Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Two Day Adjustment

I made it to Cambridge and actually feel OK. I wonder how I'll feel tomorrow, but the two day adjustment worked well. Tuesday I woke up at 5:30, and around 4:30 Wednesday before leaving for London. I flew late in the day, a 3:00 flight to Calgary, easily cleared customs and got to my plane in 30 minutes, then an hour delay while a bathroom was being fixed on the plane. Is it me or does it seem the bathrooms regularly have problems on airplanes?

I left around 7:30 from Calgary, flying overnight and arrived around 10:30am in London. Not fresh, but fresher than I normally am on the arrival.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I am tired

I got up around 5:30 yesterday, both to say goodbye to Tia before she left for Dallas, and also to try and move my body clock a bit. Today I got up around 5:00, though I was probably awake since 4:30 or so. Add in a 3mi run just now and I am fairly tired.

But that's good. I leave for the airport soon and a flight overnight to the UK that I'm hoping I can sleep on. Fingers are crossed.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Back to the UK

I leave tomorrow for the UK again, this time heading to Liverpool for SQL Bits 9, where I speak on Friday. I jammed this trip down as much as I could and tried a couple new things. Hopefully they'll work.

First, I booked a flight through Calgary tomorrow. That allows me to leave at 3pm, and the flight to the UK starts at 8pm my time, not 8pm EST. Hopefully I'll sleep better on the way over.

The other thing I did was get up at 5:30 today, and 5:00 tomorrow. I'm thinking that if I go a couple hours off schedule, I'll be better adjusted in the UK.

Lastly, it's a quick trip. Arrive in UK Thur morning and leave Sunday morning. I thought I might have to race to London and then to Liverpool, but my London stuff was canceled, so I'll go to Cambridge for a couple hours and then bus to Liverpool with the rest of the Red Gate crew.

Fingers crossed again that I get only 4 planes on this trip, but we'll see. Going minimalist, knocking off as much stuff as I can and not checking a bag.

Fifth Grade Homework

Once again we have a kid in fifth grade, and once again we have monthly projects. Unfortunately, the first one for Kendall is due tomorrow and she told me about it last night.


We worked on some last night, and some tonight at Boy Scouts while Delaney had his meeting. We got most of it done, but there's a drawing she needs to finish in the am, or it will be late. Not that the grade matters that much, but it's a bad habit.

Fingers crossed that she does better in Oct.

How Should We Pay People?

It’s an interesting article on how to pay people from Dan Ariely at Business Week. It’s a look at some of the issues with paying for knowledge work, or work that isn’t well defined. The short version is that you don’t want to specify too tightly what you expect people to do, but then you have to motivate them to work in the best interests of the company.

I think this is one of the fundamental problems in management today. We still have this mentality from the blue collar factory worker and piecemeal or easily measurable work items being applied by management to knowledge workers. It doesn’t work well, and somehow we think that the hours work in some way relate to the output.

I blame lawyers. They tend to use this model, since they often bill by the hour. However the end result, the quality of that they produce, which is usually research, isn’t easily quantified in anything other than a win or loss. That often comes down to not only the soundness of the argument or the logic, but the charisma of the lawyer. That’s not even close to the way we do business in many other industries, especially technology.

Monday, September 26, 2011


At least for now.

I took Kendall to school and decided against grabbing a cup of coffee from the gas station since I'd started a pot at home before we left. I drove home, got a cup of coffee and a bar, and grabbed Kendall's 1/2 bagel off the counter. I sat at my desk, munching on the bagel as I logged into the computer and just as I finished the last bit go bagel, I saw the reminder that I had a doctor's appointment this am.

I picked up the coffee, contemplating if I could still make it, and just as it got to my lips, I thought "Doh!" I was supposed to fast, nothing but water after 8 last night. I was close, mostly water after about 8:30 last night until I ate the bagel.

I dropped everything, leaving the coffee to cool at my desk and grabbed my wallet, heading out to the appointment.

Overall it was smooth, nothing major. Talked with the doctor about my knee and he felt like my brother, the homeopath/osteopath, thought: don't do anything. If it's working for me, at my level of activity, it's probably not worth messing with. Since I started glucosomine this weekend, I'll give it a month or so and see what happens.

I got the breath, blood pressure, eyes, ears, etc. Hernia test and the lovely 40 year old rectal exam. Everything was fine and he thought I looked healthy. I managed to maintain some manhood and not pass out while they drew blood and had plenty of urine to leave them in a Dixie cup. A few days to see how the blood looks, but so far I have been pronounced healthy.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Book #48 - Planet Wrecker

The fifth book of the Doom Star series, Planet Wrecker, might be the best one yet. Books #2 and #3 were great, but this one is amazing. It's the aftermath of the Jupiter system war, the cyborgs repelled and Marteen working as a part of a Jupiter System force under the admiral Tan.

He knows things are not going well as slowly the Dictates of the system appear to be making a comeback. It's frustrating to him and he's not sure what to do, but then he finds an opportunity to leave, but also a reason he must.

The cyborgs have accelerated a series of asteroids from Saturn towards the Earth. Many of them are large enough to crack the Earth into pieces and some of the smaller ones even capable of ending most life on the planet. Marteen is sure the only way to stop this is if the Highborn, Social Unity, and the Jupiter system band together and take the fight to the cyborgs.

Meanwhile Social Unity is losing and Hawthorne isn't sure what to do. The Highborn are slowly advancing across the planet, taking continents and territory slowly, but surely. When informed of the Planet Wrecker asteroids, he realizes Marteen is right and he must band together with the Highborn, yet also prepare for the successful end to the thread when the Highborn will attack again.

The book mostly spends time with the Grand Admiral and his strategy as well as his coordination of the attack on the planet wreckers. Lots of time is spent inside Social Unity as well, letting us see how this society (similar to the Soviet communist block) is crumbling, but still working to maintain its control.  Less time is spent with Marteen, but enough to let us know he's one of the main characters. As with the other books, this one covers a tremendous amount of time and action. It's a great read, and exciting, though I'd recommend you read the others first to understand the structure and situation of this possible future.

