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Archived Entries from October 2005

Temporal Distortions

Oh aren't the SpikeTV producers funny....

I couldn't sleep, of course, so I came downstairs and turned on the tube and started flipping channels and was delighted to come across a Star Trek: Next Generation episode. It was the one where they were in the repeating loop and everyone kept having deja vu and they finally got out of the loop by getting Data to send himself a "message in a bottle," so to speak. Anyway, they break out of the loop, and live to explore another day.

I turned off the television, grabbed my cup of water, and got ready to head back upstairs. As I looked at the clock on the microwave it occurred to me that daylight savings ended at 2:00 a.m., so it really isn't 4:00 in the morning, it's 3:00 in the morning. The same time it was an hour ago when I woke up.

Pretty clever, pretty clever.

Posted: Sunday, October 30, 2005, 9:07 am
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Birthday Dinner

Whew. What a busy day. The redhead had to go take a test for a job that she has applied for that she still isn't sure she wants if it is offered, but took the test just the same. So, I played house-husband and made breakfast for the kids (and yes, that was after I walked to the store for eggs and O.J.), folded about 6 loads of laundry (and put them away!), emptied, filled, ran, and emptied (again) the dishwasher, then raked the front yard and mowed the front lawn for hopefully the last time of the year.

I'm actually becoming rather proficient with a leaf blower. We've had it for several years, but I never used it much because it seemed to just take a mess and make a different mess. I think I have the hang of it now, and it works quite well.

Anyway, I burned a bunch of leaves and then quickly mowed the front yard (so that when the rest of the big maple tree loses its leaves it will be easier to deal with them because the grass won't be long...).

Our daughter spent a few hours with Papa and Grandma. Our son had a birthday party to go to from 5:00 to 6:30 so we took the opportunity for the two of us to sneak out and have dinner at Tuscany, an Italian place in a nearby town. We had a bottle of Chianti and while I didn't order very well my salad was good and their breadsticks (as always) were awesome--dipped in their mix of parmesan cheese and oil...

The timing was perfect, and we made it back to pick Al up at the party and then retrieve Em from the in-laws. Oh, and before getting the kids we stopped and got more wine at the grocery store.... This Chianti is good stuff!

Tomorrow I need to actually get some technical work done--I have a bunch of typesetting that I should at least make an attempt at doing, and I really, really, really need to get caught back up in my class....

Posted: Sunday, October 30, 2005, 12:13 am
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Fitting End to the Week

Yesterday morning I came down to the Nerdrium and noticed that my G4 wasn't on. Hmm. The other two computers were, and I wouldn't expect either of them to just reboot if the power had gone off. The kids might have rebooted the Windows machine but surely not the Linux box. So I shrug and power up the G4. The screen turns gray, but the Apple logo is missing.

Interesting. I give it a few minutes and shut its power off and try again. As expected, same thing. Maybe there was a slight surge and there's an electrical buildup of some sort. So I unplug the power strip, go make the kids breakfast, and come back down for another try before having to leave for work. Still no luck.

Then I get nervous. I haven't backed up my freelancing work on a regular basis, and certainly hadn't done it in a week or so. What's the point of three internal drives (and two other computers!) if I'm not doing more automated backups? Oh boy.

So I boot from a Shaguar CD (the closest system CD I could find in my panic) and started the install process just to see. When I got to "select a volume" there were no volumes to choose from. And the blood pressure rises.

I unplugged the hard drive in the zip drive bay, that was a slave to the CD drive on the secondary IDE channel. Then I unplugged the 60 gig drive that is slave on the primary IDE channel (the 60 gig drive used to be in the Windows machine before I rebuilt it with a motherboard that supported SATA) and removed the jumper from the master drive on the IDE channel. I knew that if this didn't work I could be in trouble.

Fortunately, it booted up. Phew.

I quickly burned a couple of CDs with all of the latest work I had done, and then ran off to take the kids to school.

As it turns out the problem (my best guess) lies with the 60 gig drive that used to be in the old Windows machine. I hooked the secondary IDE channel slave drive and everything still worked. As soon as I jumpered the primary master and added the primary slave it stopped working again. The fear at this point is that I had a bad IDE controller (which would be a bad thing...) but I looked around and grabbed a 20 gig drive and installed it as slave and the machine booted (and booted from the 20 gig drive, which had been in a B&W G3--not sure how that makes any sense...).

