Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fence Man

I went out this afternoon to work on fence. My wife was supposed to join me, but she has horses, and well, horses win out over fence. Actually she would have, but we have plans later and there wasn’t enough time for both.

So I headed out, pliers, clips, welded wire and gloves. As I wrestled the wire around on the ground, spinning it to unroll it by the foot, I was glad I had a hat on. Hot, sunny, and it’s tough work moving a 330’ roll of wire around. It went fairly smoothly, and I clipped it over the place I’d stopped and continued to the end.


The only thing slowing me down was a bit of an audience that was curious about what I was doing. There are 4 or 5 horses in the pasture next to where I was working, and they kept coming over the sniff my hands as I tried to clip wire on.

The North side is done! I had a little time, so I pounded in 3 t-posts, which is always a challenge when they’re 6 foot tall. But they’re in and the start of a track is going up.

Friday, July 30, 2010


Today was Kendall’s checkup at the pediatrician. She hasn’t been in a few years, but since I took Delaney a month ago, we decided to get Kendall checked out. She’s fine, everything looking good, and she’s still tracking about 90th percentile for height and weight. The prediction is 5’9”, but we’ll see.

She also got a shot and a TB test, both of which she took without holding my hand or crying out.

Afterwards she, I, and Delaney ate some lunch and then went to play some mini-golf. We had wanted to hit Breckenridge yesterday, but Kendall went to the amusement park with neighbors, so we hung out instead. I want to do something with them each week, these last three weeks before school, so golf was today.

Not a great outing. They’re both competitive and each time Kendall hit a bad shot she would sulk, or get angry. Delaney was better, but he lost it in the last 3 or 4 holes and fell behind my score, pouting a bit at the end.

I tried to get them to have fun, just enjoy it, but they were angry that they couldn’t hit better. Kendall went inside to get a drink and cool off, and came out feeling better. Delaney calmed down and we played a second round (just the boys), didn’t keep score, and he seemed to enjoy that more.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Telling Stories Brings Bad Karma

We drove to the end of the driveway, as has been our habit a couple times a week over the last few months. Delaney next to me, somewhat motivated to train. Deuce, in the back seat, much more excited that we’re off and running.

We park near the mailbox and get out. I see a couple of drops hit the windshield, but this is Colorado. It’s not likely to do more than sprinkle a bit and it will make things cooler for Delaney. He sees the dark clouds to the Southwest and decides to try and get this done quickly. He’s off at a quicker pace than he normally does.

Deuce is clinging to my side, bumping me as I try to get my Nike + sensor going. For a 70lb dog, he’s quite a baby when it comes to thunder. I joke about it as I move to catch Delaney. Delaney things it’s funny and tells Deuce he shouldn’t be afraid.

I tell Delaney, “There was a time I went biking and we got soaked.” It’s a story of my and a friend, planning on a 10 mile bike ride one day in Virginia. We start out and it begins raining, but not like it rained today. A good, East Coast thunderstorm and we’re soaked. By the time we get close to my friend’s house a couple miles away we’re completely soaked. Dripping wet, like we’d jumped in a pool, so we decide to keep going since we can’t get any wetter. It’s a good ride, and a fun memory.

Delaney and I make it about a third of a mile and we hit the first hill. It’s a good climb, and he slows. We’re still joking about Deuce being afraid as we go up.

Then it starts raining.

It’s been sprinkling a bit, but now it comes down hard and I think I feel a little hail. I ask Delaney if he wants to turn back and he says sure. I want a mile, so I say “start back, and I’ll turn around in a minute.”

At a spring I move out, Deuce still trying to run as close to me as he can. We go down a few more houses, and I check the sensor. It’s fairly accurate when I keep up a good pace, maybe a little slow at times, and it’s about .6 miles, so I spin around.

And see Delaney. He’s trying to keep going, so I slow and he joins me. As we go back, it starts to blow more, and the rain is really coming down. Now there’s definitely hail and it’s pelting us. Small pieces, but enough to get your attention.

“Frick! It’s beating my arms” is a fairly constant utterance from Delaney as we go back down the hill. I tell him to run a little behind me, getting into the lee of my body. It’s more annoying than anything to me, and I’m trying to press on. Just when I think it can’t get worse, or blow harder, it does.

We stop by the side of the road, near his old bus stop, and I shelter him with my body. I job in place and try to protect him, Deuce in between us. It’s coming down at a 45 degree angle and I have to cover my ears since they’re taking the worst of it. It must be quite a site, us out there in the rain and hail, me jogging.

After a few minutes it lightens up slightly, a little less wind, so we jog up the hill to the next driveway. We turn into the wind and it’s too much. I leave Delaney hiding behind a brick pillar and head back to the car. I can see about 5 ft in front of me as I squint with one eye at the gravel. If my glasses were clean I might be able to see 50ft, but with the rain, there’s no hope.

I get to the car, soaked, dripping water, and we drive back to get Delaney.

His cries of “this is horrible” during the run are replaced with some pride and “that was cool” comments as we drive home. He now has his own rain story.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Can I Do This?

There's a Rock and Roll Marathon and 1/2 coming to Denver. Not many things have tempted me, but this one does. I wonder if I can up training a little and knock out 13 miles.

I think I'll see how the ankle does in August as I finish baseball and decide. If I feel like I can get up to a 6 miler once a week, maybe I'll give it a go.

Struggling to Run

I’m not sure why, but running this afternoon was tough. I had to really force myself to concentrate and work on keeping my feet moving. It wasn’t difficult, I wasn’t breathing hard, just had a hard time getting myself to run, and I didn’t enjoy it.

As Delaney said yesterday, you’re going to have some crappy days.

Growing the Herd

Not the horses, but instead my daughter is growing her stuffed animal herd. She got some money for her birthday and that resulted in these:


The two middle ones arrived this morning and she brought them over to show me at my desk. However that’s not all, there are also these:


She came over to have me track packages this afternoon so she could plan on when they would arrive and she could begin playing with them.

Interviewing for the PASS Board of Directors

My nomination application made it through the committee. I got an email yesterday telling me that I needed to schedule an interview, and a list of available slots.

I picked next Friday, August 6th, at 10am PST for my slot and it’s scheduled. It’s a phone interview, according to the process on the PASS Election site, and I’m guessing this will be an interesting conference call. I’ve had group interviews before, but never on the phone, so I’m wondering what this will be like.

