Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sexist emails.

I have been shocked at the escalation of the sexist humor that gets passed around in office email.  I work in a male dominated department and have worked in predominately male office environs since, well, ever.  I would say this recent volley has definitely crossed the line.  After I chuckled until my abs were sore, I was a little offended by the fact that this passes for office humor.  Interestingly, there is not one single female in my management chain, all the way up the org chart, which may be a first.  That said, here are some examples of what I'm talking about, and I wouldn't rat out my teammates, but. . .  wow. . .


Friday, December 28, 2007

Brr

Almost nobody was in the office today.  It was eerily quiet.  I replied to emails and did some research.  I got some studying done.  I really feel like I have the time to prepare for the CCIE exam and pass it.  I have exposure to the variety of technologies and real life implementations for the first time in my career that span the breadth of what's on the test.  I passed the written portion about 10 years ago and never took the lab.  I'm not sure I would have passed the lab. 

Reset button.

Having a week to just shift into low gear and vegetate on my folks' couch, go way off the diet, and enjoy a relaxing Christmas around family was just like hitting the reset button.  I'm refreshed and ready for a new year.  I finally got all my gifts given and after tomorrow at work, I'll have all my documentation done for the projects I worked on all year.  I'll be ready to move on to the next challenge.

My dad spent Christmas Day fixing the brakes on their Tahoe.  We took it for a drive to the lake, which is replete with curvy, hilly roads and amazingly beautiful scenery.  It takes some confidence in your brake job to test it out on a boat ramp.

My New Year's Resolution involves very aggressive debt elimination.  I'm so sick of paying more interest than my 401k earns.  It doesn't make sense.  I'm raising rents and paying down mortgage principle, rehabbing a now vacant property which is holding me back, and getting ready to start taking a healthy profit out of my real estate holdings and get more diversified.  My goal by the end of the summer is to unload two or three houses and use the equity to pay cash at a foreclosure auction for an abode in Texas, since my career is pushing me in that direction.  I'm not in a rush to move there, so why pay retail?

On the geek news front, a company in Switzerland has made an amphibious electric car and the darn thing doesn't even float.  It doesn't have to; it's air tight.  Check out Rinspeed's new submarine concept car named "sQuba".  No emissions.  Carbon nanotube body panels.  James Bond cool!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

X shopping days til Christmas.

It's coming down to the wire and I have some gifts to buy.  I'm definitely traveling to Oklahoma this weekend and tonight is really my last chance to shop.  Yikes.

Even the office newsletter bears good news.  It's going to be slow next week.

Dress Code

Monday-Friday- Jeans

Visitors & Guests

 No visitors this week.


I took Monday and Wednesday off, Tuesday being Christmas Day.  I'm glad to have some down time.

No hockey until Jan 6?  I might develop withdrawal symptoms.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Winding Down

I always have a rough time winding down after the Tuesday night hockey games.  I played as hard as I could, got a lot of shots, a goal, and a lot of assists.  I was playing on a team with a couple of college guys who play Division 1 hockey for Iowa State University and Missouri University and they happen to be home for Christmas.  Another guy on our team grew up playing hockey with these guys in high school, and probably before that.  I ended up cycling back to cover the point for him a lot.  These guys had a tendency to put passes just outside my reach, assuming I would read the pass and accelerate in time to intercept it.  Not knowing their systems, I would tend to zig when they expect me to zag.  By the end of the game we were hitting on all cylinders, though, and made up most of a deficit from the first period when our goalie took about 9 shots and let in about 9 goals.  I've never seen a goalie get an 0-fer.  He blamed the brittle outdoor ice surface and his dull skate blades.  He was slipping all over the place.  We would have done better just setting up some pylons in the crease.

The rink at the Carriage Club has a small parking lot full of very expensive cars on one end, and State Line Avenue at the other end.  I've seen some near misses.  I would hate to be driving up State Line Avenue and take a puck in the window, or worse, get a massive dent.  There's not much traffic on that street during the late hour when we play, anyway.  Shots that go over the glass on that end of the rink end up in Kansas.  The pucks that go over the glass into the parking lot, so far, haven't inflicted any known damage.

Friday, December 14, 2007

National Initiative for Democracy

As the political debates wear on, I'm learning about issues that never crossed my mind.  There is a group trying to implement an amendment to the Constitution to allow a law to be created by a ballot initiative at a Federal level, The National Initiative for Democracy, found at http://ni4d.us.  We have ballot initiatives in Missouri, and the resulting laws from ballot initiatives are very sensible and reflective of the actual views of average people.  They tend to be struck down by courts if they're extreme, but I can't think of a truer form of democracy.  When you tack it onto our existing system, it's like having another house in Congress which supercedes Congress and we all get a vote.  I'm still unclear about whether Federal Ballot Initiatives would be immediately enacted as law, or still require a signature or veto by the President.  After considering the possibilities, like requiring a ballot initiative for Congressional pay raises or tax increases, it certainly gives the reigns back to the people on many fronts.  These are things which the Congress would never agree to, and it adds another means to get a law enacted without a particular political party having the power to block it based on their majority in a particular chamber.  The Republic system as it is seems broken, because the real power seems to lie with the lobbyists with the deepest pockets and those Congress members who would betray their constituents for their own greed.  The more I ponder it, the more I like having a true Democracy running in parallel with the Republic system, backed by the same checks and balances.  I went to the web site and voted for it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Robotkid

My power was out last night, so I did double duty web surfing tonight.  I carb loaded and then found out, ironically, my hockey game was canceled because of ice. . . and the lack of power for the lights.  I normally play at the Carriage Club on Tuesday nights.  You'd think a fancy place like that would have a generator.

In my net stumblings, I found robotkid.com.  This guy finds strange videos, particularly music videos, and mixes them together using XOVOX video mixing/scratching software.  It's like Sid & Marty Krofft meet DJ Icey.  What a trip?  I'm going to have strange dreams now.  I digress. Just check out an example.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Horsepower!

This guy in Wichita is modifying vehicles to get over 100 MPG.  He put a turbine engine in a 2005 H3 Hummer and that's just to charge the batteries.  It only kicks on when the batteries are low.  It'll run on any fuel, including cooking oil.  A 600 horsepower electric motor turns the wheels.  It's a 5000 pound vehicle which gets 60 MPG, and it does 0 to 60 in 5 seconds.  His innovation should turn the automotive industry on it's ear.  I hope he makes millions.


Fall holidays.

I had a great Thanksgiving, but spent most of the time relaxing in the woods on a summit known as High Top watching for a deer to shoot in Eastern Oklahoma.  I saw more deer this season, but nothing I could shoot (legally).  I've been urged by our hosts to come back to the same spot for turkey season in April.  I likely will, since I have a share in the land lease, which was neither cheap nor expensive considering the vast size, beauty, and remoteness of the place.  It has a cozy cabin with solar power and a satellite dish and gravity flow water, which is treated but not potable.  Just the stove and the water heater are on propane, and that made the whole thing feel very civilized.  Any camping situation with indoor plumbing, hot showers, and no cell signal gets my approval.  Our hosts had a satellite phone and we used two-way radios for coordinating meal times, etc.

The niece and nephew rode down to Oklahoma with me, and that's always fun.  On these type of trips I get to listen to a lot of Radio Disney on Sirius, which is mostly vapid teeny bop music.  The return trip was no fun.  I got 30 minutes away and realized my backpack wasn't in the vehicle, so time was wasted returning for it.  By the time we reached the higher altitude portion of our trip which goes over Big Cedar, a 2500 ft. ridge in Eastern Oklahoma, there was a soupy thick fog and one could scarcely see the brake lights of vehicles only a few car lengths ahead.  After that, it rained and rained the whole way.  We stopped at Fort Smith, Arkansas for dinner, and proceeded to Joplin where we stopped for a car sickness incident. . . in pouring rain with no service station in sight.  By the time I recognized the problem, got the Jeep from 70 to 0, got out into the rain to grab a plastic bag out of the back, the one strapped in a child seat had coated herself and the seat.  It had to be about 35 degrees.  I did some minor clean-up, but in the name of comfort proceeded to the next truck stop to buy paper towels and wipes, use restrooms, get gas, change her clothes, and get going again.  It was midnight-ish when we got home.  It was 9 hours later.

So far this week, I've been playing catch-up at work, which is typical following a holiday, and I've worked out twice and played hockey twice.  Tuesday night I was playing at the Carriage Club and it was my first outdoor hockey game.  I look forward to more!  Brisk is the word.

And now, you can vote for your favorite presidential candidate based solely on their cookie recipe.  Some of these recipes look really good.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Omega-3 Eggs

"Meat from grass-fed poultry, though very low in fat, has high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. Guess what?? The eggs do, too!!"