Rebooted with the option key held down and got it to boot from where it was supposed to, erased the 20 gig drive, and now we're back in business. Thank goodness. 40 fewer gigs, but I guess I'll have to live with that. Fortunately the 60 gig drive only contained backup information and no crucial data.

But this just as easily could have happened to the main drive in the machine. Needless to say, the shell scripts and cronjobs will be on the agenda for tomorrow.

After the week I've had it only figures that I'd end up losing a hard drive at home to top things off. Oh well. Thank goodness the weekend is here.

Posted: Saturday, October 29, 2005, 8:39 am
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Oh The Horror...

I stayed up a bit later than I should have last night watching a baseball game (yeah, that's right--the Chicago White Sox are the World Champions!).

Needless to say, I was running a bit behind this morning. I managed to get the kids lunches made, and get them fed and off to school, but didn't manage during all of that to get myself ready for work. No big deal--my bosses are cool. So I dropped the kids off at school and went back home.

I get out of the shower and walked out into our bedroom to grab my clean underwear off the bed and suddenly I hear "Mike?"

Oh my goodness. I didn't realize that Nettie (the cleaning lady) came in the morning.

Fortunately, for her sake I guess, she was downstairs and had heard the shower running. Thank goodness that I hadn't needed to go down there to get underwear, because I would probably have gone bounding down the stairs in my birthday suit and not thought a thing about it (sorry for that imagery...).

What a nice way to start the morning. Sheesh.

Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2005, 3:56 pm
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I ate lunch by myself today. I was swamped this morning and knew that I wouldn't make it out of here at a normal time. And I was right--I left for lunch at around 1:30 p.m. And I was starving.

So I had a gyro and red the newspaper at Zorba's, which was already slowing down from its Tuesday lunch rush (the special is $1 off gyros). Afterwards I took a slight detour on my way back to the office to see if a new bar on campus was open for business yet (not because I wanted to go in and drink--I was just curious).

The bar in question, called "Firehaus," is owned by the family that used to own the two bars that I ran, back in my "bar days." So being a gnosy gnu, I thought I'd stroll that way on my way back to the office.

And lo and behold, right as I was walking by my old pal and boss Cope was walking out the door. And as expected, he was wearing a White Sox jersey. He didn't see me right away but I managed to get his attention and we stood there and chatted for a while.

I guess there's really not much point to this story, but it was neat to talk with him. I suppose I could always just pick up a phone. Oh well.

We're now in the reviewer phase for my electronic grant project thing at work. Almost finished for the year.... Phew.

I finished up one of my two consulting projects last night. Now it's back to work on the first (less important) one. I wonder if I'll be able to sucker the redhead into walking with me tonight...

Posted: Tuesday, October 25, 2005, 7:31 pm
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Cannot Link Text Boxes Across Master Pages

That was what the stupid error said last night. Apparently it happens to just about every human on the planet that uses QuarkXPress 6.5.

And apparently I should have stayed with 6.1. Groan.

I've been seriously considering quitting the freelance gig for quite some time. I'm going to attempt to re-typeset Chapter 4 when I get home this evening, and start using "auto-backup" instead of autosave. And if I lose another evening's worth of work, the bell may as well start tolling.

I guess I wasn't surprised when I found gobs of people experiencing the same crash/corruption that I did last night. Quark really is an inferior piece of software, and has been for several versions.

Software is supposed to make difficult tasks easier, not the other way around. Oh well.

Maybe I can talk my client into becoming an InDesign shop...

Posted: Monday, October 24, 2005, 5:46 pm
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I Quit

I have spent over 2 hours working on a book chapter.

Quark, which was being a whiny (fill in the blank) about importing a Word file, only imported the first 90% or so of the file.

I took the last 10% I needed, saved it to a new Word file.

Then I created a new text box and imported what I needed into that text box.

Then I saved. Fine.

What I was importing were figure captions.

Then somewhere in here I created new figure box and text box, imported a figure, then cut-and-pasted the caption for it.

And then all hell broke loose. That's when I got the first message about not pasting or copying or linking or something from a master page.

Yes, I know all about master pages. No I wasn't messing with them.

And Quark now quits any time I try to open that file.

Two hours. I want my two hours back.

I think I'm done for the evening.

Posted: Monday, October 24, 2005, 2:33 am
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I'm trying very hard to be patient.

Quark is being very, very difficult.

Now it is giving me some error about not being able to paste text from a master page to a--I don't even understand what it is griping about.

And remember, this is a program I've been using for like ten years. Grrr....

