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Archived Entries from November 2005


My Issues

Okay, here we go....

Karen wants me to write about this, and I've had enough wine (and a coupla' brewskis too...) so write I will.

And I was just getting ready to apologize if any of this sounded snobbish, but no--I'm not being snobbish. This is how it is and we're working on my feelings at this point, and not any of yours.

I was a "gifted" child. When I was in grade school I went to an algebra class at night at a local community college and when I was in class at school I sat in a corner and did "my" homework while the other kids did their junior high homework. And honestly? I really didn't enjoy it. It was neat intellectually, but I had enough social problems as it was and being that much more "different" didn't help.

I'm 36 now. So I took high school math in junior high. Big deal. The difference it makes? Yeah, none.

My mother pushed me. Not meanly pushed, but she was the reason that I was such a good student. Was my "smartness" my own? Maybe. (Probably--smart people and good students are two different things).

There it is. There it is right there. I don't like saying that I'm smart because it makes me sound pretentious. And it does sound pretentious. It is pretentious.

My mother made me a good student. She didn't make me smart.

I won math contests in grade school. Like huge Chicago-area math contests. When I was a sophomore in high school I got a perfect score on the math part of the PSAT.

And I so want to stop writing this because it so ungodly sounds like I'm bragging and I am absolutely not trying to do that. Karen said to write, and I'm writing.

From Star Trek: Generations:

"According to our current information, the destruction of the Amargosa star has had the following effects in this sector: gamma emissions have increased by five percent... the starship Bozeman was forced to make a course correction... a research project on Gorik Four was halted due to increased neutrino particles... ambient magnetic fields have decreased by......"

On February 6, 1985 my mother died. And my starship was forced to make a course correction. A course that previously would have probably landed me at MIT or Stanford.

Do I regret not going to MIT? Actually, not really, if the truth be told. I was so much more hung up on being "normal" than anything else.

I joined the track team. I started going to high school parties when my dad was out of town on business. By the time I was a senior in high school I had plummeted down the class rank list and was having a couple of keggers a year (my dad travelled relatively frequently then). And I was happy. As happy as I could be. I graduated 63rd out of 607 seniors in 1987.

And I never even applied to MIT or Stanford.

The University of Illinois does all of its application stuff (or did then) based on numbers. Class rank + GPA + (most importantly) score on the ACT. I applied to the U of I (as did half my class) as the fall-back school (think of the Tom Cruise statement in Risky Business--that's pretty much how it is for most high school students in the Chicago suburbs...). And because of my scores, I was sent a fancy "early approval" letter. If my mother were alive, we would have persisted with the other applications. But she wasn't around, and I was lazy, so U of I it was.

And I screwed up in college. I joined a fraternity (not that any of this is the fault of the fraternity, of course), got a job at a bar, and pretty much just drank. For five years. And then I dropped out, without a degree, to run a bar full time.

And I would be in complete ruin, right at this very moment, if a certain girl with red hair would not have walked into the bar one night. "Behind every good man stands a good woman." Think that's trite? Perhaps. Go back to your meth lab and keep thinking it is trite, then. It's true. And I'm man enough to admit it.

Okay, I'm derailing myself from what I'm supposed to be doing therapeutically (sp?).

So I mentioned this neighbor that I have--the guy that is the librarian at the school. And who is apparently a member of Mensa. And who is completely clueless when it comes to "real life" but my mother-in-law professes that it is just because he is so smart that he doesn't know how to act.

My wife has a cousin who went to Berkeley, doesn't bathe, and pretty much has never done anything for himself ever. But that's because he's so smart that he doesn't know how to act.

And I am? What? Dumb?

I change the oil for both of our cars. Why pay the dealer? Papa even has an oil reclamation tank at the farm that I can dump the old oil into (for free!). Do you know that I have changed all of the brakes on both of our cars? New pads and rotors on each wheel. You have to use a big clamp on the front calipers and slowly push the brake piston back in before installing the new pads, and on the back calipers you take a pair of needle-nose pliers and twist the piston back into the caliper (because the back brakes advance their pistons not only when the pedal is pressed, but they re-adjust themselves when the parking brake is set...).

I'm a wonderful cook. On weekends I make homemade biscuits and gravy for the kids, and even pancakes sometimes (just the Bisquick way, but still...). I cook all sorts of different things for dinner, whether on the grill or on the stove. Every now and then I make linguini with white clam sauce for my wife on her birthday (I've done it with red clam sauce as well).

When my plumbing is screwed up, I fix it. We had a soft/rotted floor at the first house we owned--I tore up the old floor and replaced it.

I redid the floors in all three bathrooms of our current house--replacing carpet with ceramic tile in the two upstairs bathrooms, and tearing out and replacing the linoleum in the basement bathroom (and the laundry room as well). I also put a new drywall ceiling in the basement bathroom.

I plant and maintain a huge garden out at the farm. I can use a riding mower (duh).

I could drive a tractor in a pinch, if I had to, because I could figure it out on the spot.

But I'm not smart. I'm not weird enough to be smart.

Not only don't I have a "good job" (like all of the union carpenter and railroad jobs that pay all sorts of money), but I'm not "smart" either.

At least that's the way I feel. That's my perception. I know intellectually what the situation is. If I were Commander Data and could remove my emotion chip, I'd be in great shape.

All these ding-a-lings are Einsteins because they don't know how to mow their lawn. But because I can change my own brake pads, I'm obviously not on their level.

So I have a chip on my shoulder. I'm back in college, and have been for several years.

"Who are you doing that for?" my therapist asks.

I'm not going to automatically get a raise. My career experience is much more important at this point than another degree (or even two, which is the plan, I think...).

Who am I doing this for? What am I trying to prove?

I'm trying to prove that even though my mother died, and I had a minor course correction, that I'm still the "smart kid" that had to take high school math in junior high. I'm trying to prove that it isn't fair that these nimrods that have no social functionability are not smarter than I am. I am just as valuable, if not more. Holy shit. My therapist would have just freaked out at "valuable."

Wow. This is getting to be difficult. And I apologize for--well, no. I'm not apologizing. Apologizing all the time is another one of my problems.

So I'm trying to prove something, but at what cost?

I'm a husband and a father. That is my task now.

