Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Happy freakin' New Year!

And that's what I have to say about that. We just got back from a dinner out at our favorite Italian place (within seconds of our arrival, they had a bowl of ziti ready for a hungry David), and David just took a pre-bedtime bath. 2004 will be the third calendar year that we've been lucky enough to have him around.

To review the past year:

-The world is still hopelessly screwed up.
-So is our government.
-Our son is now 19+ months old, and this year he learned to stand, walk, talk (some) and read (a few words). He uses a fork some, too - until he runs out of patience and digs in with his hands. We even took him out of the country for the first time, and he took to it pretty well. He's awesome.
-The 160+ year-old company I spent over five years working for got new management, and promptly set into place plans to tear it all down and start over. I was one of the first gone of what will amount to over half the company's workers cut loose. And that assumes they pull out of the death spiral the management has put them in. I'm not counting on it. The plus was that even though the company may be fading away, I got enough money from them in my package that I've enjoyed the time away, watching my son grow up.
-We took a serious run at moving, after ten years in our house. It didn't work out.
-After that failed, we wound up re-doing a couple of rooms here, and they look great.
-I joined the ranks of minivan owners. It wasn't as bad as I feared.

Next year, I plan to work again, maybe for someone else, maybe for myself. I'm giving serious thought to the latter. If I go off on my own, I believe I could earn a decent living as a geek for hire. That'd be good if I can - I'm pretty sure I'd be better to work for than my last employer was. I've also lost a lot of weight since mid-year, and I intend to try and keep that going a while longer.

Other than that, I want to be the best father I can be, and the best husband I can be. If I can do those well, everything else should flow from it accordingly.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

When animals attack (sort of)

With my cold (actually, it's not the cold, it's the cough), Jane headed down to the sofa the last couple of nights and left me the bed (I volunteered for the sofa, but she said she fit the sofa better than I did). Anyhow, last night she was down there, the cats with her. Sometime around 2:30 or so in the morning, Gracie got spooked by something.

She was wrapped around Jane's head at the time.

I was half-asleep when I heard her yell - you haven't been scared unless you've been awakened by your wife screaming from the downstairs. I went racing down, and found her with blood all over the side of her face.

What happened is this: when Gracie spooked, she jumped straight up, her claws digging into Jane's eyebrow and lid. The cuts were shallow, but scary. Her eye was fine, and we got the bleeding stopped quickly. Fortunately, it wasn't nearly as bad as it looked when I first came downstairs. I also had her swab with alcohol to disinfect the area. But we took her to the doctor today just in case, where she got a tetanus shot and antibiotic ointment to put on it.

After all settled down, we both headed back to bed, and Gracie came up to the pillow to nuzzle her. But I decided that Jane was better off with the cat out of her face, so I moved her down by Jane's leg - she stayed in that spot without moving the rest of the night.

Gracie's been clinging to her like glue today. I think she has a clue that she did a Bad Thing, even if she has no idea what it was.

Old Skool!

Yes, I'm up this late. I took my drugs earlier, and I'm waiting for the cough to settle down a little more before I hit the sack for the night. That said, I want to comment on what my TiVo presented me with tonight:

An absolutely vintage episode of Raw that I watched until around midnight. A couple of token goofy moments, true, but the redevelopment of the Jericho/Trish storyline is very promising, and the main event (Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H) was mint. They went nearly a half-hour, and brought out every trick in the book. You know, I used to look forward to Triple H matches way back when because pre-injury, he was a master at selling and psychology. He made all his opponents look good. Unfortunately, he doesn't really do that much anymore, which made tonight all the better. Even though he saved it for one of his pals.

Between tonight's Raw and last week's Smackdown from Iraq, it was one of the best strings I've seen in a while. Not a bad note to end the year on, if I do say so myself.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Nice trip, but...

We came back from Connecticut around 1:30 or so yesterday, and promptly settled back into the routine (and a lot of laundry!). Unfortunately, I brought a nasty cold back with me - the kind that settles into my lungs for a secondary infection and leaves me barking like a seal periodically. I'm a little more vulnerable to the lung problem than most, thanks to a bad encounter with flu about five years ago that left some permanent damage behind.

My doctor had time for me this afternoon, so I'm already on the appropriate drugs to fix things up. That's good. The prescription is pretty simple - plenty of rest, lots of fluids, antibiotics (for the lungs), and the heavy-duty cough syrup to let me get said rest.

Fortunately, it's not The Dreaded Killer Flu. Jane missed it this time, it seems, and David got his usual version - a slightly runny nose for a couple of days.

Other than that, we had a great time down in Connecticut. We got to see some of our friends who we rarely see and their families, we went out for an Adult Dinner with Scott and Phyllis on Saturday, and we had a belated Xmas day on Friday (my sister had to work Thursday) with the family. David scored quite well, and we didn't do too bad, either.

I'm taking advantage of the rest requirement to read a few books I've been putting off.

In other news, I discovered a Safari bug in how it handles certain pop-up requests (instead of killing the pop-up, it closes the page window). I've figured out why it works correctly in Gecko-based browsers, now I'm trying to track down why Safari barfs on it. And I think my PowerBook's battery isn't long for this world. After running for a little over an hour, it goes from an estimate of 80% full to zero in roughly five seconds. It may be a cell that's gotten flaky after two years of use.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Mitigation

We figured out a way to mitigate the danger - I'd brought the old Pack&Play that we hadn't used in quite a while, just in case. It gave us a little bit of extra margin between the pad and top rail, so we dismantled the crib and put the Pack&Play in it's place. Then we made sure to have his shoes off, giving him less traction, and we put pillows around the ooutside of it just in case he gets out anyway. Then we took all the dangerous things at ground level and within reach, and moved them.

Thus sanitized, the room has accomodated him last night and this afternoon, with no problems. Our crib at home is a little bigger, so we should be OK for a couple more weeks. Friends of ours offered us a toddler bed when we saw them a week ago, so we'll be taking them up on the offer.

Problem solved. Now we'll just have to train him how to use a bed instead of a crib.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Escape

We're with my folks right now for the holiday, and David's been sleeping in my old childhood crib when he visits. Today, we put him down for a nap early this afternoon.

A couple of hours later, we heard him cry, so I went up. He was out on the floor, with a stuffed animal in his hand and a bruise on his forehead.

No more cribs here. We may be able to get a hair more time out of the one in our house - it's a little bit higher. But it's definitely toddler bed time.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Merry Everything!

As we go into Christmas Day, approach the end of Hannukah, and the whenever of Kwanzaa, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a merry everything.

David is being appropriately showered in gifts, as well.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Oh yeah, I forgot something

Remember the failed A/C cover project from a week ago? Well, I had success. Basically, late last week I chiseled the window open, placed the cover from the inside, and then used my old camera monopod to loop the straps underneath - because even Manute Bol doesn't have arms long enough to wrap around this air conditioner unaided. After closing the window again, I re-sealed the gaps with fresh weatherproofing putty.

And I picked up a Toro power shovel last week as well. So the next big storm won't leave us quite as pathetically helpless. Of course, that means we'll have no more snow this winter, but it was a small price to pay for improved weather.

Sorry I haven't written too much lately...

But I've been busy. Busy, busy, busy.

I don't have a job yet, nosiree, but the holidays are always hectic, and I'm doing a lot of work towards figuring out what I'll do next. I'm thinking that maybe I'd be better off not working for The Man anymore, but that requires an alternative.

I thought I had a different career all worked out, but it turns out that picking "Lottery Winner" as a career requires you to actually win said lottery first. Talk about putting the cart before the horse!

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Conversions

Last night, I converted.

Not to or from any religion per se, but I went native. I've been using Microsoft Entourage as my e-mail client/contacts manager for many years now, first in OS 9, and nowadays in OS X. I use PocketMac to sync with my iPaq, which has worked pretty well.

But I've longed to use iSync to the fullest, and there is no connection for iSync to talk to Entourage. So last night I bit the bullet and converted. After about an hours' work, I migrated all my data to Apple's Mail, Address Book, and iCal applications from Entourage, then I changed over PocketMac to use the different data sources. I had to manually address two parts of the conversion - first off, I had to re-designate my groups in Address Book (the conversion didn't preserve those automatically), which gave me an excuse to clean it up somewhat. Then, I had to manually copy over each of my 47 different .sig files, which wasn't too bad. Finally, I re-shuffled everything in the Dock for easier access. Settling into the new environment has been pretty easy so far - there's something to be said for using several small programs instead of one monolithic one.

The best thing I get out of this is better spam filtering in Mail for the stuff that sneaks through my server traps. Entourage isn't trainable, Mail is.

In other news, there really isn't any. I got my 401(k) moved over to a rollover IRA this week, and David pooped in the tub the other night. He thought it was quite funny. Not a lot of fight in him lately when we put him down to sleep - we're trying to wear him out as best as possible beforehand, and it helps.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Now I've seen it all...

Today, at the mall, I saw a "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" calendar. It even has an Abbey Road-type shot of them crossing a street in Manhattan. I also noticed that the "Trading Spaces" calendar next to it is missing Ty, though it has Paige, Amy Wynn, and all the designers from season 3. I bought neither - just Peter Simon's Vineyard calendar for me. On years that I don't head over there (like this one) I just order it from him directly.

After returning home, I tried to go up the ladder and install an A/C cover on our big perma-mounted unit. Failed miserably - I made it up most of the way with Jane spotting me and decided it wouldn't be safe to continue. I'll try a Plan B that takes me out the window after it. First I need to find some weatherstripping foam to replace the old stuff, though, and I also need to wait a while. Because the A/C is outside David's room, and he's napping. This may turn into a "next moderately warm day that it doesn't rain" project.

Monday, December 15, 2003

High-definition bummer

Last year, we bought a shiny new HDTV set. It wasn't as pricey as you might think, because we bought one that used older technology - an RCA 38" model with a tube - and it wasn't a flat-screen either. So it was less than half the price of what a low-end plasma costs today. Anyhow, it looks great, and we've gotten amazing results out of it when watching DVD's - it's a widescreen set so no clipping.