Book #47 - Helfort's War Book 4: The Battle for Commitment Planet

Helfort is back. I went back and re-read the first three books in preparation for Book 4, and really enjoyed this story. The one downside, which really annoys me, is that this book ends like Book 3, with a cliffhanger that has you wondering what is coming next. I prefer books to standalone, and this one doesn't do that.

We pick up with a little backstory from book 3. Helfort has achieved a lot, but Anna is captured by the Hammer, and Polk realizes who he has. He gives Helfort 3 months to make his way to surrender. Meanwhile Helfort is assigned to a remote backwater system to keep him away from action and presumably not give the Hammer Worlds a target. The reason is not to have his troops be in more danger than otherwise.

As Helfort struggles, he receives the last of the dreadnaught squadron to command and continues to train his crews to manage them. When they find out his situation, they work with him to commit treason and get to Commitment, the Hammer home world. Without the need to escape, they can attack the planet and rescue the Federation prisoners and release them into the wild of the planet. They manage to do it, reuniting Anna and other prisoners who are shocked at the treason committed. However it's a chance to take the war to the Hammers, with the NRA rebels.

The second half of the book is the view of Helfort and Anna, married now, struggling to fight the guerrilla war against the Hammer. They have some success, but only so much. The number of troops the Hammer can muster is far beyond what the rebels have. Despite some wins, it's a slow war of attrition that will doom the NRA.

The Hammer is hurting, but not enough. The book ends with Helfort's plant to escape and get back to the Federation to ask for help. We'll find out in book 5 if it works.

The writing is good, the gory, difficult life of the rebels revealed, the anger of the Federation prisoners at treason and their struggle to integrate. The fear Helfort feels for himself, and Anna in various situations, including the hard decision to leave the Federation. It's a great read, and though it stands on the first three, it's worth reading.

Book #46 - Deceitful Moon

I grabbed Deceitful Moon after I really enjoyed Caribbean Moon. The story continues a short while after the Lansing cops have returned to Michigan. In this one there's another serial killed in Michigan, or maybe more than one. A series of gruesome killings of sexual predators have Manny back at work, while he and his daughter are still coping with the loss of his wife.

The author gives us some views into the killers, who this time appear to be a group of women that are taking revenge against sexual criminals recently released from prison. There are clues that the chief's wife is involved, and we know for sure when she shoots her husband in his office.

The crew has quite a few investigations going on, with misdirection leading them to suspect one of their own as they try to find the vigilantes. In the middle of this, Dr. Argyle, the killer from book #1, is returned to Lansing and escapes.

It's a fun read, slightly silly, a little funny, lots of coincidences, but also still thrilling. Fun to watch, and I enjoyed it. Looking forward to book #3.

Book #45 - Apollo Moon Landings: A Brief History (Enhanced Version)

A friend tweeted that Apollo Moon Landings: A Brief History (Enhanced Version) was available for free from Amazon, so I grabbed it. It's a simple look at the Apollo moon program, a short read, but it includes some video and pictures from the events of the 60s and 70s and I enjoyed it. It's one I'd try to get the kids to read, and I think they could easily do it and enjoy it.

A few facts, a few comments, and a little knowledge about the very few people that have actually set foot on the moon.

Book #44 - Long Shot

I enjoyed the first two books so much, I grabbed Long Shot as soon as it was available. This one continues the story of the Panzer Brigade, still under the leadership of the now Colonel Galen Raper. He's engaged to Karen, and life is going well. He's slated to give a speech at the military Academy where he graduated, he's inducted into a society for mercenary colonels, and is looking for a new contract. He chooses to help a government with a planet they have a foothold on against he Mosh.

It isn't a great contract and the board of directors thinks the Brigade might be setup by the government to get overrun and possibly be killed. That's OK with the Board, who has most of the payment up front and isn't thrilled with Raper, but the officers have a plan.

The planet is an almost Soviet style government and treats the troops poorly. The Panzer Brigade decides they'll help the troops on the planet to become more organized, help feed them better, and then not only defeat the Mosh, but potentially have the government of their employee overthrown. It doesn't work out perfectly, but works out well. Read the book if you want to know how it turns out.

This is definitely the worst book of the series. Not that it's bad, and I enjoyed it, but the writing felt rushed, a little simple, and not much of a story. It ends in a way that makes me wonder if there will be more books. There could be, but there's no cliffhanger or sign that there will be another one. It's worth getting if you enjoyed books 1 and 2, but not otherwise.

A Productive Sunday

A quiet day to start. Tia and Kendall went down to Pikes Peak for a ride at Dome Rock, leaving before I woke up. I got a kiss from Kendall as she was leaving, which was nice, and then I want back to sleep.

I got up and without much to do, I decided to enjoy my birthday coffee from Starbucks. They'd sent me a coupon right before my birthday, but I've been too busy to consider taking a day in town to enjoy it. With Delaney sleeping, and likely to sleep for a few hours, I left around 9 to head into town. I took the Macbook and ordered my coffee and a scone.

I've been trying to find the cool, awesome things in life, and one happened today. On a busy Sunday morning, I scored a comfy armchair to enjoy my latte and work a bit. No real agenda, and after setting my fantasy team for football, I popped open my talk for SQL Inspire. I've outlined a few things, and added a few notes over the last two weeks, but no real work on it. Today I took two hours, with the blenders and espresso machines going int he background, I knocked out a couple hours of work. It's not done, but lots of work done.

I headed home after hitting Wal-Mart for a few things and found Delaney playing games. After watching a series of the Bronco's game, I went running, cruising down the road for a hot, hard, 3mi run. I finished and then cooked some lunch with Delaney, us both working to make roast beef quesadillas for lunch. He enjoyed his, I watched a touch more football, and then headed outside to do some chores.