Time to prep, and thanks to Buck Woody (blog | Twitter), I have a list of tips to go over:

  • Try not vomiting on the table when you talk to them. Or at least more than once.
  • Also do not pause and look at one of them and say "did you just call me fat?"
  • Another tip: End each statement with "... in accordance with prophecy."
  • Tip #4: Grin really big the whole time and answer each question with "I've got new socks on!"
  • Tip #5: Say "Wanna hear the noise I can make with my finger and my nose?"
  • Tip #6: Wear skates.
  • Tip #7: For each answer, adopt a different accent.
  • Tip #8: Wrap your head in seran-wrap and cut little holes out to breathe.
  • Tip #9: Tell them you can hold your breath for over 7 minutes, then do it.
  • Bring several ferrets and allow them to run free during the interview. In the middle of the interview, add a monkey.
  • Tip #10: After each statement, say "Am I right, or what?" OK, that's an even number, I can stop on that tip.

I’m not sure exactly what to prep here, since I’ve never run for a position that had an interview. When I ran for the HOA board, they just had to have someone else second me. I understand this is a little different as the organization needs semi-qualified people, and it can be hard to sustain if people get on the board that won’t do work.

There is a form that is used to rate people during the interview, so I’ll review that as well as my application.

Hopefully this will go well.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Another Step Forward

Unlike the crazy conveyor belt in Wipeout tonight, which was knocking people backwards, Delaney made progress today towards his First Class rank at Scouts. I kicked him off the XBOX this afternoon and started him on some Scouting stuff. My push is to just get him going on something each week, just one push. He's pretty good once you get him going, and tonight he was working on his first aid requirements.

He had to bandage up a few wounds and sprained ankle, and he practiced on me. I got my ankle wrapped, my head, a sling on my arm, and a few other items. I worked through it with him and he practiced a few times. When we got to Scouts it was hectic, but with some prodding he went through the items with another Scout. They got interrupted, but I played victim again after the meeting and he managed to get a sign off.

He's down to 2 short first aid items that I didn't let him finish as it was late and I was being eaten by mosquitoes. We'll knock those off next time, and then he has to identify 10 Colorado plants and he's down to a few conferences with leaders.

First Class here we come.

Slack Traveler

I realized over the weekend that I hadn’t booked a hotel for my SQL Saturday #28 trip to Baton Rouge. This was one I can’t miss since I’m doing 2 sessions and the keynote. I remembered today, and called the Cook Hotel, a beautiful place on the LSU campus where I stayed last year.

Nothing available but suites. Tempting but at $299 I’m not sure my boss would like that. The reserved rate was $99, and the difference is probably the cost of my trip to Kansas City later this year. So I started to look around on Expedia and found a Marriot not too far away to book.

I’m traveling a bit more these days, more like 10 times a year, and in doing so, I’ve gotten a bit slack. I went to New Orleans without knowing my hotel reservation, and I haven’t been traveling with printouts or directions. I’m relying on the iPhone, which is OK, but I probably should keep a backup somewhere since you never know if service will go out or batteries will die.

Lunchtime Run

Delaney struggled on our lunchtime run today. I told him to eat this morning, and then we’d run, but he was trying to duck out and delayed the run until later. Then he was hungry. He pushed in places, but also walked a lot and had trouble. He did finish with a jog when he wanted to quit, so I was proud of that.

I’m not sure how hard to push him. This is a task that takes months to get better at, and I know motivation is tough at that age, so I’m trying to push a little, but not too hard. We’ll see how it goes.

Monday, July 26, 2010

No Brace

My ankle brace was in my baseball bag as I wore it yesterday, so I did karate tonight with no brace, and no tape (ran out). It was “A” week, so kickboxing week, and I worked with one of the new black belts in class. There was a test Saturday, and we had 4 new adults in class tonight sporting their new rank.

It was a good night for me, working hard, but not pushing, not twisting, and not doing any of the calf raises we did. I muddled through, modifying as needed, and ended up feeing pretty good at the end. A good workout, not great, but not much stress on the ankle.

I feel like I’m healing, albeit slowly.

Book #54 - The Spy

63696879[1] I picked this actual physical book up at the library when my daughter was there since it was a Cussler, without reading the description. Once I got it home and found it was set in 1908, I wasn’t sure I’d like The Spy, but plunged in. I actually really enjoyed it, and found the pace to quicken near the end, as most really enjoyable thrillers do, and struggled to put it down.

I haven’t read any of the Isaac Bell series, but I’ll be looking for more after this. Isaac is a private detective at the turn of the century, when the law is just as likely to support criminals (because of bribes) as citizens. There is no national police service yet, and the Van Dorn detective agency is working with the government and banks to stop robbers. Isaac is the premier detective, drawn into an apparent spy case as researchers working on the new dreadnaught battleships are being killed. Isaac sees this as important and sets to work.

The book alternates between following Isaac as he investigates, and following the various subcontracted spies as well as the mastermind leading them along. It’s got a healthy does of historical ideas in it, as the US approaches WWI, with the British, German, and Japanese factions potentially working against the US.

I’m not usually one to historical based fiction, but I have to say this one drew me in and I enjoyed it. If you like the other Cussler spin-offs, I think you’ll like this one as well.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Catching Up on Chores

After I got home, it was too early to sit around. Everyone was gone except Delaney, so I decided to go out and get a few things done that have been haunting me a bit. I grabbed the weed whacker and changed the blades on it, adding some gas and getting it to start. I grabbed a shovel, some gloves, added air to the mower, and took off down the driveway. It was probably quite a sight with me balancing things as I drove down and cut some grass, but no one was there to see it.

I cut down some of the grass on the west side of the driveway first, mostly because it just annoys me to see it so tall. I got that done and then went for my main chore: burying the wire from the gate opened to the motors. It’s been exposed for a year, and it got cut by the mower last month, so I decided to bury it. I dug down about 3-4” in a trench about 20ft from the opener to the gate, slipped in the wire, and then buried it. It wasn’t that hard, but it took time, and in the afternoon sun I was moving slow. I’m glad that’s done and I just need to secure it better to the post.

Next it was weed whacking time, trying to knock down some of the growth around the front. I got most of the inside done when I realized that 1 of my 3 blades had broken. So I moved outside, trying to get the ditch. I got a little done when another blade snapped. So I tried to clean up near the outside post, but it wasn’t long before my last blade broke. They’re cheap, but apparently not that durable. A new chore for tomorrow.

Lastly I headed back, balancing my stuff on my lap as I cut the grass along the driveway. One mower width on the way back doesn’t do much, but it’s a little bit. The wind was blowing, so I had grass all over me when I got back. I decided to spent another 20 minutes cutting back away from the house, trying to get more done since the kids are moving slowly on cutting as a way to earn money. I ended up making good progress, and was glad to stop.

Time for me.

I cranked up the lathe and rounded out the teak pieces that I have on there. I had been meaning to get to it, but hadn’t been making time, and being all grimy, dirty, and with everyone still gone, I went out there and rounded the two square pieces. It’s a surprisingly satisfying chore. I was beat at that point, so I knocked off and went in search of beer and BBQ.

Being Me

I called home after baseball and Delaney answered.

