning. I went back home and got number 5 going with the same handy dandy screwdriver, and then I was off to work.

I've complained before about how terribly many of my fellow employees drive. I had a woman in a white Honda tailgate me all the way up Lincoln Ave., then down Dorner Drive, and into the parking garage. I pulled into a space, and she whipped into the space next to me. I took my time and gathered my phone and put my hat on, and got out of the car, and the whole time she was sitting there, in her car, listening intently to whatever was on the radio. You were in that huge of a hurry to get into a parking spot so you could sit there and listen to the radio? Sheesh. And I have high blood pressure? Settle down, people. You'll live longer. And it was like 7:15 in the morning. She's either plenty early for needing to get to work at 7:30, or had to be at work at 7:00 and is late enough that it doesn't matter and driving like a jerk won't do any good. Oh well.

I think I need to move my kalenchoe to a bigger pot. Maybe I'll get some potting soil on my way home and some more plastic pots as well. The philodendron in my office are getting ridiculously big as well and need to be trimmed and transplanted. All three of the perfessors will be out of town for the next two days, so perhaps tomorrow I'll spend some time tending to my green friends.

Don't think Windows sucks? Okay, here's another piece of convincing evidence, courtesy of the support staff here in our department. One of the bosses today couldn't get her computer to access the internet. I go to check it out and swap cables, ports on her ethernet hub, and make sure the connection to the wall is okay. Then it's into network settings in Windoze. Ah, here's the problem--her computer was set to DHCP. Of course, the building network database thingy keeps track of NIC addresses and won't give out IP addresses to just anyone. And since she's supposed to have a static IP address, I'm sure her NIC isn't in that database. Duh. So it wouldn't work.

Fortunately for me, the network folks here have a little sticker on everyone's machine listing what their IP address should be. Easy enough. I entered that information, along with the router address, DNS, etc., etc. I click "OK" and get a message something to the effect of another NIC is already using that IP address, even though it is inactive. Not only is it inactive, but it is invisible in network settings because, as windows put it, it may not physically even be in the machine. Still with me?

I noticed that the "name" of the NIC I was configuring was something-something-something "#2". Hmm. Guess what I am pretty sure happened?

The network people yanked the card and stuck it in a different slot. What difference should that make? None. What difference does it make? Plenty. Windows thinks it is a different card.

And installs a new driver for it.

And keeps the old information, but hides it.

And won't let me enter the IP information for her computer, because it already has that information for the phantom card that is no longer in the computer (well, no longer in the slot it used to be in...).

For pete's sake. And people make fun of me for using a Mac.

Ah, and I almost forgot. A big "woo hoo!" goes out to the redhead. I'm happy as can be for her and her new and improved situation (no, she's still married to me...). Anyway. Woo hoo!

Posted: Monday, November 15, 2004, 7:45 pm
Mood: Ecstatic! | 3 comments | Article URL | Post a comment


So my brother-in-law Budge and his pal Brandon came over last night to say hello (and I think drop of something one of the kids left at grandma's house...). Anyway, they had a pretty funny story to tell as well. Apparently the night before they had gone to see the band Gwar play at the Canopy Club in Urbana. Now, I had heard of Gwar I think because they are in some old, old Beavis and Butthead video game or something. Apparently, they are really a band, and apparently, they are still touring.

So Budge and Brandon go to this concert, and apparently the Gwar people are half-nuts and were cutting up mannequins on stage and spraying fake blood everywhere. They also had giant squirt guns that they used to spray blue and green dye out on the audience as well. And Budge and Brandon were up close to the stage and go covered in the stuff.

The concert ends and they go to Schnuck's--a local grocery store--to get a pack of cigarettes. They're still covered in dye, and as it happens, it has soaked into their pants and their money is covered as well.

The alert clerk realizes that dye-covered people and dye-covered money can only mean one thing--these two jokers (and their long hair and grunge-i-fied clothes) had just robbed a bank and one of the dye cartridges blew up on them.

They get the smokes, go back outside, hop in their car, and then are instantly surrounded by a bunch of cop cars with flashing lights.

