Saturday, October 30, 2010

Shooting Range

A friend came over today and brought this:


It’s an AR-15 and we’ve been trying to get together for a few weeks so Delaney could shoot it. It was just me, my friend, and his daughter at first, so we setup some hay bales in the gully with a piece of OSB in front and some targets. There’s a good back drop to the East and we were shooting down into the gully a bit.

I had our .22 and his AR-15 and we shot for awhile, clustering shots, though not necessarily hitting what we were aiming at. He also had a .357 Magnum that we shot a few times as well. Surprisingly not a lot of kick on that.

When Delaney arrived after lunch, we went back out and he got a kick out of things. I took a few 2x4s down and sunk them in the ground to support the wood and we shot at targets a bit more. Then we put some plastic juice jugs up there, and that was fun. We realized that we all weren’t great shooters, though Kirk nailed one well with the .357 and Delaney creased the top of a juice bottle and the cap flew off.

Some good fun, despite the wind. I knocked off to work a bit and Delaney took his airsoft pistol and rifle out there to have a bit more fun. I have both guns, so we’ll probably go shoot more in the am.

Volleyball Camp

Kendall started another volleyball camp this morning. This one is a 5 or 6 week one, once a week at the middle school. We struggled a bit to get up this morning, but we managed to get there on time. Kendall kept telling me she wasn’t sure she could do it and her foot hurt, but once she walked on the court, it miraculously healed and she was able to play.

She did well, a little practice on setting needed, but she served and bumped well.

World Wide Tech Day

I just finished my presentation for World Wide Tech Day 2010. I did The Modern Resume, and I think it went well. My timing was OK, finishing right at the 0:55 mark. The presentation is really more of a 75 minute one, but I ran a little quick over Livemeeting, without many questions and without the visual feedback, it’s easy to go a bit quicker.

They had asked me to do this in August, and I agreed, saving this day, and here it was.

Now I need another beer to relax the throat.

Friday, October 29, 2010

My Bucket List

I actually built on in 1999 and called it a Life List. Over the years I’ve tried to work on the list each year, knocking off something, but I also learned something. I learned that as I grew, and my life was more enjoyable, some of the things on my list no longer matter. I haven’t removed them because I spent some time on it and maybe they’ll come back later, but right now I’m pretty happy with my life.

However I saw Brent Ozar’s list recently, and a few more (Aaron Bertrand, Jason Brimhall), so I decided to update mine with a short list for my career.

In no particular order:

Write a business book – It could be on business in general, professional development, or something else.

Write a piece of software – I’ve done some development work, and written some utilities, but I’d like to write something that is useful to others, probably something on the web. SQL Saturday is my template, but I’d like to do something similar, but in a different area.

Work for a non-profit – borrowed from my other list. Habitat for Humanity is at the top of my list, but maybe a local food bank will get me for a significant amount of time at some point.

Mentor someone, explicitly – I’ve done some of this without meaning to, and people have recognized it. I’d like to ask someone if I can, or have them ask me and have it reach some type of completion status.

Drive a Race Car – I’m fairly conservative and careful, and actually am tempted to pull my “skydiving” off my other list. But reading Brent’s list made me think about getting on a racetrack for a day or two. I actually investigated this a few years ago.

Drive around the country and see all 50 states – I’ve driven across the US, multiple times in fact. However I’d like to get an RV and just cruise at some point. Likely it would be a 5th wheel living quarters trailer so my wife can bring her horses, but that would be great.

There’s likely more, and I know that my old list could use a re-vamping, but this will do for now.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Less Answers

I was talking with Kyle as we drove home tonight from the light rail and he said he was confused. Why were so many people believing something that was wrong. He had this belief in one area, and felt that so many people couldn’t see the facts and didn’t realize that they were wrong. We talked about it, and I talked about some of the places where people would interpret things differently, and why some of his “facts” weren’t really facts, or maybe they weren’t They could easily be those wonderful things we call statistics, and twisted to suit various positions.

I said that I felt that I had less answers, despite learning more answers every year. There’s so little black and white that I see in the world, and less all the time. More and more I feel that there are shades of gray to almost everything, depending on perspective.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


We’re heading back to the Caribbean next year, with Tia winning another club trip from her company for her amazing performance. This time we will go to the Bahamas in February, to the Atlantis resort.

Atlantis-Bahamas And we’re going alone. No kids. We debated about taking the kids, or at least the little ones. We don’t want to pull Kyle out of college (it’s during the week). Delaney is doing fantastic in school, and Kendall is OK, but it’s expensive to fly out, and we need some Steve and Tia time. Plus we are thinking to bring the kids back to the East Coast in the summer.

So we have pinged the nanny we used last year and registered with Tia’s company. They’ll get the reservations sorted and we need to grab airplane tickets. Then we’ll have a great week alone, just the two of us.

