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Archived Entries from November 2008


Oh, I Forgot Something

While you can click on the "November" link in the sidebar and see all the posts for this month, if you just come to the main blog page it only shows the most recent 10 posts (I think). Just in case I have the chance to win another XBox or something (heh) I figured I'd do what all the other blogs do and have a "Next 10 posts" link at the bottom of the page, just so it doesn't look like I've only posted for the past seven or eight days of November.

I also added some data sanitation to the GET information that is used for that to work, and in the process sanitized the data for the month/year links to the left as well.

Okay, I'm going back to watching football. Dammit Bears. Grrr. Come on, Tait.

Posted: Monday, December 01, 2008, 2:20 am
Mood: Pleased | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


NaBloPoMo

This is the third year of "NaBloPoMo" which stands for "National Blog Posting Month." I think there's something about writing a novel in a month or some such thing that has been around for a while, and the blog version of it happened later.

Well, I didn't quite do "30 posts in 30 days"--I believe I had multiple posts on certain days, so I'm well over the 30 posts part.

Today is day 30. Thank goodness. I like blogging and all, but I've been getting tired of doing this every day. It's like having homework hanging over your head.

Well Thanksgiving weekend is over. The kids and the redhead are not thrilled that today is the last day of our short break. I don't necessarily feel that way. While I won't say that I'm dying to go back to work, I'm not totally upset to go back to normalcy.

We all got together last night to take a family picture for Christmas for the in-laws. We had some, uh, mild family drama, but other than that everything went well. Before we left for the evening we were given a card with our Christmas present from my mother- and father-in-law. Wowsers. Everyone's reactions to the checks in each of the cards was the same--very shocked.

Let's just say that the redhead and I are going to Menards this week to pick out flooring and wainscoting and everything else to remodel the basement. It looks like we might do an engineered wood floor like we have on the main floor of the house, or else do laminate. I'm worried about what might happen if the sump pump ever overflows again, but I think that the wood floor might survive even better than the laminate.

I need to talk to someone that knows more about this than I do. The basement isn't typically any more damp than the rest of the house, so I think we should be okay. We're going to do the wood floor in the main part of the basement (which is about 300 square feet) as well as the Nerdrium (which is another 140 or so square feet). I think when we eventually redo the basement bathroom I'll do ceramic tile not only in the bedroom but also in the hallway in front of the furnace closet as well as the laundry room.

It will be awesome down here once we get rid of the carpet and that awful closet and get all of this done. We're quite surprised at the present from the redhead's parents and are tickled that we'll be doing remodeling and not just demolishing (which doesn't cost anything) over Christmas break. This amount of money should cover everything, and hopefully leave some left over to deposit into our mutual fund account. I'm excited.

Well we had some friends over last night and then Darren and I ended up leaving and going to the soiree at J.R.'s lounge. The redhead and the rest of the entourage met us later after we moved across the street to the VFW. It was a lot of fun, and nobody tried walking home afterwards.

All in all, it was great to have those days off.

Dammit, Bears. Come on. That Adrian Peterson guy isn't that good. Grrr....

Posted: Monday, December 01, 2008, 2:10 am
Mood: Fortunate | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Family Picture

We're getting ready to head over to the in-laws' to have a family picture taken--all four siblings, three spouses (one fiancee), and three grandchildren. My mother- and father-in-law have wanted one for a while and Aunt Molly thought it would be a good Christmas present.

Easy enough.

Darren came over earlier today with Shannon's car so that I could help him replace brake pads on all four tires and rotors on the front. It took us about two hours total. I did one front tire while he watched, then had him do the other front tire. Same with the back tires. He actually rented the tool from the auto parts store to "screw in" the pistons for the back tires (back disc brakes work slightly differently than front disc brakes because the back brakes can also be used as parking/emergency brakes, so they actually act similarly to drum brakes). Much easier with the tool than using a pair of needle-nosed pliers and doing it that way (which sucks--trust me...).

I think that they are coming over for beers this evening, which should be fun. Maybe Jodi and Tony too. A good portion of the rest of their classmates will be at one of the dumpy bars in town because two of the classmates who have long since moved out of the area will be back for the evening. It's sort of a long story, but I'm guessing that none of the people at our house are in the mood to deal with all of that.

I finally got fed up with the status of the Nerdrium and decided this afternoon to take back my territory. I cleaned out the closet and threw out a lot of stuff--some of it from when my in-laws lived here. I'm sorry, but if you want the stuff, take it and put it at your house. Them deciding that they don't want this stuff, but don't want me to throw it away, isn't going to work anymore. It leaves this house one way or the other from now on. (And that sounds much, much more sinister than it really is--I'm sure a lot of the stuff they don't even remember that they wanted us to keep it, so into the garbage tote it goes...).

It's much roomier in here now. I have a lot more cobwebs and dust to suck up. Interesting how three computers running all the time generate a lot of dust and attract a lot of spiders.

Okay, I think we're going to head out.

Is November over with yet? This NaBloPoMo thing has me about worn out....

Posted: Saturday, November 29, 2008, 9:44 pm
Mood: Pretty Good | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Turkey!

Well Thanksgiving at the in-laws' went off without a hitch yesterday. Typical family issues, of course, but no real drama.

I threw our turkey in the oven at 8:00 this morning, and it was finished around 1:00 or so. Tasty, tasty, tasty. We also made stuffing, mashed potatoes, and the redhead made fantastic gravy. I just filled two gallon-sized freezer bags with turkey, so we should be able to have sandwiches for a good while.

The redhead took a nap so I cleaned up a little, read my book for a while, and am watching the IHSA state football championship games that are being played at Memorial Stadium. The 2A game is on now between Casey-Westfield and Immaculate Conception High School. Mildly noteworthy because I went to grade school at Immaculate Conception. My dad went to both grade school and high school at I.C. They're actually winning by a lot. It was interesting when they were doing the starting line-ups because there were several names that were long-time "Elmhurst names" that I recognized.

I don't know what our plans our for tonight. I thought maybe Molly and Cole were coming over, but the redhead makes it sound like they have other plans.

Alex has been back and forth to the school for basketball practice(s)--once for the team he plays with and once for the high school team, which he manages.

I don't know that I'll need to eat again today. Phew.

Posted: Friday, November 28, 2008, 9:13 pm
Mood: Sleepy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Thanksgiving

Well I had better blog now, because I'm guessing that this afternoon when we get home I won't, er, be in the mood.

Thanksgiving is here, one of the days of the year I least look forward to, even though it usually all works out in the end. Some of the family I enjoy being around, and well, some of them not so much. Hopefully everything will go fine and those that need to behave will shut up and behave. Wine helps.

We have our turkey in the fridge--I should probably get it into water in the sink this morning. I got a 21 pounder this year--hopefully that will be big enough.

Budge and Anna and Molly and Cole are (I think) coming over and hanging out with us tomorrow night. Now that I'm looking forward to!

I was supposed to go up to the 'burbs on Saturday for my 25th grade school reunion. I've since decided to stay home instead.

Instead, I'll be supervising Darren as he replaces the rotors on Shannon's Caddy. I need to remember to go to Gilles' and get a bigger c-clamp than the ones we have (we'll need it to push the piston back into the brake caliper). Shannon wanted to bring a big spiral ham for dinner that night, but I'm not crazy about ham, so I suggested beer and maybe appetizers or something instead.

At least the Illinois football team won't lose this weekend!

I need to clean the Nerdrium. This place is a mess.

Posted: Thursday, November 27, 2008, 2:23 pm
Mood: Anxious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


No Cavities!

Well I had a check-up with the dentist today. At least all of my teeth are in good shape. She used this thing that I can only guess is sort of like a really teeny-tiny sandblaster instead of a pick thing to clean my teeth. And it wasn't very comfortable. And do they have to do the polishing part? Clean them all up and stuff, but I can brush them when I get home. I hate both the taste and the texture of that toothpaste polish crap that they use. Blech.

Since the redhead had to drive separately to work today, I figured that would be a good excuse for me to just stay home. So I did.

I played with the dog, had lunch, read some more of Cryptonomicon, and chatted with the redhead on messenger. I needed to go to the store today to get stuff for Thanksgiving at the in-laws tomorrow and for "our" Thanksgiving on Friday. So I asked the redhead to help me make a list.