Rather than being bitter that my mother-in-law thinks my clueless neighbor is the next coming of Einstein, I should feel sorry for him.

Not only is he a clueless fool who can't change his own brakes, but I bet I could kick his ass on an IQ test as well...

:)

Damn. This therapy stuff is hard work. My mother died 20 years ago yet I sit and weep as I write about her and think about "then."

Okay, I'm typing this on the Windows XP machine, so I should probably click "submit" before too much longer lest this thing crash into oblivion.

Oh, but I need to finish with a shot that I just took of my goofy "case mod"--I cut the window myself when I built the machine but I finally got around to ordering some cold cathode lights and they arrived the other day, so here's how it looks:

At least the white noise from the humidifier will help me get some sleep tonight, as I took it all apart and cleaned it all out so it will quit starting and stopping throughout the night.

Okay, these stitches aren't really going to hurt like this for the entire next week, right?

Posted: Thursday, December 01, 2005, 4:24 am
Mood: Exhausted | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Funk

I'm having a hard time emotionally lately. I'll write about it later--I'm just not in the mood right now. Needless to say, therapy today was very enlightening.

I went to a dermatologist today to see what the "creeping crud" is on my leg. My "regular" doctor thinks it is ringworm, but the only pet we have is a goldfish, so she isn't sure how the heck I would have ringworm. So off to Dr. Farner I went.

And he wasn't sure. He took two biopsies--two stitches each. And one of them hurts like hell right now. I mean, this really hurts, and I'm not normally a wussy when it comes to pain.

We're sitting and watching Rudolph right now on CBS. It is interesting seeing this in the context of being a parent and watching (who is Rudolph's dad? Donner?) be a jerk to his own kid--his own offspring--because of his "defect." It almost brings me to tears. And Santa? What an asshole! The kids should be glad that I'm "Santa" and that the other "Santa" doesn't exist. Jerk. (Pardon my French....)

Have I mentioned that I'm a bit emotional right now? Long sigh....

And the cleaning lady comes tomorrow so I have to help, uh, clean the house tonight. Wonderful--this whole cleaning lady thing makes our lives SO much easier...

Okay, Software Update, I realize that you're bouncing. We can restart now...

Posted: Thursday, December 01, 2005, 1:45 am
Mood: Fair | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Well That Was Fun...

Error while loading shared libraries: libstdc++-libc6.1-1.so.2

Oh, is that all? Thanks, ColdFusion, for being so verbose.

I've spent the last hour chasing down the answer to this problem. I had to copy a C++ library from my test server to my production server--I'm still half-confused as to why my test server has newer libraries installed than my production server....

A quick symbolic link later and I was on my way. Thank goodness.

I should not have stayed up watching Monday Night Football last night...

Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2005, 4:31 pm
Mood: Wired | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


I'm Screwed...

Oh boy. The family is in bed, except for myself, of course--I'm watching football.

And as halftime is here, I thought I'd get to work on the Christmas shopping. Both kids have been keeping lists here on the Windows machine at home. And here's Em's list:

Em?s Christmas List

1.A REAL puppy with brown fur

2.A pony named sparkle

3.Land for my pony named sparkle

4.shelter for my pony

5.To redo my room

6.A new light for my room

7.One of those things that have beads that you hang on the top of your door that goes with my room.

8.A new bookshelf

9.A digital camara

10.A new American girl doll kaya.

ST OC K I N G STUFFERS

1.Some silly string

2.A very small makeup pack

3.A small snowglobe

4.The rest make a surprise!


Okay, Em. Pick something else...

So now what do I do? I'm scared to death to check Alex's list....

A damn horse. For crying out loud. We've been over it about the damn horse.

Grrrr-oan.

Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2005, 3:56 am
Mood: Good | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


This Is MUCH More Like it...

Ahhh.... 6:15 a.m. This beats the heck out of getting to work at 8:45 every day.

Today is the redhead's first day at her new job, working at City Hall in the little town where we live. Which means she can take the kids to school on her way to work (which is like two blocks from our house...). And I get to go back to my "normal" schedule of 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

No cars on the road. No stupid drivers that don't know how to use a four-way stop. No more parking on the third level of the parking garage (I go back to getting the first spot on the first level, closest to the door). The hallway lights are dim. My office lights are off. The planets are now aligned properly again.

I meant to blog over the weekend but our cable company suffered an outage on Friday for most of the day, and by Saturday I got to doing other things and just never found time to sit at the computer.

Thanksgiving was good. We ate at the in-laws' on Thursday. They cooked one in the oven and my father-in-law also fried one. Both were very good. Friday Tod and Margaret came over to our house and we basically just had appetizer-type stuff for dinner and drank a bunch of wine. On Saturday we had "our" Thanksgiving we just me and the redhead and the kidders. I'm somewhat ticked that the bag around the turkey said 3 ½ hours for an 18 pound turkey (ours was 17) and it was more like 4 ½ before it was even close. I finally ended up removing the leg/thigh parts and putting them in a separate pan. When it was finally done I wasn't even in the mood to eat. But I had a few turkey sandwiches yesterday (the whole point of cooking another bird was for the leftovers...) which were most delicious.

Well, I'm going to get to work on cleaning out the inbox and shutting off access to 61.152.169.27.... Dude, seriously--it's just a mail form. You can try all of the SQL injection that you want--it won't do anything. But I'm tired of getting "test" messages from you throughout the day... Sheesh.

Posted: Monday, November 28, 2005, 12:25 pm
Mood: Good | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Day Off!

What a great day. Nobody (well, none of the five or six people I work with) was going to be in the office today, so better time for me to sneak a day off as well.

Oh, I have to start with this, just because it is funny.

Someone in my neighborhood is running an open wireless router. However, the signal is often too faint to appear, or appears momentarily and then goes away. It never is more than the bottom "rung" of the airport thing in the menubar. Often I can open a browser window, get to uiuc.edu, and then it goes away and I am no longer connected. I've tried walking around outside to see which direction it was coming from but the signal has been quite elusive.

Well, just now I started up (with my ethernet wire attached, of course) and noticed that the lowest rung was lit, so I pulled the wire and opened a browser, and uiuc.edu showed up just as it should.