I found that the grocery store now stocks these Omega-3 Eggs, which come from grass-fed, cage-free chickens which are fed flaxseed, so the eggs contain more Omega-3 fatty acids and 17% less cholesterol.  And the eggs taste better than the regular Grade A Large eggs.  I can vouch.  Maybe I'll eat more eggs now.  Life just keeps getting better.

I spent quite a bit of time outside this weekend, because the weather was amazing.  I raked enough leaves to bury an SUV.  Not that I tried, but I think the trees had more leaves, or they all dropped at the same time this year.  There's also a very large pine tree in my back yard which is probably a goner.  It has been gradually dying over the past couple of years, and only the very top is still green at all.  The problem is that the safest direction to fell the thing is right on top of the fence, and right near my neighbor's storage shed.  I think I have a few months before it's totally dead to figure out how to dispose of it.  If the wind blows it down on the neighbor's shed, I hope she has her insurance premium paid up.  When my other neighbor's tree crushed my shed, I got an insurance check to replace it.  And I did.  I wish the shed was about 40 feet closer to the house, though.  I'd use it more.  It's mostly just a garage for the lawnmower.

Today, while watching the Chiefs almost beat the Colts, I played in a poker tournament with a $100,000 prize pool.  Out of 20,000 people, I came in about 5000th.  I didn't play loose enough for 10 minute blind increases.  You have to really gamble at that pace.  The top 3000 got paid, and the prize for 1st was $17,000+.  I learned to pay more attention to the tournament blind structure.  I had won my way into it via a $2 satellite tournament in which I had won 1st place, so I wasn't out much money by losing.  I missed a couple of draws, which really hurt my stack, then never got any cards after that.  The blinds got me before I was in the money.  3000th place got $17.  That would have been nice, considering I had only paid $2 to get into it.  I had missed some opportunities by not playing looser early on, and missed some draws, which I should have folded to save the stack I had built up.  Oh well, not my best, but the cards weren't helping.

I scored in our hockey game tonight, but we lost by a few points.  One of our leading scorers hit the crossbar of the goal 3 times and hit the post twice.  If he had shot those a few inches lower, we would have won.  Most of my shots hit the goalie right in the pads.  It's frustrating to get so many chances, and not get points onto the board (well, except one point).  My hat's off to their goalie.

The "We Cheer for Beer" crew was cheering for us again.  I hurried up to the bar to give them our free team pitcher after the game, because nobody on my team drinks after the game.  Then, I stuck around while they cheered and beered for a team who has bought them seven pitchers so far this season.  While there, some players on another team bought them two more pitchers, because they were terrified to have them cheering against them.  That's my whole reasoning, too.  I'd rather have them cheering FOR us than AGAINST us.  Their cheers are crude, disheartening, and sometimes distracting.  I'd rather be entertained by them than annoyed by them. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Business Casual Warning!

Here is the only part of the office weekly newsletter that everyone actually reads before hitting the delete key.  I stopped even reading the cafeteria menu.  If outsiders will be in our space, we dress up. . . and tone down the conversation.

Dress Code

Monday, Tuesday, Friday- Jeans

Wednesday & Thursday- BUSINESS CASUAL


Y'all

A fellow Okie over in the Unix area of the office bought a tray of sushi from Siki for a ridiculously low amount of money (happy hour?), so I went over there to grab a few pieces.  While there, he gave me a sticker, which he found appropriate, since we are from the same neck of the woods.


You don't hear the word "y'all" in Kansas City very often.  When somebody does "y'all" me, I do a double take. 

Since my last post, I've visited Cocoa Beach and had a great crab cake sandwich at a Captain J's, a beachside bar near the Ron Jon Surf Shop, which I also patronized.  That was Friday.  It was a strange day to leave the frosty ground of Kansas City, sleep on the plane to Orlando, grab a rental car and arrive on a sunny beach about 45 minutes from the airport.  Since there was a hurricane in the Atlantic, the surf was up. . . way up.  I saw some 10 foot waves, at least.  My intention was to learn to surf on this trip, but those waves were enormous, and the surfers who were out there really knew what they were doing. 

Later, back in Orlando, we found the Boston Lobster Feast, an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet.  I ate two lobsters and half my weight in crab legs and peel-n-eat shrimp.  The next day, we hit Epcot Center, which takes almost half a day to explore, then quite a bit more time to enjoy the rides and restaurants.  I think the kooky Ellen Degenerous Energy ride with multiple animatronic dinosaurs was the highlight, if not the least thrilling ride.  Mission Space won in that category.  We didn't brave the line for Test Track.  70 minutes of estimated wait time was too much of an investment of our limited time.  We had a show to catch at Downtown Disney.  La Nouba is better than your typical Cirque du Soliel show.  I would argue that it's the best one, because it retains a circus feel, has triple the number of feats of human weirdness, and doesn't try too hard to be something else, like their Vegas shows (but the contortionist in the Zumanity show at New York New York takes the cake!).  After the show, we hit the clubs at Pleasure Island, the clubby area of Downtown Disney.  After a brief tour of clubs featuring bad music or rotating dance floors (or empty dance floors), we ended up a the retro disco club where the ratio of fun people was much greater.  Serendipitously, I met up with a going away party for a lady who is moving to Kansas City.  Tons of fun.  Sunday, we went to the Magic Kingdom before the park opened and as soon as the rides opened, we hit the major ones in rapid succession before any long lines formed.  We did Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, The Haunted Mansion (fave), and the "It's a Small Hell" rides in the space of 90 minutes.  In one boat ride, all seven levels of Hell are represented, and set to the same music, over and over and over.  I did spend a minute staring at the Dumbo ride wondering why anyone would wait in a line for that, and less time than that staring at Splash Mountain thinking it would be a bad idea to get wet at 9am on a cool morning.  We managed to catch our afternoon flight back to KC, and I still had time for a nap and my regular Sunday league hockey game.  I spent most of Monday recovering.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ugh.

Well, the Fall has finally arrived.  My maple trees are starting to turn yellow and I got my first sinus infection, so the yellow theme continues.  Usually by this time the yard is covered in leaves about ankle depth and the nights are a bit colder.  I've been going pretty hard at work and after work.  I did the usual Wednesday routine (eat, work, eat, work, eat, gym, eat, hockey, eat).  I learned from last Wednesday to keep the meals small and light or I'll bonk during my hockey game.  Three 23-minute non-stop periods of pond hockey with two lines is just about the right amount of cardio for the day.  I just wish it didn't start at 10:10pm.  I'm still wound up at 1am.  I had a bit of chicken and steamed rice prior and I grabbed some yogurt and a vanilla whey protein shake afterward.  Mmm.  I'm trying to "eat clean."  It's working, becuase I'm getting leaner.  I still weigh about 204, but there's less fat and more muscle.  I measured my biceps yesterday.  16 3/4" and growing.  I know they'd be over 17" if I'd pumped up my biceps and triceps prior to measuring.

I noticed that the Ron Paul grass roots folks have put the message out to infiltrate the Republican National Convention by becoming elected delegates by any means necessary:
http://www3.webng.com/ronpaul/becomedelegate.html



While on YouTube learning how to become a delegate by stealth and deception, I also found this video of some Germans testing their iron stomachs by doing 108 (I counted) flips on the whirl-a-puke ride.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Network Lab

Saturday, a few of us got together at my house to carve a few pumpkins, eat barbecue, roast pumpkin seeds, imbibe a little, and watch some UFC fights.  You can tell that alcohol was involved in the design of at least one of the pumpkins, which sort of stole the show.  I call it the #1 pumpkin.  Frightful, indeed.


At work, I've been busy being busy.  Friday morning there was a protracted conference call and verbal holy war over how best to extend VLANs between two data centers for disaster recovery.  After the call, I explained to Rakesh that I had stood my ground for taking advantage of our MPLS core to provide internet redundancy and told him I liked some of the Dallas engineers' ideas, but we need a way to test it.  His eyes lit up and he said, "Let's build it!"  He gestured to a cubicle which contains a sort of makeshift lab which is made up of whatever Cisco gear is laying around at the time.  It's mostly old crap that we've pulled out of customer networks (and our own network), which has been replaced by newer technology.  But, if you put the latest version of IOS on them, you can emulate our MPLS core network, as Rakesh and I did on Friday by sketching a network map, assigning addresses, and configuring routers ALL DAY LONG.  We tested every possible failure scenario and a few impossible ones and found some ways to make our network more resilient.  The ability to mock up our network core and break it in sadistic ways was very enlightening.  We even attempted to implement some of the suggestions from the conference war by some of our fellows in Dallas who don't understand MPLS, just to grab the error messages and email them to the group.  It was a great validation of our combined experience.  Now our lab looks kinda ghetto, all stacked up in an empty cubicle, but most network engineers would drool over the opportunity of having over a dozen routers and almost as many switches stacked together in one place to test design scenarios.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Bus? Rail? No, Bus!

