Monday, August 31, 2009

Sick Kid

We headed down for our Monday night routine. Delaney was listening to music, and half asleep as we went down, but after we dropped of Kendall, he said that he had a headache, and didn't feel good and had a headache. He was looking down, so we drove to the Walgreens, grabbed Ibuprofen, and gave him some. He then lay back and said he wanted to sleep. So I parked at tutoring and read while Delaney slept. We then drove Kendall to piano and Delaney still felt a little sick after an hour nap, but looked a little better. However he said he'd like to take it easy.

He apologized for being so sick, and a problem. I told him that wasn't the case, and that it wasn't big deal. He should try to be more careful, drinking water, making sure he eats enough, but sometimes you just get sick. I think he realizes that he gets sick more than the rest of the family. Hopefully it doesn't affect his confidence and that he gets stronger. Maybe we can motivate him to work harder at taking care of his body and develop good eating habits to make him stronger.

A Great Business Model

Tia and I were moving dirt around the ranch this weekend. It was a chore that needed to be done, and we had some time to do it. Nothing was scheduled, no kid or family commitments, on a Sunday afternoon.

While we were working, a strange car drove up, and a lady got out with a package in her hand. Tia and I looked at each other, and since I was in the tractor, she walked over there to see what was going on. I finished dumping some dirt, and as I was walking back to the house, Tia came up to talk to me.

She showed me this:


The lady apparently takes photos of houses from the air, and then brings them around to sell. I'm not sure if she or her husband does this, but they offer the print for $119 or so, and then $30 for the frame.

Not a big money maker, but it can fund a hobby or some costs, and it's not a bad model. The power of showing a finished product to a client makes a big impression. While $120 isn't cheap, it's a nice photo, and is unique. I wouldn't, however, contract with them if they came by and said they'd go take a picture and bring it back.

I don't think that you'd ever earn a living with some hobby like this, but you likely could cover costs, perhaps even the fuel from flying your airplane around. If you had a similar hobby, woodworking, crafts, something where you can produce a customized product easily, making a sale can work well. Photography is easy: I see people taking pictures at theme parks, ski resorts, etc. and then selling prints later. It must bring in enough money to keep offering it year after year.

This is a nice example of contact hitting, making small, regular sales that people.

Last Game

And quite a game it was. Last night was our only night baseball game (7:30 start) and it was quite the ass kicking. For awhile it looked like we might not have a game as none of the other team’s players were there, but they arrived about 7:15 and we got started. This was one of the 3 teams we’d beaten all year, so we had high hopes to end on a good note.

Instead it was over early.

Our pitcher struggled, walking the first 2, and then hitting the third. A hard double by the 4th batter had us in a hole that got worse. I missed a ball that was bounced and skipped on the hard artificial surface. Hard to see in the light, and we had a couple other errors that would have turned double plays or given us a few outs. Mostly it was pitching, however, and we ended up walking into the dugout down 11-0 after one. Two strikeouts and a ground out ended our inning, and we were an hour into the game. An hour!?!

From there things didn’t slow down as they batted around in the top of the 2nd again, with a few walks in there, and an error. We had 4 batters in the bottom, and the game was essentially over. I managed to snag a couple balls at first, but otherwise it was uneventful for me at first. I fouled a ball high the catcher caught for my first at bat. People  said it was the highest ball they’d seen hit this year, and it might have been. It took a few seconds to come down. My second at-bat was two good fouls, and then a swing I couldn’t check as a ball tailed down into me.

Their pitcher threw hard, probably the hardest thrower we’ve seen all year, and we struggled. We finally had a triple in the last inning, a guy hit one hard to center, and their fielder was a little asleep, but it got us a run on a bunt, so we can’t complain.

3-15 to finish, but a fun time. We got to laugh and joke, not taking things too seriously for the most part. A few guys got too upset, but it was a good year. We went out for a couple beers afterwards, and I’m exhausted this morning, ready to sleep in for another hour if I can manage it at work.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dropped Pan

I was cutting along this afternoon, getting the last couple of hours needed for a complete pasture mowing this year when I heard a “thunk.” That’s never a good noise on the tractor, and I turned around to see the blades and the spinning pan down on the ground.

I turned the tractor around and disengaged the drive. Then I lifted things up and saw that the middle gear was full of string, there was a cotter pin slightly bent, and my pan and blades were on the ground. To top it off, one of the A-frame bolts had fallen out as well.

I replaced the bolt first, mostly so I could drive around on the tractor, and then went looking for parts. I’m not sure how that pan was held on, but there had to be some sort of gear that did it. Nothing obvious was on the ground, despite my driving back and forth in wider circles.

So I parked and disconnected it. Tia needed some help moving dirt, so I did that, but I need to see if I can get that part. Another adventure, with our dealer out of business.

Bargain Hunting

I finally found some time to pull the starter off our Craftsman lawn tractor. It’s been acting up, and I think it’s dead. I’d checked on one a couple weeks ago, but at $160, I wasn’t sure I wanted to get one. It seemed that perhaps just the gears were worn.

However it didn’t want to start, and so I pulled it off and brought it inside. I checked with Sears again, $162 for the starter. So I searched around. The next place I saw was $152, and then I saw a place for $139. Since I was on a roll, I checked one last place and found it for $116, and even with 3 day shipping, it was $135. Not bad.

Hopefully this will get that fixed and let us continue on with some chores around the house.

Surfer Dude

I woke up late, Tia and Kyle gone to run a 5k, and had a lazy morning. My plan was to work a bit and then hit chores, but I stumbled on Surfer Dude and got hooked. I missed the beginning, and thanks to the magic of RF, hit a button on the remote and missed the end, but I enjoyed it in between.

A surfer, trying to just enjoy his life, trying to enjoy the waves, and struggling with the realities of life. I miss surfing, more as I get older. Snowboarding captures a piece of that, and maybe that's why I enjoy it. Looking forward to getting out there again this winter.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


I finally got done with the newsletter and work around 3, so I decided to go outside and see if I could get the sprayer working. I grabbed a few tools, and walked out, thinking I needed to get this going, and it would be easier on my leg than trying to hook up the tractor mower.

I was wrong. I started to thread the control wire through the ATV and brought the sprayer over to see how long it needed to be when I saw that the sprayer had a hole in the tank. Someone must have run into it because the feed tube back to the sprayer was broken as well.


So I decided to just mow. It's getting late in the season, and I only have a little done. Hooked up the bush hog, drove out, and started cutting. I got quite a bit done, cleaning up the section I'd started before it rained recently, and making decent progress, but there were tons of mosquitos, and I didn't have any Off.

After braving that for about 45 minutes. I gave up, came inside, and ordered a new tank. $80 later, I should have some parts Tue or Wed to get this working and clean up some weeds.

Just in time for winter.

Much Better

I put ice on my calf a few times last night and then went to sleep. This morning I felt better and after working for awhile, I decided to try a run. I stretched out for about 10 minutes, for what little good that did. No pain in the left calf, though it was tight.

When I got downstairs, I started slow, walking and then a slow 5.5mph jog. It felt OK, though on the verge of something pulling. I kept the steps slow, running carefully, and things went well. I set a time of 14:00minutes, and kept to that, but I'd started the Nike+ late by a minute, so it shows 15:00 total. I did my standard 2:00 cool down walk.

I think I'll be OK, though my guess that a slow day in right field would be my best move tomorrow for the last baseball game.

Almost Forgot

I was up this morning, starting to work on my desktop. I rebuilt it yesterday, or started, with Windows 7 RTM (from Windows 7 RC) and wanted to get it done. I had a couple items for work to finish as well, so I was looking over them when I got an email about Database Weekly. It was my week, and nothing was loaded.


I'd completely forgotten it was my week. We have a schedule, but it was loaded on my new machine, which doesn't sync up with my phone and laptop, and so it had slipped my mind. This was a busy week with my wife out of town, and I'd forgotten.

So I spent the last 3 1/2 hours loading content for DBW, going through feeds, and getting an editorial written. Now it's heading out, and I'm good to finish other work, like reinstalling Office and editing a podcast.

A Good Memory

Kyle spent the night at a friend's last night and this morning I got up, thinking I'd be taking Delaney to his volunteer time at the Elizabeth Food Bank. I got him eating, and just as I was panic'ing over some work not being done, Kyle called and said he was on his way.

He remembered, and made the effort to get up and take his brother down there. That's cool, especially as they don't often get to do things together. Delaney really likes Kyle, and Kyle seems to have fun with Delaney; they're just different people.

So it was cool to have them doing something together, and doubly cool that it was volunteer work.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Injury Prone

I started the run with a sore right ankle. It was tight, and not really painful, but aching slightly after karate last night. However 5 minutes in it felt good, and I sped up a little. Then I decided that I should take a few slow days to close out the month and try to heal things up.