Looking forward to getting away with my lovely wife.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cello Delivery

Yesterday Delaney forgot to take his cello to school. Neither of us remembered after the weekend and so he had to “shadow” practice without one in school. Today he remembered just as we got to the bus stop and it was too late to go get it. He asked if I’d bring it to school later. I said I wasn’t sure, having a call today, but I’d see.

I don’t really like to bail out the kids too much when they forget stuff, since I think they should learn. But Delaney is doing excellent in school and trying. He gets upset and nervous when he doesn’t do well on a test, and while we’re trying to get him to keep stuff in perspective, I also like that he strives to do well.

So I finished some work and ran the cello up there. He’s proud of his straight As and I’m happy to help a little.

Tia ended up on her own errand, giving her Dad a ride on an errand, so this was “help the family” day.

Book #65 – Worth Dying For

77692140[1] The latest Jack Reacher novel, which I wasn’t going to buy right away, but it came out quickly as a $9.99 book. So I grabbed it. The last book, 61 Hours, ended with Jack Reacher trying to escape from an underground bunker that was on fire and likely to explode. Unlike the other novels, you have no idea what happens to him. So I was looking forward to Worth Dying For.

I’ll say up front that I don’t think 61 Hours or Worth Dying For are quite up to the excitement or standards of the previous books. I think Gone Tomorrow wasn’t great as well. Maybe I’m expecting too much, or used to the “Jack Reacher forumula,” but it felt like these weren’t quite as good as Bad Luck and Trouble, Die Trying, or One Shot.

In any case, Reacher is still in the middle of the country, hitchhiking through Nebraska, trying to get to Virginia to find the Marine he dealt with in 61 Hours. He’s stuck in a small county, controlled by a family that has all the famers scared. As usual Reacher butts in to help someone. In this case he convinces a drunk doctor that has has to go visit a woman that called him. When Reacher sees the woman, who he thinks was punched by her husband, he finds the husband in steakhouse and breaks his nose.

From there the story takes its turns and twists, with the Duncan family trying to keep their business going and remain in control of the county and also punish Reacher.

It’s not a bad read, just lacking some of the excitement and twists of the other ones. It feels like Child lets too much information our early, and it’s a simple plot, not with the twists of many of the others.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Book #64 - The Second Ship

34614600[1] The Second Ship got recommended to me on Amazon and I grabbed a sample. It starts in the 1940s with two ships crashing to Earth and starting the Roswell rumors. Actually the government only finds one and has it stored in a secret facility, being investigated. A scientist discovers a way to get inside and then the story jumps forward.

Three teenagers discover a second ship in a desert canyon outside Los Alamos. They each put on a headset they find in it and experience tremendous pain. However they aren’t injured, and slowly realize that the headsets have awakened more power in their minds. They are using more than the 10% that we normally use.

The book alternates between the teenagers, the scientists on the project, and spies in the NSA. The teens are growing in power as they discover new abilities to figure out complex math, increase athletic abilities and more. The scientist is up to no good, though we never quite know what, and just get hints. The spies are trying to figure out who accessed their secret NSA network, something the teenagers learn to do as they become super smart.

I didn’t have high hopes, but got drawn into the book and could hardly put it down. I even grabbed the second one in the series as soon as I was done.


I have been meaning to try and get the west pasture fence done. While Tia was gone last week I put up a charger and checked it a few times, but it wasn’t holding a charge. This past weekend we decided to get a new one and then we can mess with or test the old one. I set it outside Saturday, letting it charge for a day or so, thinking I’d get it out there this week.

It’s supposed to charge for 4-5 days, but with rain coming down today, and a falling temperature, I decided to just check it. We could use the other shelter in the west, and I figured I could just screw in a few things in the rain. It read a strong charge, so I decided to go out there. I packed up a bunch of stuff: nails, screws, the new spring gate, drill, hammer, and charger and headed out. It was a lot to carry, so I borrowed the hay wheelbarrow and ran everything out.

It was fairly easy to screw the new gate into the posts. It’s two plastic holders, a handle, and a spring that stretches easily across the 12 feet. Once that was up, I set about stripping insulation from the wire I had and cutting pieces to connect the charger to the electric ribbon, the grounding rod, and the new spring. That went easily, even with a pocketknife. I’d forgotten my wire pliers and didn’t want to walk back.

Then it was time to test things. The energizer read full charge and I could hear it clicking. So I grabbed the spring and…


My boots have decent insulation, so I decided to just touch the ground with my fingers. I’ll admit that normally it doesn’t bother me to get a little chock, but I was slightly worried about the wet ground. Things were working as I got a better then expected shock. Next I decided to check the fence and again, nothing when I grabbed it. Seeing the grounding rod right there, and not really wanting to bend over, I grabbed the rod.

Mistake. That’s a very, very efficient path and I managed to shock myself enough to jump slightly. Note to self: that’s not a good way to check things.

However everything was OK, despite my 16gauge wire. I need a better contact with the grounding rod, so I’ll go get another connector as well as some 14 gauge wire as well and change the connections back out to a more secure connection.