Everything's up to date in Kansas City.  We Kansas Citians voted in 2006 to get 3/8% sales tax for a light rail system that extends from the zoo to downtown to the airport.  Some group has gotten enough signatures on a petition to put the question before voters to reallocate that sales tax for improvement and maintenance of the bus system.  I guess we get to vote on this issue again in February.  I just want to say, I'm much more likely to park and ride a train than to get on the bus.  It would be much simpler to get someone to drop me off at the train station than to get a ride all the way to the airport.  In most big cities, I feel safer at a train station than a bus stop.  I don't understand how we can allocate funds in 2004 for a redundant arena and it opens on time and under budget with 2204 panes of glass, and it looks like a giant napkin ring in just a few years, but we can't get some trains running to downtown and the airport without voting on the issue year after year after year.

One of the things I noticed when I was visiting Kansas City on business before moving here is even highway overpasses are adorned with art.  I learned that 1% of every city project budget goes to art.  The funny thing is they're spending $14 million on a new auto impound facility and $140,000 of that budget goes to art.  Making an impound facility look attractive is going to be, well, interesting art.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

eat, work, eat, work, gym, eat, hockey, eat, sleep

eat, work, eat, work, gym, eat, hockey, eat, sleep <-- my day.

If you're not running this as your screen saver, you should consider it.  It lets scientists use a portion of your computer's processing power for the good of humanity when you're not using it.  Right now, my computer is trying to find target molecules to block the replication of the Dengue virus.  The potential drug developed could block similar viruses like Hep C, Yellow Fever, and West Nile Virus.  If you leave your computer on, it may as well be doing some good.

http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hockey

I had a good time last night.  We won our hockey game.  A friend came down from Lincoln via an errand in Junction City to watch.  We grabbed a nice dinner at Red Robin and hung out.  It wasn't my best game, but I was tired and I hadn't been eating right, and I could tell.  A few days away from the gym eating road food and not getting enough sleep really affect one's performance.

On the topic of hockey:

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, October 11, 2007 12:49 PM
Subject: Ha

St. Peter and Satan were having an argument one day about hockey.

Satan proposed a game to be played on neutral ice between a select team from the heavenly host and his own hand-picked boys.

"Very well," said the gatekeeper of Heaven. "But you realize, I hope, that we've got all the good players and the best coaches."

"I know, and that's all right," Satan answered unperturbed, "We've got all the referees."

 


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Mason City

I'm happy to be home from Mason City. . . just in time to turn around and go to my hockey game.  The people in Iowa are great.  I also had a great steak at the Northwestern Steakhouse in Mason City.  Mmm.  I'll be glad to sleep in my own bed.  The Country Inn & Suites had mattresses which were rated on the Mohs scale (for the hardness of stones).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Entrance du jour

Every week or two the entrance to our parking lot changes.  Tomorrow is another change.  Getting near the office is never a problem.  Finding the way into the parking lot is a mystery from day to day.  Posted signs that don't make sense, new striping, construction road blocks, temporary fencing, dirt or gravel temporary detours, and email notifications which don't reflect reality are becoming the norm.  Here is the latest map of how to get into the parking lot tomorrow. . . which is not even close to the way you'd enter the parking lot today.  I'm ready for this project to hurry along.  They're supposed to put in a hotel and a shopping center, then an amusement park.  Fun!


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Close game!

I'm not talking about the Chiefs game today, which was difficult to watch.  They had 200 yards before they got any points on the board, then the game was over.  Geez.  I shudder to think I almost went and paid money to see that in person.  I would have gotten rained on while walking home, too.

Tonight we had the most competitive hockey game of our season thus far, despite the crappy ice surface conditions.  Our game started 20 minutes late, then I figured out why.  It was too warm in there.  It was the second period before the puddles of water froze up.  If it's too warm in the building, why would they put down more water anyway?  Why not just shave it?  Anyway, there were a lot of penalties in this game, because it got heated.  We were down 2 to 4 with 2 minutes left in the game and managed to get 2 to tie it up.  We won in the shootout.  Exciting stuff, if you were there.  I have been giving away the free pitchers of beer that each team gets to the "We Cheer for Beer" folks, and they cheered for us.  It seemed to make a difference in our game.  I'd rather have them cheering for us than against us, so I always run up to the bar and make the transaction to purchase their loyalty.  Nobody on our team drinks after the game these days, anyway, because most of the team drives all the way from Whiteman Air Force Base.  This group of 20-somethings wear these gray hoodies emblazoned with "WE CHEER FOR BEER" and they have a poster which they tape to the glass with a heading that says "Our loyalty can be bought."  It has all the team names and a rubber stamp in the shape of a rooster for each pitcher of beer they've received from each team.  "The Refs" are also listed, but have apparently not bought any beer for them, because they cheer very heartily against the refs.  If no kids are present, the cheers are positively crude, and they get belly laughs from me for a few of them.  It's pure entertainment, and the drunker they get, the louder they get.  I give them style points for creatively drinking for free every Sunday while getting to see some hockey in the process.  If you decide to come to one of my games on Sunday, please sit near the "We Cheer for Beer" section for maximum entertainment value.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Ft. Wayne and Las Vegas

I've been to Fort Wayne, Indiana now.  I have to say, there's not a lot to do there.  The vacant car dealerships as you exit off of I-69 onto Lima Rd. really tell the tale.  That town seems to be drying up.  When you get downtown and see that they're clearing space for a sports stadium, you get the idea that the place is preparing for a rebound.  I literally did nothing but listen to conference calls while I was there and assist with troubleshooting one problem.  The whole thing could have been done over the phone.  I was only there as a safety net to keep the project on track if things went horribly wrong, and they didn't. 

This silly Eckrich vehicle was parked outside the distribution office where I was working.  I felt compelled to make the cab driver wait for me while I took a picture of it.



Contrast that with my trip to Las Vegas over the weekend.  I went to the Mr. Olympia finals to see how Ronnie Coleman would do.  He came in fourth.  I thought Victor Martinez or Dennis Wolf would win this year, but Jay Cutler won it again.  I saw another Cirque du Soleil show and went clubbing.  I hit a churrascaria at Planet Hollywood called Pampas, which was outstanding.  I didn't have time to gamble even one dollar before it was time to head back.  The best part of the whole weekend was the Mr. Olympia Weekend Expo.  I got to meet Forrest Griffin, Diego Sanchez, Stephan Bonner, and Kieth Jardine at the Xyience/UFC booth.  I bought a very cool UFC shirt.  I saw Lou Ferrigno and got some other bodybuilders' autographs.  It was very inspiring.  I haven't missed a workout since.  I got a ton of free stuff.  Everyone wants you to try their protein drink mix or creatine supplement or thermogenic fat loss pill or arginine/nitric oxide muscle pump pulmonary vasodilator substance.  I got some free t-shirts with marketing schlock on them and enough energy drink mix to last me a long time and enough thermogenic pills to keep me hopped up for days if I decided to take them.  I'll stick with my tribulus terrestris and vitex agnus herbs and whey protein from GNC and Wal-Mart.  And if I need a thermogenic, I'll stick to coffee and tea as a caffiene source, raspberries and cayenne pepper for my capsaicin ketones to get lean.  Most of the stuff they're pushing now has sucralose as a sweetener.  Chlorinated sucrose.  Doesn't even sound good for you.  That stuff makes me feel awful and promotes extra bathroom visits.  The last thing I need is something else to promote atrophy of my thymus or put stress on my liver.  Bleh.  To promote all the supplement crap, there were a lot of really big people there. . . and one midget.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

I took this survey http://www.dehp.net/candidate/index.php which is sort of a blind taste test of political candidates based solely on their stance on the issues.  It says I'm a Giuliani voter.  McCain and Paul were a close second.  Paul and I agree on the most issues, but Giuliani agrees with me on the key ones.
There's an ambiguity in that survey which is still bugging me.  If you "support" embryonic stem cells, does that mean you "support" or "oppose" embryonic stem cell research? 

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Fair and Flexible?

I got my Sprint bill for the past month and my jaw dropped.  Since I've been traveling, and roaming, and using a ton of minutes, and using the internet via phone-as-modem quite a bit, my bill is enormous.  I'm going to try to expense it and get reimbursed by my company, because over half of it is business related.  Furthermore, because I have it set up to automatically be paid out of my bank account, I'm kinda broke until I get reimbursed. 