I ran my mile, turned around, and started back, and felt a pain in the left calf. Strange as I haven't had anything there in a long time. I shortened my stride, and slowed down, and it was better, but now it's sore, and hard to walk on.

It seems that the closer I get to a year the more little injuries that are cropping up. I think I might close out the next 10 days or so with shorter, slower runs.

Don't Make Me Work, VIA Rail

I got an email the other day from Canada's VIA Rail, advertising "Discover Canada by Train" and the chance to save up to 70%. When my son was younger he loved trains, and one of the videos he had was of a train trip on VIA rail across Canada. It looked amazing, and they hooked me. I clicked on the link to see how much this might cost. I'm not necessarily looking for a trip now, but I might in the future.

I don't know how I got on their list, being a US Citizen, but they piqued my interest. A good thing.

Note: this applies to how the software APPEARS for VIA Rail. It's something you ought to consider when you're marketing promotions to your customers.

I got to this page, which looked nice, but it was WHAT WAS IN THE EMAIL. Don't waste my time. At this point I feel as though you've shown me the same commercial twice. Not what I want to see.


As a comparison, here' s the email:


Both of them essentially are trying to hook me, but neither one shows me

  • the cost
  • where I can go
  • when I can go

That's a big mistake, and it starts to immediately turn me off. However I continued on to look at the next page, where they presented me with a map:


and below that a series of routes on which there were specials.


Again, I don't have a price, so I'm not sure I'm interested. But this is a promotion, and maybe they want me more interested. OK, I get that, so I click a few of the map locations and that limits the list of specials. I pick one of the interesting ones, Vancouver to Toronto, just to see. I figure I'll get a high price.

I find one I like


and click "Book Now, " which seems like a nice, highly visible link. There are booking instructions, but how many people click the instructions first? I'm hooked, I want to buy. I get...


OK, now what? My route is populated, but the dates aren't, and if you look at my choice, it has a date listed for the special. It also has a discount code, neither of which I have at this point. If I searched through and found a fare here, it wouldn't necessarily be the special they're shown me.

What's more, on the special, it doesn't list the time it takes for this journey, so I have no idea of what the return date should be.

It's a slow site, the search takes minutes, and were it not for the chance to write this blog post, I would have just bailed and not bothered to continue. But I'm curious at this point, morbidly curious, how bad things can get. I pick dates I want in September, the wrong ones deliberately, and continue.

When it does come back, which is literally 4 or 5 minutes later, I'm amazed. It didn't time out. I see this


Not bad, they moved my dates for me, but then I don't see the special fares. I do see the discounted berth, which was mentioned in the ad. I'm assuming this is more than a day's journey and I need to sleep, so I pick it and continue.

Eventually (another 5 minutes) it comes back to say that my return date is invalid. For eff's sake, can you not give me more than that? Clue me in as to the possible dates? What timeframe should I consider.

Curiosity is failing, but I go back, enter in the date on the discount (Oct 9), pick 3 days later since I think I remember from my son's video that it was 3 days to get across Canada by rail.

Minutes later, I get a return. I'm not sure how long because I'm writing this and doing other work, checking the page once in awhile.


The first thing I saw was just the "Upper berth" item in the drop down. At first I was confused why this was listed when I'd suggested the "upper and lower berth - discounted" item. It's annoying to me to see other listings here, but more annoying to show them as "sold out" I don't know if the search was too slow, or if there is a crappy design, and I'm really not sure if it's worth even searching. If I were seriously considering a train trip, I'd be very, very turned off now. Were it not for this blog, I'd have moved on.

I finally get the results:


I can't say I'm that surprised at the cost, though I am surprised it says "discounted" berth. What's the discount? And why is passenger one paying $2,421 and passenger 2 paging $2,265 ($156 less)?

I continue on, thinking that at some point I'll put in the discount code and see the discount. I enter my name, fake address, fake phone, and get to the payment screen where they want my credit card number. No discount, no letting me know what the discount is.

At this point I think they have horrible software developers, and are hiding something. They feel worse than the airlines to me.

Out of curiosity, I check on Amtrak and look over some deals they have. Their site was inifinitely easier for me to find specials, and get a price along with the results when I searched on dates. Not a lot faster at times, but definitely easier to use. I didn't compare prices at all.

I buy airline tickets 5-6 times a year, and at no time have I had as much of a hassle in finding a price as I did on the VIA Rail site. Likely I'll not be considering a trip across Canada by rail anytime soon.

Worn Out

I am just plain worn out. I struggled to get up this morning, did, and went into Delaney's room. He woke up when his alarm went off, but I lay next to him and snoozed it for 5 minutes. We got up, but it was slow moving to get things done. I got him to the bus and when I got back Tia was getting Kendall ready. She said she'd drive Kendall, and that I looked really tired. I felt it as well, so I came upstairs to lay down.

I felt like I was getting going on work, and I'd done a little, but I was so tired. I decided to nap a bit after taking a poll on Twitter of "coffee or bed." I ended up with a split (one coffee, one bed).

It was a struggle to relax, but the next thing I knew it was 9:45. I rolled over to contemplate getting up and when I rolled back it was 10:33.

Wow, quite a nap, but I definitely felt better. Glad I did it, even if I need to work more this weekend to make up for it.

Morning Girl

Yesterday Kendall woke me up at 5:30 to ask me if she could go watch a movie. I said fine as long as I didn't have to get up. I was looking forward to sleeping in for 45 minutes.

I woke up this morning at 6:10 to find my door closed. When I got up and walked out, I heard voices downstairs. Kendall was watching a movie on the iMac. I went down and asked her when she got up, and she said she didn't know, but she had watched a movie and was on her 2nd one.

That girl is going to be tired tonight.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Random Shit

When I was walking around Wal-Mart today grabbing a couple things, I passed a small Colorado calendar for sale. It represented Colorado and reminded me of my nephews, who I had promised to send a few things. So I grabbed it, and looked around for a couple other things to pack up.

I have 3 nephews, 5, 4, and 4, all of them different. The oldest is a sports guy, so I grabbed him a Bronco's jersey that I need to actually exchange since I think it's a bit small. I'll send that out as he wants to play football next year. The twins are different as well, with Deven liking art and drawing. He's like Kendall, and always was writing little notes and doodling. So I grabbed him some art suff, and will send him the calendar as well. I guess he'll use to keep track of what's happening in his little mind.

The other twin, Nigel, has a "store" near his room, where he sells a variety of things to the family. Kendall got a nice piece of fabric for one of her animals as a blanket, and I wanted to send a few things for Nigel's store. When I asked my brother what Nigel might like he said "random shit."

That's a good description, and I think it's the eclectic things that Nigel likes. He did ask me for some keys, so I need to grab some of our old keys and send them out. Today, however, I found an old MP3 player, a keychain, and small flashlights for each boy.

So that's on the agenda for tomorrow or Sat. I'll pack off this stuff and hopefully they'll enjoy it.

I am a Geek

Waiting for a friend for lunch, sitting outside in the beautiful courtyard at Hacienda and I thought my friend might be late.  I have a netbook on my lap, cell phone open beside me, getting a few things done.

Quite a sight I’m sure for the diners walking past.

Fixing the Sparking Microwave

Our microwave was sparking recently, and we were worried that it was dying. Only 3 years old, it shouldn't be, but you never know. For every long lasting appliance there are a few short lasting ones. The side of the microwave, and the wave cover guide were black with soot from a mini-flame that appeared in there.

I researched on the Internet and a few people said to be sure things were clean inside and if the wave cover guide could be cleaned it should work. However ours was blacked,  with pieces of metal flaking off of it. It seemed trashed to me, so I ordered a new one. There were some on eBay, but I just went with Best Buy parts. Same price, $10, and same shipping, $8.

It arrived yesterday, so I put it in and turned on the microwave. After about 15sec, it seemed to be crackling and sparking, so I turned if off again and unplugged it. I didn't have time to deal with it, but I was worried about it. I talked with Tia about it later, and she suggested calling an appliance repair place before doing anything else.

So I called John Wright Appliance Repair in Parker, the town we live near. I spoke with him a bit, and he was happy to give me 5 minutes of his time with a few pointers. I got some good information, followed it, and things appear to be working. We'll see what happens over the next few days.

The advice?


First, I needed to clean the microwave. Our maid had done a great job cleaning off the inside, but there was still some black marks on the side. John said to use some 400-600 grit sandpaper to clean things off. So I grabbed a sheet of 400 and rubbed off the black. It pulled off a little paint and the gray metal underneath showed, but I can touch that up with paint.


Just above the wave guide cover, there was a little hole and some metal showing through the white finish. John said not to worry about it. The finish is aesthetic, and can be repaired. Any metal showing is safe for that microwave. It's tuned for the magnetron.