Anyhow, I decided it would be tres cool to actually use it as a hi-def set, since there's several Boston stations broadcasting HDTV already. So when I was out today, I picked up an inexpensive amplified antenna that would theoretically allow me to pull these stations in over-the-air.

However, it failed. If I want to watch programs in high-def, my options are:

- Try a better antenna and mount it higher in the house - then cable the antenna down to the TV on the first floor. If that fails, I'm out a whole bunch of work.

- Try an external antenna and put it on the roof. The work is a whole lot tougher to cable, with no guarantee of success.

- Get the dish. My set has a built-in DirecTV tuner. However, that would render my TiVo irrelevant (it'd do well on eBay because it has lifetime service, but still...) and I'd still have to cable the dish to the TV.

- Or, reluctantly, go for the Comcast digital cable + HDTV option. It costs more long-term (about $14/month more, as far as I can tell so far), but lets me keep the analog feed to my TiVo and other TV's in the house, and gives me that HDTV lovin'. But, one potential catch: I need to use my set's component video input for the HD box, and I'm already using it for our DVD player. I can use S-Video out instead, but that'll degrade the quality somewhat - or I could get a multiplexer that'll let me toggle multiple component sources. Or I could get an A/V reciever/amp to handle it for me.

Or I could just sit tight for now and stop thinking about it. Because it makes my head hurt. Oy.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Well, that's taken care of, then

Yeah, right.

I'm glad Saddam got nabbed today - that'll hopefully save a few more American lives. But I'm almost surprised Bush didn't let him stay at large until a week before the election next year. Yes, I'm that cynical about this administration.

Rebuilding Iraq is something we're going about all wrong, regardless of wheter Saddam is in custody or not. I'd pontificate further, but instead I suggest you read Thomas Friedman's columns in the New York Times. He says it better than I ever can.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Feeding Frenzy

David still eats pretty well, but now he likes to toss food on the floor because he knows it'll aggravate us. The other day, though, I found an effective counter.

Now when he starts tossing all the food off and then watching us to see what we do, I go to his high chair and turn him around - depriving him of an audience. It gets him furious, but when we eventually turn him back the problem goes away.

Because whatever he does, he wants people to see it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Cell phones

I have a Sony-Ericsson T68i that I use with T-Mobile. On our plan besides that are Jane's phone and her parents' phone. The T68i has some wonderful features, like Bluetooth and a fantastic battery life, but it's prone to dropping calls, turns itself off on occasion, and also misses inbound calls sometimes - even if the coverage is great.

Earlier this year, the T610 came out as a replacement model. It adds a camera (no biggie), but also fixes most of the things that were annoying about the T68. It's a hair smaller, and most dealers are offering it for prices between $0 and about $100. I decided I want one.

So I called T-Mobile this afternoon. The best they could offer me was this: they'd sell me the phone for $150, but once I was six months along they'd give me a free month of service. However, if I suck it up for a few more months, I can take my numbers with me to a different carrier, and get that phone (or the equivalent new model) for free. And phones for the other two lines, as well.

Makes it kind of a no-brainer. I'll keep on plugging away with the occasionally balky T68i, and then look into what the carriers will offer me for the whole package in a few months. I certainly am not going to beg T-Mobile. If they don't want it, someone else will.

Selfish? You bet. When it comes to cell phones, I want the good stuff, and I want it either free or next to it. And number portability is going to keep me a lot less loyal. Nyah.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Final note for the day

In trying to create the previous post, I screwed up my Blogspot settings somehow. I'd never tried doing an image upload before.

So anyhow, the bottom line is that I could log in to my Blogspot site through FTP on the command line, and I could use Cyberduck (a GUI FTP/SFTP browser), but Blogger couldn't handle it, even though I'd reset everything manually. I was getting a bad login error when Blogger tried to upload the published file. So I dashed off a support note to the folks at Blogger asking how to fix it.

Meanwhile, I logged in again through IE (still on the Mac), and found I could use the fancy Blogger GUI - Safari only gives me the LoFi interface. While I was there, I re-did my settings one more time, using IE and the fancy Blogger GUI. It worked fine and uploaded.

So I may have uncovered a Safari bug, in that the FTP ID/Password combo wasn't being saved properly using Safari and the Blogger LoFi interface. Once I fixed it in IE, I can use Safari to manage my posts and enter new posts again - it was just that Safari wasn't sending it to Blogger properly.

Some snow photos

Here's a few pictures from the storm that you can browse - Jane took them this morning:

The view of our driveway and buried cars.
Looking in the other direction, at our patio
Looking towards the street off our front porch

Needless to say, there was a lot of snow. I did some more shovelling this morning before walking away to get the paper. However, between Eddie's work (the fellow who comes by with the snowblower) and mine, I can get my car out if I need to now. But at least for today, I choose not to. Eddie's outside with the snowblower doing a more complete job as I type this.

I've also realized two things - first off, I need a new regular shovel. Ours is falling apart after many years. Second, I'll be purchasing a Toro power snow shovel this week as soon as the hardware store down the street gets some more of them in stock (Thursday). It's not as good as a snowblower, but we can't really store one of them since we don't have a garage.

Unemployment benefits

There is one current advantage to unemployment - I don't have to go out today, and my former colleagues do. Nyah.

I posted the new David page on my site last night, so those of you looking for a fix head on over.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Classic Tuna-ism

"In football season, football players play football"

That's a Bill Parcells quote from some time ago, originally used to explain why some players played despite serious injuries. That also describes today's Pats-Dolphins game, and a classic it was, indeed. That was true December football weather, and it's a statement of how good the Pats have become that they won that game so convincingly. Watching that game, I got the feeling that there was absolutely nothing the Dolphins could have done to win the game, because they simply wouldn't be allowed to score. Period.

One heck of an impressive win, despite the again anemic offense. But with the division wrapped up, and the edge in getting the number one seed for the conference, there's hopefully time to fix these issues.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Weather notes

It's still snowing out, but it could be worse. We could be out of power, too.

Oh yeah, we just were. For about three hours, in fact. The power died right about 8:45 tonight, and it came on at 11:40. I just finished going through the house and resetting everything.

My server actually stayed up almost the whole time - a Mini-ITX box doesn't draw much power, and I have a Smart-UPS 700 hooked up to it. I decided to let it run dry for kicks. Now that that's taken care of, time to go back to bed, I'd say.

We had a "duh" moment today

As most of the US is aware, we're getting socked by a nor'easter today that's dumped quite a bit of snow on us already and won't finish until sometime tomorrow. That's fine and dandy - we really don't have anything to do this weekend.

However, this morning I needed to go down to the nearby grocery store (a short walk from here) to pick up more milk for David and the paper. One problem. It seems that there's a really good chance we accidentally tossed out all our boots sometime this summer - probably when we were cleaning up the house for the move that wasn't. A pain for me (I'm just out one pair of LL Bean boots and a pair of cruddy hiking boots), but a catastrophe for Jane - she is missing at least four pair of boots and maybe more. Of course, I only need one pair of boots to her fifty, but that's because I'm a guy.

So I trudged down there in some old waterproof shoes to get by for now, and I'll get another pair of Bean shoes if they are, in fact, toast. If I need high tops over the next day or two, I can always use my old motorcycle boots. Jane has no such alternative.

We went out last night with friends for Jane's birhday last night and had a nice few hours. David stayed with their babysitter at their house, and was not pleased with the experience - though he perked up once we went back to their house. Poor guy. We were at dinner when our friend's phone rang - I turned to Jane and said "It's David". Yep. It was just the babysitter asking if we had any good tricks to make him happier available to try. In the background, he was whining "mama,dada,mama,dada" which he does when he's stressed. Jane gave her a couple of tips and I am told he was a little better afterwards.

We got home minutes before the storm started in earnest.

Random MacOX X comment of the day: Expose is a terrific window-management tool. But the default keys conflict with my favorite command-line tool, which is mc. So I had to remap the Expose keys to F11, F12, and F13.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Jane's spam collection

Ever since the last SpamAssassin upgrade I installed (from 2.55 to 2.6), unfortunately one of the features I'd set up for her no longer works - I had told procmail to send all her high-scoring junk straight to /dev/null, but it was going to the inbox instead.

So I went back to default settings, where it sorts into an IMAP folder called junkmail. Now I clean it for her every few days.

Since Monday, she's gotten 632 spams that sorted into there automatically. About another 150 have been junk, but passed the SA tests and made it to her inbox. Of those, most were then correctly recognized as junk by Entourage.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

New toys

Last weekend, we went to the 2nd birthday party of Rob and Brenda's son Christopher. We all had fun, but David was captivated by a piano-microphone combination toy that Christopher had. So we got him one of his own tonight, and I was about to set it up for him.

Except for one problem. It turns out that it needs "C" batteries. And that's the only kind I'm out of. I've got "AA" and "D" batteries everywhere, and a handful of "AAA" and "9V" in reserve as well. But no "C" at all.

So that's added to tomorrow's grocery list, and I have to keep him from getting a look at it tonight. I'm going to go hide it now while Jane distracts him.

Vital Statistics - 18 month mark

33.5" tall - he grew 3/4 of an inch.

No real change in weight (still about 25 and a half pounds). His noggin grew a little bit. Basically, he's 80th percentile on height and head size, 50th for weight. All normal (they don't grow as much in year 2). He got a DTP booster and his first flu shot (he gets a flu booster in one month), neither of which was that well-received.

Today's tale of woe

This is no biggie, though. A while back I cleaned out my room and re-organized everything. When I do that, invariably a couple of things go missing. This time it appears to have been the AC adapter for my Palm (not the biggest of deals - I use my iPaq more, and besides, I have a USB charger cable I can use), and my copy of Warren Zevon's last album, "The Wind". The Zevon album was already ripped to iTunes, so I can live without it (heck, I can always re-burn the disc from the AAC files if I want), but I'd like to locate it. I probably filed it with some of my software CD's.

