Nov 29, 2007

The yearly "do-over"

I had planned on jotting down a few thoughts Wednesday night, but it didn't happen. Instead, I spent much of the night watching the progress bar travel across the screen while I reinstalled Windows XP. I had already backed up "critical" info through my daily backup program (Back2Zip), and about two days before that, I had done a full system backup. So, for the most part, the timing was just about right. Except, really, there is no "good time" to reinstall Windows. But, I had become so frustrated with the fact I could no longer burn DVD's (or even CD's) that I tried everything else under the sun before I reformatted.

I even discovered that many, MANY people were having trouble after Microsoft forced everyone to install their "Genuine Advantage Validation" program. I found out how to disable that and remove all traces of anything dealing with it. That did not solve my problem, and in the process, seemed to create a whole slew of others. I knew it was time.

Once I got Windows up and running, I tried to burn a CD, but it failed. I was ticked. But then, I remembered that sometimes Windows "forgets" that you have a burner. Right-click on the CD drive, choose "recording" and put a check in the box. Then, I made a CD. Excellent! I installed Nero 7 and burned a data DVD! Awesome. From there, I started installing my apps, and I still have a way to go, but at least it seems I can burn discs again.

Being a parent is not as easy as I told myself it would be. When I was a kid, I forgot to do my homework several times in a row, and was promptly given detention. I never made that mistake again. Tyler's mid-term grades came out, and since we can check them out online, we learned that his two C's could have been A's had he done his homework. So, since the teacher was not offering punishment for his lack of homework performance (as was done to me all those eons ago), his parents got to dole out the punishment. Now, I have to say, I believe discipline and responsibility start and end at home. I just never dreamed that we would have to step in and throw our parental weight around. Man, that sucks. But, the key to helping a child understand the importance of completing tasks assigned to him/her is to provide discipline in a manner that is proportional. For us, that means taking away computer and Playstation rights until we re-evaluate his grade standing at Christmas. I think the only exception would be for school-related reports, projects, etc. Taking those privileges away instantly helped him understand the severity of his lack of responsibility. I hope it is something that sticks with him, so that it need not be repeated in the future...

I say all this, not to show that my child is a slacker or is undisciplined, but rather to show that even good, hard-working children need a nudge every now and then. And, as his parents, that is our job. I thin it is vital to explain the discipline, set limits and goals for it, and then help your children reach those goals. In my case, his punishment affects me because I cannot play computer games with him now. So, it is in MY best interest to help him succeed in this endeavor.

So, I'm sure by now, you have some of those "10 worst gifts to give" lists... has their annual list out... Some of my personal favorites are (and by "favorites" I mean these are the DUMBEST!):

A few things that did NOT make this list:
The USB Humping Dog flash drive...

USB cup warmer, hub, clock, and thermometer:

USB-powered Christmas tree?

A webcam that looks like a robo-dog:

And, last one for today: a REAL usb fish tank (put live fish in it):

When I got home today, there was a box from UPS on the deck. I knew it was cards, but I thought it was my "big" buy. Instead, it was a smaller assortment of cards (around 2500 or so). They were mostly baseball, with plenty of Indians for me to sort through, along with many other players and stars. The box also had football cards, some hockey, and even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cards. Go figure. My goal is to sell enough of the cards off that I am able to at least break even, though extra income would be very nice! :-) Included in the box is a 23k gold card of Dale Earnhardt. Interesting little thing that is.

Also in the mail was my second "official" Tribe tradeaway offer, which included 2 1975 cards and a 1976. Very cool indeed. :-)

Nov 27, 2007

Calling it like I see it...

(found this gem while searching the 'net for Nutt pics...)

Houston Nutt did in fact accept the head coaching job at Ole Miss, just as I had said was talked about yesterday. Between Houston's running off of certain players (Mustain, anyone?) and his bazillion text messages, it was time for Nutt to take his idiosyncrasies elsewhere. And, since Mississippi is one of the few states that beats us in most "lowest" statistics, how fitting that Nutt wind up, down... there. :-)

Tyler's Gameboy sales on eBay were pretty good, I'd say, considering the games were all at least 4 years old, I believe... In all, he sold 9 of the 10 games, and pulled in more than $40 before shipping charges are added in. He would have made a little there, but the listing fees and payment fees and the actual postage will eat that up. The way I see it, he earned enough from old game he no longer plays to buy a new one, if he chooses... Nothing wrong with that in my book...

I came across "The House of Dave" after trying to locate the "Daves-I-Know" web site (the domain does not exist anymore). Why, you ask? Well, my Tribe Tradeaway is officially started, now that I have received some cards to trade, and it turns out, the guy who sent me the cards is named Dave. Well, part of the trade deal is that I randomly select two 2007 Upper Deck Goudey cards from a recent box-break and I send those back as a trade for the cards people send to me. So, when I reach in and grab two cards, both players are named DAVID. Suddenly, we have the David that sent me his cards, my name is David (duh), and the two cards I am sending out are Davids. That is just toooo weird in my book... :-) So, as I was posting the trade, the old "Kids in the Hall" song started playing in my head: "These are the Daves I know, I know, these are the Daves I know..." Come on, sing it with me! No? Not a fan of KITH? Never heard of "Kids in the Hall??" Man, you missed out...

On Wednesday, I am teaching administrators how to use Palm-based PDA's. I have two hours to give them the basics of how to turn them on, perform Hot Syncs, enter information, and make them feel comfortable with their new friend. There will be about 15 people that I'll be teaching. I have not seen the list of folks who will be attending, so pray for me. Or better yet, pray for THEM. :-)

And in case you didn't have enough to think about, here are a few of today's happening: Sean Alexander dies from a gunshot wound to the groin, The guy who invented Gatorade died, Emeril's show got cancelled, a guy in Hot Springs finds a decomposed body (been there for months) near his house, Carson Daly is not a member of the writer's guild so he is 'crossing the lines' and going ahead with new material, and a racecar driver takes home the "Dancing with the Stars" trophy. Oh yeah, on a happier note, there were about 11,000 babies born today in the United States.

