Archive for October, 2006

In the mud

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

Here’s the family camping in the mud back in May, 2003 in Virginia. What a beautiful park! What a muddy, muggy park too! That’s how it got so green. I want to go camping (as my Loyal Readers know).

Happy Halloween! Boo!

Came home from work about three hours early tonight. They say Halloween is the worst commuting night of the year around here, and I drove today, thinking that I would get home earlier than the train. Unfortunate planning, that, so I left early. Not to worry, though – I’ll more than make up the hours on Friday.

It’s 5:30 now, and there haven’t been any trick-or-treaters yet. I wonder how many we’ll have in this neighborhood. I know there are some little kids around here, so we ought to have at least a few. Loyal Reader Number Four was on the phone with Loyal Reader Number Three a few minutes ago, and I overheard his doorbell ringing several times, so at least they’re getting a little bit of business over there in Arizona.

– Later –

I’m back. Dinner’s over (chocolate pie still to come – a departure from our traditional pumpkin, but nonetheless very welcome) and the trick-or-treaters are coming fast and furious, even though it’s almost 7:30. LRN4 mentioned that they probably start later here because their parents don’t get home from work until way late. Likely.

I’ve been listening to some new podcasts: The Glenn and Helen show and PowerLine (the links will get you to their websites, but I found them and subscribed via iTunes). They’re both hosted by fairly famous conservative bloggers. PowerLine is a taped radio show from Minneapolis and covers mainly politics from a conservative point of view, with a more or less heavy emphasis on Minnesota issues. Still, it’s quite entertaining. Glenn and Helen (a hus-a-band-and-a-wife-a-team) talk about a wide variety of things and frequently interview guests. On one recent show, they interviewed the head of Army recruiting, for example. They sound just a little too scripted at times, but I’m enjoying them anyway. I’m branching out a little bit from Leo Laporte‘s many netcasts – some of them are getting a bit tedious, with Leo and friends stating opinions I don’t necessarily agree with in a very insulting way. It’s a Bad Idea for a tech netcaster to insult a large percentage of his audience, especially when the insults have nothing to do with his ostensible technical subject. Drives people away, including me. I’m still downloading Leo’s shows, but I’m much more quick to press the skip button and go on to the next netcast. Next step: only download the ones I really love. After that: abandon ship. There are so many other good ones to listen to.

I’m still enjoying the robot book quite a bit. I’ve already finished the electronics part and am now learning how to build the robot’s body. The author takes the whole thing one tiny step at a time, explains the theory in a clear, straightforward way, and makes it truly easy. He shows you the specific parts and tools to buy, none of which are terribly expensive, and goes through each step in a very thorough way, with lots of pictures and technical data. The robot looks pretty simple and fun to build. I might actually do it! The family will be gone for a couple of weeks anyway, so if I start getting bored, here’s something to do. Of course, I already have a couple thousand other half-finished projects, but you never know. This one looks like fun.

Time to get organized for bed. See you tomorrow.


Monday, October 30th, 2006

Here’s a lights-out picture of the Jack-o’-lanterns carved by Loyal Readers Numbers One and Two this evening. As I’m sure you know, that’s Trogdor on the left and Strong Bad on the right. Beautiful work, guys.

No time for anything else today. I hope to be a little less occupied tomorrow. Loyal Readers Numbers One, Two, and Four are leaving on Friday (or maybe Saturday) to spend a couple of weeks with Loyal Readers Numbers Five and Twelve, so there ought to be plenty of time for blogging then, with nobody here but my Loyal Dog and me. We’ll get along . . . somehow.

See you on Tuesday, and Happy Halloween!

Jefferson’s view

Friday, October 27th, 2006

Following up on Monday’s post, here’s the view from Monticello. Looks pretty impressive to me. They always seemed to build on top of a hill back then. I guess we still do when we have the chance.

Good week at work. I got all my performance appraisals done, which is a bigger job than you might imagine. It was especially tough for me because I’ve only been working with these people for a few months. I wrote some things they’ll all hopefully think are flattering and got it over with.

Installed five replacement blinds this evening. We couldn’t get the originals to work right. It looks now like it might have been a simple matter of pushing an axle further into a gear. All I can say in my own defense is that I tried that and it didn’t work on the day we installed them. Now that the new ones are in, I tried it again on a couple of the old ones and the fix seems to have worked fine this time. Oops.

Lots of things on the list for the weekend. I hope to work on the Taurus to repair the windshield washers and see if I can figure out why the radiator won’t refill itself from the overflow bottle. We could also do a minor repair on the headliner at the far back end. Then we need to install the new ceiling fan in the loft and move the loft’s light into the family room. I also have to prepare a Sunday School lesson and a talk for the third hour on Sunday. I’m sure I’m missing a ton of stuff. Oh yeah, need to get the pool water tested again and clean the filter.

We’re going to an activity called “Pipes and Pizza” tomorrow mid-day. The pipes are organ pipes and the pizza is …umm… pizza. Loyal Reader Number Two’s organ teacher is sponsoring this event and it’ll be held at a church somewhere in Modesto or thereabouts. LRN2 will be performing, so I’m really looking forward to it. Plus the organ is supposed to be really impressive too.