So I tried what I have wanted to each time this has happened, but never got a chance to before the signal disappeared--I typed 192.168.1.1 in the browser. (And that got nowhere--but I did get through with 192.168.0.1--their router is D-Link not Linksys...).

Username: (none). Password: admin. Nope.
Username: (none). Password: (none). Nope.
Username: admin. Password (none). Bingo.

I would say "how pathetic," but really, people don't know any better. If I wanted to teach them a lesson I could easily shut off DHCP and then change the password for their router, but I'm not that big of a jerk (and don't feel that I have any business screwing with other people's stuff, just to prove a point, even if they are making a mistake by not changing their wireless router password, or at least going the MAC address table route so that I couldn't use their access point....). Still sort of funny. I wonder which one of my neighbors it is..... The signal still isn't going away right now--I wonder why. Oh well.

At any rate, today was wonderful. I took the stinkpots to school and then went to Tuscola (our "county seat") to go to the courthouse building. I went to the assessor's office to get a plat book map for our yard, so I have a little bit of proof about the whole fence-inside-the-property-line thing, in case it becomes more of an issues. They are pretty high tech, actually--they have an overhead photo of the neighborhood and superimpose the lines for the property boundaries on top of them. She switched back and forth from having the photo on the screen and just having the lines--I was very impressed. Again, we live in the boonies.

The county courthouse still needs a web site. I meant to bring it up when I was there, but forgot once I became enthralled with their cool property software setup. And really, don't I already have enough other obligations at this point?

So after that I went to the grocery store to get stuff for "our" Thanksgiving. (That is, we go to the in-laws tomorrow, but then the day or two after that we cook our own turkey so that we have leftovers, etc., and we do stuffing and potatoes and everything else just for the four of us, and I had to get groceries for that.) I got an 18-pounder, and stuff for stuffing, and a half-dozen bottles of wine.

After unloading the groceries at home I headed up to Champaign-Urbana (Urbana, actually) to go to Farm 'n' Fleet. I picked up a couple of halogen lights for the fog lights on our cars (the redhead and I both have one burnt out) as well as a couple of new chains for my chainsaw (get this--Sears charges like $12 to sharpen a chain, but I can buy a brand new chain at Farm 'n' Fleet for ten bucks...). Well, I noticed that they had a clearance sale on splitting mauls--12 dollars. Impulse buy? Of course--it was only twelve bucks, after all, and I've had Pete's (our one "normal" neighbor) for about a year....

I was going to bring the redhead lunch but today was her last day at her job so she called me and said that they were apparently going to take her to lunch. So I went to the evil WalMart instead and bought the kids a Star Wars foosball table for Christmas (and also some build-your-own lightsaber thing for Al) and paper towels, and, well, a few more bottles of wine that looked good...

Then I went home. And as it turns out, they didn't have lunch for the redhead. (And she's on the phone relaying this to our friend Margaret right now, as a matter of fact...). Well, one of the office girls that knows that the redhead is on a diet told them to not have a lunch for her (with cake, etc.) because she knew that the redhead was doing "such a good job on her diet."

So they didn't do anything for lunch today. So the redhead didn't have lunch. Oops.

Okay, I'm getting sick of typing on this laptop...

Well I got home and was dying to take to the logs in the back yard. What fun! A new chain makes all the difference in the world (and I had gotten a new can of gas as well and dumped out what was in the chainsaw from when it wouldn't start the other day and used the new oil/gas mixture--it started on the second pull of the cord...). I stacked logs and spent about an hour splitting wood with my new maul. Then I broke out the hedge trimmers and did the yearly trimming-of-the-spirea by the pool. More like hacking them back down to nubbins. I burned all of the trimmings in our fire pit, along with a the leaves that I sucked up with the leaf blower/sucker (?) (I did the leaves after I finished trimming the spirea, and while the fire was still burning).

Then I mowed the back yard, put the tomato plants on the compost heap, but the deck/patio chairs in the pool house, and basically cleaned up the entire back yard. Oh my goodness--what a difference.

I am going to be a sore S.O.B. tomorrow. Good thing we'll have plenty of Amstel Light and wine (and apparently Aunt Molly and my mother-in-law went and bought some Sapphire gin so that we could have martinis as well--my goodness....).

Okay, I'm rambling and I'm tired of typing. Turkey day tomorrow!

Posted: Thursday, November 24, 2005, 1:43 am
Mood: Wonderful | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Server Snafu

I got to work yesterday and was greeted shortly thereafter by our secretary who informed me that someone called because they couldn't get to the conference registration web page.

So I fired up Safari and clicked on the toolbar link for that web site. Nothing. Link for other web site on the server? Nope. Just the IP address of the server? Sorry, Safari can't find the server.... Huh?

I opened a terminal window and SSH'd over there, and I was able to log in, so it was running and hooked into the network. Restarted Apache. Nope. Hrm....

Then I started to get nervous. I grabbed my keys and headed to the server room on the second floor. After using my double-secret alarm code for entry, I directed the KVM setup to where I needed to be, fired up a browser, and tried http://localhost. You guessed it.

I wasn't quite panicking yet, but was confused as to why restarting Apache wouldn't reset whatever was wrong.

Reboot.

Thankfully, that did the trick. (And duh, of course it should, but I was still starting to sweat a bit....). I run a cron job that tars and copies the web site(s) files along with all of the database tables, but I think I should probably think about making another cron job that will back up the database tables for the conference registration maybe every hour, or every half-hour.

And while I tell myself that theoretically if the server dies I can move a few files, switch an IP address or two, and have the test server in production in minutes, I should probably make sure at some point that my failsafe scenario will really work that smoothly.

Hopefully today will go much better than yesterday did. Sheesh.

Posted: Tuesday, November 22, 2005, 2:53 pm
Mood: Fair | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Groan

I need a wireless router. Having this blue cord from the port in the kitchen to the couch in the living room just plain sucks.

My wife is watching the show about Danny Bonnaduce. I went from thinking about how stupid that whole situation is to loving that my wife can watch someone on television who is much, much more screwed up than I am. How nice for me.

I have a serious logic error in my Adventure code. I shouldn't program when I'm worn out (like I had done last week). And now I'm trying to fix it after a glass (uh, two?) of wine. And my logic is even worse now. Parse the command, send the form, display the results. That has to be wrong. I knew it was wrong when I was coding it that way. It needs to be receive the command, parse it (if it exists), display the result, prepare to accept the next command. Which sounds a whole lot like what I said the first time. Anyway. I'll figure this out later.

