Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Always Something

We got a call that the washer in our rental had died and needed to be repaired/replaced. Our management company said it could be repaired, but it would only be about $30 more for a new one. We decided to check around ourselves, mostly to be sure that we got something we were happy with. I’m somewhat concerned at times that the company might not pick something decent out. I’d hope that’s not the case, but I have this fear that they’d get a reconditioned one, or that they’d spent $400-500 on one.

So I checked Best Buy and they had some in the $300 range. If this were Va, I’d go to one of the used appliance places I’ve used before, but here in Denver I wasn’t sure where to go, and this is the easiest. Plus I had some Best Buy credit, so I used that as well. Walked in tonight, 15 minutes later I had one slated for delivery on Monday.

The Vacation Crash

The family returned back from the UK last night, after traveling for something like 14 hours, plus an early morning wake up. I was up at 5am, GMT, for a 9am flight. Got to Denver around 5pm MST, and then it took a couple hours to clear customs, luggage, etc. So when I arrived home at around 8pm, I was exhausted. A very long day, with work to be done last night.

I didn't do much last night, just scheduling out the newsletter and getting it going, despite a few issues. However I still had a problem with one of the ads. I didn't preview it since by the time I figured out what was wrong and sent myself a test, the newsletter started going out the door. :(

Today was a busy morning, kids struggling to get ready, having to drive them both to school, and then my weekly meeting. As I prepped, I realized that I was in the hole with 800+ emails since last Wednesday. Two days of a publishing meeting, and then 4 days of no Internet connection had me way behind. A double whammy there being offsite and then away for a few days.

Now with a pipeline that’s almost empty, it looks like some busy days trying to get caught up and back in line. With April 1 tomorrow, and a few things to finish, this day is almost gone for me in terms of getting caught up on anything. No ski Thursday this week!

Once again, I need a vacation from my vacation. That’s bad, and it makes me hesitant to slip away for a day or two in the future. It’s much easier to just get a week away and leave everything for someone else to cover. That’s definitely something I need to address, and I realize that there has to be a better way for me to better balance time away from work when I don’t have connectivity.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Home, safe and sound, after a very long journey that started on London this morning. Glad to be back

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fish and Chips

I commuted back down to London after work, taking the 5:15 train from Cambridge, arriving with no cell service near Kings Cross, but at that point it’s a short tube and walk to the flat near Russell Square.

But no one was home.

Everyone was out, and so I took off the contacts, grabbed a beer, and sat down to read a little. I was looking for a relaxing night after a long week of work and little sleep. However just as I was finishing a beer, Tia texted me to meet them at Holburn station for some fish and chips. The boys wanted an authentic experience, so I agreed, got dressed, and headed over.

I got there, expecting to meet everyone on their way home and walking around Russell Square. Instead everyone was inside the turnstiles, wanting to go to Piccadilly Circus. Not what I was looking for, but it was good to see the family, so I bought a ticket and we headed out.

Piccadilly Circus is not what I remember from 20 years ago when there were more signs lighted up rather than LCD screens and digital technology. We walked around, but didn’t find much. One pub on the edge of Chinatown looked good, but it wasn’t serving food. We asked someone and they pointed us to Leister Square, so we walked over to a tourist restaurant on the edge of the square.

We got fish and chips, a nice set of portions that the kids liked. Well, the boys. Kendall told me on the walk over that she was trying to get through this trip without trying fish. Kind of funny, but that’s OK. It was neat having her excited. She kept walking with me, holding my hand, and missing Dad. That’s nice, though it meant that I didn’t really get much time with my wife.

Afterwards we came home to try and plan out the next few days. They’ve missed a few things, mainly because I think they haven’t adjusted to the time. They’re up late, and then starting late. I’m more adjusted, since I fell asleep on the couch at 10ish and then was up at 6:30. I couldn’t sleep more, and at 7:30 I went for a run, stopping for coffee on the way back.

9:00 and no one else is up. I have the feeling we’ll have a late start, which is OK, but makes me nervous about Tuesday morning and our 9am flight from Heathrow.

London is OK, but there’s nothing wonderful here I want to see. Not sure why I’m such and ugly American, but I really am. No history, or sights really excite me. I saw many of them when I was hear years ago, so I’m UK’d out. Instead I’d prefer to be back on the ranch, back trying to do things that are more interesting to me. Like playing baseball on opening day, which I’ll miss tomorrow.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Long Day

Stuck in meetings all day, talking about the publishing business at Red Gate. I need a run.

Book #28 – The Silent Sea

From the Argentinean jungle to the South Pole via Washington. I enjoy the Oregon Files from Clive Cussler and Jack de Brul and The Silent Sea did not disappoint. It grabbed me at the beginning with the tales of a treasure pit on an island in Washington State. That reminded me of the famous Oak Island who’s puzzles no one ever solved. In this case some brothers explore it at the beginning, certain they’ve solved the mystery, but one dies.

From there we jump to Juan and his crew invading Argentina to recover part of a satellite that was shot down. The rest of the book is a chase, as Juan tries to solve a mystery before the Argentineans can complete their plans.

I hate to give it away, since it’s an interesting story. It’s not necessarily a great piece of writing, and I’m sure some people would complain that Juan and a major in the army of Argentina keep running into each other, alternately getting the better of one another. Starting in Argentina, then Washington, then Mississippi, then Argentina again,and finally Antarctica. It’s contrived, but it’s an action novel. Enjoy the read.

The plot, while fantastic, is kind of exciting. Juan isn’t working for the government in this one, but for himself. We also see him lose a friend in this one, which was a shock to me. It’s a good one to continue the adventure if you liked the others.

Book #27 – Night and Day

I noticed a new Jesse Stone novel in the store the other day and when I went to grab a copy on Amazon I noticed Night and Day, another one I hadn’t read. As much as I enjoy Spenser, I really like the more thoughtful Jesse Stone and his adventures in Paradise.

This is a big one. Jenn leaves Jesse, moving to New York for a new job. Of course it’s a job that comes from another man, who she will be living with in New York. It’s a hard twist and Jesse handles it as you expect. That is most of what I got out of this book, where Jesse works through the issues with Dix as he calmly explains to Sunny, Molly, and others that Jenn is in New York with another man.

The main detective story in the book is a peeping tom that wanders around Paradise at night. Early on we have chapters from his point of view, but once he’s chased off a few times, he escalates to trapping single women during the day and making them undress before he takes a picture. Jesse narrows this down fairly quickly to someone and the latter part of the book is taken with chasing this guy down. It’s a similar story to a couple of the other Paradise novels where they figure out the criminal in the middle and then need to trap him.

The funny story in the book intertwines here. The principal at the school made a bunch of girls at the high school lift their skirts before a dance and checked their panties. Presumably because she wanted them to not embarrass themselves. In reality we work through the book and realize that she’s trying to get the attention of her husband It mixes with the other stories as the wife pretends the peeper attacked her, and because her relationship with her husband is parallel to Jesse and Jen.

