Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Day in Pictures - Nov 29, 2011

Trying something new here, posting a few pictures I’ve taken during the day.

The day started with my getting kids ready for school. Kendall had clothes laid out for the day, or perhaps a few weeks.

Photo Nov 29, 8 02 06 AM

Tia ordered her a bunch of clothes from Justice, and she put them all on the upper bunk for easy decision.

My little girl, sleeping soundly.

Photo Nov 29, 8 02 02 AM

with music playing. She runs her iTouch all night, playing next to the bed. It was my old iPod, and iHome, and three or four years later it still works.


Photo Nov 29, 8 01 53 AM

I shut down the music and got both kids going for the day. A few minutes later Kendall came down and said she was sick, so I sent her to bed and got Delaney going.

We were late, in a hurry, so I grabbed the closets shoes.

Photo Nov 29, 6 53 42 AM

We still ended up missing the bus. Grrr, not what I needed, but it happens. Delaney asked if we could chill out at home before we went to school, but we were already 10 minutes away. When I asked why, he told me he had some homework to do.

So he did it in the car when we drove to school.

Photo Nov 29, 7 28 51 AM

A somewhat uneventful day until the afternoon.

Photo Nov 29, 4 10 29 PM

I was late getting Delaney from the bus, but here  he is crossing the neighbor’s yard, trying to avoid my camera. If you look in the background, there’s a herd of deer that was nearby as he walked by. They looked up, took a few steps, and watched him walk past.

Tuesday night was Scouts, and some nice chats with a few other parents. Delaney went early, fulfilling his patrol leader duties.

Forgiving Mistakes

My main phone line at the house has been on the fritz for about 3-4 weeks. Yes, we still have a main line and it’s a legacy holdover from having that number for a decade and it links do our DSL account. We may get rid of it at some point, but for now we wanted it working. We actually weren’t aware it was down until a service repairperson told us when they arrived. We checked, and sure enough, no dial tone.

My wife and I are somewhat savvy and we tried to debug it, but it was down. With travel and holidays, it wasn’t until Tuesday morning that we called CenturyLink for service and I was pleasantly surprised by a technician arriving in the early afternoon.

He tried a few things in the house, then set up a tone generator and drove back out to the street. Yep, he drove. My driveway is 1/4 mile long and it’s another 1/4 mile to the paved road, and a mile and a half to the main road.

About ten minutes later he came back and said things were fixed. We checked, and sure enough, we had dial tone. He then explained what happened: our line was cut.

I was surprised and worried, until he explained that when you service lines in the boxes, there is often a little extra wire on a connection. Small scissors are used to snip that off and clean the connections, but there are a lot of wires in there and sometimes one gets accidently cut by a tech. He surmised that another tech was in a hurry and accidently got one of our lines (we have two). He apologized again, we shook hands and went on our ways.

My Reaction

I wasn’t quite sure how to react to the situation after that. Should I complain to CentuyLink and seek some credit on our bill? Should I vent on the Internet about shoddy workmanship? In the end, I told my wife it was fixed, explained what happened, and we both let it drop.

Andy Leonard wrote a great piece on stress during the holidays with a very important section on forgiveness. I forgave CenturyLink because it seemed like the right thing to do. A few dollars on my bill aren’t worth the time it would take me to call and the aggravation I’d cause myself and some customer service representative in order to file a complaint and seek credit.

I make mistakes at work. Heck, I make them all the time, and I don’t expect to be banned, burned at the stake, or excommunicated for them. They’re mistakes. I learn from them, I try not to make them again, I try to do my best, but I know that there will be a few that I make.

I expect my co-workers will make mistakes, and I have to live with some of those. I might be annoyed, or inconvenienced, but I understand that most of the time they are just that, mistakes.

I wonder sometimes if we’ve forgotten how to forgive in this world, forgotten how to tolerate the imperfections that exist in all of us, and in the work we do.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The kitty and her boy

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


I got a call just before lunch today from Delaney. It’s never good when I see the school’s phone number on my phone, and I was wondering what was up.

“Dad, I burned my finger on the soldering iron.”

He sounded good, and when I questioned him, it didn’t seem too bad as the nurse had sent him back to class with ice, but he was struggling a bit with the injury. It blistered, and I know that I’d struggle to concentrate if it happened to me, so I said I’d come get him.

