Jan 31, 2009

In the name of Cope... One more in the name of Cope...

While playing around on the 'net, I rediscovered a site I had forgotten about: Steeler Fever. It's all Steelers all the time. They've got wallpapers for your desktop etc, and also have an extansive list of downloadable MP3's related to the boys in black-n-gold.

One song I had not heard yet was "In the name of Cope," a tribute to the late Myron Cope done to U2's "In the name of Love." You can find the song on this page.

I couldn't find lyrics anywhere, so I jotted them down as best I could make out:

One man, he has come and gone
He cheered for the hometown boys
That one man he did testify
Gave us the double yoy (Cope: yoy and double yoy!)

In the name of Cope
One more in the name of Cope
In the name of Cope
One more for Myron Cope

One man called on our defense
The Steelers heart and soul
To one man we will dedicate
Our next Super Bowl (Cope: I love it! I love it!)


(Cope: And the steelers whip into the goal, what can you say?)
(Cope: It's almost quadruple yoy...)
(Cope: MM-Ha! It's goin' crazy! They're wavin' Terrible Towels!)
(Cope: They're dancin'! They're dancin from (some) place to the back)
(Cope: I'm tellin it's outstanding - it's yoy and triple yoy!)

We are the Steeler Nation
Who hail from near and far
Want to win another ring
For the man who said "MM-Ha!" (Cope: MM-Ha!)


(Various Cope voice samples to fade out)

Let's win this one for Cope, boys!

Well, it ain't the Super Bowl, but it'll fly...

That's a picture of Jonathan Squibb, aka Super Squibb, after being crowned the champion of Wing Bowl 17. He wolfed down 203 wings in the allotted time. What did he get for his 'skillz?' How about a check and a new Mini Cooper. It's nice to see the economy hasn't affected SOME things...

Speaking of wings, now you too can be the "Hero on the Hudson." Live the life of the pilot as you control your plummeting plane:

So, wanna play? Go here: Hero On The Hudson

Jan 30, 2009

Seeing double (fixing duplicate followers)

My Aunt posed a very good question: Why did I have two followers, and they were both HER!?

The answer, my dear Watson, turns out to be rudimentary. You see, my Aunt had one account when she first signed up with Blogger. When 'following' came about, she added herself as a follower. But, in the course of things, she changed her account information (namely, the email address associated with her account). When she logged in with her new account, she was not following me with that new account, so she clicked to follow me.

The fix was simple. I managed my followers, and simply blocked the now-unused account.

So, if you have multiple copies of the same follower, check your followers and See if one of those no longer has a blog associated with the name. If it says something like "Blogs: 0" then you can block that account and leave the active one, well er, active.

Hope this helps! And special thanks to my Aunt for noticing the duplicate followings. Thanks to my Aunt for also changing her information that created a learning situation for yours truly. That one is one the house... :-)

Jan 28, 2009

A double shot of operator headspace

I'm going to tell on myself. Why would I such a thing? Because I think it's important to let people know that I can be my own worst computer user. What you are about to read is true. It may get a little technical, but follow along, and soon you won't even realize the techie parts are there. Oh yeah, it's that bad. In fact, if you're drinking something right now, you might want to swallow it before you start reading. I will not be held responsible for liquid ejecting itself from your nasal passages.... You've been warned.

I knew something was wrong when the phone call came at 1:00pm instead of 1:30pm, as I had put on my schedule. A quick glance at the confirmation email, and I was the one mistaken. The telephone conference was indeed at 1:00pm. On the phone, I had a very pleasant and helpful tech named Chris with CIPAFilter. A couple weeks ago, we received a demo unit from that company to try out their Internet content filtering, spam filtering, network traffic monitoring appliance. "Appliance" is a tech word for 'server' when 'server' sounds daunting. Plus, 'server' implies the 'appliance' will do more than just what it was programmed to do. I digress.

I plug the filter into our network. It has its own Internet address that does not match our scheme, which is normal for most 'drop-in' devices. They usually have a 'dummy' number so that the new device doesn't screw up anything on your network. If you have a wireless router at home, then you are more than familiar with the "" address, most likely. If not, just keep reading...

In order for my computer to connect to the new device, I have to go into the network settings and change the information to match that of the new device. Once that's done, I fire up my web browser, type in the address of the device and enter the username and password. All is good.

Chris walks me through various settings on the device and explains how the filtering works, etc. Now, in my work environment, we already have a firewall in place that does all kinds of things (server). My main concern was that taking that server out of commission would completely disrupt our web sites, mail services, etc. No problem. We hold off on some of the features in order to keep everyone at work, well, working.

We come up with a new network address that matches our network, play with filtering settings (blocking porn, allowing blogs, that kind of thing). We walk through several screens, making various changes, updates, etc. The system is actually VERY cool and easy to use. I'm impressed with what I've seen so far.

Once we're done, Chris tells me to put a persistent ping on the device's new address and when I begin to get replies, I can log back in to the appliance. Of course, I don't remember the command for a persistent ping (I know it NOW, though), so I do the next best thing: i set it to ping 99 times. In case you're wondering, a 'ping' is a command you can issue on your computer to see if another computer is awake on your network (or on another one). for example, you can go to 'start' then 'run' then type PING YAHOO.COM and click OK and it will try to see if your computer can talk to the yahoo computers. fun, right? Maybe not. But, useful for sure. I open up a command prompt and start my 99-time ping to the device.