See, there is good news (babies), if you know where to Google... :-)

Nov 26, 2007

Nutt'in for Christmas

How could I forget to mention the "biggest news in Razorback Nation?" Houston Nutt quit the Razorbacks mid-year, without so much as any explanation. I knew it was happening before the official press conference though, because talk radio was abuzz with talk of Nutt going to Ole Miss. As it turns out, many people would be surprised if he does not end up at Ole Miss.

I think it's pretty crappy for a coach to bail out before the end of the school year, period. Be a man, finish the season and the school year. Of course, had he stayed on and let Broyles fire his butt, he would have had much more in-pocket money. As it is, he is getting like 2.5 million to be bought out. Now, that's what I need - a contract that say if I quit, my employer must buy out the remainder of my contract. I would love to get six months pay without doing anything but quitting my job! How sweet is that!?

Who will permanently take Nutt's place? Who knows...

Speaking of quitting, Trent Lott beat Nutt to the punch by announcing his own departure from the Senate. He announced it this morning, but said he would finish out this session. Well, I think he should finish out his term, but at least he is sticking around to make sure his "team" finishes the game for the year....

Back to life, back to reality...

Yes, that's right, boys and girls, the Thanksgiving/Fall holiday break is over. Off to work I went. I was greeted with an email that read (basically), "I deleted my home page. Can you fix it?" Of course I can. Or can I? As it turns out, it was not JUST the main page that got sent into electronic never-never land, but rather, that user's entire SUBSITE! Now, had it been one page, that is readily recoverable from the Recycle Bin in Sharepoint. Alas, deleting a WHOLE site is basically like taking your entire DVD collection, throwing it into a shredder, setting the shards into a bonfire and then sending the remains down the river in a barge.

Well, maybe not quite that bad. However, there is no "easy" way to recover just one subsite. Had we trashed the entire main site AND all the subsites, no problem. We have backups. The backup system, however, is not "fine-grained" to the point of recovering individual, template-based subsites. Go figure. I took the cheap way out - I created a new site and told the user to have fun storming the, recreating their content. :-)

Since today was apparently the day for trashed web sites, I also made a trip to a local district who needed help with their webpages. The kicker turns out to be about 6 or more copies of EACH page, image, etc, scattered throughout their web folder. To top it off, they had been using WORD as their web page editor... I don't know who had the bright idea at Microsoft to allow Word to "save as a web page," but it was a very, very BAAAAD idea! The district has switched to Dreamweaver, and will get some training on how to create pages, etc. This will let them create STANDARDS-BASED web pages... I had a rant about standards-based stuff a while ago, but I don't recall what that was exactly now... :-)

I'm a bad eBayer at times. Well, I should correct that some. I always pay, no matter what I win, so not bad in that regard. But, bad in the sense that I tend to bid on things (like baseball cards) that I don't really care if I win or not. I'm not trying to rack up the price, because heck if no one outbids me, then I win, right? But, yeah, hoping someone will outbid me. Sometimes doing this makes me a bad eBayer. Now, having said all of this, my intentions are to take the auctions I win and sell the cards individually. If there is one thing I have learned on eBay - collectors generally want that ONE card they need, and they would rather NOT buy a ton of useless cards to get the one. So, this means I win the auction, break it down, and sell it in parts... Kinda like Richard Gere in Pretty Woman... The key is to come out making more than I spend... Yeah, that's where I tend to fall short. Which is why I haven't quite made my millions selling on eBay (yet). I'm getting better at it, though! :-)

A while back, I started a conversation about getting magazines at work that don't pertain to my job directly. It ends with "Anyway," and that's it. Which, I suppose, given the random things that go through my head could have been an entire section, was not the end of that topic.

These magazines I get focus on areas of technology that I know little about, but have been picking up "just enough" by reading through the stuff I get in the mail. I spend much of my time reading, shaking my head and re-reading a paragraph a couple times because whatever they were trying to convey just sailed 8 miles over my head (Everyone who knew my Dad is free to picture him waving his hand over his head, making his "airplane passing by" sound). But, I find that reading these things does two things for me: First, it keeps my humble, reminding myself that in no way, shape or form do I know everything about the uses of technology. Second, it gives me insight into things that might be useful to me some day, and I just haven't figured out the direct application of this knowledge I am acquiring. Okay, third, it gives me yet more things to 'pop in my head.' :-)

Nov 24, 2007

When being first in line is a bad, bad thing...

I woke up early this morning, because I had a stack of padded envelopes (18 in all) to mail off to various winners of my eBay auctions. Before I get too much further, I want to stop here a moment and say "THANK YOU" to each of the winners who paid very promptly! I don't mind if people wait a few days, especially since this weekend was a holiday one, and many people might not even be home right now. But, I try my best to pay as soon as an auction ends, and I appreciate the folks out there that do the same. :-)

For some reason, I had it in my head that both the post office and the bank were open today until noon. I was wrong. I got to the post office around 8:40 or so, because they open at 8:30. Or not. It turns out, they open at 8:30 Monday-Friday, but on Saturday, they don't open until 9:00. They close the window back up again at 10:30... An hour and a half. Man, if you have stuff to mail on the weekend, you better be quick about it! And, since I was there early, I was first in line. Remember the "be quick about it" part? Yeah, throw that out the door.

