Archive for February, 2006

Rock walker

Monday, February 20th, 2006

Here’s Reader Number Two climbing around on the rocks at Worlds End State Park. What a great park! I really want to go back there again. I really want to go camping anywhere. With my family that is.

I already have frequent chances to camp with the scouts, which is also a lot of fun, but it’s a different kind of fun. We’re going this coming weekend, although we’re only camping on top of the septic system at the church, since we’re working on our video on Saturday morning in church kitchen. We’re planning a paper airplane flying contest in the Hall of Culture on Friday evening. Since we’ll be at the church, we can’t have a campfire, of course, and we need to be particularly good neighbors, so we’ll find fun things to do inside. It will be fun regardless.

But the real camping fun this year will be our family trip to Ohio and Illinois (along with other possible destinations) in the first two weeks of August, as mentioned in a previous column. I’m ready to go right now.

Elizabeth, my friend and co-worker from San Diego, Denver, and McLean, came up to Newtown to work on an ICD with me today. We had her come over for dinner this evening too. It was really nice to see her and catch up on things. Today’s work went really well too, and I got a great sushi lunch out of it to boot.

I listened to a new podcast tonight. It’s called Daily Giz Wiz and features Dick de Bartolo and Leo Laporte. de Bartolo is a very entertaining guy who discovers and writes/talks about all kinds of neat little gadgets. He used to appear on The Screensavers pretty often, along with several other more networky shows. He’s also a longtime writer for Mad Magazine, which I really enjoyed as a young person. His website is here. Anyway, the podcast was pretty cool. It’s supposed to become a short daily show, and I’m really looking forward to hearing it every day.

Right now, I’m listening to an old Charlie Chan radio show. Very entertaining. I’ve found a website or two with some old shows available for download. Unfortunately, they’re pretty heavy on Red Skelton shows – not my favorite – and too light on Bob Hope and a few others I enjoy quite a bit more. I would love to find some old Blondie shows. Readers are invited to let me know where they are (for free, of course).

I finished reading The Psychology of Everyday Things. It wasn’t exactly what I had thought it would be, but it was fascinating nonetheless. It’s basically a treatise on what makes for good design, which it basically defines as ease of use. I especially enjoyed the early parts of the book where numerous examples of bad design are given. The examples hit pretty close to home. If you look around a little bit, you can find practically unlimited examples of hard-to-use things, including such commonplace things as doorknobs and telephones. Very amusing and informative. I recommend the book. Just don’t expect it to be a psychology book – it’s more of a human factors engineering treatise.

Having finished that book, I’ve started Eniac, by Scott McCartney. It’s a history of Eckert and Mauchly, the designers of the first digital computer. I’m only nine pages into it, so it’s way too early to tell if it’s any good, but the subject is a fascinating one to me – the history of computing and the people who were there from the beginning. I’ll keep my loyal readers informed of my progress and opinions. I’m sure they’re dying to know.

It’s just a few minutes after nine o’clock, but I’m really sleepy, so it’s time to quit. Besides, Charlie Chan is done. I was too busy typing to find out who done it, so I’ll have to listen again soon. The suspense is killing me! Good night.

Buckley and Brooke

Friday, February 17th, 2006

Liked the sign. Took its picture.

Monk (sound file behind the link – you’ve been warned) was good tonight, as much of it as I could stay awake for. I’ll bet the rest was interesting too.

Also saw Napoleon Dynamite, which Shannon borrowed from a friend today. It was actually amusing, although they tell me you don’t really appreciate it until you see it the second time.

Also saw a goodly portion of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians – the MST3K version. Brilliant. I told a co-worker I was grieving at having recorded over it some time ago and he got me another copy. Thanks a hundred, Charlie!

I planned some business travel this afternoon. From 26 February until 23 March, I’ll be home a total of four days (7 thru 10 March, actually). Yuck! I could technically be home a couple more days in there, but it’s hardly worth flying home from Europe only to turn around and go back two days later. So I’ll stay. After that little jaunt, I’ll be home for a week and then back on travel for three more weeks in April. Busy, busy, busy.

I’ve decided to stop saying I have no time to write anything just before I end up writing 500 words. So, good night.

Another lighthouse

Thursday, February 16th, 2006

Here’s the second in my famous “lighthouse” series. It’s also the last, so far. This one is in Nassau. I like the blues.