Monday, September 3, 2007

Ron Paul 2008

After seeing a Ron Paul 2008 bumper sticker in a parking garage, I decided to see what's up with a candidate with two first names.  When I found that he's been involved in politics for many years (on and off), I was skeptical.  After watching some YouTube speeches, checking his voting record, and visiting his website, I found that I really, really like this guy.  He stumbles on his words sometimes, but that hasn't slowed down Mr. Bush.  They call him Dr. No, because he's a doctor and he always votes "no" on legislation that doesn't make sense or is questionably unconstitutional, which is most of it.  If the Republicans don't nominate him, the Libertarians should.  Here's an excerpt from his website (full text here):

"Brief Overview of Congressman Paul’s Record:

He has never voted to raise taxes.
He has never voted for an unbalanced budget.
He has never voted for a federal restriction on gun ownership.
He has never voted to raise congressional pay.
He has never taken a government-paid junket.
He has never voted to increase the power of the executive branch.

He voted against the Patriot Act.
He voted against regulating the Internet.
He voted against the Iraq war.

He does not participate in the lucrative congressional pension program.
He returns a portion of his annual congressional office budget to the U.S. treasury every year.

Congressman Paul introduces numerous pieces of substantive legislation each year, probably more than any single member of Congress."


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

It's boring enough on a farm in Arizona to create crop circle Oprah.  http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=33.225488,-111.5955&z=16&hl=en&t=h 

I went to beautiful Bentonville, Arkansas today, then to Lowell, Arkansas.  In both places I did site surveys of sales offices for two of our biggest clients.  I suppose if you're big, you have a sales office near Wal-Mart HQ.

Monday, August 20, 2007

I apologize for not updating for so long.  A lot has happened.  I had a great birthday yesterday, replete with karaoke in Adam's garage.  I've been to Dallas for on-boarding training and the west suburbs of Chicago for some network work.  I got to spend a weekend at my folks house and visit a very lucrative soft poker game at the Choctaw Casino there. 

Monday, August 6, 2007

I'm in Dallas for Capgemini orientation.  I'm now a full-time salaried employee, instead of an hourly contractor.  Keeping me away from my job for three days to teach me stuff I already know is making the transition as difficult as possible.  I know that when I get back to the office, the work will be piled up.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Wired access

Because of security risks, there is no wireless access in the office.  So, for the whiners who need to operate LiveMeeting and WebEx from conference rooms, all the massive conference room tables have been drilled and cabled and powered up with LAN ports and power outlets with nifty sliding metal covers.

Weekly Update

The cabling is being completed in the conference rooms.  Please do not move the conference room tables around; this will damage the power and data cables. This could be dangerous as well as damaging.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I'm playing hockey 3 nights this week and taking my niece skating on Friday.  I predict stiff legs on Saturday.  I have two nice job offers in my hand, and both are great opportunities.  I'm going with the consulting job with a fat salary and benefits and flexible schedule which may move to Dallas over the hourly gig that may not last, but is 100% likely to stay in KC. 

Sunday, July 8, 2007

GPS techno nerdo stuff

I got a sweet little Bluetooth GPS receiver.  It's a little bigger than a Chicken McNugget;  it's clear plastic with blue and orange LEDs which give it an otherworldly glow when it's on.  It lives in my Jeep for now.  It recharges via a USB port or car cigarette lighter.  Google Maps can give turn by turn directions, so, the goal of this thing is to keep me from having to enter addresses into my phone when I'm lost.  So far, so good.  I get to test it out on my trip to Omaha this week.  I grabbed a screen shot, which shows its location in my driveway.  :-)  I can always zoom out and find the nearest freeway.  It's nerdcool!



Saturday, I got to babysit my little niece, Claire, while everyone else was out.  We played soccer in the yard, went to the Sonic for a quick dinner, watched Ice Age: Meltdown, stopped by my house and rode my lawn tractor.  Well, we mowed my yard.  In my big back yard, I just slowed it down to about half speed and gave her the wheel.  The mowing pattern was, uh...interesting.  She zigged and zagged a lot and steered very clear of any tree branches.  Some areas got mowed 4 or 5 times, while a few strips did not get mowed, but she had a blast! (And I laughed until my side was hurting.)  Then we played a game of Sorry.  I didn't know they still made that crazy game.  You can't even get started unless you draw a 1 or 2 card, so I thought I was doomed when we went through the entire deck and I only had one piece out of the Start area, but when I started getting Sorry cards, that turned out to be the best thing.  It was a close game.  It came down to the end where the next person to draw a 1 card would win.  It was me.

Rewind to the 4th of July. . . I saw the craziest stuff on the block where my brother lives.  The folks across the street buy fun fireworks, which are cool to watch.  Like every year, they grilled, played music, and everyone had fun. Then, they swept the street, and it was over.  For the past couple of years my brother's family has had a corresponding party and thrown in some additional fireworks.  Not everyone had legal sized fireworks.  After the kids had gone inside, I saw a mailbox get blown to bits.  I saw a watermelon get vaporized.  Then the neighbors down the way or their guests got way out of hand. I was already worried about their negligence after they set off a couple of artillery rounds outside of the tube, and the sparks were coming over to where we were.  Then, one kid next door got his leg burned by an explosion which dented an entire car door and blew out one of the windows.  They took him to the hospital.  I'm told it was an M-80, but whatever it was had more than the legal 50 milligrams of explosive.  The concussion pulled my hair to one side.  In retrospect I'm surprised that the police were not called.  The party next door was over at that point, anyway.  That kid could have lost his life.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Home from Illinios

I spent some quality time in an office in Illinois.  I got the meet "the sausage king of Chicago" or at least the folks who run a major sausage/bacon/pepperoni/salami/chorizo operation.  I got to set up the network for their headquarters.  They didn't go with my suggested design,  because the electrical construction to add redundant power and switching capacity would take too long and cost too much, but what they have works well enough.  There are still some problems to sort out, but I'm fairly certain the problems aren't network related, aside from some silly 802.11b VoIP phones, which are not so good for business communications.  Maybe the technology isn't ready yet, but I thought the voice quality was borderline good enough.  I hope they get wired phones.  This was the first place I've seen where all the cabling is Category 6.  I was shocked that most of the switch modules weren't gigabit Ethernet, because all of their new computers support it.

I got a kick out of this story.
"Albert Gore III, son of the former Veep, has been arrested in southern California for driving over 100 mph in a car stashed with marijuana, vicodin, xanex, valium, and adderol.  But at least he was driving a Prius!"

I didn't know a Prius could do 100 mph.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Conference call hell

Today is a day of back to back marathon conference calls.  It's a bit like roughing it, except cafeteria food and bathrooms are available, you just can't take advantage of those services.  It's vaguely torturous.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Legoland Propoganda

I found a sketch of the proposed Legoland theme park, which is being constructed literally in the parking lot of my office building.  I see a big resort hotel.  I see at least two cool roller coasters.  Yay!  Here's the link to the entire graphic, with propaganda text to get the Lees Summit City Council to bite the hook.  http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/missourilego/Clippings/handout.jpg


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Block party

Well, Steve is moving to Denver in a couple of days.  I didn't make it to the dinner part, but the afterparty was good for catching up, and saying, "So long." 

I'm still following the Legoland development.  The press is saying that the city is pretending to consider other locations, because the citizens are speaking out at hearings about the potential traffic nightmare.  It sure hasn't slowed down the dirt moving equipment. 

I felt tired today, so I did very little but rest.  I needed it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Bombers

I got a good sweat going tonight.  The Wednesday night Summer league sort of degenerated into a drop-in session, but it's way more fun, and somehow the teams have been more equal.  Tonight was a high scoring game.  It was 9-7.  My team won.  We didn't pull it together until the last period.  We adjusted the lines until it worked.  The first period, I played defense, the second period, left wing, the third period, center. 

I agreed to play hockey with the Whiteman Bombers again in the Fall.  A big portion of the team is in the Air Force and it's hard to have a solid season when half your good players keep getting shipped to Iraq.  We sort of dominated our division through the play-offs, so they moved the team up a division.  I welcome the stiffer competition, but I fear we may have to adjust to a faster game.  I don't think I'll have a problem, because of my experience in the Tuesday night game at the AMF Ice Chateau (aka King Louie).  I discovered a pace of hockey which rarely occurs at the recreational level.  Most of the players are current or former Division I NCAA players.  Many of them are high school hockey coaches or referees.  Since AMF is closing that rink, that game is moving to Pepsi Ice Midwest. 

Tonight, the captain emailed the team photo we took when we won the championship game.