Being Saturday, the computer decided it wanted to be slow about its business, so each 'package' too 30-45 seconds. Not bad, you say? Remember, I have EIGHTEEN of them. So, nearly 20 minutes after we started, the clerk tells me the total, and I hand her my card. She swipes the card, and the computer locks up. We wait, both stunned and not wanting to believe what we are seeing in front of us. She taps the screen (they have touch screens), and all she gets is the rude "DONK" of a frozen computer.

Another employee, who had just clocked OUT, comes over and begins to help. Evidently, this same thing happened LAST Saturday. The solution then was to reboot the computer. So, they do. The computer is some kind of flavor of Windows NT 4.0. Do you have any idea how OLD that Operating System is? It came out around the time of Windows 95... Yes, that's NINETY-FIVE, people... Can you say, "Toy Story!?"

The computer takes nearly 15 minutes to boot back up to the touch screen. I am told several times during the process, "the computer NEVER takes this long to reboot!" Of course not. Lucky for all of us, I'm not in any hurry. After all, I have until noon before the bank closes, right?

After a few phone calls, and digging around the menu system, the clerks can print out the transaction, but because the computer died when it did, it is in some kind of limbo. It shows the items were paid for, but cant figure out how. Well, of course not, the computer crashed before the card was processed! Ultimately, they decided to re-weigh everything and put the "new" postal stickers on an 'errata' sheet. About the time they finish that up, the phone rings, and the helper on the line explains what they could have done in order to bring up the transaction to re-process it. Frankly, I don't see how, because when they asked the computer for a receipt, it told them NO, with a nice big, red error screen. Yet, they could run a report that showed the list of items and the fact that it had been paid, somehow, but the drawer was short. Very weird. Anyway, the new information to 'fix' it was too little too late. At just after TEN O'CLOCK (Remember, I got there at 8:40, and I was first in line), they turn me loose.

I get in my truck, and suddenly realize the bank is NOT EVEN OPEN on Saturdays! DUH! I give myself the ol' "Coulda hada V-8" smack, and head for the house...

Shan went shopping today with her Mom, so the kids and I hung out. Tyler and I played BF1942. We each have a favorite map. Mine is "Battle of Britain" because I have learned how to fly the planes and shoot down enemies, which today included Tyler since we decided to play AGAINST each other instead of WITH each other. :-) Tyler likes the "Battle of Midway" map because when he plays as the Axis (bad guys), he racks up serious numbers, including doing me in over and over and over. We had a great time! After that, we cranked up the surround sound and had us a big time watching "Cars." :-)

My Mom invited us up to her place for chicken noodle soup, so we gladly accepted. :-) It is cold, raining, and Mom's home-made chicken soup is very good! Afterward, I (ahem) forced myself to have a bowl of ice cream with chocolate syrup and some kind of crunchy toppings... :-)

It's hard to believe that tomorrow is Sunday already... It was nice having the whole week off. Of course, I'm not complaining too loudly.. After all, in a few weeks, it'll be Christmas break. :-)

It's beginning to look at lot like Christmas!

Traditionally, the Christmas season officially arrives at our house the day after Thanksgiving! This year, the tradition continues! :-) Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I've got about 10,000 words or so to show you. :-) (Well, plus the actual words that serve as commentary to each picture...) These are not in chronological order, though that is more due to my lack of getting the whole 'order of uploading pictures' than anything else... :-)

Our animated Holiday Mickey and guitar-playing Santa. Okay, really, Santa just stands there, long devoid of batteries. :-)

Just like in real life, I am kinda fuzzy when it comes to the details. :-) Here, I am working on the display we have on top of the entertainment center (see below).

Here is our fully decorated tree. The tree is pre-lit with mini-bulbs (before LEDs were being used in trees) and it has fiber optics. For some reason, there are shorts throughout the tree, so we have to improvise and string our own lights on our pre-lit tree. I am pretty sure Dad is laughing at us about now... :-)

Here are stockings and Shan's Mickey Ornament collection. She has two ornament holders that we put ONLY her Mickey Mouse ones on! She has more than a dozen, so they don't all fit on the hanger! Very cute!

Here is my saxophone-playing, hip-wiggling, toe-tapping Coke Santa. He is also devoid of batteries, much to the chagrin of Emily. :-)

Yes, just like in Friends, we have a Holiday Armadillo... Emily was not too sure what to make of it!

Emily is hanging a Santa ornament she made last year (I think it was last year).

Here she is posing with her artistic creation! :-)

Tyler got into the act (kicking and screaming, as pre-teens tend to do when it comes to this kind of thing). Here, he is putting empty ornament boxes back into the storage container. As you can see, this requires much concentration and calculation! :-)

After it's all over, Emily hops up in Mimi's lap for a photo-op! :-)

Here is a shot of our entertainment center. I'm hoping you can click on it to see a clearer, larger version of the image. The ornaments here are all "plug-in" style, so I took pre-lit garland and plugged the ornaments into it. :-) Ain't I clever?

Nov 23, 2007

It's the great chow-down, Charlie Brown

The "Great Chow-down" (or, as most Americans call it, Thanksgiving) began with a slow roll out of bed. No, not a sweet roll or a cinnamon roll. We got up and turned on the TV so we could watch the Macy's/Thanksgiving (depending on which channel you're watching) parade. We tuned in for the balloons and floats, of course, but also because we were hoping to see a local dance troupe perform. We never saw them, and I Googled them, but came up empty.. Oh well...

I have to say the OU band was one of the most impressive groups during the parade. I don't know why they bother with singers/performers when all they do is lip-sync their songs. Who cares? I don't care to watch Jordin Sparks or Barbie, for that matter, lip-sync (badly) their songs during the parade. Play the song and let the "star" wave or whatever, but why even bother with the whole "faking it" thing? I mean, heck, Milli Vanilli had a zillion CDs and tapes burned for it, and here we are promoting the act ourselves! It looks stupid, we all know it's an act, so give it up.