Me: You doing OK?

Delaney: Yep.

Me: Is anyone there?

Delaney: No, unless they have active camouflage and I can’t see them.

Me: What are you doing?

Delaney: I’m being me.

At that point I thought he was fine, decided to hit the store, and then head home.

Eight Men Out

I found myself actually starting to ask other teams if they had enough players. I arrived today to play against a team I’ve known for years, went to the Phoenix World Championship with 3 of them, and asking how they were doing. They might be a team that I  move over to if mine dies this offseason.

We’ve had 9, mostly 10, and 11 or 12 a few times, but today we had two new guys I’ve never seen and 4 others that I normally play with. With me that was 7, and we got a player from the other team, who had 9. Someone’s son played right field, so we were 8 on 8, with a forfeit from us. That made me a little down from the go, since I thought we might not play.

We started out OK, holding them in the top of the first, and played OK after that. I was on third again, with the shortage, and didn’t do myself any good. I caught a throw to third for a guy going 1st to third on a hit, but that was it. I had a line drive to me, a little tall that I jumped for, and it hit my glove and popped over the top. I also fielded a grounder cleanly, and then threw it to the second baseman. Unfortunately he was 5 ft off the bag and the shortstop was looking for my throw. Bad throw, and I looked at the wrong guy.

At the plate I wasn’t much better. A weak popup to second, a smash to deep right center that was high, hung up, and was caught on the warning track. Another smash that hit the fence, but was foul, and a walk. So 0-2, BB. I was once again up to end the game, with 2 outs 2 on, bottom of the seventh. A foul, 3 balls, and a miss, and with the full count, the runner got picked off second to end the game. So in three weeks, I’ve been on deck watching the game end, strike out to end the game, and now standing there with a pickoff. Bad 7th inning karma for me.

Not a great game, but good to chat with friends and get out there.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Delaney has been asking me to make some gaspacho for him to try. He thought it sounded interesting, and I’ve been looking for pre-made soup in places, or a good recipe, but not that hard. The other day while I was waiting for Kendall to get a library card, I picked up a Tomatoes & Mozzarella cookbook and flipped through it. I found this, and since it was time to go, I snapped a picture


It was simple, and looked interesting. So I made it today. While I didn’t have tri-colored tomatoes, I went with plain old red, cutting them into 6ths, or 8ths, or even 9ths at times depending on what I thought.

I also changed this slightly in that I couldn’t find sherry vinegar, so I added a little apple cider vinegar at first, and then a touch of balsamic after blending to get a little tang. I also added 3 cloves of garlic and a little less cucumber and pepper.

It’s chilling in the fridge, and we’ll try it later, with some bread or croutons.

Crazy Weather

It started raining yesterday, with some thunder and lightening, but nothing crazy. However as we drove to the airport last night to pick up Tia’s cousin, there was a crazy amount of traffic there. So many people at the waiting zone, parked on the side of the approach road, and even in line to drive through the arrivals pick-up area. It was crazy.

Apparently storms around the country delayed flights, and made a mess of air traffic. Fortunately for us, our timing was good and as we pulled up, Tia’s cousin, Stephanie, was waiting, having been there a few minutes.


We had a quick dinner a QDoba before heading home with Tia’s sisters as well. A family weekend is coming.


Do you influence people? How influential are you?

I saw a link to The Influence Project, put on by Fast Company, looking for how much influence people have in 2010. The link actually takes you to my profile, which means I’ve influenced you to click the link. I got pulled in when Andy Leonard posted a link and I added to his influence.

It’s an interesting idea, though I’m not sure what accuracy rating I’d assign to it. Only people that find it interesting will go through the links, so it’s a self-selecting group, not measuring anything absolute about how influential someone is in the world at large.

However it did get me thinking about implementing something in the SQL Server community. I wonder if people would be interested to see who is contributing a lot to the SQL Server community, maybe by measuring some level of activity (blogging, forum posts, speaking, etc.). It would almost be like some sort of Que Score for SQL Server.

I wonder how it would correlate to the MVP award. Would there people that had a high score that weren’t MVPs or vice versa? It might be a fun project to get going.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Chorizo and Eggs

I like cooking. I don’t love it, but I enjoy doing it. I also like fairly simple, plain food. A good steak, fajitas, and a hearty breakfast. That’s why I follow blogs like Christy Cooks and The Novice Chef, looking for nice, quick, easy recipes that the family will enjoy.

This was one of my own, one that I had for a late breakfast/early lunch while taking a break from work.

I got a tip from the Novice Chef to use natural light, so before I ate, I headed out front and took a picture in the sun.

I start cooking breakfast regularly for my son last winter since he was up early for school and would likely skip eating if I didn’t get him something good. We started with Lumberjack style breakfasts, just throwing stuff in a pan, but after a ski trip where he tried Chorizo, he was hooked.

My basic recipe:

  • 1 spoonful chorizo
  • 1 egg
  • small handful of cheese
  • tortilla
  • salt/pepper

I heat up my cast iron skillet, which I love using. Usually I cook a pound of chorizo and save it in the fridge. It will last a few weeks between the two of us, depending on how often I cook. Today I whipped the egg in a bowl with a fork and a little water. That seems to work better for me than milk. I added some salt and pepper and then poured it in the pan.

Once it started to cook, I tossed in chorizo, mixed it briefly, and then set it to cook in an elongated shape.

While that’s cooking. I put a little cheese on a tortilla and heat it up for 45 sec in the microwave.

Flip the egg/chorizo mixture, and then add to the tortilla when it is warm.

A dollup of whipped cream, roll it up, and enjoy.

Glad I Set the Alarm

I had a 9:30 practice run for a webinar this morning, after missing it Tuesday. We’ve had issues getting this done and the live one is tomorrow, so I really needed to make sure I was ready for this one. All I can say is I am glad I set the alarm last night.

I’m not sure why I did, since Tia was taking Kendall to volleyball camp today. But I struggled to sleep last night, waking up at 4am and tossing and turning for awhile. However at 8am, I was dead asleep and might have slept past 9 if the alarm hadn’t woken me up.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It’s the Platform

I keep seeing lots of debate about Android v the iPhone 4. I have friends talking about how cool Windows Mobile 7 will be, and even some talk about Nokia making a comeback. However it seems that so many people are just missing what’s cool about the iPhone.

It just works.

Not perfectly, not all the time, but it’s just so simple to make things happen. And if you want to try something else, there’s likely a dozen apps that do that one, quirky thing you want, and you can pick the one that works for you.

70618861[1] As an example. I was on the phone with a friend today and they recommended Career Warfare to me. He told me the author and while he spent 2-3 minutes explaining what he’d learned from it and why he’d recommend it, I surfed over to Amazon, found the book in a Kindle edition, selected my phone, and shot the book to it. A quick $12 purchase for me, some money for the author and Amazon, and befoer I got off the phone, I clicked the Kindle app and saw it download through wi-fi.