Okay. I've quit and restarted. We'll try this again. This is exhausting....

Posted: Monday, October 24, 2005, 2:19 am
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Quark Woes

I mean, really. I guess I didn't realize there was an updater from 6.1 to 6.5, but every other OS X application I have (well, the ones that are expensive) ask me to update themselves.

I've now had 4 accidental "quits" in the past 15 minutes. I've even rebooted in between a few of them, just to make sure something the system was doing wasn't the problem (and it shouldn't be and it wasn't....).

"The Application QuarkXPress has unexpectedly quit...."

While I think Acrobat's baloney error writing to console.log is silly, quitting all the time is an actual problem.

Thank goodness for a cablemodem--the update is 154 megs. Thanks. Quark. Sheesh.

And my system has lagged big time this afternoon. I should get a new machine if I'm going to continue doing all of this freelancing business.

But if Jobs is convinced that he needs to go to Intel, I want to wait for that point, and not switch now.

It's too bad they won't switch to AMD 64...

Anyway. Hopefully this silly update will make things more stable. I'm almost afraid to install it--I bet it wants a password that it won't accept and I'll have to e-mail someone in China. Groan.

Posted: Monday, October 24, 2005, 1:46 am
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Well, it's 1:30 and I'm running out of things to do to keep me from having to do my work. I already sucked up and burned all of the leaves that were in the back yard. I made breakfast and lunch and helped clean up the kitchen. All of the laundry is folded.

I guess I have to get to work.

I think we'll watch Episodes I and II today during the proceedings...

Posted: Sunday, October 23, 2005, 6:38 pm
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Hunker Down

Well today I have to get some typesetting done. I'm sounding like a broken record.

I got my new brakes installed yesterday--quite nice. No more grinding. My car stops better as well. Who knew?

I'll be anxious to see if there is more fluid under the redhead's car today. I'm hoping that the small amount of antifreeze was just the overflow tank overflowing a slight bit--her car has a V8 and it can get awfully hot, especially if it spends a long time running and not moving (like waiting on a train...). I need to change her oil as well.

Poor Illinois. Our football team got creamed last night. It was completely expected, but I still feel bad. The local newspaper is going to rake them through the coals, and I think that is so unfair. They are kids for crying out loud. Blame the coach, if you want, but not the players. And as far as the coach, it's his first year. Lighten up and give them a break.

The White Sox won game one, at least.

My daughter looks adorable in her new glasses. We're guessing that they'll be broken within two weeks. Dang kids.

I got up this morning and had something to eat, and I should take the opportunity of a quiet house to start to get to work, but I'm sure it is sooo much warmer back in bed, so I think I'm going to catch a few more zzzzs....

Posted: Sunday, October 23, 2005, 12:14 pm
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My Wife Rocks

So it appears that my daughter is going to have to get glasses--at least she's excited about it, which will make this process a whole lot easier.

I'm just thrilled that my wife was happy to take the two of them today--she has the patience of a saint. AND she called and said she'd pick up my brake pads on the way home. How cool is that? I just went for a 50-minute walk around the neighborhood. I go see the doctor again on November 10th so that weight that I re-acquired needs to be gone by then. Or most of it anyway.

The kitchen is cleaned up and I made our bed and picked up our room so I'm going to get started on folding some laundry. I just got to use the fancy schmancy new vacuum cleaner on the living room floor. It worked pretty well, actually.

And there's still a chance I might actually get to some typesetting today...

Posted: Saturday, October 22, 2005, 4:14 pm
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The Weekend!

I feel like I've been hit by a truck. I don't know if I've been sleeping poorly or what, but I ache all over, my neck hurts, and, well, I feel like I've taken a beating. Thank goodness it is Saturday.

The kidders and the redhead are on their way to the optometrist--she for new contacts and they for their first eye exam. Insurance is cool. Assuming the kids don't need glasses, they should get out of there after 3 exams with 4 or 5 boxes of contacts for thirty bucks.

I think I threw a break pad on the rear of my car. Groan. I already wrote the part number down and stuck it in my wife's purse so once I get dressed and pull that tire off if my suspicions are correct I'll just call her and have her pick up some pads for me on the way home. Heck, I've picked up pads for her often enough (gosh I'm funny....).

My goal for the weekend is to do 10 hours of freelancing today and 10 tomorrow but I doubt that is going to happen. If I can do 10 total I think that will be a good effort. Drat. I keep forgetting that I need to get caught up in my class as well. Oh well.