One thing I hadn't done was put anything in the microwave when I tested it. John said to be sure that there was something there, a glass of water is fine. I did that, ran a minute, and no sparking, crackling, and the water heated up.

I think it's fixed, and I hope so. $20 and a little time as opposed to $50 for an estimate from most places.

Monitor Testing

I had my third monitor die recently and have been using just the 2 on my desk. However one of them is a little smaller, and so I've been struggling to see it off to the side of my desk. I'd really like to get a larger one, mostly because it's hard to see the smaller monitor that's a little further away.

Yesterday I was in Wal-Mart, grabbing a couple groceries and some blank DVDs when I saw a Sanyo 32" LCD on sale for $350. Quite a bargain, and it's pretty large. On the spur of the moment, I decided to invest in my career and test one out as a PC monitor.

I got it home, set it on my desk, after clearing things off, and plugged it in. My Windows 7 desktop detected it immediately, and let me set the maximum 780p resolution, which is 1300x768. That's a decentn resolution, and as you can see above, it makes things LARGE.

Very cool, and I was excited at first. The monitor on the left is a 22" one that I really like. It's a Westinghouse and it works great for me. It's bright, and clear, and that's the issue.

It's hard to see from the image, but the Sanyo LCD TV is much, much less bright than the monitor. I wasn't sure how much of a difference it makes, but it's a huge difference. It actually was a noticeable difference on my eyes in about an hour of using both monitors. As much as I love the large size, I can't use it for any length of time, especially with the bright 22" one next to it.

So I'll return it today, and I'm going to grab another 23" one.

Back to the Barn

Between Tia staying home for a few months, and a very busy work life, I've not really been to the barn in a month or more. To top it off, we've been turning the horses out to the pastures to eat grass, so we haven't been feeding hay.

However now it's time to change that. Tia's in Atlanta, horses locked on the track, pastures resting. So after dropping the kids off for their bus stops, I had to head to the barn and throw a bale of hay for the beasts. Felt a little strange.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

No energy and a little sore.

I was still sore tonight at karate. Wrist, ankle, seems like something always hurts. So I took it easier, moving a little slower and working technique instead of speed or power. Worked out well, and I had a good, but not exhausting workout.

Delaney, however, went the other way. Only about 10 kids in his class, and I watched him a bit. He's really come along well on the combinations, and worked well with one of the older kids. He was really sweaty when he came off the mat, and said the class lacked energy. Good to see him pick up on that.

All Alone

Or somewhat alone. Our maid is here today, but Tia left for a quick trip to Atlanta, coming home tomorrow night. She was running late, so I drove her and got an extra half hour to chat with her.

Gonna be a busy night at the ranch with her gone, tutoring, karate, etc.

The same bad job?

SAT scores in New York fell again. The officials have said that more and more people are taking the test, so its' becoming more representative. It used to be that mostly college-bound, high achievers too the test and now it's a wider group of people.

So do we need to re-evaluate the test?

It's an interesting question to me. Are schools doing a bad job and we're just getting aware of it or is the population on averege not going to score well on the SAT. Combined with the note yesterday that 53% of Americans hadn't read a book in the last year, I'm not sure the school system is doing a horrible job. At least not compared to the general population.

It reminds me of the quizzes they do on Late Night or other shows sometimes where they ask what I'd consider basic questions to people on the street and get some amazing(ly dumb) answers. We don't know if they have to ask 20 people to get one dumb response, but we do know there are a lot of people out there that don't know much about the world. I've seen this with kids at times, where they think Jon Stewart or Stephen Cobert are reporting news. It's a little sad.

If we were to give everyone the SAT we'd have a better idea of how the test scores in the population, and then we could better evaluate the test. Maybe that's what we ought to do. Give the test to all seniors, and let them pay if they want the scores sent to a college. It should generate the same money, but we might then have a better idea of how the test scores the population.

However not everyone is smart enough to go to college. Not everyone wants to, and certainly at 17-19, not everyone is ready.

I don't know if there is a race issue here with the test, but I'd like to see it given to everyone. Then we might better be able to tell.

A quiet night

In my room last night. After putting kids to bed, I matched Tia's actions over the last few nights; I read a book. She's been caught up in the the Twilight series, trying to finish book 3, and has been staying up late reading at night. I've been doing the American thing and watching a little TV most nights, but last night I stayed up and worked on a book I grabbed from the library recently.

So both of reading, bedside lights on, a nice quiet night.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

This is sad

A survey showed that 53% of Americans hadn't read a book in the last year. Even if they survey is 50% off, that would be 26% have not read a book. As an author, and someone that loves books, that is frightening.

Whether you want to improve your career, yourself, or just enjoy yourself, a book is great. I got a magnet years ago from Amazon that said "A room without books is like a body without a soul, " a quote from Cicero and I've since thought that if I get a bookstore, I want to call it "A Room with a Soul."

Read a book this year. At least one. Go to the library, pick one out, and read something.


We've gone skiing the last 2 or 3 Thanksgivings and haven't booked anything for this year, but Tia said we needed to do something soon. We were talking about vacations and what to do, and decided to search RCI for any timeshares available. We ended up finding one in Copper Mountain, starting the day after Thanksgiving, so we booked it.

That will give us the choice of Copper, Cooper, Breck, Keystone, etc. There should be some snow somewhere by then and I'm already looking forward to it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

SQLSaturday #23 - Session Submitted

I'm committed to SQLSaturday #23 in Louisville on October 24, 2009. I got a note the other day from the organizer and today I sent back my session. I'd been waiting to hear from Red Gate that it was OK to go and commit, and I did last week.

I submitted The Modern Resume presentation again, since that one has proven to be popular and I could use another delivery before the SQL Connections conference. I'm also working on a Hierarchy ID presentation that I'll bring along. The last couple of events I've attended have had a cancellation, so it's good to have something to present in case it's needed.

I also found out my wife is traveling that week, so it will be a bit of a kid shuffle. I think my sister-in-law can help, but I might end up taking a kid with me to Louisville. Fortunately my other sister-in-law lives there, so I don't have to bring a kid to the event.

Lunching Alone

I was hoping to run get dog food at lunch since we ran out last night and have some lunch with Tia. We tried to coordinate schedules, and planned to leave around 1. I went running, shot a couple podcasts, and was starting to edit when I realized it was 1:30. She ended up long on a call, so I went to get lunch and dog food.

Alone :(

I was looking forward to lunch with my wife, especially after a busy weekend, with both of us running in opposite directions.

A Great Example

Kyle went to Phoenix this weekend to visit friends. He left Friday and then came back late last night, getting home after I was asleep. However when I got up at 6:15 this morning, he was down in the kitchen, pecking away at the netbook trying to get a paper done for school.

When I picked up Delaney's backpack to take him to the bus stop it was heavy. So I asked him why it was full of books. He had homework this weekend. When I asked him if he'd done it he said "No, I was stupid."

On the way to the bus stop, as I was giving him a little lecture about responsibilities, I mentioned that Kyle was gone and got up early this morning to get his homework done. And that he could take a lesson here from how his brother is handling his workload. Especially as Delaney was watching YouTube while eating breakfast.

Hopefully seeing his brother working will sink in a bit more than my lecture.

A Writing Day

I try to write often, but lately it seems that I've struggled to write some days. Since I usually just move on when I'm struggling, it has meant that I've gone days without writing sometimes. I guess I've blogged, but not really written anything of substance like an editorial of deep thought on those days.

I had other plans today, but as I was working along, I found myself inspired early this morning. So I dropped what I was working on, and moved on to write a few editorials. I ended up with a few blog posts at the same time, and that was pretty cool. It feels good to get some writing done, not only because I have a good pipeline, but also because writing is cathartic.

It makes me feel better.

Starting Early

It felt as though I got up way too early this morning. I got Delaney up and then walked downstairs. Just as I was getting ready to log into the computer, I heard "Dad, the toilet's leaking" and rushed upstairs.

It's truly Monday.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Another day, another loss

We had our second to last game today, a late one under a nice cool sky. This was another team that hasn't played well all year, but they did OK today. At least well enough to knock us out in 7 innings.

We started out with a 1-2-3 inning on our side, not hitting well. Then they walked one, a bad throw to first that resulted in someone going to third, and more of the same. We had a lot of walks, a bunch of missed throws, and off hits that could be called errors getting by infielders. Then I topped it off nicely in the 3rd by dropping a fly ball in shallow center. I was there, reached out, and it hit my thumb and I couldn't close the glove. That's 2 in 3 weeks I've dropped for not good reason.