I was using the Fedora box (so that I could play Minesweeper--or the Linux version, "gnomine"--while we chatted) and typed out the list in a text editor on that machine. I tried to add the networked laser printer but Fedora doesn't install a driver for a LaserJet 1022n by default. So off to the hp.com web site I went. It turns out they have a "we make no promises" set of drivers and tools for use with Linux. Sweet!

I downloaded it all, followed the directions, installed it, and was all excited to print a test page. Woo hoo! Linux rocks!

But the test page failed. Wot?

Fine, I gave up. But I still needed to print my list, so I came over to my OS X machine (not sure why I tried to get it this way first) and opened a graphical SFTP client to connect to the Linux box. And it couldn't connect. Huh? So I sent a ping. Nothing. Nothing. Control-C. 5 packets transmitted, 0 packets received, 100% packet loss. What the heck?

Back to the Linux box I went and was able to SCP the file from there to the Mac. How does that work, exactly? I restarted the network services on in Linux, and they went down okay but failed to come back up.

So I must have a wonky network card again. Grrr. (Either that or the PCI bus on my motherboard is wacked out...).

But get this: while I could no longer use Firefox to get on the web, I was still able to chat away with my wife. Again, how does that work exactly? It's not a local firewall issue. And the Internet "was working" (I love when people refer to whether or not the Internet itself is up or down when it is in actuality usually their machine or their local network that is to blame) as far as using the world wide web, that is, until I tried to restart the network services.

But I could still use Messenger? How bizarre.

I may try sticking that nic in a different slot and see if that changes anything. Or else go find a cheap new socket 478 Pentium 4 motherboard somewhere. Yeesh.

Oh well. I got a bunch of laundry done and folded and put away, and that always makes me feel good. I should probably go get started on dinner...

Posted: Wednesday, November 26, 2008, 10:54 pm
Mood: Content | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Time Off

I have a dentist appointment tomorrow morning (yeah, isn't that weird that they would schedule me the day before Thanksgiving?). I decided that since the redhead would have to drive herself to work without me anyway that I'd just take the rest of the day off.

Sometimes this job does have its perks.

For a two-day work week it seemed long enough anyway.

I got approved to sign up for my second class, so I did that this morning.

Budgie and Anna will arrive in town tomorrow night (I think?). Thanksgiving and this weekend should be a lot of fun.

I'm worn out--hopefully this will be a nice, relaxing loooong weekend.

Posted: Wednesday, November 26, 2008, 5:09 am
Mood: Bushwhacked | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Defense vs. Offense

The redhead had to be at work a half-hour earlier than normal today which meant that we got to leave work a half-hour earlier than normal as well. Kind of nice.

Except that I forgot my book at home, so I had nothing to read for the few minutes that I had to wait for her.

I've found the character of Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse very interesting. Talk about a nerd. I mean this guy would have his picture next to the word in the dictionary. If he were real, of course. His view of the world makes my not-wanting-to-ever-cross-my-path sillyness look, well, really silly. (And I've gotten over that part of my OCD, by the way, apparently...).

So I'm watching Monday Night Football right now. It's the Saints versus the Packers in the Superdome in New Orleans. The Superdome has one of those dot-matrix-type graphical banner things that hangs on the front of the upper deck and is obviously very wide but only a few feet tall. Like this:

And yes, I nabbed that image from part of an image that I found using Google. I'm not selling anything or making any money, and as far as I'm concerned, if you don't want people using parts or all of your images, don't put them up on the Internet. Duh.

Anyway. So I was watching some show on History Channel about the trenches on the western front during World War 1. It was quite interesting. Then it occurred to me that Monday Night Football was on.

Well when I switched over there was a close-up of part of that banner and a bunch of cheering fans. And a funny little thing of aspect happened. It looked to me like the banner, which had some letters cut off, said "OFFENSE" on it, so I assumed that the Saints had the ball and the fans were happy about it.

Then they panned down to the field and Green Bay had the ball. Huh?

The mind is an interesting grapefruit-sized ball of goo, isn't it?

Here's the word they had on the screen-of-limited-height:

How the heck did I figure that was offense?

(And as an aside, for someone that is as pessimistic as I am--how funny that I assumed that the Saints, who generally aren't very good, were cheering for their offense...)

Oh gosh. It really still cracks me up that they have this arbitrary means of spotting where the ball should be yet they measure it with a hyper-accurate electron-scanning measurement tool to see whether or not a first down was made. Yeesh.

So anyway. Back to the offense versus defense thing. Look at it this way, and put on a glass-half-full filter.

Lawrence Pritchard might appreciate my amusement. Well, no. He probably wouldn't get it. He'd be looking at patterns in the LCD lights or something.

I'm not going to that reunion on Saturday. Nobody there will miss me. And Budgie and Anna are going to be here this weekend, and I'd really rather just stay here. I don't like reunions. The less I have to remember about "then," the better.

Posted: Tuesday, November 25, 2008, 3:36 am
Mood: Relaxed | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Grad School

I briefly attempted taking two classes this semester, but quickly gave up after a week or two when I realized that neither class would be particularly difficult per se but the workload for both of them together probably wouldn't be doable. I think I made the right choice.

However, I just e-mailed the departmental secretary over in Springfield to ask to sign up for a second class for next semester. I'm already enrolled in a "Intro to Database Systems" class and am hopefully going to add a "Wireless Mobile Networks" class. The database class should be easy, I would think--the only real reason I'm taking it is because I want to take "Advanced Database Concepts" and the Intro class is a prerequisite. And Wireless Mobile Networks sounds fun.

I could still potentially finish this up in only a couple of years. I'm glad that there are enough "that sounds fun" classes that I can pick and choose each semester and not have to take anything that sounds too programmer-like ("Object-Oriented Design," e.g.). Actually if I do take and complete both of the classes in the Spring that will leave me with two more 400-level classes and two-more 500-level classes. I already know the two 500-level ones I'd like to take--"Distributed Computing" and "Advanced Database Concepts." And I guess the 400-level ones don't have to be only 400-level. Technically they can be 400- or 500-level. I just assumed I'd take as many 400-level ones as allowed.

So we'll see.

I found a job I might apply for, although the "meeting" I had Friday went very, very well. Two possible threads is better than no possible threads, and it can't hurt to keep all options open.

Posted: Monday, November 24, 2008, 8:42 pm
Mood: Tired | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Last of the Leaves

Hopefully. At least for the "main" part of the front yard and the south side of the house.

The weather was great today. I spent a good part of the morning "blowing" and raking leaves. Pete and Madonna came home from church when I was part of the way through doing both their and our leaves in the front, and they waved really big when they got home (I did all the leaves between us once early, Pete did both yards with his John Deere mower with attachment a few weeks later, and I cleaned up the last bit of it today--how great to have great neighbors!!).

We had steaks on the grill this evening (hard to cook in the pitch black, but I've done this enough that they turned out just about perfectly...). The redhead made awesome twice-baked potatoes and a fantastic salad as well.

I talked to Marc about our deer earlier today. He promised he'd send me a picture, which I'll post as soon as I get it.

We're not making much of a dent in the beef--we need to before the venison arrives....

This "post every day" thing is getting slightly more difficult to do. It will be interesting to see if I can get through the Thanksgiving week and weekend without waking up one day and saying "dammit!" Hopefully I'll make it through.

Posted: Monday, November 24, 2008, 12:49 am
Mood: Cool | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Sweet Sioux Tomahawk

I'm not sure how it works in other conferences, but in the Big 10 every school has two permanent "rival" teams. Ours are Indiana and Northwestern. (Michigan is Ohio State, of course, and Michigan State; Indiana is us and Purdue; etc....) Each team plays their two rivals every year no matter what, and just as Ohio State and Michigan meet during the last week of the season, Illinois plays Northwestern during the last week of the season as well.

I've long since turned the game off, but suffice it to say (and I'm not surprised, which also makes me not really upset) we're going to lose. Northwestern is good this year. And us? Well, we aren't. Oh well. 5-7 beats 2-10 or 1-11. We'll survive.

What isn't surviving is the trophy for our longest rivalry.