Okay, I need to get the dishes cleaned up from kitchen and get that tire off before the family heads back down from Champaign.

Posted: Saturday, October 22, 2005, 2:19 pm
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T-minus 8 minutes....

At 5:00 o'clock my grant submission software turns back into a pumpkin (or the server turns into a pumpkin, or I turn into one, or something). Woo hoo!

One of the branches of the real estate outfit that the redhead works for is having an "office crawl" this afternoon. They are having margaritas, and wine, and beer, and martinis, and I think food as well.

And in 8, I mean 7--oop, now it's 6 minutes I'm headed over there to join her.

A little over 300 seconds to go...

I'm so ready for the weekend....

Posted: Friday, October 21, 2005, 9:55 pm
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Friday Fiasco

Today is going to be simply awful at work. I probably shouldn't get into the details too much, but let's suffice it to say that I wish people wouldn't wait unti the last minute to take care of something important and then expect help from me when they are having problems. Oh well.

If I can just make it until 5:00...

Posted: Friday, October 21, 2005, 2:39 pm
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Almost There...

Well the end of the Thursday workday is a few minutes away. One more day to go and then the weekend. And hopefully I'll get all sorts of caught up with school and freelancing and everything. Thank goodness the weather will be crummy so I won't have much desire to be lollygagging around in the yard instead of working.

I think tomorrow is going to be a pretty awful day at work. Only about 20% of the people submitting proposals have finished up, and tomorrow is the deadline.

I should unplug the phone as soon as I get into the office. I wish I could just unplug my phone. Oh, and not open e-mail either.

Oh well. It's only one day.

The redhead is applying for a higher-up job at the company she works for, and her boss (who is one of the bigger big-wigs) told her that he thought she'd be a perfect fit and that she should list him as her first reference. That sure sounds promising to me.

Maybe she'll get a three dollar an hour increase in pay and I can get my Lexus....

Speaking of that Lexus, the budget thing is going perfectly. I have a dollar left in my pocket but I think I'm going to bring my lunch tomorrow so that will work out. And the redhead hasn't spent any of her money--well, she sent $20 with the kids for pictures, but hasn't spent anything other than that. How bizarre--it's a week after payday, and a week before her next payday, and we're neither broke nor overdrawn. And the reason we didn't do this sooner was what again?

Okay, I think I'm going to hit the road and head home. In my Pontiac. Ho hum.

Posted: Thursday, October 20, 2005, 9:54 pm
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Hump Day

My mood is slowly improving, I think.

This morning I was driving into work and was singing along with "Hold on for One More Day" (or whatever its title is) by Wilson-Phillips. What a total dork I am. I realized before the end of the song "Hey, I'm singing along with this dorky Wilson-Phillips song..." and just burst out laughing. I hope none of the other drivers were paying attention.

The deadline for submitting proposals to our electronic grants management system at work is this Friday, so my e-mail inbox has been rather busy, and it will only get worse before the end of the day Friday. But all is (mostly) well at this point...

We're halfway through the first week on our new budget plan and it is going great. I knew this would work if we could just get to a place where we could start our new plan, and I'm glad we have.

I still haven't finished up my homework that was due Monday. I figure if I can get it done by the end of the week at least it won't be that late. Meaning, I won't be too far behind in class--the next assignment isn't due for another 10 days.

I'm looking forward to walking tonight. And then I really need to get back to work on the typesetting.

Hopefully I can get caught up with work, freelancing, and school by Saturday. And then we might go to a tailgate sponsored by the company that the redhead works for. We'll go home when the game starts of course, but the tailgate will be fun.

Last day of summer--autumn weather starts tomorrow....

Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2005, 6:05 pm
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Good Day?

Well, I got the credit card taking thingamajig put into production today. Quite anticlimactic, but oh well. At least the damn thing works. What's next?


I'm a bit worn down lately, but really don't want to whine. I've been swamped at work, have more than my share of freelancing to do, and, well, I'm at that point of the semester where I'm really, really getting sick of being back in school.

I don't need to be in school. I already have a career. Another bachelor's degree will not get me a raise in my current job, a job that I am pretty durn well quite happy with at the moment.

Yet I task myself. And I task myself to perfection. And as a father, and a full-time employee.... No, I'm stopping that train of thought.

But it would be so much easier to just quit.

My therapist thinks I'm trying to prove something. But to whom? My father? My wife? My in-laws? Myself? She wants to know. And I don't know.