At least we can now put horses out there and not have the fence destroyed. Next project: another shelter in the south.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bass Pro Shops

All day at Bass Pro Shops for Delaney and I. We left at 8am this morning for a fundraiser, getting back at about 6:30 tonight. Delaney helped cook and sell hamburgers and hot dogs while I was handling the dutch ovens, demonstrating apple cobbler for people. I did 10 batches, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it felt like I was getting charcoal going and mixing ingredients all day.

Fortunately we had good weather, and a decent crowd. Delaney should have earned at least a quarter’s worth of dues with his efforts.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Books for my girl

We had Trick or Treat Street today for Kendall at her school. She dressed up in her costume, walked around the hallways, all decorated for Halloween, and got candy from various stops. It's been a highlight for her for a few years, and usually Delaney. However Delaney wasn't that interested this year.

Kendall got to see some old teachers and she smiled a lot, gave hugs, and had a good time. There was a bouncy house in the gym as well, which she took advantage of along with a face painter. She's not a big face girl, but she did like getting a tiger on her upper arm.

Then it was book fair time. Kendall has been excited for a week about the book fair, showing me her list of about 20 books almost every day. I let her buy one book the other day and she loved it. She read The Two Bobbies about 4 or 5 times to me. And she was just as excited to get books today.

She ran around the library, bringing me back books, and piled up 10 of them. Tia told her she could have 6, so she whittled them down, finally deciding to get a Leopard book instead of the one about the cat in the library. However she only had 5 then. She wanted to go look at the writing journals and pads that they have out. So while I searched for the proper places to return books, she examined the various writing pads, journals, and other girly items up front.

Just as I returned to pay for things, Tia told me that Kendall had changed her mind. She would rather have a book than a pad, so I went back for the cat in the library book. That was very cool for me, to have Kendall want a book instead of some trinket. I returned to find her asking for a small glittery pad, but when Tia said she'd have to put a book back, she dropped that also, electing to just get 6 books that she could read.

Finally, our last kid is a reader, which is great. All of our kids are enjoying books which is something I love.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Almost Perfect

First quarter grades came in for Delaney. Once again he’s rocked the house. 4 A’s and 2 A+’s. Amazing. I was a good student, but not in that league. I usually had a B or two, and even a C a few times. So far Delaney is cruising through middle school.

King Tut

Another school field trip, this one with Delaney for middle school. They’ve been studying Egypt in social studies, so they had a trip planned to the Denver Art Museum to view the King Tutankhamen exhibit. I had told Delaney I’d go about 3 weeks ago, and evidently I was a chaperone since he came back last night and told me I needed to ride the bus with him. I wasn’t thrilled with that, but I warned both he and Kendall that they’d need to be independent this morning.

So after waking up Delaney, I headed out at 6:15 to start feeding horses. Fortunately they were all there today, and I ran out two wheelbarrows before coming back to the house and getting Delaney to the bus. Then is was waking up Kendall, making sure she was getting dressed and then headed out to toss another load. Kendall was good and ready to go when I got back.

I checked email briefly and then took Kendall to school before heading to the middle school. I wasn’t sure what I’d find, and I semi-regretted agreeing to this. The whole 7th grade, about 200 kids, were going. We filled 4 buses and we had loud middle school kids chatting away and making for a long ride. Delaney didn’t even sit with me, preferring his friends.

The museum was a lot of standing around, and then a race through the exhibit. They kept us moving since there were so many kids, and we didn’t get much time to see things. Two of the 4 I had also were trying to race through, not very interested in reading about any of the exhibits. Delaney tried to slow them a bit so he could read things, and we compromised, but it still felt fast. I think we stood around waiting to get in for more time than we were in the gallery.

It’s an interesting exhibit and amazing to see how many pharaohs Egypt had in the various dynasties. Lots of them, and the boy king was just one. Delaney said he liked it as we ate lunch in Civic Center Park downtown. Then it was a long ride home. Delaney sat with me this time, but read the whole way back.

Glad to be with Delaney, but that was a long day and jammed me up. Tomorrow is going to be a work day for me.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Last Practice

Tonight was the last practice for Kendall’s volleyball team. We ended up with a big scrimmage, and Delaney joined in, playing on the parent’s side as we went back and forth, trying to give the girls one last practice chance.

It was fun, and Kendall did well. She had some mis-hits, but she was trying for the ball and getting there. She did have a few good hits and a bunch of serves for points. The parents weren’t a lot better than the kids, and had a lot of mis-hits as well.

Delaney had a great time, and it makes me think we ought to try and find a boy’s team for him. Not sure he wants to play with the girls, but he’s happy to help and play with them. Now I need to sign up Kendall for the Elizabeth league this next month.

Still Sore

The knee is a little more sore today, and I’m not sure why. I tested it a touch last night, but tried not to push. However tonight it felt more sore, so I slowed down more. My back was also tight, and I think I might have pulled something last weekend. It was slightly sore Mon, but better last night. However it was stiff today. Maybe all the chores haven’t helped the last couple days, dragging hay around.

Life is tough as I get older.