No reply....no reply...no reply...and so on ad infinitum (or however you spell that). I tell Chris the filter has not come up yet, and he says it can take up to two minutes, so we kibitz for a while longer. After more than three minutes, we still have no reply on the pings. So, we start to troubleshoot: Chris has me check the lights on the filter - all good. We check the wiring, just to be sure - all good. We trying pinging the device's OLD address - no reply. Then, Chris says, "Did you change the address of your own computer back to your own network?"

Well, DUH, of course not! My computer still thought it was on the other network because I did not change the settings back! Operator headspace. Once I changed my settings, that filter was chatting up a storm!

Fast forward. Now that the device is working on our network, there are some things that need to be done. So, Chris and I take a much deeper look at the settings and we talk at length about the placement of the device within our network. I have to open a path on our firewall to the device so that we can access it from outside the network. No problem. I try creating a secure socket connection to the device, but our firewall (ISA server) will not let me make that kind of connection without a certificate. Well, that doesn't make sense in the scheme of things, because each device should be able to have it's own certificate, regardless of what the firewall says. Unless, of course, you are running ISA Server. ISA requires the certificate on itself AND the device. What a pain.

I muck around enough to find a way around the problem. In a weird twist of settings, you can actually create the same connection using different terminology. Strange but true, and Chris is able to get to the device from the outside. But, he needs access to two more 'ports' before setup is complete.

A port is like an entry/exit ramp to and from the information highway. For example, when you visit a web site, it is usually on 'port 80.' Okay, so certain devices and software need to use other ports. Setting up the second port was easy. And then I hit a wall.

I poked around ISA, trying to figure out how to add this port I needed. I knew I needed to create a new port rule because that one was not already opened up (for security, the default setting is to block all ports and then open the ones you need). I poked and prodded, thought I had it, but was wrong. So, we called Jeff at Hope schools, who has a LOT more ISA experience. He comes over and we start working on the problem.

he walks me through various settings, and when we get to one particular screen, the service/port we are looking for is not there. I say, "See? I know this is where it needs to be,, but there isn't one for that port. I just need to create that port, but i don't see where you can do that!" I am frustrated. Jeff looks at the screen and says, "Well, did you click 'NEW?'" Okay, I don't know where that "NEW" button was before, but I am pretty sure that thing was NOT THERE before! Operator headspace strikes again.

I told Chris that I was having myself a PICNIC here (Problem In Chair, Not In Computer). Jeff, John, and Chris all had a nice little laugh at my expense. And, of course, once i clicked "NEW," everything fell into place.

So, you see, boys and girls, sometimes we techs have our own bouts of ID-10-T errors...

Helicopter/bird photo you didn't see...

In the news recently, an Arkansas MedFlight helicopter was sent to the ground after hitting a flock of birds. While some of the pictures taken were quite nasty, there is definitely one photo that the media never seemed to have published:

The question, of course, is this: Did the helicopter LAND here after hitting the birds, or were they trying to TAKE OFF from here when they hit the birds!!?

Okay, okay, just kidding... This just happens to be where they set down. Really. It's just a coincidence. Seriously.

Jan 27, 2009

Despair, Inc. lunchtime fun

Yesterday (Monday) during lunch, I spent some time over at despair.com. They have the "demotivational" posters that take the wind out of anyone's sails. It is great fun, actually!

They also have a section where you can create your own 'demotivating' posters, and I took some time to create a few of my own:

Jan 26, 2009

One for our 6th finger!

If we all had six fingers, like Count Rugen, adding another Super Bowl ring to our collection would not be a problem:

Alas, most people do not have more than five fingers, so when the Steelers win their SIXTH Super Bowl, we'll have to start adding the bling to our other hand!

Of course, the question that comes to mind: Where do we put our rings once we get our 11th??? Will the Steel City be chanting "One for the Toe?" Let's hope not....

Jan 24, 2009

These kids rock the Steelers!

(Thanks to my aunt for sending this along)

Perhaps I should have thought that last one through...

Wow, ever post something only to think later, "Man, I really should have thought that one through?"

Yeah, that'd be me and my $150 iPod nano post...

Maybe I should have gone with the "Would you buy your loved one a $3 million dress?"

I have a feeling I am not getting anything for V-Day... :-) (just kidding)

Jan 23, 2009

So, how much do you spend for Valentine's Day?

The nano is about $150 at your local retailer. Of course, online, you can get it engraved for free if you order it through Apple.

But, my question is this: How much do you (or does your significant other) spend on Valentine's Day? And, if it hits the $150 mark, what are the chances the recipient does not already have an iPod? I mean, if you are willing to spend $150 for V-Day, then I assume you are the type to break out $600 or $1000 easy for B-Days and Christmas, right? And, if that is the case, then isn't it likely that you've already bought (or received) an iPod before V-Day? And, probably not a NANO either, but the 'real' one with a gazillion megabytes of storage, too.

Of course, I could be wrong here. Or, if you have already bought your loved one an iPod for another holiday, I'm guessing it wasn't a PINK one, right? So, why not? Buy your loved one an additional iPod and make it pink. Get it engraved. Something sentimental... Like, "I love you and thought you could use another ipod. that way, you could listen to two different things at the same time if you put one headphone in one ear and the other headphone from the 2nd ipod in the other ear."

Oh wait, Apple doesn't allow that many characters... Well, there's always her birthday, right?

Jan 22, 2009

Sad news from one of 'my' schools

I just learned that the Superintendent of Fouke Schools, Paulette Smith, was killed in a car accident on Wednesday, January 21. She had been meeting with a legislator and after the meeting was sitting at a stop light when another failed to yield and struck a truck. The truck spun around and hit Ms. smith's car, ending her life.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the school district, her family, friends and co-workers.