Needless to say, they explained their way out of it, of course (well, because they really hadn't robbed a bank...) and were released after being questioned separately for a while.


It's been a busy weekend. I've been trying to get caught up on my consulting pile, and I mowed the front yard for (hopefully) the last time this year. The kids and the wife are uptown seeing The Incredibles and I'm just working away. The plan was to be on the couch in front of a football game with a beer at 3:00 p.m. I don't think I'm going to make it. Oh well.

Back to work....

Posted: Sunday, November 14, 2004, 9:01 pm
Mood: Happy | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment

Where'd the past three days go?

Sheesh. Have I really been that busy? Thursday and Friday at work were brutal, and not because of the number of fires, but the nature of them. Blech. I'm thankful it is the weekend.

I've been working on my consulting stuff like mad and the pile isn't getting any smaller. Everytime I drop stuff off I feel like I get a bigger stack back. Oh well.

I mowed the front yard today for what will I really, really hope be the last time of the year. I don't like many things worse than sweating my butt off in 40 degree weather so that the sweat instantly becomes freezing cold. Oh well.

We bought a new bed today, which is wonderful. The old one was, well, old, and had a few broken springs. And I decided that I'm going to build a big wooden frame for this one and not use the metal frame that we have now. I'm so sick and darn tired of stubbing my pinky toe on the corner leg/castor thing. I don't understand how such a little toe can hurt so darn terribly bad. The frame I am envisioning will have a base that is actually smaller than the size of the bed, and then will go up and out to support the entire bed. Picture a pyramid with the base the size of the bed. Then take a chain saw and lop off the top of the pyramid so that you only have a 1-foot tall (or so) part left. Now flip that over. Something like that. No more stubbed toes.

At least the Illinois football team didn't lose today. Tee hee.

Hmm. I don't know much else.

The other day I helped out a friend in need--someone who has helped me out in the past. Being on the flip-side felt really good and makes me quite happy. And that's all I have to say about that....

It's only 5:30 and it is dark outside already. And the days still continue getting shorter for another month. Sheesh.

Posted: Saturday, November 13, 2004, 11:23 pm
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Hey, hey....

I have no respect for any group, or any cause, that tries to influence others with chants of "Hey hey, ho ho, (insert your on-a-galatic-scale-non-significant-problem-here) has got to go."

Surely, people can start being adults and talking about things maturely instead of wasting my time and their breath whining about stuff. I already get pimped watching the news in Central Illinois because they spend half the broadcast talking about the weather (even though farming season is over and all the farmers are sitting around drinking coffee and watching market reports, and besides, the weather channel is on 24 hours a day....). Wasting time covering groups of people chanting "hey hey, ho ho" drives me even further up a wall.

I cannot imagine just how much higher my blood pressure would be if I were one to join groups or "causes" and spend all my waking hours pissed off because of some relatively insignificant ideological crusade that ten minutes from now won't matter even if the "hey hey"-ers get their way.

Give it a rest, people. Go get a job and donate the money to a charity. Or go volunteer in a soup kitchen. Or rather than attend one of your silly rallys go and mentor a kid or hang out with a lonely elderly person.

Go do something that matters. Sheesh.

Posted: Thursday, November 11, 2004, 4:24 am
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My Two Cents

I stopped off at the credit union on my way home today to make a deposit, as I've been doing once or twice a week since I opened my account last month. I patiently waited my turn at the drive-thru and when my receipt was returned to me I checked it to verify the balance.

And it wasn't what I expected.

Instead of ending in ".00" it ended in ".02". Yep, I made two cents.

I realize it is only two cents. It won't even buy a gumball in today's competitive markets. But I made that two cents, essentially by doing, well, nothing. This was important to me. I've spent years knowing only that "interest" was a bad thing. It was something I paid to companies. And now somebody is paying me interest instead.

A small first step, to be sure, but a step nonetheless. Hooray!