There’s nothing magic here, and Kindle is on Android now, but that platform, with things being that easy, is what makes the iPhone cool. Most apps are that easy to find, and I can find them in iTunes, see large screenshots and read reviews easily in a way that I couldn’t in the early Android Marketplace. Maybe it’s easier now, and maybe I can “send” things to my phone, and if so, they’re learning.

That cool, simple, seamless platform that just seems to work so often and intuitively, is the reason I love the iPhone.

I Like Libraries

Today when I dropped off Kendall at volleyball camp and then was a little out of sorts. I had a 10:00 conference call so I couldn’t go home and make it back. I could have gone to Starbucks again, but I’d then be leaving again soon, and I didn’t have any wi-fi there.

I decided to go down to the Elizabeth library and see if they weren’t open. I didn’t have a lot of confidence that they opened at 9am, but when I walked up to the door, I saw people inside. So I grabbed my laptop and wandered in. To my surprise, they also had fee wi-fi and I was able to connect and get some work done. I sat in a comfy easy chair in the window, with this view of downtown Elizabeth.


I have to say that I liked sitting there, surrounded by books, listening to the friendly librarians read stories to a group of younger kids in there for the summer. I didn’t get as much done, but I did leave with a good feeling to go take my conference call.

I told Kendall I’d gone there to work and she wanted to go back. So we did, wandering around and looking at some books. Kendall wanted to get a book, so I had her get a library card application and when we went to sign up, the librarian asked if Kendall wanted it in her name. She did, so she got her own library card. She got a book, and I snuck one on her account as well.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Feel Like a Quitter

Not a complete quitter, but I did step out last night in karate for the last exercises. The teacher last night did a lot of forms and my ankle was sore. I shortened up a bunch of moves, went slower, and struggled through. I probably should have stepped out of the form line earlier, but I kept thinking “one more form”, “I can do one more”.

At the end she wanted to do 4 minute of cardio exercise, with a lot of sideways jumping movements and I just moved off. I did some abs while waiting and then tried to join in the push ups/abs with them, but struggled and stopped abs at one point and sat there to catch my breath, and then paused during push ups, just holding the up position.

Unthinkable! At least in my experience, I’ve pushed through to the limits, expecting to push through. I guess my limits are lower now, and my ankle was just hurting. I also felt slightly weaker and don’t think I ate enough before the class.

Delaney was with me and I felt bad for stepping out with him in there, but I didn’t want to hurt myself anymore. I iced the ankle last night and it felt better today. Much less swollen than last night when it was aching.

A Rainy Day

I woke up to a cool day, rain on the ground, a typical day in Seattle. Only I’m in Denver, it’s July, and I wasn’t expecting this. The Scouts are supposed to do a water balloon fight at their meeting tonight, but this looks like it might not happen.

Nice to get some rain, and a little relief from the heat in the house. I don’t mind it during the day, but it sure is uncomfortable at night.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Butt Kicking

I don’t normally mind losing at baseball. I’m actually used to it, not really remembering the last time I won, which was sometime in May or June last year. However today was a mess, my ankle was still sore, and things went south at the beginning.

I was looking forward to this game, this being the team I’d hit 3 home runs off. It was a hot afternoon, and I’d requested 1st, 3rd, or RF so I didn’t have to move much. I ended up at first, and for some reason struggled to catch the ball cleanly. I caught them, but a bunch hit right on the pad of my index finger, so typing this is a little hard.

In the first inning, top of the first, the pitcher faced 5 or 6 batters. Four walks to start and then a double that cleared the bases. We were down 7-0 before we batted. We managed to bring one across in the first, but after that I was struggling. We had a new pitcher, and he was OK, with us getting a couple 1-2-3 innings, but also a bunch where there were bloopers or gap hits that pushed across a bunch of runs. I came up in the 3rd (walk), the 5th (double), and the 7th (K). The rest of the team didn’t do much, and we wound up in the bottom of the 7th down 18-1. Seven runs needed, I was annoyed, especially with some slack plays by a few people, and I fouled one, missed, and then gripped on a curve coming high and outside-in. It might have been a ball, but I was worried, swung, and missed. That’s a huge hole in my swing anyway, so the pitcher did a good job.

It’s a good opponent and I had fun joking with people. Picked a couple out of the dirt at first, and had an OK game. 1-2, BB isn’t bad, but this was a long, hot game and we sucked from inning one. We were down 5 runs before we got an out.

I have the feeling that there are a few people that won’t be playing with this team next year, maybe a bunch of people. We’re 1-10 now, with a couple to make up and 5 more scheduled. I’ll make 3 or 4 of those, and I am wondering how many others will come. I know 2 guys aren’t very happy with our play, and likely won’t play next year.

A tough day for the baseball team.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Still Tired

It’s been a long day today. I wasn’t up early, but karate, then getting the mower ready to go again, then fencing. And a run in there somewhere.

The mower blade is loose, so I took it off and found that since it got lose it had worn away the star shaped holder. Yet another thing to replace. I got it tight again, and cut some along the driveway, but this is likely to be an every other day check until it’s replaced. I also fixed the wire from the push button to the gate which got whacked the other day when I was testing the mower.

Then I knocked out a quick 2 miles, 20 minutes, going down the road under threat of rain. I saw lightening, but no rain to speak of. So then it was time to do some fencing. I loaded things up in the tractor and headed to the west pasture. Tia joined me and we unloaded everything at the west end.

Then realized that the roll was set to work on the other end, so we loaded back up in the tractor, drove to the East side, and started to attach this new 4ft fencing to the t-posts out there. At first it seemed to be really difficult to get the clips on and we were wondering if pliers were the right tool. Then I started to put them on from the other side, hooking the short end first. That went quickly, and we managed to get 330’ of fencing put up to cover the barbed wire.

Unfortunately we needed about 450’ ft. A bad guesstimate, so it’s mostly done, but not all the way done. More wire to be ordered, and in the meantime we can work on getting the middle posts up to create a second track out there. We’ll need some t-posts as well, so we won’t get that done quickly, but we’ll get it started.