I guess that's not a lot of woe. Sorry to disappoint...

We were going to go out for some stuff mid-day, but with procrastinating and such we won't be doing it until this evening. David has his 18-month checkup in about an hour, and then it'll be straight down for a nap. So no going out until later. I will post the 18-month stats after we get home later.

We're both feeling much better, tummy-wise. Jane's worst day was yesterday - mine was Monday. So we could take care of each other. Even Gracie had a tummy problem this week. Of course, David didn't catch anything at all. He never does. Ever. It's freakishly weird how healthy he always is.

I'm debating whether or not to bother going to my 20th high school reunion next year (I got a card in the mail about it a few weeks ago). I had fun going to my 10th, but I'm not sure I want to bother this time.

Finally, a word on modern computer games. It's annoying enough that games are so big that they require multiple CD's to install and often require keycodes. Why do they have to copy-protect them so that I have to insert the CD to play them, too?

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

As if that wasn't bad enough

We've got two additional developments. One is that the adult members of the household appear to have picked up a stomach bug. Oof. It's not too bad, but thankfully David doesn't have it, too. The worse one is that it frigging snowed last night. At this time last week, I was sitting on a beach with the temperature in the '80s. This morning there was snow on the ground.

I can't even tell you how much that sucks.

Monday, December 01, 2003

A new low

Earlier today, I got a spam from someone trying to sell Ostomy supplies. That's just wrong in so many different ways.

And a disappointment in the job search. The folks who contacted me while I was away had told me to call them when I got back this week. Well, I did so, only to find out that they'd gone ahead and hired someone without waiting the few days. That is, of course, their prerogative, but not only had I told them in the original cover letter that I would be away Thanksgiving week, but when I called them from the Bahamas, I got an e-mail back telling my to enjoy the vacation and call them when I returned. All I can say is that I hope they found someone who was really so amazing that they felt they had to hire him (or her) immediately.

I've still got a few more feelers out there, but I'm rapidly starting to consider prospective Plan B's, even though the "go away" money will last quite a good while longer. It'd be kinda nice to go back to being a bike mechanic - when I did that for a living back in college I was pretty darned good at it. Unfortunately, the pay stinks.

Today's randomness

About a month ago, I bought a bag of reduced-fat Oreos on impulse. We hadn't had cookies in the house in a while, and I figured I'd buy those and be good.

Well, there's a good reason they're useful to dieters. They suck. Badly. They taste like stale cardboard.

So we replaced them with regular old Double Stuf Oreos, and all was well again. That may have not been the wisest decision from a weight-loss perspective, but our taste buds were crying to be treated with respect. Besides, they were on sale.

Mitel is discontinuing the e-Smith project, since RedHat is getting out of the distro business (RedHat is the base distro for e-Smith). It's in the process of being picked up by the e-Smith developer community, and I volunteered to work on documentation, since I know the system real well and can write docs. Meanwhile, they're about to release the "final" version, version 6. I have it on my test server and I'm working to see if I can properly integrate SpamAssassin with it. If so, I'll update my 5.6 production server soon.

Finally, the latest David development notes. Now, if he wants a book read to him, he'll go grab it, bring it over to you, and demand "Book!". Then if he wants to get on the sofa with you as well he'll give you a loud "Up!". Needless to say, this is cool. Last night, in between book readings he sat with us while we watched last week's "Queer Eye" on TiVo. I figured something out. I'd said before how much he loves the high-speed "load out" scenes in Trading Spaces. Well, it's not just that. He loves any sort of high-speed motion combined with music. When Thom was redecorating in a blur, he was boogieing big-time.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Did you miss me?

I missed all of you. Really, I did.

As for where I was and what I was up to, we went to Atlantis (on Paradise Island, in the Bahamas) for Thanksgiving. It was a trip that was paid for by Jane's folks, who also went, along with Jane's sister and her family. We had a Bizarro itinerary, thanks to what we could get for free tickets (cashing in most of my miles). We had to leave from Hartford last Thursday afternoon, and fly to Atlanta. However, we couldn't get a connecting flight until Saturday. That worked out, though, because we got to spend a little less than two days visiting our friends, Rich and Lynn, down in Alpharetta. Jane hadn't been to their new house yet - I was last there the week of 9/11/01 when I went down for an abortive Interop. She was going to go down that weekend, but cancelled for obvious reasons.

Anyhow, that was a nice couple of days spent catching up with old friends. We really didn't do too much there. David was scared of their dog (a big sheepdog named Emma - she kept trying to herd David), but started to warm up by the time we left Saturday morning. We arrived at Atlantis around 2:30.

The last time I set foot in the Bahamas was ten years ago, when we stopped there on a cruise. I wasn't impressed then. This time, I was. Boy, oh boy, I was. Immense and spectacular are only two of the adjectives I can use to describe it there. I did have a few gripes (of course), which I'll follow up on later, but mainly I was dazzled.

Atlantis consists of three "towers", along with a group of bungalows and a connected timeshare complex. The super-luxury tower is also the tallest and the newest. It's called Royal Towers, and the two towers are connected by a massive suite about 15 floors up that costs $25k per night to use. We did not use it. Then there are two other hotel buildings, Coral Towers and Beach Tower. They are not new - both are (highly renovated) older hotels that were linked into the complex. Royal Towers are connected to Coral via a concourse of shops and a big (by Carribean standards) casino. Coral is, in turn, connected to Beach via another concourse with a movie theatre, restaurants, and a big convention hall. Beach Tower is closest to said beach, and it's where we stayed.

In between these three hotel areas, which are spread out in a semicircle, is a mammoth piece of engineering consisting of literally dozens of pools, beach land, a huge lagoon, and all sorts of aquarium exhibits along with more restaurants, bars, and water activities. The place is cashless, so all you need to get by there is your room card. Very convenient. Many of the restaurants are buffet, and most are a shade better than decent - way better than one generally expects buffets to be and not bad in general. We didn't really get to sample the standalone restaurants with the exception of a deli (that was OK) we went to Wednesday night.

And now, for the adventures.

First off, we had a room in Beach Tower (as I mentioned). While the oldest and cheapest building, the rooms in Beach Tower were perfectly serviceable, about what you'd find in a mid-range American hotel. We had two full-size beds, a crib for David, and a small balcony that looked out on Nassau. The beds were reasonably firm, and the insulation was good enough so we didn't constantly have to hear our neighbors (or vice-versa). I had a total of four complaints about the accomodations, though, so here they are:

Number one, the elevators were in a state of disrepair, with one or another being broken down and out of service frequently. Number two, we called to request a minifridge for our room - it never got delivered, and as a result of how they'd left us a message about it, we couldn't clear the message light off our phone the whole trip. We had to cover it up at night so it wouldn't annoy us. Third, was that on two separate occasions someone set off fire alarms. One of those was at about 10:30 the first night, and the other was about 4AM last night. That was really annoying, though not their fault - and they gave us a small credit for the inconvenience which was nice.

The fourth complaint, though, was huge. Atlantis is billed as a luxury resort. So why, oh why, do they not only fail to use a fitted sheet when making the bed, but they use a sheet that's too small, resulting in a short-sheeted bed? I made them find a sheet that at least fit better, then I didn't let them change it all week. But all hotels that charge more than $20/night should use real fitted sheets, dammit.

As for the rest of the trip, we had a blast for the most part. David was kind of difficult, and all the Turiel nerves were kinda frayed by all sleeping in a room together. But Jane's sister had it tougher - they have three kids (8, 6, and 2) and were in the same arrangements as us on a different floor. But they've got a lot more experience travelling with their kids than we do with David. Most nights he wound up in bed with us after around 5 or so until dawn. He was difficult at most of the restaurants - thankfully the din was so loud around us that we weren't embarassed too badly (Atlantis has lots of kids there) and we usually ate pretty early.

Unfortunately, David has recently picked up a new habit - he likes to stick his index finger into his mouth. He's been doing it for a while, but on this trip he did it so far that one night he puked in his crib. To the staff credit, even though all we did when it happened was strip the sheet, the next day a whole new crib had been brought in. The service was typically quite good, surprisingly so for what I'm used to in the Carribbean.

There was also one other truly tough moment with David. On Tuesday afternoon, we did our one "off-island" activity. It was a "Dolphin Encounter" on a nearby island that was pretty cool. The whole family went, with Jane's sister's whole family going in and Jane taking David to meet the dolphins. David enjoyed the initial meeting, when the dolphin hopped up in the middle of where they all went into the water, whistled, and clapped.

But then he (the dolphin) did a comedy bit where he motored around everyone splashing furiously with his tail and soaking everyone. David went ballistic and was screaming his head off. I dropped the video camera and scooped him up when one of the other people brought him back up. I spent most of the afternoon trying to settle him down. It was a neat idea, though, and Jane had fun.

I did my activity the following day, when I took a scuba lesson. I'd never tried it before (heck, until a few years ago when I got my eyes zapped, I couldn't see well enough to justify it), but I loved it. Unfortunately, that was my last great moment of fun (personally), because I came down with a cold that I brought home with me. Yecch. Other than that, though, I spent all kinds of time in the pools, rode all the waterslides, played with David some in the water, explored, ate, and had a great time. If you ever consider going, though, beware. The prices are amazingly high for everything, and cashless does not mean cheap. No way. Put yourself on a meal plan, and at least you don't have to worry about the sticker shock on food. Booze, though, is real expensive unless you're playing in the casino - then they liquor you up for free. We only stopped there once, blowing a quick $20 in the slots. I wasn't inclined to the gambling I actually enjoy, which is blackjack. The stakes at the lowest-stakes table were $15 per hand. I prefer the $5 tables, and there were none. Another financial surprise you'll find is a mandatory 15% gratuity charge added on top of virtually everything. I was a little disappointed by that. I usually tip more than that, and because of the charge not being a choice I wasn't inclined to tip any more than what they forced me to.

Basically, we enjoyed it a lot, and if David were aobut six months older I think we would have enjoyed it even more. It's tough for a kid his age to really participate in anything. But he tried. We flew home Friday afternoon, with a not-quite-one-hour layover in Atlanta. David was pretty tough to handle on the last leg to Hartford, but he slept the whole drive home and was incredibly excited to see his kittycat tonight. We got home around 10:30PM after a quick supermarket stop.

There are some hokey, goofy things about Atlantis, especially the way they wrap a lot of the exhibts in pseudo-scientific-mystical BS as if Atlantis were real, but it's gorgeous, well-maintained (the elevator in our building nonwithstanding), and the staff is attentive and very friendly. It's great for kids 2 and up, I'd say. Between Jane and myself, we took a ton of pictures which will be culled through and posted in the next couple of days, I hope. I need the camera space!

And I got a call for a job interview while I was gone - that should happen next week (I was in contact from Atlantis after getting the message). We'll see, but it looks like a neat position.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Yawn, redux

David slept rather poorly last night - by extension, so did we.

He conked out at the regular time, but woke up around 1:30. We wound up bringing him into bed, but that resulted in an hour of him sleeping poorly and us sleeping not at all. We put him back down at 2:30, and has to listen to about ten minutes of screaming before we all settled back down.

Watched Jackass: The Movie last night. Absolutely hilarious. Disgusting and sick, too. Watch the DVD version - the outtakes make it worth the trouble.

Friday, November 21, 2003

On gay marriage

Adrian Walker had a great column in Thursday's Boston Globe on the topic of gay marriage. He, like myself, is a supporter of the concept. My opinion is basically this: when society grants special privileges to people with legally binding pair bonds, then any two persons should be able to enter into such a bond.

It should be a basic right, and I'm grateful that we're finally starting to get there.

Anyhow, the best line he has is a quote:

(quoting a political consultant on the right-wingers' protests) "If marriage is so sacred, then why don't they outlaw divorce?"

Why, indeed. Marriage indicates a stable relationship. Stable relationships are a Good Thing. Gay marriage doesn't necessarily lead to anything else, contrary to what many members of the religious right may think. It just leads to more (hopefully) happily married couples.

And once there is an actual statute on the books here, I have one message to any gay couples who may wish to marry: a couple of years ago, I actually went through the (brief) process of becoming ordained by the ULC as a minister. And I'd be happy to marry you gratis, if nobody else wants to.

Let me know.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Not with a bang, but with a whimper...

That's how my golf season appears to have ended. I last played a week and a half ago, and since the weather didn't cooperate last week I think that's it. I'm not going to be able to play next week, and the following week marks the beginning of December. Even I pack it in at that point.

Season highlights? Several sub-50 rounds at Salem Muni (a difficult course for me), finally starting to get some consistency out of my driving after changing grips late last year (unsolicited plug - I am using a variation on the Natural Golf method, and it's really starting to work out), and being on the winning team for both my league and for the (former) company outing. I was on the winning regular season team my first year, too, but I'd never been on the winning team in the outing before. That was cool.

And the $25 mall gift card I got for winning helped knock another notch out of the price of my newest Mac.

I'll take the clubs down cellar later today, I guess. Wah.

Why am I writing this relatively early in the day? Well, I have to go get a flu shot at my doctor's office at 9. I've gotten them the previous four years, after a particularly debilitating case of it in 1998. Previously, I'd gotten them at work, but that's not going to be the case this year, now, is it? Anyhow, I'm getting mine today, Jane is trying to make arrangements herself (her doctor isnt offering them on a day she's available), and David will get his when he has his 18-month checkup in two weeks.

If you haven't already gotten one, do so. Now. Shots suck, and you may get the sniffles from this one, but it beats the heck out of getting the flu. Trust me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Share the joy

Today brings us two new Apple systems. The first is a new iMac, with a 20" LCD. It costs $2199 in a config that is otherwise identical to the 17" iMac it replaces at the high end. The 17" remains, at the original price. The $400 extra just gets you the big screen.

This was an inevitable upgrade, simply because I'd just recently bought a 17" iMac. Josh's First Law of Computing dictates that the model I own will always be upgraded within a month of buying it. However, had it been available I would not have bought it - Jane has one of the older 17" iMac models, and I knew that was definitel enough screen. In fact, I'm not sure how well this one will do in the market. $2199 is kinda steep for a G4 system nowadays.

The other upgrade was much more practical for most. The mid-range G5 tower (1.8 GHz) now brings a little dually love to the table for the same price ($2499) - and the bottom-end G5 (single 1.6 GHz) has had a small price cut. For $500 more than the dually G5 1.8, you can get the 2 GHz model, but all you get extra for the money is the two slightly faster processors and a notch up on the video card. Changing the video card as a BTO option only adds $50 to the price, so you're paying $450 for a pair of processors that are only one click faster.

They'll sell a lot of the 1.8 systems this season.

In other news, the Massachusetts SJC has just declared that same-sex couples have a legal right to marry under the state constitution. However, they left it to the Legislature to come up with a solution, giving them six months to come up with a solution.

Personally, I have no problem at all with the idea that gay couples can marry. I don't think it threatens marriage as an institution, and it doesn't threaten my marriage either. But I doubt that our legislature has the same attitude that I do. What I expect to see is an initial effort by them to rewrite the constitution to explicitly define marriage as male-female. After that fizzles (it did last year when they tried it), they'll wind up passing some kind of civil-union bill that Romney will reluctantly sign right at the deadline. It'll wind up being something like Vermont.

Ultimately, this nation will come to the conclusion that stable pair-bondings are a Good Thing, regardless of gender. But it's going to take a long time to get there, and the socially conservative wing of the GOP is going to have to start getting hit at the polls before we get there.

Monday, November 17, 2003

More English

Where did the term "Black Friday" come from, anyways, as it relates to the Friday after Thanksgiving? We all are familiar with the term nowadays, but the common usage of it is a relatively recent development.

Jane's worked in retail all her life (in one form or another), so she's the first person I ever heard use it - I don't remember exactly when, but I think it was some time in the mid '90s. And the first time she said it, she looked at me like I had two heads when I told her I'd never heard it before.

Since those days, now I hear people use it routinely, and I've seen it in print many a time. Does anyone have any idea where or when the phrase originated?

We finally heard back from the carpenter this morning, and he's coming over soon. This is good, because it's fairly simple but I have no idea how to install a storm door.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Home improvement (again)

As many of you will remember, we had some hellacious winds kick up through New England for a few days. The worst of it was Friday and Saturday. Well, Friday we went out together to do some things, and when we returned early in the afternoon we had a little accident of sorts.

We made it home without any problems (and the trip itself was uneventful), but after parking the minivan back at home, we went up to the back door with David and his supplies in our arms. We opened the screen door, and it was propped open while I unlocked the door.

At which point the wind kicked up again with a big blast, flinging the door open, and ripping it out of the doorjamb. Bummer.

We wanted to replace it anyways - in fact, we'd made a call to the carpenter we've been using for serious home projects for the last few years about it a few days before. I want to put a more traditional storm door up that'll actually give us some insulating value in wintertime. However, he's been rather poor about returning calls lately and we still haven't heard back from him. Jane also called again Friday. No call.

So I dismantled the old door myself today (I had to poke it apart at the hinges), and I'll try and figure out how to replace it in the next day or two.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

On Language (with apologies to the gray lady)

An interesting observation about language development - as David gathers more and more words, he becomes more and more frustrated when he doesn't know the word to express something. That and not getting his way are the leading causes of tantrums right now.

When he does learn a word, he delights in using it as much as is reasonable. For instance, "kittycat" not only applies to Gracie, it applies to any pictures or video of a cat he sees, however large, small, or abstract they might be.

Except for Danny, who he still refers to as "grrr".

Diverging into politics

I had an interesting, if brief, discussion with one of my friends after last night's BNUG meeting. He's very much against the H1-B visa program and feels that it's a significant cause of the workforce contraction that's happened in the IT profession over the past few years.

I disagree.

Why, you may ask? Here's why. Under the H1-B program, workers from foreign countries come here to work. They have to be paid a competitive wage for practical reasons (they need to live here and deal with the US cost of living while they're here), and some of them wind up becoming permanent residents or even citizens eventually. America was built on immigration, and just because some abuses have certainly occurred is no reason to end a program that has been a channel for people to come to the greatest nation on Earth.

There is, however, a problem with the workforce. It's the offshoring movement. Companies are losing sight of the long-term problems that can emerge when you take your intellectual capital and ship it overseas in order to meet better quarterly numbers today.

This has already decimated American manufacturing, and now it's spread to the IT sector as well. Tomorrow it'll be the accountants and clerical workers who get farmed out. What jobs will be left here? There's only so many jobs open at Starbucks, McDonald's, or your local Gap to be had. People have to earn enough money to patronize those businesses, and to boost short-term shareholder value companies are putting their customers out of work. It only goes so far, folks.

American business have three constituencies they need to satisfy: customers, employees, and shareholders. To focus on one of them to the exclusion of the other two is a recipe for long-term disaster - Wall Street may be happy when you show numbers worthy of a "growth company", but how do you sustain that bump in the long term? What do you cut when there's nothing left to cut?

The focus of business should be on maximizing their potential sales, keeping the cost of sales at a reasonable level, building quality products, and having a happy, motivated workforce to help you do it as well as possible. If you make a good product and sell it at a fair price, people buy it. If your employees are happy and well-compensated, they will be motivated to build the best possible products. And if the customers are buying and you're making a profit, then to hell with Wall Street if they're not happy. You and I are the shareholders - and I don't know about you but I just want to be vested in solid, well-run businesses that make things people buy. I wasn't spoiled when mutual funds were returning 50% per year in the dot-com boom, and I wasn't devastated when the crash came. I expect solid, long-term growth and I could give a fig about this quarter. Show me the long view.

So if you want to keep this country what it is, don't cut off the foreign workers to spite yourself. Keep the jobs here, regardless of who does them, and build your companies the old-fashioned way.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I always wanted to be a boxer

It's not because I like hitting people. That doesn't really appeal to me that much. Being hit by people appeals to me even less.

No, it's because the two coolest nicknames in sports can only be given to Jewish boxers. If I was a boxer, I could be either "The Kosher Butcher" or "The Yom Kippur Clipper".

I always thought Dana Rosenblatt was leaving a great nickname on the shelf by simply going as "Dangerous Dana".

Of course, with my skills, I'd probably simply be known as "Week-old Pastrami" or something like that.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Up late, again

Two reasons I'm typing this now. The biggie is David. He's in his crib right now, railing against the world. He's been sleeping poorly the last two nights - last night a brief visit to our room did the trick and he settled right back down into his own crib after snoozing with Gracie for a while. Tonight, that's not the case. Jane just went and fetched him again.

The other reason is that tonight, I learned how to use iMovie and iDVD - I made a DVD of David's first year on the planet. It was minus a few chunks, because iDVD can only make 90 minute discs, but all the good stuff was there. I even added some music from my iTunes library and photos to the chapter menu from iPhoto. It came out really well, though it took a few hours to render and burn. I'll make some copies tomorrow and send them to our families. The dupes will go much faster - the Superdrive is capable of 4x burns so it should take about 23 minutes per disc to copy.

Sometime in the next week or so, I'll make a DVD of the second year to date - I have a couple of hours of DV footage to edit down first. One thing about DV work - it gobbles up disc space like anything.

As for David, Jane and I just put him down again, after giving him a little shot of Tylenol. He has a bit of a cold - we had to wipe his nose. Of course, the runny nose could have been an aftereffect of all the crying. But he seems to be down now.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

A disclaimer

The project yesterday went well, but I want to warn my readers - be very careful when attempting any sort of electrical work. If you have any doubts about what you are doing, stop and get a professional electrician to do the work for you. Having an intact home and healthy life is worth the expense as opposed to risking either.

I've done a few electrical projects over the years, and yesterday's is about as complex as I'm willing to get. Among other things I've tackled is to install a ceiling fan (in our kitchen with a friend of mine helping), to change over old switches, and to rewire an outlet. I've also removed a few old circuits from the house as well. We've got a lot of old knob-and-tube cabling here that I've been slowly removing from the system. Most of that's been done by the pros, though. Next year's electrical project will be to break out a separate circuit for the A/C unit in our master bedroom. It shares with much of the other stuff in the bedroom now, and the UPS for Jane's iMac trips every time the compressor energizes. We'll use a real electrician for that job.

I have done most of the house's newer phone wiring, though, and all of the data wiring.

We also have some plumbing repairs on the to-do list, a couple of our old radiators are rotting away and should be replaced. I've shut the water to them JIC, since they're not in an area that really needs heating, but they need to go after this coming winter, if not sooner. I'll have that done by a pro. The most complex plumbing projects I'm OK with are toilet replacements and fixing leaky faucets (if it doesn't require a full replacement). I repaired a leak coming out of our old dishwasher once, too.

I've hat a lot of blog hits by people looking into the Gourmet Garden restaurant in Swampscott. Just so you all know, it's pretty good. We don't go there too often, but the last time we went was this past Wednesday night - Jane's been under the weather the last few days and I decided to drag her out of the house for a bit. We hadn't been there in quite a while, but we were craving Chinese food.

Everything was good, with the exception of the sweet & sour chicken. Usually sweet & sour chicken is something I only order in Chinatown, where the restaurants know how to make it right. However, I thought I'd try theirs and it was kinda blah. Real sweet & sour chicken is not heavily battered and served in reddish sauce. That's an American's idea of what it should look like.

The moo shi, however, was terrific - and I'm not even a big fan of moo shi. Everything else was first-rate, too. They have a sushi bar in their bar area, also quite good. I haven't had too much off their Japanese menu, but I assume it's as good as the rest.

And the trip out was good for Jane, as well.

Every morning

When David wakes up each day, we hear him. First he runs around in the crib. Then he takes all his stuffed animals and tosses them out, one by one. That's how we know he's ready to get up.

When one of us (usually me) goes in to get him, he starts giggling and runs away from us to the opposite side of the crib. He'll play this game for a minute or so before he lets us catch him and change his diaper.

Then he runs around the upstairs for awhile before he slows down enough for breakfast, which is usually a bottle and a banana.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Project complete.

This morning, I decided to get the lighting (as referenced in my 11/3 post) project done. First off, I tested circuits until I found the one that serviced the light/power for the old fluorescent series. Found it after testing half the darned house.

Then, after labeling it in the circuit breaker box for future reference (it controlled the whole bathroom, as well), I went and pulled the wire nuts from the old junction, exposing the wire ends. Did I mention I re-tested first to make sure the power was out? I really hate getting 110v zaps. After undoing the cable that led to the old lights, I re-threaded the nuts, and re-energized the circuit to make sure everything still worked. It did.

Then, David and I headed to Home Depot across town. I picked up four GE Profile under-the-counter lighting units with electronic ballasts, and they came with both outlet and direct wires included. I also had to get an adapter for the first in the series to hard-wire it down. The lights could be wired in series using the built-in direct wires.

They were pricey but good, and David fell asleep on the way home.

After I got home, I finished dismantling the old lights which I'd disconnected earlier. Instead of unthreading all the old cable, I just diked it out at the appropriate spots under the cupboards and pulled. I went and got some Romex from the basement - I keep a spool for just these sort of projects. I guesstimated a piece for the closet-adapter point connection and stripped the ends to fit. The next step was to head down cellar again, re-trip the breaker, and re-test that it was out.

Sure enough, it was out again. Duh... Anyhow, I threaded the cable through the wall and fastened it down to the adapter, using the supplied wire nuts and trimming only a little. GE included a strain relief nut, which was a little tough to fasten correctly but eventually went in. Then I hooked it up to the socket end, and re-powered up the breaker. I tested for current, and finding it I went back to work.

The new lights went in in sequence, starting from the cupboard I hooked up the adapter to and finishing up under the sink. At least they did after I ran down to the nearby hardware store for some screws and nuts of appropriate length - the old ones were too thick to thread the new lights onto. I tested each one after installation before installing the next one.

After I was done, I only needed one cable fastening tack to take up excess slack in the cable from the adapter to the first light. That was the toughest part, because I had to drill a pilot hole for the tack first. And David was trying to cling to my leg while I did it. While I was at it, I tacked down the Romex in the closet, thus improving the safety from what was there before. It won't break loose anytime soon.

One other nice aspect to the new light system - each light fixture can be powered up individually. The old one was an all-or nothing sequence - the switch was over the sink, and could only power the whole smash. Now we just have to light the individual work area we need, which is easier.

All together, between the new work lights and my souping up the fan lighing, our kitchen has gotten a lot brighter. If I'd done this when we had our house for sale, it might be sold today. Which means I'm kinda glad I waited. Now I'm planning to figure out how to better cover the open fixture in the closet that this draws its power from. I'll probably tackle that one in a week or two.

In the mail this week - a "trying to locate you" card from the folks planning my high school 20th reunion. Fine and dandy, but that means I've been out of high school for almost 20 years. Geez. At least I still have hair, grey though it is...

Friday, November 07, 2003

Great quotes in history

I was watching an episode of Insomniac last night. It's enjoyable enough when I do watch it, but last night I heard a classic bit of wisdom that I thought it would be appropriate to share with y'all:

Dave was chatting up a somewhat curvaceous middle-aged woman outside a Nashville bar, and he complimented her figure. He asked her if she'd ever had any work done on it.

She responded that her figure was from "beer. Nature's silicone."

I really liked that line...

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Inventory time

We did an inventory today - it was of David's vocabulary. As far as we can tell, his vocabulary right now consists of:

Mama, Dada, baba (bottle), baby, book, up (which also means down), lala (banana), nana (Grandma), chair, kittycat, car, truck, cookie, cracker, duck, pool, no, chiz (cheese), turkey, ear, grrrr (the growl he greets our cat, Danny with), drink, bye, light, that (what he says about anything he can't name otherwise), clap, boat, dog, pop (Grandpa), and belly button.

And he shrieks a lot, and has a whole bunch of babble words he uses. Usually he nods at you when he babbles.

Monday, November 03, 2003

I'm not an electrician, I just play one on TV

Two improvements going on in the kitchen - first off, I replaced the relatively weak bulbs in our ceiling fan (old-skool CF bulbs with a yellowish cast to them) with latest and greatest 9 watt fan CF bulbs. They cast a much whiter, brighter light, and only burn a total of 8 more watts when going than our old ones did. Our kitchen tends to be sorta dark, and this helps a lot.

The other is that we have a series of under-cabinet fluorescent lights that predate us in this house. We don't use them that much, but when we do, it's because of intricate food prep - ergo, we really need them.

Well, after over 10 years of service (our time here plus however old they were when we bought the house) they're on the verge of dying. One of them is already dead, and the over-sink one has the ballast starting to fade. They're wired in series, and rather poorly thru a wall and branched off from a light socket in our bathroom closet. So I have to decide which approach I want to take - rewire from that socket area, but better than the kludge job currently in there, or to just come off from one of the outlets in the kitchen on the back wall under the existing lights. I can do it neater-looking from the light fixture in the closet, but it's a kludge now and I'm not sure I want to actually rewire it. If I take the other route and go from the outlet, it won't be quite as pretty (though I can camo it nicely), but an easier wiring job. Either way, though, I'll still have to dike out the existing rig + wire.

Otherwise, no real news. I've become something of a Trading Spaces junkie over the past year, and I picked up Paige Davis' show diary (it's called "Paige by Paige", truly a brutal pun) today from the library. It's an amusing, fast read - I'm already about 2/3 of the way through it and will probably finish tonight. Definitely lighter than my usual fare. The main revelation is just how much goes on behind the scenes, and how hard they work to really stick to the actual stated rules of the challenge.

My mind has begun tuning out the white noise of the new iMac's fan. But it is definitely louder than Jane's is - mine's faster, though, so I can live with it. Nyah.

Pet peeve - Flash sites that embed their content in an MS-specific way and therefore don't load correctly on a Mac. It takes no effort at all to do Flash right, people - so do it right, for Pete's sake!

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Trends in spam

The main themes of the spam I've been getting recently are as follows:

-Penis enlargement
-Viagra (and alternatives)
-Pain medication
-Debt relief (especially a variant that the header calls "Debt relief from a Christian perspective)
-Pr0n - usually underage

I don't actually have to read any of these, thankfully. I run SpamAssassin on my mailserver, which puts anything that scores higher than 4.5 on the Spam-o-meter into a "junkmail" IMAP folder. Anything that passes muster goes into my regular inbox, which I download using Entourage (for POP3, not IMAP access). To flush the junk, every few days I use IMP (a webmail client) running on the server to browse the spam titles and see if anything got flagged by mistake. I was getting over 100 spams per day - but I had my old Holyoke account nuked entirely this past week (they were forwarding it for me) and that cut out a lot of the load. Now I'm down to around 25 or so per day. I get about one false-positive per week, and a spam makes it through the filter every couple of days.

No takers yet on my old PowerBook - I can make you such a deal!

Saturday, November 01, 2003

PocketMac 3.2 - so far so good

I downloaded the just-released PocketMac 3.2 update today - it fixes Panther compatibility (though the installer still thinks it won't work), and a few other glitches.

So far, no difficulties. I was starting to worry that I'd never sync again! When I got the iMac, I chose not to try installing 3.0 on it, since it was supposedly not Panther-compatible. But my thoughts on PocketMac boil down to this:

PocketMac can be a little quirky at times. But all in all, it makes a PocketPC at least as usable as a Palm when it comes to Mac-native PDA solutions, and Palm will go years at a time without updates to support new Apple OS's. There's still no AvantGo conduit for Palm on MacOS X, two years after Palm first supported it themselves. On the other hand, there is support within PocketMac. Because the developer wrote it himself. And when it came to Panther support, Palm wasn't ready. PocketMac was ready within a week of release.

I have yet to try Bluetooth support (it's not worth getting a Bluetooth SDIO card), and I'm not sure if it can actually sync via network yet, but the essential thing (USB support) works just fine.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Greetings from the Halloween capital of the world!

And farewell to October. Today, we baked brownies, then strolled into town to see the madness first-hand. Indeed it was mobbed downtown. After returning home and putting David down for a nap around 2 or so, I went for ingredients and we made a big salad. We went to our friend's house (Greg and Mary) over near downtown with said brownies and salad, and had a dinner there with them and a few friends of theirs. Then we took all the kids trick-or-treating (David was a fireman, but refused to wear his hat), and after the sugar rush wore off the kids, we walked into downtown for the main event. Downtown was even more jammed than it had been in early afternoon. We took the back way home, and David demanded a bath. So we caved - he was sticky anyways. He hit the sack around 10.

We did a good job keeping him away from most of the candy, thankfully. He did eat a Reese's peanut butter cup (along with a chunk of the wrapper), and then he got his hands on a Tootsie Pop. He's only had a couple of lollipops so far, but he loves them. He somehow grabbed a second one at one point and was double-fisting them.

Besides that, though, he ate pretty well today. He did collect some candy during the trick-or-treating, but he's not going to get it, and we're not going to eat it, either. We'll give it away over the next week or two.

Anyhow, this marks the end of October, as I mentioned. One week from today will be three months since I was "separated" from Holyoke - right around the median for out-of-workness in this state. Hopefully I won't go too far past that, but there hasn't been a lot of new stuff appearing over the last week or so.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

The solution to the hostname problem

The problem with my iMac's hostname has been corrected, but it was using the brute force method instead of the "right way" (whatever that may be).

On the suggestion of a Macfixit forums reader, I decided to go edit the /etc/hostconfig file. I'd looked at that earlier, and the first non-comment line in the file is:

HOSTNAME=-AUTOMATIC-

There's a comment above that the contents of the file are generated by the system control panels. So I'd initially decided to leave it alone. But after reading the suggestion, I went in and changed it to:

HOSTNAME=macdaddy (the name of the Mac)

Now, in order to edit the file (I really hate using vi), I copied it into a visible directory, opened it, and then did a "save as" to save the edited file - the original is owned by root. The new file is owned by me. So I took the edited file, mv'd it back to /etc, then chmod'ed the new hostconfig file back to root:wheel ownership. After a reboot all was well.

I would like to figure out what caused the problem in the first place, so I can correct the underlying cause.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Reviewing Apple's latest

As mentioned previously, Janeshouse.com is now the proud owner of an iMac G4 1.25 GHz desktop Mac, replacing a tired (but rebuilt, reloaded, and now available for a very nice price) PowerBook. We also temporarily have an eMac as well - the eMac is a replacement for the old iMac my parents have, and I'm setting it up for them. Both systems came with Panther included - the eMac was set up with it, while the iMac had MacOS 10.2.7 preloaded and a Panther upgrade kit in the box.

So, here goes the mini-review:

We already owned an iMac - the 800 MHz 17" screen model with the SuperDrive. It's Jane's Mac, and the one we do our bookeeping on. Performance was respectable compared to my old PowerBook (a TiBook 667), mainly due to the improved video subsystem. Well, I did a little subjective benchmarking before stomping the new iMac, and it was noticeably faster. The faster processor makes a significant difference at most tasks, as does the improved GeForce 4 video subsystem with twice the VRAM of the older iMac. Panther is faster than 10.2.x at all tasks so far - boot time is down to about 30 seconds from hardware initialization, iPhoto loads about twice as fast as it did previously, and Safari's "hangs" don't happen on the faster system with Panther loaded.

Minor annoyances (to me): I like most of the new keyboard's design. But Apple has put a rest of sorts in between the cursor keys and the navigation keys - and that rest is uncomfortable. I prefer the older Apple Keyboard. Also, the iMac's fan is a little louder in this model than it is in Jane's iMac. Wah. It's still a lot quieter than in any PC I've used or built, except for the fanless Mini-ITX PC I use as a server.

I was also a little disappointed that I couldn't get the iMac in-store with built-in Bluetooth. It's available online as a BTO option only. I recycled my D-Link Bluetooth dongle - but I was hoping to not have to use it.

As for the eMac, setting it up is not significantly different from an iMac, except for these differences:

First, it's a royal pain to get out of the box. And it's almost as much of a pain to get back in.

Second, it uses standard PC133 SDRAM, while the iMac now uses PC2700 DDR SDRAM. However, both slots are user-accessible. In the iMac, only one slot is accessible - a single SO-DIMM (laptop) socket in the base of the iMac. Removing the panel is an annoyance on both systems, but putting it back on sucks far more on the iMac. Look at Apple's service instructions and you'll understand.

Third, though the eMac's CRT is very good, I'm spoiled by LCD-based systems instead. Again, wah. My folks will love it compared to the old iMac DV they have now (which will ultimately be recycled into David's first computer sometime next year).

Given the price, though ($799, plus we got a 10% discount on that), the eMac is absolutely a great buy. Make sure to add RAM, though - it only includes 128MB at that price point. Another 256MB should cost you about $35 at any CompUSA or Best Buy.

As for Panther, the experience has so far been pretty good. I'm happy with the speed, and replacing Aqua with the brushed metal look is growing on me. I like the new Finder, and most underlying functions are more responsive. I had two problems in the upgrade, mainly related to the way I did it.

When I set up the iMac, first I upgraded it to Panther, then I hooked up my PowerBook in FireWire target disk mode. I drag-copied all my user files and applications over, then I copied all the preference and support files I could identify. Everything worked fine, but the first problem was that my user applications all now appeared twice in the Finder's "Open With" contextual menu. This was fixed when I re-did the install using the "Archive and Install" option, preserving all my settings. I should have done that in the first place, since the PowerBook was running 10.2 instead of 10.3.

The second problem is more frustrating, though more minor. Whatever I try to name the Mac doesn't take - the Mac is convinced that the name I pick exists elsewhere and instead names itself "pc-00023" instead. Trying to forcibly set the hostname using "sudo hostname" fails. It's obviously from a setting file I brought over from the old OS by mistake, but still a pain in the butt. I'll puzzle it out at some point.

Fortunately, it's easier to read/edit preference files on MacOS X than it is on Windows. The OS and apps store their settings in "plist" files that are simply plaintext XML files. Apple provides an editor that can specifically read the schema, but you can also use any text editor if you know what you're doing. I'll slog my way through it over the next few days as time permits.

Also a plus - Panther no longer requires a driver for my Smartdisk media reader, USB behavior is much better, and the printing subsystem is better, faster, and much more stable than it was prior.

If anyone wants to buy the PowerBook - let me know!

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Because I can!

I'm writing this from my iPaq, sitting at the table during a BNUG board meeting. Why? Why not?

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Today's new Google Search topics

Checking this week's stats:

"philips earbud"
"paul levesque stephanie mcmahon new york marriage"
"Scarlett Johannsen"
"mike mussina desktop background"
"widescreen tv geforce 4mx"


I'm just so darned eclectic, I shock myself!

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Until recently

Until recently, we had a squirrel that was terrorizing the neighborhood. Well, that may be a slight exaggeration. He did hang out in the area (I wouldn't call it a yard, exactly) between our house and the house behind us, occasionally turning up next door. He was relatively agressive for a squirrel, plucking apples off the little apple tree in our yard, hanging out on our rear stoop to eat, and always being around when we were coming and going.

Now, let me digress. We have a storage area behind our house as well. We keep a few trash barrels there, of which one has no lid. We use that one for yard waste and when we just have too much stuff to contain in the rest. I usually leave it on it's side, otherwise it gets full of rainwater when we're not using it.

I hadn't noticed, but it was standing up for the last couple of stormy weeks. It was about 1/3 full today.

Now, back to the story. Jane was outside this afternoon doing a little yardwork - which for us mainly consists of taking the flowerpots that we keep annuals in to the storage area and emptying them out. She noticed the trashbin was full of water again.

She also noticed the squirrel, floating, and drowned. It must have been recent, as he was still quite intact. I took care of the mess just now.

I must admit, it is kinda funny.

I've posted an ad on Usenet (ne.forsale) - my PowerBook G4/667 is for sale. No, it's not to pay the mortgage. It's because I've replaced it with an iMac as of yesterday. After checking the used market, I realized that it would be about a break-even with yesterday's Apple Store sale prices factored in. Anyhow, if you think you might want it, e-mail me for info - or go to Usenet and read the ad. I posted it this afternoon.

I feel naked without a portable Mac, though, so once I'm working again I'll probably pick up a bottom-of-the-line G4 iBook at some point.

Truly, a busy night

Last night, we went to the mall. We'd been putting the visit off all week, since last night was Apple's "Night of the Panther" launch event for MacOS 10.3. Seemed like fun.

So we got to the mall at 7:30. There was a line back about 20-30 people already when we walked by. So I got in it, and Jane went off with David to take care of some of the things on the list. Meanwhile, by the time 8 rolled by and the store opened, the line extended about 200 people deep. I made a good decision.

The only major purchase was an eMac for my folks. Apple had a 10% off all Macs deal that was valid last night. We'll get their old iMac (it used to be Jane's) back, reformat it, and give it to David next spring when he's old enough to start playing around a little bit on a computer. My major observation is that Mac users are essentially a tribe. Sure, I own and use Intel boxes. When I'm working, I earn a living taking care of them. Intel boxes have been very, very good to me. But I like using my Mac. Given a choice, I use the Mac. When I talk to other Apple users, I feel like they're part of the same little exclusive club that I'm in. People with Windows computers, on the other hand, just have computers. I think most other Mac people think much the same way.

Anyhow, we took care of everything and were on our way by about 9. David slept in today, which was nice - he got up at about a quarter to ten. The other sidenote from yesterday is that I actually cooked!

This is quite radical for me, as I'm not noted for my cooking. But I made a broccoli-cheddar quiche that came out pretty good. Jane claimed to have liked it.

I told her not to get too used to it, though.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Diet update

I'm not exactly dieting - but since early July I've been making a conscious effort to eat a little less and be more active. I still eat a good deal, but I eat a little better food and a bit less of it as well. Without actually counting calories, I'm trying to consume about 10%-20% fewer each day on average. I refuse to weigh myself - I just keep track of my waistline and look at myself in the mirror.

Anyhow, the best indicator is that I've had to take my belt in two notches from where it was in June so far (another notch today), and that I can't wear any of my size 44 pants now. The 42 pants are starting to get a little loose now, too.

In fact, we just got home from a brisk walk into town, combined with a couple of routine errands. Boy, I feel fitter already!

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Pot-pour-re

Yeah. Here we go...

I talked to my folks this afternoon - they were on their way back from picking up NY Lotto tickets at a store in Vista, NY. When I was a young man, "Vista run" had a far different meaning than two retirees heading over to buy Lotto tickets (thanks to a loophole in the drinking ages between NY and CT). Times change.

We made chili tonight for dinner. David picked out the beans and pretty much just ate them. Lots of beans, at that.

Our cats have been using the silica gel cat litter for the last few years. It's virtually stink-free. The only problem is that the fairly large chunks tend to wind up all over the house, which is a problem when you have a small boy who likes to put things into his mouth. This can cause Bad Things to happen.

So we've replaced one of our litter boxes with a design from Booda that's supposed to pretty much eliminate tracking. Hopefully it works - if it does, we'll replace the other one, too.

When I'm king, I will have anyone who throws a lit (or unlit) cigarette butt out of their car put to death. Or at least caned in public, Singapore-style. That's what ashtrays are for, morons!

I've turned a higher profit than Woodge on my website. I earned $10.02 this quarter. Nyah!

However, that may go into fixed costs soon. The USB ports on my PowerBook are getting flakey.

By the way, David's new favorite word - "bath". And he has to be held back from the tub while it fills, otherwise he's in - clothes and all.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

And now, some reason

Michael Holley has an excellent column in today's Globe that mentions a couple of the other mistakes Grady made Thursday night - the biggest, as he puts it, was using Wakefield instead of Williamson in the 11th. He has a great point - Williamson was pretty much unhittable the whole playoff run, and Rivera was not going to be available any further. Had the Sox escaped the 11th, the matchups greatly favored them going forward based on what both teams had left in their bullpens.

That, and he put forward one decent scenario for Grady keeping his job. Even I will agree that Grady did a great job keeping the players focused and loose, and he set the mood for them really well. Even Manny loved him, and Grady benched Manny back in September. Where Little fails is as an X and O guy. So the solution is to keep him around with a better bench coach (where's Mike Stanley when you need him?), and assign him a pitching coach who pretty much runs the bullpen and rotation in his stead. Maybe that's Tony Cloninger if he can come back next year (He already works well with Grady, and he's proven), or somebody else if not Tony. No need for changes on the hitting side - you can't top a record-breaking year. Kind of like the way the NFL does things, where the head coach handles the personnel and locker room with the coordinators actually running their sides of the ball more or less independently. Think of the current Red Sox as a demented version of the New York Giants, where Jim Fassel insists on running the offense himself (to the point where last week the Giants offense was outscored by the Patriots defense). True, most baseball teams run the other way (with the manager involved in everything), but Grady Little has proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he's not suited to that style.

What do you think? Can this career be saved, or should heads roll on Yawkey Way?

Saturday, October 18, 2003

At last - an evening to ourselves

We finally got out tonight to celebrate our anniversary (it was a week ago - feel free to congratulate us!). We got a sitter, and went to a nice early dinner followed by our first movie since Jane's birthday last year. When it comes to moviegoing, we're the polar opposite of the Woodges in that respect. Anyhow, we saw Lost in Translation. We both really liked it, partly because of Bill Murray's terrific performance, partly because Scarlett Johannsen was also first-rate paired up with him, partly because of the subtle, atmosphere-driven plot, and partly because it was nice to finally see a Hollywood movie with no on-screen sex, no car chases, no explosions, and no fights.

And now, back to mundane reality. I'm typing this while waiting for David's laundry to finish. We have to get up early tomorrow to go to a function a friend of ours is having, and I'll be in the sack the second after I get everything in the dryer. It was a really nice belated anniversary, though.

Hopefully by the next one I'll have another job!

Friday, October 17, 2003

Meanwhile, in an alternate universe...

What curse? The Red Sox, carried on the back of seven strong innings by Pedro Martinez and four early runs off Roger Clemens (chasing him early in his final game) defeated the Yankees, 5-3, earning a place in the World Series against the upstart Florida Marlins beginning Saturday. This will be the first wildcard matchup since the revised playoff system began.

The Sox got to Clemens early and often. He was hit hard, Trox Nixon slugging a 2-run blast in the second inning. The Sox got one more that inning on a Enrique Wilson throwing error that allowed Jason Varitek to score. Clemens was able to get through the next inning, but in the fourth Kevin Millar hit a leadoff homer to make the lead 4-0. After giving up a walk and a single to put runners on the corners with nobody out, Clemens was pulled for Mike Mussina. Mussina, looking sharp, got the Yankees out of the jam.

Meanwhile, Martinez was cruising. He gave up a pair of solo home runs to a previously quiet Jason Giambi (bumped down to seventh in the order), finally working his way out of a 2-on jam in the bottom of the seventh to end his night at 100 pitches thrown. David Ortiz led off the eighth with a solo home run off a hanging David Wells curveball to add some insurance, and the Sox got two scoreless innings of relief from Mike Timlin and Scott Williamson to close the game out and complete the improbable comeback from the 2-1 and 3-2 deficits the Sox found themselves in during this series.

All I have to say

Crap. Go Marlins.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

About Google searching

Here are some of the Google queries that have returned my blog prominently:

Appalachian human inbreeding
Rey Mysterio's son's picture
Salem Beerworks
XO customer service sucks
cinema catfight
buy yellow tracksuit as seen in Kill Bill
DSLquest
Restoration hardware silver sage


The most commonly used browser is MSIE 6 on Windows 2000. Right behind that is IE 5.5 on Windows 2000 - those are probably mostly my ex-coworkers, judging by the build info. Then there's a few XP users. That's probably mostly the folks on my team, because we all moved to XP this year. Shout out to them.

Turning up with some frequency in the last week or so is a few Gecko-based browsers - mostly split between Mac and Linux users, but there's a couple of Windows people in there too. And some AOL and Safari users as well.

Sigh...

And the season extends another day. Boy, I'm getting grey at an alarming rate!

Cool thing they're doing now at the Apple Stores: they use a rugged plastic shopping bag that has its strings set up in such a way that it can do service in a pinch as a backpack. Really neat idea.

Definition of a geek: I watched yesterday's game at home, until it was time to go to the BNUG meeting. I listened to it on the radio during the drive to Newton. Once I got there, though, it was still the eighth inning. So, geek that I am, I fired up my trusty iPaq, plugged in the SDIO WiFi card that I snagged last week, and hunted for an available network I could get out on to get the play-by-play live over the Internet.

Found one, too.

Actually, the iPaq I have now (the 1935) is definitely the slickest yet. It's a hair taller than my Palm Tungsten is, but it's slimmer and (it seems) lighter. The PocketPC 2003 OS isn't bad (still no built-in battery meter, though), and the device is a lot more responsive than my old iPaq was. The screen is really nice, and the battery life so far has been quite good, even when using the WiFi card. It also fits really well in my Timbuk2 iPod holder - so well, in fact, that I got another one today so I wouldn't have to pick between the iPod and the iPaq for carrying along. The headphones pocket holds a couple of SD cards nicely.

The only hardware drawback to the design so far is that none of the portable keyboards that HP makes work with it, and it'd be nice to have a extended-life battery pack available for it like it is for other models. I also am not nuts about how they implemented the charger - I see no good reason they couldn't have drawn power off USB.

I'm also having some PocketMac issues that I'm dealing with - I think I may have messed it up and I'm too lazy to fix it right now. I'd like to network sync it now that I have the SDIO card, but it doesn't appear to work.

Nothing major new on the job front. I saw some more interesting stuff this week that I think I'll pursue. I never heard anything from the interview three weeks ago, and I assume they didn't bother notifying me that I wasn't selected. Oh well. The only disappointing thing about that is that I was told I'd hear one way or another of their intentions, but I don't think they'd have waited this long to decide - ergo, I assume it wasn't me. It would have been an interesting job that I probably would have done well at.

Perhaps I'll update again tomorrow after the game. Hopefully I'll be in a good mood - Cowboy Up!
(I can't believe I just said that...)

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

It wasn't the trip from hell...

...but it started off that way. Saturday morning, we headed down to Allentown PA for a family reunion (Jane's mom's family). Well, the original plan was to leave around 7 or so. But we decided to stay in a little later, and hit the road about 9 (after a nice, leisurely breakfast and such). Then David came to the conclusion that this trip wasn't a good idea, and started to make us aware of it.

After only about 20 minutes.

So we pulled over at the Framingham rest area and Jane hopped in the back with him. We tried the bottle strategy, which only resulted in milk being flung all around the back of the van. I'll be scrubbing a lot tomorrow.

Then, like the super-genius I am, I decided that the usual route (90 to 84 to 15 to 95 to 287 to 78 to 22) wasn't ideal, and we could bypass the NYC area by taking 84 all the way into PA. So we hit all sorts of traffic and construction in the western stretch of 84 after Hartford. That part sucked. Finally, in Danbury, a highlight! It was lunchtime and we were getting antsy for food - suddenly, a sign by the roadside appears advertising a Duchess off the next exit in Danbury! Yay! So we get off and follow the signs.

It wasn't there. After a few miles, we've backtracked to the previous exit on I-84. In frustration, we got back on and crossed into New York. There's an exit a short way into the state that promises a Wendy's. OK, that's not great but it's better than settling for a McDonald's. Meanwhile, David's still miserable, we're starving, and I get off at the exit. Only to see a sign that the Wendy's is quite a few miles away. There ought to be a law, I tell ya.

So we got back on, crossed the Hudson, and headed down the stretch through the bottom of the state. Finally, in frustration, we did actually stop at a McDonald's. Of course, David (who had finally dozed off) woke up while we were parked there (I went in for the "food") and so was profoundly unhappy again. By this time we're a little under four hours into the drive.

We cross into Pennsylvania at Port Jervis (the top of the Delaware Water Gap area), and, looking at the map, I decide that Route 209 looks like a good way down - it follows the Delaware River downwards through Stroudsburg and onto 33, which goes the rest of the way to the Lehigh Valley. It looks like a well-developed major roadway that promises to be scenic and really doesn't go through much civilization on the way. Cool, right?

Well, the first 19 miles after we get on (after a little delay in a town called Milford's downtown) are just as advertised. Pretty, fast, and easy driving. Then we hit the outskirts of Stroudsburg.

Stroudsburg, it turns out, is the gateway to the Poconos. So we get into a 5-mile crawling backup caused by all the resorts and a huge flea market, anchored by two very poorly-timed traffic lights that bottled it all up. Those five miles took about 45 minutes. None of us are now happy.

Finally, we get through it all and I turn onto 33. Route 33 is a very fast, four-lane divided highway that's just what the doctor ordered. We get to Bethlehem quickly, and turn onto 22 for the final push of about 10 miles to Allentown.

Allentown was once a magnificent city. There's some great architecture as you drive through, and it overlooks the valley. Beautiful views. Unfortunately, the hotel we're staying at (we've been there many times before, Jane's folks have been booking it for us) is in between owners yet again. One reason may be that it looks like it's surrounded by crack dens and tattoo parlors (and two pawn shops). At the end of the business day the city center becomes deserted, for good reason.

We went in, only to find that the computer system that handles the reservations was down. Nobody could check in at all. However, they were having an open bar to compensate partially. I had a couple of Diet Buds while waiting for the situation to be resolved. Finally, faced with all the guests plus a girl's soccer team, the staff decided to solve it manually. A staffer with a master key went and inventoried rooms, reporting back down what was available. My sister-in-law went up to scout out a few for the whole family. She scored well, though we switched a little later to a non-smoking room. The restaurant was closed, and the bar only had a few bizarre-looking items available to eat. We sure as heck weren't going to walk anywhere!

I wound up ordering pizzas from a delivery joint with my brother-in-law. They were pretty good, too. And legitimately so, not because I was hungry. David was having a great time playing with his cousins, and when we went back to our room for the night he went right down to sleep.

Only to wake up at 4 AM upset and inconsolable. We wound up taking him into the bed with us for a pretty sleepless night.

Things picked up considerably the next day, though. They put out a decent breakfast buffet of mainly fresh fruit in the otherwise-closed restaurant, and the coffee was good. Thank goodness, I needed it badly. My car had not been stolen that night, so we were able to get to the reunion, and we had a great time. I like the folks on Jane's mom's side of the family, and it was really nice to see them all. Jane enjoyed it, though I think she was a little busy helping with some of the hosting-related chores. We brought David's pack & play with us, figuring he'd take a nap, and we were right. he slept for about an hour and a half, right in the middle of all the noise and fuss. It was adorable. Most of the afternoon, though, he played with all his cousins (some of which we'd never even met before), and ran around entertaining people. I mainly chased him. But it was a lot of fun.

After the reunion, we celebrated our anniversary (which was also that day), by going out to the Brass Rail for steak sandwiches with Jane's folks. All five of us had steak subs, of course. The night's sleep wasn't quite as traumatic the second night, and the drive back was fast and easy. We stopped for lunch at my parents' house, going the regular route this time. I learned my lesson on the way down. We got home around 5.

It was a short trip in duration - only about 55 hours total and 700-ish miles. But the first 9 hours (counting the hotel fiasco) took about twice as long as the whole rest of the trip combined. I learned three valuable lessons this weekend:

1: Stay in the newer hotels out by the airport.

2: Get adjoining rooms if possible. Or a suite room that gives you and toddler some privacy.

3: Don't screw with taking a different route when you have said toddler in the car.

If you obey those, all should be well.

Anyhow, the reunion really was a good time, and I took a lot of pictures. They'll be uploaded along with a David update sometime later this week. Meanwhile, I was up watching the ballgame and I needed to write this to finish settling down. Time to go to sleep now!

Friday, October 10, 2003

A few thoughts as the week draws to a close

I wonder if there was an empty chair at last night's Democratic debate - and if there was, did anyone notice it or wonder who was missing? That's about how much impression Bob Graham made on the field.

PocketMac is one of those "love it or hate it" Mac apps. It allows a Mac to use a PocketPC as if it were native. The first version of OS X was "OK", but kind of flakey. Version 2 had a bad rep, but I didn't use it - I had sold my iPaq at that point.

Well, version 3 just came out, and my iPaq 1935 just arrived, so I paired 'em up right out of the box. With a couple of (small exceptions), PocketMac 3 rocks! Not only is it seamless to use, not only does it sync with a whole mess 'o new methods in the background, but (unlike Palm) it even offers OS X support for AvantGo and Vindigo. Sync is far improved, the whole app runs out of the menubar if desired, and connection seems much more reliable. It mounts the PocketPC's My Documents folder directly on your desktop, as well, and can allow you to access a installed storage card.

Here's my only two minor quibbles: First, the included tool for extracting .CAB files from Windows installers has been all but useless. I haven't found the installer it could read yet. So until that gets more polish, I'll use my Windows box to install software. The second is potentially a little rougher, but may have to do with the way I installed it - I installed the app, then instead of rebooting I installed both the released patches that were available first. After rebooting, my root directory was write-protected (not over all, just to my user ID). I've seen that with a handful of installers, and it's easily rectified by running Disk Utility and repairing permissions. But it's a pain to do,, and a lot of "joe average" users might not know to do that. However, it may have been due to my installing in a non-standard fashion, so I won't quibble too much with that. Overall, a much improved app that makes a PocketPC a truly viable alternative to Palm for Mac users. I'm not sure what the price is new, but the upgrade was $5.

In other news, we realized yesterday that David has suddenly become too tall for size 4 diapers. They're hip huggers now. So we're going to bring back the 3 cases for size 4 and exchange them for size 5 - we've got about a half-bag (20 or so) of the smaller ones left which we should have used up by early next week.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

California rules!

Or something...

Apparently, the key to success as a modern gubernatorial candidate is to have starred in "Predator". First Jesse, now Arnold. Go figure.

To be slightly serious, California, with their initiative system, deserves exactly the fiscal mess they're in, regardless of who runs the state. Let's be real. Not even presidential candidates really take them seriously. Sure, they pay good lip service to California - after all, they're the biggest, and therefore the most delegate/electorally rich of all states. People may be crazy to run for president, but with a few notable exceptions, they're not stupid. But they don't really give a whit about California at all, beyond the votes.

And yesterday's election summarizes why even more than I can state. And I don't have anything personally against Arnold. Heck, he might even be a great guy and a fine governor. But any state that makes it this easy to knock the guy they elected out and replace him with one of a menu of over 130 candidates deserves the worst. As Bill Maher said so well, what made Arnold any more qualified than Gary Coleman? Both were actors!

So enjoy your new governor, California. I hope he does a pretty good job, because your economy is important to the nation as a whole. At least give him a few months before you recall him, too - and please, no idiotic "Total Recall" puns when you do.

I'll just hang out here on the East Coast and snicker smugly at you...
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