Anyway, the weekend ought to be busy. I’ll try to come up with some kind of update to the HRVA, so keep an eye out. Well, keep both eyes in, but have a look at my other website. See you on Monday.


Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

Here’s Loyal Reader Number Two a few years back. Wasn’t he cute? Still is. And he’s a highly-decorated Scout, who’s currently working on Star. Make it happen, LRN2! That picture was taken (possibly by Loyal Reader Number Four) with my old camera, which isn’t widely known for its high photographic quality. Still, this picture’s a keeper.

Drove to work today. I was going to attend a Microsoft Excel macro-making presentation at lunchtime, but I got busy and didn’t make it. Instead, I tried creating an actual Excel macro for one of my near-daily repetitive tasks – making a pivot chart from a long list of data. Sadly, even though I recorded it completely properly in two different versions, it doesn’t work right. I’m assuming here that, since the program was simply recording my actions and my actions worked right but the macro doesn’t work, there’s something wrong with how Excel handles pivot tables. In fact, a quick internet search suggests that there are macro bugs in pivot table handling. How unfortunate that my first exposure to Excel macros reveals them to work about as well as the rest of Microsoft’s products. Maybe I can make it work in Excel for Mac! Hold on a minute and we’ll see.

I’m back. It failed on a different line, but came a lot closer. Disappointing. Maybe I’ll have to try it in OpenOffice, but I have to say my hopes are fairly low by now. In fact, I’ll try it some other time. Doing the chart by hand takes five minutes every day, so I’ll just do it by hand. Love those Excel macros.

I have an assignment to get parents of missionaries in the ward to say something uplifting about their sons/daughters in church on Sunday. Easy assignment. I started making phone calls tonight. The trouble is that I’ve only been able to get in touch with the parents of three of the missionaries, and they’ll all be out of town on Sunday. One has promised to send me an audio file from his son and the others are sending portions of letters. The effect won’t be the same, but we’ll have to make it work. The easy assignment has become just a little more difficult.

I’m tired tonight, so that’s it. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you tomorrow.


Monday, October 23rd, 2006

Welcome back to Morrowlife! Here’s a nice little house on top of a hill in Virginia. We visited it a few years ago. It turns out somebody important lived there at one time. Very inventive fellow. He had a pretty good place there.

It was a relatively eventful weekend. We got the garage project pretty much done. The ‘Burb fits much better now, thank you. We can actually get into that side of the garage.

The Japanese drummers were, umm, interesting. They really pound on those drums. They played some original compositions. They sounded like, “Dum dum dum dum-de-dum dum dum,” as opposed to the old traditional Japanese drum music, which sounded like, “Dum dum-de-dum dum dum.” Big difference. My head still hurts. Still, I’m glad we went. Loyal Readers Numbers One and Two got up at the end and did a little drum pounding themselves. They sounded great.

Let’s see, what else? We pretty much spent Saturday evening quietly at home. Very nice. LRN2 invited a friend over for the night, so we heated up the spa and hung out in the backyard for an hour or so before bedtime. I sure like that spa. Sadly, the pool was just too cold for swimming. Other than for LRN2. He hopped right in and enjoyed it. That boy can certainly handle some cold water.

Called my mom (unfortunately not a Loyal Reader) for her birthday on Saturday. It was nice chatting with her. She had fun at Disneyworld, just in case you’re wondering. She didn’t have a stroke there either, so that was good.

Sunday I felt a little sick again. I’m getting discouraged about that. Kept a low profile and hung around the house all day. I did get a few things done, though – I taught Larry the Computer how to write CD-ROMs and erase CD-RWs, taught Curly the Mac how to write SVCDs, and taught Mark the Computer (currently in Linux mode) how to play nicely with Java (although there’s still a problem running Runescape, so M the C still has a little bit to learn). I also wrote a big, long article on RV battery reconditioning for the HRVA. It’s been well-received by my harshest critic (LRN1), so that’s gratifying. The website is willing but the content is weak. Have a look anyway, and how about signing up? I need more members. When I changed over to Drupal, all my users got unregistered, so please sign up again if you haven’t already. If you have already signed up, thanks. Tell a friend. I’ll try to get those stickers going Real Soon Now.

Rode the train to work today, so I’m writing this on the way home. No Wifi, of course. We got there about 15 minutes late today – the train was very slow leaving the Lathrop station. After we had sat there for several minutes, they announced there was a medical emergency at the front of the train and asked if there was a doctor or nurse onboard. I don’t know if they got one, but an ambulance and fire truck arrived a few minutes later. We waited a little longer and then left. I wonder what happened and hope it wasn’t too serious. We’ll probably be another 15 minutes late this afternoon due to conflict with an off-schedule Amtrak train and a broken signal. I don’t like that.

I checked out a book on robot building on Saturday, not expecting too much. It turns out to be quite interesting – enough so, in fact, that I’ve added it to the book club way over there on the right. I’ll let you know more about it when it’s all over.

Fortunately, I have the robot book here in the train, and it’s time to quit writing and start reading. See you tomorrow.