Sep 27, 2010

Monday, Monday, Monday!

This is a repost from my daily work journal. I thought I'd share it here. I'm all kindergarten like that:

After spending the weekend feeling as if I had been run over by a monster truck or two (read, sick!), I got to work this morning, checked in for the layout of the day, then headed to Texarkana for a supply run.

I never really thought buying some "knick-knack" shelves (for video cameras) and a few cables would be such an adventure. I started the trip at Home Depot. Did you know Home Depot does not carry anything shorter than 23.5" in the way of shelves? I didn't. In fact, I think they used to. Oh, well. I figured I would try another store.

I went to Best Buy to look for an S-Video extension cable, a couple of VGA extensions, and to see if *they* happened to have shelving for speakers (that I could use for video cameras). They did not have an S-Video extension. In fact, they only had a 6-foot standard one. So, I bought two VGA extensions I needed and a small switch for the Sympodium cabinet (way too many network connections wrapped up in one unit for me!).

After Best Buy, I drove over to Lowe's to look for shelving. I actually found a two-pack for $20 that had two black shelves with hardware for mounting it "bracketlessly" to the wall. Very slick! I picked up two of those and headed for Radio Shack.

I arrived before Radio Shack opened, so I checked my phone messages and had one from an area tech. I returned the call and he was having trouble getting some users to log in to his Novell network. He said users could log in to "Workstation Only (WSO)" mode. I suggested that he have one of the WSO users login in using the Novell system tray icon once they were logged in to WSO mode. It worked - the users could read mapped drives and get to Groupwise. Now that we had a way for users to function, the next step was to isolate the problem. I said that I thought the problem was either in a login script or was happening as part of the login process. He told me that some users had received an anti-virus message that a couple files on the server were infected. It's important to note that not all users were having trouble logging in. Because the users could login through WSO (which runs scripts as part of logging in), I had eliminated the login scripts as the culprit. The tech said he would call me back later.

Though Radio Shack did not have an S-Video extension cable, they did have an S-Video coupler, which would serve the same purpose.

I got back to the co-op and worked with Josh to install the shelves in the Conference room, do some cable management and get wires ready for the Panduit I have coming. After that, we worked on the Distance Learning room. From there, I began moving telephone lines around in the telco closet. We've been having trouble with the fire alarm/security system and the elevator not playing nicely with each other. So, like a teacher in a classroom, I separated everyone. The elevator is now on its own line and the security system is on two completely different lines than it used to be. I had never used a 66-block punchdown tool before. It's not quite the same as a 110-punch. I kept getting the wire turned sideways, so it wouldn't cut. I finally showed it who was in charge. It wasn't me. Just kidding.

I spent the rest of the day checking email and answering phone calls (which amounted to about 30 minutes total. It was a full day!)

Sep 26, 2010

I hate being sick

It started Wednesday night. I don't really remember now.  I ended up going to bed with a slight tickle in my throat.  It was nothing major, just a bit of an annoyance.  I took some night-time medicine just in case.

Thursday came and I woke with something a little stronger than a tickle, but still nothing that a few lozenges couldn't handle.  By Thursday evening, things were on a downhill slide.  The tickle was more like swallowing bits of sandpaper and my body decided to pretend it was in one of those "night-time, sniffling, sneezing..." commercials.

Friday came, it was bad.  Sore throat, headache, stuffy nose that was also running.  Ah, yes, the makings of a full-on cold (or worse, flu).  I wasn't the only one, though.  A couple folks at the office were having similar symptoms.  Trying to install cabling, run wires, climb ladders, etc is not fun on a good day.  Try it when your head is spinning *before* you get on the ladder.  At the top of the 8-foot ladder, I looked down at one point.  The pattern in the carpet swirled, swayed, and swooped.  I was pretty sure the ladder's legs went loose and limber as I stood there trying to find something, anything, to hang on to.  Lucky for me, the ceiling grid is firmly attached to the roof.  Friday night, we went to the Curley Wolf game and watched our boys in maroon and white put some serious hurting on the other team.  I will say, though, that when the other team managed to score a late-game touchdown, EVERYONE cheered - our fans, their fans, everyone.  It was a reassuring moment that affirmed all that is actually "right" with small town Friday night football.  After that, we headed to the church for "5th Quarter" in which local youth are invited from post-game to midnight for games, food, and fun.  We worked the concessions.  Honestly, I don't remember much about the event.  I was kinda out of it.