All By Myself

Kendall had a birthday party this morning and was going to be picked up at 8:30am. 8:30! A! M! for a birthday party? It wasn’t that bad, as it’s really a 10:00am Chuck E Cheese party, but Kendall wanted to ride with the neighbors and they said it was fine last night. While Tia and Delaney went to a movie, I put Kendall to bed, telling her that she needed to be up early. We set her alarm for 7:45, and I went to lay down, dreading the need to get up myself before 8.
I did wake up before 8, thanks to Kendall waking me up. I had been waking up since 5, and dreading having to get up, and had drifted asleep again finally when Kendall shook me. She was dressed, and explained to me that she had woken up at 7:30, then gotten up and put on pants, a new shirt, socks, and had her shoes (she showed me each item) and then told me she’d been downstairs and had a bowl of cereal. It was 7:55, so what should she do?
Tia told her to watch some TV and relax until the neighbors came. Not sure what happened after that since I went back to sleep.
That little girl, or maybe not so little at 9, is growing up.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Finding Your Passion

One of the things that has always made me somewhat jealous of my wife is her passion. She loves her horses, and helping people. She would quit her job in a minute if I would let her to train horses every day. And train people. As long as I’ve known her, she’s had this streak of wanting to make other peoples’ lives better. In different ways over the years, but it’s been a consistent part of her drive, and it’s amazed me.

I like working with wood, building things, running, karate, reading, a bunch of stuff. But none of it really drives me with a passion. The closest I got was a steady volunteer effort at the food bank for awhile. I would see that, or Habitat for Humanity, as a place I could pour myself into some day. Other than that, everything with work, even my nearly-two-year running streak is a bit of a “eh, it’s fun”, but not passion-generating for me.

However apparently there is something that I hadn’t realized. I’ve been working with an organization for years, on and off, to various degrees. They’ve frustrated me and there have been more than a few times that I was ready to throw up my hands and completely divorce myself from them. A few others I know have nearly done that as well, or have. Not a great reputation or endorsement for an organization. In many ways they remind me of the US government, with the disgust and frustration that so many people have when dealing with them or even reading about their work.

I have debated becoming more involved for years, alternating with the whole throw-up-of-the-hands. However it seems that I am involved, blogging about it (one of my larger tags), and discussing it with friends and co-workers on a regular basis. As I think about it and debate the idea, it seems that I am involved.

A friend of mine, who is involved, talked to me recently about committing more. We’ve debated this, and he respects my reasons for holding back, but he also had a long talk where he said that he thought I could make a big difference and that I should think about how to mitigate some of the issues (like time, travel) and then evaluate. I respect his opinion, and he’s somewhat of a mentor for me.

So I talked with me wife. We had a chat while she was on the road, and I talked about how I felt, and some of the issues. She asked a few questions and then said it was a no-brainer. This was my passion, or at least one of the few places I’ve shown a lot of passion and that I should pursue it.

I was surprised by that since I’ve been searching for a passion, but hadn’t realized this was it. It’s funny how you learn things about yourself. I’m nervous, and a little worried, but I’ll throw my hat in the ring and see what happens.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Scanning Without Wires - Epson Workforce 610

We are trying to buy another property here at the ranch. My wife had to leave town in the middle of this, and asked me if I could sign the contract and then scan it in to email to the other party. It was late at night, I was tired and didn’t want to mess with it that night, so I said sure.

The next morning I hooked up our ancient Epson Perfection 610 to my machine, a process that involves dragging a large piece of hardware out of the closet, plugging it in the wall with the cord running across the floor to the scanner on the floor, and plugging a USB cable into my desktop. I used to do that every month or so for expenses, but apparently I haven’t in a few months. Guess I know why Accounting is a little annoyed with me.

The scanner didn’t work.

Windows 7 x64 didn’t recognize it, and when I tried downloading 2 different drivers from Epson that didn’t work I stopped. I had a virus on my machine recently and am nervous about making too many changes without really thinking about it. I plugged the scanner into my Windows 7 x86 machine and it didn’t work their either. So much for extensive Windows 7 support of older hardware.

Since I had committed to doing this for my wife, and I do need a scanner, I decided to look for one. I had a conference call, but a cell phone and a mute button let me drive to Best Buy and grab a new scanner for $90. I decided on an Epson Workforce 610 because it was wireless, did what I needed, would handle copies and faxing as well, and the 18 year old at Best Buy said he had one and it worked great.

I brought it home, basically removed all the plastic wrap and tape, loaded ink cartridges, and it was ready. I think I pressed 3 buttons for it to auto detect my wireless network and connect. I ran a CD install of 3 or 4 programs (to handle printing, management, scanning, fax) and then my Win 7, x64 machine detected the printer and sent a test page over. That was cool, but scanning was what I needed.

I brought up the scanner utility, put the first page of the contract on the bed and hit scan. Across the room, through the magic of wireless, the image appeared saved on my hard drive. I added the rest of the contract in the document feeder, and soon I had 16 jpgs in a new folder.

That was cool. Scanning has always been a bit of a hassle, like printing, but this was a very cool device.

And my daughter thinks that the color inkjet is “the bomb” for printing pictures of cats.

The Scout Returns

He’s back!

I came up from a short run in the basement and found Delaney walking in from his trip. Still in his pants, boonie hat on his head, he had just returned. I got a few hugs, and could see that he was glad to be home. Asking him about the trip turned up that he had stressed about some things, and was a bit lonely for family. He said he’d go again if I went.

Questioning him more, he had some good times, enjoyed some things, and was proud of earning his canoeing merit badge and getting his 50-mile trip patch for going. He also struggled a little in asking for help, or receiving help from others. Tried to make him understand that it’s a good growth thing, and it’s good for him to learn to rely on others. We’ll see.

Overall I think this was a hard trip, and I hope that Delaney grew from it. Sorry I missed it, and hope that we get to do it together next year.

Still sore, but healing

I definitely went slower at karate last night. The ankle was still sore, but better, and I wrapped it with a little more tape. I worked technique, skipped out on a few things, and didn’t do any extensions. I think the teacher felt sorry for me not raising up on the right toes for knee strikes. Overall, I limped through class pretty well.

Today it was better, with two sessions of ice last night, and I did a light jog on the treadmill, not pushing and holding things steady. I think I’m definitely aiming for a first base or right field playing slot this week at baseball.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Taking Stock

It has been a rough couple of weeks for me. Two weeks ago I went on a long run and near the end rolled my right ankle slightly. I collapsed the knee quickly and it was a slight turn, but it was sore the next morning, and slightly swollen.

Since then, I went to Las Vegas and hiked a couple miles up on some Red Rocks, played baseball this weekend, and continued to run, albeit lightly. I’ve also had a couple karate classes, and as of today, I have:

  • sore right ankle
  • bruised right knee cap
  • sore right knee
  • tight left lower back
  • bruised right shoulder blade

I was actually feeling pretty good until the last few days. My ankle has been on and off sore for a few weeks, but I have easy run days and it does fine. Slowly heals. The back is tight at times, but I think it’s a combination of sleeping poorly some nights and I need a new desk chair. The right knee is better, finally, after I tried to imitate a bird at Breckenridge over New Years this year. I’ve played baseball and done karate a few times in the last month without my brace and it’s been good.