I had homework due today that I didn't do. I had freelancing to do that I didn't do.

But the stress with the credit card web site thing is over with, hopefully.

I've never been in such good family and financial shape, yet I'm still crawling out of my skin.

Beluga whales.

I need to go to bed.

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2005, 4:50 am
Mood: Okay | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment

The Wagon

I've been awful the past month. I fell off the wagon well before our trip to St. Louis and either it hasn't slowed down enough for me to hop back on, or I just haven't been running fast enough.

But tonight we start again. And the budget starts tomorrow, but I think we may have to stick with $15 per day for each of us instead of $20--I've spent too much at the grocery store the past few days...

Anyway. I worked for a while yesterday but spent most of the day watching football. And what a great day of football it was!

For starters, Illinois didn't lose! (That's what a bye will do for ya'...).

Then there are the racist Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, playing at home against #1 USC. Notre Dame who breaks all the big streaks of other teams. Notre Dame who has god on their side. Notre Dame and those ugly, ugly green jerseys. Blech. I'm no fan of USC and Mr. Ballroom Dancing QB himself, but as I said to Jeff "I don't really care who wins this game as long as it isn't Notre Dame." And what a great ending--especially when the fans in South Bend rushed the field thinking the game was over, but oops--time for one more play.

The White Sox won again. Woo hoo! And almost as important, the Cardinals lost. Very, very good on the baseball front.

The Wisconsin/Minnesota game was fun to watch (didn't really care who won, but fun to see the away team down by ten and come back to win--that is why college sports are so much more fun to watch than pro sports...).

And part of me was even rooting for the nasty Wolverines during their comback attempt, at home, against Penn State. And come back they did, and again, it was on the last play of the game.

I made chili this morning. I was going to ride my bike to the store but checked the weather first and yikes! It's 40 degrees outside. I ended up driving. While at the store to get sausage for the kids' breakfast I decided that today would be a good chili day. Mmm.

Okay, it's freezing down here in the Nerdrium--I need to go put sweatpants on (I left the windows open down here last night--the computers are all very, very happy with the cold air, but it's a tad chilly for us living beings...)

Posted: Sunday, October 16, 2005, 2:15 pm
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Back to the Grind

I spent a week trying to will away this pile of typesetting to no avail. I guess I had better get back to working on it since it doesn't seem to want to typeset itself.

If only I could find a way to motivate myself. Theoretically if our new budget that starts Monday (for sure this time!) goes well, I should be able to spend the money from this pile on a couple of flat-panel monitors. I think part of my glum mood lately has been because I've been dreading all of this work. When I work hard at my "real job" it is tough to find any sort of desire to sit at a computer and do more work when I'm at home.

But somebody somewhere is going to start getting irritated if I put this stuff off too much longer. I realize that the weather is going to be perfect today, and that there is football on television, but I need to get to work.

I suppose I should stop blogging and get to it. Groan.

Posted: Saturday, October 15, 2005, 1:39 pm
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Is This Thing On?

I figured I had better try to make a post just to make sure all of this stuff still works. However, I don't have much to talk about. Okay, I do have a lot to talk about but I've been the grouch of grouches the past few days and really just don't want to get into it.

Work has sucked this week (and some weeks are like that, I know, even in Australia). I'm totally behind in my freelancing stuff. I have two assignments for school due Monday.

Anyway. I may see if I can get the blogger posts posted and then get rid of that thing altogether. Although, I may have to edit as I go along since that really was a lot more anonymous than this is.

Posted: Friday, October 14, 2005, 12:42 pm
Mood: Grouchy | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment


Well, after 18 years spent as part of the most coveted advertising demographic, alas, it is time to move on. Today is my 36th birthday.

It's only 3:00 a.m. and my first day as part of the geriatric crowd has already been eventful. One of the users of the eGrant system that I created sent me an e-mail claiming that she couldn't upload any forms to her account. Oh my goodness. What an awful, awful error on my part.

You see, I forgot part of my database join statement: "...AND users.grantUserID = proposals.grantUserID;". Holey freakin' moley. So of course rather than return a 1-liner it returns an entire result set (and yes, a 1 liner is a result set too--I'm just saying...) and the top row of the result set is my test directory account. So, of course, when I go to test things it works fine. But when people not logged in as me try to upload files, no luck.

Again, holey moley.

Fortunately it was a quick fix, even one that an old guy can make from home at 2:00 in the morning.