In another move of gross, disgusting political correctness, the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk trophy that we and NWU have played for is being retired. The hugely hypocritical NCAA said we have to get rid of "all" native american references, and apparently this trophy is considered part of that.

So what's happening to it? No matter who wins the game today, the tomahawk is going to be permanently given to Northwestern.

Wait. What?

So it's hostile and offensive and racist if we have it down in Champaign-Urbana, but as long as NWU has it everything is okay. Shouldn't NWU having it mean they are now promoting hostile and offensive stereotypes? Why do we have to cleanse ourselves of its hostile, racist symbolism, but it's okay for NWU to have it?

Don't get me wrong. I certainly don't begrudge anything to Northwestern. I actually kinda like Northwestern, as far as rivals go. And I hope they display the Tomahawk proudly and prominently.

But like everything else, this seems hypocritical to me. We can't have it, but it's okay for them to have it.

I think the hypocritical unhappy people just want to keep going and going and going until the rest of us happy (and confused) people finally get tired of arguing and let them win by attrition. I can't say when I'll finally quit fighting the good fight. The hypocritical part of it is still what is driving me to keep being irritated about it.

They're either ALL racist, hostile, and offensive, or they aren't. I'm going to keep fighting for Chief Illiniwek until the NCAA realizes what hypocritical idiots they are by allowing schools like Florida State to keep their hostile, offensive, and racist native American symbols.

They are either racist, or they aren't racist. No matter what.

Posted: Saturday, November 22, 2008, 11:18 pm
Mood: Confused | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Say It Ain't So!

You know, when Senator Biden was picked as Obama's vice presidential running mate, I let out a huge sigh of relief.

How foolish I am.

It never occurred to me that Barack would choose that evil, hateful, spiteful, awful, (did I say evil?) Senator from New York (who isn't from New York, but whatever) to be Secretary of State. I guess I stupidly thought that once he eliminated her from contention to be VP, that she'd be out of the Obama picture permanently.

Nooooooooo!

After all the evil, hateful stuff she said about him during the primaries? The snitty things she said at debates?

I guess politics is politics, but I was hoping to not have to hear about/from her for at least another eight years.

Groan. Oh well.

Posted: Friday, November 21, 2008, 5:12 pm
Mood: Irritated | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


He Shoots! He Scores!

That's right. My older offspring...

Tisdale! You're not Nick Smith! Quit slapping the ball and just go up and get it!

...where was I. Alex is apparently now officially a "starter" for his team. They announce the other players first and then do the "starters" one at a time. Alex is the last one called. How fun! Now if only he would start to figure out that when he's out on the court he's the tallest person out there other than maybe the referees.

So he got passed the ball and took a shot from up at the free-throw line and made it! (Up at the corner--I don't know what that's called...). He took a couple more later on that unfortunately didn't fall, but they looked good and I'm proud of him that he takes the initiative to shoot the ball when he can. I wouldn't if I were in his shoes. I'd be too afraid to miss. My anxiety would get the worst of me.

Not quite so much for him. He doesn't get worked up about too much. So this really isn't a big deal. But I'm happy for him.

The best part is that the other three knuckleheads on the eighth-grade team have finally finished serving their suspensions so that we don't have to sit through two games now. (The seventh-grade boys still came out in their uniforms, but I'm guessing that the six older boys will play the entire game and that Coach Greger is just keeping the seventh-graders dressed in case of something catastrophic...). So I came home, poured a glass of wine, and started watching the Illinois game. Maybe I should be watching something else. We're only losing by a little, but we've been a little weak the past few years. We've lost a few important players, thanks to defections by committed recruits at the last minute (have fun being a back-up for the Clippers, Eric!) and, well, some bad choices (Whiskey bottle, brand new car, oak tree you're in my way... Okay, so it was Tequila, and the Lexus was older, and I don't know what kind of trees those are along First Street, but...).

And I spoke too soon. The redhead just messaged me and said one of the eighth-graders just got hurt and they're bringing the ambulance for him. She thinks he's okay, but they're not taking any chances. Me and my big mouth...

Apparently our (Illinois again) recruiting class for next year and the year after is very, very highly ranked, so maybe if we can suffer through this year things will be brighter in the future. I hope so, for Coach Weber's sake. I'm a patient person, but most of the fanatics around here aren't quite so calm about it.

I'm irritated about work and the future and stuff and have been a jerk the past few nights, which isn't fair and really sort of sucks. I'm just kind of stressed since the crystal ball is still very cloudy and I don't like cloudy. Hopefully things will clear up slightly after lunch tomorrow and my mood will improve.

I don't want to talk much more about it right now, though. Hopefully I'll have some optimistic news tomorrow.

Posted: Friday, November 21, 2008, 2:22 am
Mood: Anxious | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


New Orleans

So now that my funding source has changed again, and my responsibilities have been modified slightly once again, it looks like I'll be headed to New Orleans in February for an IT-related meeting. It will be nice because it will surely be warm down there. Of course, the part I don't like is having to get on a plane up here in the frozen tundra in Illinois. If the runway even looks slippery, I'm not getting on that plane.

At least I'm flying through Dallas rather than O'Hare so that a) I don't have to go any further north than I already will be and b) I can avoid screwing around with O'Hare.

I'm a little excited. But nervous, as always, in the back of my mind.

At least I'll have a couple of pretty good layovers in Dallas so I can, well, calm down between flights. I suppose I ought to make sure that they have bars in that airport before I finalize my plans. That would sure suck. Ooh. Lots of places to have beer. Good deal.

It looks like American Eagle is going to land at a different terminal than the one American (proper) will use for the flight to New Orleans. I wonder if I'll have to go through security once I've landed in Dallas or if I'll be able to stay in the green zone the entire time. That'd be nice...

Well, it's several months away so I suppose I should just not worry about it for now.

Posted: Wednesday, November 19, 2008, 9:19 pm
Mood: Eh | 4 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Unhappy People

Several years ago, a very small, vocal minority of unhappy people decided that if they were going to have to go through life being grumpy, unhappy, miserable excuses for human beings, that they would, in fact, do everything they could to make all the other happy people around them have to be unhappy people too.

The University finally caved in to the unhappy people once the completely hypocritical NCAA got involved. (How the NCAA figures that Chief Illiniwek is racist, but Chief Osceola from FSU is not, is completely beyond me--they are either ALL racist, or they aren't...).

Well a group of industrious students on campus decided that really, we shouldn't be forced to be unhappy when all we really wanted was to be happy.

So even though the University took the regalia and locked it up, these students had another duplicate set made on their own. Even though Chief Illiniwek is no longer sanctioned by the University, the "council of Chiefs" held tryouts anyway, just like they always did in the past.

And these happy students rented out the Assembly Hall, just like any other registered student organization is allowed to do, and contacted a bunch of alumni who were members of the Marching Illini Band back in their college days, and organized a wonderful event: The "Next Dance" of Chief Illiniwek.

Sure there were a half-dozen unhappy protesters outside, who even though they had "won" their battle, still felt the need to lurk around at an event that has nothing to do with them and protest and try to make people unhappy. But the thousands and thousands who flocked inside the Hall would not be deterred.

I don't think the Chief is hostile and offensive. Yet I find angry, vocal, hippie, whiny protesters both hostile AND offensive. They are very hostile, and they are very, very offensive.

Thank goodness for freedom of speech.

Hail to the Orange.
Hail to the Blue.
Hail Alma Mater,
ever so true (so true!).

We love no other
so let our motto be:
VICTORY! ILLINOIS!
VARSITY!

The unhappy people may have "won" a victory last year, but they will never, ever win this battle. There will always be more of us. And we will continue to be happy.

Posted: Tuesday, November 18, 2008, 8:37 pm
Mood: Verklempt | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Hatching Plans

So I've hatched a plan that involves my future working here on campus. My ultimate goal is to end up in a job like my pal Tod has as director of I.T. for a college on campus, but even if I take my pessimist hat off and replace it with my realist or even optimist hat, it is still evident that I have another rung or two on the ladder somewhere in between here and there that I need to hang from for a while. And I think I've found that rung.

Obviously, I'm going to be cryptic about it now, lest I start running my mouth about something that has probably only an outside chance of happening. But I need that outside chance to still exist, and spilling the beans would very likely turn that outside chance into no chance.