Saturday rolled in like heavy equipment at a road construction site.  In fact, I believe my first thought Saturday morning was, "Did anyone get the number of that truck?"  I lazed around for a while, then we got up, cleaned the house, and headed to Hope for lunch and weekly grocery shopping.  I truly do not remember much about Saturday, except we listened to the Hogs on the radio until we got home and caught the house of cards collapsing on television (translation: Mallett's fall into the well that became the loss to Alabama).  I'm sure we did some other things on Saturday. I wouldn't bet on that though.  Going to bed was rough - lots of meds and I'm sure I fell asleep before even deciding if I like the new pillows we got.

Sunday rolled in more like a VW Bug than construction equipment.  I hung out, got dressed for church and went to service.  It's my month for taking up the offering as one of the ushers, and I vaguely remember telling one of the guys at the door that I was not feeling well.  I took up the offering.  I have been blessed in ways that surpass any sickness I might be having, and the LEAST that I could do is take up the tithes and offerings.  After service, we came home for some of Shan's 2x4 soup!  I don't know what's all in it, but it is GOOD!  After lunch, I alternated between snoozing and watching football.  Except for the sick part, it was a nice way to spend a Sunday.

Now, I told you all of that to tell you this: I hate being sick.  Being sick puts me in a position where I can't do anything, or at least very little.  I am sure I've talked about this before, but I am not one of those whiny, lay around guys.  There are things to be done.  While there was no whining (at least that I can recall), I was certainly not much help today. I tried to help Shan with lunch, but she had everything under control and I was basically wandering around the kitchen aimlessly.  Now, I will tell you, aimless walking is something I tend to do when I am not feeling well.  I don't like to be babied, so rather than moan and groan on the couch, I like to walk around and give the appearance that I am among the living.  In actuality, everyone would probably rather I just sit down and rest (red, stay out of the way).  For what it's worth, that's what I tried to do Sunday after I left the kitchen.  Of course, this time in sickness, I could do little else. 

Now, if only there are no feelings of being run over by anything on Monday, I'll be good to go - lots of work to do!

Sep 25, 2010

Woo Pig Sooie!

I did not always cheer on the Razorbacks.  When I lived in Pittsburgh, naturally I cheered on Pitt and Penn State.  Unless they played each other, in which case, I cheered Pitt. While attending CU-Boulder, I cheered for the Buffs, of course.  Then, when I moved to Arkansas, I hated the Razorbacks. Really. 

But, over the years that I have lived here, I learned to build respect for the various athletic teams and have since become a casual fan of the Hogs.  I am not a die-hard fan - I don't know all the stats of all the players, and couldn't even tell you who the players are outside of Mallett (and yes, I may have spelled his name wrong for all I know).  But, I have become a fan, nonetheless. 

And so, today when we (yes, I said WE) face the Rolling Tide, I say:


Sep 13, 2010

The fine print?

I realize the wording on the image above is a little hard to read, so here is what it says:

"Transient Suppression Voltage 100V - The effect of this product on connected equipment and the adequacy of the voltage suppression level to protect connected equipment from voltage surges has not been evaluated by underwriters laboratories."

Now, I normally would not care about something like that on a surge suppressor like the one above, but do you notice the "UL" logo on the device!?  How can they use the UL logo if the device was never evaluated by UL for surge suppression!?  What *was* it evaluated for, then?


Sep 12, 2010

Happy Birthday, Shan!!

As one fantasy season is ending, another begins

As I've reported on here before, I am in two fantasy baseball leagues.  What I did not realize was that in one of those leagues (where my team is the "wRappers"), I am currently battling it out for 7th place in the consolation bracket.  Laugh if you will, but I believe this is the farthest I have ever made it in a fantasy baseball league.

While that season winds down, the fantasy football league gets underway!  Okay, okay, technically it started on Thursday night, but none of my players played then, so for me the season starts today!  Lets take a look at my current fantasy roster:

Tribecards Turfdiggers

QB Peyton Manning (Ind - QB)
WR Hines Ward (Pit - WR)
WR Steve Smith (Car - WR)
RB Rashard Mendenhall (Pit - RB)
RB Joseph Addai (Ind - RB)
TE Tony Gonzalez (Atl - TE)
W/R Dwayne Bowe (KC - WR)
BN Felix Jones (Dal - RB)
BN Michael Bush (Oak - RB)
BN Santana Moss (Was - WR)
BN Matthew Stafford (Det - QB)
BN Chris Cooley (Was - TE)

K Mason Crosby (GB - K)
BN Josh Scobee (Jac - K)

Defense/Special Teams
Pittsburgh (Pit - DEF)

I lucked out in the draft and got the Pittsburgh defense! Excellent!