It’s an interesting book, and a great twist in Jesse’s relationship. With Mr. Parker passing away recently, I’m sad that there will only be one more Jesse Stone novel.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


It’s funny how things sometimes work out in life. There are these coincidences or events that just time out so well. Last night I took the train down from Cambridge to London. I was expecting, and hoping, that Tia would have gotten the key to the flat, everyone would be settled and happy after their journey. They were supposed to arrive by 1pm GMT, so they ought to have time to clear customs, ride the Underground in from the airport and get to the flat. One train, the Piccadilly line, riding to Holburn station, walk 3 blocks, and there you have it.

I left work around 4:30, heading to the train station with some trepidation about the journey. It ought to be easy, but there are a lot of trains here in the UK and I wasn’t sure that I would get down without some issue after all my travels.

Instead it was a smooth cab ride to the station, which was small. The inside felt like it was 40x40 or smaller, and while I wasn’t brave enough to trust the automated machines to get me a ticket, there was no line at the ticket booths and the gentleman helped me get a return (round trip) ticket to Kings Cross. There were 4 platforms, and I wasn’t sure I was reading things correctly on the displays, but a railway worker pointed me to the right platform and train.

My first clue that something not might be smooth was when I texted Tia as I sat to wait for the train. She said they were clearing customs just then. Wow, 5:00 and they were at the airport. I hadn’t had much communication, but I did hear that the Ks flew ahead of Tia and Delaney on an earlier shuttle since the tickets were different for that leg for some reason.

I texted back that we’d likely arrive at a similar time. Then waited for the rush hour crush on my bench. It never came, since i was going against traffic for the most part, and had a fairly quick journey into London. I say on the train, reading on the iPhone, stopping to look at the green countryside at times. Not a lot to see, no leaves on trees, lots of fields, rolling hills. Nice to look at, but not what I’d call beautiful. I knew we were getting close to London as we hit a few tunnels. I was surprised as the air pressure passing through those, squeezing my ears and forcing me to pop them.

Kings Cross was busy, but I didn’t have much trouble navigating down to the Piccadilly line and buying a ticket for the journey. Once again I used a ticket booth, and got charged 6 pounds, which seemed high, but I didn’t feel like arguing. Instead I grabbed a train, riding one stop to Russell Square and emerging into the hustle and bustle of downtown London. Navigating around was easy to do mentally, not so easy physically with a large laptop bag and a large rolling suitcase, but it was a short 3-4 blocks to the flat.

I hadn’t printed things out, so I was slightly going on memory. I passed the rental office, since it was after 5pm, I thought we’d have to call someone. In a doorway on the side of the street, I broke out the laptop, fired it up and got the address. Just around the corner, so I packed up and walked over there. I knew Tia was close as she texted she was leaving Holburn station. I must have just missed them. As I was getting the number for the porter, she called, and we talked. She said they were on the street I’d just left.

Walking over there, I found my family, excited, with kids jumping around on the other side of the street. Tia walked over, and I got a kiss from my wife. Something that I haven’t gotten on on 18 or 19 over the last month. What timing that we arrived there at almost the same time, they from Denver, and me from Cambridge after 3 days apart.

We had some trouble dialing a UK number, but managed to figure it out after 3 or 4 attempts. I picked up the key, and we were in our flat. 2 floors, but up on the third floor (2nd UK), 3 bedrooms, and fairly nicely setup. Basic, and 2 single beds in each room, but overall a nice setup.

Everyone was tired, or at least the adults were. We wandered around briefly to get dinner and then had everyone turn in around 10, though Tia had already fallen asleep.

Up early for me, awake at 6, desparately trying for more rest until 6:45, and managing to relax, but not sleep. Then a run up Tottenham Court Road for 1.8mi before heading back to the train. A nice journey, and most of this written on the way.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Book #27 – The Clone Betrayal

51R8jTUdBnL._SL500_AA300_ Number 5 in the Clone series from Stephen Kent, and a great one. I thought the last one, with the battle against the Avatari was a little dry. Not quite as exciting as earlier ones, but The Clone Betrayal is great. Harris the Liberator clone is back on Earth when the problems after the battle for New Copenhagen is blamed on the clones. They are packed up and shipped to a base in Texas. Then they’re sent to another planet, one of the first that the Avatari captured.

It’s an interesting story as Harris is promoted to the leader of the clone army, a General no less. However he must struggle with the issues of command, where he can’t just fight and kill everyone. It’s an interesting new level of development in his life. He must deal with a reverend army officer on one hand, the rigors of command on the other, and Earth looking to attack on the last one.

Ray Freeman returns in this book, as does a love interest for Harris and some sexual issues for the clones. Definitely an adult book, but it puts the clone series back on track, and the afterward mentions more books to come. I’m looking forward to them.

51 Hours

That’s how long it too for my bag to get from my door in Denver to the hotel door in Cambridge. I’m not sure if that’s worse than the fact that it took me 22 hours and I had to get stuck without it in Cambridge for 31 hours.

I have to admit that I was ticked when I arrived back at the hotel at 5:40 and the bag hadn’t been delivered. I was even more upset when I found out that a bag from another airline had been delivered to someone else.  I was worried that there was on delivery service for all airlines. To top it off, I came upstairs to check the hours for a pharmacy for contact solution and found they closed at 6:00!

My night was turning worse and I was in a slightly foul mood. I tried to work a bit, answer some email, but was just annoyed. Finally about 7:30 I got a call from the front desk that my bag was there. Hurrah!

I grabbed it, came upstairs, and changed socks. Nothing else, but I was needing a new set of socks.

Feeling better I went out to dinner, a nice quiet dinner by myself, coming back to work a bit and now it’s time for bed.

Book #26 – Total Recall

51Jafuv2UGL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_ I first heard about this book in the news when Gordon Bell was interviewed and said that he needed Microsoft to “build him a database” that would handle his life logging. I found it interesting and after writing an editorial based on a little research, I bought the book.

Total Recall seems to fluctuate a bit between authors. I noticed some different styles, and while a few people’s names are on the cover, it mainly seems to be a story told by Gordon Bell. It covers some of his inspiration and thoughts on digitizing a large portion of his life. I felt like there were three parts to the book.

The first part was his inspiration and why he built some tools to help. The idea comes from a memex, an idea from the 40s for a scientist. It’s an interesting read about the reasons for life logging.

The middle part starts to talk about visions of how this might work and the benefits. There are some cons presented, but not with the same enthusiasm that the author has for the topic. However he legitimately talks about a few issues.

The last chapter or two look at some practical tools to get started. I found a few ideas here and might try to increase my own life logging.