Thusday-pa-looza Fail

I was so looking forward to Thursday-pa-looze, as Tia has dubbed it. Who would have thought that school starting late one day a week, by just one hour would make a difference, but it’s an exciting day and we all look forward to it. Most everyone gets to sleep in as much as they need to.

However today the doorbell rang early. A neighbor found two of the horses wandering near the main road, corralled them, and locked them up in my neighbor’s pasture. So much for a good start. I got Delaney to school, got Kendall going, and then worked a bit since I knew my day was going to be semi wrecked.

And it was. I had trash to get out, which I did as I took Kendall to school and then right after.  That included picking up a can that the neighbor’s dog knocked over and getting lots of boxes out. With the wind blowing pretty good, I was cursing a bit as I had to pick up cans, and chase trash. The cans fell out of the car a couple times as well and it’s a good thing we live far away from everyone because my potty mouth was out.

I fed the main horses, and then got halters and drove to the neighbor’s, nearly 1/2mile away. I managed to get the halters on the horses, two of our young boarders. It was a bit nerve wracking since one is a 1 year old and sometimes skittish. One is 2, but he’s huge. And mischievous. I think it was him that opened the gate, and also smashed the center support into pieces.

I walked them back, which was slow. They kept stopping, walking at different paces, and the baby kept wanting to get behind the other one. A five minute walk for me was more like 15 frustrating, and nerve-wracking minutes for me.

Finally I got them locked up. There was still hay on the ground, which is good and bad. Good because they weren’t hungry. Bad because obviously they are willing to break things to get out. Their water was out as well, so I started that, walked back to the barn, got more hay for them and brought it out. I also dragged more hay out to the others since I wasn’t sure how much time I’ll have this afternoon to do more.

10:30 before I got back to my desk to work.

Not a good Thursday.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ranch Boy

Once again. Tia left for Las Vegas yesterday, and after getting home from Boulder last night, I walked the track 3 times to drop hay for the horses. Typically it hasn’t been a lot of work when she’s gone, but 9 v the 6 or 7 last year is a big difference. Especially when they’re separated out to the various pastures. Adding in the need to fill two large water buckets and I burned a good 30-40 minutes today outside and that was without a need to muck!

This is looking like a long week of chores for me. Especially as the horses were in the barn last night. The back wasn’t locked, and so I found three horses eating hay, making a mess, and pooping in the barn. I cleaned a little up, but more to do tonight.


My little girl is something. She took her whole allowance from this week, $5, and put it in an envelope along with a letter for the ASPCA. She had me send it off, and I’m hoping for a good response. Here’s a copy of her letter:


In case you can’t read it, here is the text:

October 11, 2010


Hi ASPCA, my name is Kendall. I am Atieh’s daughter. I love animals. I donated the money. Using my allowance. I can give you money. I have 17 animals. My Mom owns and boards nine horses. It is 6:52 and four are standing out my window. They are Jemini, Tina, Reo, and Zarha. The other horses are Starlight, Yurecka, Eemler, Cowboy, and Rain. I have three dogs. Deuce, Oscer, and Kolhy. Three cats: Jewl, Nero, and Milky Way. Jewel and Nero are barn cats. Two guinea pigs: Tiffany and Trixy. OK all my animals done. Now time to learn about me. I love animals more than anything. My favorite animal is the wolf. My favorite domestic animal is the German Sheperd. I love them because they were bred with wolves. So next time you ship to my Mom, write a letter about yourself. Thanks you!

Your New Friend,

Kendall Jones

Monday, October 18, 2010

Better and Worse

I was feeling better tonight, and tried a few more things tonight at karate, getting the right knee to bend a bit. However when I started to squat, I realized that I pushed a touch too far. So I’m healing, but still a ways to go.

The ankle felt better, I worked the boxing hard, and had a nice sweat.

We also took Kendall to the podiatrist today. She has a couple bumps on one foot and we weren’t sure if there was something wrong. The doctor said that two on the inside are likely just a little tendonitis or soreness from compensating from the one on the outside. That one he thinks is likely a bit of bursitis and recommended some new shoes and orthotics that will hopefully just correct it. Glad it was nothing big to worry about.

So Kendall got new shoes tonight, and she was very happy.

A Great Ending

It was another busy weekend, though not as crazy as the last few. A sleepover, Tia heading out to meet with friends for horses and various chores for me. We had planned on heading out Saturday night for date night, but I was feeling sick by the time we finished everything and ended up going to sleep early.

So last night we knocked off chores early and headed out. Tia was hoping to get us to see The Town, but the times weren’t good. We’d ended up coming home late and the kids would be up late. Plus a movie doesn’t give us much time to spend with each other. So we went and had a nice meal together, chatting about life and love. It’s a nice time together, which we don’t get enough of in a busy life.

Hopefully we’ll go out again next weekend.


This is actually amazing. A talk on what YouTube does with copyright and how they view it, from TED. It’s interesting, and there are two things in there to watch. Note, that I caught this link from Jeff Atwood (@CodingHorror) on his blog.