At the plate, we weren't better. A bunch of hard hits that were right at people, and nothing strung together. I struck out, hit a hard one to right center that was caught, and walked. Over all, I think we probably only had 4 or 5 hits again. They didn't have a lot of hits either, but took advantage of lots of walks from our pitchers.

So we're down to the last game, a night one next week and then we call it a year. I think I'm about ready for a break. As much as I've enjoyed the year, my body feels a little beat up with the running and karate on top of baseball. I'd like a few months off before moving to snowboard season.

Little Repairs

Well, I'm on a roll here with a few repairs around the house. Our tow sprayer had a few things break last year when we left it outside, and it has been down all season. I searched around a few times, but didn't find parts. Finally I tackled it again last week and found parts on the Internet and placed an order yesterday to get those coming. So we should be able to spray again next week.

Then the microwave went out the other day. That's a big deal, and I searched around a bit since I'd rather not pay $300 for a new one right now. Our wave cover guide is definitely scorched, so I ordered a new one this morning. We'll see if that fixes things when it comes. If not, I'll drag it down to Parker to a store before we go shopping.

I managed to scrape the driveway this week, and probably will get to do it again next week as we have rain in the forecast. However I still have a few more repairs to hit.

1. tile the bathroom. a major project and I don't really want to, but I'm not sure I want to spend $800 for someone else to do it.
2. get a pressure valve in our condo repaired.
3. Fix the front screen door. Involved ripping another 2x4 to fit the spot as a spacer, removing the old one, and screwing the new one in. Not major, but time consuming.
4. Starter on the lawn tractor.

I have other stuff as well, and the tiling will probably need to wait until we get more things done outside. Starting with the lawn tractor today. Then probably need to also build a shelter for the ATV/tractor somewhere near the barn.


I was sore last night, and feeling rough. Actually it's been a hard week on my body, and both Fri and Sat nights I didn't want to do anything but lie around and watch some TV or read. Between running, baseball, and the heat, I was beat last night.

Today I feel better, and a little more energized. I have a half day to do some things before a 4 baseball game, so I'm thinking to get on the tractor and scrape the driveway a bit more and try to clean up things. Something I didn't want to last night.

Getting home around 4:30, I knew there were things to do. Grass to cut, driveway to clean up, etc., but I just wasn't up for it. Instead I cleaned up, started to cook some food, and then got on the laptop to work on some things. I had a presentation to finish and wanted to install some software on the machine.

It ended up being a good night, getting a few things done, watching a movie with Tia and Chrissy, and the kids out to a movie with Kris. About the same as Fri night where both Tia and I lay in bed from about 6 on, watching TV, relaxing, letting kids veg out after their first week of school.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dying Sensor

At least I think my Nike + sensor is dying. I was running on the treadmill before baseball and when I checked it near the end of my run, it was reading all over the map. So my guess is the sensor is dead. I'll pick up a new one later and test it.

A bit of a shame. I've gone over 300 miles with it, but it's only been about 7 months. Seems like it ought to last longer.

Early Morning Call

I haven't gotten one in a long time, but my phone rang at 7 this morning to wake me up. Apparently the guy doing one of the newsletters for Monday had some issues and couldn't figure out what to do. He was leaving for the weekend and called me to help.

Not the best way to wake up, especially as I was hoping to sleep in, but things are fixed, and I'm up, which is probably a good thing.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Week with Hippie Ballet Shoes

That’s what my oldest son calls me Vibram Five Fingers shoes. It’s actually been 8 days that I’ve been wearing them solid. The first few days I wore them for a couple hours and it was weird. I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep them, but after vacation and hearing my sister-in-law talk about hers (she has 2 pairs she wears), I decided to go for it.

It’s definitely still a little strange, but I’m getting used to them and I haven’t had any sore spots on my feet. I actually prefer them, and look to put them on first thing. They are comfortable and remind me of being barefoot at the beach in the summer.

I haven’t tried running, wanting to build some arch strength, but I’ll try that soon. I still wear my ortho inserts in my Nike running shoes and I wore the inserts in my cleats playing baseball last week. The switch didn’t bother me, but I noticed one thing. I hadn’t played baseball in 3 weeks and my feet weren’t sore on Monday, despite a decent amount of running. My guess is that the Five Fingers are making my feet stronger, but it’s a guess.

I’ve driven my 911 and the tractor with them, both using the clutch, and it hasn’t bothered me. Granted it was < a hour of driving, but still I didn’t notice. I’ve walked outside on the gravel and rocks and while I can feel the rocks, I don’t have a the sharp pains I’d have barefoot. The only place I missed shoes was when I tried to hook the read blade on the tractor. I had to kick it with my heel and that didn’t feel good.

Note to self: don’t kick things in the five fingers.

I’ve worn them around town, in good weather and wet weather. It was even down in the 50s one day and I did fine. I’m not sure how these will do in really cold weather, but so far they’re great.

I wore them in a field at a Boy Scout event and get some grass between the toes. Just like being barefoot. I wore them in a playground and did get some rocks and chips between the toes and a little inside, but it was way better than sandals, flip flops, or Tevas. I’d recommend getting the Five Fingers with the more closed tops if you hit those environments a lot.

They generate a lot of questions as well. People will stop and ask you what you think of them.

A Little Roll

I was 13:00 min into what I planned for a 30 minute run, still heading out when I stepped funny with my left foot. It was a slight roll, and I collapsed downwards on the leg to lessen the impact. However I only stumbled and didn't stop running.

It felt a little funny, but it was warm, and I kept going, although a little slower. I was worried it was going to be hurting, but it felt OK on the way back, and after a 15 minute cool down, it still feels fine. I think I'll still add some ice.

Emergency Measure 7

Sometime you think quickly, and just have to react. This morning we had 2 minutes to get in the car, and Kendall asked for a couple pieces of bacon. She doesn't always eat enough before school, so if we can get her to eat, we want to. However the microwave was on the fritz. In fact, I think it's toast.

So I looked around the kitchen, thought about the oven: too long to heat up. I considered a pan and frying it, but then I saw something on the counter. So I grabbed a few pieces of the pre-cooked bacon we buy and...

I was holding it, and watching it. As it started to heat up, I pulled it out, cleaned off the grease, and flipped them over. Two minutes later we were walking to the car and Kendall made it to school.

I posted the picture, saying this was Emergency Measure 7 and got a few comments about grease fires. I didn't think about that, but I was worried about messing the toaster up, so I was careful.

This is the second time the microwave acted up. I'm sure a kid dropped some metal in there, as it sparked a little yesterday. I wiped it down inside last night, and it appeared to work on a few minutes of heating things up. This morning, however, as Tia was trying to heat things up, it sparked a flame, and the metal plate on the side that's built in had a large burnt spot on it.

So I think it's broken. Tia says we need to buy one as she needs it to cook. I tend to agree as it's a staple piece of equipment for us. I did find this post about cleaning the metal, and I'll try that.

Early Morning

Today is going to be a long day. I was out late last night, getting home after 11 from the Denver SQL Server user group meeting, and I can feel it. My eyes hurt, head foggy, thinking I might need a nap today.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Back to Two

I've been running a bit less this week. Feeling sore, and taking it easy, so a lot of 1.5mi runs lately. Today I went back to my 2mi pace, going a touch over, and feeling better.

A Tired Girl

After getting Delaney ready for school in the am, usually I check on Kendall and Tia to be sure they're moving before we drive away. It's a weird schedule with the need to get Delaney to the bus by 7:02, which means a 6:55 leave time to drive up there. Then Kendall has a 7:20 bus, so I get back around 7:06, meaning we barely have time to do much before we leave around 7:16 to take her. It's slightly better than the afternoon, but it's still distracting.

Today she scrunched her face and almost started to cry when I went to wake her. I heard her come in our room last night, sneezing and sniffling a bit. I was about to get her Benedryl after 5 minutes when she dropped off. But I know she was restless all night.

So I told her she could sleep for 30 minutes and I'd drive her to school. She didn't want to wake up then, but she did and we made it on time.

Practical or Silly?

I won $25 from Thinkgeek via Intel from a twitter contest. Can you follow that? I posted a question for @IntelSoftware, they liked it, and sent me a gift certificate. Pretty cool, and so I browsed over there today to look at what might be interesting.

I'm not worried about sticking to $25 exactly, though I don't really want to spent $100 either. However I wasn't sure if I wanted something practical, like this charging station:

Or something silly like this multi-color LED panel:

I could get something practical for myself like a handy knife:

or something cool for Delaney like a water bottle cap:

I'm a little torn over getting something I can use or something silly. Any suggestions? Anything you've liked from ThinkGeek?

What about this for my Porsche:

Kindle Update - A month on the iPhone

Ever since my Kindle broke, I've been reading on my iTouch for the most part. I've been using both the Kindle iPhone app and the Barnes and Noble app and while they are different (Kindle notes, BN notes) , they both have a few quirks and I can't say one is amazingly better than the other. I do like the fact that Barnes and Noble allows me to read on the PC as well as the iTouch, and I have used my PC a couple times when I've had the laptop and not my iTouch.