Ms. Smith spoke her mind and made no bones about where she stood on issues. she also had a great sense of humor that was sometimes biting and often the kind you had to think about before you 'got it.'

I know she has some harsh critics, but you will not find me on that list of people. She will be missed.

Thank you, NatGeo!

I recently recorded (and finally got to watch) National Geographics' "Aftermath: Population Zero." You can read more about the show here.

Basically, the premise is that all the humans suddenly disappear for whatever reason. That doesn't matter in this tale. what matters is what happens to the Earth afterward. The breakdown of nuclear power plants, etc. The show talks about the carbon dioxide and all the pollutants in the air and water. Animals dying, others adapting, etc.

I thought it was actually pretty interesting. But, remember, this is a NatGeo show. You know, the kings of 'peace, love and many groovies.' You know, the world is falling apart and we have to save it people. Well, here's the kicker... For all the references to global warming and such, the overlying message in each segment was the same thing that I've been saying since 'being green' quit having anything to do with Kermit the Frog: The earth will naturally clean up the messes we leave behind.

At one point, the narrator say something like, "It took humans 10,000 years to try and control nature, and it will take less than 500 for nature to repair it." Exactly. Not only can we not destroy the earth, the earth will repair itself in a whole lot less time than it takes for us to measure our carbon footprints.

Of course, the program ends with, "All we have to do is get out of the way..." One day, we will get out of the way. Whether you believe it will be by some scientific reason or you believe God will sort us out, humans will be gone. So forget your goofy compact light bulbs, your hybrid vehicles, your carbon-reduction-air-ionizer, and whatever other nutty 'green' thing comes up next. In the scheme of things, the earth is much bigger than we are. You know, scientists say the earth is 4.5 billion years old. She's a big girl. She can take care of herself.

Jan 20, 2009

Mouthing off

I called the doc to make sure I wasn't suffering from any kind of dry socket situation. The nurse said, "You had your surgery when??" I said, "Friday." She said, "Uhhh... You do realize today is Tuesday, right? Are you taking your meds?" I told her I was taking Tylenol and IB because the other meds made me loopy and I can't be any more loopy than usual at work.

She said, "Um, why don't you take your meds at night before you go to bed and see how that goes."

I told her I'd give that a shot... Yeah, so I had mouth surgery and expected to be all healed up in three days. Go figure. :-)

Inauguration tech at work

My assistance was being requested even before I walked in the door of the office today. Could we set up a feed to the conference room for the big event? Of course we could - right after I hunted down a video cable and got all the TV equipment in place. Once that was set up, John and I decided to connect the TV in the distance learning room to the cable system and watch things in there.

About a half an hour before the oath was to be taken, we get a call from the local community college. Could we connect our distance learning equipment to theirs so they could view the goings-on in their auditorium? Evidently they had a malfunction and could not get television access to that room. So, we pointed a camera at our television and sent the signal through the pipes to the college.

The phone rings 10 minutes before the swearing in. Could we change the channel to CNN instead? You're kidding, right? Nope. Well, after flipping through several channels, we realize our television is not set up for cable antenna. Why would it be? We don't watch TV on it. We leave it on whatever channel we happened to stop on when trying to find CNN before realizing we weren't going to find CNN....

While looking through email, I find a streaming link for the K12 folks to use within the state network. Out of curiosity, I click on it. The image that comes up is Obama with his hand raised finishing up his oath.

Not that I cared to watch the event necessarily, but, well, I missed it even if I 'had' wanted to see it. And that is the life of a techie.

Many events go unwitnessed first-hand by the people behind the scenes because, well, they are behind the scenes making sure everyone ELSE can see it. I wonder how many of the people in the big jumbotron trucks got to see much of anything. After all, they were most likely focused on making sure the signals were right and that the truck wasn't apt to tip over anytime soon.

As for me, I snagged an image off the 'net and I'll watch the speech later. maybe. I've never watched a presidential speech. I really see no reason to start now.

Jan 19, 2009

Pixar's Wall-Uhhh....

I am usually the first one to jump up and start yelling and screaming to see the latest flick to come out of the Pixar (er, uh, now Disney) studios. For whatever reason, none of the advertising I had seen about the movie compelled me to see it in the theater. When this Christmas came and went, I felt no reason to buy it for our very Pixar-heavy DVD collection.

So, today, during a day off not particularly celebrating MLK, we decided to watch it on pay-per-view. The cost of PPV? $4.95 or so. Worth it? Meh.

The movie is cute enough, and as at least one online reviewer said, "I think it would have been cool had they just used two words throughout the whole movie: Eve and Walle." Basically, I never got into the feeling of the film. I mean, sure, the visuals are nothing short of awesome. But, that's come to be expected from Pixar. The story? Again - Meh.

Okay, so one lone cleaner bot gets caught up in a psycho-robot's 'orders' to keep the spaceship in space. There is the not-quite-subtle dig at humans who sit around and get fat and lazy and who have made too much trash to live on the earth. There is the seemingly lone plant that will save all of humanity. There is the multitude of comedic scenes where robots take on human characteristics, breaking the rules and creating chaos.

But, in the end, I just didn't get it. To me, it was a lot like the end of Stephen King's "The stand." So, basically, we had to sit through the whole thing just to say we have to start all over again?? Really? Wow, don't hurt me with that one.

I have to say the other thing that annoyed the tar out of me was the whole "A113" thing. Look, when that was an insider's joke, it was fun to find the references in Pixar films. Here, they beat you senseless with it. Give it a rest. We get it. and if you have no idea what I'm talking about, feel free to google it ot look it up on Wikipedia.