Nothing urgent, of course. I have plenty of time for this plan to play itself out. I took the very first teeny tiny step today by sending of an e-mail to a colleague about something that was talking about briefly a long time ago and in an office far, far away (not really that far away--just downstairs....).

Tee hee. And the reply just appeared in my inbox. It may not be noticeable to the naked eye, but I can sense it. The ball just started moving, if ever so slightly. If I can pull this off I will consider myself as smart as my wife thinks that I think I am.

Anyway.

It looks like I'm definitely going to pull off my first semester of graduate school while remaining completely intact. The majority of the course dealt with Linux-related stuff that was very similar to what I learned during my RHCT training. Then we had a week or two of some stuff that I hadn't used or dealt with before. Now we're onto web-related stuff--Apache a week or so back and MySQL this past week. We even had an extra credit assignment this week--write a PHP page that connects to a local database, queries information from a table, and displays it in table form in a web browser. As I joked about the assignment with Tod over lunch today his reply was "let me know if you need any help with that." Heh. Needless to say, I didn't bother with reading the tutorial that our instructor provided before writing it out.

Pretty soon I should get working on my four-page long "research" paper. Really? Four pages? To me, four pages does not a research paper make, but I won't argue with the instructor about that fact. I'm writing about the SVN software "subversion." It should be pretty easy.

Hmm. Looks like I'm all but for certain going to New Orleans in a few months...

Posted: Monday, November 17, 2008, 8:12 pm
Mood: Excited | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Comments

Sometimes an on-line education seems like a neat idea, and sometimes it is exhausting.

Every week we have a discussion board where we have to reply to a question given by the instructor. It has been interesting to watch this evolve over the years, as they encourage discussion among students.

Interesting, and annoying.

The first thing they did was require everyone to reply to a comment or situation given by an instructor.

Then when that wasn't enough they required students to reply to the question, and then comment on at least one or two replies that were given by other students.

Then after lots of "wow--great post--I totally agree" replies to replies, now they've made it so that you have to have two "thoughtful" replies.

Why not just write the replies for us?

So this week our question was about what sort of experience we had with relational databases.

"Yeah, I've used DB2 at work but don't use databases much more than that." (And that is obviously very abridged, but assume that's the point of someone's initial response).

How does one give a "thoughtful reply" to that? "Yeah, dude, I don't get databases either."

"Dude, yeah, I guess DB2 is pretty cool--that's IBM, right?"

"Who uses DB2 anymore?"

So how do I thoughtfully reply to posts like that. MY posts are like that too--how does anyone reply to my posts? "I know MySQL and use it for web applications" (it was actually longer than that, of course).

Yeah, MySQL is cool. Start a /. fight about whether postgreSQL is better? Seriously.

Give me the lessons. Let me do the assignments. And let's skip the discussion board stuff.

Oh, and the Bears suck. Sheesh.

Posted: Monday, November 17, 2008, 2:59 am
Mood: Tired | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


We Don't Need Coats

So today we went to the Ohio State vs. Illinois football game at venerated Memorial Stadium.

And Alex thought he was going to get away with just wearing jeans and a hooded sweatshirt without a coat.

It's 38 degrees out, and was maybe a degree warmer at game time. With a breeze. No, it was windy.

I wasn't going to argue with him, because that was a battle I wasn't going to pick. But the redhead stopped him in his tracks and informed him that he wasn't walking out the door without a coat.

When we got in Tony's car, I said something to the effect that Lucas wore a coat too, so it obviously was cold out. (I, of course, had long underwear on, a t-shirt, hooded sweatshirt, leather coat, and stocking cap...). Tony explained that Lucas had tried to leave the house with just a hooded sweatshirt with a football jersey over it and that he and Jodi made Lucas wear a coat.

Silly boys.

Now while Tony and I sat and enjoyed the game and were somewhat cold (but not too bad), here's the boys:

Oh, no--they certainly didn't need coats on.

We left part-way through the fourth quarter when it was apparent that Illinois wasn't going to have any sort of a chance to win the game. This was after one of the worst calls I've ever seen in a football game, that, of course, went against Illinois.

Hey Mr. Line Judge? Once a thrown ball has been tipped, everybody on the field is fair game. Ever heard them say "there is no penalty on the play because the ball was tipped prior to contact??" If the ball hadn't been tipped, that hit would have been right on time and been perfectly fair. It's not the defender's fault that the ball was tipped--his timing was right on. And how can it be "after the play--personal foul" when the hit happened before the ball hit the ground?? Is the play over when the ball is first tipped?

What happens when a ball is tipped and a receiver catches it? Is it ruled "no catch" because it was tipped and the play was therefore over? Of course not. What happens when a ball is tipped and a defender catches it? Do they rule that it isn't an interception because play ends when a ball is tipped? Nope.

Play doesn't end until that tipped ball is either caught and the person tackled or run out of bounds, or until the ball hits the ground.

It wasn't pass interference. It wasn't a late hit. And it shouldn't have been a personal foul.

You, Mr. Line Judge, deserved every one of those boos. (Of course, that was on a 3rd and down and we would have gotten the ball back down by only two scores, but that penalty kept the OSU drive alive and, of course, they went on to score).

Bah humbug. Oh well. This was hardly unexpected. But I don't like when games are decided on technicalities, especially when those technicalities are called the wrong way.

I gave Alex a buzz after we got home and then took him to basketball practice. After practice Tony and Lucas and Alex and I are going up to Buffalo Wild Wings in Savoy for some wings and some Newcastles. Yummy.

Posted: Saturday, November 15, 2008, 10:24 pm
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Getting Old

So Jeff and I met up with T.K. and his brothers last night as expected. We went to Firehaus first, then to Murphy's. The Kavanaugh boys wanted to explore campus further, but I was worn out so Jeff and I ended up excusing ourselves from the party and headed to Bamba much earlier than planned, and then headed back to Villa Grove.

How lame am I?

I just can't drink like that and stay out super late anymore.

And now comes round two. Alex and I are going to the Ohio State game (which starts in three hours) with his best friend Lucas and Lucas' dad, Tony.

And of course, Alex has no details as to who is driving, when we are going (I would think we'd be leaving soon, right?), or what the plan is in general.

I need to get in the shower. My body is sore from moving all that frozen meat around yesterday.

The thermostat works, at least.

And what a bad fan and alumnus I am. Our season is pretty much shot. Our chances of winning today are slim. And rather than hoping for a miraculous upset, I really just sort of hope that the game is out of hand enough by half-time that we abandon the freezing cold weather conditions for the wings place in Savoy where we can watch the second half the debacle while enjoying a Newcastle or two and having our fingers and toes be nice and toasty warm.

How pathetic.

Go Illini?

Posted: Saturday, November 15, 2008, 2:07 pm
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Who Knew?

I picked a new mood for today--"harried." Which, isn't really a mood, of course. As Inigo Montoya once said "I do not think it means what you think it means" (or something like that). I always thought harried was "being stressed from running around from one activity to the next as fast as you can" or something like that. My favorite dictionary, m-w.com says it means "beset by problems."

Well. I don't know that I'm beset by problems. I'm just, well, harried? (Like "hurried" but with an "a"--replacing a low-in-the-alphabet letter like "u" with a high-in-the-alphabet letter like "a" means it is the same thing, but more intense...).

Poetic license. I'm looking at it on the wall right now.

So the redhead and I drove to work separately today so that I could embark on my harried day and not leave her without a way to get home.

First I went to the bank, because, much to my surprise, the Veterinary Medicine Clinic really did return my $200 deposit on the dog's "fixater" (the solid metal donut ring that held the pins in his wrist in place). I figured we had a 50/50 chance of ever seeing that money again. "I'm sorry sir, what? What deposit? I don't see a deposit for anything on your record. We don't normally take deposits for surgical implements and equipment." It was on the invoice. But I was prepared for that discussion. Yay for me that it never happened.

Come to think of it, that was the start of my day going much more smoothly than imagined.

I had to upload a newsletter to the web at work, but I sort of had a feeling in the back of my mind that one was going to appear in my inbox today (I have one that I do on a regular basis, and one that is about as frequent, but not on set dates). And it had a lot of photos, which really don't slow me down that much but they feel like they are totally slowing me down when I'm in a hurry. Or when I'm harried. Like today.