Around noon, we walked next door to Shan's folks' place for the great chow-down. It is quite a mix for us because we have different traditions that come together - turkey, ham, dressing, stuffing, corn, peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and lots more. This year, Shan made "poor man's turtles" - a small pretzel, a rolo, heated slightly then topped with a pecan - and, man were they GOOOOOOOD!!!! :-) I'm looking forward to a nice slab of turkey on a sandwich tomorrow! :-)

After lunch, we hung out for a bit, then took a little snooze. After the snooze, we hung out some more and Tyler and I ended up playing some Battlefield 1942. We had a lot of fun, mainly because we decided to be on opposite teams this time. It is so much more fun trying to outwit and outsmart another human than the dopey computer people! Later, Emily and I played BF1942, where we sat together and she would use the 'walking' keys and I would 'steer' us with the mouse. We had a lot of fun!

After that, we went to Mom's for a while, and we got there just in time to watch "Evan Almighty." It's a cute movie, and I really wish they would have gotten Jim Carrey to play the main character, but I'm sure he demanded more money than the people were willing to pay...

After the movie, we came home and hung out for a bit before Shan reminded me that it was TIME TO 80'S! :-) I told you, we're addicted to the trivia game! :-)

I mentioned the other day that I had some things I am/was selling on eBay. Well, out of the 134 items that ended today, I sold 81 of them! I think that's a pretty good return, especially since a couple of the items went double-digit pricing (not bad for some trading cards). I listed three "types" of items - 1995 Classic Phone Cards (featuring a different player on each card), 1977 Pepsi Discs w/Gloves, and some eTopps cards that were pretty much just taking up space in my eTopps portfolio. I can say that I will be a busy bee when it comes time to ship those Pepsi items and the Phone Cards! :-)

Now, Tyler wants me to try and sell off some of his Gameboy Advance games that he doesn't play anymore. We'll see how that goes! :-)

We have started doing our "Biggest Loser" DVD again (every other day), and I have to say that I feel like I am dying when we get done! It's amazing out "out of practice" (okay, out of shape) it is easy to get when you stop exercising. Yeah, I know, if you never start, then you never have to worry about that, right? LOL... But, the one thing I have learned about watching the Biggest Loser on TV is that it is not always about losing the weight for the sake of "looking better." Often, these folks did not start out as big as they got, but some of them have always been big. And, what it boils down to is sometimes the difference in living 3, 5, 10 or more years longer.

Now, I'm the first to admit, I hate all the exercise. But, if it means I get to spend another year with my kids, or my grand kids (when that day comes), then for me, it is worth putting a little effort into it. No, I don't go hog-wild or anything. Heck, right now, I can't even do some of the things on the DVD. But, I do what I can, and when I can't do what's being shown, I go back to something I can do. I figure that as long as I am doing SOMETHING, it's better than nothing.

Have I changed my diet? Only in one respect: I stop eating when I start to feel full. Not when I *am* full, but a hair before that. I still snack, eat some "bad" foods, and generally eat what I want. I am not going to starve myself or deprive myself of the things I like. I am not going to change my entire way of living, but rather do a few smaller things to help me live the life I like to live. I have heard many times that the key to eating right is to eat smaller meals more often. I'm not quite doing that, but I no longer feel like I need to eat a house three times a day. I eat until I start to feel full. Then I stop. Later, if I feel like eating something (pears, pretzels, chips, candy, cereal, ice cream, whatever), then I eat something.

I do want to lose some weight only because I don't like the way I look. I have a spare tire and I don't want it to be as big as it is. Do I want 6-pack abs? No. I just don't want the built-in cup holder either.. :-)

Nov 21, 2007

Dad, Remembered

In a weird twist of irony, I had once started a short story (that I had planned on making into a novel) called "Dad, Remembered." I did not get far in the writing because at the time, I could not quite get myself into the mind set of the main character whose father had lost his memory. I say it is ironic because now, I find myself often remembering my Dad.

I admit, I do not engage in the thoughts which lead down the path of remembrance very often. For the most part, I am not a sentimental person about most things. However, there are certain people in my life (mostly family, a few friends) that can get my thoughts taking that sentimental journey.

It is almost Thanksgiving. Honestly, I don't remember much about last year's turkey day. For all I know, Dad had to work at T-A that day. He worked a lot. Partly because he had to, but also because I think he wanted to. Back then, he was removed from family events under his own doing. After he went to Iraq, I think he found the missing pieces and was ready to come home and start living life with and for his family. I can only guess at that based on what Mom has said about their emails and chats. I do know that he wrote to my kids often, and was always excited to tell them about the plans he had for when he got back.

I do remember Dad using the electric knife to cut up the turkey. Dad was not really a "carver" so much as a "slicer." Which worked out well for me, because I like my turkey a little thicker than most folks. Of course, I can picture him cussing at the turkey, or the knife, or the throw rug for that matter. Dad was a cusser, for sure. Not the F-bomb that I recall, but let's just say he and beavers had words in common. :-) Actually, now that I think about it, Dad pretty much cussed or yelled at no one in particular. He just sorta ranted until the job was done, and then look at you like you were from another planet if you asked him what he was cussing about. We later discovered some of that may have been Turretts. We just called it "Being Dad." :-)

Of course, after work (or before depending on the shift), he would join the festivities for a bite and some conversation. I think that is one of the things I miss most. He could talk about anything to anyone, even if he had no idea what he was talking about.

Shan and I recently found a mousepad in a catalog that is shaped like a putting green with a flag, balls, and a putter. Dad would have that it was "kewl." As I was going through some sports cards to sell on eBay, I came across the Mickey Mantle card I had bought to give him for Christmas. He often talked about the barrel of cards he had as a kid with all the "greats" in it, including Mantle. Well, during a move, the moving company "lost" the barrel, and Dad's card collection. He would tell me of the Mantle card he had, and when eTopps produced a Classic version of Mantle, I knew I had to get it for him. Now, it will find a safe place in my collection.