It’s an interesting idea, and surprisingly, the author sees a lot of the current “social sites” as a problem. He wants to log things, but also wants to maintain his privacy. I wish he would have shared this earlier in the book since it appears to be a bit buried. In any case, if you are interested in what recording more of your life might mean, this is a good one to read.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Journey Continues

I made it to the UK, only slightly later than expected. However bumps in the road have still jostled me at every turn and it feels as though I’ve been awake for 2 days so far.

The plane into Dulles was actually slightly early. They had said to expect a 10:48pm arrival when I talked to customer service, and it seemed we were slow getting the plane going in Denver, but we managed to arrive at 10:26pm. I got off and started walking through the concourse, somewhat resigned to finding customer service, tracking my bag down, and then getting to a hotel.

Instead I found a board that listed the 11:08 London flight as on time, and close. I wasted a couple minutes thinking about it and then raced back the way I’d come to the end of the concourse. Sure enough, they were boarding and I didn’t have much hope, but I gave my ticket to the desk agent and he said he could get me on the flight. A middle seat, but in economy plus, so I had legroom, and there was no one on one side of me.

The flight over was long, and I’m glad I got a glass of wine as it enabled me to (fitfully) sleep for a few hours on the way over. I landed in Heathrow, tired, worn out, and not in a good mood. And for good reason. The agent said that I might not get my bag and he was right. 15 minutes after waiting for bags to come out, I resigned myself to the fact that mine wasn’t on the plane. Sure enough, it was somewhere over the Atlantic, on the next flight over. The good news is they confirmed it on the plane and it lands at 10pm tonight.

The bad news is that they won’t deliver it to Cambridge and the hotel until tomorrow night (Monday). Grrr. Running shoes, socks, underwear, toothbrush. Most things I need are in that bag. I had some shopping to do today.

It wasn’t all bad. The driver was waiting for me when I left, and I managed to again, fitfully sleep on the hour drive to Cambridge. It self like a 3 hour drive, especially as this guy liked his relatively new Audi 5 speed and would whip around corners and use the shifter. If I hadn’t been tired, it would have been a good drive.

I arrived at the hotel to find out my reservations were made for next week. Fortunately they had space, but unfortunately no rooms were ready. So it was off to walk around Cambridge and find some things. I’ve been here a couple times, so I wandered around and found a pharmacy for deodorant and toothpaste, and then a store to get some shorts, socks, running shoes, and a spare shirt. I’m assuming my bag comes tomorrow, but I did need a few things, and my running shoes were getting old. I’ve been considering replacing them, so this wasn’t a huge cost.

All in all, I got back to the room and I have some clothes, and can relax a bit.

Now I need a run so I can have some beer or wine and try to unwind after this long journey. Total time? I woke up at 6:30am Saturday in Denver, left the house about 9am MST. I arrived in Cambridge, at the hotel, the next day at 12:30pm UTC. So that’s about 22 1/2 hours to get door to door. Not much fun.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I already hate traveling. If it were up to me, I think that the vast majority of the time I’d stick with day trips near Denver. I hate traveling to the UK even more than moving around the US. The distance, time, and the customs hassles just annoy me.  Add in the time change and I wonder why I bother.

Last year when I went to visit the Red Gate offices, I got stuck in Chicago. I had to get a voucher for a hotel, stay the night, then get a late flight the next day to London. That sucked, and it ad me considering not going back. Today I left early, with icy roads after a snowstorm yesterday. The roads were not that bad, so I arrived early. About 10:15, with a 12:20 flight.

I can handle waiting. It’s nice not to be stressed and in a hurry when you travel. That’s important when you don’t even like traveling. I can handle the wait.

I had all my devices charged, so I sat down for an early lunch, and had a beer, thinking that I’d get tired and then be able to sleep on the flight from Dulles to Heathrow. Actually I had two, read a bit, and then headed down to B38, my gate.

I arrived, found the crowd I expected, and saw “Chicago O’Hare on the sign. Great, a gate change. I walked back to the departure board to find my new gate. I arrived to find my flight listed, with a nice yellow background on the time thay said “4:10”.

I’ve studied a lot of math, but I’m sure my 11 year old would know that was a problem. I had a 6:45pm departure out of Dulles for Heathrow, which is 2 hours ahead of Denver. Leaving Denver at 4:10 was a bad idea.

So I walked back and got it the customer service line. I also called United while I was waiting, only to be sitting on hold 15 minutes later when I got to the front of the line. The lady looked through flights and didn’t really leave my options. She said there was a 10:40am from Dulles tomorrow morning that she could book me on, but that was it. She gave me the reservation and then said that I had to stand there for 5 more minutes. She wasn’t sure this was an amenities flight, meaning that she didn’t know it the airline would pay for a hotel in DC.

Are you frickin kidding me? They might not pay for a hotel? I think there was literally steam coming out of my ears, but being a longtime customer service person she either didn’t notice, care, or was polite enough not to mention it. I could get a hotel, so I left before I said something to get myself arrested, which was tempting.

I walked back to the phone cubbies, yes, they still have pay phones in Denver. I sat down at one since it had an electrical outlet and called my wife to vent. I also plugged in since all my posting and complaining on my iPhone had drained half the battery. Tia looked for flights and found a couple later ones that she emailed. I then called United Customer Service from my spot, hoping to see what other options might be available.

I waited on hold, only about 12 minutes this time, and finally got someone. She had the flights Tia had found, but no economy seats. I inquired about upgrades, but she said “over a thousand” and so I didn’t bother. A couple hundred $$ and I would have sprung to get moving.

My two options here:

1) Leave at 4:10 for Dulles, try for an 11:10pm standby (unlikely), and then get a hotel (very likely) and take the 10:40am flight.


2) Go home, come back tomorrow for a 4:00 flight to Chicago. Then sit for a few hours and take an 11:50pm flight to Heathrow that would arrive at 11:40am in Heathrow.

Both suck. However I thought about them a bit. I was somewhat resigned to the first one, and there wa a chance (tiny) that I’d make it to London in the am and have a day to recover.

With the second option, I’d get to go home at least . Missing Mon at work wouldn’t bother me and wouldn’t be the end of the world, however I’d still have to go to Cambridge and get a hotel. Likely by the time I cleared customs and stuff, I’d be getting there at 2:30 or 3, exhausted still and trying to stay up. I’d then pack my things in the morning, go to work, and then train down to London to meet the rest of the family. That feels like a sucky couple of days.

The kicker for me was that I asked about my bag. If I took the trip tomorrow, it would be without my bag. It was in a container, and they weren’t unloading them. I’d be hoping it arrived in London tomorrow night and then sat in Heathrow overnight, intact, and hopefully there when I arrived at noon on Monday.

That seems like a really, really crappy roll of the dice. What are the odds it will truly make it to London? I don’t want to take those odds. I may or may not get it in DC, but I’ve dealt with that and can handle it. So now I’m heading to the airport, wondering what will happen the next 36 hours.