We have a new neighbor to the north of us. He is the librarian at the local school. Oh, I don't really want to get into this.

Apparently he's "smart." And by "smart" I mean that he has absolutely no common sense, doesn't know how to interact with the world around him, and is pretty much just durn plain clueless. But apparently he's in Mensa. (Of course, I looked into the requirements for Mensa, and they basically accept only the smartest 2% of the population. I groaned about that to my wife who said "I'm not in the smartest 2% of the population." Um, remember all those standardized tests you took in school? Remember all the forms that had 99% and the bar all the way across in each category? Yeah, that's the top ONE percent. Go to the mall and look at the next 100 people that walk by and tell me you're not smarter than 99 of them. Being in the top 2% does not impress me in the least. I could be in Mensa--but why would I want to do that? I was already in a silly fraternity in college. Groups like that are for college students. Now I'm starting to rant and need to just relax.... My point--just because he can't tie his own shoes does not mean that he is a genius. I hate, hate, hate being a smart person who can actually also manage to function in society.....)

So we have a fence surrounding much of our back yard--because of the silly pool, of course. Well, when the Norris' had the fence put in (the family that owned this house from the time it was built until my in-laws moved here) they installed it 3 feet inside the property line on the three sides that abutted our neighbors' properties. And of course our new neighbor assumed that the fence was the property line and started hacking away at some bushes that are actually on our property (to block the view) but on the other side of the fence. And I had to go tell this "genius" that no, he was not going to be able to hack down a 10 foot tall lilac bush because it wasn't on his "land." And why on earth would you lop down a 10 foot lilac bush to begin with? Oh, because he's too "smart" to understand. He just felt like cutting stuff up and burning it (he already had destroyed multiple bushes that were actually on his property). I don't know what he was thinking. Anyway....

Beluga whales....

In other news, my daughter has talked me into putting lights on the house this year, so my day-after-Thanksgiving schedule has now been filled up. And yeah, I felt like a bad dad when I didn't put the lights up last year. I was totally swamped with freelancing stuff and just not in the mood.

You know, if I'd focus more on my wife and the dang kids and worry less about the crap going on around me, I wonder if my life would be easier. I exhaust myself.

Shannon and Darren and Jeff came over last night and we had chili (two kinds--my "regular" chili along with Betsy's white chicken chili) and beer and wine and played Trivial Pursuit and just had a great time.

I changed the wife's oil yesterday. Gosh, let me back up. The redhead woke up Saturday morning and suggested we do Bamba for lunch. That was great for me since I missed my weekly Bamba fix as I stayed home from work on Friday because our daughter was sick.

I apologize for the rambling.

So we went to Bamba and then headed to Menard's to look at carsiding (one word?). When they didn't have what I thought we were looking for I called my friend Renee and we ended up driving out to Mahomet to look at her floor.

And the redhead loved it. So we have to find a local lumber yard from which to order the carsiding (Renee got hers in the small town in which she and her husband live). I still think I'll try to do the playhouse floor sooner rather than later.

Okay, enough rambling.

Posted: Monday, November 21, 2005, 3:13 am
Mood: Pensive | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Radar

My stress radar is up and running again, and of course I'm not sure why. Quit it. Stop the pinging. There's nothing wrong--there's not even anything going on to be concerned about being concerned about. Nothing on the radar. So quit looking for something. Sheesh.

I had to stay home yesterday because my geerow was not feeling well. I worked most of the day from home while she cozied up on the couch. I think she was feeling better by the end of the day.

A friend of mine put a neat (I think) hardwood floor in her house a while back. Rather than using actual packaged hardwood flooring, or even the fake stuff (that I think looks fake, but that's just me) she came up with something different--she used car siding. And she installed it with the grooved side face down, so that the smooth side is up--just like a hardwood floor but the strips are obviously much thicker. Car siding is tongue-and-grooved and it is apparently much, much cheaper per square foot than any of the other wood-based floor options.

So I think I'm going to redo the mezzanine of our house that way. Before asking the redhead to make a leap of faith and trust me that it will look nice, I told her that I'd rip the carpet out of the playhouse and do the floor in their first. And if it looks crappy, we go back to the drawing board for the "real" house.

I think it will nice, though. I don't know that I'll use the methodology that my friend did, however. She stained and polyeurethaned (sp?) each piece of wood in her garage, and then they assembled the floor. I think the better route will be to put the floor in, give it a light sanding (because there are places in her floor where the grooves didn't perfectly line up and there is a lip...) and then stain and seal it all as one "piece."

I'm looking forward to taking over the playhouse and making it my gardening shed. My daughter is going to be irritated with this (even though she knows it is coming), but I think she'll be okay once the transaction finally takes place--it isn't like I'm never letter her in there again.

Which means I need to get rid of the swingset so I can move the playhouse to where I want it to reside permanently. Which means I need to fix the one swing chain (even though I am going to advertise it as being free, I don't want to give it away with a potentially dangerous swing on it--I'll spend the five bucks on a new chain...). Which means I need to start looking into creating the foundation (just a slab, really) for the small house. And I need to get new vinyl siding for it that will match the siding on the "house house."

Which also means I need to sort out the logistics of re-routing power to the playhouse/gardenhouse because the underground cable that I use now won't reach after I move the thing further into the back yard. I should probably see about using electrical pipe instead of just underground cable--just in case. I need new baseboards and new outlet and light switch covers. There's a hole in the wall from the doorknob that I'll have to repair. Which means I should probably repaint.

And all these thoughts about home improvement stores make me realize that I really want to replace the two stretches of chain-link fence with wooden fence in the spring.

Okay, I'm going to walk to the store and hopefully the freezing cold air will get my heated up radar mechanism to cool off and slow down (and please, just shut back off already....).

It should be a good day today. Okay, I'm off to the store...

Posted: Saturday, November 19, 2005, 12:45 pm
Mood: Anxious | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


The Heat Is On

Winter is here. And the respite from huge energy bills has ended. At least we had a month or so without the air conditioner or the furnace running....