Posted: Wednesday, November 10, 2004, 10:34 pm
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The Smell of a Bus

So I went to lunch by myself today. And going by myself means, among other things, that I can take the 21 Quad bus if it is chilly outside, which it is, and/or I'm not in the mood to walk, which I wasn't. Usually, however, when I round the corner of Animal Sciences and am passing between that building and Mumford Hall and get my first glimpse of the street ahead, the 21 Quad bus is already sitting there, 30 yards away. Even running wouldn't do me any good (and I'd look like an idiot running to catch the bus--especially after it would have pulled away without me...). And when that happens, I end up walking (it takes 10 minutes to walk from my area of campus to campustown, and the bus runs every 10 minutes, so it is kind of silly to stand there and wait for it). Well as luck would have it, the 21 Quad wasn't sitting there. In fact, as I approached the street and looked to the east, there it was, on its way toward me. Perfect timing. A quick trip by the library, and around the corner, and I hopped off at the boarding platform of sorts across the street from Illini Union Bookstore.

There wasn't a line of students trying to pay their tuition at the administration building, so cashing a check took only moments, and then I grabbed a newspaper and was on my way to burrito heaven. But all of this is inconsequential (well, is anything in this silly blog of any consequence?) ANYWAY....

After finishing up my wonderful lunch full of mexican burrito goodness (super combo steak and choriso with no beans and a medium Code Red) I headed down the alley toward Wright street. Of course, that's always a semi-fun trip down memory lane because at the end of that alley is Tonic, a two-story nightclub that I knew as Cochrane's. Yep, that's the bar I ran for several years during my college hiatus.

And speaking of my college hiatus, I'm getting closer to the point of this post. So I crossed Wright street and then stood patiently waiting for the 21 Quad to pick me up on this leg of my amazing race and get me back to work. When the bus arrived, I hopped on and noted that it was empty for the most part, because classes were in session (taking the 21 Quad during the ten minutes before the hour tends to be a whole lot more crowding of an experience). As I peered out the window at the engineering quad, something weird happened.

I became aware of the smell of the bus. I don't know if it the cleaning products they use at the end of the day, or simply the combination of metal, plastic, and vinyl, or all of that stuff mixed together. And not a gross, dirty smell. But a very distinct odor. And that odor caused a switch in my brain to flip, and brought me back to the mid-1990s.

After running Cochrane's for several years, I got burned out on the campus scene, and the Cochrane family was nice enough to allow me a different assignment--running a small tavern on the far west side of Champaign called The Office II, far, far away from campus and drunk 19 year olds. In fact, this small establishment was attached to one of those four-bay automatic car washes, and above the car washes were four apartments, also owned by the Cochranes. And the redhead and I moved into one of them. Okay, I'm getting semi-sidetracked.

This was an odd period for us. I was still paying off the last remnants of the huge credit card debt (that forced me out of college and into the working world in the first place), and I basically slept during the day and worked in the afternoon and evening. We got married in July of 1994, and several months later my father-in-law sat me down and expressed the first of what would become many directives that have now spanned the last ten or so years. "You need to quit that damn bar job and get back to school."

He wasn't asking, and he wasn't suggesting. And that November I walked into Scott Cochrane's office and handed him my resignation (with about 6 weeks notice, as Spring semester didn't start until January). And he wasn't pleased. I went and talked to the dean that was nice enough to let me leave the University on good terms in the first place, and he agreed to let me back into school. He made it clear, however, that the second chance was a last chance--there would be no screwing around this time.

There was one stipulation that I gave to the Cochrane's, after I agreed to stay on as long as possible to help the transition to new management--I was not, under any circumstances, going to work on New Year's eve. I had worked every New Year's eve for the past five or so years, and by quitting in November, my month plus of notice was going to end before December 31st. I wanted to party it up, and that is just what we did.

It was weird going back to college when I did. I was four or more years older than everyone in my classes, even though they were upper-level courses. And by time classes started up towards the end of January it was also pretty apparent that I was the only student married, and also the only one who was going to be a father eight short months later.

My wife was working at the time, of course, and we were restricted by having only one car. And the west edge of Champaign is quite a hike from the University campus. But having a student i.d. card allowed me the benefit of being able to take the 4 W Blue bus back and forth from Country Fair Drive to the heart of campus (I knew I'd make my way back to this bus business eventually....). And back then, the buses had a unique odor to them. Not unpleasant, but quite distinct.