And today's exciting start will only continue throughout the rest of the day--after I go back to bed for a few hours I'll get up and go mow out at the farm--that'll be fun. Then I'll probably have to do consulting work the rest of the day (and tomorrow) as I've got a stack that is about a foot high. Sigh. Oh well.

Posted: Saturday, October 08, 2005, 8:06 am
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I don't know why I didn't think of this earlier. I'll install Mandriva Linux (what used to be "Mandrake Linux") on that old Dell. They'll let me use a boot floppy.

The only thing I need to see about is their whole update process. They're all about making people become a paying "club member" for services, and if that's the case, I'll probably pass. If, however, this will all work without having to become a member, I think this won't be a bad idea.

Mandrake was actually the first flavor of Linux that I played with. The only reason I do Fedora now is that it is so similar to Redhat, which I need to use for our production servers at work. But yes, Mandrake, er, Mandriva should work just fine.

Cool. Off to have lunch with the redhead!

Posted: Friday, October 07, 2005, 4:51 pm
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No More Normal Sweatpants?

Being the slob that I am, my main pant-wear around the house are cut-off sweats. I "retired" several pairs last year, which then means that I needed a few new ones for this summer. Well, that meant cutting off the buttoms of some of the sweatpants in that collection of clothing. And now fall, I mean just about winter, is here, and we only have a pair or two of unaltered sweatpants.

No worries--I'll just head to campus and get three or four pairs of Illinois sweatpants in various colors and we'll be set for the season.

The redhead, upon finding out about my mission, asked if I'd get her another pair of the kid of sweatpants that she likes--the kind with no elastic in the bottom of them. No problem, I tell her.

Well, there is a problem. That's the only kind I could find. And I don't like those. And they aren't twenty bucks, they're forty. I don't understand. Everything at Illini Union Bookstore looked like pajama bottoms. I went to TIS Bookstore and they had a bunch more stuff, but they were all the open-bottomed kind. I found a single rack with "normal" sweatpants on them, but they weren't normal--they had pockets. Who needs pockets in sweatpants? Sheesh.

How hard is it to find three pairs of blue or gray Russell Athletic sweatpants, size large, with normal elastic around the waste and ankle cuffs (if that is the right terminology for that part of the sweatpants)? "Illinois" on the thigh or butt is optional. As is the logo for our racist mascot, though if I have the option, I always opt for the racist imagery.

Is this too much to ask? I'd just go to the Dollar store in VG, but all of the sweatpants they have are pocketed. Again, I ask--sweatpants have been the same thing for thousands of years--why can't I find a few pairs of normal ones?

Groan. And what's with pink and light blue? Our colors are orange and (not sky) blue. Sheesh. Anyway.

At least I got an iBook while I was at TIS. And not the computer iBook, but the "original" iBook--the Daily Planner published by the Illini Union Board. Eh, I can't find a link to it. Oop--yeah I can. Here it is. At any rate, last year they ran out of them so I'm happy to have gotten my hands on one this year.

Posted: Friday, October 07, 2005, 4:05 pm
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4:00 a.m., again...

Pretty pathetic when as soon as I hit the "4" key the Safari autofill feature fills in the rest of the time for me. I seem to do a lot of blogging at this time of day. But, I'd actually rather be upstairs asleep right now....

Work is good. Money is good. I think the redhead still kinda digs me. So what gives?

I think I need to get back on track with walking every night again. But that still shouldn't keep me from sleep. Especially since it is totally cold in the house which is perfect sleeping weather for me.

Many of our sweatpants were converted to cut-offs this summer so methinks I'll be stopping at one of the bookstores during lunch tomorrow and picking up a half-dozen new pairs of sweats for the upcoming fall season. I'm so glad that the weather is starting to cool off! My firewood supply behind the poolhouse is dwindling, however, so I'm going to need to find a new source.

I guess there's a perfectly good oak tree laying in the yard across the street. I still can't believe he had that damn tree cut down. Sheesh. Oh well. I suppose I ought to get back in bed and try to keep the redhead warm.

Posted: Friday, October 07, 2005, 8:55 am
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Roller Coaster 180

I'd be ecstatic right now if I weren't aware that something feels weird. Yesterday I thought my world was a mess, for no reason. I was intellectually aware that there wasn't a good reason, and that everything should be perceived as okay. Yet emotionally I felt like things were falling apart. Too much to do. Too many loose ends. Small tasks that needed to be completed that were barely more than inconsequential to my existence were throbbing in my virtual headspace.