The first thing is that YouTube scans over 100 years of video every day. 100 years! That’s freaking amazing. That is an incredible amount of video processing that’s taking place, and a low of power being spent to enforce copyright. Forget about the legal issues for a minute and think about the technology. That is just amazing.

The second thing in the talk is that content owners can, and are choosing, to not block this content, but rather use it to generate some benefits from them. They ought to be able to receive some benefits, and I agree, but knocking down some kid’s video because he used a copyrighted song seems silly. Especially as in the case of the wedding video, you never know what will go viral and what benefits you’ll get. Including selling more copies of your stuff.

However the thing that worries me is that we are now not looking out for Fair Use. If a copyright holder wants to block their content, can we still get our 30sec of use of it in a video we make? Or a mashup?

7231[1] The copyright office doesn’t necessarily define the fair use guidelines, but I think they need to. We ought to have some idea of what portion of audio, video, imagery, and text can be used, with citation. Even with automatic citation, that may benefit the copyright holder.

We publish books here through Simple Talk Publishing. We typically offer books for free as marketing materials here on the site, and also sell them on Amazon and other retailers. Regularly I find these republished, or even for sale, on the Internet on other sites. I understand people wanting to share, but ultimately it’s a problem for us if all our books become too widely distributed for free. I know there are a lot of debates on piracy, and I’m not completely sure where I stand. I don’t actively worry about piracy, but I do act to have things removed when I find it.

We need to do something here to both protect the copyright holders, but also allow people to reuse ideas and build on them. I certainly wouldn’t mind someone republishing portions of my work, or building their own knowledge publications based on it, just don’t wholesale copy what I’ve done without giving me any credit.

I think YouTube has a good balance here, though I’d like to see more efforts from content owners to share and allow others to build on their work.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Book #63 - The Accidental Billionaires

77692098[1] When I first saw the previews for The Social Network, I thought, “really, a Facebook movie.” I knew it was based on The Accidental Billionaires, but didn’t think about buying the book. Then a few weeks later I heard Ben Mezrich on the Jim Rome show and bought the book that day. I’ve read a few other books that Mr. Mezrich has written, like Bringing Down the House, and I like his work. So I bought the book.

Most of the book seems more centered on Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of Facebook, and that makes sense. He was interviewed for the book, along with many others, but Mark Zuckenberg, the CEO, wasn’t. I had no idea that this kid was so young, and I was surprised to hear that Facebook has been around less than a decade. Lots of interesting things in the book, but it’s a classic story.

A genius at Harvard starts building this website around social stuff, it takes off, he becomes famous. What you learn is that he originally hacked together a photo comparison application at Harvard, and hacked into various dormitory databases to get photos of everyone. He was called before a review board, but managed to now get into trouble.

We also learn that the $65mm payout to a couple of other graduates, two twins that rowed crew, was allegedly because they had asked Mark to work on a social site for them. I’m not sure they had a great case for the lawsuit, but I’m sure that since Facebook is worth billions, with a “b”, that they were just paid off.

The co-founder, who was estranged and sued as well, put up the initial money to get the site going, but got pushed out one summer when Mark Zuckenberg went to live in CA with Sean Parker, of Napster and Plaxo fame (didn’t know that).

Also, Facebook was orginally after the Harvard books listing students.

It’s not a great story, but an interesting read, especially for those people that wonder how Facebook came about. The book ends just as Facebook takes off.

The Stack

DLA11I think that our living room at one point looked like this stack.

Well, maybe not quite that large, but I remember my brother and I saving our allowance, earning money, and going regularly to K-Mart and Sears to buy more games for our Atari system.

I know that I had at least 15 of these at one point and it seemed like we had hours and hours of entertainment from this system.

My favorites? I’d have to say that Missile Command and Space Invaders. I can still recall that Space Invaders theme music, almost Jaws-like, getting faster as the invaders got closer to the bottom.

Someone posted a link on Twitter today, with a bunch of old ads that existed back in the day. Quite a change from the various ads that I see my kids viewing today for games.

A Collection of Vintage Video Game Ads

Kindle v iPad

I don’t have either, but I ran across this comparison on the devices. It says get both, if you’re a consumer of media and culture. To some extent I do think that it’s got a perspective that makes sense, and if you can afford a $500 iPad (or more), then you can probably add in a $140 Kindle without worrying about it.

I had a Gen 1 Kindle, and I have an iPhone that is my primary way to read. I read on flights, and while I do take breaks and play some games, I think it’s a matter of attention span. Books that are really, really good hold my attention, and I won’t move on to anything else.

Books that I struggle with, or require more thinking, I switch off at times. When I read business books, I sometimes need to think about something, so I’ll close the Kindle app for a minute, maybe play a game, and let my mind wander with what I’ve read.

There definitely is a difference in reading on an LCD and e-ink. It doesn’t bother me, or it doesn’t appear to, but I understand that it might bother some people, and if that’s the case, a Kindle/Nook/eReader makes more sense.