Sunday I had a guy fall on me diving to get a ball. That tightened my back more and bruised my shoulder blade. His elbow was in the blade and it wiggled around as he tried to get up. A total accident, and he’s a friend, but it didn’t help. The pitcher threw over again and I jumped back but landed on my knees, like an idiot. Must have been a rock down sicne I bruised the kneecap slightly. The next inning I was backing up 2nd base on a short pop-up to right. The second baseman dropped the ball and I lurched to the side to try and grab it, rolling the ankle again.

Despite that, I felt pretty good other than the ankle for karate last night and went too hard. My punches were popping and I worked up a good sweat, but I managed to work the ankle a bit much and it’s sore again today. That and some of the stretches annoyed my bruised kneecap.

Feeling old this week, taking it easy on runs.

T-SQL Tuesday #008 - Learning

It’s time for another T-SQL Tuesday, the brainchild of Adam Machanic (Blog|@AdamMachanic) of This time we have a SQLServerCentral author, and MCM, Robert Davis, running the show.

How To Learn

I’ve had a lot of school in my life. 12 years of primary education, 5 years of undergraduate level education, 2 years of graduate school education, 7 semesters of calculus, and even a few programming classes since then. In all those hours, I have learned a few things, but the most important things were learning how to learn.

A high school degree (US) or an undergraduate degree (BS/BA) doesn’t really teach you a lot of practical skills, IMHO. However what they subtlety teach you is how to learn. You have to develop the skills more and more to teach yourself, research, analyze information. Those are the skills you will need as you move into a career. Even engineers, who learn a larger percentage of skills in skill, need to learn more in the workplace, and successful students tend to have an easier time picking things up later.

Not that average/below average students can’t. Sometimes it’s just finding something that brings out your passion, which often isn’t school.

How I Learn

So how do I learn? As much as I like lectures, and I listen to many of them at SQL Saturdays or other conferences, it’s not necessarily helping me learn or build a skill. It increases my knowledge base, gives me the ability to think more laterally when confronting issues or searching for a solution, and it inspires/excites me. It gets the juices flowing.

However to actually learn something, to build a skill, I need to do. I typically learn by actually writing SQL statements. Setting up mirroring, testing restores. Those skills, just like muscle memory from performing a task, are built for me by repetition and practice.

That’s one reason that I have taken relatively few classes in my career. Taking a week out and being immersed in something like VB or SQL hasn’t helped me nearly as much as having hours a day across months to actually write code and try to solve a problem. This blog, at least the T-SQL parts, have tended to be focused on rebuilding those skills for me. Practicing things that are new, or that I haven’t spent much time on.

I prefer working with books to classes, but it’s the same thing for me. I retain some snippets from books, but if I don’t practice the skills, actually get hands on time, I haven’t learned much.

How You Learn

I don’t know. I think you have to try some different things and then evaluate if they work. If you attend a class, see if you use those skills across the next couple months. Did you really learn something? Try something you learned a couple weeks afterwards. Did it stick? If not, try something else. Read about it and do the same test. Work through examples from a blog post/article/book/class, and see if that helps.

Learn how you learn. It’s one of the most valuable things you’ll ever do.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Book #53 - Grift Sense

14589788[1] I got hooked again by James Swain and his gambling books. Grift Sense is the first one, and I read it last year, but went through it again to see how the writing has changed.

It was amazing to me how unpolished, how rough and gruff both Tony Valentine and the writing are in this book. We learn about Tony, get more of a feeling for a rough ex-cop, a more emotional ex-cop, one that is more than willing to vent outrage against cheaters in the writing than in later books.

I suppose that’s OK, and that we’d age and mellow as time passes, which seems to happen in the books. We see a very distance relationship with his son, and a much different relationship with Mabel as well.

A good read, and worth getting into for this series. I don’t think this is the best representative of the series. Funny Money or Mr. Lucky are better.

Damaging Your Brand

The talk of the basketball world the last week has been LeBron James’ decision to go to Miami to play with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosch. Recently I was listening to ESPN Radio and Mike Greenberg mentioned that he thought LeBron hadn’t necessarily done his “brand” any damage.

Certainly LeBron James is more in demand, and has more power than most people in their jobs.. I might argue that someone like a Paul Randal in the SQL Server database world would be as in as much demand, and like LeBron, if he wanted a job with a particular company, he might take a pay cut.

Our brand is the impression people have of us. It’s the first impression, and maybe the only impression, that most people get of you. Relatively few people that have heard of you will meet you. Or hire you. A good brand is important to giving you a wide variety of opportunities. When your name comes up or your resume arrives in someone’s inbox, the brand that appears in someone’s mind first can determine if you even get a call for an interview.

A bad brand can hurt you, and you might never know about it. You’ll never hear about the jobs you didn’t get because of a poor brand.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t rebuild a brand, or that you can’t get by with a bad brand. Arguably there have been famous people, Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern, that have bad brands. Or bad to a large group of people, but they have still done well. Those are extreme, but I know there are people that have been fired from jobs for doing damage to the company and re-hired later in the industry by working to rebuild their brands.

Kobe Bryant arguable had destroyed his brand a few years ago with issues in CO. There are still people in CO that “boo” him when he comes, and still a few advertisers that don’t work with him. However he’s come back as a very popular player, he’s had success, and has new endorsements. He’s kept a lower profile in some ways and rebuilt his brand.

LeBron can do that as well. I’d argue the last two years, without winning, having less success, and not responding in clutch situations have damaged his brand. While he was popular and lots of teams coveted his services, I would argue that his “brand” was what most teams wanted, not his talent. He hasn’t proven he’s a champion, a go-to guy, and the success he’s brought the Cleveland Cavaliers has been mostly off the court, with more revenue for the owner, than pride for the fans.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Close One

We lost again, and we only played 8 innings, but it was close. We struggled as we have many weeks, but kept it close, a 5-1 game as we had a guy steal home early on. The game was dragging, and I was in center, only seeing a couple grounders get through up the middle. I came up in the 2nd, and struck out looking for the third out. I was out of sorts, struggling to concentrate and swung at a high one (miss), had a bad swing at one mid and outside, and then watched a beautiful one come in across the plate, knee high. Grrrrrr

Then we started to hit. The next inning we got a few hits and the run. Then I came up to lead off the 5th and our manager said to square for a fake bunt, then pull back and swing. I didn’t. I’ve learned to build  a rhythm and so I waited, saw another pitch like the last one I let go and swung. Caught all of it, but it was out front of the plate and it wasn’t thrown hard. Still it went over the right fielder’s head and hit the fence for a double.

The inning before I’d pinch run for a guy and on a throw over, the first baseman, all 250lbs of him landed on me with his elbow in my shoulder blade. So I got a pinch runner, we scored a few and things were looking good. In the 7th I came up and hit a line drive single out into right and we scored to bring it to 6-5.