I got the newsletter posted, talked to the boss, and headed out sooner than planned because the furniture people were going to show up between noon and 2:00 to pick up the broken part of the sectional, and while we all know that means 1:45 if you're actually waiting on them, if you don't show up until 1:30 you will have missed them.

Before getting home for the furniture abduction, I headed to Menard's to return the broken thermostat as well as a compact fluorescent indoor floodlight that was dead out of the box. In all my years of shopping at what is probably my favorite store, I have never had to actually return anything. I went in today, went up to the return counter, told the very nice woman that of the 10 flood lamps I bought the one in my hand was dead out of the box, and that after lots and lots of tinkering I was almost certain that the thermostat was malfunctioning and that it wasn't a case of user error on my part because I could short the terminals and get the furnace or fan or a/c to turn on, etc. She asked if I wanted a refund or to replace the two items. I told her I'd like to replace them and she told me to go get two new ones and come back.

I came back and some old guy was returning stray PVC joints and 19 cent metal nuts and bolts and such (dude--just throw them in a coffee can on your workbench and that way on Thanksgiving when you get a water leak, ten years from now, you'll likely have the exact part you needed already...). I was patient, because I was still running early, and when it was my turn the woman smiled, took the two items from me, but a green sticker on them and said "you're all set!"

Wait, what? I never even got my receipt out of my pocket. No circling of what the two items, or crossing them off, or whatever? "You're all set!???"

If it wasn't my most favorite store before now, Benaud's sure is now. "Dad, it's big money--you save it at Benaud's..." Dang kids.

So off I go. Still making good time. Rather than negotiate my way through Champaign on Route 45 and going south through Tolono and then turn right at Unity West grade school, then go for a while to Sadorus, and then to Ivesdale (where the butcher is) I instead chose to quickly zip north on Prospect for a couple of miles, head over a mile on Olympian Drive, and then get on Interstate 57.

"KITT--I need an alternate route to Ivesdale that doesn't involve backtracking off the Interstate to Route 45. Surely I can get off at Savoy, take Monticello Road west for a few miles and then head south and catch Sadorus. KITT?"

My car didn't answer, but fortunately the redhead called. "Honey, can you look up on Google maps really quick and make sure that I can go west on Monticello slab for a bit and then turn south to get to Sadorus and Ivesdale, rather than going all the way back east and then south through Tolono?"

She said she'd call me back. KITT would have had an answer instantly, AND been able to tell me how many known felons were within a two-mile radius of my position.

So I took the route that I had envisioned would work, after the redhead called back and told me 2.3 miles west, 4.3 miles south, etc., etc.

As I was entering Sadorus I called my mother-in-law, just to verify that the meat locker is actually in Ivesdale, and not Sadorus (I knew it wasn't, but it was one of those situations where I was harried and just wanted to make sure where I was going).

"Where are you now?"

I'm actually heading west out of Sadorus towards Ivesdale, on that curve.

"Okay, you're going the right direction. Oh, honey did you see that dirt road where the curve started where you could have gone straight?"

Yeppers.

"When I was a little girl we grew up in a house down that road..."

She talked to me about growing up around there, and earlier in Ivesdale (both these little towns are probably 30-45 minutes northwest of our current location--check that out for me KITT!). It was really neat hearing about it. It really was just another fabulous small-town thing that I cherish so much about being away from the hustle and bustle. And I think she was tickled to be reminiscing.

She talked to me the entire way into Ivesdale and until I had parked the car at the meat locker and I had to get off the phone. She told me I need to go down the street to the neat local pub and see how neat it was. No time!

So into the meat locker place I went. I had to go all the way back into the chopping and cutting room to let them know I was there (I originally wrote "butchering room" but I'm guessing that that term actually refers to the room where they, well, where they, er, start the process...). The people there were, of course, very, very nice. I wrote my check while they got out the racks of packaged meat for me.

It was a little more beef than I remembered from last year. I took four full laundry basket trips back and forth to my car.

And then I hurried home. I had plenty of time to spare before the furniture guys showed up. But I had the task of figuring out where I was going to add almost 350 pounds of beef to an already rather-full outdoor freezer and freezer part of the indoor fridge.

But I got 'er done!

I emptied everything out of the indoor freezer onto the counter and then did a thorough cleaning of the freezer, and then gradually moved all of the meat that was already in the outdoor freezer into the indoor freezer

Once that was taken care of, I scraped a lot of frost and ice from the outside freezer (it's old) off so that I'd have an optimal amount of room, and then carefully began loading it up so that I could fit everything in. I had to move a lot of the pizza rolls and such from inside to the outside freezer, but that's fine. The beef took up the top three shelves. Which was fortunate because the bottom of the freezer had eight gallon freezer bags full of catfish and four or five quart bags of catfish. Plus doves that Marc brought over. Yikes.

I made stew/soup for the redhead with most of the half-full bags of vegetables that had been in the freezer, along with all the stray pieces of beef from packages that had been open and part of them had been returned to the freezer. I also took the three or four half-packages of burger that had been in freezer bags strewn throughout the freezer(s) and used it to make a huge batch of taco meat.

At any rate, I threw out some stuff, but kept everything that should have been kept (that is, if I pitched it, it wasn't something I would have eaten, or really wanted anyone else to eat).

Then I had to do some work for work. Yikes.

I'm going to save the discussion about firewalls for another day, but let's just say that when you have the same home IP address for YEARS and then all of a sudden it changes (had to have been in the last 72 hours), it makes it really difficult to talk to servers at work that will only listen to people either a) at my desk at work or b) at my house. Grrr....

I got done what I needed to get done, at any rate. Well, mostly. It'll have to do until Monday.

So the one thing left I had to do today was get the replacement programmable thermostat installed. This one seems to work, thank goodness. The furnace won't turn on right now, though, because the automatic level I have set for the temperature of the house is actually lower than what it shows the temperature is now. And that's fantastic.

I bet you can't guess where the old thermostat was....

Okay, I need to wrap this up and get ready to go out. Oh, I feel so old...

Posted: Saturday, November 15, 2008, 12:46 am
Mood: Harried | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Fried Shrimp

Since I'm sure everyone is dying to know about the "one time..." I started to write about last night before worrying that it was something I should share, I may as well share it. It wasn't that big of a deal.

One time after working at Cochrane's until close a bunch of us went back to an apartment that several of them lived in. We, of course, at burritos from Bamba and then proceeded to continue drinking beer and playing Euchre all night long.

Really. All night. Well, T.K. and I left that apartment later the next morning, not having slept, and were, well, slightly sauced. We made our way the few blocks to my fraternity house (which is right across the park from his fraternity house) in search of something to eat. The frat houses are typically closed during the summer, but I had a master key for whatever reason, so in we went.

Although the kitchen itself is unlocked, the refrigerator and freezers have padlocks on them. However, a crafty person could remove the pins from the right hinges on the right-side door of one of the freezers and remove the entire door, get what was needed, and replace the door and pins. Well, I heard you could do this, anyway.

T.K. was also a cook at one of the sororities around the park, so he knew how to work a deep fryer (at the time I did not--I do now, of course).

And we had about a box and a half of tasty fried shrimp for brunch that morning.

And in a few weeks when the fall semester was starting up and the our cook, Edie, discovered that there was a box and a half of shrimp missing she went bananas. It wasn't like Edie bought the shrimp with her money, of course, but she worked on a budget and got bonuses for coming in under her food budget, etc. She obviously never found out who ate the shrimp--I think Jeff might know now and I think I told Barker maybe a bunch later. Of course most everyone was more amused that Edie went so bat$#!% crazy then they were concerned that ooh--a box of shrimp is missing.

Anyway. Lame story. I know. But I didn't want to leave anyone hanging, and I had to make my daily post.

We have to drive to Cerro Gordo for a basketball game tonight. Groan. It's like an hour away.

Posted: Thursday, November 13, 2008, 8:45 pm
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Full Freezer

So I asked Papa last night at the basketball game what the "cow situation" was this year. We were given almost a "half beef" from Papa's dad because he either gets a full or a half and now that Grandma S. passed away he uses even less of it than before. "Ooh, yeah, it's ready," Papa said when I asked.