I took some burn cream (silver sulfate) and a burn bandage with some ice and drove down. He was doing OK, he’d eaten, and had another class, and it didn’t look too bad, but there’s a nice 2-3cm burn blister on the left thumb. I covered it with cream and a bandage and put him in the car. I had a couple errands to run, and as I came out of the ranch store, he was out asleep.

Going back to school this week after a week off is tough.

I finished my errands, got lunch, and he was still out. He came home and I sent him to bed, to try and get him back on a good schedule. We’ll see if he makes tennis tonight.

A Four Project Shopping Trip

Yesterday Tia left early with Kendall to go visit a friend out on the Eastern plains. With Delaney and a friend sleeping in, I left the house and headed into town, intending to get a few supplies at Home Depot and/or Murdoch’s for various projects. I was hoping to get a gate hung, another one set in posts, and also look at pricing for wiring the arena. I got a few things done, and then ended up getting supplies for these projects:

  • Hang existing gate
  • Set new gate posts in the ground
  • Volleyball posts for Kendall to practice
  • Easel for Kendall

I got home and then worked on these projects:

  • Hang existing gate
  • Set new gate posts in the ground (1 of 2)
  • Kickboards for the arena

I thought I had 2-3 bags of cement at the house, and got home to find none, so I was semi-stymied in my efforts. I got gate 1 hung, which has been on the list for six months. The generator and a new drill helped me get that one done.

After that, I dug the holes with the auger for the other posts (after Tia spotted them for me), I was done with that since I didn’t have any cement. That also killed any chance to work on volleyball posts.

So I moved on. Tia has been thinking of kickboards around the arena, and I had a few 2x4s around to work with, so I dragged them to the arena, along with some OSB, a saw, drill, and some strapping. I braces the OSB together with 2x4s set in them, and then strapped them to the steel frames.

Photo Nov 27, 4 45 22 PM

I ended up putting up 3 boards, 24ft, to see how they looked and they were fine. Tia liked them, and so now I have a major project, about 360’ or so of kickboards around the arena.

Photo Nov 27, 4 45 17 PM

I did pick up some cement today and I can work on the posts tonight or tomorrow.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Home Theater Hack

Last night Tia and I wanted to watch Limitless on the big screen from Netflix. We fired up the Blu-ray player and tried to select Netflix. It wouldn't connect. We tried a number of tricks, but for some reason the DVD player could connect to the network, but wouldn't pick up an IP address from the DHCP server. Despite assigning an address and putting in DNS servers, it would not connect.

Never fear, Tia asked if we could get the computer connected. Hmmm, I have a VGA dongle for my Macbook since I use it to present and the TV has a VGA in. So I grabbed a cable, the dongle and tried connecting. Once I set the TV to the PC input, I got...

Incorrect PC signal.

Grrr. Fortunately I have the internet and I managed to find our TV on the Sony site and read a little about the VGA input. It supported the 1024x768 that I was outputting, but it needed a 60Hz signal. As soon as I adjusted the Mac down, it connected.

I added a stereo cable from the Mac headphone jack to the TV and we were watching netflix, via the Macbook, on the big screen with the home theater stereo going.

Now if I'd just have been able to stay awake long enough to watch the entire movie. After a poor night's sleep Thur night, I couldn't stay awake for the entire movie. It did look cool, though and I need to watch the rest of it at some point.

Cold, but good chores

It was really nice to wake up in my own bed, rested, with nice soft sheets around me, I fell asleep watching a movie with Tia last night and woke up nice and rested this morning, ready for chores.
My first stop was to get Tia's keys and take her new truck to the gas station for coffee.

And tires. There's a motorcycle/car tire place next to the gas station and they have tons of old ties out back that they give away. The tarp over the hay was blowing a little loose, so I grabbed 10 more ties and brought them back.

It's cold and windy today. Somewhere in the 40s, but chilly, even with the sun shining. I had a jacket and hat, but it was cold and I needed some breaks as I tied some rope together to stretch across the hay bales the long way, about 30-35ft. On each end, I tied a tire to hold down the tarps on the long sides, then with a break in the barn to get warm, it was back out to repeat the process again. The rest of the tires got thrown on top and it looks like we have things fairly well secured for now.

Cold, not pleasant work, but it's work. And I feel good getting something physical accomplished.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 6

Misc pictures

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


A nice view for a morning run in the mountains.

Chugging down the road between Fraser and Winter Park for a hilly run. Glad I had a headband. Need to stick gloves in my bag as well.