Once again, I had no agenda, though no shortage of things to work on. I decided to fix the cement I'd broken with the forklift last week. I dug out a space, mixed a little concrete filler, and then fixed the notch I'd made in the pad by the barn. It went smooth, and while it was drying, I looked around at the list of things I could do. I'd replaced the barn light yesterday, so today I decided to bite the bullet and bury the water line for trees. I wasn't looking forward to it, but decided I should since I had the shovel and time. I used the tractor to start the trench, and then dug the rest out by hand. After pulling the hose through a metal pipe, I buried it again, smoothing out the ground as best I could before getting ready to test things.

I walked down, knocking in the plug at the end of the hose, came back and decided to knock in the track step in posts since I had the hammer, and then went to find my hose adapter to connect the line to the hose. Not in the bag of parts, not by the side of the house, not in the barn that I could see.

Grrrrr. I'd like to test it, though it's a hardware trip I can make quickly on the next trip into town.

At that point I decided to stop. It's hot, I'm tired, and I've learned that overdoing it is a bad idea. Shower and clean up, waiting for Tia and Kendall to come back so we can do some dinner.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tough Games

Kendall’s team played the toughest opponent I’ve seen. The other team was good at returning balls, and made about the same number of mistakes as Kendall’s team, but just a few less. Kendall won the second game 25-23, but the first was lost at 25-22 and the last at 15-11.

Everyone had some good hits, Kendall had 1 or 2 five serve sessions (max per side) and she had a couple nice hits and returns. I think she mis-hit one, but for the most part played a good game. Both teams had a few girls that watched balls hit the ground, and we had a lot of balls hit to the side off one of our girls’ arms.

Still it was fun with Tia, Delaney, and I watching the game from the top row of the bleachers.

The One Year Light

Tia’s barn light burned out recently, or stopped working. It took my a couple weeks, but it was summer and not getting dark until late, so it wasn’t a priority. However as the days are getting shorter quickly, I managed to get to the hardware store for a replacement bulb.

That didn’t work.

It seems that these outdoor lights last about a year. This is the third one in three years that’s gone out, so I decided to fix it. I researched fluorescent lights a bit and it sounded like the ballast was gone. I mean to go check it, but today Delaney and I were running errands and I decided to just get a ballast. I didn’t see the one I needed, but the others were about $15 at Lowe’s, and a new light was about $35.

Easy decision. New light. I came home and installed it, talking to my brother on the phone while I was up on the ladder working on the light and rewiring things. Got it done as Tia was coming back from riding with Kendall and tested it and it works.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Can I Stay Home?

“Can I stay home from school tomorrow?”

Delaney asked me that as we were driving to volleyball practice last night. That wasn’t it, and he had a well reasoned argument for me. Today was the 100th anniversary of the high school and so the middle and elementary schools were going over for the parade for most of the day. He didn’t have any tests or assignments and his classes were being cut short. He had a friend that was trying to do the same thing and they hoped to play some XBOX together.

He’s asked a few times before, usually on those half days before holiday break or the last day of school. He isn’t enamored with the social aspect of school and doesn’t look forward to hanging out if he doesn’t have to. We usually let him stay home.

Kendall, on the other hand, loves those days. She’s in the parade today with the Girl Scouts and always wants to go to those half days to see her friends.

I told Delaney we’d talk to Tia and decide later.

He’s home today, and loving it.

Who’s the Home Run King?

I know and I’ll tell you in a minute.

First, a friend tweeted this article about the women’s marathon record potentially being removed. Why? She was paced by men, and a new rule is in place to say world records can only be set in a single gender field.

Hmmm, I get the logic. Someone in front of you can motivate you, but you still have to run the speed to set the record. If you can do that, you ran the race at that time. I thought the records were about seeing what the human body can do, not worrying about motivation.

It’s silly to set this rule, or remove records. Every woman has the chance, well, every professional runner, has the chance to run in a particular race, and they call can race against the men. Maybe the top 10 women ought to run against the top 10 men, just so there’s even “pacing”.

What does this have to do with baseball and home runs? There’s a lot of debate over who the home run king is. Generally people look at three individuals: Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Barry Bonds. There are others that might be in the discussion whose careers were cut short, but that’s the short list.

The argument against Babe is that he didn’t play against black or Hispanic opponents, owing to the wonderful “separation” implemented by the owners (and accepted by the populace and politicians). The argument against Barry is that he used performance enhancing drugs. Not completely proven, but quite a preponderance of evidence.

The numbers are:

  • Babe Ruth: 714
  • Hank Aaron: 755
  • Barry Bonds: 762

Who’s the king? It’s easy: you pick’em.

There’s no easy answer. If you truly believe that PED disregard the record, then I think you pick Aaron. Ruth’s argument is the weakest, though he did hit in a time when he didn’t have training, planes, pampering, that many athletes had later.

For me it’s Bonds. No matter what, he had to hit 762 balls over the fence. Pitchers used PEDs (as we now know) and he faced tons of pressure, controversy, and walks. He walked more than anyone else. I watched games where Bonds got walked, intentionally 2 or 3 times and then hit a home run on the first strike he saw late in the game. He might not have played as long, he might not have hit as many long balls, but so many of his hits were well beyond the fence. Not dropping balls close to the wall, but 50-60ft or more past the wall.

I don’t disregard PEDs, but they were part of an era, and plenty of other people had access to them. How many other people hit more than 714 in that era? Zero.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book #43– Lord Master Governor General

lordmasterAfter I finished First Enlistment, I grabbed the Lord Master Governor General right away. I wanted to know what happened to Sergeant Raper, now in charge of the Panzer Brigade.
Raper is in charge of the Brigade, and facing his board of directors and investors. They think they can push him around, but he’s done his homework. As in the first book, he shows himself to be a thinking man and negotiates to say in charge of the brigade for another 18 months.
He decides to take a contract for security on a remote planet that needs to help build a spaceport for a scientific research group. He goes about it in his usual way, and ends up prepared for trouble on the backwater planet from the local cities and another mercenary group. Thanks to Sevin, he’s ready to deal wit the challenges and does so well.
He also finds a love interest, and shows some of his naivety in that area. It’s a roller coaster romance through the book, without graphic details, but we do get to see in Galen’s mind.
Another fun read, but not great. Read the first book first, however.