Up Early

I had trouble sleeping, and finally got up early to get going. If I can sleep on the plane this afternoon/evening, that will be good. Last minute packing, then a day 557 run to tire me out, and now I need to decide if I'm driving or if Tia will take me. The roads don't have any alerts this morning, so we'll see.

Not looking forward to this trip, and it will be a long 3 days until the family arrives. At least I'll have a little vacation at the end, with things scheduled out through next Tuesday. Of course, I still need to get Wednesday done.

Friday, March 19, 2010


I’m heading to the UK tomorrow, Sat, and coming back the following Tues. That’s 10 days worth of clothes by my count. I grabbed the large suitcase, thinking that I’d have extra room, but 10 days of socks, workout clothes, running shoes, etc. is filling it fast.

I was thinking that I didn’t need to pack that much, but that’s not true. It is going smoother. I tested my kensington iPod charger today and it charged my iTouch back up. Hopefully it will get me through this flight if I need it.

I’ve started traveling with two laptops, just in case, after a failure last year. I’m not presenting over there, but I might need to get some things done, and being without a laptop, especially in another country where I wouldn’t want to buy one, worries me. I synced up my iPhone (it worked), as well as loaded a new CD into my iTouch for listening on the road. I also loaded up some images of software on the laptop that I can install and get some VM stuff done next week. I’ll be looking for a crash course in our software, so I want to be prepared for that.

Passport, check.

Nano for running, check.

I have my travel pillow (thanks, Mom), shaving blades, extra contacts, and I think everything I need. The Flip is going to be my camera while I’m share, shooting video, and perhaps just grabbing still from that.

I think I’m ready, now I just hope I make it to the airport on time. It was snowing pretty good as we hit town for Kendall’s piano lessons tonight and Tia had a rough drive back in the Prius. I think they’ll drive me in the truck tomorrow, just to be sure we get there. I’m guessing we’ll leave between 9 and 9:30 since the highway was accident ridden today.

Book #25 – Riding Rockets

RidingRockets My business partner actually sent me an autographed copy of Riding Rockets. He met Mike Mullane at a bookstore and got two copies. I started reading this, but it’s been stuck in my car for awhile and I moved to e-reading. I picked it up recently as I was cleaning stuff out and started reading it again.

It’s an unabashed, somewhat straightforward look at the US Space Shuttle program from one of it’s astronauts. Not one of the ones that made any milestones, but one that struggled through the program, eventually going on 3 space flights, none of them important. He rode with Judy Resnick, one of the Challenger victims a year before that accident and talks about it.

It’s crude, written in the style of a fighter jock, all male, adrenaline driven astronaut. Mullane makes no excuses for who he is, but he recognizes as he writes the book that he’s not always socially acceptable. You get the raw, opinionated look at the program, and problems in it, from someone that went through it. I don’t know that I agree with all his conclusions, but he brings to light some of the issues with NASA and the way the shuttle was designed. After reading it, I think it does make some sense to retire the shuttle later this year.

If you’re easily offended, I wouldn’t read it, but if you are interested in what astronauts go through, it’s something to read to get an unabridged look at things like the bathroom in space. I certainly wouldn’t want to get into space until they get a real toilet working, I’ll say that much.

Book #24 – Treasure Hunt

51HNgkvSBEL._SL500_AA240_ I love John Lescroat, and he’s one of the 3 or 4 authors that I just buy the book for when it comes out, not checking the content or description. I actually saw this book while traveling in an airport, stopped, and bought it through Amazon right there.

Treasure Hunt is another “Hunt Club” book, which I actually want to re-read. I have the paper copy somewhere and I want to remember a little more background. This one focuses a little more on Mickey, employee of the Hunt Club at the beginning before moving on to Wyatt Hunt later.

It starts a few weeks after the last book ends. In that one their investigator, boyfriend of Tamara, turned out to have fooled them all and was a murderer. He was exposed by Hunt at the end, after Gina Roake made investigator Juhle look like an idiot. He was acting like one, but that didn’t change things.

After that Tamara stopped coming to work and eating, and Mickey avoided home. Business is almost dried up, but Mickey discovers the body of a well known charity executive one morning. He has this idea that he can help the police with information by setting up a reward with the charities. Hunt isn’t sure, but goes along since he has no choice with the matter. He manages to get a reward posted, starts collecting info, and things move from there.

As you might expect in a Lescroat novel, the police start looking at the wrong suspect, in this case a girl that drove the exec around and who Mickey seems to like. Hunt plays it safe, and while there isn’t quite the action there is in other books, it’s definitely a mystery thrilled. I wasn’t sure who was to blame until the end, actually fooled a bit.

A great read, and one I found hard to put down over the last few days.

The iPhone Sync

I’m going to do it, finally sync my iPhone to the new laptop. I’ve been avoiding it for a few weeks since it’s a pain whenever I do this. I’ve done this twice with different laptops and each time while things have worked, it’s also been a bunch of setup again on my side to get things working. Things like my Amazon app lose their books, settings, it’s a pain.

Not sure why the movement to computer isn’t smoother, or why iTunes doesn’t have an easy way to ensure everything moves, but it doesn’t.

In any case, I’m double worried since I have a jailbroken iPhone. I was really sweating the first time I did this, worried I’d brick my phone, but I didn’t. It worked, and that was great since I like using iTunes to rearrange music, buy it, etc. Especially since I move stuff onto multiple iPods (I have 3).

Fingers crossed, we’ll see how this goes.

A Day in Colorado

Yesterday afternoon Kendall and I played baminton out front, short sleeves, while I threw a ball for Deuce. She started to get the hang of it, and despite a little wind, she was laughing as she chased the birdie around to hit it and even slid on the grass a few times.

This is today.


Snow is coming down sideways, hard to see in the picture. We actually pulled out a hose and WATERED a couple trees yesterday because this was all grass, it was sunny and 70F.

My temp says 23F now. Wow.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Alone Again


Tia is off to Atlanta. Luckily it’s a one day trip. Unluckily she’ll get back tomorrow night and I leave Sat am for the UK.

This has been a hard month, and I am looking forward to getting back to a more normal schedule.

I did take 30 minutes this afternoon and play some badminton with Kendall. She was looking for a ball and found a racket and birdie, and asked how to play. So we set a marker in the ground as our “net” and then we hit the bird back and forth a bit. It was hard in the wind, and she missed a lot, but started to get the hang of it and had a good time. I need to set that up sometime and see if she enjoys a larger game.

A Good Trade?

Deuce was bugging Tia this morning, bringing the ball to her and trying to get her to play fetch. So she asked the kids, but they didn’t want to. Finally she asked me to have a go at them and see if I could convince them. Since my square, southern hash browns have gone over well the last couple days I decided to make a trade.

“I’ll cook hash browns if you play with Deuce”

That was all it took. They both got up, got shoes, and went outside to throw the ball for him. It’s not a big effort, and Deuce only plays for 5-10 minutes, so it shouldn’t be a big deal. They got off easy today, with only 5 minutes before they were back.