Legoland

I have been watching with intrigue the construction across what was a street in front of my office in Lees Summit.  They have taken out many acres of forest between I-470 and Chipman Road and are constructing where a creek used to run, a giant mountain of dirt. It now arches high over the trees and dominates the landscape.  They have completely ripped out the street and a huge chunk of the parking lot and are reconstructing the street closer to our building by a few hundred feet.  In an area where I used to drive slowly in the evening to see how many deer and turkeys I could see, they are putting down pipes and burying manholes.  (7 deer and 4 gobblers is the record.)  What is being constructed which is this massive in scale?  The answer is Legoland, Missouri!  The taxpayers of Lees Summit are getting soaked for 120 million bucks.  The entire project costs 155 million.  That means the company who runs Legoland only had to put up 35 million to get it built.  Sweet deal.  I wonder what other towns were competing to get Legoland?  I'm grateful that I don't live in Lees Summit.  Meanwhile, I get to traverse an ever more complex labyrinth of road blocks, speed bumps, and detours to get into the parking lot.  I feel like I'm halfway to work when I get to the final block.  I have to use a side street with obsoleted stop signs which need to be covered or removed, then enter a parking lot on the wrong side of the building and traverse a newly constructed road which connects that parking lot to ours, upon which they promptly installed speed bumps.  The Canadian geese have invaded the green spaces around our building to flee the destruction of their habitat across the way.  What's the upside?

We get a theme park which is supposed to open in the Spring of 2009 and attract visitors (read: additional traffic).  The project includes the construction of a 30,000 square foot Sea Life Aquarium.  I might like to see that. Maybe we'll get some more good restaurants, although Summit Crossing already has some great places to lunch. 
I'm skeptical about the whole thing, but I'll try to post pictures of the progress.  It's actually very impressive so far.  And the baby geese are cute.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Back from Nebraska

Last night, I got back from Nebraska and slept like a coma patient.  I worked four 15 hour days in a row in a smelly bacon/sausage/meatball plant.  One down, seven to go.  I'm writing a detailed installation guide, so I don't have to go to the rest of these places.  My next trip is to Chicago.  I'm looking forward to it, even though I was there for one day two weeks ago.  The job is 55% travel, indeed.

To my shock, the time sheet I submitted last night was approved, then "revoked".  My contract ended on May 31, and I had submitted time for June 1 and 2.  I resubmitted my time sheet before I got the email explaining what was going on.  I was told that my contract was extended through August, but I had to submit it a third time to only include hours through May 31.  Confusing?  Yes.  I threatened to walk out when I saw a "revoked" time sheet in my inbox.  I told the project manager, "I don't work for free.  Ciao."  Before I could get to the car, my manager was on my cell phone explaining the situation.  The program manager for the client I'm working with was in my cube within minutes to assure me that I wasn't working for free.  Wow.  It feels good to be in demand.  The system through which I submit my time belongs to Bell Canada.  They subcontract through Sapphire Technologies, who writes my paycheck.  As of June 1, Capgemini, the company where I work is dealing directly with Sapphire.  So, my time submission, if the system is agreed upon, will be done by entering my hours into the Capgemini system (aka Replicon), and then faxing or emailing a screen shot of the approved time sheet to Sapphire.  The other system was quick and easy, but I still had to also enter my time into Replicon.  Now, I only have to do it once.  Nobody has answered the question of when I'll get paid for all the hours I put in this weekend, though.  That's going to be a fat check.  :-)

I was happy to get an email from my cousin Deb tonight.  I'm glad to know she's doing okay in Shreveport, and her daughter got a 4.0 her second semester in college.  It gets harder, but I guess she'll figure that out.  Moving off campus next semester might have an effect.

I dug around on my computer and found some fun pictures from Vegas.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Mehhn-uh-sohh-duh

I'm in St. James, Minnesota, which is 110 miles southwest of Minneapolis.  There's really not much here but farms, and I find myself repeating everything I say, because nobody can understand my accent/dialect, or lack thereof.  It's thick here.  I'm in the Super 8, which is tolerable, but the bed is too firm and difficult to get used to.  I'm waiting to see what free Continental breakfast includes before I decide if I should trek across the parking lot to Happy Chef, which looks like a Village Inn with neon beer signs in the windows.  It appears to cater to truckers, mostly.  I have a day of work here, then I go back to Minneapolis tonight and fly out in the morning.  I'm traveling with another network engineer who is a character.  He grew up in Ada, Oklahoma, lives in Texas, but carries a California drivers license.  We met at the rental car counter and talked the entire way here.  He's traveled the world as a Marine, worked on an oil rig in the Gulf, and is currently dodging some kind of alimony suit by drifting as a networking contractor.  I thought he was going to wreck the car when he found out I was from Southeast Oklahoma, too.  I wonder if he's met Joe from the Unix team, who is from Durant and stops by my cubicle every few days to give me trouble.  They'd either get along great or not at all.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Muscle Mayhem

Saturday, I was invited to see the UFC fights at Adam & JoLynn's, but I had an opportunity to go to Muscle Mayhem Bodybuilding, Figure, and Fitness Championships, which is a bodybuilding competition in downtown Kansas City.  I had seen the poster on the wall at the gym, so I was intrigued, but Adam D. had gotten VIP tickets from his trainers at the Body Shop, since they were sponsors.  Consequently, we were on the second row.  We went to the prejudging earlier in the day.  Getting to meet Gunther Schlierkamp was unexpected.  He's a really friendly and approachable fellow. . . and he's huge.
 

Ronnie Coleman was a guest poser, as well.  He's virtually a mountain.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I'm in the West Suburbs of Chicago preparing to do a site survey to prepare a company to move into a new headquarters building.  It was an unexpected trip, but I'll be home again by 6 this evening.  I missed out on free hockey last night.  Folks who signed up early for the summer league were invited to play for free, but I was flying to Chicago.  <sigh>  Last weekend, I spent some time escaping from reality. . . in New York.  I visited Molly Wee, saw the Turkish Day Parade, saw a Broadway musical, went to a comedy show on the Upper East Side, did a 10km walk the up Central Park and down Riverside Dr., visited Battery Park and Ground Zero, ate some great food in the East Village, and flew back early on Monday morning.  New York delis have the best sandwiches.  While I was in the UES, I went to Pastrami Queen, my favorite hole in the wall sandwich place in the world now.  While I was in the East Village, I stopped by Decibel for some rare sake.  Mmmm, Hemezin.  I was nodding off in meetings on Monday, but fully rejuvinated by Tuesday.  My trip before that was to Dallas, via Hochatown, OK.  It was great to see my folks and visit the hometown for Mother's Day.  On my way back from Dallas, I made a pitstop in Oklahoma City.  I grabbed a sushi dinner with Rolf and held his new daughter.  I stayed the night and finished the trip the next morning.  Driving from Dallas to Kansas City in one leg would be grueling.  While in Dallas, I ate at YO Ranch and Dick's Last Resort.  Great places, both!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I <3 NY

Because Midwest Airlines had a ridiculous sale and I found a hotel bargain on kayak.com, I decided to go to New York City for the weekend on a whim.  The last time I was there for an entire week, but I was taking technical training during the day.  They had canceled my Washington DC training class because of a terrorist attack, and ironically rescheduled me for a few weeks later in New York City.  I want to hit the highlights this weekend.  I want to go back to the top of the Empire State Building again.  I'd like to see Ground Zero now that they've cleaned up the mess.  The last time I was there, it was a six-story tall, stinking pile of smoking steel girders and there was a layer of dust on everything.  I accidently walked past a barricade to go see it.  After leaving the site, I stood in front of Nino's, the restaurant that served free meals to the rescue workers and stared at the notes and pictures for quite a while before moving on.  There were pictures memorializing firemen hanging on the front of all the firehouses, even the ones in Midtown.  I'm hoping this trip will be much lighter.  I got to see some great museums while I was there before, but didn't have enough time to see all of them.  I'm hoping to hit some of the ones I missed.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Peace

I just realized that after working on a project for school, studying for a final exam, cooking for a potluck,  then a long weekend of curling in a tourney with a three game guarantee, where we won enough to make it to the third day, then a hasty trip to Hastings, NE via Lincoln, where I stayed to break up the long drive, a lot of work, and a long drive home, just to turn around and do Vegas for five days, then rush around to catch up on work, go to Lisa's birthday dinner (at home with steak, stuffed mushrooms, and yummy ice cream cake), and chores. . . this is my first moment to actually just sit in my recliner and reflect.

I got a 96 in that class.  I got 100 on the final.  I guess I over studied.  It felt good to slam dunk it, though.  I think if I can take more interesting classes like it, my Masters degree will be a breeze.  I'm already using what I learned in that class in my work.