All Black

Tonight I went to karate, trying to keep the training going as I head for first degree. I arrived, seeing one of the joshu's (junior instructors) teaching and then remembered that our teacher was out of town along with a few other senior students.

No problem, I was tired, and looking for a relatively easy class. When we lined up, however, I was surprised. 14 of us, all black belts in the class. I don't think that's ever happened before. With a junior instructor, we didn't do anything new, working through kata and self defense, but we moved a little quicker. Less instruction, less wasted time, less rest.

It could have been a good class, but there was a lack of energy. Even though people moved well, there just wasn't this feeling of excitement.

Still it was good for me. A chance to work on some moves without the high speed stuff from regular workouts, and no injuries. Always a good class when I don't tweak anything.

A New Window

We were considering replacing a few of our broken windows recently and had a few estimates in line. One was from Anderson Renewal, with a very nice, supposedly super efficient window. Tia wanted to try one, so we ordered one and today it goes in.

The guy arrived a little after 9, and he's almost done at 1, including a trip to Home Depot for a router bit to match the existing sill profile. It's slightly different than our existing windows, but it looks pretty cool, and it's certainly clean.

Shooting from a Script

For once I'm not shooting my own scripts for the podcasts, but someone else's. A little fun, and looking forward to seeing the finished product, though I suspect I might have to reshoot this scene later on.

Can't say what it is until Oct 12, but it will be cool.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book #42 – First Enlistment

firstenlistmentI grabbed First Enlistment since it was recommended to me by Amazon. It looked interesting, a future time where war is generally fought by professional mercenaries, hired by governments instead of standing armies. An interesting idea, so I grabbed a sample before a trip.

Galen Raper and two friends have just graduated from a military academy and are looking to get hired to a mercenary division somewhere. They’re hoping for tank assignments as sergeants and end up applying to and receiving commissions from the Jasmine Panzer Brigade.

The book follows the friends through their first assignments, getting used to being real soldiers after their schooling, and learning about fighting in the field. They distinguish themselves in some early battles against rebels on the planet Mandarin and are assigned to protect a planet where a spaceport is being built. There’s more, but you should read the book.

I enjoyed the story, and thought it was an interesting idea. There’s lots of military jargon, and while I don’t always understand the sizes of battalions, companies, etc., I get get the relative sizes and it didn’t detract. The book is written fairly simply, and there isn’t a ton of depth to the characters, but it’s fun to read. There are some typos as well (stake for “steak”), but they’re not overly numerous and not too distracting for me.

It’s easy to read, fun, and I enjoyed it. If you don’t expect too much, you will like this sci-fi book as well.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mighty Machines Day

I took today off to have an extra day to get a few things done and not be rushed back into work. A slow starting morning catching up on some football scores from yesterday and relaxing a bit before a couple hours of cutting grass. It was a mess out there, but I needed to get it done, so I spent some time cleaning up a section of the front. Lots more to do before the weather changes, but I’m on a good pace to knock out some grass.

I needed a break, and got some water, but then noticed there was still equipment in the pasture. Hmmmmm.

I’d wanted to try out the machines, and even use one to move hay, but we didn’t get hay, and I didn’t want to interfere with the guys working. However they’re done now and today looked like a good time to play with the machines.

First was the large forklift. I planned to use that to move hay, so I decided to just give it a try and drive it. It took a minute to get it to start, but then I couldn’t get it to move. I tried all kinds of switches, moved the gearshifter, hit buttons and it wouldn’t move. Turned it off, got out, looked around, got in and was about to give up when I noticed a switch in the upper corner I hadn’t flipped. Sure enough, I flipped it and the thing moved. I drove it briefly, then put it back. I walked over to the tall lift, but noticed that there was a pallet with anchors on it.

“That needs to be moved, “ I thought to myself and got back in the forklift. I picked up the pallet and drove it to the other side of the barn. Easy to do, especially when you’re moving slow and I decided to leave the forklift parked outside for pickup.

Then I decided to move everything out. Smile

Next was the scissor lift. I’d watched one of the day laborers struggle to move it and get it up and down, so I wanted to see if I could do it. Sure enough, I figured it out fairly quickly and had it moving out of the yard. As I drove over, I looked at the chimney, where I’d planned on mounting my wind meter for the weather station. I’d never gotten the pole up with the various wind items since my ladder didn’t reach high enough and it was a little scary. I drove over, lifted up and wasn’t scared. For some reason, the might machine felt safer, so I went and got tools, the pole, and loaded up. Then I lifted up high, almost to the top of the chimney and screwed in the pole. Just checked the weather station, and sure enough it’s receiving.


That’s a project I’ve been wanting to knock off my list. I parked the scissor hack and then looked around some more. I still had the bucket lift to move, so I went over and mucked around with the ground controls. I managed to start it, but couldn’t move it. So I went to the bucket and got it started from there and immediately got it moving. I’m not sure why I couldn’t get it working from the ground, but didn’t matter. I drove it out and drove over to change the light bulb on the barn light. That requires a ladder, and I had a lift. With that changed, I lifted up to the park of the barn, so it was a little below my waist. Way up there, but way safer feeling than the ladder.

I still had time, so I drove to the house and pulled down a gutter and cleaned it out. That time I even stopped the machine, worked on the gutter, and restarted it. Very cool.

I’m ready for day labor, if all else fails in my job. I can move machines around!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pictures from ACL

Waiting in the rain

Cee Lo

Sitting in the crowd, waiting for Stevie Wonder to come

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Morning Dew Dr,Austin,United States

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Austin City Limits

It went smoother than we both thought. It's still amazing to think we're in Austin for the music festival and we'll see Stevie Wonder tonight. Kanye last night was great, and interesting. Definitely more of a show than a concert though we were so far back it was hard to see too much. The large video screens on each side definitely helped.