A close game, and despite giving up some hits, we managed to keep it that way to the bottom of the 8th. Including bases loaded in the top of the 8th with one out and us not giving up a run. It seemed like we might win. We got two on, 2nd and 3rd, then two outs. I was on deck, and they debated walking the batter to fill the bases, but decided not to with me on deck. The pitcher told me that later, but I think he was just being nice. He’s had good success against me, despite my 2-3 for today.

A slow grounder that the third baseman picked up and made a short throw to first, but it got picked up and the game was over. Still it was a great game.

The downside for me was that I moved to right in the 5th, and then there was a short pop-up. The 2nd baseman stepped onto the grass, bobbled and dropped it. As I shifted weight to try to grab it, I rolled the right ankle again. So I sat out the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings. I’ve only missed one inning all year, so that was disappointing.

Book #52 - Deadman’s Bluff

After finishing Deadman’s Poker on vacation I was hooked again, and re-read Deadman’s Bluff. It’s the second book in this mini series and finishes the story of Rufus and his outrageous proposition bets and Tony Valentine’s efforts to figure out the cheating sceme.


It’s a fun read, but you really want to read the other book first.

All to Herself

Kendall and I dropped Delaney off at a Scout meeting point and he headed off for a 5 day canoe trip down the Colorado river by himself. Then we went down to Greenland, just north of the Springs, to watch Tia in a trail competition.

Actually we watched her get setup and start, and then took off. We were hungry, it was hot, and the competition was an 8 mile loop, expected to take 2 hours. Waiting around wouldn’t have been fun, so we went and ate lunch, then headed home. Glad we didn’t as there was some thunder and hail and the race took longer than expected.

I was beat, and wanted to rest, but Kendall wanted to do something. She asked me what I’d want to do and I mentioned the batting cage, so she said that was fine. We could go to Blockbuster for her and then hit the cage. We did, and she fed tokens in as I swung. Did better than last time, and had some success throwing my hands at the ball. Seemed to give me some opposite field hits, so I might have to try that today.

Kendall wanted to play a bit, so I tossed balls to her and she hit them. That was cool for me, and I need to make some time to do that today. I’ve love it if my little girl would play softball. We’ll see how that goes and maybe I can convince her to play in the spring.

We also stopped by the Family Fun Center next door “just to look” according to Kendall. We ended up playing some air hockey, splitting games, and laughing a bunch. She played a couple games and rode the spinner that I had no interest in getting on. A good afternoon, and we then came home to cook dinner and relax.

While we were out, Kendall told me she was glad she had the parents all to herself with Delaney hone and Kyle doing his own thing. That was neat. We all watched some TV last night, but the parents fell asleep, so Kendall got to sleep with us. I’m sure she’s happy about that.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Book #51 - Deadman’s Poker

14495896[1] I’ve read Deadman’s Poker before, but when in Vegas, pick up something fun. I think I read it last year, but it’s fun, and the characters are great. Especially Rufus, the grifter that is making outrageous proposition bets throughout the book. If you want to laugh at a book, this is one to pick up.

Tony Valentine is back, once again catching casino cheaters. This time he gets involved with his son, who’s childhood friend is killed over a scam he developed. Gerry wants Tony involved, and when Bill Higgins from Las Vegas calls, he agrees.

The book is interesting as we have Tony growing, becoming close to, and more understanding of his son. At the same time, Gerry grows up, we have lots of scenes with him as he matures and starts to understand his dad. The way that they learn about each other, separately in different scenes, is well written. Maybe a little predictable, but still it feels good.

One warning, this book doesn’t complete the story. It ends with one of Rufus’ crazy bets that he wins, but the story moves on in Deadman’s Bluff, the next book in this series, so be prepared to wonder what’s going on at the end and ready to buy the next book.

Almost Normal

Back to karate last night with DJ after fitting in a decent amount of work yesterday. We got back to the house around 11:30 from Vegas and then dug into the pile of things that had come up while we were gone.

Then it was some laundry and Wipeout with D since Tia and Kendall were at the Justin Bieber concert last night.

Feel almost normal today.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Three days in Vegas, but now we’re back. We decided to stay an extra night, going out to dinner and then some gambling last night with friends. Stayed out late, too late in fact, and struggled to get up and make an 8am flight home. Glad that I didn’t drink any alcohol besides two beers at dinner.

I did play my first few hands of professional casino blackjack last night. I watched Tia play some craps and turn $80 into $23 or so fairly quickly. She was up and down across a few people rolling, but when a couple people crapped out, you could feel the energy run out of the table. She was up a bunch then and we should have walked away, but she was having fun. I think I had figured out a bit of how the game worked, but too many calculations for me to bother with.

She convinced me to try 21 and gave me her chips. Somewhat reluctantly I sat down, placed a bet and won. Cool, but I then lost a few. Tia sat down and I have her $35, all I had, and she started to win as I lost. I was down to $3, trying to decide what to do when Tia gave me $20 of her chips.

We did well then, with a friend between us, all of us going up. We walked away at 1:30 or so, with $240 after tipping the dealer. A good night, and a good way to end.

The flight was hard this morning, both of us tired, but it’s great to be home, and glad we stayed another night.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Two Days is a lot

I was exhausted last night. Too exhausted to survive the second night of a dinner and a show. I should have taken a nap yesterday after two late nights/early mornings along with running. We went to see “Ka” last night, a Cirque Soleil show and I fell asleep during most of it. I was exhausted to begin with, two cups of coffee not helping, and the idea of lots of dancing, music I’m unfamiliar with, and no story to follow disengaged me.

IT seemed everyone else enjoyed it to various degrees, some loving it, but it’s not for me. Cirque Soleil is not for me.

We’d started the day by getting up at 5:30 (Tia ) and 5:50 (me) for a hike. We had booked it with Hike This and I wasn’t sure what to expect. It turned out to be fantastic and the highlight of the trip. We drove out North of town to a BLM land area and parked the guy’s van. He loaded each of us up with a small backpack, water, sunscreen, lip balm, a cloth, and we headed out into the hills. I was thinking it would be a light hike, but it turned into more.

We went up on sandstone and had to use 3 and 4 pt contact, hands, in a number of places to work our way up. Close to two hours later we had summit’d a small peak in the area, with a fantastic view of Las Vegas in the distance. Quiet, calm, and a nice breeze kept us cool as we snacked on apples, cheese, and granola.

We headed down, a slightly different way that was, I thought, harder. Some tricky descents and a few that were hard for people shorter than me. I think it would have been quiet a challenge for me if I were a few inches shorter.

It was beautiful, and full of laughs with Tia racing different people, everyone joking, and even our guide telling us everything was 10 minutes away. A great time, and a great job. Our guide is booked up all the time, doing two hikes in the cooler months, and charging close to $100 a person. That’s the way to retire at 50.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Running in the Desert

I had planned on just working in treadmill jogs around our activities in Vegas, but at $25 a day for the fitness center I decided not to. So I ended up trying to figure out where to run.