I made some progress yesterday on my database-driven web-based text adventure game. I gave up on using frames to display a virtual console for the game, and instead am going to take a much easier route that only displays the last four or five commands and "results." Otherwise the history that gets passed as an invisible form field would get larger and larger and while I realize that it is just text and I'm not sure just how big we can go, I'd rather not find out. I could probably write it all to the a database, but again, I think displaying the last four or five "moves" will be sufficient.

I was originally going to keep track of items and player characteristics using a database table, but I think I'm going to modify that slightly--that information will have to be in a database table, but I think that reading and writing to a database every time a player picks something up, or moves to a new "room" is overly excessive. So, I'll just use a bunch of session variables to keep track of location and items. I'll have to make a "save game" button of some sort.

I'm going to have to get over the fact that I'm probably not going to make a game that is exactly like one that I would create on an Apple ><. I think this will move a whole lot more quickly when I give up on that part of the nostalgia.

Anyway. Back to bed. Thank goodness it's Friday.

Posted: Friday, November 18, 2005, 10:11 am
Mood: Anxious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Curious

People actually come to my silly site after searching for things.

Really? You're kidding.

I've had many hits lately because of my blog about the stupid Quark 6.5 bug that crashes the program (and corrupts whatever file is being worked on) when a linked master page is moved (not the master page itself on the template, but the page on the document that is based on the master page).

My blog entry offers little advice (and the advice is, if you accidentally move a master page text box, take a deep breath, and quit Quark before doing anything else...).

Perhaps another article is in order. I never intended (well, for the most part) for anything here to be of much use to anyone other than myself (reminders of permissions for scp without a password are directed totally at me) but perhaps there is a need for me to pubish more of this garbage in "article" format.

Okay. Time for bed....

Posted: Thursday, November 17, 2005, 5:00 am
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Shell Scripts Rock!

I probably mentioned that I wasted some time today trying to figure out why I couldn't scp without a password to my Linux server at home from my home G4, when I had already written out very explicit instructions for secure copying without a password...

Well I figured it out today. The long and short of it is that creating a .ssh directory, if one doesn't exist, by logging into a user's home directory and doing "mkdir .ssh" isn't the way to go, unless you know to "chmod 600 .ssh" right afterwards.

If the .ssh directory has too many privileges, it bongs the whole key transaction (without a lot of warning unless you scp -v....).

I wrote more about it here.

I'm tickled that it works now. I love learning something new every day. Days like these are ones that make me really, really love my job. Did I have anything pressing to do? For once (in the past few months) not really. Was I wasting work time and money solving this problem? Absolutely not really. I already have dual hard drives on my G5 at work, and just never got around to backup up to my Fedora fileserver as well. And if you don't think that I'm setting up an RSS feed for The Bulletin next week now that I sort of have a handle on what to do, you're nuts.

I e-mailed the instructor for the class that I just dropped and apologized and let him know that I had given up and dropped. He was very encouraging and told me that he was happy I was still in the program. There's something to be said for being in a program that doesn't have such a huge scope that students are overlooked as mere work units or something for professors to deal with. UIS is impressing me more every day.

Whew. Time to wrangle kids to bed and get the dishwasher running and see if there's anything good on the tube after 8:00 rolls around...

Posted: Wednesday, November 16, 2005, 1:46 am
Mood: Ecstatic! | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


XML/XSLT

I haven't played with XSL transforms since I was consulting at an electric utility a bunch of years ago. I forgot just how much fun it is. Seriously.

While Safari will automatically render my XML/RSS file without a transform, Firefox wants a transform. So I just wrote one--not very complicated but a transform nonetheless.

And I am quite excited that I fixed the SCP without a password issue I was having at home last night. Starting tonight I'll be backing up all of my consulting work to four drives spanning two machines. I think I'm legally obligated to provide "reasonable" assurances that I back up my work for my clients, and I think we can all be reasonably assured now.

Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2005, 8:54 pm
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Fasting != Fun

I had a physical last week so that I could get another year's worth of blood pressure pills. And of course, that means bloodwork which they didn't do last week because I had just had lunch before going over there.

So today is blood day. I stayed up somewhat late working on some typesetting stuff last night, and of course I had a few beers while I was working. Well, fourteen hours after 10:30 p.m. is 12:30 the next day. An hour and a half after I normally have lunch.

Good thinking on my part. Oh well. At least after I am done at the lab I can go over and have lunch with the redhead because I'll be over on that side of town. Not too many more chances of us having lunch together--she gave her notice to her boss this morning.

I just realized that I left the form for the lab at home this morning. Oops.

Anyway, the redhead's last day is a week from tomorrow. How nice for her. And then that's $60 a week that's back in our pocket instead of in the gas tank of her car. It's amazing how much gas that thing sucks down...

Oh well, other than griping about how starving I am I don't really have too much more to talk about...

Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2005, 5:35 pm
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RSS Feed?

Last week I attended a "brownbag" seminar on campus that I thought was going to be about how to set up and use an RSS feed. For at least one of the sites I run at work, it would be very prudent to have an RSS feed, so I was quite interested in learning exactly what to do. I understand that RSS is just an XML file, and I think (or thought) I sort of knew what to do, but wasn't exactly sure.

The brownbag was somewhat of a disappointment. It was more an hour-long advertisement for a "tool" that was built by the campus web services group for people to use to publish an RSS feed, but the RSS feed would be done using their servers and posted on their web lists, etc., etc. Not what I want. I need to know how to make one myself.

So today I decided to learn how to write an RSS feed. What better place to practice than here, right? Every time I make a blog post the rss.xml file gets rewritten with titles and short blurbs for the last ten entries. There were a few caveats... I wanted to chop the blurbs down to the first 150 or so characters--no need to publish the entire post in the RSS feed. Easy enough: $blurb=substr($text,0,150); But then it got trickier....

If I have any sort of html markup in those first 150 characters, it kinda screws things up. I noticed it first with the Narnia post, where there was an anchor tag to a wikipedia article that got lopped in half. I tried to then just go through and find the first instance of a "<" symbol, and then chop off and display only everything up until right before the "<." Worked great. Except for posts with no "<" in the first 150 characters, because strpos returns "false" if the search term doesn't exist in the string.