The mountains are beautiful

I have the feeling it will be busy today do I ran early.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


More fun today instead of skiing

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 4

Another day skiing, this time with Kyle. He drove up late last night and we got everyone up early to hit the slopes.

We skied together a bit until Kendall was tired of the steep blues and her feet hurt. So we broke for lunch for a bit before splitting up. Tia took the boys and I went with Kendall for the afternoon.

Kendall and I stopped around 3, going to the cafe for a beer and an Italian soda. Everyone else showed up around 3:30 and we played cards for awhile.

Dinner and then dominos with the family with me sneaking in a short, day 1168 run.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

First day on the mountain

Waking up

Waiting for the bus

Riding the lift

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Friday, November 18, 2011

The Woodworking Show

I managed to find a little time today to hit the Woodworking Shows today, taking the day off. A later start than I wanted, but the show was smaller, so it wasn’t  a big deal. So after a nice easy jog with Tia, I headed north of Denver to the show.

I’ve been twice before and then missed two years with a busy schedule this time of year. I enjoy going, getting inspired by seeing what people create out of wood, and hopefully motivated to actually do something in my own shop. This year there were less vendors, and a few I’ve gone to watch to see tricks and tips from, like Incra, weren’t even there.

However I did see some neat things. A few tips on using a jointer, some cabinet tips from the Kreg vendor, and I saw a bandsaw guy make a great box in about 3 minutes. Makes me think that I ought to be able to do one myself in 3 hours.

I ended up watching some of the dovetail/joinery guys, and decided to spend a little money and get a jig set with a pin router bit for making boxes. I’ve been wanting to try that and I see them each time I go and they make it look easy. Now I’ve got a kit, and hopefully I’ll get something built.


Packing up and heading to Winter Park for a well deserved vacation. This has been one we’ve looked forward to for a few rough weeks of work and travel.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Truck Issues

We took Tia's truck in today to the shop. Actually I met her down there since she had to run her father to the doctor for a quick checkup. The truck wouldn't start, so I ended up jumping it to get it going and then met her down there.

This afternoon they called and said that it might just be drained batteries, but that she should replace it. It's a 6liter Ford and those are full of problems.

We debated it all afternoon, searched around, looked at the various options out there, and talked about our situation. It's a good time to replace the truck now, while she's working and sooner is better than later. Since we're leaving town, she wanted to go by and look at Dodge's so we're heading up tonight to see what we can find.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Lovely Afternoon

It's been crazy at the ranch. Busy, hard, both on Tia and I with lots of work, travel, and trying to find time for kids. Today Tia left early for a meeting with a client, and I went to lunch with a friend. Tia finished as I was driving over and decided to come meet us.

We had a good lunch, chatting as we haven't been able to do for a few weeks. Her afternoon was free, and I wasn't overly crunched (though I will be tomorrow), and so we decided to run a few errands. I need a new ski coat, after the zipper pulled out my old one. My old, old one is too thin, essentially a shell that doesn't work very well in the dead of winter. So we headed to the ski shop and tried on some coats, and got me a discount Oakley model from last year. It's really the first real, snowboard coat I've had ever, and it's nice.

Then we were chatting about her truck, which has been giving us some electrical problems. We've talked about trading it in and she wanted to swing by the dealer to see how much the new ones have changed and check the used lot. We looked at a couple 2008 2500s, but at $30k, they were a little more than we wanted to spend. However we saw a new, 2011 3500 that was $36k, which makes us rethink the matter slightly. Some research to do, but she misses the Dodge and the four captains chairs are harder for us to deal with than we thought.

An afternoon catching up with my wife, a nice break from the crazy life I've been leading all year. Hopefully we'll get a few more of those over the next few months as life should slow down a touch.

Monday, November 14, 2011

After School Snack

Preheat oven to 450F

5-6 potatoes, washed and cut into thin wedges
Drop them in a bag or bowl with
 - olive oil
 - salt and pepper
 - garlic powder
 - shredded park cheese

Baked for 20 minutes, flip, bake 20 more

Now I need to make more since this batch is gone.


We got one light up last night. After I got home, I headed out to do a few chores, and hanging one of the lights in the arena was on the list. I checked the wiring, put bulbs in, and it was working, so I packed up and took it over to the barn.

Next was the generator, but when I went to add oil, I realized that it didn't have an oil plug. Pack up, go back to Lowes and talk to them. We'd bought the floor model, and the guy said no one should have sold it to us. We walked over to see what else they had, and I was thinking we might need to get a 5k generator, but they had another 3.5kv one in stock, so I grabbed that and headed home. Add oil, gas, and it started right up, working beautifully.