I added in bacon on a plate for their efforts.

This is Dumb - eBooks

Amazon v Apple, both pressuring publishers on ebook concessions. It’s big business, and it could easily be good or bad for consumers.

Should we have some regulation here? Is the public better served in any way if books are limited to some retailers and not others? Deals have been cut like this for all time, and these “exclusives” sometimes result in better deals for consumers and sometimes not.

Personally I hate to get government involved, but I almost feel like this is a place where business does not serve the world. Making a deal with another business that cuts out other businesses feels like monopoly. And setting pricing limits, like no one can sell lower, almost starts to feel like collusion in pricing.

Amazon has moved e-reading forward. And I think without some serious pressure, book publishers would be like music publishers, they’d resist putting out digital products and try to retain tremendous control.

Both sides need to give. Amazon needs to recognize that not only are they not the only retailer, but that forcing suppliers or customers to them for certain products doesn’t breed customer loyalty. It breeds resentment.

Publishers need to realize that not every customer is a pirate and that ebooks truly do cost less. They cost less in inventory, less in risk ( no investment in books), and less to a distributor. They ought to cost less, and less than just the difference of the paper.

It’s annoying to me and I think that ultimately here this is delaying to progress of e-books, and potentially hurting the reading industry. You’re not just fighting other books, publishers, you’re fighting other entertainment as well. Raising prices on books can easily move the casual reader to get more movies or TV shows instead of books.

No Ski Thursday

Got a late start today, which was OK. I got some time with my wife, which hasn't been the case for two weeks with our travel schedules. It was nice to sit and

By the time I got going it was almost 9, and Kendall told me she "doesn't like late starts." That made me smile, and I didn't argue. With Tia leaving town, I'm happy to hang out here and get some work done. Perhaps I'll get the chance to go tomorrow if we don't get too much snow.

As much as I could use the break on the slopes, and it would feel great to ski, I needed some rest and sleep as well. It's been a hard two weeks, and I've been exhausted every night. Fell asleep early both the last two nights and I needed a relaxing, no need to get up at any time, morning.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tired, tired, tired

Dragging today. Almost fell asleep this afternoon working in bed (probably not a good idea). I've been trying to get enough done before I leave for the UK so that I'm not backed up. Things are looking OK, but some work to do tomorrow and Friday before I leave.

A quick run freshened me up, and my editing Q at work is almost gone. That would be a nice relief before this trip since I'm not sure how much I'll get done while I'm gone.

I Love Denver

March, going skiing tomorrow, and this was today at lunch:



Went out with a friend, and had to take the top off to enjoy the 70F weather out here! This is after it snowed on Monday morning.

March 2010 Court of Honor

Last night was the March Court of Honor for Delaney at Scouts. He’s had a quiet year, but we’ve made steady progress.

We missed the December Court because of a school concert, so he had a few badges roll over, but last night he received:

  • Second Class Rank
  • Aviation Merit Badge
  • Metalworking Merit Badge
  • Space Exploration Merit Badge
  • Law Merit Badge

It was pretty cool, and he got to pin the 2nd class pin on the Mom’s ribbon that I wore. I had forgotten it for the July Court, so this was the first time he got to do that.

It was nice, and I’m definitely proud of his progress. After a year in Boy Scouts (and a month), he’s earned:

  • 3 ranks
  • 7 merit badges, and close to an 8th

That’s great progress, and better than I expected. We were hoping for 2 ranks and 6 badges, so he’s moving along nicely. There were three Eagles recognized as well, which is amazing. I think this troop has a better than average record of getting kids through and it seems that Delaney is well on his way.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Long Flight

41nTytr5sCL._SL500_AA280_ Kendall and I were talking about the upcoming trip this morning. She’s all excited to fly to Germany (Frankfurt) next Mon before heading to the UK. I reminded her that it will be overnight, and that she might want to make sure everything is completely charged before she leaves. I told her I killed 2 iPods last year when I traveled because of the time.

That reminded of something I’ve been wanting to do, so I surfed over to Amazon this morning, and using my 2 day shipping, which I hope works, I grabbed a Kensington Battery Pack and Charger for iPod for $45. I had wanted to do this last year, but forgot and paid the price. That flight is brutal without the ability to read. I’ll take along a paper book or two, just in case, but I really want to make sure I can get music, or read, while flying if I can’t sleep.

I grabbed this one, rather than an integrated one, since I have a rubber case I like, and I worry that the ones that connect to the iPod might be annoying, or that I can’t put the iPhone in my case if it needs to charge. I suppose I can’t do that here, either, but this one has a USB cable, and someone commented it could recharge a Blackberry as well. So that means that it would help Tia, or any of the iPods the kids have.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Of my early days in baseball. This was my 3rd season, I think, probably about 10 years old.


I’m in the front, #7, which is funny. I was asked the other day from my new team what number I wanted, and I almost said #7, but picked #12. In memory of Roger Staubach, which I think was my hero after this point.

This was when I still catching, an all-star catcher at this point, before my eyes failed me.

The Sick Kid

A cold for Delaney, which is rare. No fever, but lots of coughing and a sore throat. I let him stay home from school, after he got up at 6:20, sending him back to bed by 6:45 and he slept until 11. Then a quiet day in bed before I knocked him out tonight with NyQuil.

Tia’s due in a couple hours, but I’m tired and need some sleep myself. It’s such a treadmill this year for some reason that most afternoons I have this desire for a nap. I’m hoping I can sleep better tonight, though Delaney is in our bed. He almost never asks, even when he’s sick, but tonight he did and I couldn’t refuse. At least he’s not as “kicky” as Kendall.

Book #23 – Born to Run

51aX9X rC5L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_ Another Grippando, this one starring Jack Swytek again in Born to Run. It's later in the series, as Jack is dating and FBI agent and is turning 40. It's a fun read and a continuation of the character, but a little farfetched in places, and a few times it seems that he's behaving out of character.

The book starts out well, drawing you in as the Vice President is in Florida alligator hunting when he has a heart attack. The way it opens it seems that there could be issues with the VP hunting, it could be a murder, perhaps he survives (we don’t know right away). As he falls from the boat he’s in, the book cuts to Jack buying a new Mustang with Theo for Jacks’ 40th.

From there we move to Washington, where Jack’s father is being considered as the new Vice President. As they get ready to begin confirmation hearings, Jack gets an email that suggests someone could help his father ascend to the Presidency. Once again we don’t know what this is. It seems like perhaps there’s an assassination offering from my view, but as the book unfolds we start to realize that there is some sort of blackmail going on.

The book jumps around, and includes lots of characters, the Greek, the mob, the President’s inner circle, the press, Harry, the FBI, and not all of them are working together. It weaves an interesting story that has you suspecting things, but never quite sure what will happen. The ending is similar to other books, with a large, gun-filled climax, but not quite written well. I thought that about The Pardon, and Found Money as well.