So here's what I did to get around that:
$blurb = substr($textf,0,150);
$pos = strpos($blurb,"<");
if ($pos != false) {
$blurb = substr($blurb,0,$pos);
}

Much, much better. Of course, if I have an html tags after only a few words, the blurb will only be a few words (e.g. the post about not messing with application support files a la Bart Simpson...).

Anyway. Enough blabbering. I'm anxious to see if this works when I "submit."

Posted: Monday, November 14, 2005, 8:40 pm
Mood: Very Good | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Turkey Run

We didn't end up going to Illinois State Park on Saturday. The redhead took the kids to see Chicken Little instead, and I, well, I'm not sure what it was that I did during that time (probably watched college football?).

At any rate, Saturday evening we went to Shannon and Darren's house for a weenie roast. It was really windy but we had a really good time.

Then on Sunday I decided that we should attempt going hiking again, but at some place much better than Illinois State Park. Turkey Run is a state park in Indiana that is about an hour from our house, and it's a rather nice drive as well. We stopped on the way and went out for lunch, and got to the park around 1:00 p.m. Much, much nicer than Walnut Point.

We hiked through one of the rougher trails on our way to a more moderate trail. The rough part goes through these ravines carved out of the rock, with a little stream trickling through as well. It is so cool.

And yes, I feel quite well rested and emotionally reset after just a few hours out in the wilderness.

Posted: Monday, November 14, 2005, 3:26 pm
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Reset...

Saturday is here. Thank goodness.

I have consulting work to do, but it isn't out of control at this point so I'll put that off until tomorrow.

Today we're going up to Champaign to pick up the redhead's check, then heading to the bank, and then going to "Illinois State Park." The actual park we're going to is called Walnut Point but when the kids were really little they somehow got to referring to it as Illinois State Park, and being the dorky parents that we are, we continue that trend.

I love it when we go hiking. My thoughts turn from ColdFusion and PHP and crontab and stupid Application Support files to Hobbits and dwarves and elves and winding creeks and colossal caves. XYZZY, baby.

I think I have something on the radar for this afternoon when we get back home. The redhead told me yesterday that she went ahead and bought new winter coats fot he kids. Our coat closet is overloaded. Our bedroom closet is overloaded. And each of the kids has a potential clothes-slide-waiting-to-happen as well. I think it is time to purge. If we can get closets cleaned out this weekend I can get the stuff to Goodwill on Monday, and there aren't many things I like better than clean and orderly closets.

Well, I think I'm going to walk to the store and get stuff for breakfast (I just spent $200 at the grocery store last night and didn't get a damn thing for breakfast--sheesh....). I wonder how cold it is outside... Ooh. 44 degrees. This is going to be a chilly walk. And it is supposed to rain all day--we may not be going to Illinois State Park...

Posted: Saturday, November 12, 2005, 12:26 pm
Mood: Relieved | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Bart Simpson

I will not mess with Application Support files ever again.
I will not mess with Application Support files ever again.
I will not mess with Application Support files ever again.
I will not mess with Application Support files ever again.
I will not mess with Application Support files ever again.
I will not mess with Application Support files ever again.

After reinstalling, Dreamweaver still didn't work right. Ran the updater. Nope.

Grr.... So I dumped the alias for Application Support, made it an actual directory again, then copied all of the Macromedia files from home that should go into that directory there, and now it finally, finally works.

Yes, Application Support in my home directory is owned by me, and Application Support in the main Libary is owned by root. Yes, I should have known better.

Oh well. Can I get some damn work done now? Sheesh.

Posted: Friday, November 11, 2005, 3:52 pm
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This Is More Like It

The redhead took the day off today--the kids don't have school because of Veteran's Day. That meant that I got to get up early and get to work at a normal hour--before anyone else is here to bug me. Ahh. How nice and peaceful. That will also be a great benefit of the new job--she can go back to taking the kids to school in the morning and I can go back to leaving for work at 6:00 a.m.

My brain is fried this week. I've been flip-flopping back and forth fro ColdFusion to PHP all week long, writing pages that had to be up ASAP, with little time for testing, and hence little room for error. I'm glad it is Friday.

I got frustrated with Retrospect earlier this week. Not because it was doing anything wrong, per se, but because I don't like the way it does what it is supposed to do. I have a 250 gig external firewire drive and Retrospect managed to fill it up after a few months. I have probably 80 gigs worth of crap on my internal hard drive, but Retrospect saves every version of every file that ever existed so the backup set just gets bigger and bigger. Again, that's what it is supposed to do, but I really don't need every version of every file I've ever created. Most of what I do is for the web, and there is already a backup built into the situation by the mere fact that I work on this machine and then post the final files to a server--already two copies on two different physical machines just by posting the work.

Sooo.... in my infinite wisdom I decided to instead write a few shell scripts to back up only parts of my hard drive. I don't need my applications backed up, nor any of my system software. If my hard drive fails, do I really think that I would trust buying a new drive and letting Retrospect put everything back exactly the way it was before, with correct permissions, etc., etc.? Heck no. So I wrote a script to tar and gzip the two or three root directories of the web sites that I take care of, and then move them to the external drive. Finally, I decided to back up my home directory and do the same thing--that would cover anything on my messy desktop, etc., etc.

Except when I tarred my home directory it was 18 gigs. Huh? I poked around a bit, and deleted some things that didn't need to be kept, but that didn't help much. I moved my "music" directory outside of my home directory and made an alias to it--I don't need to back up my mp3s every night (duh). That still only got me down to like 13 gigs.

Then I got even goofier. I copied all of my Library/Application Support files to the main Library directory and aliased the main Library/Application Support directory and put the alias in my home Library directory. Now all the Application Support files (directories of files) are in a single place, and anything looking for them in one place or the other should be able to get to them. Easy enough. That still didn't decrease the size much, even though that was several gigs of information, or so I thought.

Grrr... I set my view settings to calculate folder sizes and then sorted by size and found that the largest directory in my home directory was only like 500 megs. Quickly adding up the first 10 or so directories only got me to maybe a gig total. Certainly not 18.

So I assumed (here's the moronic part...) that maybe when it went a-tarballin' that it tarred up files that were aliased. That sounds so stupid now that I even considered that. I know that aliases in OS X aren't exactly the same thing as a symbolic link (although a symbolic link does behave like an alias, so I don't know why there is a discrepancy...) so I assumed that there must be some odd magic with making an alias.