So Friday I have to go pick up another half of a cow. To put it in perspective, we have to bring laundry baskets to pick the frozen, wrapped meat up, and it takes three or four over-the-top full baskets to move it all from the butcher to the car.

And Marc just called.

He got us a doe tonight. Oh boy.

I don't know where we're going to fit all of this. I joked with Papa last night at the game that if Marc got us a doe that we'd have more meat than we have places to put it. He agreed that that's a pretty good problem to have.

Beef at the store is outrageously expensive anymore, and we can't get beef much cheaper than cows from the farm (we pay for the butchering of the beef, plus the market price for the cow itself--well, or half of that, plus our share of whatever costs were incurred by the farm to feed the cows, etc.). And it's going to cost me about $100 for what Marc is guessing to be about 100 pounds of venison, and that's cheap. We're getting some roasts, some steaks, a bunch of deer-burger, and five pounds (I think) of italian sausage links.

I still have 50 pounds of catfish out in the freezer in the garage as well. This could take some doing to get this all to fit.

Now once we get some room I need to go buy some chickens from the U. of I. poultry farm and meat science building and we'll be good for meat for at least the next year.

I'm excited to try the venison steaks. I'll feel just like Sarah Palin.

SPEAKING OF WHICH (have I mentioned this?) one of my good, good, great pals from my "bar days" is coming down this weekend! T.K. is flying into O'Hare on Friday and then he and his brothers are driving down to spend the night and attend the UI/Ohio State game on Saturday. Jeff and I are meeting them out for a night of beers and burritos once they arrive in town on Friday. T.K. was a bartender at Cochrane's when I was a doorman there, and he's actually the one that first started calling me "Griffey." He is now an orthopedic surgeon and runs the "Alaska Bone and Joint Institute" in Anchorage. Pretty cool!

He almost got me killed in a car accident once (well, almost got us both killed, I guess). What an experience.

Ah, college. One time... Eh, that shouldn't be shared publicly, even to the few people that read this (and yes, redhead, it's a story I've shared with you and isn't that big of a deal...).

Saturday I'm actually also going to the football game with Alex and his best friend Lucas and Lucas' dad (and my friend) Tony. I don't know how much tailgating we'll do beforehand because the game is an 11:00 a.m. start. We're going to get blown away by Ohio State, but it should be fun nonetheless.

Tomorrow it is supposed to get up to about 60 so I might unhook the back part of the broken thermostat (that we've been using to short the red and white wires to get the furnace to turn on) and take the whole thing back to Menard's. The sensible person in me guesses it is just defective and I should replace it with the same thing and everything will be fine. The pessimist (realist?) thinks I should get a tried-and-true round manual thermostat that I know will work rather than bring home another programmable thermostat and having to again screw with linking wires together to keep us warm.

I need to clean out the inside freezer tomorrow and do my best to organize the one outside to make room for the MEAT.

Posted: Thursday, November 13, 2008, 3:54 am
Mood: Great! | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Our Future Educators

Now I don't know what's funnier--the irony of what is written on this sheet posted in the College of Education on campus, or the fact that it has been up for over a month (and I finally walked by it and had something with which to take a picture..).

And yes, I'm pretty durn good with Photoshop, but I promise I haven't modified this image whatsoever.

I wonder if the name is spelled this way for real on Facebook...

Posted: Thursday, November 13, 2008, 12:13 am
Mood: Amused | 4 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Basketball Has Begun

Well we had our second round of junior high basketball last night, and will endure round three this evening. While the seventh-graders now have enough kids eligible, the eighth-graders do not, so the seventh-grade kids each play exactly two quarters of their game, and then stay dressed and play part of the second game to augment the three kids eligible in eighth grade. So we get to sit through twice as much basketball.

I must say that the kids are getting a lot better. The kids defeated Atwood last week but got thumped last night (both 7th and 8th) by Tuscola. At least the kids on their team didn't act like punks this year and we don't have to deal with the obnoxious coach from last year either.

Tonight we play at home against Arcola. I believe that our kids beat them pretty handily last year at their place. That was the game where Alex scored in the lane and later was fouled and made both of his free throws. It should be fun tonight.

In other news... We found out today that the father of a set of triplets that the redhead used to babysit for has died at the age of 45. Those kids are nine years old now. How awful. He was perfectly healthy--didn't drink or smoke and was in good shape. How bizarre.

Well it looks like our two-week long bout of autumn has ended and we have charged head first into winter. Fabulous.

And I need to take that stupid thermostat back so we can heat the house normally and not by shorting the white and red wires like we have been. Sheesh.

Posted: Tuesday, November 11, 2008, 10:26 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Nerd!

Oh my goodness.

You know you're a nerd, when you read the first paragraph of this Wikipedia entry and laugh out loud (while watching a football game, no less) and say aloud "Now that's funny!"

Then one realizes just what a dork they really are. (But it is really funny--nine nine nine nine nine nine, and so on...). The fact that I was even intently readying a page about Pi to begin with probably says something.

Anyway.

We got to watch not one but two junior high basketball games tonight. The seventh-graders actually have eight kids who are now eligible but the eighth-graders still only have three kids so Alex got to dress and play in both games. Alas, both were losses. I will say I enjoy this level of basketball even better than when they were the 5th/6th level the last two years.

Posted: Tuesday, November 11, 2008, 3:36 am
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Way Grouchy

I'm really grouchy right now.

I guess I'll keep the details to myself.

Normally I wouldn't even blog. Enjoy day 9.

Alex and I raked and burned a ton of leaves today. That was cool, at least.

Grrr....

Posted: Monday, November 10, 2008, 1:54 am
Mood: Way Grouchy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


I Love This Country!

I had some fun with the new thermostat last night. I don't know what's wrong, exactly, but I'm going to have to take it back to the store. I wired it correctly (I can short the furnace/power connectors manually and get the furnace to turn on). But the electronic thermostat apparently isn't doing what it is supposed to do when the temperature gets to a certain point. I'm not driving to Champaign today or tomorrow just to get that replaced, so we're stuck using the small wire to turn the furnace on and off.

At least we can get the heat to turn on. Hopefully the redhead won't get too irritated about the situation.

So I'll reiterate that I really enjoy living out in the boonies sometimes. Marc finally got a deer last night.

He's going to shoot another one for us so we'll be stocked with venison in addition to all of the beef--the freezer is about 80% full right now and we're getting another half-cow probably next month.

Another great thing about country living is not having to use those silly landscape-recycling bags (I think people in C-U have to even buy a sticker for each bag they want picked up--they even tax leaves.

Not down here.

Alex and I spent three or four hours this morning doing the main part of the front yard. Of course, it is already covered again (that's the problem with raking and burning while there are still leaves on trees. Oh well. Maybe I'll do the north side of the house tomorrow and hopefully Pete can do the front again (I did part of his yard today--rather than stop at the property line, either of us just go all the way to the other person's house--may as well...).

Tonight Em is having four of her friends stay the night so the male life forms are flying the coop. Alex (and his pal Lucas, for whatever reason) are going and staying the night at Aunt Molly's house. I'm going to go to Lucas' parents' house and hang out with Tony, now that they've finally gotten rid of their old ailing kitty (I'm highly allergic). In fact, I should probably wrap this up and go to the store and get beer.

My back is killing me. I'm getting to old for this leaf-raking business.

Posted: Saturday, November 08, 2008, 10:28 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Variety Show

I love living in a small town.

I even love living in a small town that is a "suburb" of what I would consider another sort of small town. Wait--you're going to go to "the city?" You're going to drive to Chicago? Oh, Champaign. Sorry--I was confused.... Champaign is a "city," but "going to the city" always meant Chicago when I was a kid.

And, you know, I was technically incorrect up top--Villa Grove is very much a "city" as well. Having 2,500 people or more (which we barely do) and having a government that consists of an elected city council as well as a mayor (as opposed to a "president" for a village) that only votes in "tie" situations makes Villa Grove just as much of a city as Chicago, as far as the definition goes, as far as the state of Illinois is concerned.

ANYWAY.