Still, it was a fun book to get through and I have to admit that Grippando had me guessing through most of the book as to what was going on.


This morning. I woke up night, a  little warm. I noticed I had a little girl that had crawled into bed with me, but it still felt warm. That has happened because a door is cracked and letting in cold air, so I went to check, but nothing looked off, so maybe it was the little girl.

Then I woke up around 4, struggled to sleep, and felt like Daylight Savings Time had hit today when the alarm went off at 6:12. Getting Delaney up was hard, but he got moving, only to have him come downstairs with a wet cough and a tired expression. I had cooked breakfast, so I have him eat some and then it was Nyquil and back up to bed.


I worked a bit and then went back up to my room to find the picture above. Two little kids in my bed, both fast asleep. I managed to get Kendall up and to school without waking Delaney, but it was hard for both of us.

Now a cup of coffee and horse feeding has me more awake, but I am betting that tonight will come quickly.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I guess $9.99 matters for ebooks

To me, at least a little. I saw that the new Jack Reacher novel from Lee Child, 61 hours, is available on Amazon, but it’s $15.40, which is above the $9.99 that Amazon had been selling books at, but below the hardcover at $17.50. I didn’t but it today, and I’m not sure when I’ll buy it. I know I bought the last one, Gone Tomorrow, the first day I saw it listed, before it was even released.

It’s $2.10 less, exactly, which could be the cost of the paper and ink, but I would think that there are other costs, like warehousing, storage, distributor fees, etc. that would add up to more than $2.10.

So where are the other costs?

My guess is that on this book there is some margin the publisher wants to make. I’m OK with them making a profit, but I’d like it to be a reasonable profit. I think in this case there is some “extra” profit that the publisher is trying to make from a popular author and the recent ebook craze. After all, tons of people got Kindles for Christmas, so why not try to make a few more sheckels?

I did note a couple of Google searches turned up that the approximate cost to the publisher of a hardcover is $2 more than a paperback. That’s possible, but these days, especially for the large ebook retailers like Amazon and BN, I can’t understand why there’s a distributor involved? Why doesn’t the publisher just sell to Amazon, which has to be at a lower cost than using a distributor.

I’ve heard that a distributor can take up to $4-5 a book from a publisher. I don’t know if that’s true, and I’ve seen places say that 25-30% of revenue is likely. If you sell to Amazon for $10, then that would be $3 per book. I am guessing that big authors like Mr. Child earn $2-3 for a hardback, so there is some decent wiggle room in there still.

I don’t know the complete economic picture, but since the large publishers seem to be doing well, I can’t help but think there are good margins built into the business. And that they are taking advantage of lower costs through automation and technology to make more profits.

I guess that’s OK, but it means for now that I might be curtailing some of my e-reading.

Running Streaker!

It’s not on the website yet, but I got my quarterly mailing from the US Running Streak Association, and I’m on the list! Number 218 on the active list, with a streak (as of today), of 549 days.


I didn’t post this earlier, but here’s an image of Delaney and his TSA medal from the competition last month.


No Green Compromises

I saw this blog about an Accenture survey of potential car buyers. It mentions that people likely won’t buy a green car unless it is superior in every way to a gasoline only car. The blog tends to lean towards the side of someone that doesn’t like hybrids. There’s a comment about why they look so bizarre, which seems odd to me. There are a lot of hybrids out there that look just like the gasoline versions. The Prius is shaped differently, but so is the Dodge Caliber. Are they really odd?

toyota-prius dodge_caliber_startech_fro

Are these really that different? I might argue the Prius has softer lines, which contribute to better gas mileage.

I think that there is a lot of fear out there for people in looking at hybrids. I have a few friends that are down on them, based on comments from other friends, that don’t seem right. I think there is some mis-information out there, as well as just some prejudice for no reason.

I have had friends, and strangers, come ask me about my Prius experience and if I recommend them. I think it’s a great car, but I do caution them that they ought to do some analysis. I had one guy actually send me a bunch of data on his driving habits, and I crunched numbers with him, arriving at the decision that a Prius didn’t make sense for him.

In 3 years, I’ve driven 60,000 miles. That’s 20k a year, and I think that at the current $2.75 a gallon, I think it saves me about $1000-1100 a year in gas over even something like a Ford Focus, which is listed as the same class by the government as a Prius.  If I compare to a minivan, which was what we considered, I’m more like $1500 a year.

That’s significant, and it means that my $4500 “hybrid tax” has been paid off. It actually paid off sooner since my first year we drove 26k miles and gas was $4/gal!

However if you drive more like 10-12k miles, and consider a better vehicle that gets closer to 30mpg, then it might be savings of more like $500 a year. If you have a of highway driving, then you might be saving less, so it doesn’t make sense.

Unless you just want the car.


I am beat. With Tia gone all week, and horses, kids, etc., I am tired. There is a baseball practice tomorrow morning, first one of the year (season opening in a couple weeks), but I can’t manage it. A 9am practice after this week is out of the question. I’m sleeping in.

It was a late night last night with Delaney writing a paper, and then up to get him to the bus and I’m tired. It’s tempting to take a nap, but now that I’ve been up for two hours getting kids and horses going I hate to lose that momentum.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Middle School Concert

Delaney's concert tonight

Talk Time

This morning Delaney and I talked a little NBA on the way to the bus. He asked a question about the Nuggets after hearing something on the radio, and so we chatted for 5 minutes or so. Last night as we were heading to get Kendall and then Scouts, he was asking about space travel and what was possible after reading Red Thunder. We discussed the possible ways that we could get to Mars and some of the issues that I think exist.

Just before the bus came he mentioned that we have had some good talks lately and he enjoyed them. Always great to hear.


I am tired. It’s the middle of about 7 weeks of work travel for Tia or I, and that wears you down. Even if I’m not traveling, I have to manage kids and horses by myself, and find time for skiing :)

I worked a little last night at Boy Scouts since it was a crazy evening. I went skiing during the day, then worked a bit in the afternoon before Delaney and I left at 5. We had to pick up Kendall, race to get some dinner and then get Delaney to scouts for his Scoutmaster Conference and Board of Review. He passed both, and so he has his second class rank coming next Tuesday. That’s exciting since we’ve been working on it awhile.

He had hoped to get it my December, or at least that was our plan last summer. However the pressures of life, karate, and busy school time with cello had us slowing down. He did earn a few merit badges, and turned in another last night, so he should have 3 merit badges along with a rank coming. Good progress in a year. Now it’s on to first class.

I had planned to work after kids went to sleep, but I had to feed horses and then Delaney felt a little sick. I got him through homework and to bed, but it made for a long night. I was beat at the end and watched a little TV before falling asleep. I just didn’t have the energy to concentrate through any editing or writing.