I've been debating what to do about my reading habits. I have made a few trips to the library in the last month to get books for the kids (and encourage them to read), and gotten myself a few books as well. I like reading paper, but it's inconvenient for me. I find myself without that paper book as I move through a busy life. So I definitely like the idea of ebooks myself. But am I ready for a dedicated reader?

I do think that the Kindle works amazingly better than an LCD screen. It is easier on the eyes, and it lasts much longer. Right now I need to be sure I have power handy for the iTouch or I'll drain it within a day. That can be a problem on long flights, and if I go back to the UK, I'll need a power solution. The Sony reader (saw one in Wal-Mart), works on the same principle, but they have less selection than either B&N or Amazon. I'm sure that might change at some point, but what I'd like to do is see these items decoupled. I think Amazon is making a mistake by not supporting other devices, and the same with Barnes and Noble, though B&N did say they'll support the ePub format.

I've purchased books from both amazon and B&N, and right now the platform is more important to me. Being able to buy anytime, anyplace, is a killer feature. So much so that I'm considering actually moving to an iPhone from my Google G1 just so I can converge onto one device. If I can get books from multiple sources on the iPhone, listen to music, and have a phone, that's winning me over. Sure my Google phone can play music, but it's nowhere near as convenient as iTunes. It has AmazonMP3, but I love having all my music easily found on iTunes.

Overall, however, the big thing I've noticed is that the content is what matters. When I read a story I like, I get lost in the story, ignoring the medium. Whether it's an iPhone, Kindle, or paper book, the story draws me in and I enjoy it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cleaning Up the Driveway

I didn't really have time, and didn't want to do it, but with a huge hailstorm last night and things washed out in places, I decided to just get out there and hit the driveway. So after a couple hours of work, I went out, hooked up the blade, and then started going up and down in places to smooth out the driveway.

It's an interesting challenge, and I like doing it, but it's slow. You can't just race down the driveway, and you have to monitor the blade height constantly. Not that I'm great, but I'm getting better.

This time I worked in small sections, 40-50 ft at a time, trying to cut loose dirt and push it up to the middle. I'm not sure how good a job I did, and I need to drive across it a few times to pack things down. I'm also hoping that it won't rain for a few days and things will bake down and get hard again.

If not, I'll be out there again.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Good Workout

Kyle called at 6:30 and said he couldn't get out of the neighborhood because of a hailstorm. It had made the roads slippery and he got stuck a little on one of the streets. It was a little annoying since it meant I'd miss karate, and I thought he was blowing it off, but he said the streets were pretty white and he'd tried.

So I resigned myself to hanging out for Kendall. She went in, and just then the phone rang. 6:55 and he said it had melted enough so he'd come down. I was about to say don't bother, but I hate for him to miss piano, so I told him thanks and was trying to decide what to  do. I figured I could just be late for class, so I drove back, changed in the parking lot real quick, warmed up for 2 minutes with some jumping jacks, and then stepped on the mat.

I took it easy, and we had a relatively easy night. A little kata, and then a bunch of self defense, which is always slower and easier. Especially the choke holds we did tonight. We move slow, not a lot of sweat, and no pulled muscles. It was still a good skill workout, and I did some abs afterwards, but not a huge amount of sweat. Just right for someone late to class.

Delaney tests for his brown belt on Saturday, so he needs to get 3 classes in this week. Since school has an instrument day on Thur, we need to go the next 3 nights and get him prepped for the test.

A Quiet Day

Everyone's gone. It's quiet, and that always makes for a hard work day.

I had a productive morning, but the quiet is wearing on my over the day. I need to do some podcasting, but I'm struggling to keep going. I've got a few editorials written, and need to finish a few more for this week.

All Alone

Well the bus shuttle worked, both Delaney and Kendall no their respective buses. This is going to be a busy morning when either Tia or I is out of town trying to get kids ready. I can definitely see Kendall being driven to school those days.

Now it's a quiet house. Tia left for her horse clinic, Kyle's in school, it's strange. I've got plenty to do, so I should keep busy.

Not Quite

I heard my alarm at 6:10 and woke right up. With a little girl rolling around next to me, I struggled to get a good night's sleep. But I rubbed my eyes and got up, not wanting to fall back asleep. After a few minutes, I walked down to Delaney's room to find his alarm going off. We'd set it last night, opting for the radio wake up.

The radio was playing in his room, but he wasn't up yet. So I sat down and shook him. He heard the radio and said "we should set it for buzzer tomorrow."

Maybe, but I think he needs to get used to waking up. I tried to get both kids to bed just about 9, and I know Kendall was struggling. She actually came in our room at night to say she was sneezing and couldn't sleep, so we'll see how she wakes up. I'll check in about 10 minutes since I'm sure she won't hear her alarm in my room ;)

Sunday, August 16, 2009


A sore knee tonight, actually swollen a little and tender to the touch. I chased down a ball on the line, diving to block it and actually landed hard on one knee. Icing it down and hoping it gets better soon. Might be a tough run tomorrow.

A good game, fun-wise. It was a good opponent, and they joked with us well. However they hit and we didn't, and struggled to even get someone to third. A 12-0 shut out in 8, and I had an OK game for 3 weeks off. 0-3, a few bad calls on a K, and then two pop-ups. Hitting the ball too low and it showed. I knew I should have swung at a few yesterday.

In the field I moved around the outfield and had an inning at first. In that one I didn't dive at a ball, and am somewhat glad. My neck was sore and that might have done me in. I stopped a ball that was poorly thrown, and missed another bad one. I also dropped one in the outfield that was right there. At the last second I got a flash of sun and it hit my glove and dropped.

A rough day for the team. 3 left to go.

A Scout is Trustworthy

I got a package in the mail the other day from the Denver Scout Council. Actually Delaney did, as it was addressed to him. It was a good sizes envelope, and felt like some book or catalog in there, and for some reason I decided to open it. I know, invasion of privacy, but I'm working closely with Delaney on Scouts and can't imagine this is anything big.

It was his scout handbook, along with a notebook and worksheet from summer camp.

These were some of the items we'd lost over the summer. Or rather, had been taken. Delaney had everything in his backpack at summer camp, which disappeared the last day he was there when we came to pick him up. It had been left in the camp, and when we went back, it was gone. Also in there were raingear, his totin' and fireman chits, a compass, and some minor things along with the backpack. We searched around, and then called back to the camp a week later, but couldn't find anything. We gave up and I ordered him a new book.

Then this comes. To me it says that someone, and it must have been a scout or leader, picked up the backpack, took what was interesting and left the rest behind. Eventually it was returned to Delaney, but I'm a little angry that everything wasn't returned.

And disappointed.

Everyone at Peaceful Valley, and at scout events, should be bound by the Scout rules, and one of them, the first on in the Law, is that a Scout is Trustworthy. They don't steal, they should be trusted by other scouts.

I need to talk with Delaney and be sure this stuff wasn't separate, and then call down to Peaceful Valley and try to find out what they found, or how this was turned in, but I want to write a letter. One that I hope gets sent to all troops that were there.

This is a violation of honor and trust that shouldn't be let go.

The Hangover

Last night, with no kids, Tia and I decided on dinner and a movie for the two of us. We haven't done that in a long time, and so it was nice to get out together and be able to hang out and enjoy the evening together.

After dinner we both were tired, and debated just coming home with an hour to kill, but decided that we could see the movie, and take advantage of the time. We'd picked The Hangover, which Tia had heard was good.

It was hilarious. A little crude, definitely an over 18 movie, but it was the funniest movie I've seen in some time. We were both laughing out loud in places at the absurdity of it, along with much of the rest of the audience. It's a crazy story, one you just can't believe.

As I said, it's a little crude, a Bachelor Party for more modern times, but if you liked that, go see this, or rent it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Not Looking Good

I watched about 2 1/2 quarters of the new Broncos last night. 47 new players I read in the paper yesterday, and it showed. The defense still had big holes at times, especially against the run. The zone was slack, and there were problems with people getting blocked. They did get some pressure against the 49ers, but they should have.

The offense looked good, except for the 3 picks thrown by Orten, at least one in the end zone. Not that Simms was better, his throws seemed to be off more, but they also had him call more running plays in the lte 2nd and 3rd.

I'm starting to wonder if 4 if even a realistic win total. 2 or 3 might be better.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Worker Bee

Delaney came up to me this afternoon wanting to get paid. He said he'd earned $50 this week working on grass and things, and wanted to settle up. I didn't have money, so I said I'd get some tomorrow and give him cash. I thought that was the end of it.