I'm still about a day behind at work, but I had to knock off early to go buy Lisa a gift.  I had a $50 Best Buy gift card, which I was given at work for my effort on a successful project.  I figured I could put that with some cash and get something really nice for Lisa.  And I did.  I hate their broken ass TV.  It's blurry and the green gun shoots too far to the right, so everything light in color has a green halo on one side, and sometimes you have to beat on the side of the TV to get the picture to sync up.  They had an open box deal on a Hi-Def plasma TV, so I splurged a bit, since I watch more TV at their house than I do at mine.  A gift for the whole family, including myself.  Hey, I saved a lot of money by using my comps in Vegas, winning at poker to pay for miscellaneous stuff, and my phat tax refund was about to burn a hole in my bank account. . . and I love Lisa to death.  Happy Birthday, girl.

Las Vegas recovery

I'm glad to be back at work getting caught up on things, but I had a lot of fun in Vegas, despite some drunken drama on the part of my travel partner.

This trip was less about gambling and sightseeing as it was about shows and night clubs.  We met up with the Tricia, Adam, and JoLynn at The Wynn and grabbed a bite to eat.  We got a cab to the Tropicana to see The Bodies exhibit.  It had sort of the same effect the second time. 

Ka was an impressive show, technically, but the costumes could have been better.  The night started out great, but Carmen missed half the show because she disappeared during a lull for a bathroom stop and a drink refill and ended up helping a hysterical Scottish woman in one of the bathroom stalls and missed most of the rest of the show.  The MGM staff was impressed by how she calmed the woman down and gave her some comps.  All of us got escorted to the front of the line at Tabu, an MGM Grand night club with a long line.  The plan was to head back to the Fazed party, then to another night club.  Carmen wasn't down with that plan. . . and very drunk.  She wanted to skip the Fazed party.  So, it was like dragging a mule to get her out of there.  The cab stand line was too long, and so was the walk (holding Carmen upright) through the casino to get to the monorail station.  There was no winning.  An hour later, one brush with celebrity (Mayweather was in the hotel lobby where we were helping Carmen get out of high heels so she could even walk), one fall (Carmen staggered into a column and nearly fell through a window), and an altercation with security (as Carmen insisted on getting into Zumi to take pictures despite the roped entrance), and a few more instances of Carmen getting separated from us (while we went to the restroom or otherwise kept walking while she was taking pictures), we FINALLY made it onto the train to the party.  I had to tell Carmen off to finally get some peace about going directly to the club.  She sobbed on a bench while we waited for the train.  It was like babysitting a four year old.  Our priorities were clearly in conflict, but she was in no shape to be alone and clearly not thinking about Tricia and me.  When we got to the party Carmen was still ready to hit a club right away, but still not sober enough.  I decided to stick around a bit longer.  The rest of the group from Ka/Tabu finally rejoined the party and she left with them to the club.  I told her to call me when she got there, but had forgotten that I had silenced my phone at the show, so I missed her call.  I stayed at the party a while longer and went back to the hotel room via 7-11 for snacks.  She had locked the night latch, so the door wouldn't open, she was passed out and not answering the door or the room phone or her cell phone.  Security used a cool tool to open the latch, so I could get in.  I was glad to be able to finally rest.  Carmen sober is fun.  Carmen drunk is both entertaining and frustrating.  I don't think she ever realized that the reason we didn't go to the club she wanted to go to was because she was too out of it to actually do so.  Taking an hour to leave MGM Grand didn't help us get there any sooner.

The next day, following apologies, Carmen pretending not to remember how she got a knot on her head, a good stress relieving work out, and some hanging out independenty, Carmen and I saw Le Reve.  That was an amazing show!  We tried for a while to get into Tryst, but the line was ridiculous.  We ended up at the Rio.  They have taken out Bikinis and put in Lucky Strikes, which is an ultralounge/club/bowling alley.  The place just has a cool vibe.  VooDoo Lounge is fun, but it was a little too windy on the roof.  We closed it and headed to Drai's, which is an after hours club.  The music was good there, and the crowd was interesting.

The next day, we got a couples massage, even though we're not exactly a couple.  It was nice to really, really relax at the spa.  The steam room made me want to build a sauna at home.  We met up with the Fazed bunch for dinner and a show.  We saw The Second City at The Flamingo.  It was total improv comedy.  It was like watching a long uninterrupted episode of Who's Line is It Anyway?  But funnier and uncensored.  They even had a rap song called Nappy Hoes, an homage to Imus which included all the words that white people can't say.  A black couple got up and left the show.  After that show, Carmen met up with Tricia at The Mirage to see Love, which is a Cirque du Soliel show with The Beatles music.  I'm told it's great, but I played poker instead.  I had doubled my buy-in playing tight, but started gambling and ended up back at even.  We walked around someand checked out Treasure Island.  I played some slots, thenwe called it a night.  We got about two hours of sleep before we had to get up to go catch our plane.  I slept on the plane and did conference calls when I got back.  I slept like a baby last night.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Viva Las Vegas

After a Wednesday night arrival, shuttle ride, and check-in at Harrah's, Carmen and I proceeded to the piano bar, then to a night club, then to another night club.  She made a new friend and I went gambling.  When I got back to the hotel room, it was dawn.  I slept a few hours, got dressed, and hit the road. . . Carmen was hungover and still asleep, so I walked up The Strip to sightsee, etc.  The Conservatory at The Bellagio is one of my favorite stops.  They change it every few months, and the flowers are pretty amazing in there right now.  The Fazed bunch gradually filled the hospitality suite at Imperial Palace, I introduced myself.  Carmen and I had gotten comedy show tickets, so we went back to the room to nap, then went to the Improv.  It was a pretty good show. 
Then, Carmen crashed, I web surfed, I went to the Fazed party without her.  It was a great time.  Josh, the poker dealer, and Nathan, an all around interesting guy, and I went to the poker room downstairs to play some NLHE.  I lost a few small pots, but finally won a big one.  I played for a couple of more orbits.  I cashed out up about $90.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Finals week.

Instead of studying last night, I went to a show at The Granada (Granasty?), because it was Drew's first concert.  Rich and Drew waited patiently while I played hockey before going to the show.  The game went to a shootout and my team eventually won.  Despite the delay, we arrived just in time for the headliner to begin.  Perfect timing.  I had seen Victor Wooten before, a few times, so I knew it would be good.  I played hookie from work today to prepare for the project presentation, which I nailed, and the final exam, which I aced.  I'll make up my hours next week, for sure.  I'm hoping for an A in that class.  It was a great class.  So, school's out for the. . . weekend.  The next term starts Monday.  I didn't register.  I'm taking the next 8 weeks to focus on work.  There is a lot of travel coming up, so if I do take a class, it will have to be an online course.  The online courses are more expensive, so I'll look at the offerings tomorrow to see if I can identify something which is worthy of taking online.  Otherwise, I'll just let the financial aid folks know I'm taking a break.

Tonight, I'm baking.  I volunteered to help the Kansas City Curling Club with their 4th Annual BBQ Bonspiel (curling tournament) this weekend.  That involves being signed up to bring food.   Betty Crocker to the rescue.  I had signed up as an alternate.  I got put onto a team which needed a fourth, so I'll be curling all weekend.  It'll be a great change of pace.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Crazy days

A lot has happened and I have a lot to do over the next few days.  My hockey team won the league championship.  I scored a goal in the third period of the final game. . . not the game winning goal, but the other team sort of gave up after that.  So, this past Sunday there was no hockey to punctuate the weekend.  Oh well, this week is already hectic.  It is finals week.  I have a paper coming due.  Work is nuts.  I have social items wedged into my calendar edgewise.  I'll be glad when this week is over.  I'm planning a lot of travel in May.  I will be in Nevada, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and New York in a matter of 3 weeks.  I'll try to take pictures and keep the site updated.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Risk Mitigation versus Depravity

I've been reading about the Virginia Polytechnic shooting spree, which prompted an hour long discussion in my Risk Mitigation class.  You really can't shut down the world because someone might snap.  I think that noticing people who are alienated and feeling enraged and disconnected from humanity and at least starting a conversation with them can diffuse a lot of terrible behavior.  Aside from those measures, you're more likely to get struck by lightning than get shot by a psychotic mass murderer.  I think if you spent the money that would be spent on metal detectors and served free breakfast, more deaths could be prevented.  That said, they really needed a better incident response plan at that school to reduce the amount of damage a random shooter could cause.  Couldn't someone have pulled the fire alarm?