I smelled that odor today. I was reminded of the books I read during those bus trips ten years ago. I remember being overwhelmed with the prospects of being back in school, and having to grasp the fact that I was going to be a father.

And now that little stinker is in 3rd grade.

Phew. I'm sure there was a point to all of this, but I have to get back to work now--apparently the USDA has discovered soybean rust in Louisiana, so I have some links that I have to post....

Posted: Wednesday, November 10, 2004, 6:44 pm
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My wife is sick and I think my daughter is getting sick. Stay the heck away from me, family. Cough. I've just now finally (I think) gotten over this sinus infection business. I really don't feel like being sick again. Oh well. And I think Elvis has to stay home with the kids again tomorrow because of veteran's day. Unfortunately, it appears that alas, I will have to come in to work. Oh well. Hopefully the rest will do her some good. And yes, I'm only kidding about the "stay away from me" part. If it's in the air, it's in the air. Anyway.

Well I got my computer science homework turned in, and only 5 days late. I e-mailed the instructor and told him that I knew I was late and that if he wanted to penalize me and give me a zero that was fine with me. He replied that he thought 10% was fair. Fair? What color is the sky on his planet? I would have figured at the very least half-off. I mean, I know it's just homework but we've had the assignment for weeks before the due date. Oh well. Good for me. Maybe I'll get started on the next assignment and turn it in early. Nah

Hmm. It appears my other lunch buddy is playing basketball over the noon hour and skipping the second-most important meal of the day. Looks like I'll have to do Bamba by myself. Good thing I haven't read the Daily Illini yet this morning. At least this means I can go eat at 11:00 and not have to wait until 1:00, by which time I'll probably have wasted away to nothing.

Okay, enough boring, useless, trivial information for today. I'll check back when I have something more meaningful to talk about. Ho hum.

Posted: Wednesday, November 10, 2004, 4:42 pm
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Much better today

The sun is out. Thank goodness.

I think I've resolved some things this morning, and have gotten mostly caught up with "work work," so that's good.

This linked list business will hopefully be straightened out in the next hour, so I can check that off the list.

And one by one the perfessors are leaving town this week, which makes my life a whole lot easier. Not that I don't get along with them--it isn't that at all. But when I'm alone at work there are fewer important interruptions that need to be fixed that minute, and I can tend to keep on track better--and by the end of the day I feel like I have accomplished something other than just putting out fires. How nice.

Hmm. I may even take it easy tonight and ignore the consulting pile. Okay, probably not. It was a nice thought anyway.

I think the kids and I are going to do some fishing later this week. Thursday they don't have school and I will be out of the office, and I think we may go see about some rainbow trout. Nightcrawlers aren't working as well this year. I may try pieces of corn on a hook along with a small bit of styrofoam to make the hook float off the bottom. I think the water just needs to cool down further for them to become more active. This weekend we might also get a chance to go bass fishing with our pal Jeff. He runs a bunch of research ponds for largemouth bass, and they also keep a larger retention pond so when there are too many fish in the research ponds they have a place to put them. He says the fish in there now aren't very big, but there are bunches and bunches of them and they're half-starving and should be really, really easy to catch. That should be fun.

Well, not much else to report at this point.

Posted: Tuesday, November 09, 2004, 5:44 pm
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Late Random Thoughts

After being a not-really-good dad this evening, and a probably less-than-adequate husband, I'm now up alone watching the rest of the Colts-Vikings game. Alone with my thoughts. Not always a fun place to be.

I either need to get a wireless router for the house or run another wired ethernet port to the living room. Using this 12-foot cable to one of the ports in the dining room isn't very convenient.