The league I am in is the "Super Secret League," which normally has 10 managers (I believe). Well, this year, only 8 showed up. This should make for some interesting trades and adds/drops. This week, I am pitted against "Gold Sox" who had a 17.72-point Thursday night and currently leads the league in this first week. Those points were racked up between just two players: Favre (Min) and P Thomas (N.O.). Wow! We'll see how long that lasts now that the Sunday games are here!

Now, before you start thinking I am some old pro at this thing, remember: I stink. I just hope this year I got lucky with my drafting. Besides, this season, my players actually have clothes to wear!

Sep 8, 2010

Excellent customer service

It is not hard, really, to deliver excellent customer service.  When a customer has a problem, just try your best to satisfy that person.  In my case, I have two instances recently where my concerns were handled swiftly and very well. 

The first is with Global Gov Ed.  We had ordered six 32-inch tvs and after they arrived, we realized that two would not fit our furniture situation at the office.  The sales rep worked hard to not only get return info, but also found us very suitable replacements!

The second was personal.  My account at the bank had a debit that was not supposed to be there.  I worked with the rep and we determined the source and got the situation handled quickly and accurately.  She even waived the associated fees for my trouble!

I worked in customer servive for several years (and in a way, still do).  I learned a long time ago, and in a very hard way, that the best solutions are those where the rep finds out *exactly* what the problem is and finds out *exactly* what the customer would like to resolve the issue.  Sometimes, there has to be a meeting  in the middle.  Mostly, though, it is not hard to resolve a customer's complaints.

Sep 7, 2010

Letting off STEAM (and that's a good thing)

In a previous post, I talked about how much I dislike the STEAM game site as a way of software distribution.  I also talked about the hoops needed to jump through in order to be able to play a game my father had purchased some time ago.

Now, the first thing I want to do is admit that I made a mistake in dating the game.  I thought this was the original Red Orchestra. Instead, it is the OSTFRONT 41-45 (2006) version.

Steam asked me to write down my ticket number ON the CD key page of the manual.  I also has to come up with either a username or email address that he used to log in to his Steam account.  Now, how would I know that?  Well, I gave them the email address my parents used before he passed away.

Today, I received an email with his username and a new password.  I was told to use that information when logging in and I would not have to re-enter the CD key to play.

Though I still loathe such control over software installation and distribution, I do want to commend STEAM for the job their tech team did in getting me up and running on a game that my father owned.

Fantasy Baseball Season(s)

I joined two fantasy baseball leagues this season: The Card Blog League and the Card Collectors.  This is the first year that I actually tried to pay attention to my players and teams. In the past, I snagged up as many Indians as I could and just let the chips fall.  For a change of pace, I actually added and dropped players, move folks around during the week, etc.  In the end, it didn't make much difference.

The Card Blog League has 12 managers and is already two weeks into the playoffs.  Somewhere in my zeal to watch my roster, I missed the fact that I was no longer active in the league.  Yeah, that shows just how much I pay attention.  The Tribecards Tyrants finished 10th out of 12 places.  The team went 76-116-18, finishing 36.5 games behind the leader.  The next closest team was only 19 games behind, so there was no way to catch him.  Even if my tied games had been wins, I would have still fallen short.  I don't remember what my standing was last year, but I would suppose it was pretty close to the same position as this year.  The Tyrants tried, but just like the Indians in real-life, we'll take the off-season to regroup (provided I'm invited back).

The Card Collectors league also had 12 managers and the Tribecards wRappers finished in 10th place as well.  There seems to be some pattern there.  The difference, though, comes in the win-loss-tie columns.  The wRappers went 94-113-13 and were only 3.5 games behind the next team.  As for the number of games behind the leader: 26.5 out.  Still quite a bit behind.  Like the other league, I did a better job of picking a variety of players and rotating them out during the season.  I just have an amazing knack to STINK at fantasy sports.

My number one issue?  I hang on to DL'ed players way too long and I hang on to "favorite" players instead of letting them go for better players.  Even though this is fantasy baseball, I treat the teams a lot like I would a real team.  I tend to have faith the my guys are going to pull through, going to pull out of a slump, going to get better.  Sure, it means I lose a lot of games, but I still have fun playing.

Next year, I'm going for bragging rights.  Or maybe an all-Tribe team. You just never know with me.

Up next in fantasy world: The Tribecards Turfdiggers prepare for football season!

Sep 5, 2010

"Bug" - Incredibly weird and thrilling movie

Bug (Special Edition)

The other night, I was flipping through channels, as I often do, and stopped on IFC, which I also often do.  I can't remember what was on at the time, but the guide showed that a movie called "Bug" was coming up next.  The description was just vague enough to pique my interest.