Next was the hanging of the light. The arena is tall, 30ft in the center, and I knew we couldn't get close, but we could get up there. I put the step ladder in Tia's pickup, strapped it in so it wouldn't move, and backed it below one of the arches. I managed to throw a rope over one, about 18 ft in the air. Two of those up there and we were hanging the light fixture up. We pulled it up, along with an extension cord, fired up the generator, and we had lights.


Not as much light as I'd like, but enough to show that we can do this. We decided to order 9 more lights, to give us ten, and then rent a lift and get them up there. My task this week is to also gather the supplies for wiring, pulleys, etc and get those ready. I'm thinking I need around 1800ft of wiring, 12-18 pulleys, some cranks, and a few more items that will get us ready to hang the lights.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Running in NYC

When I was in New York City in 2010, I made two runs in Central Park one evening and really enjoyed it. The weather was cool, and there was traffic to avoid, but it was neat to run in an park setting and see the skyscrapers jutting up as I ran through the trees. This year my hotel was further away from the park, almost 10 blocks. However I wanted to get to the park, so I headed out from 51st and 3rd, crossing to Park Avenue and then heading north.

I jogged up the famous street, getting to 61st street before I cut over to the park. It was a sunny morning, a little chilly (40F), but not too bad, as I came in site of Central Park. I crossed into the park, and then headed down a path, moving South towards the edge before coming out and heading back over to Park Avenue for a return to the hotel.

Time was short, and I was in the park for only a tenth of a mile or so, but it was still a joy to run in New York city in the morning.


On stage at SQLInspire. And still using my hands to talk.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Joe Pa Out

I listened all day on the radio as various people debated the scandal at Penn State involving sexual abuse. As I heard various opinions, I kept thinking that to allow the coach to continue on for the rest of the year, even if he is not legally guilty, would be a mistake. I'm glad the board of trustees agreed and removed him tonight.

We all have to be guided by our moral compass, and when we see something going wrong, especially with kids, we need to stand up more. I'm not sure I've always done this, but I'd hope that I would in the case of child abuse. I think about it at times, especially as the Boy Scouts are so careful about child protection, and am careful to both watch for signs from other leaders, as well as be careful about putting myself in an improper situation.

Joe Paterno reported the situation to his superiors, but he didn't do enough. He didn't ensure the authorities investigated, or investigated himself. He didn't prevent future potential problem situations, and he did the bare minimum required by law. That's not enough, and while he has been an amazing icon in college football, he doesn't deserve to continue the rest of this year.

Day 1

It's day 1 of the 2011/2012 winter season. I have been wanting to go skiing for a few weeks and finally made it today. I was hoping Tia would join me, but she had too much work and too many meetings, so I headed up alone.

A few friends from the area were going to Arapahaoe Basin today and I decided to join them. An easy drive up, getting me there at 10:30 and on the slopes at 10:45.

I'd never been to A-Basin (as it's known locally) before. It's up on top of the continental divide, above and to the west of Loveland. I've always worried about the pass, but it was so early and clear in the season I tried it. Piece of cake, and a beautiful day. Sunny, very little wind, and not too cold. 

Only two lifts were open, both leading to the top of the peak, and there were two routes down, but they both essentially paralleled each other. Blues, but not too hard blues, and fun to race down. My face got a little cold a few times when I was flying down, but not too much. Nice, peaceful races down the mountain, and then chatting with a fellow SQL guy on the lift going up.

At the top, you could see Keystone and Breck in the distance.

A great day, and nice to be back on the slopes. I was too busy last week on Mon and Fri to come up, and was worried the week before about snow at the resorts since so few runs were open. Now I look forward to Thanksgiving, when we go for a week, starting the 18th.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A cello upgrade

A wait list to upgrade Delaney's cello from 3/4 size to full size. Popular instrument or bad supply chain management? Hard to know but I think it's cool that he enjoys playing.

Sleeping In

Delaney is still fighting some cold, and a little run down. He was cranky last night and under some pressure with a few tests coming up after missing 3 days last week (plus a snow day). He brought his cello home last night, and practiced, but is just worn out.

So I let him sleep in an extra couple hours and then took him to school, signing him in late, and hopefully he’ll catch up a bit. Thinking we might need to skip Scouts tonight to give him a little more of a break and get him to bed early.