Dad was already in Houston, heading for Kuwait last Christmas, so in my mind, he was already "not here" for Christmas. But, he was here for Thanksgiving, and now he is not. John told me there would be a whole year of "firsts." I think I tried to rationalize, make things logical, or simply live in denial. He is right. These "firsts" are harder than anyone can tell you, warn you, or try to prepare you for. I know Dad is off somewhere doing his goofy "happy dance," but right now, the music that played only in his mind cannot be heard down here.... When it comes to this first Thanksgiving without him, there is no happy dance.

More than six months have passed since Dad died, and sometimes, it still feels like yesterday.

Nov 19, 2007

The 80's Game

The other day, while poking around the 'net, I came across "The 80's Game" (google it). I downloaded it, and we've been hooked ever since. It features Martha Quinn as the hostess! Come on, you remember her! From MTV when MTV was brand-new and played (gasp!) music videos all day long!

Anyway, Shan and I are teaming our way through the "Episodes" part of the game. Tonight, we took on Madonna questions, Cola Wars, and Dumb Movies. Naturally, I was able to answer nearly all of the Dumb Movie questions and get the correct year for each. :-) Something about me and dumb movies. But, hey, when a question comes up about "Strange Brew," you KNOW I'm gonna get that puppy right! Ahh.. Bob and Doug McKenzie... Such fond memories, you hoser!

I spent much of the day multitasking! After Shan and the kids headed off to school, I began my quest to clean the home office. It took me about 3 hours or so, but it looks much better now! While doing that, I started supper. I made crock-pot lasagna, following a recipe Shan has.

Here's the thing about those recipes... Shan doesn't follow them. I am a 'by-the-book' kinda cook. If the recipe calls for something, I put it in. I really should have talked to Shan before I started, because then I would have been fine. Instead, I kinda winged it based on what we had and what was on the paper. All in all, it wasn't too bad, but it was overcooked. I think it's time for a new crock-pot... or a new cook... At least it wasn't spaghetti, right!? :-)

After cleaning the office, I decided it was time to really clean house. By that, I mean, it is time to sell off some of the sports cards I've had taking up space. So, I headed for eBay and began the great sell-off. I am starting somewhat small. I listed 137 items. As of this writing, 38 already have bidders. I think that's pretty good, since they just got listed this afternoon! :-)

I'll let you know how things go as the days progress... :-) Tomorrow I am going to list more items.

Mr. Whipple passes away

Those of you old enough to remember the "Please don't squeeze the Charmin" commercials will instantly know who Mr. Whipple was. He passed away earlier today at the age of 91. For as long as I can remember, long before the bears in the woods, Mr. Whipple would get onto the people in his store (or anywhere) that were squeezing the soft rolls of toilet paper. And, then of course after no one could "see" him, he would give a squeeze of his own...

You can sign his obituary guestbook -here-.

I forgot to put this on my Christmas list!

When I was making out my Christmas list this year, I forgot to mention the Indians Harley-Davidson bike signed by more than 20 Indians... Starting bid is only $525...THOUSAND! (listing)

Nov 18, 2007

Popped in My Head

For whatever reason, the Lexmark X2500 multi-function printer we have has been the cause of delays during startup on my home computer. You turn on the computer, it boots, and then you can't do Internet or Email, etc until the stupid little "Lexmark Imaging Studio" icon appears - sometimes nearly two full minutes after you get the desktop. I finally poked around in the services portion of Windows XP enough to narrow the problem down to one service called xldd_device. Now, in my experience, it took me all of half a blink to connect that name with the Lexmark. So, I disabled that service, rebooted and TAH-DAH, the computer came up lickety-split. Problem? By disabling that service, I no longer had access to the printer/scanner/etc! Fooey.

Search around the Internet got me nowhere fast. Evidently, it is a common problem, but the "fix" was nowhere to be seen. Then, I started poking around the registry - dangerous, sure, but what the hey. Here is where I found the mention of my errant service:

My Computer\ HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ SYSTEM\ CurrentControlSet\ Services\ xldd_device

I knew that deleting it would do no good, because then I would not have access to the device. So, I went for the next thing I could think of: RENAME that service. No, I have no idea why I thought that would work, other than this: If services are activated in alphabetic order, then renaming it to zzxldd_device should prolong the "delay" until after all the other services have started. So, in theory, the computer would up and running before that goofy process took over, and maybe I could "head off" the delay.

Well, it works! Sorta. The computer boots up quickly, and the process runs so I have access to the scanner/printer. But, that service now runs BEFORE nearly every other "system tray" process. How weird is that? Oh well, it works, and I'm happy.

Now, if I could only get my DVD burner to cooperate...

At Wal-Mart the other night, Shan bought me a red T-Shirt that looks like a Santa Suit. In the upper left corner, it reads, "Does this suit make me look fat?" I wore it today to hang out in. It's very cute! :-) And, yes, it does make me look fat... Well, that's my story, anyway... :-)

Emily and I played with her off-brand Lincoln Logs for almost two hours tonight. We built, we tore down, we huffed and puffed. Somewhere in my parenting, I learned to let kids imagine whatever they wish to, and as long as it is appropriate, to go along with it. So, our little logs were animals, people, blocks, cars, and more. At one point, she had put two small ones together and said they were a wheelbarrow! To me, it looks like a cannon, but hey, I'll take the barrow any day. :-) We also used several to create a see-saw. Talk about some creative engineering!