Wall-E is a cute enough movie I guess, but if you watch it, just watch it for the animation and for heaven's sake, don't THINK while you're watching it. Oh, yeah, and just forget Fred Willard is even in there....

Jan 17, 2009

"I was, but I changed majors" - a trip to the oral surgeon

Friday began normally enough. We all got up and got ready. Shan and I loaded up the kids and took them to school. After that, Shan wanted to stop in Hope on the way to the oral surgeon, so we stopped for gas and a car wash. The only problem is that the car wash was closed because the outside temperature was 25 degrees. Well, the plus side is that because she paid for the car wash at the pump, she can still use the coupon for a week.

Since we still had time to kill, I showed Shan how to play solitaire and bubble breaker on my phone. At some point in there, I took the Valium the surgeon had given me to use prior to the surgery.

We headed to Texarkana. I don't remember the trip down there being out of the ordinary, other than I remember seeing large rocks at various places along the way on the Interstate. Thinking back, I'm not sure if they were rocks or big chunks of ice that had fallen off trucks coming from points north and/or east...

We arrived at the doctor's office and the receptionist checked me. Within in just a few moments, I was being led to the room where I'd have my wisdom tooth and my 'extra' tooth removed. The surgeon's building is deceptively large. It does not look as big from the outside as it is on the inside. I was led down one hall, made a left, and then led down another hall until we got to the room.

I sat down in the comfy brown leather chair and then tilted back in a slightly reclined position. As the nurse got the equipment ready, she asked if I wanted a blanket before she left. I didn't think I needed one, so I declined. The only thing I can figure is that she pushed some button on the way out that suddenly turned the blower on ultra-high because I found myself sitting beneath a wind turbine, wishing I had not only accepted the offer for the blanket, but that it was also an ELECTRIC one! Holy cow!

Somewhere in my Valium-induced state, I thought of looking around for one of the nurse emergency buttons, but before my brain could make whatever connections are necessary for actually movement, she was back with more surgical equipment and the doctor followed close behind.

Before the day of the dental work, the doctor's office called to remind me to wear a 'comfortable short-sleeved shirt' for the procedure. I chose my "50th Corvette" anniversary polo shirt. It is very comfortable, and was more than a t-shirt. Why i thought I needed to look decent for an oral operation, I have no idea. In any case, the doctor said that when he was younger, he wanted a Corvette and now that he could actually afford one, what he really wants is a new tractor. :-) I told him that I still want one, but that the older I get, then less likely I am to buy one for the simple fact that getting in and out of one is no where near as easy as my truck!

The doctor prepped my right arm for the IV that would deliver the anesthetic. He poked a little but couldn't get the vein to cooperate. I am not a big fan of needles in the first place, and this was not helping matters. So, he moved to my left arm and had the same result. I have no idea how much time passed, but after beating my wrists and the back of my hands for a while, the doctor finally tried my right arm and again and found what he was looking for.

As the doctor and his two nurses were getting everything in place, the doctor said, "Was he pre-med?" And I answered, "I was, but I changed majors." I vaguely remember the sound of chuckles. That was the last thing I remembered for a while.

There are a couple of things I remember, or at least I THINK I remember... At one point, I am pretty sure that I was SNORING during my operation. My brain kicked in and I thought, "Holy cow, I am snoring during my surgery! I cannot believe I am snoring! I have got to stop that." I have no idea if I had actually snored or not.

I don't remember anything about the wisdom tooth portion of the show, but the 'extra' tooth I had in the front of my mouth was a raucous occasion. I remember hearing the sound of drilling or filing or both. Later, Shan said the doctor told her that he had a heck of a time with that tooth. so, did I really hear all the trouble or was it just my imagination? The nurse said I was asleep during the whole thing. All I know is that I am pretty sure I really heard all the trouble, but never felt a thing.

I kinda remember the nurse telling me that everything went well and that Shan had to bring her vehicle to the back door where the covered area was in order to get me loaded up. I was led down another hallway to a wooden door. When the door opened, I remember seeing a large white truck, thinking, "That is NOT Shan's van..." I don't remember actually getting into the van.

I also don't remember much of anything about the trip home until we stopped at Sonic. Shan ordered a sweet tea for me so that I could take my medications. Oh, I do remember trying to talk to Shan but I could not get my tongue to work right. I remember looking in the vanity mirror, trying to figure out where the tip of my tongue had gone. I could feel the back and sides of my tongue, but not the tip. I worked very hard to get the tip into view, but I could not figure out how to make the blankety-blank thing actually FUNCTION!

The other thing I recall is rubbing my chin, thinking they had covered my entire face in gauze. I had not shaven that morning, so apparently, my stubble felt like gauze in my current mental state. I couldn't figure out what could have possibly gone wrong that they would have to wrap my entire head in gauze! It was not until I was looking in the vanity mirror to figure out how to work my tongue that I realized I did not have gauze wrapped all over my head! Yeah, put me in the special class, folks...

Now, remember, I wore my corvette polo shirt... Yeah, here is advice to any oral surgeons out there: tell your patients to wear comfortable short-sleeved shirts that they DON'T MIND SLOBBERING ON! I could not figure out how to get the tea in my mouth without it spilling all down the front of my shirt! I am not allowed to use a straw, which I think is actually some twisted humor on the doctor's part! I think they really just want the patient to provide as much entertainment as possible following surgery! I felt like Bill Cosby did when he tells the story of going to the dentist "Ribinse!? Youbu want muhbe to ribinse!?" (For those of you not familiar, it is in his "Bill Cosby: Himself" routine. A true classic. See it here!)