I’m not sure if I’ll get an iPad. It has to function in my life and add something to it, and I’m not sure it’s that much better than an iPhone. Talking with someone recently that carries an iPhone, iPad, and laptop, they tended to use the iPad regularly, but it didn’t remove the need for the other devices. We’ll see if I make a case in my mind to get one.

However you do it, go read. It’s good for you.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Denver Museum of Nature and Science

A field trip today for 4th grade, and Kendall and I were on it, going down to the museum. I was worried I’d be late with a hectic morning trying to get hay out, but a lot of traffic on I-25 made everyone late, and so I arrived just before they went inside.

Kendall has been to the museum twice in the last month or so, and this wasn’t a big deal. She wanted to rush through, and had specific things she wanted to see in the space section. However we had to stay with our group, meandering as they did to the planetarium movie, then the Amazon special display with pirahna, and a mock up of an Anaconda (shudder). We got started in the body health section, but ran out of time with lunch coming. However we sat down at a heart monitor and my rate was 61 across a minute, dipping into the 50s quite a few times. That’s pretty cool.

We ate lunch outside, Kendall happy to sit with me and not her friends, though when she left with the bus, she was chatting with another girl. So she’s social.

A crazy day for me, and I still need to work a bit as well as go get more horse chores done. Then it’s off to Delaney’s concert tonight for orchestra.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


It felt crazy busy tonight. First trying to knock out work for tomorrow before we left, getting done at 5:10. Then racing outside and trying to get hay thrown for both young horses that were locked up, checking their water, and a quick scoop of some manure from their stalls. Then getting hay out to the other horses, with it blowing around me in the wind.

Fortunately Delaney got himself into the car with his Scout stuff and then we went to pick up Kendall. Always a little delay there as Kendall is slow to leave while the leader wants to talk to me. That done, we raced to Elizabeth to get some food for the kids, Big R for dog food, and then off to Boy Scouts.

I was hoping to get Kendall’s reading and homework done, but I got called into a Board of Review. I’ve been saying I would do one, and have begged off the last few meetings since I’ve been busy, so tonight I agreed. I got stuck with 3 in a row, and we didn’t get out of the meeting until 8:30. Kendall hadn’t done homework, so we had that to do, plus a shower when we got home.

Delaney was more self-directed. He managed to get three major things signed off on First Class with just a little prodding from me early on. He’s down to 2 small things and then his own Scoutmaster conference and Board of Review. I was worried he might not make First Class by December, but he’s almost there. He ought to finish in the next two or three meetings we make.

Google Wind

transmission_270x229[1] I’m not sure Google is a better company than Microsoft or some of the other extremely large companies that get caught up in dominating a market. However they are engaged in some interesting projects, and I have to think that the founders, or someone high up in management is really looking to solve some problems in the world.

Google is funding a power backbone for offshore wind farms. Essentially an undersea cable to carry electricity from offshore windmills. IT looks like it will go from near my hometown of Norfolk up to the New Jersey/New York area.

I’m not sold this is the best way to get wind power from the coasts, but it’s worth trying. I’m glad that Google is willing to make the $5B investment in it and try to jumpstart some offshore farms. I know there are some nice coast guard installations about 7mi offshore that I used to dive near.

My Daughter Is Amazing

I went to Kendall’s room yesterday to ask her if she was doing homework. She told me she was writing a letter and then she’d read. A few minutes later she showed up in my room with a letter in an ASCPA envelope and her book to read.

We had gotten another ASPCA fundraiser letter the other day and Kendall grabbed it, going to her room to get some money and send it off. A month or so ago she scraped together $1.86 to send off. This time she took her whole weekly allowance, $5, and put it with her letter in an envelope. The image is here, and it’s amazing.


Here’s the text, misspellings and all:

October 11, 2010


Hi ASPCA my name is Kendall. I am Atieh’s daughter. I love anomals. I donat the money. Useing my allowencse. I can give you money. I have 17 animals. My mom owns and boards nine horses. It is 6:53 and foud are standing out my window. They are Jeminie, Tina, Reo, and Zarha. The other hoses are Starlit, Yureecka, Eemler, Cowboy, and Tain. I have three dogs. Deuce, Oscer, and Kolhy. Three cars, Jewle, Nero, and the house cat, Milky Way. Jewle and Nero are barn cats. Two guine pigs, Tiffiny and Trixy. OK all my animals done. Now time to learn about me. I love animals more than anything. My favorite animal is the wolf. My favorite domestic animal is the German Sheperd. I love htem because they were bred with wolfs. So next time you ship to my mom, write a letter about yourself. Thank you!

Your New Friend,

Kendall Jones

She is really amazing, and I helped her get this in the mail yesterday. We’ll see if she gets a response.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Is the iPad Magical

Essays like this one from Dan Bricklin make me want to go get one and decide for myself.

I think he has a great perspective on the iPad. It is about the user, and not the application or the content. I love the Kindle app, not because of the books, but because I can conveniently carry around a lot of books, and flip between them. I can read what I want, when I want. While navigation inside the book can be a little cumbersome, I’m learning to make it work better.