But first, a good breakfast. Here’s my setup to get him the first meal of the day. I used to do this a lot last year, but this year he’s been asking for bagels most days and not eating them. Good to get him back to a big breakfast to face the day.

After dropping him off, I brought Tia a treat as well


Quite a salary

If this article is true, and I suspect it is for some software engineers, why aren’t more people learning programming?

I think that we have a few problems in the industry, and I have an editorial coming out soon on this. One is that this type of money is rare. So many people work for companies and they make a good living, but they work hard. We have a perception issue of this industry being geeky, long hours, not a lot of respect, etc. I hear so many complaints from people that it’s hard sometimes to decide if they really like their jobs or they’re stuck in them, much like I hear complaints from people in accounting, or sales, etc.

The other issue is that we haven’t done a great job of getting younger people interested in computers. We require more computer work in schools, and my kids use computers as much as I did when I was 12 and a geek, but they’re using computers as tools to produce an end product, not as a way to build another tool.

We need to advocate, interest, and excite more kids about technology as a career if we want it to grow.

cross posted to The Voice of the DBA blog

Monday, November 7, 2011


Kendall was playing up the sprain a bit this morning and Tia said she could go in late. I had to get her ready around 10 and it took an hour of Pleading, arguing, cajoling, reasoning and more to get her there.

We tried crutches, then a boot, then an ACE bandage, back to one crutch, then finally a wrapped ankle in a boot.

She said she would be embarrassed to be seen injured and I suspect some girls might give her a hard time.

Eventually we went, I walked her in and we explained to her teacher she had hurt it at tennis. The kids crowded around and kept asking how she was.

When I picked her up, she hadn't been embarrassed but she didnt like all the attention.

I bet te boot stays home tomorrow.

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Another 4-0 football weekend

Not betting, but in the teams I love/hate. Or root for/against. The two teams I look to win every week, the Broncos and Cowboys both won. The two teams I hope lose, the Redskins and Patriots, both lost. Big smile for me.

I stayed up late last night after Tia fell asleep watching the Broncos game, and I was impressed. Granted, the Raiders were without McFadden, which I think makes a big difference, and the defense still have up some good runs, but they also swarmed and blocked lanes well in a number of other plays, had some good pass defense, a decent rush, not great, but OK, and they seemed improved.

The offense was also better. I don’t think Tebow looked great, but he had some better throws (and still some really bad ones) and ran more effectively, better play calling, and I think they can make a serviceable QB out of him. He needs a lot of talent around him, but a good rushing, pounding attack by the Broncos. I’d be curious how they might do against the Jets with that type of attack.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Casual Day

Daylight Savings time kicked in, so my 9am wakeup was actually an 8am one in real time. Tia and I lay around a bit, relaxing with Kendall out at a friend's for a sleepover. Eventually we got up and went to breakfast with a silly Delaney that enjoyed hanging out with his parents.

After a nice IHOP meal, we picked up Kendall and then went to Home Depot, grabbing a generator that we'll use while camping and to power lights in the arena. I was worried about a 2k one, so we ended up grabbing a 3.5kv gas generator from Lowe's (out of stock at Home Depot). The plan was to come home and hook up some lights, but the day got away from us. A stop by GrandDad's and then Tia had a lesson to give.

The kids and I had fun, going back out to play some tennis. We got a nice hour of volleys and exercises before Kendall chased a ball that was leaving the court and stepped on a protruding eye bolt. She rolled her ankle and she could limp, but I brought her home. As soon as I saw her step funny, I knew what had happened, and I knew it would hurt.

So she got a slushy and lay in bed, I went for a run, Delaney doing homework while Tia does horse stuff. Delaney wants to see Tower Heist, after Tia and I told him about it from Fri, so I'll take him in a bit to close out the weekend.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Back Home

I had planned on grabbing the 12:00 flight from Vegas to Denver today on standby, with a fallback to the 3:00 and 5:00 flights. However that would have me leaving the hotel around 10-10:30 to be safe, and since I’d only see one session, I decided to skip it and try for the 9:30 flight. I checked in online, marked standby last night, and then headed to the airport after a morning run.

I got to the gate, and saw my name was first on the list, and there were 20 open seats. Good percentages, and sure enough, they gave me an exit row with about 45 minutes to go to the flight.


Got home, had lunch, grabbed a few groceries, and made it home. All in all, a nice trip.