The redhead and I just got back from the variety show at the school. Em and her best friend performed a dance routine that they came up with on their own. What fun! It's of course fun watching all the other kids as well, especially the kids of people we're friends with. Of course, we don't appreciate it all that much that we won't sneak out at intermission and go home... :O

I installed our new programmable thermostat today. Quite cool. No more accidental running-of-the-heat all day long while nobody is here.

I'm turning into Al Gore! Oh, wait. I'm wasn't born to a rich, privileged family and don't live in a house that uses $10,000 a month in power (oh, wait, only $9,000 now that the paid staff turns off the lights when not in use to conserve energy...).

Yikes! Did Obama get elected (yes I did!) and now I'm turning back into a horrific war-mongering, energy-wasting Republican?

Not really. Still trying to find out if I can make viable solar panels for the back of the pool house. And I'm toying with the idea of buying a used VW diesel Jetta and doing the used corn oil for fuel thing. There aren't lots of places around here that have lots of used corn oil (and the ones that do I'm sure don't replace it as often as, ahem, they should) but I bet I could corner the market. Maybe throw in a free web page or something? Pipe dream, maybe, but why not? I'm pretty sure once you modify a diesel auto to do the corn oil thing it will still work with diesel as well.... And while diesel is still expensive (hey--gas went below $2.00 today in VG!!!), you get like 50 mpg unlike the 20 or so I get with the Aurora. We'll see. I think we have a while to go. The Aurora still seems to have plenty of life in it.

I'm excited, though, because I'm going to hit 150,000 in the next round trip to C-U. Poor GM is a little too late, though, methinks. I don't know.

Grad school==still good (and fun!).

Kids==still behaving (for now).

Job==still funded (I'm relaxed).

No more dog bills.

Batten down the hatches.

And now my night is ruined. The furnace won't turn on. Grr....

Posted: Saturday, November 08, 2008, 3:01 am
Mood: Tickled | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Increased Productivity

Last semester I was working so hard to finish up school (and I spent the summer recovering) that I sort of put my "home maintenance and improvement director" job (one of my many titles) on hold. Well my gumption has finally kicked back in something fierce.

A few years ago I chronicled the installation of a new microwave that better matched our "off-white/bisque" kitchen appliances. The stupid frame on the front of it broke and I had to take it apart and replace it with a new front door part (for like $70). And the color didn't even match correctly. Well several weeks ago that microwave died. The redhead was heating something up and all of a sudden the thing started roaring twice as loud as normal, and, well, stopped the whole bit with the teeny-tiny radio waves. Fabulous. I assume the magnatron (another $75) is broken, but I sent a message to the "experts" at repair-clinic.com and their reply was that it is possible that it is the magnatron, but it could really be any of the various capacitors and relays along the way and there's a not-bad chance that I could replace the magnatron and the thing still wouldn't work.

Fantastic.

Well, our eventual intention is to get away from the bisque kitchen and go with stainless steel. When that decision was made we hadn't intended that the first replacement wouldn't be the microwave (we were hoping to replace the stove first, and I was keeping a contingency plan in place in case the dishwasher, which is also not that old, gave up on us sooner than we could afford a new stove). Well, everyone sort of adjusted to not having a microwave. Okay, not really, but I pretended that they did. What the heck did people do 20 years ago before these things became prevalent in everyone's homes? So earlier this week I finally broke down and went to Menard's and got a new microwave. It's not exactly "stainless steel"--it's more like "stainless steel look" or something. Either way, I installed it last night and everyone seems happy that we're no longer living in the 1960s.

One of the other things we had been planning on was to get new "pulls" for our cabinets. My in-laws bought these ceramic off-white pulls with pink flowers on them (that matched a wallpaper border, sort of, that has long since been removed). Well, we've been looking at and pricing stainless steel ("nickel-plated") cabinet pulls for a while. While I was saving big money at Menard's I figured that I'd get those as well. Here's the old pulls:

Of course, I saved them all because I'm sure they were expensive and I don't want to get "in trouble" from the in-laws for throwing them away. Sigh. Well, we really love the way the new ones look.

I bought enough so that we could do the drawers as well (which haven't had any sort of hardware on them since the cabinets were installed 10 or so years ago). I'm going to have some work with a cup of stain/polyurethane and a q-tip to fix all the fingernail scuffs both around where the pulls are and along the sides of each of the drawers.

Did I mention that I built the redhead a bookshelf for her birthday? I took a picture of it but must not have posted it. I still have to sand and stain it, but I'm pleased with the results. The new saw made it really easy to do mortises and tenons--or maybe what I did was a lap joint. I'm more confused now that I've bounced around Wikipedia for a minute. At any rate, I didn't just nail boards together--I used some sort of joint thing. This thing is sturdy. It's not very big, however, and the redhead reads a lot of books, so I'm guessing it will fill up fast. Just another excuse to build another one, I guess.

One of the other things I've been doing lately is replacing regular light bulbs throughout the house with those compact fluorescent bulbs. It's a little Al Gore, but mostly I did it because we have a few bulbs in the house that seem to burn out rather frequently (for example, the bulbs in my daughter's ceiling fan that must get slightly rattled enough that their elements break quickly) and I was looking forward to the "lasts twelve times longer than a regular bulb" part. They sell the regular bright-as-a-60-watt-regular-bulb ones at Dollar General, so I've typically been picking a few up every time I'm in there getting toilet paper, toothpaste, and whatever else it is I get from DG.

A while back I replaced one of the can spotlight bulbs in the kitchen with a compact fluorescent version. They are more expensive than the "regular" ones, and aren't sold at the dollar store. A while back I got one from Menard's because I figured I'd see how noticeable the dimly warming up part was before replacing all of them. Well the other day I bought the rest of them so that I could make all of them the compact fluorescent kind. On the packages for these things they always say how much money you'll save a year and I've always sort of rolled my eyes at that. Bulbs can't possibly use that much electricity, I've thought, compared to running the stove, or air conditioning or whatever.

But then I did some thinking. We have eight can lights in the kitchen and each of those floodlamp-type bulbs is 65 watts. Thats 520 watts if my math is correct. So every time the kitchen lights are on it's drawing 520 watts? The microwave is 1,000. What's a hair dryer? Okay, a lot more than 1,000, but still. 520 watts is a lot. The new bulbs are 15 watts, for a total of 120 watts. So supposing the lights are on for an hour at a time, I'm saving the equivalent of running the microwave for like 20-25 minutes constantly. That seems like a good amount of power. We'll see what the power bill has to say in a month or so. Go me!

Let's see. What else?

How about an obligatory picture of the dog, sans hardware?

Dang puppy...

Posted: Thursday, November 06, 2008, 5:20 pm
Mood: Happy | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


I Said All Back Full!

All right, Ryan, we just unzipped our fly.

While a lot of me supported, and supports, Barack Obama because I think he has some good ideas, and I'm tired of 90-year old men running the country, and I think he'll mend our relationships with our allies, there's a flavor of challenge, or even spite, mixed in.

After spending the last eight years listening to people call Bush everything in the book, and giving him stupid names (which is really mature), and writing on bathroom walls about him (a professor does this, no less), and making stuff up about how the Supreme Court "gave" him the election 8 years ago (I actually had a talk in the car with the geerow last night and explained how and why that stupid statement is made by so many), there is a part of me that thinks "if all the Democrats know so much, fine, let them take the wheel."

I know this isn't a ship that can be turned around in a matter of minutes (hey, that brings another HfRO quote to mind--"a boat this big doesn't exactly stop on a dime..."). But they have a huge majority in the House, a huge majority in the Senate, and a President-elect that I can easily see getting re-elected in four years. No excuses.

I don't expect a war to end tomorrow (yeesh, and if it did, I'd be a little worried--we can't get out that quickly...). I don't expect the economy to be turned around after the first congressional session.

But if we're at where we are another eight years from now, I don't want to hear a word out of anyone when I throw my support behind Jenna Bush. And I'm really only a little bit kidding.

Okay, Mr. Obama. You convinced me. But now it's time to show me, not tell me.

"Have I got this straight, Jonesy? A $40 million computer tells you you're chasing an earthquake, but you don't believe it, and you come up with this on your own?"

Mr. Bush, you're relieved.