I’m still holding off, perhaps waiting for some news of what might change in the iPad before I think about getting one. That, and hoping prices come down a bit with the next generation. If I had a great business case, I’d get one, but right now it still feels like a bit of a toy to me.


We finally got some rain last night, and as we did a Sunday night shopping at Wal-Mart, we could hear it pounding on the roof. Back to sun today, but it was good to get some rain on the ground and soften the soil. I need to plant a few things in the ground, so the rain is good.

It also gives me hope that I still might end up skiing this month.

Book #62 - Trapped

Another creepy Jack Kilborn/J.A. Konrath book. However I like his writing style, and the strange situations he comes up with. He pulls no punches and there isn't always a very happy ending. Someone survives, but you're never sure who that will be, and without a doubt some people that you are cheering for will die.

Trapped starts with a couple heading to a deserted island with their infant and a group of troubled teenagers that they have been working with to rehabilitate. It's a strange situation to begin with, and I was stunned to read about an infant at the beginning, but apparently their center is closing and this is a last weekend camping trip for the kids. It's supposedly a deserted island in north Lake Michigan, and the captain tries to warn them not to go, but they go. Typical horror movie beginning.

When they arrive and start to setup, the husband starts with a story of a deserted prison on the island that had prisoners escape, take over the island, and turn to cannibalism. Then the husband screams and falls back into the woods. He doesn't come out, and the main character, the wife, thinks he's playing a game.

However things go quickly wrong. There are cannibals on the island and they start to pick off various members of the group, all of whom are somewhat disturbed in their own ways. Some are trying to get their lives together, some are just biding time and looking to go back to some criminal activity. There are a few that you're not necessarily sorry to see die.

It's a fantastic story, totally unbelievable, but creepy and likely you won't be looking to go camping in any remote areas anytime soon. I enjoyed it, though it can be disturbing in places. Not for kids or anyone that doesn't like horror movies like Saw.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Back Home

A fairly short weekend down at Peaceful Valley for Delaney and I. We came back early today, after a fun time and fairly good weather. A few sprinkles last night, but the weather held and started to rain as we drove away around 9:30.

The first night was cold for me, and I was tempted to skip Say night. But I manned up and convinced Delaney to stay when he wanted to leave. I think it’s good for him to be a part of the whole Scout trips, not cutting out too early. Fortunately last night was better, and it felt like it even warmed up a little overnight.

Now I’m tired, and glad that we likely won’t have guests today since I am beat. I need a shower after knocking out a quick run.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Camping Prep

It seems like the Boy Scouts haven’t been camping in a long time. I guess Delaney went in June, but it’s been since April that the Troop has gone out. However that changes this weekend with the fall camporee. We’re heading down to Peaceful Valley, just SE of here, and I need to get packed up. I had Delaney pack a bunch of stuff last night, but I need to load the car, and make sure I’m set.

I used to have lists of stuff to bring, and started on some when Kyle was camping, but there was a long time in between the boys and I’m not sure I’m ready. Some bad weather had us not stay overnight in April, and so it’s been a year since I’ve been out.

Hopefully I won’t forget anything.

I am a little disappointed with the fire ban. The lack of rain means only propane stoves, and I was hoping to do some dutch oven meals, but that’s on hold for now.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A No-No

I didn’t watch the game, but I saw some highlights after putting kids to bed. Halladay throwing a no-hitter in Game one of the NLDS this year. Most of the highlights weren’t amazing, but the last play was. The catcher falling to his knees to get a slow dribbler and making the throw to first to seal it. That’s a throw that I see catchers mess up all the time in my league, and probably most often in the majors. It’s hard to throw it and not hit the runner.

Only the second no hitter, but an amazing stat. In all of the history of baseball, no-hitters have been .1% of games. In the playoffs, across all baseball history, no hitters are .2%.

That’s amazing.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Rice Cooker - Orange Chicken

I broke down and bought a rice cooker last week. I had one years ago and loved it. I got one about two years ago and Kyle left the pot somewhere on one of his cooking adventures, so I decided to replace it.

I almost grabbed one the other day from Kohls, but decided to make sure I got a good one. I researched a bit and settled on a Panasonic SR-DE102 Fuzzy-Logic 5-Cup Electronic Rice Cooker/Warmer,White from Amazon. It arrived just as I was leaving town, so I didn’t use it until I got back, but immediately made a pot of brown rice that came out perfect.

Tia went shopping Sun, but I forgot to ask for some stuff for rice dishes. She came home with chicken, but not much else I could use, so I went last night with the little kids and got an Orange Chicken sauce mix from Panda and some peppers and onions. I sautéed those today with a little oil, added the sauce to simmer for a few minutes and I had a great lunch dish. Tia liked it over brown rice.