Was sent this quiz: (my answers in italics)
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping Paper (I'm a good wrapper for a white guy)
2. Real tree or artificial? Artifical (RealTree is for hunting)
3. When do you put up the tree? Day after Thanksgiving (I'm feelin fat and jolly after all the food, so what better time!?)
4. When do you take the tree down? After New Year's (Party's over, break it down)
5. Do you like eggnog? Uhhh... No.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? My mother requires that I answer "Planet of the Apes Treehouse"
7. have a nativity scene? Yes - Actually, several
8. Hardest person to buy for? Everyone - I suck at gifting
9. Easiest person to buy for? Myself - I know what I want.. LOL
10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Can't think of anything
11. Mail or email Christmas cards? I think we do both.
12.Favorite Christmas Movie? A Christmas Story (you'll shoot your eye out!)
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Sometime between the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Probably, but I don't remember
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Just about everything
16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Clear
17. Favorite Christmas song? I'm Gonna Email Santa
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Technically, for us, it's kinda the same thing :-)
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yes, including Leroy
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? BOTH
22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Taking down the decorations.
23. What I love most about Christmas? Christ. Without Him, there is no Christmas. Period.


Nov 17, 2007

Banning Ho-Hos and Shooting Bad Guys

Westmark Staffing in Australia tried to ban their holiday helping Santas from saying "Ho-Ho-Ho." Some reports say it is/was because the term "ho" may be offensive to some women... As in, women who are prostitutes. At least one company rep said the reason was because "it could frighten children." Since when does Santa's "Ho-Ho-Ho" scare kids!? Yeah, some kids freak out when they see Santa, but "ho-ho-ho?" I don't think so.

A guy in Texas called 9-1-1 because his neighbors were robbed. After more than 5 minutes and no cops, the guy was still on the phone and they bad guys were coming out of the house with their loot. The guy put down the phone, called out to the thieves, and shot them. In Texas, it is a person's right to protect personal property, even if it is not YOUR personal property. He is now saying he regrets his actions, that he'll have to live with them for the rest of his life.

There is a lot of talk going on about the law, the guy, the two thieves (okay "alleged"), etc. Frankly, it's nice to know there are some people in this world who will do what they need to in order to protect and help their friends and neighbors. Do I feel bad for the families of those who were killed? I don't know, both thieves had previous convictions for drugs. So, while I understand the families' losses, I have no sympathy.

Nov 16, 2007

Long way to go, short time to get there...

On my way to a meeting on Thursday, I saw a sign nailed to a telephone pole. Now, I have been keenly aware that people pronounce things differently in various parts of the U.S, but that became quite evident when I read, "Fresh, roasted PECONS" with an arrow pointing to a house. At first, this may seem like a simple misspelling, but in fact, that is exactly how most folks around here SAY that word - "PUH con" whereas I have always called them "Pee-CANS." Anyway, there ya go.

Today, my duties at work included moving metal shelving from the media room out to a flatbed trailer (I was not the only one doing this), and then unloading the shelving at the local college, who donated storage space to us. I'm sure if you've been reading along, you might have gathered that I am not a big fan of manual labor. I do it when it's required, but generally, I'm one of those "white collar desk jockeys." I freely admit it. The world needs people who do the heavy lifting, moving, etc, and I am thankful that they are there to meet those needs. Me? I'd rather do as much work from my desktop as humanly possible. I am more of a troubleshooter, help desk kind of person, I think. Which worked out well for me, because that's generally what my job entails. Every so often, though, I am given tasks that get out my comfort zone. And, I think that is just as important. The more we know how to do, the more we can do. Or at least when we hire someone ELSE to do it, we have an idea what it is we want THEM to do.. :-)

I do not remember the exact context during which the following was uttered during supper tonight at Shan's Mom's house: "You know, like 'beating the monkey' or whatever..." Those words were uttered by Shan's sister. Nick and I burst out laughing. Oh wait, I remember now, we were talking about how Jess (Shan's sister) wants the Judge Judy DVD for Christmas, and how she loves the announcer guy who always makes comments about the plaintiffs and defendants, and how he'll say something like the phrase I mentioned above. I'm not quite sure how beating the monkey came into play, but I would assume it applies to someone who is doing much more than simply "spanking the monkey...."

One of the things I had on my Christmas list was movie or baseball posters for the home office. One of the funny things about that is that I have been so busy putting up posters and signs that I almost do not have any room for more posters... ooops! :-) Oh well, I happen to be one of those people that will create space by tilting a poster this way or that way to give things a funky look. Guess we'll See just how creative I can be.. :-)

Last summer, I had done some extra work at the office, so I earned a flex day. I decided that I would cash in on that day next week. And, while I was at it, I figured I just as well take an annual leave day, too. So, no work for me next week at all!! Well, no work that I'll be paid for anyway.... Turns out, Shan and I will be babysitting our niece (all of a few months old) on Wednesday.

The advantage to a baby not being your own is that you can usually pass it back to the parent once it begins to cry. We won't have such luxury on Wednesday. I'll let you know how it goes...

Daisy has a 20 gallon bucket that we keep her feed in. She has a plastic coffee can that we scoop the feed with and then pour that into her trough. When I went to feed her tonight (Friday), that goofy red plastic can was through the fence, down the hill, in the field where she grazes. I'm going to have to set up video cameras. I have a feeling she may be sneaking afternoon snacks when we aren't looking.... :-)

What would be my ultimate dream job, if I could make a living at it? I'd own a combination computer service center/sportscard shop. In fact, when I'm like 60-something and I retire, I may open up such a shop - assuming, of course there are still sportscards then, and that I have an inkling as how to repair whatever technology is floating around then! :-)

Barry Bonds... What could I say that hasn't already been said? Indictment? Done. Perjury? Done. Asterisk? Done. Plausible deniability? LOL, yeah, right!