Shan gave me half a Phenigrin for nausea. I put it in my mouth, but once i took a sip of tea, I couldn't tell if I had swallowed the pill or if it had spilled out my mouth with most of the tea. Shan said I kept saying, "I can't find the pill. I can't find it in my mouth. I don't know if I swallowed it!" She said she was part laughing, part gagging. She has a very weak stomach and watching her husband spewing tea all over himself was tripping her gag reflex.

The only thing I kept thinking was that I did not want anyone I knew to be at the Sonic while I was making a slob of myself! I kept trying to figure out if the guys in the truck across the way were county employees (namely, Shan's Dad) or not. Evidently, a teacher had pulled up next to us, and I waved at her, but don't remember any of that. (Shan said it was Mrs. Marlar, for those that know her.)

The next thing I remember, we were home again. Emily's Honor Roll program was Friday afternoon and Shan was going to watch that and then pick up Tyler from school. I told her I would be fine. She reminded me that I needed to change out the gauze in my mouth. As she walked out the door, I remember thinking that I needed to get up.

And then I fell asleep. I was out for another hour or so, but when I woke up, I remembered I had to change my gauze. I also realized that the pain medicine was wearing off in a severe way! I felt like someone had not only beat me with a stick, but that my bottom teeth were evidently soldered to my top teeth! Every time I tried to open my mouth, it felt like I was pulling the bottom teeth out of their sockets! HOLY SMOKES! I finally did get up and change out the gauze. As I sat back down on the couch, I remember hearing the van pull up. Apparently, I fell asleep so quickly that when Shan and the kids came in, I was snoring VERY loudly.. so much they couldn't even talk to themselves over the sound! Man, how bad is that!?

The rest of Friday was spent in and out of consciousness. I barely remember my Mom coming down and at one point, Janette had come over to give Shan some stuff but I could not wake up enough to say anything. Or if I did wake up, I don't remember any of it. Tyler decided to play Guitar Hero and I told him I would play bass. I watched the colored circles come down the fret board, but I could not make my fingers match the colors and strum at the same time. All I can tell you is that rock stars who are doing drugs are certainly not on Valium or hydrocodine, because there is no way to make your fingers press the strings while your other hand strums, and still make any kind of coherent music! Tyler said we actually beat three of four songs! I have no idea how that happened.

Shan made taco soup and gave me a bowl to eat for supper. It is not easy to eat anything while your mouth is full of gauze, but I managed to spoon it in and it was delicious!

I took my pain meds as often as I was allowed and Shan kept up with the timing. By the time it was bedtime, I had taken the gauze out completely (I had to switch it out every 30 minutes or so during the day). I opted not to take any pain meds before going to bed, and when I woke up Saturday, my mouth was killing me.

I got up and took my meds, then Emily and I watched tom and Jerry cartoons while I began typing this out. I have to say, I have no idea if the words on this post make any sense at all, but I'll do a quick review and fix what I can. I don't know how hydrocodine affects you, but it gives me a distinct feeling of loopiness.

And if you really want the whole story, told with a HUGE amount of funny moments, ask Shan to tell you all about it. :-)

Jan 14, 2009

So, just how long are the 12 days of Christmas?

Over on my Indians-related blog (tribecards.blogspot.com), I finally completed my "12 Days of Christmas" giveaway. Go ahead. Read that again. I know, I know... You see, for the second year now, I have offered to give away bunches of baseball cards in the format of 12 so-and-so, 11 such-and-such, and so on, to anyone who requested a gift pack. The only 'rule' is that the requests have to include at least a couple baseball teams and preferably a player or two. This is so that I can create a variety but also in case I run out of a particular team.

The first time I did it, my "12 Days Giveaway" actually went on until January 23rd because I was so late in being able to get gift packs together. This year, I got an earlier start, and beat my 'record' by nine days! So, you see, even though it is a tad past Christmas, I am getting better at it... Of course, Shan is glad the whole thing is over so that I can finally clean up the mess of cards that have been taking over the house since I started this year's giveaway...

I have to admit that I went way overboard with my card buying for this year's giveaway. I thought I was going to run out of cards, so I bought boxes and boxes off of eBay. Well, those certainly came in handy, but, um, well, let's just say I could open my own card shop with what is left over... I actually now have MORE cards than when I started. Ooops.

That's okay, I will use those to send to folks that I regularly trade with, plus I may actually break down and sell groups of them online. We'll see.

Today's adventure led me to the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. I was strongly encouraged to attend a seminar being conducted by Cisco. No, not the singer (Sisqo), and not the food distribution people (Sysco). These are the networking people you may have seen ads for on TV. Though, right now, I cannot recall what the ads say, so chalk one up for ineffective advertising.

The invitation I got said the seminar would last from 8a-5p. Talk about a long day... Instead, there was no 'seminar' as it were, but rather a room full of companies that work with Cisco placed around the perimeter where one could visit with the rep behind the table(s) to talk about the various networking gizmos and gadgets (and Cisco itself had tables). This was a 'come and go' type arrangement as opposed to a 'sit in a chair all day and listen to us preach at you' situation.

It was great! I talked with each of the vendors, got a lot of helpful information and then was able to go off on my own afterward. Okay, 'go off on my own' translates to this: Emily had been sick all night with some kind of stomach thing, but never got to the vomiting part (more in a moment). I called Shan after she had sent me an email about Emily. I told Shan I'd head toward the house and call when I close to see if Emily needed to come home. It turned out that by the time I got close enough, Emily was fine. I spent the afternoon answering emails from the house. I have to say that working from home was kinda nice.