Tonight, Mark and I took Andy to dance class and then went to Staples and the library. We needed to pick up a box of paper clips for Shannon’s science lesson tomorrow. We found the paperclips ($1.29 for a box of cute striped clips – great deal) and also picked up TurboTax and new print cartridges for Mark’s K12 computer. So, we went in for a buck-something item and ended up spending just about a hundred bucks. I’ll bet they love us at Staples. Mark also bought Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator, which he’s enjoying trying out.

I spent the rest of the evening getting Mark’s printer (HP DeskJet 5550) working with the new cartridge (the black cartridge was fine; the color one said it was full but absolutely refused to print in spite of repeated cleanings and primings – I finally gave up and put in the new one), setting it up to print to my LaserJet 1100, getting his account straightened back out, setting up Outlook, and finally making my computer print to his printer over the network. It all works!

But alas, I’m out of time, so I’m off to bed. Good night.


Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

Here’s another shot from our trip to Nassau. Our tour was a waste of time and money and the Ardastra Zoo was a real disappointment and the flamingo show was completely lame (they have actually trained them to walk!), but the birds were pretty, anyway.

The missionaries invited me to help them teach a couple of spanish-speaking guys – Alex and Juan – this evening while I was at Young Men. Alex was baptized two Sundays ago and Juan is pretty serious about joining the church within the next couple of weeks. They’re both really nice guys and I really enjoyed speaking some Spanish again. I mentioned to Shannon at Alex’s baptism that I think he already looks like a member of the church. It’s still true. I’ve been invited to teach the Gospel Principles Sunday School class next Sunday too. Because of the several Spanish-speaking people attending the class, it’s held in both English and Spanish, which ought to be interesting. My experience conducting meetings in both English and Russian with ILS should be helpful there.

The cheesecake was excellent! Maybe the best ever.

Zoinks! It’s already almost 10:00 and I have to drive to Seminary tomorrow. Better get to bed. See you tomorrow.


Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

Well, he’s really not a slacker, but his t-shirt is. This is another one taken at Hopewell Furnace last year. That was a pretty good day for photography, if I do say so myself. There were lots of interesting places and I guess I was feeling creative that day. I need to keep my camera a little bit handier – I frequently see things that I think would make a good picture, but don’t often get to take advantage of those moments. The trouble is that we’re not technically allowed to bring cameras into the office (although so many people have cameraphones these days that it’s effectively impossible to keep them out), and I don’t want to leave it in the car to freeze and/or burn. So, no photos unless I specifically go out to take them. Sigh.

I have to go pick up Mark from his Barbership practice. Back in a little bit.

I’m back. Actually, I never left. Just as I was getting ready to go downstairs, Shannon called and told me she was on the way home and would be happy to go pick Mark up. So I stayed home.

Happy Valentine’s Day! We’re spending the holiday quietly at home, except for Shannon, who went to visit somebody in the Relief Society, and Mark, who went to Barbershop practice. No, he’s not learning how to cut hair – he’s learning to sing a capella, as in Barbershop Quartet. Although there are about a hundred of them. I guess that’s just 25 quartets, if you care to look at it that way. Or one hundred-tet.

Anyway, we’re spending the holiday quietly at home. I presume (hope, actually) that Shannon made me my traditional cherry cheesecake. Presumably, we’ll have it after she and Mark get home.

It was a pretty busy day at work today – much busier than I’m used to these days. I spent essentially the entire day in telecons, which may not sound exhausting, but it was. The good news is that we got a lot of work accomplished for Astra 1KR. The less good news is that I didn’t get any work done on my JCSAT-11 ICD, which I have to review with my ILS friends on Monday. Well, there’s always tomorrow. Besides, 1KR is my absolutely top priority right now. If I don’t find the time to work on J-11 tomorrow, though, I’m in real danger of needing to work a little bit of overtime to catch up, and that would be a problem!

Shannon’s not feeling well right now – a cold, she suspects. She has my pity.

Somebody’s been looking at my Flickr photos! I wonder who. I wonder why. Is it one of my readers? Is it a perfect stranger? Is it an imperfect stranger? I certainly hope not. I guess I should have put a link back to the blog there – maybe I’d actually get a reader who I don’t already know! Nah . . . that’ll never happen.

They’re back from Barbershop! I’m off to eat cheesecake. Bye.