About an hour later he came up and asked if I'd help him start the mower. I said sure, walked out there, but the starter is shot. It won't turn the engine over at all. So I said he'd have to skip it and I'd try to get a new starter on there. I came inside to check, and found them to be $159 from Sears. They sell some pieces as well, so I think I need to take it apart and see if I can guess what isn't working. It seems like it's spinning, but not turning the engine, so maybe just the drive is worn out.

About 30 minutes later Delaney came in and said that he had an issue. He walked up to my room with a broken shovel. He'd been out there working, moving dirt for Tia, and the handle had broken. So I told him where another shovel was and he went outside to work more. Without me asking, without reminding, he's motivated to earn more money.

He was worried that we're paying too much. Tia joked we were running out of money paying him, but I said not to worry. We'd be OK, and we are trying to spend less, but he's working hard, and doing things we'd have to do or pay someone, so it's worth it. Plus we like seeing him work.

This after 2 hours volunteering with the Elizabeth Food Bank for the scouts. A good day for Delaney.


I was digging in my gym bag today, looking for old clothes to get clean and I found Kendall's pink DS in there. I couldn't believe it. We thought it was lost after Pensacola, but it must have gotten in my bag on a trip to town sometime. And it's been there ever since.

So she has two DS's now, which is good and bad. I'm glad she didn't lose the second one, and at least we know she didn't set it down and leave it somewhere. However it's bad in that she has been waiting for a new one, saving money from allowance and gifts until she could afford a new one.

Another busy day

And likely more evening work on a Friday. Tia has a clinic this weekend, so she's gone all day for the next 4 days, leaving early in the morning. Delaney's at school, but I need to go register him as well as Kendall today, so it will be a jammed up day.

Luckily I can take some work with me today and get a few things done while I wait on kids. However my neck is sore, so I'm not sure how well that will go.

At least I got the run done.

First Day of School

For Delaney. 6:10 came early for me, and 6:20 earlier for Delaney as I woke him up for his first day. He'd stayed up too late, despite efforts to get him to knock off early last night. He struggled to get dressed and ready for his half day orientation. After making him breakfast, we started the routine again, driving him to the bus stop.

3 other kids were riding the bus there, so he'll have company. I'm not sure how the schedule will work out, but he's likely in for some walking some days to get closer to home before he'll get picked up.

He was a little excited, a little nervous, and I can understand. It's a big change, and I hope it goes well. I'll be picking him up around 11:30, taking him to volunteer at the Food Bank, so I should see how it goes.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Chef Steve

Tonight was back to school night at Singing Hills, where Kendall goes. So after her ortho apppointment, and a school supply run ($180 for 2 kids), we headed over to the school where I'd volunteered to help. I was assigned cooking duties and spent about 90 minutes cooking up burgers and shooting the breeze with a couple other scout Dads. It seems that the scout parents are always well represented in volunteers, and it should be a good example for the kids.

Kendall played with some kids, but she wanted to leave after that, so we walked down, met her teacher, and then headed home.

Now time to make some other dinner.

Six More Weeks

Kendall had an ortho appointment today and we can see the end. The Dr. wants the four front teeth to move forward just a touch more, so she tightened a few more things and then we scheduled the removal 6 weeks out. Kendall will go in and get the expander off and a mold made. Then the next week she'll get the retainer behind the upper teeth and the braces off.

Depending on how things go, it will be about a year with that and then everything off until the baby teeth go.

Jammed Up

I worked a bit last night after karate, Kendall watching TV, and got a few things done. It was good because once I got her cleaned up, and we watched Wipeout, we were both tired. She dropped right off, and I barely stayed awake until Tia got back with Delaney.

Today's a busy day. Late getting up (7:30), trash out the door, working a bit before I have errands this afternoon. Ortho for Kendall and then Back to School night where Chef Steve will BBQ dogs and burgers for awhile. At least things are set for work tomorrow, though I need to find some time to write and make sure I don't get behind.

And I'm dreading the bus tomorrow. Delaney's bus comes at 7:02am, so we'll be up early. Then I need to go by his school for registration as well as running him to the Food Bank for volunteer work.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Back to School

Getting close, and I'm ready. Kyle's actually already back in school, starting yesterday when he had a paper due on day 1. He was up late writing, trying to get things complete for his AP Literature class. It was nice to see him taking it seriously enough to do the work.

I was going over paperwork for the little kids today and realized that we'd missed registration for Delaney. He starts middle school this year, and we needed to get that done, so that's one more thing I'll be doing on Friday.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Scout Cookoff - 2009

Tonight was the Boy Scout cookoff for Delaney's troop. We'd never done it, and I wasn't sure how prepared his patrol was. They were all younger scouts, and had somehow decided on a catfish stir fry.


We arrived a touch late, but things were still getting set up. The boys had decided to meet last night to shop and get prepared, but we were gone, so we weren't sure what to do. I had Delaney call one kid today and make sure we didn't need anything, and given the busy day, I was glad we didn't.


I think Delaney was a bit shy about cooking as you can see above. However he did jump in there eventually and start helping out.


They cooked a rice stir fry, which I saw Delaney working on. He didn't seem to be in any hurry to handle fish or bread the filets, leaving that to another scout.


I got roped into judging, so with 4 other Dads, we walked around as patrols finished and sampled their food. We had

  • burritos with the fixings
  • red beans and rice with peppers and onions, lemon cake for dessert.
  • some German potato/pickle dish and then dutch over pizza.
  • eggs and ham with chocolate chip pancakes
  • spicy catfish stir fry with rice and vegetables
  • hot wings

A number of the Dads showed off their Dutch Oven skills with cornbread, jambalaya, blueberry muffins, pizza, calzone, cobblers, and a few more things. I was kind of amazed by the variety.

And stuffed. Even with small portions, it was a lot of food. Most of it fairly bland, but there were some good things.

The judges voted, and then had to present awards to everyone


Delaney's patrol got Most Creative for their catfish use, despite a few issues. The first time they called us over, the catfish wasn't done. It was barely cooked outside, so the boys got a few lessons in how to make sure it was done. The second time it was good and had a nice spice. Not quite my thing, but they did a good job.

After that, it was time for eating and kickball for the scouts. And cleanup.


A nice time out for everyone.

Back to Normal

Almost. Relatives left this afternoon for their flights home, and we're mostly unpacked. The RV has been returned, and it was back to work this morning. I woke up early, made coffee, and hit the keyboard bright and early before returning the RV.

It's good and bad. It was great to be gone, no responsibilities for a few days, relaxing out in the Colorado mountains, but at the same time it was strange to be unwired. I feel as though I'm very out of touch with the world.

I love my bed

After 3 nights in an RV and Tia's trailer, I was very happy to get home and lay down in my bed last night. It felt great!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tough Nights

I’m definitely a lightweight compared to everyone else, falling asleep earlier than anyone all three nights we were out. And not getting a good night’s sleep on any night.

I slept two nights on the main bed in the RV, which seemed really hard. It was nice having space and a high ceiling, especially compared to Tia’s trailer. I spent the last night there and while it was a better mattress, I still struggled to find room and sleep. I think I’d like to try it with just Tia and not kids around me sometime.

Still, I was up early every morning, and other than a slight stiffness in my back, I feel OK.

Three Cups of Coffee and Two Bottles of Water

That was my routine for Sat, Sun, and Mon on the camping trip. I was up early, usually the first one outside, and made coffee first. I also ended up watering horses a couple mornings, but with my iPod and an e-book, a MetRX bar, and a cup of coffee, I’d sit outside reading. Usually I’d have 2 or 3 cups of coffee before anyone got up. Then it was a couple bottles of water before I did my run.

A nice routine, an hour to digest and then a good run out in the desert valley air. It feels like a desert here, lots of scrub brush, dirt, and high mountain walls all around. We’re not that high, about 6800ft, just above our house, and right alongside the Arkansas river.

A great way to start each day.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cowboy Shower

Probably not a real cowboy shower, but it was a slightly rougher one than I’m used to.

It started with another early morning for me. I dropped off last night around 8:30 or so, tired from the day. I got up, had some coffee and a bar, reading a bit in the early morning, enjoying the quiet. It was cool today, and so I had a second shirt on, but after about an hour the sun had heated things up.

Alex had said he’d run with me today, and so once he’d had a chance to start his day, we were thinking to get started. We asked if Kyle wanted to join us and he said he would, so I got changed and ready to go. As we stretched for a few minutes, waiting to see if Tia might want to go, Kris walked up and accepted our invitation. So we were 4 and when Tia came back, she made 5. After a short walk across the water, we started a jog to the west down the country road.