In my reading on the topic, I found the writings of Michael Welner, who studies these kinds of individuals who go off the deep end and conduct a catastrophe.  He has developed a survey which ranks crimes as to whether they fit the community standard of "depraved"or not.  It is becoming the legal definition, and he the foremost expert.  His site explains it better than I can.  The goal is to make the sentencing guidelines less arbitrary when people are convicted of "heinous" or "evil" acts.  I found it mega interesting.  http://depravityscale.org/

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Yay!   Dress Code
Monday-Friday- JEANS

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

In New Jersey, it's not drunken driving if it involves a Zamboni.  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17930215/

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Infrequent postings

I've been slacking on the post frequency, but I'm enrolled in a class which I really enjoy and I'm working a lot of hours.  As of this morning, I'm back in the gym, too.  And, my team made it to round two of the playoffs in the Pepsi Ice Midwest Adult Hockey League.  This Sunday we'll be playing a team who has beaten us every time we've played them this season.  We're gunning for them.  It's going to be a good one.

I finally received my "free" Sirius radio (with the purchase a six month subscription) which I ordered in mid-December.  The coupon was also good for a deeply discounted radio with the ability to pause, rewind, or store songs.  I ordered it so I could have satellite tunes at the gym.  After a few weeks of wondering, I gave them a call.  According to UPS tracking, it was signed for by "PORCH" just before Christmas.  I would consider that pretty much stolen in transit, because I never found it.  I wonder whose porch they left it on.  I called.  They verified that the radio they shipped had been activated, but not by me. They said they would ship a replacement.  Nothing showed up for a few weeks, so I called again.    They apologized and generated an order for a S50 and a home docking kit.  I received only the home docking kit.  I called to find out when the radio would arrive and they realized that only part of the order was entered.  The radio itself was out of stock.   They have another model which is better, so they gave me an RMA number to ship the S50 docking kit back.  They said to give them the tracking number when I ship it and they'll generate an order for the replacement, a Stiletto 10 with a home docking kit.  I shipped the S50 kit back, but I lost the receipt with the tracking number.  I think the wind took it when I was getting out of the car.  I would have to wait for my FedEx bill to arrive to get the tracking number.  A few days later it dawned on me that I could find it on the FedEx web site.  I called them with the tracking number and they said they would get the order going once they verified that they received it.  A couple of weeks passed, so I called again.  The order had shipped.  When I got it, it was another S50 home docking kit.  I immediately called again.  This time I got someone competent.  I explained what had transpired and that I was goingto contest the charges on my credit card and/or involve a lawyer.  He assured me that I would get my radio as soon as possible.  I reminded him that it was the fourth time I had heard that.  He put me on hold for a very long time.  Then he said they were shipping an S10 with a home docking kit and a free car docking kit.  I asked him for an RMA number for the S50 home docking kit, which is useless to me.  Later, I checked my email for the order confirmation, and it was there with UPS tracking numbers for each of the parts.  As far as customer service goes, they eventually got it right, but their system has flaws.  The radio I got usually costs about 5 times what I paid.  It stores up to 10 hours of audio.  I bought the 2 year subscription and gave it to the owner of my gym.  The music at the gym is a thousand percent better, and the annoying DJs and commercials are history.  Mission accomplished, but what a hassle.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Busy busy!

I had a good weekend.  St. Patrick's Day involved some corned beef & cabbage at the 13th Street Grill and watching the parade from the roof of an apartment building at 16th & Grand where a friend of a friend was having a party.  Good times.  I did not endure as long as the parade lasted, but it was a good time.  Sunday, I went to the opera.  It was outstanding, of course.  I grabbed some pizza with Tricia afterwards, then proceeded to my hockey game.  We beat the number one team in our league in the last 11 seconds.

Today is another day full of fire drills.  About the time I think I can focus on my project, I get blind-sided by something random.  I'm gun shy about starting any meaningful work.  I'll be glad when this calamity of a project is completed.

It was smoked turkey leg day in the cafeteria, but I got pulled into a meeting.  The good news is that I made it to the Comfort Zone before they closed.  I did not make it before they ran out of smoked turkey legs.  I ate an IQF chicken breast over rice and a side of peas from a can with a dinner roll that resembled a lump of foam in texture and flavor, if not appearance.  <sigh>  There's an Italian buffet across the street with tastier options, but at least it was somewhat healthy.

Yesterday, as I was leaving the office, I was complimented on the work I'm doing by the manager coordinating the project.  I got to spend a little time with my brother, but kept my distance because he and his son both suffer some kind of terrible sinus infection.  My buddy Rolf is town, so we grabbed dinner and espresso in Brookside.  More good times.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Shifting gears.

I'm snacking on trail mix and taking a mental break at work.  I'm at that point in the day where I need to brew more tea, take a walk down the 1/3 mile hallway, and reset for the final stretch before quitting time.  I could keep going, but cannot vouch for the quality of my work once I hit that wall.

I had a good weekend.  I watched some UFC fights with my brother's coworker compadres.  I missed a Grinders outing and I skipped the Saturday workout, but I played hockey Sunday.  What a great game.  Every shot I took bounced off the goalie or missed slightly to the left of the post, but everyone on my line scored off my rebounds.  We kicked their butts.  They got less than 10 shots the whole game, and most of those came in the last period after we had a 6 goal lead and let up a bit.

Windows Media Player has generated the strangest "shuffle" playlist today.  Lots of Boca 45, Dr. Rubberfunk, and Finger Lickin' Allstars on the funky side, with some Korn and Queens of the Stone Age rock mixed in.  Some Scissor Sisters remixes to keep it light and some Boozoo Bajou to get my pulse back below 60.  And some Gwen Stefani to remind me to take a break.  I'll keep this mix on my handheld for a few more days.

The server guys are sending me more crazy last minute requests for the servers they are installing today.  I needed to change gears, anyway.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday

Impromptu emails were sent on Monday, and a group assembled for a Mardi Gras celebration.  We agreed to meet at Grinders for food and drink, and to enjoy the parade.  After work Tuesday, I went toward the costume shop, only to find that it had closed minutes prior.  I got a call from Scott, and I agreed to give him a ride, since I was in the neighborhood.  He kindly loaned me a costume.  Once at Grinders, I talked to the proprietor, Stretch, who is opening an outdoor concert venue in the lot which houses some of his giant steel and glass sculptures.  I had seen Buddhist monks performing traditional Chinese music on the stage out there during a First Friday event, but there was a punk rock band set up at the same time at the alternative bookstore around the corner.  The music clashed somewhat.  Stretch called it Punks 'n Monks.  Anyway, Stretch indicated that he would be driving the giant crawfish float which I saw out on the street.  Pizza, beer, and costumed partiers made for a good time.  After we were fed, we moved down 18th Street to the street party in front of YJ's.  I donned a beer bottle costume and danced in YJ's to some zydeco style music, ate some dirty rice, and followed the parade back to Grinders.  Some fireworks went off when the parade rolled, and we danced along the street to The Dirty Force Marching Band [video] and along the way the cops arrived.  I assume there was no permit for the parade.  After some time passed and, I presume, the appropriate citations were issued, the parade continued with a police escort.  We went back into Grinders and ate a "big ass tots" and a round of drinks.  Everyone disbursed from there, but Scott and I went to a club to chill out.  Then I dropped him off in front of his building and I went to the afterparty at The Mutual Musicians Foundation.  There was phenomenal jazz and funk music.  That ended promptly at midnight, and I went home.  It was a fun time, as it was last year.

On a less exciting note, the company newsletter comes once a week in email and includes fun stuff, including auctions and raffles to liquidate old office equipment, a salsa cook-off, secret pal gift exchanges, etc.  One of the items was The President's Challenge.  It is a means to earn points online for physical activity. In 10 days, I earned 3600 points.  You get about 100 points just for walking for 30 minutes.  Playing hockey for an hour is 460 points.  I find it to be a good diversion for mental breaks during the day, encourages some retrospection, and helps track whether I got enough exercise.  I am in the 89th percentile for logged activity among my coworkers who participate and log their activity.  I think if I were more honest about how hard I go when I'm not sitting at my desk, I might be the most active person participating.  If I'm not playing hockey, I'm lifting weights, or skating, or dancing, or at least walking.  When you see it in black and white, it's easy to pinpoint the lazy days.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Yet another blog entry about food.