Speaking of buying a router, I have some other purchasing decisions to make by the end of the year. We're going to get our butts kicked on taxes this year. I really don't want to drop the money on a new system--while a G5 would be nice, it is probably unnecessary, and to get what I want would be waaay more than I want to spend. I'll probably settle for a new larger third hard drive for my G4, another 512 megs of RAM to put me at the maximum 1.5 gigs (and surely one of the other machines in the house has room for the 128 that will be replaced...), the ATI 9200 PCI video card, and maybe a couple more 19" monitors. Oh, and actually the only thing that I really should buy--Quark 6.0 for OS X so I can finally be rid of OS 9 forever.

Myrna (our tax lady) is going to be so pissed with me this year. We should have been making tax payments quarterly. Oh well.

My pal Tod has agreed to come have lunch in my office tomorrow to help me with linked lists. Thank goodness.

I really need to put new brake pads and rotors in my car this weekend, not to mention changing the oil. And dammit, I need to get the redhead's Aurora into the shop to figure out what the hell problem the computer is having. I can fix a computer. And I can fix a car. But when a damn computer in a car starts being difficult, I'm totally lost. It's almost not fair somehow.

At least Peyton threw four touchdowns tonight so I'll win at fantasy football this week. Oh good--I have Vanderjagt as well and he just kicked the game-winning field goal. Tee hee.

But I'm tense. I'm exhausted. And I'm confused.

Why is happiness elusive? What is the problem? I feel guilty, if that makes sense, that I have so much to be happy about yet I allow myself to be half-miserable. My therapist claims that because of the death of my mother I continue to live my life expecting that at any minute the rug is going to get yanked out from under me--again. That was twenty years ago. Oh my goodness. In February it will be 20 years. My responsibilities are too big at this point to still be dwelling on this.

I let them put me on meds for my blood pressure. I'm not going to take antidepressants. WTF is my problem?

At least VPC has been updated to work with G5s. That means I no longer need to take PC WordPerfect files and copy them to my laptop to convert them. Thank goodness. I just truly, truly hope it isn't still emulating a 350 MHz Pentium II.

Okay, enough whining from me.

Posted: Tuesday, November 09, 2004, 5:15 am
Mood: Exhausted | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment

Crummy mood

Hopefully nobody noticed, but I just deleted my last entry. I promised myself that I wasn't going to talk about election stuff anymore, and I don't want to talk about election stuff anymore.

That said, I'm in a bad mood. Depression-like mood. I'm not mad about anything, just feeling crummy mentally.

My therapist is pretty sure that I get "seasonal depression" when the days get shorter and the weather turns from summer to fall to winter. Maybe she's right. I don't have any other explanation.

Perhaps I just have too much on my plate. I've been busy as heck at work lately, and while I've been busting my hump at home, I can't seem to get the consulting pile to go away completely. Money is a good thing, but sheesh....

I hit a brick wall in my class today. And it is a wall that shouldn't exist: Linked Lists.

I know linked lists. I know how to do linked lists. Or at least I did. The concept is relatively straightforward. Head pointer to the first item in the list, pointer from the first item to the next item, which has a pointer to the next item and another pointer, and so it goes until it gets to the tail. To add an item to the middle of the list you just adjust the pointer for the item before it, and then make its pointer go to the item that would be after it. Piece of cake.

But I couldn't do it today. I couldn't code, or even pseudocode, merging two lists into one list. Sure, make the tail pointer of the first list point to the head of the second list, but I need to write this in code of some sort.

I feel like Charlie from Flowers for Algernon. I know how to do this. At least, I knew how to do this, and now I seem to have lost my grasp and am quickly spiralling away from my understanding of computer science. And it's no fun at all.

Oh, and this homework was due last Thursday.

I perked up a bit on my evening drive home tonight when it occurred to me that the best thing for me to do was offer to have Papa John's delivered straight to my office and have my pal Tod come over for lunch, instead of our usual modus operandi involving meeting at his office and then going to campustown for food. That should solve the homework situation, at least. Even if I am breaking the instructor's rule of "don't get help from anyone on your assignments other than me." Well, too bad. And I realize that his point is he doesn't want class problems to be turned into who can Google for code fastest. I'm not Googling for code--I want to learn this, but I need some help at this point. (Well, and the instructor has been absent from our class discussion boards for over a month now, so waiting for him to reply to e-mail is a pointless exercise in futility).