I was thinking to take it easy, especially going slow with some others that don’t run as regularly as I do. We started up the road, and Tia kept telling us to just run. She goes at a slower pace than I and doesn’t want to slow me down. I completely understand and I’ve asked people to leave me when I know they’re faster.

I picked up a little pace, with Kris keeping up with me and the run feeling good, I was enjoying it. Before I knew it we were 10 minutes out and I decided to hit the 12 minute mark and then turn. Kris was laboring a touch, so I said he should walk and I’d turn around in a minute. I made it to the turn, started back and met the two men on the way. They wanted to get to the same spot as me, so I told them where I’d turned around and headed back. I picked up Tia and she turned around and we started back together. I was nearly a mil and a half in at that point, so I slowed my pace, running up and down a bit more than forward. We had a nice chat and jog back along the Arkansas river.

When we got back, the boys wanted to go for burritos, so I grabbed a change of clothes and the liquid hand soap to get a shower. I’d forgotten to pack soap and shampoo, so I was making do. The shower was an open stall in the community bathroom, water misting out at a decent temperature, but with little pressure. As I was soaping up, I realized that I’d forgotten my towel. So I made do.

Liquid hand soap to wash off, including my hair. Hands to push off most of the water and then my shirt to dry off the rest. It felt great, however, I was clean, new clothes, and my run done for the day. Very nice.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Whitewater on the Arkansas River

About half our people had never been white water rafting before, so our first full day camping had everyone wanting to go. After breakfast, 7 us of packed up to go. Myself, Marla and Alex, Kris, Kyle, Delaney, and Kendall all piled into Tia’s truck and drove out. The boys and Kendall rode in the back as we headed 7 miles downstream to a place recommended by our campground.

We got there and unloaded, only to find out they had no more runs for the day. So we packed back up and tried the next place down the road. This time Marla went in alone and came back to tell us they could take us in about 30 minutes. Apparently the problem is finding a guide that can take you down. The end of the season has most of the guides heading back to college or somewhere else, so that’s the limiting factor.

So we hung out. I sat with Kendall in the ofice where they had two small puppies: a black lab and a border collie. Kendall loved playing with the puppies and had a great time. After that we went down and skipped some rocks in the river, which was moving pretty good, and cold, but not frigid.

Finally it was time to go, and we had to pick out life vests and booties. Once everyone was geared up, we had the safety talk, which consisted of basics, but it was good to see the little ones paying attention. With a couple trips back to the car, back to the office for Chums ot hold sunglasses, and then back down, we were ready. The 7 of us piled in a van along with our guide for the ride down the road to the put in point.

Our guide told us that rafting vans follow an order:

  • Someone buys them
  • They get sold as used vans
  • A church buys them
  • Then a school
  • then a rafting company.

He estimated that ours had 400,000k miles on it, and it felt like it. Still it was a nice ride down the valley a few miles where we unloaded and got ready. Another of their boats had put in higher, but with Kendall and Delaney, he was worried about a few rapids, so we put in below them on the river.

While waiting he showed us how to paddle and assigned us seats. Alex and I were in front, Kyle and Kris in the middle, and Delaney and Marla in the third row. Kendall sat in the back with the guide and didn’t paddle. Once we saw the other boat, after about a 10 minute wait, we were off.

I had visions of high whitewater, the raft being at a 50 degree angle, and a few of us being launched into the air. It was nothing like that. It was a little uncomfortable, with one leg (the outer leg), in a holder, and the other (inside leg) jammed between the side and bottom, and a slightly uncomfortable and touqued angle. It was good, however, as we stayed in and I could actually lean back and dip my head in the water, backwards.

We paddled along, not really seeing too many tough rapids. A few class IIIs and some short class IVs. Nothing seemed scary, and Kendall dropped down into the boat when she was worried. The rest of us sat on the edges of the boats, which was strange. However we could paddle well and our guide was good, letting the river work us, and not having us paddle too much.

I did get to use my paddle, however, splashing backwards to soak Delaney and Kyle. Delaney had a good time and splashed me as much as possible. I was pretty soaked, and he was too. I was glad I hadn’t worn a shirt.

We got to one point and our guide said we could jump in the water. I don’t think any of us believed him until he jumped in, at which point I was in, along with everyone else. Kendall especially seemed to like that. Getting back in was hard, and we ended up having to pull each other back in.

It was over 2 hours on the river, though it went quick. The little kids really enjoyed it, and both asked the next morning to go again. We also got a recommendation for breakfast burritos from our guide, and Kris, Kyle, Delaney and I tried it the next day.

The ride back was interesting, with 2 guides, and everyone from both boats, 13 people piled into the van. Probably slightly unsafe, but we made it back fine.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Packing for an RV

My sisters in law went shopping today to get food for our trip and spent $600. Crazy, and it's not like we're gone that long. 4 days, tomorrow through Monday afternoon. That did include some sleeping bags, a shade shelter, maybe a few misc things, but a lot of food. I'm worried it won't fit in the RV. However we have 9 people, 4 days, that's 100+ meals, so maybe that's not so bad.

Tonight I pulled out a bunch of stuff and set it downstairs, ready to go in the am. The kids and I packed some bags with 4 changes of clothes, and we'll need to get toothbrushes and stuff in the morning ready to go.

But how much do we need to pack? It's a little confusing. This is our first RV trip, and while we should have lots of storage, it feels different from camping. Like we should need less stuff, but who knows. It's going to be interesting at the least.

Tia will get the RV in the morning, we'll load up, load up horses in the trailer and then it's a caravan down to the Royal Gorge area where we'll be staying in Howard, CO.

I'm looking forward to it. It's a bit of a test to see how we do in an RV. Tia and I have talked of touring with one (likely a 5th wheel horse trailer) when the kids are gone, and this will give us a taste of what it's like.

The Crazy Denver Weather

It was sunny this morning, but then when I took Delaney to seal the fence in Parker, it had started sprinkling here. It wasn't raining in Parker, and he finished. I got back around 3:00 and it was cloudy, looking like rain.

I worked, walked outside around 5 to help Tia get some things ready for our trip. It was starting to blow from the Southeast and while we were in the barn it started to rain. Delaney was harrowing the track and had to get back to the barn through the rain. Then as suddenly as it started, it stopped. A light rain, some sunlight, and we went back inside.

Thirty minutes later it was blowing out of the west and more rain was coming down. I had to close windows it was blowing so hard. Now it's calm, and I have fans on to get the air moving because it's too hot inside otherwise.

Hopefully our trip isn't too rainy.

Back to Work

Delaney wanted to get more work done today, earning more lego money before we leave for camping tomorrow. He felt better this morning, so I asked him if he'd want to seal the fence at our townhouse. I had an HOA letter telling me it needed to be done. He agreed, and GrandDad agreed to supervise, so I packed him up and came to town.

I set him to work, ran an errand, and was working at lunch when GrandDad called. More sealer needed and Delaney was doing fine. I went and bought more, checked it out, and it looks like he's doing a good job. Probably $20 + supplies for him to do it, and I'm sure that I couldn't find anyone to do it for that price.

Plus it's nice to see him motivated.

Ballet Shoes for Hippes

I had heard about these shoes from someone and thought they were cool. I told Tia, and wanted to try some on, but there was no one local with them. I'd have to drive to the Springs or Boulder to try them, and I had planned to. Someday.

A package showed up the other day for Tia, and we put it in the car as we headed out. We'd forgotten about it, and remembered late the next night when she mentioned she was looking for it. She ran downstairs, grabbed it and came back with the Vibram Five Fingers shoes; a pair for her and a pair for me.

I tried them on, and they felt weird to me. It says to wear them for an hour or two at a time as your body gets used to them. You need to build up some arch muscles and support yourself, especially for people that wear orthopedic inserts. Like me.

Kyle came in and saw them, and tried mine on. He didn't like them and called them ballet shoes or hippies, which I thought was funny.

I've been wearing them a bit, and they fit a little funny for me. I'm not sure how I feel, but I'm going to give them a chance for a few days around the house and see how I feel. They are low, and I always feel as though they might fall off, though I don't think they will.

Definitely a new experience.

All Better

Once again, 10 hours of sleep and Delaney is fine. For a sickly kid, he seems to recover very quickly. It makes me wonder if this was an issue with him not eating enough yesterday.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sick Kid

We went to karate tonight, just Delaney and I as Kendall wanted to go pick up her aunt at the airport. On the way down he fell asleep and I didn't think anything of it. He shuts down often when we get in the car and sleeps. So I let him sleep, ran a couple errands, and then woke him up before class. He was sluggish and a little hungry, so I have him a bit of a bar and tried to motivate him.

We got into class, had a pretty good warmup, and then split the class into 2 for kata. One group would go, then walk off, and the other would run through the form. Delaney and I were in separate groups, so I got to watch him. On the 2nd or 3rd kata, I saw him close his eyes and run through the form. At first I though he was practicing with his eyes closed, which I'll do at times.