Rolf was in town on business this week, and we arranged to grab dinner tonight before his flight.  We did not anticipate the snow.  So, it was a quick dinner, but it was a good one.  They opened one of those churrascarias, like Fogo de Chao, in Kansas City.  Em Chamas (in flames?) is just west of I-29 on Hwy 45 in Platte Woods, not far from the airport.  Luckily, as soon as you sit, you can grab food and eat. . . theoretically.  The hostess who seated us did not ask us if we had been to a churrascaria before and did not explain the protocol.  We saw the gauchos with the big sword-like skewers patrolling by, but we had not gotten any plates, nor those little "Yes, please!" or "No, thanks!" cards to display on the table.  It was like torture for a few minutes.  Firstly, he was under a time crunch to return a rental car and catch a flight, and we were just sitting around waiting unnecessarily.  Secondly, we were both famished.  When we were finally served, we explained that we were in a hurry, and we were immediately escorted to the gourmet food buffet, with just enough salad on it to avoid the word "buffet".  And as soon as we sat down, the meat service began.  Just like at Fogo de Chao, I ate my fill of about six different cuts.  The prime rib and the sirloin were just fantastic.  They slice the meat half as thin, provide half of the side dishes of about half the size of Fogo de Chao, but Em Chamas is about half the price of Fogo de Chao, too.  So, I have to recommend it.  It just opened, so they haven't quite gotten the flow down pat, but it's on its way.  If they cranked up the lighting a smidge and put down some carpet to cut down on the noise and trained the hostesses to introduce the restaurant and take people's coats, it would be a very nice place.  You definitely get your money's worth, however.

Comfort food.

Happy Chinese New Year.  The only way I know it's Chinese New Year is The Comfort Zone had sweet and sour chicken over rice.  The special included an eggroll and a crab rangoon.  We sat in the cafeteria and watched the TV closely while cheering on the firefighters who are trying to save the 75th Street Brewery as all the shops along that stretch are gutted.  Some of the firefighters were injured.  I vote that they get free beer if they keep the brewery from burning.  I like the food there.  The French bakery around the corner is gone.  Toast.  Hehe.

Back to work.  :-)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Luncheteria

The 11 degree weather was a deterrent to eating out for lunch again.  I was grabbing my coat and Rakesh, whom I call Rocky, said it's too cold, let's just eat in the cafeteria.  I tried not to roll my eyes.  In the cafeteria The Comfort Zone had Swedish meatballs and various veggies, including some fried okra and green beans, which I snagged for my side items.  It really is hit or miss.  Decent today.  I passed on the mac-n-cheez and the brussel sprouts.  I went to the grill area and got a deep fried pre-breaded IQF chicken tender, which they slathered in buffalo sauce to hide the freezer burn and put on ciabatta halves, to dress it up.  I beat the weather and lost at lunch.  If lunch weren't socially important around the office, I would have bailed.  Everyone huddles around the cafeteria tables and ventilates the frustrations of the job.  Today it was a group of all contractors cussing and discussing the (mis)management in the network department.  The sharing of pain was worth tolerating the bad food and the heartburn which followed.

On the other hand, for Valentine's Day, I grabbed a single friend and we had barbecue at Big T's, the new BBQ place just south of LC's, which has really good food and better prices than LC's.  And it has plenty of parking.  And it's clean.  I had the double-decker combo sandwich with sliced beef and turkey.  I also had some collard greens and barbecue beans.  The greens were the best.  The beans weren't as good as LC's.  The whole meal and a beer to wash it down was $10.  I packaged the leftovers and took them home.  I have a new favorite barbecue place.  And I should have packed the leftovers for lunch today.

Later last night we went to Bar Natasha to meet up with his friends and hear an artist known as Vi Tran.  He's pretty good.  His buddy who played bass guitar, while he strummed and sang, looked terribly bored.  The apple crisp item with ice cream on top, which someone shared with me was excellent.  I never knew they had such good food in there.

On a non-food topic, I am working on the firewall which protects the customer to whose account I'm assigned.  While I was away doing site surveys at the various facilities, a fellow consultant named Pradeep, who is either too good or too Hindu to tour a meat packing facility, who obviously has little firewall experience, has been putting incorrect rules in the configuration.   One of the server guys grabbed me yesterday and said they can't work with him any more.  I think I told the guy managing our contract the same thing.  They need to replace him sooner than later.  I had to go through the configuration and find the bad parts, remove them, correct them, then basically redo all of it. 
Now, I'm writing this while i wait for the server guy to finish testing everything.  Rework is a huge waste of time.  I would rather be asked to do all of the firewall work than have to do all this clean up.  I pointed out a typo, and asked Rocky to verify that it was indeed a typo.  He laughed and said Pradeep spent an entire day trying to get that to work.  He obviously failed.  <sigh>  At this level of the game, you can't spend an entire day overlooking something like that, then leave it broken.  The words of my parents echo in my brain 20 some-odd years later, "Don't step over that clutter; pick it up!"  An ethic that permeates my professional life, despite the clutter on my floors at home and on my desk.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Brr.

I braved the snow last night to go play hockey with my friends.  I've been playing with approximately the same group of guys on Tuesday night for a couple of years now, so they all know my name.  I'm still learning theirs.  I may not know all their names, but I know roughly what they're going to do next on the ice.  If only the puck were predictable.

It's too cold outside.  It's 13 and windy.  Going out for lunch?  Nuh uh.  I just grabbed some lunch in the cafeteria.  At the station  known as The Comfort Zone, where they usually have hearty food, they had a build-your-own taco salad buffet for $4.25.  I mounded the shell full of lettuce, refried beans, taco beef with orange grease, and diced tomatoes with the condiments on top.  I'm stuffed.  It was pretty good.  Beats the deep fried IQF items and reheated canned crap they've been serving.  If the cafeteria selection looks less than appetizing, I make my way to the Pita Pit around the way.  It's like a Subway with better meat selections and pitas instead of bread.  And they stuff them pretty full.

I'm steadily getting my site survey documentation done.  <yawn>  Back to work.  I bought a 512MB mini-SD card for my phone and filled it with MP3's.  It looks like I'm on the phone, but it's tunez, yo!  The new shuffle feature of Windows Media Player keeps the selections fresh.  When I plug my phone in at home, my laptop charges the battery and puts a fresh randomized batch of music on the storage card.  Thank you, Microsoft.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Good day.

In a meeting this morning the project manager of the project I'm working on gave out the project plan including what efforts are required each week.  Currently, I'm working on things that were to be completed last week.  She said it's kinda hard for Charles to get this done when he's getting pulled in so many directions.  So, the PM demanded that they share me better.  Alrighty.  So, today nobody has interrupted my work, even once!

I shoveled a ton of snow out of my driveway this morning.  It was eight inches deep if it was one.  A water main burst at the end of my street and melted some of the snow off of the street, but the water department had my street blocked most of the morning.  I dialed into the meetings today.  I feel lucky to have gotten my shower before they shut down the water.

The road conditions on the way to work were not so good.  I was slipping and sliding on several occasions.  Turn into the skid!  Even if you're headed for the ditch. . . it's the only way to regain control.  Since it rained before it snowed, it washed the salt off the roads, then formed a layer of ice.  Just perfect!  So, the plows are helping, but they couldn't begin to salt the roads until the rain converted to snow.  Last night was the first time I have heard thunder in a snow storm.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Piled on.

I had a good weekend.  I vegetated on my brother's couch and watched movies on Friday.  Saturday, I ate McBreaksfast, watched my brother teach a class, got registered for my next semester, saw my niece in ballet class, ate sushi, bought groceries, took a shower, talked to a friend on the phone, then I went ice skating with the niece and nephew while my brother and his wife went to see a play.  CC is 4.  We swung by the dollar store and got her some gloves, because I couldn't find hers and it was her first time going ice skating.  I knew she would be falling and getting up a lot.  It's not fun when you put your cold hands on cold ice.  I think she had fun until her feet started hurting.  We shed the skates and grabbed dinner at Fritz's, where the food comes to your table on a train. The pic in this post is of CC in a paper railroad engineer's hat.  I had to wear one, too.  :-)  Then we shopped and went to Benton's and sat in the lounge and listened to live jazz.  Pie a la mode.  I had the apple fritter, D had chocolate, CC just wanted ice cream.  CC bought a cheap pink digital camera when we were shopping.  It works, but it doesn't have a screen.  When we got home we decorated it with stick-on rhinestones.  I told her it is the most beautiful camera I have ever seen.  She's mega-cute.  She had bought a bejeweled tiara and wand.  Low grade plastic, but shiny.  She modeled those for me and I took her picture with her new camera. 

On Sunday, I went curling at one ice rink and played hockey at another.  I count that as a work-out.

Well, I've been to two meetings today, and as is usual on Mondays in my new work environment, if you don't populate your Outlook calendar, people assume you're not busy.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  They have realized I know stuff, so they're piling on.  I helped the server folks by configuring access into a customer's network environment remotely, so most of them didn't have to travel.  I configured some access-lists in a firewall instance, and now I get copied on all such requests.  Yikes.  There are some high visibility tickets coming my way, too.  These issues have short fuses.  This is going to be a short lunch break.