And today, poof. I'm on top of the world. The roller coaster didn't hit the valley and start back up--it stopped in place and turned around.

How utterly bizarre.

And I would otherwise be totally thrilled that I'm totally thrilled if I weren't ultimately aware that this is an odd, unnatural turn of events. Perhaps the mood yesterday should be classified as odd and unnatural and I should feel relieved about the upbeat mood of today.

Fall is here! So much for the subtlety. It was almost 90 degrees yesterday and today I wore jeans and a sweatshirt to work because the thermometer wasn't going to get much about 60. Brrr. How funny. That's living in the midwest for you....

We missed Survivor last week when we were in awful-provel-cheese-on-pizza-town, but I downloaded the BitTorrent of it last night. I wasted all sorts of time today trying to get the .avi file to turn into something that could be burned onto a VCD or a DVD but had a heck of a time of it. Finally I decided that we'd have to do the old standby of hooking the laptop up to the surround sound receiver and using the television as a monitor and watch it using QuickTime player. The free version of QuickTime won't do "full screen." GROAN. So I installed the DVD whatever-it-is software on my laptop so that it would upgrade my QuickTime to the full version so we could watch this silly show. And of course I have a cable to do video out but not audio so I scrambled to hook up a pair of speakers to the laptop. It actually wasn't bad.

Well, I should wrap this up so I can get back upstairs to the redhead. We haven't done much hanging out with each other lately and I think we both need it.

Posted: Friday, October 07, 2005, 1:14 am
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Lighting Strikes Twice

So we had a heck of a storm a few weeks back, and at one point there was a clap that literally shot me out of bed. As it turns out, the reason it was so loud was because lighting hit a tree across the street from our house. I didn't find out for a few days until I was outside and Josh (our neighbor) waved me over to come look. It had hit their huge oak tree--there was a 1-inch strip wide of missing bark from about 30 feet up down to the ground. Apparently it blasted mud all over the front of their house and just created a heck of a mess.

Well Josh was convinced that he was going to have to cut the tree down. I told him that I didn't think so--it was a huge tree and probably had miles of total roots underground. The little strip of bark didn't look that damaging.

So I talked to a good friend of mine who happens to have a degree in silviculture and who also removes trees as a side job (he's a network administrator at his "real" job). Anyway, Steve agreed with me that there's a pretty good chance that the tree would recover completely. His exact advice was to wait a full year to see how the tree does--that there's no point diagnosing anything this soon.

I told Josh this, and of course he was skeptical.

I came home from work yesterday to see this:

He had the damn tree cut down. (I apologize for the bad picture--I had left my camera at work so I had to use the crappy camera in my cell phone...). I went and talked to a tree expert who said to leave the tree alone for a year. But no, he was convinced that it needed to come down, so he had a 100-foot tall tree that was probably as old as it was tall removed. And the redhead doesn't know why this irritates me so much.


Posted: Wednesday, October 05, 2005, 2:43 pm
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NOW I remember...

I fired up the laptop to make a blog post, then read a few things, went and kissed the stinkpots, and then forgot what the heck I was going to blog about.

The redhead is on the phone with her pal Margaret and made some comment when she came inside that tipped me off...

We just bet $100 (while watching some silly show with Geena Davis as the new president or something?) that Hillary would be elected in 2008. No, really. Hillary is going to be president.

And that was MY bet, not hers.

McCain would be a good "conservative" choice (and I mean conservative like not-ruffling-feathers-conservative not bible-beating-republican-conservative).

I think the Bush backlash will be WAY bigger than that. The country is on such a pendulum right now that there's no way a Republican will get elected (and I don't know that I think one should...)

Therefore, I think Hillary is next. We had Bush Sr. and Bush Jr.--I don't see any reason why we shouldn't have Clinton and Clinton. (And since my wife is outside I'll re-qualify that as Clinton-unfaithful and Clinton-faithful....). Tee hee.

Anyway. Hillary is our next president. For better or for worse. And I get that $100....

Posted: Wednesday, October 05, 2005, 2:09 am
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Back to work!

Well I had a pretty productive weekend--even though I was technically working last week, it still felt somewhat like a vacation, and I think I needed the break. I feel "reset" right now (I had an awesome day at work yesterday....).