Ah, back to last night, er this morning. Evidently, Emily was up around 2am for quite a while with the sick feeling in her stomach. Why say 'evidently?' Well, you see, I slept through the whole thing. How Shan hasn't either put a pillow over my face or simply started beating me with a bat yet is beyond me. Lucky for me, she hasn't thought of those... or at least hasn't told ME if she has.... Then again, writing it down here, knowing she will be reading this before too long may not be the smartest move I've made in a while. Ah, well, roll the dice, cast the stones...

sidenote: if I don't post anything, like EVER, after this, you might want to send for help... just sayin, I could probably use it... Then again, by the time you decide I wasn't posting anymore, it would have been way too late for help... You might want to check my facebook status for good measure then... :-)

By now, I'm sure you've heard of the 13 year old girl that had like 14528 text messages in a month, right? Well, her plan does have unlimited texting, so there was no bill outside of the monthly one. Someone figured it up and it translates to something like one text message every two minutes for the time she is awake.

The average comes up to about 484 messages a day. I don't know why, but I thought it would translate into a much higher frequency than that. Okay, so let's say she can't text in school though. That's like 6-8 hours, right? So, if we take out 8 hours for school, her average comes up to one text per minute for every hour she is a wake and not in school (solid 8 hours).

Have you ever watched your kids text? Once a minute is nothing. I've seen Tyler send and receive 6 or more messages in a minute. Granted, 14500+ messages is insane. Now, I don't know if that's how many she sent only or if that includes receiving, too. For the sake of discussion, let's say it is sending only. Okay, so let's say she does not text at home while eating supper or doing homework. How long would that be? 2 hours per school night, spread across the month evenly would come up to, say, 6.5 hours a day of actual texting time. That comes up to about 5 messages every 4 minutes (roughly). Really? Is that all? I'm thinking it's a wonder most kids don't have texting numbers that high.

I would venture that a lot of us 'older folks' don't see the appeal of texting. I mean, if you are going to be using the phone anyway, why not just call? Here's my thinking on that... Why call? Do you remember spending hours on the phone with your best friend when you were younger? Sure you do. How much of that time was 'wasted' by either not saying anything at all (both of you watching the same tv show and making comments every once in a while). Or how much time did you spend going back and forth with the "whatcha doin? Nothin." exchange?

Well, kids are doing the same thing today, but instead of being on the phone with ONE person, they are doing it with several friends at the same time. I don't know about your kids, but Tyler still talks every once in a while in addition to texting. But, really, it's faster to get what you want to know with a quick text and a quick reply.

Another issue we have out here in the boonies is signal strength. It takes very little to send out a text message, but we drops voice calls all the time. Why fight the whole "can you hear me now" thing if all you have to do is send a text message?

The 13 year old girl's parents have restricted her to no texting after supper. So, I would be interested to know what she does in order to communicate with her friends. Does she TALK to them? Does she get on her computer and IM them? Let's say it's the latter. Let's also say that her computer is in her own room. So now, where the girl may have been in the living room watching tv with the rest of family while texting, she is in her room, using IM to talk and is now pulled away from her family. Did that solve anything? Did it really help anything? Again, I have no idea what the stipulations are, I'm just thinking out loud, er online, er well, you know what I mean...

Okay, I better play the "Dr. Phil" card here a moment and say that 'ideally,' we would turn off the texting, turn off the computers, and (gasp!) turn off the television in order to find something more constructive to do as a family... I agree, but realistically these days, how often is that going to happen? We're a multitasking society. The thought of sitting down and doing one thing at a time probably would drive many of us bonkers... (btw, i found the pic online, not my own creation... dang it.)

Unless, of course, we're talking about sitting down for a round of SingStar... :-)

Jan 13, 2009

Kinda handy

Posted by ShoZu

The picture above was sent from my phone through the ShoZu application. the original title of the post was the filename of the photo (not very descriptive). Granted, it's the first time I even used the program, so there may be settings or something I haven't tapped into yet. The plus side is that I can post pics on my blog directly from the phone cam as things are happening... What things? Who the heck knows... Well, I gotta give props to jeff Madlock at Hope for this app.

Jan 12, 2009

A few things to ponder

sea kittens - PETA has decided that they want the world to stop eating fish, or maybe more specifically to stop KILLING fish. Their suggestion/solution? Hey, let's call them 'sea kittens!' You know, because no one in their right mind would ever want to kill something called a 'sea kitten.'

Seriously. Look it up yourself. My question is: What are these guys smoking? First of all, they are called FISH. Second of all, you can call it what you want, but I will have no problem pulling up to Long John Silvers and ordering a basket of fish, sea kittens, or seaside-roadkill for that matter. Call it what you want, I'm eating it. According to a news report I heard, the site (no I have not checked it out myself yet) mainly focuses on farm-raised fish. So, only those raised specifically for the purpose of eating are going to be called 'sea kittens??' You have got to be kidding me.

There is a Shell gas station in Hope, AR, that has nothing but pay-at-the-pump. There is no store, no attendants, just a few gas pumps. Here is my question: If there are no employees to pay, then why is the gas there actually one of the HIGHEST price gasolines in town? Seems to me that if you don't have to pay anyone to man the fort, you could shave quite a bit off the cost of the gas and corner the market in Hope. Then again, maybe the owners refuse to eat 'sea kittens' too...