We bought tickets 3 months ago, planning to come, without working out many details. We got one ticket right away as a PDF, but the other was a wristband that didn't come until last week. I had to email and call the guy a few times, and he sounded legit, but until it arrived in the mail I was worried.

We booked flights, hotel, and car a couple months ago, getting most things free from mileage we've earned over time, but we hadn't done anything with the kids. A few things didn't work out, but my Mom said she'd love to see them, so after delaying a couple more weeks, I finally booked them for an unattended minor flight to Virginia Beach.

Horses taken care of, Tia's building done just as we were getting ready to go, things have gone smoothly. I got the kids to the airport early and on time and checked them in. It was smooth, and nice that Delta had them both fly under one fee, rather than a fee for each. They were excited and left on time, leaving me with a few hours to work in the airport before Tia arrived. They boarded before she came, so I got on the plane to be sure my bags fit, with her arriving about 5 minutes into boarding and us meeting on the plane instead of in the airport. Smooth flight, easy directions to the hotel and a quick run for me before we headed to the festival.

It's big, supposed to be 65,000 people a day, and we wondered what it would be like. It's at Zilker Park, a large botanical gardens, and we parked about 5 or 6 blocks away, paying $20 for a spot in a lot. We walked over, starving, and looking for food, both of us hoping that my bracelet, and her printed PDF ticket would work. They did, and it was pretty slick. The wristband is an RFID chipped tag and you put your hand next to a security scanner as you walk in. They also have bard code readers, scanned Tia's ticket and then gave her a wristband.

We were in, and searching for food, which was all congregated in one spot. Unlike the stages, 6 or 7 of them spread out, in sight of each other, but facing slightly different directions. Surprisingly the music didn't blend too much and sounded good. We ate, had a few drinks, and caught most of a great Sarah Bareilles set. She used more profanity than we expected, but she sounded great. We caught a bit of a couple more acts, including a DJ/light show called Pretty Lights (from Colorado), before walking to one of the larger stages. Kanye v Coldplay at the other end of the park. We skipped Coldplay, and saw Kanye go, doing his hits, adding in a few I didn't know, and even doing a short version of "Run This Town" with only the chorus and his rap in it.

People really started to stream out around 9:45, and we stuck until about 10:10 when the show ended, joining the hordes of people streaming out of the park. It's kinds of amazing to see so many people there, and having relatively good behavior. There were a few passed out people, a few jerks, but overall they were better behaved than the crowds as most sporting events I've seen.

An easy drive back to the hotel and I'm not sure what happened. I know I fell asleep and woke up to find Tia sleeping. I was laying next to her, watching some TV and not sure what happened.

Back to the festival today. Both getting some exercise, and now time to head out for lunch and music.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Seeing my wife at work

Tia's been downtown all week at the 360iDev conference for work, manning their booth. She's been going down early, getting back late and we've hardly seen each other. Today a friend of ours was in town and speaking, so she asked me to come down and have lunch.

I worked for a few hours, trying to get things done and then headed down, thinking I'd work if they were busy and meet them. It's a long drive down there and even without traffic, I was thinking that this isn't something I'd like to do every day, or even once a week. I had good timing, meeting them as they were finishing and we went to eat lunch. Afterwards they packed up and we all came back, showing off the ranch and the new building to our friend from Florida.

Good to catch up, and stand around a bit. No so good that it was raining. I picked up Delaney from the bus and he wanted to cut some grass to earn money. Not a good day for it, so he's hoping the weather is better tomorrow so he can earn another $10 to get his game next week.

A late run for me, which I slightly regretted because of the rain. Day 1100 was one milestone that wasn't a nice run outside. It was long, though, nearly 3 mi.

Now time to feed kids and then lay down and relax with my wife before she heads out tomorrow early for a presentation.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Worth 15 minutes

The Start of Day 5

Things are progressing nicely. Last night after I left for karate, Jeff pulled the second section of fabric over the building. I wish I’d been there to see it, and when I talked to him around 5 he was thinking it might be this am, but I guess he got more done than expected last night.

This was yesterday:



I was sitting in the barn working a bit and you can see only the first 6 sections were covered. Today it looks like this:



Another 6 are covered, for a total of 12, with 5 more left to go. At 3:30, with a little wind, the day workers were too scared to go up in the lifts, so they worked on the far end wall, which is framed. They left around 5, and I talked with Jeff. He was a little frustrated, but he said it would go quickly without them and he’d go up and get the last 8 or 10 braces in the second section. I guess he did and ended up pulling the fabric over.

Here’s what I saw after taking kids to school:


They’re working on more bracing today, and they’re also threading in the tie-down straps around the second section:


I hope to see the last section of covering fabric go on today and then the end walls. Looks like Thur is a good possibility.


We need a new QB

Not in Denver, though we’ll see over this season. But in Dallas, my team, the team I’ve followed since I was a little kid. I watched the home opener, and I know it’s too early to judge the team or players for this year. I’m judging Romo, however, on his career.

He’s a gambler, a Brett Favre type that makes plays, but makes a lot of mistakes. Unfortunately for Dallas, Romo makes lots of mistakes in big situations.  Maybe it’s bad luck, maybe he chokes under pressure, maybe he’s not a big time QB, but I think that building this team and getting back to the Super Bowl means a change of QB. Not this season, but draft one, let him sit in 2012, and get him in places for 2013 and beyond.

From the fumble of the snap in the playoff game a few years back to the numerous fumbles that Romo has had in the pocket or running the ball, he just doesn’t take care of the ball when running or moving around. And I’m not sure you can re-teach that or change that.