The long and short of it? .Trash is a directory in your home directory. And if you have 15 gigs worth of trash in .Trash, and you tarball your home directory, guess what? Oh my goodness. Yeah, that's how my brain has been this week. Empty trash, tarball now 1 gig. Sheesh.

But this gets worse. In all of my moving of Application Support files, I stupidly let the Adobe directory from my home Library overwrite the one in my main LIbrary, assuming that they had mostly duplicate information. Same thing for Macromedia.

Nope. Again, moron. I started up Photoshop the next morning and it couldn't find half of its files so gave me all sorts of warnings. No big deal--same Photoshop at home, I'll just hook up to my home machine and copy those Adobe directories back to my work machine. Which worked, sort of.

However, the next time I started up Dreamweaver it asked if I wanted to enter a registration code or use it on a 30-day trail basis. Oh boy. And my installation CDs were in my laptop bag at home. Gr-oan. Finally I got my registration number, entered it, and was up and going. But all of my "sites" information was shot. No big deal--that only takes a few seconds.

And then I quit and went home. And the next day when I started Dreamweaver my site information was gone. Enter it again. Quit. Relaunch. Gone. Get preference file from home, overwrite the corrupt one here, restart. Nope. It filled the plist file with all sorts of garbage every time I quit. Soo.... Today I get to reinstall Dreamweaver and Photoshop. What fun!

Well, I suppose I should get busy....

Posted: Friday, November 11, 2005, 2:55 pm
Mood: Fair | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Black Angus

Lame title, I know, but I don't know what else to title this hodge podge of useless information.

At school earlier this week (kids' school, not my school) each student had to write a short blurb saying why they liked being an American. A few kids from each grade had their blurbs picked to read aloud in front of a school assembly today. And my son was one of the ones picked. Well, he was not thrilled (to say the least) about reading in front of the entire school, but was a good sport about it (he is very good about realizing that he needs to just accept things that he cannot change--a trait that his father sure wishes he had...). Anyway, he managed to get out of reading his blurb--they didn't have enough time to have all the readers so they just let five of them read them. Well, papa felt bad that Al didn't get to read so they got out steaks for us to have for dinner. Oh my goodness. They were awesome. I cooked them perfectly (thank you very much). Pure black angus, and we know where these cows came from. I see them every time I go out to the farm. They eat corn and the don't do a whole lot of moving around--as tender as can be. We had shrimp scampi along with some french bread and salad. And a nice bottle of Shiraz. Perfect.

We're celebrating, of sorts. Jeez--I have lots to write about. Being busy has really chewed into my blogging time. The redhead got a new job. She's going to be working at city hall in our small town. And surprisingly, it's more money than she makes now. And she won't be driving 50 miles a day. RIght after I finally got all of our financial stuff in fabulous shape she went and made it tons better. I'm thrilled. As much that she's making more money as that I don't have to worry about her driving back and forth, at night, in the rain, in the snow, and with every moron out there driving like a, well, moron.

Work has been exhausting. Not "bad" exhausting, but busy exhausting. Shit, and I forgot to e-mail Rick and let him know that I put his newsletter up on the web...

I have more to write but my mental capacity is a bit drained right now. Maybe I'll post again at 3:00 a.m.....

Posted: Friday, November 11, 2005, 2:39 am
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Only Tuesday...

It sure feels like it should be Thursday. Or at least Wednesday. Sheesh.

My worry-related neurosis has flared up the past couple of days, and it is really annoying. I just went ahead and wrote out all of the checks for all of the bills, and then looked at the ending balance (I won't mail them until next Monday) and while I should be thrilled, I'm still unsettled. It's times like this when I wonder if I should be on something.

I dropped my one class yesterday. Hopefully I can sign up for the Spring this afternoon. Dropping made me feel kind of worthless--a failure. And while I realize the ridiculousness of that statement, it is a feeling, not a thought. "Data, I'm sure it is a fascinating experience, but perhaps you should deactivate your emotion chip for now." If only I were so lucky. I gave up. I quit. I'm a quitter for dropping that class. I think I'm sort of uber-geek yet I can't even complete my data abstractions and algorithms class. This going to school thing is going to take forever, and I'm not helping by having nothing to show for myself at the end of this semester.

Work has been okay. The registration for the two conferences has been picking up steadily, and I've been tasked with making administrative pages (for editing information, deleting bad entries from the database, etc.). At least it keeps me busy.

I go to St. Louis in a month for the grant reviewer meeting--I have to be there the first day to make sure there are no technical glitches with people's laptops, and after the first two or three reviews, if everything is going smoothly, I get cut loose and get to drive back home. Not a bad gig. I don't ever much like being away from my home and my family for long periods of time, but this is only for a night, and I'll be staying in a somewhat fancy-schmancy hotel, so it won't be too bad.

I successfully talked myself out of having gyros from Zorba's for lunch today. I brought Hot Pockets (they're breathtaking) for lunch for the rest of the week but I really would rather have a gyro. I think I've compromised--I'll go get a roast beef sandwich from Jimmy John's instead. Much better for me and cheaper too. I'm a little worked up because I have to go to the doctor on Thursday because it's been a year since she put me on the blood pressure medication. During that time I started drinking less, exercising more, and eating better, and I lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 pounds. I haven't been on a scale in a while, but I'm guessing I've gained most of that back, which sucks. Somehow I think eating better for a few days before my appointment isn't going to make much of a difference.

I need some new "avatar" images. Anyway.

Posted: Tuesday, November 08, 2005, 7:01 pm
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3:00 a.m.--That's a Switch...

Heh. Daylight savings time ended last weekend. That's why I'm up at 3:00 and not 4:00.

Yesterday afternoon at work was a wonderful end to my week. Not only did I get out of having to fly to California for a couple of days for a meeting, but I get to spend some money to give myself (and two of the people I work with) the capability to do video-conferencing over the Internet. How cool!

I've been trying to come up with an excuse to get a webcam at work (just to play with) for a long time, but never could come up with anything that could be justified (I guess I never really gave it that much thought...). And this just feel into my lap. I'm excited.

Last night I picked up more freelance work, because just what I need right now is more work. Oh well.