The McDonald's in Hope is closed. Why? because they want to build a new building. In fact, they wanted to build the new building ON THEIR OWN LOT next to the existing building. The city refused to let them do that. So, they have to tear down the existing building and put up a new on in its place. Frankly, I'd tear it down and leave town. Nah, I'd just leave town and let the next sucker that comes in deal with the building. How stupid on the city's part. They are going to lose a ton of tax revenue while the new building gets constructed.

Do you know who reads your blog? Your boss? Mine does, or at least she has a time or two. how do i know this? well, she told me. The question then arises: Once you know your boss (or wife or kids or mother or whatever) is reading, does that change what you post and how you post? For me, the answer is "nope." I write what pops in my head. If it sits 'wrong' with those that know me, I figure they will either quit reading or respond or maybe both. Do I worry about getting fired? No. why not? Because I was taught a long time ago that you shouldn't put down on paper (or online) anything that you wouldn't say outright. So, basically, I don't intend to write anything that would warrant getting fired. Of course, sometimes I may write something that I didn't realize could be used in terms of continued employment, but then I will deal with those consequences if/when they arise. Of course, if you've read most of the things I post, they are too far off center to be seen as anything other than satire or humorous takes on life. So, why bring all this up? Well, I offered a suggestion that I thought was 'outside the box' for our organization. evidently, it was too far 'outside the box.' I think it's funny how we are told that we have to change certain things because we are trying to break the 'we have always done it that way' mold, and then when I suggest changing something that has been in place for 25+ years, I'm breaking tradition. Or, at the least, going to cause expense in order to change it (I'm talking about the company logo here). Well, at least my boss(es) were open to the suggestion. That's more than I can about a whole lot of other companies I've worked for...

I spent the day in Little Rock working on our E-rate forms. E-Rate is the government's way of giving money to schools in order to help get technology into the districts. You see a 'universal service fee' on your phone bill every month. That money goes into a pot and is divided among all the schools in the nation that apply for a share of it. the share is based on the number of free/reduced lunch students you have in your various schools. Well, actually, a percentage is calculated. Then, the schools apply for that discount on things like phone bills or network wiring, etc. Let me tell you, it is a pain in the butt. It is a whole lot of work to pull together the phone bills, contracts, statistics, etc. This is my first year of working with the system, and today's experience did not help me enjoy the process at all. By the time I had spent 4 hours researching, filing, etc, the system had duplicated information before we (i was getting help) realized what it had done. so, we submitted the form and then saw the problem. 4 hours wasted. well, maybe not 'wasted' but certainly not spent as best as it could have been. Now, I get to Fax in a cancellation request for what I did today (Monday) and then spend Tuesday and/or Wednesday re-entering the info all over again. Well, at least I am a education service center and not a whole state...

Tonight, I was supposed to teach some parents about Internet safety. I showed up. No one else did. Nice.

Jan 11, 2009

2012 and Pittsburgh's goin to the sup-er bowl!

Well, really, let's start with the important item:

Pittsburgh's goin to the sup-er bowl! Yeah, I'm a week early to be making that claim, but that's okay. Here we go Steelers, Here we go!!

Have you heard about the impending doom coming at us in 2012? yeah, you see, evidently, there is some kind of planetary alignment such that the earth, sun and center of the milky way galaxy are all lined up. There is some talk that there will be a much larger alignment as well. All of this is supposed to take place on December 21, 2012. what does it mean for the earth? well, if you believe some of the doomsday people out there, it means the end of the world as we know it.

what's funny to me is that these same people say WE humans can actually do something about it. You know, if we clean up the air, cut down on ozone-depletion activities, eat more porridge, whatever, then we can actually affect the outcome. Yeah, whatever. Look, if the world is coming to an end in 2012, then it's coming to an end. If it isn't going to end, then it won't. seems pretty easy to me.

Do a google search on "2012" and you will find all kinds of goofballs out there, including those that say it has to be true because Nostradamus predicted it. Look, some say he predicted Hitler's rise and fall. The catch is that apparently, Nostradamus called him "Hisler" instead of Hitler. sorry, in my book, that's a miss. If I play the lottery, I predict which numbers will hit. If I am wrong by one little number, I'm wrong, and I lose. Same thing here. You are either right or wrong. There is no 'close' in prophesy nor in lottery. Don't believe me? Just try claiming your 154 million bucks with a losing ticket.

what about the Mayan calendar? it ends on Dec 21, 2012. Okay, when was that calendar devised? Look, our brilliant minds couldn't even make computers roll over to the year 2000 without serious updates and upgrades, so my guess is they figured we would be smart enough to figure out the calendar by the time 2012 rolled around.

What about the Bible? You can line up whatever crazy cutouts you want to that make the bible say thing that are 'hidden' in the text, but no where does it say 'December 21, 2012 is the end, folks. thanks for playing.'

As i have said many times before, the earth (and universe and, if you are a believer, God) will do whatever is going to happen with or without our involvement. Do I think we influence things on earth? Of course. If we just throw our trash on the streets, people get sick. We've seen it, we learned from it. Can we alter the alignment of planets, or will we be destroyed because we used too much hair spray in the 80's? I seriously doubt.

what about wars, famine, etc etc? Yeap, we've seen wars since.. umm... well, basically since time began. same is true of any other 'bad' thing going around. so long as there are people on earth, and so long as the whole anti-Christ thing hasn't started yet, then there will be wars, famine, baldness, fat people, skinny people, whatever. It's called being human living on earth. it's funny that some of the 'smartest' people in the world have yet to figure this out.