However he wasn't. He wasn't feeling good and told me, so I sent him to sit down on the benches. He lay down, went to sleep, and said he wasn't feeling good when I asked him about 5 minutes later. He thought he could rest, so I finished class and then went to pack him up. That's when he raced into the bathroom, holding his hand to his mouth.

He got back and said he hadn't thrown up, but didn't feel good. So I put him in the car and we came home. Tia helped him upstairs and by the time I'd walked up there after stopping in the kitchen for a minute, he was in the bathroom. This time vomiting for real.

Poor kid. He's laying in my bed, and trying to sleep. I'm hoping it's a stomach thing and not anything worse with vacation starting on Fri.

Webcam in Bed

I had my weekly conference call today. We've been trying to get the video working for the past few weeks and every time my laptop has acted up. I've been able to see the other people, but they haven't seen me. Today they saw this:


I installed a Manycam driver, which should solve the problem and today it did. It allows you to have multiple consumers of your web cam. It also allows for effects, and I had some fun with those on the call. I started with eyes


But I also added in a hat, virtual snow, and some text. A nice way to spice up a meeting.

Last Minute Changes

When we were checking yesterday on our campsite, we realized there were very few facilities there. No showers, which specifically bothered me. In trying to run every day, I'll be sweaty, and smelly, and with no electricity, and 10 people trying to share an RV, it could be tough.

So we started looking around, and found another place down south near the Royal Gorge. We booked it, and should get two sites next to each other. It's not quite as close, but it's not bad. It's in the mountains near a few things.

Now we need to get packed and organized.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Leaving the Big Easy

I got to the airport just in time, actually entering the rental car bus about 2 minutes before it started pouring rain. This after wandering around the French Quarter of New Orleans this morning.

I got up early again, went for a run around the South side of the LSU lake on campus and then headed back to the Big Easy. I’d never been to New Orleans, and wanted to walk around and see what was down there. It was an easy hour drive, and my plan was to stop at a cafe and have some brunch. I’d gotten a scone and coffee in Baton Rouge, and wasn’t hungry when I arrived at the Riverwalk and parked.

The downtown area wasn’t quite what I expected. Actually I’m not sure what I expected, but I was surprised by all the hotels built down there. It felt smaller than most cities, but with a ton of hotels. I guess that’s why Tech Ed and other large events are down here. Everything’s close. I passed by a Harrah’s casino downtown and moved on to Decatur St, which I’d read about in various books. That seemed like an old time street, with mostly small businesses and restaurants there. None were open at 10am, but it had a nice feel, of old record stores, a bookstore, and various other tourist businesses.

I stopped and got the kids a few T-shirts, and then consulted the map on my G1 to find Bourbon street. It was a few blocks down, so I wandered down there. That was a whole different world.

Dacquiri bars, ready to serve you at any time, sex parlows and shows, including Larry Flynt’s Barely Legal, and a number of other seedy establishments made me think this really wasn’t my kind of town. I’m somewhat sorry I missed it at night, but also not sorry. It’s not something I want to do, and I had more fun hanging out with the tech guys in Baton Rouge, chatting with them. After a few blocks, I was done.

Coming back down Royal street, in between Bourbon and Decatur, was another world, filled with lots of art galleries and jewelry stores. Kind of amazing. About this time I realized that I had a large wet spot in the middle of my shirt, where I’d sweated through. It was hot, mid-80s, sunny, but humid as can be. I checked me arms and back, and they were soaked as well.

So I cut through the large Harrah’s casino, thinking I might play a slot machine, enjoy the air for a minute, before I made my way back to Riverwalk. As much as I like cards, and playing a little poker with friends, this wasn’t my thing either. At 11 am, it felt dirty to me, and I wasn’t willing to even drop a dollar in a slot machine. Again, I’d like to see it at night, watch some gaming, but I really am not a gambler. I’d rather play some poker or spades or other card games with friends at home.

A quick trip through Riverwalk, which was mostly closed, and I was ready to just come home. I’d like to come back next year, and see some of the great people I met in Baton Rouge, but I think that I’d fly there and stick around that town.

All cooked out and no one is here

I had planned on cooking spaghetti tonight, and was finishing work at the kitchen table. Delaney came in, hungry, wanting something before he went back to move dirt. So he made himself some chili. OK, I get that, he's trying to beat the sun disappearing and earn money for more Legos before our trip.

Then Tia came in, made a peanut butter sandwich, and left. I said I was about to cook, but she wanted horse time. My sister-in-law followed her.

Then Kendall and Kris left to jump on the tramp, while I fired up the grill and got hamburgers going. They were mostly for Kendall, so while they were cooking I browned a little ground beef and got spaghetti cooking. Now that's done, the sauce is warm on the pot, garlic break baking in the oven, and everyone's gone.

So a little quiet time to read and drink wine. There's things I should do, but I'm done for now.


My father-in-law wanted to sell his truck since he can't drive it, it's been sitting there, and he could use the money. It's a Dodge Durango, and in decent shape, but it's been sitting for over 6 months. A few weeks ago Tia and I stopped by one night thinking we'd run it to the shop down the road and have it serviced. The battery was dead, however, and that ended that trip since we didn't have cables and there was no good way to jump it.

So today, heading for a lunchtime massage after Delaney's volunteering got canceled, I decided I'd move it. I took Tia's truck, with jumper cables, and since it was daytime, I figured the neighbors would be at work and I could get it started. I did, although I had to let it sit for a few minutes and charge enough to get things going. Then I parked the truck, and drove the Durango down the road about a mile or so to the local Brakes Plus. We've used them before and they've been a good service company for us.

I noticed that the gas was really low, and I thought it might die anytime. Plus I was worried the Brakes Plus guys would need to drive it, and they might charge us $10 / gal or something to put gas in it. So I kept thinking, pull up, get gas, don't stop the engine. So what did I do when I pulled into the gas station?

Stopped the engine. Doh!

I got gas, a drink, and then walked up the hill to Brakes Plus. I told the guy, "I need you to look at my father-in-law's car, but it's over there." I pointed next door and he smiled. So we walked over with his portable charger and jumped it started. I went back, arranged for service to start, and started my walk back to the truck.

It's a little over a mile, and while I appreciated some cloud cover blocking the sun, I was a little worried about rain. I made it OK, and headed home. My adventure over lunch.


Delaney was all set to go volunteer again for the Food Bank. No complaints, and no issues, he dressed, grabbed his scout book, and we were ready to leave when Tia said they'd called to cancel.

So no volunteering this week, but it's good to see he was ready to go. I'm glad since I have work to do and this would have jammed me up a bit.

The Blame Game

I heard about this from my 16yr old son last year a bit, how we didn't help him get a job. I think the complaint was more that we didn't do enough, but I'd disagree. A year later, I think he feels the same way, and he's taken it upon himself, after a year at one job, to look and move on.

This graduate is suing her college because she can't find a job. Apparently after spending $72k to get a degree, with a 2.7GPA, not even a B average, she can't find a job in 3 months and it's the college's fault. They haven't "gotten" her interviews.

Wake up. It's your fault. Either you haven't presented yourself well, which the college should, and says they have, helped with. OR, and get this, there aren't many jobs out there. It's tough, and you are competing against a lot of other, more experienced people.

Wait tables, flip burgers, bide your time and keep trying, but it's not your college's fault.

The Owl Adventures

We get a call last night about 9:20pm, and Kendall answers since it's her Aunt. Then she gives me the phone, I'm in bed after karate, showered, ready to call it a day. My sister-in-law hit an owl on the drive home and wasn't sure what to do. I jokingly suggested "hit it again?", which didn't go over well, and she asked to be transferred to Tia.

She talked to them, and decided to bring it back here. So they picked it up with a towel and loaded it in their car, driving back. Tia and Kendall met them, put it in a laundry basket, up above the tack room in the barn, and then researched online. They emailed and tried to call a bunch of places since they thought a wing was broken. Not much response, finally the state police gave her a number to call and she left a message.

No response as of this am.

She ran out the door this morning and I wasn't sure why. Then Tia came back and said he had flown from the cross bar to the floor, and so she wasn't sure he was hurt. Maybe stunned last night?

She also raved about how amazing he was, and how fierce looking. So Delaney and I went to see.

As soon as we walked in, he fluffed up. Just watched us, no noise, no movement, but we stayed about 20 ft away. He calmed down after a few minutes and just watched us.

Now my sister-in-law is on the way over to see him, and we're hoping someone calls back from the wildlife groups. Not sure if we should let him go, if it's injured, etc. Not even sure how to handle him. He's alert, watching, and not likely to appreciate someone trying to pick him up.

Life in the country is never dull.