So a busy couple of days now. With a trip to Cambridge coming next weekend, I need to get things prepped as much as I can for travels.

I am really looking forward to April and my wife being home with me.

Monday, March 8, 2010


I had to get out of the house this morning with Tia  gone, so I left early and went to town to work. It turned out well as I got quite a bit of writing done and am in good shape for a few days. However I hadn't run, so I needed to do it after the kids got home. Everything felt good, and I actually ran a little quicker than normal. I think that was a mistake as the knee was sore at karate. I tried to take it easy, but it just ached a bit.

Some ice on it now, and hopefully it will feel better in the am.

I need a routine

I’m off today, after being gone part of last week and the weekend at the SQL Saturday #33 in Charlotte, NC. I left Thur morning and got back late Saturday, before getting up early Sun morning to see my wife off on her CA trip.

One of the things I realized about myself a few year ago is that I crave routine. I can tolerate some small changes, like picking a new place for lunch, but big changes in my routine really disturb my ability to focus and concentrate. It’s a subtle distraction, but it can really impact work.

Being gone on Thur messed me up, and while I got some work done Fri, it wasn’t a lot. In the airport, and on my travels home, I was a little out of sorts, tired, and didn’t work, and didn’t do much of anything yesterday either. It was a day to relax, and while Kendall and I spent a few hours on her science project, for the most part I read, watched basketball or TiVo, and did nothing. I just couldn’t muster up energy.

That’s as opposed to times when I’m busy at work, but in my routine. I end up trying to fit multiple things into my day because I’m motivated, but also in a routine that works.

Doing better today, but with Tia gone, I’m still struggling to get into a routine.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Opening Keynote – SQL Saturday #33

I didn’t quite read this, but this was the written part of what I have as the opening keynote for SQL Saturday #33.

Welcome to SQL Saturday #33 here in Charlotte.

My business partner, Andy Warren, has had a ton of ideas over the years. He likes to remind me that they might not all be good ideas, but there’s no shortage of them. A few of them stand out, like his idea for the Best of SQLServerCentral books. I was driving home in a rare Denver rainstorm one night when he told me we should republish the best articles from the year in a book format. I had to pull over and debate it since I was sure no one would want a copy, but I was proved wrong. That series has been very popular over the years and we are on our eighth volume this year. SQL Saturday was another one of idea I didn’t believe in at first

When we started our training business, SQL Share, we were looking for ways to market the business. We tried some of the traditional methods of advertising, and had even considered purchasing a booth at the PASS Summit or TechEd. Those were expensive, and we were not sure they would be good investments. In our market research, which is really just a fancy term for us talking to regular people like all of you, we realized that the vast majority of IT professionals never attend conferences and other large events. Lots of people rarely go, usually once or twice in their careers, and a very lucky, select few go quite often.

When Andy approached me with the idea of running free events to get more training out to those that can’t go to conferences, I was skeptical. I wasn’t sure that it would even run, much less help us market our business, but Andy had proven me wrong before and both Brian Knight and I lent our support.

And money.

Over many phone calls, we worked on the idea and eventually SQL Saturday #1 in Orlando was held three years ago. Since then dozens of events have been held all over the country, and while they haven’t necessarily resulted in a lot of monetary profit, they have brought us a lot of satisfaction, and I’m proud to be associated with them. I’ve helped in a small way, but most of the credit has to go to Andy Warren.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fat Tire in NC

I went out to meet the SQL Sentry folks and some other speakers last night, cruising up North of Charlotte to Huntsville. We ended up in a pub and I was looking for a beer. After two short, though bumpy flights on little planes, which I do not like, and a run, which felt good, I was ready for beer. I asked the young lady for an ale or a lager, and she asked what do I regularly drink. I said Fat Tire, from Fort Collins, CO, and she said they had it!

That was good. It was surprising with a limited release of the beer, I usually have trouble finding it outside Colorado. We had good conversations, and it was nice to catch up with a few people that I missed when I canceled the MVP Summit last month. We had a nice pub dinner, a good chat, and then it was back for an early night for me. I watched the Lakers/Heat before falling asleep, and waking up too early.

Looking forward to catching up with some people today before the Bobcats / Lakers tonight.

Life with a Fingerprint Reader

My Lenovo W510 has a fingerprint reader, and for the last month I’ve had it set up and have been using it to log into the machine on regular basis.

And I love it!

My old Toshiba had one with Vista, but I never bothered to set it up or use it. I didn’t completely trust Vista, and after enrolling my fingers, it didn’t seem to work automatically for signin. However the integration on the Lenovo is fantastic. It expects me to use my fingers to log in and that’s the default.


As you can see, it’s asking for me to swipe my finger, or click “ESC” for the default login screen. That is pretty cool, and it has been a nice time saver for me. I can walk up, swipe my finger, and then do something else while it logs me in. I can even swipe it when the screen saver has kicked in and the screen it locked. No hitting Enter and typing a password.

I don’t think this is giving me more security, but it’s more convenient for me. If you haven’t tried a fingerprint reader, I urge you to do so. I think it’s handy, and it’s fun. My kids think it’s great.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

An Early Morning

I missed a flight years ago in Denver. I had come out early to Denver to work, leaving my wife and two boys in Virginia to sell a house and get ready to move out West. I was late to the airport one morning, missed a one stop flight to VA, and ended up spending all day, on a 3 city, standby, long journey that had me arriving in Va late at night, 7 or 8 hours after I was supposed to be there.

I think that’s why I struggle sleeping the night before an early flight. Today wasn’t too early, an 8:40am departure, but that meant I needed to leave a little before 7am to get to the airport. So I would be getting up at a regular time, but somehow I couldn’t sleep. I set my alarm for 5:45, being slightly paranoid about being late. However I couldn’t really sleep after 5 am and ended up tossing and turning until about 5:35 when I gave up.

I could have run, but didn’t (I’d have needed to get up at 5:15 to do that and feel safe). I was supposed to arrive in Charlotte at 3pm, so I’d have time, even with delays. I did finish packing, took the trash out, and cooked Delaney a chorizo breakfast burrito before packing up the Porsche for the drive to the airport. I said good bye to Delaney, kissed a sleepy Kendall that was just waking up, and kissed Tia before leaving on my journey to SQL Saturday #33 in Charlotte.

This is the start of a crazy month of travel for us. I decided on this trip as a favor to a few friends, and to hand over the SQL Saturday brand to the PASS organization. However I leave Sat afternoon a little early before flying home to land around 11pm. Tia leaves about 5am for her 8 day trip to CA, so we’ll have about 5 hours together before we’re apart again.

Not looking forward to missing my wife for the next week.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Winding out third gear

A friend pinged me today on an issue at work, and then asked how the Porsche was doing. It was lonely, with a dying battery from a lack of driving. We’ve had fairly constant snow or mud on the ground for the last few weeks and I haven’t had it out of the garage. As a matter of fact, I rolled it out on Sunday to do some woodworking, and then it wouldn’t start to get back in. Had to push it.