Honestly, I don't think anything other than perhaps a neat sky show will happen on dec 21, 2012. And, really, I don't think we'll see anything without a telescope anyway. If I'm wrong, feel free to come by and tell me so after the fact. I'm a big boy, i live on earth. i can take it.

Jan 6, 2009

The "Dream Job"

Imagine this: You receive a phone call and the person on the other end tells you that you are the lucky winner of your 'dream job.' No matter what it is, no matter where it is, you win your dream job at a salary that you feel is right for the job.

What would you say is your 'dream job?'

I happen to love what I do, but I would never say it is my 'dream job.' So, what would make up my dream job? I would have to say it would be one in which I had several employees (could be 5 or 500, either way). It would be my own business or I would be the CEO, President, whatever, but would still have my hands in whatever day-to-day stuff that went on. As for the business itself, I would want to have a computing company that provided affordable training for people that wanted to learn how to use Windows, make the most of their digital cameras, make their own movies, etc. I would also provide service for users having trouble with their computers. Oh yeah, and we would sell items on eBay for consignment.

I would also provide sports collectibles. Yeah, I know, weird combination - computers and collectibles. But, that would combine two of the things I like most.

Of course, I would either have the business in the town where i live or in a nearby town with very little commuting involved.

And the salary? Between $75,000 - $100,000 would suit me just fine. In fact, I would have the salaries set up such that employees would earn a base rate plus commission on trainings or sales or something. I would only increase my salary based on what the company was doing overall and take a cut if the company takes a hit. In fact, all employees would participate in the program (or not work for me) as part of their contract. I don't have all the details, as there would certainly be a period of time for fluctuations, etc in which adjustments downward would be buffered as to limit the potential for hardship.

So, why don't I jump the ship I'm on right now and head for the dream? It's called a 'dream job' for a reason. I live in a very small town (less than 4000 people), and though I would guess many have computers, ipods, etc, I do not believe I could generate enough revenue to make it float for long. I could be wrong, of course, but I am not in the position to step out on that 'whim' right now to try it. Might i someday? You never know. Winning the lottery would go a long way in helping that move from 'dream' to reality... :-)

So, what's your 'dream job?'

Jan 5, 2009

Getting back to work

One of the biggest advantages to working in public education is the two-week break you (except, of course, I mean "I") get at Christmas. Yes, we in education suffer from sub-par salaries compared to those who perform the same tasks in the private sector, but one of the perks is the extended break we get.

The hardest part of the perk, of course, is making the shift from mental shutdown to setting one's brains back into gear for work. I have found, through my years of personal experience, that 'catching up to speed' comes quicker then is ever anticipated. Being off for two weeks doesn't quite mean what it used to before e-mail, cell phones, and smart phones were everywhere. During my time off, I checked email for 'major' messages, so there were no huge surprises.

The biggest project of the day turned out to be a meeting regarding the new building our organization is planning. I feel very lucky in that my boss actually includes the technology department in the planning. Seriously. I have heard (and seen firsthand) school districts and other co-ops build a new facility without ever once talking to the technology folks about the technology needs of the new building.

The discussion centered on electrical and network routing, office layouts, and more. While it proved very productive, the purpose of this meeting was to prepare for a meeting we are having tomorrow (Tuesday) with the architect over the same issues. Yes, something of a 'meeting to have a meeting...' Hey, I'm just happy to be included at all!

I spent much of the rest of the day catching up on voicemail, answering new email, and cleaning out my inbox. Yeah, a couple times a year, we send out a list of the 'top 10 offenders.' I sent out the list, letting the top 10 know they need to clean out their mailboxes, delete old mail, and empty the deleted items folder, etc. The biggest problem we have are attachments. Frankly, I wish email never allowed attachments in the first place. Email was never supposed to serve as a file transfer system, yet I am just as guilty as anyone of sending a file to myself or another person. But, really, those attachments are a nightmare on email systems. The best thing a person can do is save any attachments they want to keep and then delete the messages. I had (and still have) a lot of old email that was taking up space. I did a lot of housecleaning and hope to finish up tomorrow while doing some literal house cleaning around my desk.

I'll let you know how that goes...

Jan 3, 2009

Finally Fotos!

Finally! Here are some of the pictures we took during the New Year's Eve "bash" we held at our place to ring in the new year. They are presented somewhat randomly because of the new (stupid) way Blogger does pictures now:

In a rare moment, we actually were able to get Tyler and Sarah to sit next to each other and at least PRETEND to like each other. Okay, they like each other, well, maybe 'tolerate' is a better word... :-)

Here, Tyler and Jessica pose for a picture. Aren't we cruel as parents? :-)

Shan shows everyone how to bust a move on DDRHP2, with a little help from Kensley!

Here, Shan is showing off her DDRHP2 skillz!

Sarah and Emily pose for a cute picture:

Kensley shows her daddy (Nick) how to take on the DDRHP2 dance mat:

Michelle gets in the groove on the dance mat, too:

Ah, and here, we wrangled the kiddos for a group photo op. Aren't they just precious!?

Greg and Michelle celebrate their "A" status they reached while tear up the dance floor... Well, 'tearing up' is a bit strong... But, they DID make "A"s...

Greg shows off his "A" skillz in DDRHP2!

We all gather, eagerly awaiting the countdown to 2009!

Here I am... Yeah, even I'M not sure what I'm doing in that shot....

Here I am doing my best "Jerry" imitation (from Boston Legal).. Ya know, the whole wooden cigarette thing... Okay, nevermind...

The whole room marvels at Greg's fancy footwork!

And, last but not least, after everything was said and done, Emily reached into Shan's night table drawer, and pulled out the one thing that says it all: