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.

UpTweet