My plan today was to jump start it for a run into town. I had to go for work and since it was sunny, and the driveway is dry, I wanted to go. However things didn’t work out. I had to take Tia to get her truck and we were slightly pressed for time with work, so we just took the Prius to town.

However this afternoon I got an email back from my friend saying I should “do it, do it” and “wind out third gear” in the Porsche. I agreed. It’s a warm, beautiful 60F in Denver, so I jump started the Porsche and drove it up to get Kendall from the bus. I even took Onyx for a ride with me.

After dropping Kendall off, I headed down the road, looking to kill 15 minutes before Delaney came home. I cruised up Delbert, which is a 40mph zone until I hit a valley near the little airport. Sunny, I could see about a 1/2 mile ahead, no deer, no cars, and I dropped it down to 3rd and wound it up to 5000rpm, getting to about 65 pretty quickly.

I braked it back down quickly and then headed home to get Delaney. It’s no Bugatti Veyron, but it’s a lot of fun to drive.

We’ll take it to karate tonight, with just the two of us, and enjoy the trip.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Your Favorite Super Hero

I went to have lunch with Kendall at school today. She was happy to have me, and sat next to me, smiling, and leaning her head on my shoulder as we ate and chatted. She picked a spot away from other kids, and I wasn’t sure why. After lunch I walked outside with her, thinking that I might play with her at recess for a bit. However we sat there and she asked if I was leaving. I asked her back if I should or should I play with her and her friend, Vicky. She said I should leave because

“having you play with us would be odd.”

So I’m the odd Dad now? It was fine, I definitely had work to do, so I headed out.

While I was in the school, I snapped this photo of a project Kendall did.


I’m not sure who my super hero would be. I always liked Batman and the Green Lantern, but Underdog is pretty cool as well.

Taking After Dad

Last night Kendall wanted to write a story. She was excited at karate and she had planned this with Tia, so she ran upstairs right away and I found her dictating to Tia. She kept talking last night, and even some this morning while eating breakfast. I’m not sure it’s done, but here’s the start of it:

A Story of Different Species

Once upon a time in the deep woods, there lived a very small tiger, a very small lion and a very young fox cub. The fox cub was youngest of all. The three cubs played together every day and almost all the time. When they heard danger and hunters, they scattered back to where ever they were safe. One day, the fox cub was playing with the tiger. They didn’t hear danger lurking by. A moher cougar had been hunting. By the time they realized the mother cougar was there, she was only just a couple yards away. The fox cub scattered to run. The tiger cub was too frightened to move. So, the fox cub ran right back to his friend. Before the mother cougar could pounce… the fox cub said, “Run!”

Monday, March 1, 2010


Kendall brought home a spelling test today with 20/20 on it. She doesn’t get those often, so she was proud. Usually she misses 1 or 2, often silly mistakes, so I’m not worried about  her getting things, but it is cool when she does well. She also brought home a math test that was 26/27. Very cool.

A couple of light homework weeks here with CSAP standardized testing going on. Good for everyone, especially with me traveling at the end of the week and Tia gone next week.

Dodge Ram 2500 60K Service

So Tia pinged me to say that the truck was going to cost $750 to get the 60k service, and repair her recline lever on the driver side. She thought that was a lot, and it seemed high to me, but I haven’t done much with diesels. It seemed to me that when I got the oil changed in it, it was as expensive as my 911, which is pricey. We knew the lever was about $200, so is $550 expensive?

I searched on the Internet a little to see what places charged. That was hard as most of them didn’t list a price, which is dumb. For set service, oil change, 30k service, etc., just list a price. It’s not like you won’t tell us if we call, and a phone call is likely a waste of both of our time. I found a couple people that said they spent about $250-300 in parts and did it themselves, with the dealer wanting double that. Those were a few years old, so I called the local Dodge dealer.

$868 + tax

Whew, that’s a pretty penny. I bet that the lever replacement from them would be $300 or more.

Dealers are digging their own holes here. It seems to me that they ought to compete better on all service, at more of a price point that matches other shops. I don’t think they provide that much more of a guarantee or level of quality, especially these days.

Expensive Repairs

Tia dropped her truck off this morning to get it serviced before her trip next week. It needs the 60k service, but the recliner knob on her seat broke. She got a call a little while ago that the knob/lever is $20, but it’s almost $200 to take the seat apart and get it on there. She also has an issue with a trailer light and needs to drop that off.

Both of these are fairly simple repairs, though likely time consuming. I think between the two of us we could get both of these done, but we don’t have time this week. We’re both busy, weather is semi-lousy, and I travel on Thursday.

So we’ll end up paying a few hundred dollars for someone else to fix things. I hate doing that, especially in places where we could build some skills and repair things ourselves in the future, but I think it’s unavoidable in this case.

Book #22 – The Blind Side

41r5rpFNP L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_ I thought that the movie was fantastic, one of the best I’ve seen in a long time, but the book was pretty good as well. The Blind Side is by Michael Lewis, who’s written a few sports books and business books that I’ve enjoyed. He writes about a true event, but in a story telling manner. This book is no exception, and scenes from the movie kept popping in my head as I read the book.

The book starts out like the movie, with the Lawrence Taylor sack of Joe Theismen where a leg is broken. Lewis sees that as the changing of the game, an event where the left tackle position (for right handed QBs) all of a sudden is elevated beyond that of the other lineman, strictly because of Lawrence Talyor. The change is seen as a realization by Bill Walsh that this position becomes important in his offense, and is needed as a counter to the opposite change LT brought to Bill Parcell’s defense.

The book seems to jump between Michael Lewis, a poor black boy that is essentially living on his own as a teenager. He stays with friends, really having no parents to take care of him. This is in Memphis where he is given a chance to attend an elite, white, Christian school when the father of a friend takes his own son there to seek enrollment and a better education. That boy is a talented basketball player, but Michael is a freak. A huge physical specimen that dominates rooms, but is withdrawn, shy, and hiding from his size. He’s admitted, and begins school, though isn’t likely to succeed.

That is until Leigh Anne Tuohy finds him. In the movie she is the overwhelming presence, but in the book it seems that Sean is more of a factor. In any case, they bring Michael home one Thanksgiving when they realize he has no place to go and is living in the gym, on the street, whereever he can. They are a republican, rich, white family that takes in a huge, young black man. It’s an amazing story, and I think it works because Michael is so withdrawn.

The book runs up through mid 2009 in Michael’s life, talking about how he had NCAA issues, how he matured into a football player, and went to Ole Miss. Interspaced in the stories of his life are commentaries on how the NFL has changed and grown, with the importance of the position of left tackle.

I think you have to be a football fan to enjoy the book because there are a lot of parts that are strictly football. The movie is good for everyone, but if you like the NFL, this is an interesting read on one evolution of the game.