We went to the in-laws last night for pizza in celebration of my daughter's birthday (which is actually today). Today we're picking up her best friend and the five of us are going to go out for lunch and then spend part of the afternoon at the University Ice Arena. They have open skate on Saturday afternoon from 1:30 to 4:00. I'm guessing (hoping?) that we'll be there for about an hour before everyone's butts hurt and we head for home. Then I think we may have a fire and roast weenies for dinner Hopefully we'll have a bunch of fun and hopefully my patience will stay with me for the duration. Normalcy will resume Sunday morning when we take her friend home. I'll probably spend the rest of the day Sunday working.

And then hopefully, hopefully, next week will be a little bit calmer than this week has been....

Okay, back to bed.

Posted: Saturday, November 05, 2005, 10:09 am
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The Lion, the Witch, and Ordering of Books

See Elvis, I'm not nuts.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was first.

At least I'm right about something every now and then. Sheesh....

Ugh. Time for a beer yet? The dang kids better have their teeth brushed and their shoes on when I get back upstairs. (Yeah, like that's going to happen...)

Posted: Friday, November 04, 2005, 2:44 pm
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Local News

What a rough week. I'm so mentally exhausted that I don't even want to get into it, but I'll try for the sake of posterity.

Well, and it is 5:00 in the morning so what else do I have to do?

Earlier I wrote a bunch of PHP code so that one of the conference web sites that I created this year could hook into the campus credit card payment center. It required the use of the mhash libraries as well as something called curl (to send post data back and forth without actually submitting a form). Well, once that was working I had to make a second conference site also connect to the payment center. My first inclination was to duplicate the entire set of database tables for the first conference and just rename the database for the second conference. Then I e-mailed Marc at the payment center and requested a second "site ID." I noted that the receiving account number would be the same, and nothing else would need to be changed.

That's when a light bulb should have gone off over my head. Thank goodness I can't ever sleep through the night.

A few days back it occurred to me that I should have a more generic startpayment and finishpayment set-up that can be used by both conferences (and any conference in the future). Then the individual conference registration pages point to the same generic startpayment page and simply pass along which conference they are (as post data) so that the startpayment page can look like it belongs with that conference. How clever. Sure wish I would have thought of that at the beginning.

I feel like such a complete hack--the only thing that mildly reassured me was my pal Tod telling me the other day that I'm way selling myself short with my attitude about the situation.

Anyway.

I'll probably actually go and finalize my withdrawal from school for the semester today. I tried to drop my class a couple days back and it wouldn't let me--apparently you can drop classes up until you only have one left (and I only have one to begin with) and then it isn't a matter of dropping. Then it is "withdrawal from the term." Much more ominous than just "drop." So I fired of a few e-mails to make sure this was still an okay thing for me to do, and am now reasonably sure that my world won't end if I "withdraw." Thank goodness it is Friday.

Groan. Except Saturday is my daughter's birthday, which is all well and good, but we're taking her and a friend ice skating at the University Ice Arena, then going out to dinner, and then having a sleep over. So much for resting this weekend...

I received an e-mail at work yesterday from some political activist organization wanting me to sign a petition to prevent Fox News from "invading" the local news market. What? I had to re-read it to even understand what they were getting at. Basically they contended that Fox spun a biased version of the news and that it was inappropriate to have that as a choice in our local media market. Oh the hypocracy. I don't believe Fox News any more than I believe CNN on any given topic, but anyone that thinks that Fox is the only outfit putting a "spin" on the news needs to have their head examined. Really? What about Dan Rather and the fake memo about the National Guard service for that person we all love to hate? That wasn't even spin--that was just plain made up news to try to bash someone. yet I'm supposed to be fearful of Fox? At least Fox's agenda is clear--CNN et al. are a bit more subtle, a bit more sinister. Either way, sending me an e-mail to tell me that this group of people should be allowed to report the news but this other group of people should not is rather silly. And quite hypocritical. Whatever. I'm just grouchy.

Gas is almost down to two bucks a gallon again. So much for all the chicken littles who said that it would be five dollars a gallon by December. I guess it still could, however, so maybe I should keep my mouth shut. (Some hotel in Jakarta will blow up, and while that will have nothing at all to do with the flow of oil or gasoline, the guy at Mobil will hear the story on CNN and run across the parking lot and add 50 cents to the price on the sign...). Oh, but oil companies just posted their biggest profit ever. That's fair. Oh no, nobody is making any money off of gasoline. It's all just the market, and hurricanes. Everybody in the oil business just breaks even, all the time. Which is why so many people are in the oil business--just so they can break even and provide such a wonderful service to the world.

Jesus, what's with me this morning? I need to go back to bed. Hopefully next week will go more smoothly than this week. And maybe I can get some rest this weekend. Maybe Sunday afternoon...

Posted: Friday, November 04, 2005, 12:32 pm
Mood: Anxious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


So much for waiting for Friday...

We decided last night to wait until Friday for Episode III.

That is, until I was driving home tonight and decided to pick it up. My wife had been at the doctor and I was at therapy so we both were home early, so isn't that a perfect day to plan to watch this 140 minute movie?

I had to modify the credit card payment page thing yesterday and today so it would work with multiple conferences. I should have done it that way to begin with, but I wasn't thinking "like a programmer." I'm not in the mood to write about it now--maybe I will be tomorrow. The new set-up is pretty cool, and quite practical, and it worked on the first try.

I decided to drop my class today. Phew.

Life should get much easier in the next few weeks.

Well, time to go warm up the surround sound speakers... Woo hoo!

Posted: Wednesday, November 02, 2005, 10:43 pm
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You Were the Chosen One!

Do I really, really think that stopping off at WalFart on the way home to try to buy Episode III is a good idea? Really?

I mean, surely we're well beyond the days of retail giants running out of a product on the first day, right? And surely it will be just like when I went to see the movie and was afraid it would be mobbed and there were 11 people in the theater, right? And WalFart won't be any busier than usually and hopefully I'll get lucky and be able to check out at the video game counter and not have to wait in line beyond people with groceries.

Hopefully the redhead will order pizza, well, like right now and the kids can be fed and bathed so we can watch the movie and they can still get to bed at a decent time....

I'm ready for a beer. Is it Friday yet? Sheesh.

Posted: Tuesday, November 01, 2005, 10:51 pm
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