Heh, and so am I. :)

Posted: Wednesday, November 05, 2008, 9:06 pm
Mood: Curious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Woo Hoo!

Fantastic!

That's all I can say. What a great day for the United States.

For the first time in many elections, in my very, very humble opinion, we voters weren't split into camps figuring out who the lesser of all evils were. And we can argue lesser of all evils for the past four presidential terms until we're blue in the face.

Finally we get a choice between, what I'd consider, a great candidate and a not-bad (maybe pretty good) candidate. I didn't vote the way I did because I disliked the other candidate (as much as I poked fun at the ignoramuses of the world who appear on both sides of any of these elections).

Our small county in East Central Illinois? We got thumped. Like 70% for McCain. It was expected. But I voted today and I'm still wearing my sticker and I'm as proud as I always am on election day that I did my duty.

Our local elections went okay. Our Democratic senator, DIck Durbin won (unfortunately), but that was totally expected. Tim Johnson (R) won. He's a jerk, personally (I could go on and on) but he does well by Villa Grove, so I put aside my irritation with his personal attitude and still vote for him (which should be how it works anyway, eh?).

We smartly voted not to hold a state Constitutional Convention, which is a good thing. It will cost $80 million dollars to do it and, really, Blago is going to go to jail before any of this would happen anyway (hopefully).

Bill Black won. It's too bad Frank Calabrese lost against that awful Naomi Jacobbson. She's cheery and friendly, but she's WAY too liberal for me.

Okay, I'm going back to watching returns....

Posted: Wednesday, November 05, 2008, 4:15 am
Mood: Ecstatic! | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Not Yet

So I went to bed, slept well, and woke up bright and early all ready to go "Barack the Vote."

Yeah, and it's only 3:30 in the morning.

Sigh.

A pool on CBS' early, early, early morning news program is still showing almost a 10 point lead for Obama. I sure hope that they're right. I'm not sure our country can afford another one of those down-to-the-wire election day races no matter who wins.

So, on a different note, CBS typically has been the "third" of the three major networks in many areas. I realize that Dan Rather is retired (after "making up" news), but they tend to be a news organization filled with grouchy-looking old men. Oh wait, and sorry--Katie Couric, who would maybe be taken more seriously if she could pronounce words ending in "ing" and not saying, for example, ending as "end-een."

Well I watch a lot of early-morning can't-sleep news. Mostly Sportscenter, but often times CBS News "Up to the Minute." Why isn't this Meg Oliver person on prime time news? And not just because she's cute (which she is). She speaks well. She seems to know what she's talking about. Maybe if CBS would shed it's "old guy" image they would quit languishing in "third place."

I sure hope today goes as we think it will. Okay, I'm going to try to go back to bed for a couple of hours.

Posted: Tuesday, November 04, 2008, 10:03 am
Mood: Excited | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Gun-toting, mouth-breathing, knuckle-draggers...

I'm not allowed to claim that term as my own, as it was coined, maybe, by the redhead.

You know, I'm a Republican. I voted for Bush the last two elections. I'm going to vote against Dick Durbin, our senior U.S. Senator from Illinois, even though I can't tell you who the guy is who is running against him, and even though I know that Durbin will win, just because I would rather an Illinois Republican be in office than Durbin. Our Governor is a Democrat. He might hopefully be going to jail soon. Emil Jones--crook. All the Madigans--crooks.

I like the money I earn. I don't want it to be taken from me for social programs that don't work. And we used to get help from a social program back in the day.

But I can't wait to go to bed and get up tomorrow and go vote for Barack Obama.

And he'll win Illinois easily because of Chicago. But I still am excited to go vote (most of our other local elections are people running unopposed).

I won't start in on the Democrat mantra. McCain graduated near the bottom of his class at the military academy. Crashed bunches of planes before being shot down and getting captured. Left his wife when she was having medical problems. He's like 112 years old!

Okay, now I do sound like a Bush-hating Democrat. But seriously.

McCain is older than my dad. Barack is only a few years (yikes!) older than me.

I have always professed that I think that having a minimum age is a problem--our electoral system should have a maximum age. If only we could get the 20-somethings to go vote for it.

Yikes. This wasn't the point of this post. I'm only hiding down here in the Nerdrium because I was helping Em with math and she didn't, er, "appreciate" my help. (How anyone could NOT appreciate MY help with math is completely beyond me, but still....).

So I took pictures yesterday and was going to use them as to make a post today.

Jeff and I golfed yesterday afternoon. The weather was gorgeous. The course looked great. We played nine holes then sat in the clubhouse and drank beer and watched the fourth quarter of the Bears game (speaking of "yikes"...). What a hoot. What fun to belong to a "club" right down the street. Here's Jeff hitting a nice wedge up onto the seventh green:

The weather here has been gorgeous.

The folks at work told me today that the least of their goals is to keep me funded until I finish graduate school and that they know that I'll fly the coop at that point no matter what. How cool is that? (And grad school will be a few years...).

I'm in a good mood. I'm optimistic. I think things will go well tomorrow.

We have junior high basketball to go to tomorrow, so we won't be following election results all night. Maybe I'll bring my laptop to the (away) game.

Only 27 NaBloPoMo days to go... I think?

Posted: Tuesday, November 04, 2008, 3:49 am
Mood: Fantastic | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Day Two

Yeah, I can't see that this is going to work. It's only day two and the only reason I'm blogging right now (in front of Amazing Race) is because I have to make another post for my Linux class, and that has to be done today.

But for what it's worth, this still counts as a post.

So we'll deal with that and make a meaningful post tomorrow.

Sorry, fussy.

Posted: Monday, November 03, 2008, 1:39 am
Mood: Happy | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Long November

Well NaBloPoMo starts today. I don't know that I can possibly go every day of the month (I think I did last year but failed in my first attempt two years ago).

After all, I only posted 8 times in October, and I actually really had stuff to talk about.

But I thought about NaBloPoMo this morning, so I may as well post today and then maybe tomorrow we can decide if we're going to really do this again (and really, not that there's really much of a point to it, I guess).

Well, twelve weeks and $3,500 later, the dog is finally (theoretically) fixed. He's on a new set of antibiotics and the infection really looks much better now that the hardware has been completely removed. No more bandage changes--yay!

There has been great football on television today. The end of the Northwestern-Minnesota game was fantastic, and I loved the hook-and-ladder than Purdue ran to beat Michigan. I would have like Wisconsin to have beaten MSU, but it was sort of fun watching the Spartans come from way behind to kick a last minute field goal (I think Bielema shouldn't have called that time-out when MSU was scrambling to get the field goal team on the field while the clock was running--I bet they would have been better off to let the kid kick while harried rather than stopping the clock... But what do I know?).

Well the geerow just got home from the Villa Grove High School football team's first-round playoff game. VG won 41-14 (she's not totally sure of the score). Good for them. Then finished the regular season 9-0. My views on small town football have been made clear multiple times, but I will say that it is fun for the kids involved and the students at the school, and after years of living in the shadow of hated Tuscola, this year has been neat for the team and fans.

Yesterday was the redhead's birthday. We went to the country club after we got home and stayed, well, maybe longer than planned. But we had fun and I think I've found another "can you make a web site for me?" client. If only I were better about charging people money.

Only a few more days until the election. Thank goodness.

School is going well. My upper GI came back as "normal" (which pisses me off because then it makes me feel like I'm making something up). Unbeknownst to everyone else in the house, but knowst to me, I stopped taking St. John's Wort over a month ago. And I never did make that appointment to get put on a real drug for my mood and stuff. And I think the last month has been great--my head has been clear and I haven't had any urge to continually argue with anyone. I wonder if the redhead thinks my mood has been different.

Oh, my dad came down Thursday and brought me his table saw. Well, I should clarify. It's not a "table saw," it's actually a much, much, much cooler "radial arm saw." I've already built a small bookshelf for the redhead for her birthday (I got her a bunch of books that she wanted as well). Pretty cool. I have to sand it and stain and varnish it, of course. Maybe next weekend.

Well this blathering has gone on long enough. I didn't realize I had this many updates. I should leave some for tomorrow...

Posted: Saturday, November 01, 2008, 9:12 pm
Mood: Okay Pending Illini Outcome | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


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