I haven’t seen all of the Bronco’s game from last night, but from what I saw in the first half, it wasn’t Orten that was the main problem. As I’ve said before, we have lots of issues on the Broncos, and the QB isn’t the biggest difference maker. Sure Orten might have made a few better throws, but the protection wasn’t strong and the running game lacking. On top of that the defense gave up a lot of running yards, with huge holes. We need to decide how to move forward, but we have lots to fix besides the QB.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Book #41 - Caribbean Moon

A cheap thriller that was highly rated on Amazon, Caribbean Moon grabbed me on a trip and I rarely put it down. A group of police from Lansing, MI is down in Puerto Rico for a cruise/honeymoon. One of the detectives is getting married and fellow detectives Manny and Sophie (partners), the police chief (the father), a DA (friend) and a CSI officer are along with their wives.

After the wedding, they board the boat, unaware that another tourist at their hotel was killed. They cab away as police are literally arriving. We find out later that the killer is stalking the police officers, but we're not sure who it is.

As the murders start to occur, it becomes quite a mystery thrilled. We suspect we know who the killer is, but the writer does a good job of not quite leaving enough clues, but enough to make you think you understand what is going on. Strange murders occur, and we have a little insight into them, but not enough.

The book is a little graphic at times in describing the killer who bites his victims to death. Other than that, it's a simple, Patterson-like read that's fun. I grabbed the second one as soon as this one was done.

Book #40 - Empire State of Mind

After reading Decoded, I was looking for more. I wanted to learn a bit more about the business side of Jay-Z. His book seemed to cover more about the music, and how he grew up, but didn't really delve into the business side of his empire.

Empire State of Mind is written by Zack O'Malley and isn't authorized, but written more as a look at the Jay-Z empire and his growth mostly from when he started in the music business than his early life. It covers the time up through 2010, so it contains lots of recent information.

With research covering various business partners and companies, we learn that Jay-Z might not have been quite the hustler that he would like fans to believe, but he definitely was a drug dealer that struggled to leave the money he made in that business to move to the music business. However that background helped him since many companies were loathe to work with him and that drove him to build his own company. The lesson learned on the street seem to help Jay-Z grow, with one of the biggest ones being learn from someone as a mentor, but when you move past them, move on.

He's been successful in that way, growing and evolving, leaving behind the street lessons habits that don't fit his new life to grow into a 9 figure business. Not a businessman, but a business in his own words. It seems true, though it appears that he's also become focused on the goal of growing his income and empire to the point where he doesn't bother with anything that doesn't turn him a profit. Not the attitude I like, but it's worked for him.

I found the book an interesting look at his life, and at Shawn Carter the man. Not as much of a drug dealer, not as much of a player as many think. He's more introspective, more guarded, and more successful than most any other rapper. It's quite a story and brings another look at the man behind the music.

Book #39 - The Unincorporated Woman

At the end of The Unincorporated War, Justin Cord is lost in space near Neptune and there's this hope his body will be recovered and he'll be revived again. I was thinking that would be a part of this book and perhaps have Neela become unincorporated somehow. I was wrong.

I had pre-ordered The Unincorporated Woman and Delaney promptly grabbed it. By the time I got it, he told me it was good, but unexpected. I dug in and became enraptured right away, unable to put it down.

This one continues the story, but in a new way. The war continues and JD Black is slated to become President, however she doesn't want the job and needs freedom if she's to win the war. She finds out about the suspension unit and decides to awaken the occupant. It turns out to be the scientist that built Justin's unit. At first she's disappointed that Justin isn't around, but quickly realizes that she's the best choice for President. She accepts the role, shows herself to be both engaging, quick witted, and extremely intelligent, almost a female Justin Cord.

The book continues almost in the same way as the previous one, but with very little of what's happening on Earth and Mars. Instead it's mostly the Alliance that we learn about, going between the President, JD Black, and the UHF warships. There are some twists and turns, some losses, and some amazing changes in the face of the war, but no resolution. Once again the book ends on a cliffhanger, with a note that the next book will be The Unincorporated Future.

I hate having books end like that, and not be self contained, but this surely has me looking for the next book. No word on when it will come out, but make sure you start with The Unincorporated Man if you start this series.

Day 3 of the horse arena

No real pictures this morning since we were in a hurry to leave for the baseball game, but when we came back in the twilight, we saw this:

All the trusses are up and the first 1/3 fo the cover was being tied down. The guy from Florida is a hard worker and at 7pm, he was still going, up in that bucket, tying it to the frame. Some bracing still needs to go up and anchors on the South side, but it's coming along. I wouldn't be surprised to see the cover on 2/3 tomorrow with all the bracing and anchors in.

At this rate I think they might be done on Friday.

The First Rockies Game of the Year

Today Tia had planned a day out for a few people in her company at the Rockies game. It was the first game I've gotten to with a busy life and not wanting to spend half a day driving to and from Denver, but this was a good excuse to go. I got to sleep in a little, then up and running before we headed out this morning to meet her co-workers at the game.

We had tickets for the picnic area behind center field before the game, which was pretty nice. We were essentially outside the stadium in a gated area, and couldn't see batting practice or warmups, but there was a nice buffet and we enjoyed some talk with everyone.

We managed to get upside for the National Anthem and the flyover of some fighter jets from the nearby Air Force base.

We were sitting in the Rockpile, above and behind center field and it was my first time there. It seems that section always sells out early when I pick games, but in this case it was fairly empty, despite the 9/11 remembrances. I thought it was neat to be up there, but for me it was hard to track the ball that far away (about 500 ft) and whether it was a swing or a miss, I couldn't always tell where the ball went. I definitely lost it on the ground, dirt or grass, and that won't be a place I sit again if I can help it.

It was sunny and hot, and everyone struggled a bit. We watched an inning or so and then Kendall needed to go down and get some shaved ice. We grabbed her a hat and Tia sunglasses at the same time and went back, but after an inning or so she was complaining again. So we went down above the visiting bullpen and watched from there. In the 6th, after the Red's reliever finished, the catcher walked over to the wall and tossed the warmup ball to Delaney. That was pretty cool, since I've never gotten a ball from a major league game.