The Prescott Curley Wolves are kicking HUGE butt this year! As best that Shan and I have estimated, we have caused the "mercy" rule to go into effect at least 3 times if not more. The mercy rule says that if you are ahead by 35 points or more, the clock does not stop for any reason. SUH-WEET!

Lock and load, people! I'm ready for my WEEK-LONG vacation!!! WOO-HOO!!!

Nov 14, 2007

A doctor is his own worst patient.

I have a school district that has been having connectivity problems on the video network. So, I try my usual troubleshooting techniques and get no where fast. It turns out the local telephone company is the fault-bearer on this one (something about the OSPF or OSFP or OPSF or whatever). That is all well and good except it doesn't get my folks online for classes! One of the providers calls the school and suggests connecting their video system to the data network as a workaround. Well, duh! It wasn't all that long ago that *I* was the one who even thought of that, and here I was totally spacing out and not thinking about doing that! Yeesh.. Well, it's good to know that someone in the state caught on to my idea.. :-)

So, they are on the workaround until the Telco gets them fixed up (which supposedly will be by the end of the week - uh, huh, right).

My Aunt called me last week with a computer problem at her work. She's in PA and I'm in AR. I thought about sending a bill to her boss, but the long distance alone is enough to make his head spin, I'm sure.. :-) Reason #1435 why I'll never be a millionaire - I'm too nice. :-)

She has a Dell and it keeps throwing a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death). So, we walk through a few things, and low and behold, I am pretty sure Windows is hosed. She has to order an XP CD from Dell....

Days pass, she gets the CD and we boot into setup so that we can the repair console (leave it to Microsoft to make you run SETUP in order to REPAIR...). We do a CHKDSK and it's taking a while, so I tell her to call me back. During lunch, I get a text message that says someone sent me a picture (my work cell phone is circa 1985, I'm pretty sure, so the fact it even does text is a wonder). Anyway, once back at the office, it's a photo of the screen showing 25% complete on the chkdsk. Ouch, that's never a good sign. Then, the phone rings.

The chkdsk quit at 50% with a "critical error" type message. Crap. That is never good... Bad hard drive. So, she calls Dell, and they will send someone to replace the drive the next day. So, today, dude comes to replace the drive.

Did you know that the subcontractors that Dell uses are given specific tasks? This guy came in, swapped drives, and left. When my Aunt asked about reinstalling Windows, he said, "Sorry, not my job. I don't do that." He doesn't DO that!? How in the blankety-blank do you replace a hard drive and NOT reinstall the operating system!?!? So, Shar calls me back to tell me all this and I walk her though reinstalling Windows XP.

For whatever reason, I have been blessed with the gift of Polaroid Memory. It is not quite photographic - the images kinda fade in, and the longer they are exposed to light, they fade back out again... Walking people through various steps over the phone without me seeing what is on the screen can be difficult sometimes. This isn't one of those. I've done a zillion XP installs, so this was easy. We hung up once the GUI was being set up and she called me back when she had her "pretty blue sky and green grass."

I told her to reinstall her apps, and she had to order the Sonic CD burning software from Dell, since they failed to send that along with her other system recovery discs - go figure...

After work, Mom asked me to come look at her computer because email from my Aunt was being deleted automatically. I knew the reason, so I checked the spam filter, the message rules, and finally the blocked senders list. Yeap, there it was. Somehow, my Aunt's address had been placed on the $hit list. Fortunately, a simple click of the "remove" button, and she was no longer blacklisted. :-)

You've now reached the reason for today's title. I got my SATA cables in, hooked up the DVD burner, and started burning DVDs... Well, that's as far as I got - starting. For some crazy reason, the drive would START to burn a disc, but it hangs at the "write-out" phase. That is the LAST thing it has to do! UGH! I searched for possible solutions - a Microsoft KB article here, a forum post there... Nothing seemed to fix it. You know, I can fix just about anything wrong with anyone ELSE'S computer... Mine?? Nope. Like usual, this will most likely end in a complete re-install of XP. Stupid. This also means, there is a good chance my other DVD burner is perfectly fine... (sigh)

On a much more positive note: C.C. Sabathia (pitcher) and Eric Wedge (manager) of the Indians both won AL awards!! C.C. was awarded the AL Cy Young and Wedge got the nod for AL Coach of the Year!! SUH-WEET!!!

Nov 12, 2007

Formaldehyde among friends, Horse-fetching, Part II

This morning, I put feed in the trough, and low and behold... No Daisy. Well, I had a pretty good idea where she was, so this time, I just opted to wait until I got home to get her out of the trees.

This time, however, she was standing in the creek bed, where a limb the diameter of a penny, a nickel at best, had fallen across her back. Goofy horse was perplexed and wouldn't move. Well, at least, not without some "coaxing" from me. I simply pulled her halter until she took the step she neded to get out of the crek and leave me in the dust. She ran for her trough and hit the water bucket.

At least there were no additional wounds this time... And, I'm starting think it's a form of exercise - trapse through field, duck under branches, pull on horse, find way back up hill, repeat every other day....

I wrote a letter to the folks on the Megaconference list, expressing my gratitude and feelings on Megacon. I'm sharing it here because.. Well, I want to:
Megaconference IX was the first Megaconference in which I have participated. I had no idea what to expect, but even if I had set some expectations, they would have not even come close to what we witnessed on Thursday.

I had students from two different school districts come to the event, and they were amazed by the presentations and by the fact that they were watching and talking to people from all over the world. Many of the students had never seen distance learning or video conferencing prior to participating in Megaconference. Their "world view" has been changed forever. I am in a very rural part of Arkansas, which says a lot, because Arkansas itself is generally rural. Many of the students get trapped in their own minds that life beyond the borders of their own towns, counties, or even state, is something they will never experience. Megaconference showed them just how big the world is, and yet how close the world can be.