Ho hum. The sun has gone down already. And I have a stack of work to do. I guess I had better get started, especially if I think I'm watching Peyton and the Colts this evening.

Posted: Monday, November 08, 2004, 11:10 pm
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New Microwave Installed

Well, it ended up being a bit bigger pain in the neck than initially anticipated, but the microwave has now been replaced. Woo hoo!

Technology is awesome. The old microwave had a smaller inside cooking area than the new one, yet the unit was deeper and taller than the new one, and must weigh at least twice as much. My anal retentiveness slowed me down somewhat today, as I wanted to make sure everything was done absolutely perfectly. And I am perfectly pleased with the results.

Here's the old piece of junk, which I think was originally purchased somewhere around 1986. It's a Kenmore, and claims to be "Solid State." Er, as opposed to liquid state? Or Indiana State? Anyway...

old microwave

The new microwave is bisque and matches the dishwasher that I replaced several months ago. Both are GTE.

new microwave

Next on the agenda? A new stove. Currently we have an old electric stove made by a company called Tappan (that I've never even heard of before). Neither the redhead nor I like cooking on an electric stove, so we'll be getting a gas stove when I replace it later this year. Lucky for me, there is already a gas line going to behind the stove, which will make that transition a whole lot easier.

Last but not least is the refrigerator. I'm going to have to save my pennies for quite a bit of time before that gets replaced. But I'm getting so sick and tired of having to make ice manually. That's so 20th century...

Hey, and Illinois won today. How about that? I still expect that the coach is going to get fired, especially after the team gets completely smushed by Northwestern in Evanston in two weeks.

Posted: Saturday, November 06, 2004, 11:48 pm
Mood: Accomplished | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment

My Father

My dad is on a business trip right now, and I just spent a good amount of time with him on the phone. Well, he's retired, actually, but still does consulting on the side (his rate is, unfortunately for me, a whole lot bigger than mine is, and I still think what I do is more complicated--but anyway....).

He called to talk about election stuff and life and well, he had two beers and a glass of wine--what I would pour into the carburetor of a 1978 Buick to try to get the engine started, but certainly not to drive the thing home, if you get my drift. And he was half-hammered. Silly old man. :)

Uh, just kidding, dad. That is, if you can figure out how to work your internet browser. (Okay, that was just mean, and I didn't mean for it to be mean...). Use "mean" three times in a sentence. "The teacher said that that 'that', that that student used in the sentence was correct."


I'm getting less-unhappy with my dad situation, I think, and that's a good thing.

Thank goodness for the stinkpots.

Posted: Thursday, November 04, 2004, 3:08 am
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Dang it!

I wish I would have thought at 3:00 this morning to have written down what would have been my favorite quote of this election.

(And I can't find it on Google either, and I'm pretty durn good with Google....)....

One of Bush's advisors said something to the effect of "They may need to put a hold on the Bruce Springsteen, Barbara Streisand, Sheryl Crow concert on the White House lawn...."

And I used to be a fan of the Boss. You worry about your music career, Bruce, and let the rest of us worry about the presidential situation.

And yes, Ms. Crow and all three of the Dixie Chicks can kiss my butt.

3.6 million votes difference.

Apparently not everyone in the U.S. agrees with the raving lunatics running around the Quad and screaming "Kerry Rocks!"

It was nice and quiet and peaceful walking to lunch today.

And quite refreshing for the news to talk about Scott Petersen, and Junior Seau getting injured, and, well, normal news stuff. I'm happy to put this election behind me, and I sure hope the rest of the country is as well.

And then when all of the baby boomers die off, then maybe my generation can come up with somebody better than Bush or Kerry to run for President of the United States.

Until then, thank goodness that the ketchup king and his class-action-lawsuit-happy cohort are nowhere near the White House.

I still would have loved to market "No Ketchup for Oil" and "Impeach Kerry" bumper stickers. The childishness of the "Let's not elect him in 2004 either" and the "Defend freedom: Defeat Bush" stickers that some person has in our parking garage at work still amazes me. I noticed that I didn't see their car when I got to work this morning.....