We left after the 8th, with the Rockies leading 4-0. It was interesting to see Delaney tracking the game and letting me know when things happened. It was a quick game, and nice to see the Rockies score some runs. We saw a home run, and we see a steal of third base, cool for me. We also did the baseball throw with the kids, where Delaney hit 34 mph, struggling to throw it straight. When he wound up, he ended up letting go too early and it flying high. Kendall hit 33 once, but mostly 25 and it helped I coached her a bit.

Afterwards we drove to Home Depot to pick up Kyle. We've been trying to get together with him for a few weeks and it's been busy. Tia and the kids were thrilled to see him working and the kids followed him around, helping pick up trash and get carts from the lot. We took him to dinner and then we saw his apartment and cat, which the kids loved. They have been asking to spend time with him and we're hoping he can get by the house sometime soon for a visit.

Then back home to call it a weekend. 

The Best Buying Experience at the Apple Store

I’ve bought a lot of stuff in my life, from bubble gum to cars. From $1 items to $100,000 items and over the years I’ve found that customer service matters. I do prefer to buy things in person, and I like to support local businesses, but I’ve also found the customer service and support from Amazon to be top notch and worth a day’s delay in many cases.

It’s also convenient, which is something I appreciate in my very busy life. Here’s my experience at the Apple Store at Park Meadows in Colorado.

I walk in on Saturday afternoon, with my daughter in tow. She immediately walks to the iPads to play and I walk to the Macbook Airs. There are easily 5 people for every Apple employee, and while I’m waiting for an employee to finish talking to a customer, I check out the prices and models. Surprisingly they have the high end, 1.8GHz Air available, which is tempting, but I decide against it.

The employee near me is still talking to a customer when another employee walks up and finishes a conversation with a gentleman next to me about some issue he’s come in about. They talk for a minute and then he leaves and she turns to look at the middle of the store. Perhaps I didn’t look like I needed help, but I was in a bit of a hurry and decided to tap her on the shoulder.

I explain I’d like to get an Air and she says she’s busy with one more thing, but she waves to another employee on the other side of the displays and he comes over. I explain I want an Air and he walks me over to the display, pulls up the model list on the iPad mounted there and tells me which ones they have in stock. I go for the $1599 one with the 256GB drive.

At this point my daughter walks up and sees him pick the model on his phone, select it, ask me about Applecare (I get it) and adds that and then adds my VGA cable for presentations. He says it will be a minute.

We chat briefly and it’s literally about a minute or minute and a half when someone walks up with my three items and sets them on the counter. I haven’t moved from where I’m standing at the front of the store. The employee scans the three items with his phone, gives me the total, then takes my credit card and swipes it through the side of his phone case. Again, I haven’t moved. He then presents his screen to my sideways to sign with my finger.

After declining a bag, we shake hands and I leave. Apart from the 3 or 4 minutes it takes me to get an employee, my whole purchase was done in about 4 minutes. I never walked more than 10 feet into the Apple store and didn’t wait in a line or have to gather my purchases. I bought a higher end product, but I got much higher end customer service.

Compare that with another experience.

I decided to buy a Macbook Air recently to replace my rather temperamental Lenovo. In making that decision, I ended up with three different experiences that surprised me. One day last week the laptop failed to sleep and annoyed me to no end. After a karate class, I dragged the kids to Best Buy at 7:30 one night to get a new machine. I’d looked at them a week earlier, compared the weights, sizes and decided an Air was a better fit than a Pro. They had all the models on display, and I assumed I’d get one.

Normally I’m accosted by a Best Buy employee about once every 4 minutes in the store, but this time my daughter and I stood at the Apple display for a good 6-8 minutes. I passed the time showing her the models and some of the new Lion features that let you move windows around, scroll like the iPad, etc. Finally I found an employee in the PC section and told her what I wanted. She said she would be there in a minute.

Five minutes later she comes over and I explain what I want, and she goes to check the computer. She’s gone for at least ten minutes, but it could have been 15. I’m annoyed now and she comes back to say they don’t have any Airs. At least not any new ones with the i5 CPU and Lion on them.  She says she’ll check another place and after another four or five minute delay says that Best Buy in CO doesn’t have any Airs. They only got Airs for display and she doesn’t know when Best Buy USA will even be shipping them.

I’m very annoyed. I feel like I wasted 30 minutes on something I saw in the store, knew exactly what I wanted and would have compromised on models, and would have even taken the display model.

That night I checked on Amazon, which apparently doesn’t have any themselves. There were a few places that were selling on Amazon (local stores supplying the merchandise), but doing so at $150 premiums, no Prime shipping, and no shipping inside a week.

I didn’t need one ASAP, but I didn’t want to wait on some unknown amount of time from a non-local store. I called the Apple Store, they told me in 30sec what they had, and I went there.

Apple isn’t perfect, but the experience at their retail store was excellent.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Volleyball Girl

I made the my first volleyball game of the season. Kendall's first one was while I was in Oklahoma City and last week was Labor Day. This time Tia was gone for her 50 mile horse race, so Kendall and I set out early for the game. I'm glad we did because it was at a new middle school that didn't come up in Google Maps on the iPhone and was a little confusing to get to.

We weren't the only ones as a few families were late, and the entire day was late starting. The coaches weren't there at 10:50, so I and another Dad got the girls moving and warming up and had to start coaching at 11:10. They played a good first game and even though they fell behind, our girls pulled out a win with some great hits. There were some good 2 and 3 hit returns from them that the other team didn't handle well.

Kendall had a good series, returning some good bumps, diving for a few balls and serving well. I was proud to see her giving high fives to some girls during the game, one of the only girls that does that.

They ended up winning 2/3, coming back again in the second game, and not having enough points in the third game since it's only a 15 point game. They lost 15-13, playing really well the whole time.

Exciting for me to be watching her, and I'm thrilled she had such a good time. I am looking forward to seeing the rest of this season.

How many things can happen at the ranch in one day?