The first day, around 3:30, I decided to try going down Las Vegas Blvd thinking it would be like London and I could get down the street. No way, only slightly less busy than at night and too hard to move. I finally ended up on Flamingo, near the hotel with this name and went about .5mi down it with little foot traffic.

So that became my route, from the Bellagio, down Flamingo, then turning behind Planet Hollywood down to the next block, about a mile out, mile back.

And warm. Glad I was drinking water before hand. 20 minutes in 105F weather is rough and I always came back very thirsty.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


A slow start to the day, laying around early, trying on clothes. Tia and I leave for Las Vegas tomorrow with some friends, who apparently want to go out. So they have us booked for some fancy dinner and show, jackets required.


I do not like jackets, but Tia wants to go, so I spent a bunch of time this morning trying on shirts and pants and jackets, seeing what would fit, trying to come up with something that looks good. I found that there are 2 or 3 pairs of pants that I can still wear, so I grabbed one, along with a navy jacket and a couple of shirts. Now I need some collar stays and a good ironing tonight to get ready.

That being done, I decided to run. Delaney was asking if he could treadmill today, so I decided to let him and hit a long run. He wasn’t ready anyway, and I was, so I headed out down the road, Nike + and iMapMyRun app, both on separate devices, cruising down the road. Both came in close on the mapping, and I spent 30+ minutes doing a 3.5+ mile run. Yeah.

I was tempted to go lay down, and even more tempted when it start to sprinkle, but we’ve been talking about the play area for months, and Tia started yesterday. So I decided to put in an hour or so and cleaned out most of it. Weeds removed, and it needs a good spraying, but my back was getting sore and tired, so I stopped.

And fired up the tractor. Tia asked if I could try and scrape down her corners of the arena of weeds, so I spent 20 minutes driving around, trying to clear things out. It looks better, but not nearly as good as a box blade with teeth would do. Still you do what you can do, and I was trying to scrape things, but not dig down too deep into dirt.

Now I’m done. Or I feel done. Tired, sore, ready for a break.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


My neck has been bugging me for a few days. It was better yesterday after a night on my pillow and taking it easy, but got slightly worse through the day with too much activity. I’d like to try and get some things done today, but I’m worried about overdoing it.

Last night when we went to eat dinner, it hurt to swallow large bites. I think the pressure of my esophagus was pushing on muscles in my neck, which pushed on sore nerves and made them angrier. That sucks, and I look forward to getting older less and less with things like this. We also went to see The Last Airbender and it was tough. We were down in front and I had to try and support my neck with hands to look up and not feel pain. So I had either tense shoulders that ached, or neck pain.

Better this morning, but I think I’ll take it easy today, a light jog and not much else so it’s better for tomorrow.

The Famous Scene

What does this make you think of?

I woke up this morning, walked downstairs, and saw Kendall watching TV. There was a factory scene, one room, with a conveyor belt at the front of the room running across. It was moving, with small pieces of what looked like chocolate running across is and two people madly scrambling to grab and pack.

Immediately my first thought was a black and white scene from my past. I told Kendall “That’s from I Love Lucy.”

“No, it’s Drake and Josh, “ she informed, and she was correct. A classic scene, from 50 years ago, redone for the next generation. For the record, I think Lucy was funnier.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Book #50 - Origin

62512420[1] What would you do if you found out the US government had Satan in an underground facility in the south west desert. That’s the premise of Origin, where a scientist, a linguist, is recruited by the President of the US on an urgent mission. To figure out how to communicate.

When he arrives, he literally finds a devil, a creature that is larger than humans, with horns, contained in a facility way underground. The beast is fed sheep that it seemingly kills and then brings back to life, and a small staff of scientists are working to understand more.

It’s a fantastic story. One that really makes you wonder as a priest and rabbi, various scientists, all try to wrestle with the dilemma of this possibly really being a devil. With powers that seem to be able to create or heal life, I found myself wondering what I would do.

Of course things go wrong, as each scientist is damaged (how else can they live alone for years under the desert) and they make decisions to further their own aims of leaving the facility. They’re manipulated by the demon creature, and you might predict what happens.

But it’s still a fun read, and it’s wide open to a sequel.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

This is how I roll

Beautiful girl, beautiful ride

Book #49 - Containment

A short book, Containment was on sale from Amazon for $0.99, so I bought it. And I loved it, one of those “Shutter Island” or “Sixth Sense”  twists in the book.

We open on Venus, with a closed environment and one of the citizens waking up after an accident with some of his memory gone. He finds his wife pregnant. That should be a good thing, but it’s not. Their entire habitat is built to support 1000 people. They have 1000 and the baby would be 1001. With a delicate balance of oxygen and resources, our hero set to work on a way to somehow get artificial photosynthesis to work.

We find out about the habitat, supposedly built when Earth was having population issues. A certain number of people were sent over, and then somewhat forgotten. They rarely get supplies from Earth, and after some years had a set of children. The kids all great up together, learning to work with computers and being groomed to take over jobs inside the habitat when they graduated.

It’s a fascinating look at how a society in a closed system might evolve. It’s great writing and drew me right in.

As the book advances, there is a great twist later, and it’s one worth reading to find out. I’d love to see another book from this author and hope he gets one done.

Book #48 - Ragamuffin

62608277[1] I ran across Tobias Buckell online and read his blog. We corresponded a bit and I was impressed with his thoughtfulness.

So I bought two of his books, one of which was Ragamuffin. It’s a science fiction book, far in the future, but with a mix of space adventure and historical repetition. The book opens in an exciting manner, a bionic-like woman that is on the run after assassinating some member of an alien race, on some alien planet where humans are kept like pets. She manages to escape out into space, but is pursued. She is trying to get to the rebellion of humans at one of the galaxy.

The book then jumps context, going to the captain of the freighter where our assassin is trying to find passage. It jumps back again, and I’m not clear if we have another set of humans with different alliances, or some other species. In any case we have people that have their mind wiped by the aliens that rule this section of the galaxy.

About halfway through, the book goes through another transformation as we jump to a planet where humans are semi-technical, but also live in an Aztec or Mayan like civilization. Priest and human sacrifice are there, but we find two enhanced humans, like our assassin, that have lived for hundreds of years there. Apparently this planet is cut off from the rest of the galaxy by a closed wormhole.

A lot happens in the book, and I’m amazed by how well Tobias pulls the different clashes of this world together. This is his second book and I would like to go back and read the first one, to better understand the framework of this time. I did find it hard to follow at times what was happening with so many different groups, species, cultures, it was confusing. Still, as I muddled through I found myself really enjoying this book.