Oh well. Time to put all of this behind us and move forward. Nothing much will change, and nothing much would have if Kerry would have won. Kerry wouldn't have appointed justices that supported the rights of gay people to get married either. Give it another 10-20 years.

Abortion is already legal, so nothing would have changed there. And it isn't like we would stop screening foreign travelers, stop making it a pain in the butt for graduate students from overseas to come to school here, stop investigating people who check out books on how to build bombs, and stop questioning people who are taking pictures of bridges. 9-11 happened. The country isn't getting over that anytime soon. And we shouldn't. Kerry wouldn't have changed any of that.

Okay, I'm not talking about this anymore. I left my favorite on-line forum because I couldn't stand having to argue about this crap, and I couldn't stand listening to liberal propaganda and being chastised for my views. I made a deal with my brainwashed goofy best friend to not discuss politics anymore. I'm quite liberated on many issues, but when people resort to claiming that Bush had a radio receiver under his coat during the debates, I almost can't stand it anymore. Besides the fact that minute ear pieces with radio transceivers and an internal battery that can fit so far into the ear as to be imperceptable probably already exist (I read Wired for pete's sake--and besides, he could have had a cellphone in his inside jacket pocket with an earpiece and it would have been less obvious than some "battery pack" under his coat...).

Okay. I'm going back to devoting all of my energy to my family, and my job, and my consulting. I look forward to a strong economic recovery, and a good future for my family. And if any terrorists want to stand up and show what real men they are, they are free to fly into Willard airport in Shampoo-Banana and come down to our little town, and we'll duke it out. I'm guessing that the white trash hunters will defeat the plastic explosive-carrying terrorists every time.

Okay. That's enough. I need another glass of Merlot. :)

Posted: Thursday, November 04, 2004, 2:59 am
Mood: Content | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment

In Other News...

North Carolina Attorney John Edwards announced today that he is filing a class action lawsuit against the Republican party of Ohio. His suit claims that the aforementioned organization unfairly encouraged voters of that state to choose Bush in the Presidential election, which subsequently resulted in John Kerry and John Edwards losing the election. Edwards is seeking damages of $2,345,200 for the pay he and Kerry will lose over the next four years, along with $6 billion in emotional damages.

Posted: Wednesday, November 03, 2004, 2:19 pm
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Busy, busy, busy

I have been absolutely swamped with work lately, whether it be consulting at home or being here in the office. Sheesh. I hopefully can get a breather tomorrow, and then Thursday I travel to Indianapolis for the day to give a presentation on how my online proposal thing works for the steering committee members. That ought to be fun....

My silly headache came back on Sunday evening, and lasted through yesterday. I'm guessing that spending the day raking and burning leaves probably wasn't the best thing for a sinus infection. It seems to be back under control now, thank goodness.

Here's a funny story: my sister-in-law has a new Dell laptop, and it was having internet connectivity problems at her apartment (the whole building is wired for internet--I would guess they share a cable modem or something). After plugging it in at home, I had the same problem--the little network icon in the taskbar would be on for a few seconds, and then disconnect, and go back and forth every few seconds.

Dell support, good for their word, took her computer and replaced the motherboard (onboard ethernet).

Now she can't connect at all. So after talking to them, Dell decided her hard drive needed to be replaced. I told her I could do that for her, so they just sent her a new hard drive.

Before cracking the hood, however, I plugged it into my home network, and lo-and-behold, it saw the network fine. So I ran a couple of spyware/adware removal programs, updated her virus software, and actually even edited a registry entry (never done that before--surprisingly I wasn't as nervous about it as I probably should have been...). Then I downloaded XP SP2 (the netadmin version) and installed that. No problem.

During all of this it occurred to me--the reason she can't connect with the new motherboard is that the apartment building she lives in requires tenants to give their NIC address so that they can connect via DHCP. New motherboard == new NIC address. It will be interesting to find out if that was the problem, but I'm almost certain that it is.

I may actually sit and watch election results tonight. Groan.

Posted: Tuesday, November 02, 2004, 9:38 pm
Mood: Swamped | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

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