Quite a few. Here's the list from today:

  • Tia had a 50 mile horse race
  • I woke up, fed hay to the non-racing horses
  • I made a vegetable smoothie that Kendall fed to her guinea pit with a syringe
  • The first truss when up on Tia's arena
  • Kendall and I went to her volleyball game. I coached the first game and they won 2/3
  • We got Kendall and icee because it's more "special" than a slurp
  • I bought a Macbook Air
  • Delaney had a friend come over to play video games and sleep over
  • 5 more trusses went up on the arena
  • I ran 2 miles

And the day's not over. Sometimes I wonder how we get through it all around here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

1886.5 miles

Today I complete a milestone. Three years of running every day, at least a mile a day. Unlike most of those days, today was a struggle, with me feeling tired, my mind wandering, and unable to get into the zone. Every step was a step to me, and I remember them all. Not a good run.

However I persevered. I wanted to walk a few times, and would plan on walking the next hill, but I never did. I slowed down and kept jogging. I wanted to turn around early, but I didn’t. I went my fairly regular route, and added a few more steps on each of the turnround points (there are two).

One thing I’ve learned in three years is that I’m a grinder. I work through the stuff that I need to, even when I don’t want to. I’ve learned that I like regularity, with just a very small hint of variation once in awhile.

I’ve learned I feel healthier with regular exercise, and that running every day is not only possible, but it helps me monitor my energy level, my happiness, and my effort level. Both in life and work. I can tell when stress is getting higher, when I’m pushing too hard.

I’ve also learned that exercise is my hobby. I sometimes lament that I don’t spend enough time playing guitar, or working with wood, but ultimately I realize that my activities (baseball, snowboarding, running, etc.) are a hobby.

Three years, running every day, has taught me about myself, and at the end of every day, I feel like I’ve accomplished something, no matter what else has happened.

It’s been a good three years and I’m not sure how long I’ll go, but I’ve enjoyed the journey so far.

One of these things is not like the other…

Coming back from dropping Delaney off at the bus, I saw this in one pasture:

and this in the other

Which one doesn’t belong behind a fence?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Late Night Fill Up

Not for me, but for the horses. We got back from karate tonight and Tia wasn’t feeling good. She had been working  on the ATV, turning over the round pen and got nauseous. She came in to lie down, and after getting the kids in bed, I headed out into the fields. With a bucket on my head, I carried it to the South pasture for the 4 horses there and filled it with water.

The hose out there is small, the water pressure a little low, and it was a big bucket. I had headphones on, and listened to music, checking some email and enjoying the cool fall night. It’s peaceful, and quiet, and even when I don’t feel like doing a relatively easy chore, I remember some things I’ve seen about keeping lightly active being good for your health. It’s the kind of chore the kids hate, but as I get older, it’s one I hope I can do when I’m 75 or 85.

Buckets filled, and now watching a little NFL opening night as I do a touch of personal work.

Volleyball was good tonight, with Kendall’s team starting to look good. Delaney came with us and helped corral balls and run the practice. Looking forward to seeing her game Saturday since I missed the last one. I’ll be missing one more on Oct 1 when I’m in the UK, already feeling a little guilty about that, and so I am trying to get to all the other practices I can.

After that I hit karate, taking both kids with me. I ask Delaney about every other week or so if he’d like to hit a class, but he continues to say he’s not interested. The teacher was happy to see him tonight, but Delaney wasn’t interested in class. He was engrossed in a book and didn’t really seem interested. Oh well, he did his time, working hard to get his black belt.

I had a great class, moving through kata hard, and feeling good. I had to slow down on the kicks at the end since I was worried about the right ankle, but still sweated nicely. Good to be back after missing karate last night. I had planned on coming, but Tia and I got busy trying to finish taxes, so I skipped it.

The Building is Here

We were supposed to have the fabric building arrive on Wed with the installers, but there was a delay. Likely it was because of weather and on Tuesday we heard that things wouldn’t happen until Friday. Since we had some good rain on Tues and Wed, I think it was a good move.


I was downstairs trying to finish a bit of work when I heard Tia yell down from the bedroom. Something about a building, and as I walked into the foyer, I glanced outside. A semi was negotiating the gate, and I knew what was happening.



He drove down near the house, where we talked with him and he was here to spend the night, waiting on the installers coming in the am. Apparently he wasn’t worried and had food, generator, etc. to hang out. We showed him where things were going, but decided to park near the barn.




We assume the installers are flying here, or even in Denver now, staying down in Parker. They are supposed to be here at 7:30 and I think things will start to fly after that. Might be a day to work near the barn and watch the progress move forward.

It’s kind of exciting to think we’ll have a 72x140’ building up next week and ready for the winter.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Long Short Week

I'm not sure what was going on, but I was dead tired last night. We were going to go have dinner with Kyle, but he had homework and couldn't make it. So the four of us went, and I was exhausted on the way home. I lay down as Kendall showered and fell asleep.

However I woke up at 1:00am and struggled to get back to sleep. I was dead tired when Tia woke me up around 7:15 to get Kendall ready for school. She was tired, and complained quite a bit, making this a hard morning.

I'm still tired, and even though this is a short week, 4 days, it's already started to feel like a long one.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Almost Back to Normal

After spending a day in Oshkosh, NE, it's almost back to normal. We got back last night, with both Tia and I falling asleep as the kids watched a movie in our bed. They went to bed and I woke up around 2am to check on them before sleeping in this morning.

It was a good Sunday morning, reading with coffee at the counter for awhile, then slowly getting moving to unpack from our trip. I renewed our ski passes and then Kendall and I went to go get her new ski boots and a jacket in preparation for the winter season.

I hoped to do a few chores, but it got late, and shopping was slow, so I'll have plenty to do tomorrow. After a quick run, hopefully my wife and I will get to enjoy a quiet drink out in town.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Not so Thursday-pa-looza

Late start Thursday was today, the kids getting an extra hour to sleep. However for Tia, for me, and for Delaney it didn’t feel like enough. I let the alarm go and finally got up 15 min later, then had to push Delaney to get moving. I couldn’t imagine getting up at the regular time today.

Looking forward to Sat, or maybe Sun and sleeping in. Not sure if I’ll get to stay in Sat.