The rice? I rinsed a little brown rice this morning while I was having coffee for a few minutes. Then I measured the water, dropped it in the rice cooker, hit a few buttons, and it made perfect, hot brown rice that was ready at 1pm when I was.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Hamster Car

Kia_Soul_Hamsters I don’t think I looked like this, especially since I didn’t have any passengers, but when I walked out of the airport to pick up my car, I grabbed a Kia Soul, strictly because of the commercials on TV. It seemed like a fun, teenager kind of car, and I wanted to see what it was like.

The car actually is small and boxy, kind of like a smaller version of the Scion xB, but it felt plenty roomy inside. I dropped my bag on the backseat at first since I didn’t think there was any room in the rear, but the next day I found that my luggage easily fit back there.  You could likely get 4 small pieces of luggage back there, or a decent amount of groceries with room for 5 people up front.


Inside I liked that it had built in Aux and USB ports for an iPod. I was hoping for some charging at the same time, but at least my iPhone 3GS didn’t charge when it was connected. I would have liked to try my Nano, but didn’t think of it.

It drove fine, smooth, and I think it would be a good car for a teenager. Not a ton of power, but enough to go down the highway smoothly. It felt as good as the Prius, maybe even a touch more powerful. Power doors and windows were convenient, and lots of little storage spots for things.

I had fun in it for two days, and I’d get one again.

Also, you're an asshat.

A great comment in this FAQ that Joe Konrath put on his blog about ebook pricing. Someone said his books suck (I’m assuming these are real emails) and he says he doesn’t care anymore. A good philosophy to have as a writer. At least for overall comments. It is still good to get friends to give you feedback.

He also has a great mock meeting with a publisher.

Controlling Volume

I never used to care, but now that I am older, and I watch TV at night when people are asleep, it’s incredibly annoying to have commercials raise the volume. I know they are trying to attract attention, but I think it’s a semi-deceitful way of doing it. People have complained for years, and finally Congress has given the FCC the chance to regulate this.

Now if they could regulate start times, or at least force the big three to start shows at a proper time and not slide the start time back a few minutes.

Self Publishing from BN

I have been reading about how J. A. Konrath self-publishes at Amazon and loves it, and apparently there’s now a way to do this at BN as well. They have a PubIt platform that is out and can be used by anyone to self-publish.

I think it’s great, and now I need to get off my butt, write something, and put it out there.

Delaney Week

It's my week to get Delaney to school, which means rising early. Today neither of us wanted to get up, though having spend half the weekend on Central Time, I think I was better prepared.

Delaney was beat. Hopefully he has a good day.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Kansas Ciy

SQL Saturday #53 done, and a great time in Kansas City. I got to do two things that I wanted to do, a Royals game and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. I had some good BBQ today, and then a great conversation with some of the organizers at the after party.

A good weekend, but I’ll pay for it tomorrow after about 5 hours sleep before heading to the airport.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Why Read?

I love to read. Like my friend, Paul Randal (blog, @PaulRandal), I read a lot of books every year, usually over 50. As long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed reading books, primarily fiction, and it’s been a part of my life that I often look forward to. It’s a joy to see both my boys enjoying reading, and even reading books I’ve recommended. Having my little girl starting to read on her own, and get wrapped up in books and read through them in one sitting makes me smile.

I ran across this link, The Plot Escapes Me, from the NY Times Book Review column, and at first I was surprised. A book reviewer can’t remember plots?

I just recommended The Treasure Hunter to my middle son. That’s a non-fiction book, about someone that hunts for Treasure all over the world as a part of his life, going to different countries for the adventures. Emeralds in South America, sunken ships in the Caribbean, old Indian graves in Central America and Mexico. I read that book as a kid, one of the few non-fiction ones I read multiple times. A friend of the family gave it to me, and I still have it on a bookshelf. I remember two authors, one Robin something, a former Green Beret having toured Vietnam. It’s one of the few hardbacks that I have carried from my youth, through moves and marriage, across the country and back.

I believe that books make us better, they round us out, and they enrich our lives. That’s part of what the author of the New York Times article talks about. We are affected by the books, even if we don’t often remember them. They change our lives, and help us grow.

As I age, I slowly realize that all the classes I didn’t like in college were actually good for me. The philosophy, the chemistry, the other classes that weren’t practical, and I haven’t used in my life, have contributed to who I am, and they have helped me be a more rounded person. I see more in life than just a narrow focus.

I think it’s important to consume arts, whether that’s music, art, literature, or something else. It helps you to grow and expand who you are. It’s one reason that I now mix non-fiction and fiction when I read, trying to grow, trying new things, trying to expand my horizons.

A Morning Run

After getting Kendall to school, I have about 3hours before leaving to the airport for my weekend in Kansas City. Since it will be a busy night, I decided to get my run in early, and hit the treadmill as soon as I got back.

I used to work out early, before kids, and enjoyed it. However I haven't done it much in the last decade. A few times I've gotten Delaney up to run on the weekends, or I've run early before flights/skiing, and it always makes me feel like I've gotten a jump on the day.

Now I just need to pack up and spend a few minutes with my wife before hitting the road.