I might have mentioned that before we left I found out that the starter on my car was dead. I knew it was dying for the past few months--every now and then I'd go to start the car and it would pause for just a half-second or so after I'd turn the key before the starter would spin and the car would start. I knew then to put a wrench in the car (to accompany the screwdriver for tapping on the fuel injectors, of course)--if your car ever won't start, and the engine isn't turning over but your battery isn't dead, take a big wrench and bang on the starter--that will usually shake whatever is stuck and at least get it to turn over one last time. Well, the wrench didn't work the day before we left, but I wasn't worried because we weren't taking that car.

So Saturday after we got back I went and bought a starter. There are times when I wish I had a different car. Lately I've been really tempted to unload my ghastly bright red Pontiac, but then days like Saturday make me appreciate it a bunch more. The starter is right on the front of the engine and totally easy to get to.

As it turns out, it took so little time to replace that I went ahead (as long as I was already dirty) and replaced my front brake pads which have needed it for a while. I was listening to the Illini get their butts handed to them, so I figured I may as well listen to the rest of the game on the radio in the garage and do my brakes as well. And they were a piece of cake to replace. If you don't replace the rotors (I didn't) the entire caliper assembly doesn't need to be removed--just the part that holds the pads. Piece of cake. So now my car will both start and stop. Aren't I lucky?

On Sunday I decided that it was finally time to give each of the burning bushes a haircut. It wasn't pretty, and I don't at all pretend that I am a pro at trimming bushes, but at least they don't look quite so, well, out of control.



I also trimmed a few straggling branches off of the green ash in the back yard. I had to make several trips to the city brush pile, and on my final trip I had a branch that was stuck in the trunk so I did the smart thing and yanked. Whoops. Now the tortion bar thing that holds the trunk open is unhooked and I have no idea how to hook it back up. My friend Steve says I'm going to need to get in the trunk and shut the trunk in order to be able to fix it. Groan.

I posted the final set of pictures from our trip to St. Louis. They can be viewed here.

In other news, I got a message from one of my three bosses this morning. He asked if I wanted to be considered this year for the Academic Professional CAPE Award. "Would you have any interest in being nominated for this award? I think that *, *, and I could prepare a compelling case." I'm totally flattered. Like, I'm half embarrassed about it. So I looked at the requirements, etc., for the award. It is awarded to only 6 people across campus each year. $2,000 cash gift along with a permanent $1,000 raise. Holey moley. I won't win the award, but I'm still flattered that my bosses think that I'm that, well, special (?).

Anyway. The other two bosses are in DC for the week, so I'm quickly getting caught up on a bunch of other stuff that has been sitting in a pile for probably way too long. The closer to being caught up I get, the more in control I feel, and the happier a person I am. Phew.

I don't know much else. I'm going to the eye doctor to get new contacts this afternoon. I've been wearing glasses for a couple of weeks now and I really, really, really like contacts better. Anyway. It's a good thing because I need to mow the back yard tonight and mowing with glasses is a pain in the neck because I sweat all over the place and they slip and slide on my face. Okay, too many details--that's gross....

Posted: Tuesday, October 04, 2005, 3:59 pm
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Home Sweet Home!

We arrived home late yesterday afternoon and I think all four of us breathed a huge sigh of relief.

The redhead and I both reflected on several things on our 3 hour drive home from the Arch. There was a time when each of us thought that we wanted to live the suburban lifestyle. To be fast-trackers working in a huge city and being "important." Boy what a couple of kids and ten years in a small town does to one's sense of priority...

And St. Louis, as far as I'm concerned, isn't even a "big" city. I should point out that on a whole I thought the people there were nice and courteous, but the hustle and bustle was still too much. Too many cars. Too many people. Wednesday evening it took us almost 45 minutes to drive the 6 miles from the training place back to the hotel. Granted, there was a lane on the highway that was blocked due to rain (under a viaduct) and that was most of the hold-up, but still. I couldn't live like that. It take me 30 minutes to get home from work. But we live about 30 miles away from work.

When we arrived home last night we found a crock pot full of hot homemade vegetable soup that my mother-in-law had delievered and plugged in only a few minutes before we got there, along with some cooked bratwursts (because she thinks I won't eat the soup...) and a hot loaf of this asiago cheese bread that she buys from some bread company that is just awesome. "Netty" had come and cleaned Wednesday so the house was spotless when we walked in the door. Just wonderful.

I got up and rode my bike to the grocery store this morning to get stuff for breakfast. No traffic. No mobs of people milling about.

I think I've been domesticated...

Posted: Saturday, October 01, 2005, 1:33 pm
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