Now, before I get too far, let me say that this is a movie with some rough language and also has nudity.  I am telling you that so if you are inclined to check out this bad boy, you won't come back to me and say that i didn't warn you. It's also FRUH-EAKY!  You've been warned.

The whole movie takes place at a motel in Oklahoma.  Ashley Judd plays a very easily manipulated woman who winds up falling for a stranger.  The stranger, played by Michael Shannon, is convinced that he has been inflicted (infected, injected) by the government with little bugs.

As the movie progresses, his obsession rubs off on her, and soon they are both convinced that the room is infested with bugs.  During the flick, other characters come in and out (like Harry Connick Jr) and things get weirder and weirder, eventually leading to a foil-covered room and the doctor from the  "hospital" where Shannon's character had come getting killed.

I won't tell the ending because, well, it was just out there.

Unfortunately, the ending is not as far out there as anything we've seen in the newspapers.

Do I recommend the movie?  If you like psychological thrillers, I'd say yes.  If the mental collapse of a person and the woman he gets to fall for him and his instability appeals to you, then I'd say yes.  If you're freaked out by just how "altered" some people's reality can become, then I'd stay away from this one.  Personally, it was just twisted enough that I liked it.

Confessions of a TV-watching father

I really never thought much about what TV shows I'd be watching after kids came along.  Of course, no one knows what shows will be around 2 years down the road let alone 8, 10, or 15 years.  While Tyler was growing up, we watched countless hours and episodes of shows like "Barney" and "Pokemon."  He was (and still is, actually) also fond of watching "Full House" and "Cosby" reruns.  I'm sure there were plenty of others, but those are the ones that stick out.  Oh yes, there was also the animated "Adventures of Pooh."  Somewhere along the way, the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon moved further to the forefront.  Must have been during those "Blue's Clues" days, I suppose.

Now, Nickelodeon came out when I was a kid. I remember when it first came on with shows like "You Can't Do That on Television."  That is still one of my all-time favorite shows.

Emily is much more about "Hannah Montana," "iCarly," Disney musicals, and shows like "Full House" reruns.  I just realized that both of the kids like "Family Matters," too.

So, the confession?  Ever since I saw "Grease," I have been a casual fan of musicals.  And because that has never really gone away, I actually enjoy watching the shows the kids watch.  Yeah, I'm talking about shows like "High School Musical" and, most recently, "Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam."  I also happen to enjoy "iCarly," "Hannah Montana," "Phineas & Ferb," and a plethora of other "kids" shows.

In a lot of ways, I'm partly a kid that has never really grown up.  That has served to get me into trouble on more than one occasion, but it has also served to keep me feeling young.  Oh, I'm not looking to find some "second childhood" or anything, and I am certainly not trying to some "hip, cool" parent.  The fact is, I enjoy the shows.  I also like shows like "Big Bang Theory," but that's for another post.

Now, being .. er.. experienced, I could point out all the problems with shows like "Camp Rock," and will happily do so with anyone wishing to join the conversation, but for this post, I am just admitting that I tend to enjoy the kids' shows on TV right now.  Of course, there are shows ("Degrassi" comes to mind) that I think cover topics way beyond what kids, and even teens, should be presented with.  But, that's just my opinion as a person and a father to my children.  What you let your kids watch is up to you, and I do not judge that.

I am a sucker for a feel-good movie that features music and dancing.  One of my favorites is "Save the Last Dance" with Julia Stiles.  Certainly not a kids movie, but I'm just making a point.  In relation to kids stories, "High School Musical" is not realistic enough for some people. Uh, DUH! It's a movie! On top of that, it's a MUSICAL!  Ever see (or hear of, for that matter) "West Side Story?"  How about the aforementioned "Grease?"  Of course musicals are not realistic, but that is part of the point and appeal - they let us escape into a world where singing and dancing out of the blue DOES make sense.  (Side note: I was one of the 4 people on Earth that actually *liked* "Cop Rock")

Of course, the best part of watching these shows, or any shows really, with the kids is just that... watching the shows with the kids - laughing, getting excited, feeling the pain, talking about the movie/show.  I cherish those moments. 

I hope when my kids look back at their childhood, they recall memories of the things we all did together, including the shows/movies we watched together.  I know I have those memories.  My most vivid are those of us watching "All in the Family" and "Fish."  In fact, if memory serves, I was given special permission to stay up late to watch "Fish." 

Sep 2, 2010