They were the ones who came up with their own "signature sign off" during roll call (Yes, they were the "Yee-Haw!" group!). Several commented on the excavation project in Egypt and watching other students from around the world sing, dance, and share. In fact, there is a very good chance that a group from my area will want to present at next year's Megacon because of this experience. How incredible is it that a group of students has gone from sitting in their own classrooms to wanting to present on a world-wide scale in the matter of a few hours spent in a video conference!?! All tolled, I had about 30 people at my site throughout the day. Statewide, Arkansas had more than 130 people at various sites participating! Most of these sites were taking part in magacon for the first time!!

My wife and two children came in late to the program, and they witnessed the live performance of the Dance Academy. Do you realize the impact something like that has on a FIVE-YEAR OLD!? The impact it had on all of us watching??

I believe that so many times, we get wrapped up in the technology of things, and we can forget the wonder, amazement, and the curiosity of it all. Sometimes, there is novelty, sure, but beyond that, beyond the "oohs and ahhs" of the technology itself, you have cultures exchanging thoughts and ideas, sharing similarities and exhibiting differences. My Twelve-year old son was enthralled with the piece on a day in the life of school in Taiwan. When stories of Burma came on the news, my children instantly made the connection to the Monks and to Zoya Phan's telephone call and watching Thelma Young talk about the situation. And, as someone commented during the conference, it was so good to hear of the positive things coming out of Pakistan for a change. It was good to hear positive things coming from sites all over the world.

The whole experience opened the eyes, ears, hearts and minds of people all over the globe. I am so thankful I was not only able to participate, but to share the day with students and family. I am looking forward to next year's conference for sure!

Thank you to Bob and everyone else who helped put this together!

In a previous post, I discussed my errant DVD burner. Well, I decided to buy a new one. Afterall, the latest, greatest model was only $30 or so online. I waited a few days, and there was a package at the door. I was pretty excited to finally start burning some Digital8 and Mini-DV movies onto DVD! I opened the packaging only to discover that, in my infinite wisdom, I had ordered a SERIAL ATA burner! Now, my motherboard has SATA, and my power supply supports SATA. The problem? I have no SATA data cables laying around!! So, I had to order some of those. I was expecting them to come in over the wekend, but they didn't, and of course today is Vet's Day, so no mail... That's what I get for trying to go on the cheap and fast...

My brother-in-law works for FEMA at the trailer traffic jam in Hope. He said he is barred from working on the trailers that have been recently found to have twice the legal amount of formaldehyde in them. MSN has a story here, but really, what's an unhealthy dose of formaldehyde among friends??

Nov 11, 2007

So, I'm not the smartest guy in the world....

Here we go again... Much like an annoying fly pestering a wayward traveler's navigational tool - I'm all over the map....


First of all, I knew Kelly Clarkson was not Dylan on Desperate Housewives, but I just could figure out who the girl was/is. Then, I was pretty sure I had seen her in something else, but couldn't remember that either. In order to get the Clarkson reference out of my head, I finally Googled, and the actress' name is Lyndsy Fonseca. I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but at least I know when I am off base... Well, usually (no comments from the peanut gallery, please!).

During a conversation at work one day, John told me about "Ice Road Truckers." A couple weeks ago (or, heck ,maybe last week for all I remember), the History Channel did an IRT marathon and we DVR'd it. This weekend, we finally watched all the episodes they aired that day. I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but it seems to me that if you have ONE employer who keeps losing employees (no matter what the reasons), then the problem lies with THAT employer. I have always believed that, no matter what industry we're talking about - when employees consistently falter or jump ship (or when students consistently fail to meet standards year after year in one particular teacher's classroom), the problem is NOT the employee (students), but rather the "leader" of that group. Such is the case with Hugh on IRT.

I know there was a lot of money at stake, but when YOU own the trucks, and those trucks BREAK DOWN, then it seems to me that the OWNER should step and fix the problems before it becomes serious. Instead, the doofus lost two employees (okay, one was speeding, but still) and one of those was supposedly his best friend. I guess that's why "they say" people should not work for friends or family...

My Aunt updates her blog at random intervals. So do I, really. One of the inherent "problems" with the whole concept of blogging is that of timeliness. How many blogs have you gotten "addicted" to, only to return time after time only to find that the person hasn't updated "in forever?" Now, before my Aunt wigs out, this is NOT about her site! Heck, in a recent post, she even explained her lapse in regular posting (which I think is a great touch for those of us that wonder!!!). Instead, my rant here is for those sites that I truly enjoyed reading in the past, partly because of consistent updating.

I am not saying I expect the sites I visit to update every single day. Heck, I can't even promise that! I would just like to see sites post more than, say, once a month... Just let people know you're alive, ya know? Here are a few examples:

Them Bums: Dodgers and Card Collecting - Last update: October 13. Okay, I know, baseball season is over. But, he has/had a series of posts called "FTC - From The Collection" in which he was posting cards from his collection. I am not a Dodgers fan, but as a collector, I like to see what other people collect just in case a set pops up and I need Tribe cards from that set... :-)

Cincy Reds Cards - last update: September 30! Okay, this guy sent me a message when he first started, asking to check out his site. I did and thought it was a great start. Then, crickets.... Dang it!

Okay, I was going to complain about The Infield Dirt, but he updated on October 30 (last was October 3rd or something)...

Maybe my problem is that I am too "modern" for my own good... Afterall, isn't there some kind of old adage that says, "If you don't have anything good (or worthwhile) to say, then shut up"??

Well, as usual, I had something else I was going to talk about, but I got sidetracked with the whole "updating posts" thing.. LOL... Oh well, maybe tomorrow it will pop back into my head...