Saturday, July 31, 2004

Train kept comin', pushed him off the track...

Today was the big day. In more ways than one. We went to the California State Railroad Museum on I Street in Sacramento. We managed to get out of the house only a few minutes late and with minimal fuss, and my parents actually weren't ready by the time we got there. Evidently there were people (my neice & nephew, I suppose) zipping around the house shoeless while trying to finish getting ready. As well as Rachel did getting out of the house, she did even better on the drive up. She had a little snack, spent some time playing with some toys, and dozed or spaced out most of the way up. Awesome.

The train museum was a big hit, as expected. Dick was in heaven. Rachel and her cousins were in heaven. I took pictures of the kids, my father took pictures of the kids. Especially of the kids playing with the Thomas the Tank toys in one area. After a while in the museum, we walked over to Fat City for lunch. Then Dawn and Dick went back to the museum with Corwin & Tycho to do some souvenir shopping while my parents and Rachel and I got a free tour of the old Sacramento train station. We think we figured out that one of the locomotives in there was in the museum's round-house when we were here last, which was when I was around 14; at least that's as close as we can figure.

At the restaurant, Rachel, Corwin & Tycho did a lot of drawing. Rachel started showing us something that we didn't know she could do yet. They must be working on it at school: tracing letters. I wrote Ariel for her and then, while I wasn't looking, she traced it. This was a big hit, at least for me; I thought it was really great! I made a point of writing letters nice and big for her, and she was happy as a clam until our lunch came.

We also got to take the 40-minute steam train ride along the Sac River. Rachel had a ball, and didn't even get upset when the engine pulled up not 10 feet behind us and blew it's whistle!

The trip home was interminable; even longer than the original Ladykillers, which I watched with John & Dan last night. When we finally got home, we BBQ'd teriyaki marinated sirloin (about 24hrs) and vinaigrette marinated broccoli (sadly marinated only a few minutes). The beef was fantastic. Dick and I even broke out the digital thermometer fork he gave me for father's day. It seems to work pretty well; I'll have to try it more often and only cut into the meat when the thermometer seems to indicate that it's ready.

When I picked him up at the airport on Thursday, I didn't have the foresight to check the arrival time before leaving or to bring something to read with me, so I actually wound up walking over to terminal 1 where there's a store that's not behind the security checkpoint. Picked up a copy of Bicycling magazine and read some of it. I'm working on reading an article by some New Yorker who decided to ride his bike everywhere for 30 days, no matter the time of day (or night), the weather, the distance, the destination, the attire, etc. Obviously, he lost some weight and got in better shape. I don't think I'm in a position where I can commit to that much biking, but I would like to start riding more. I am going to try to head up Spruce toward Tilden tomorrow sometime. Already have that on the agenda.

And now, since I feel as if I was hit by a train, rather than just having ridden and looked at them, I am going to bed. Good night.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Idle Amusements 101

My friend Rich (co-worker in Chicago) were just IMing. I asked him why i18n is an abbreviation for internationalization. I'd never given it much thought beyond someone telling me that it's 18 letters long and starts with i and ends with n. It isn't, of course. If you count carefully it's actually twenty letters long, which means i18n is a word that starts with i and ends with n and has 18 letters in between. So, I asked him what f2k would be and, later, announced that something hadn't f5g worked. He's concluded we have a new way to curse. It's certainly amusing for these idle moments while I wait for things to happen in my test system, but...

Another Dry Night

OK, so it may seem as if I'm obsessing, but this is BIG - Rachel went from about 8pm to after 7am without going to the bathroom and didn't wet herself. That makes six straight nights. I think this might have stuck. She'd been making it through the night dry for a while and, mostly, getting up and taking the diaper off to use the toilet, but then we got rid of the pabu (her word for pacifier) and she regressed significantly. That was months ago. It fell in the toilet and we'd already clearly established the rule that if the thing falls in the toilet it goes in the garbage. Then we lied mercilessly about how we'd see if we could get her another and how there were no more at the store. Took about 3 days before she really stopped asking for it, but the bedtime routines got thrown out of whack and we had to adjust for a while. I don't think we thought even for am oment of pushing the diaper issue at that point. Now she's come back to it on her own!

Dawn's father is visiting now for the weekend. I think he'll be going home on Tuesday. It should be a nice weekend. We have lots of stuff planned and Dawn and Rachel are taking time off today and Monday to spend with him. Last night we went to the Oakland Zoo's member night for the introduction of their new elephant, Osh. We had a grand old time, and the dinners they were selling, which had sounded pretty nice when we ordered them in advance were actually from Rick & Ann's, a great little restaurant (brunch especially) near the Claremont Hotel. YUM! Anyway, we took Rachel to see the monkeys, the giraffes, the elephants, and the tigers. When we were leaving the giraffes had just gone back into their night house and there was much discussion over what kind of pajamas they would wear. Naturally, we were all over the 'going to bed' part since it was getting late and we wanted to make sure it wouldn't be too much of a hassle to get Rachel in bed when we got home. She even asked the security guard at the exit if he was going to bed.

Tomorrow, we're going, along with my parents, neice & nephew, to the train museum in Sacramento. This should be great for all the kids, including Dawn's dad who will be just like one, I'm sure. He digs trains. The older the better. We were toying for a couple of minutes with trying to go back to the zoo on Saturday night when they do another member night, but that just seems like too much. Sunday will probably be more laid back during the day; I'm sure Rachel will want some time to be at home, but then we're going to the Giants game that starts at 5, assuming we don't decide we're too beat for that.

I just started buying some music on iTunes. I love KFOG, but it'll be nice to be able to start listening to my own music when I want. I was playing the stuff I've ripped at home while I was working there yesterday. Makes me want to get back to ripping our whole collection and being able to play it on the media center device I put on the stereo and have used... twice, I think. And, of course, now we're thinking of getting a couple of Tivo Series 2s, which also have digital music capabilities, so I can get rid of the media center thing... that'll be good too, because I want to turn on encryption on my wireless router, but can't as long as I have the media center on it.

Well, now I'm stuck. I can buy BB King's Anthology, which looks GREAT, and if I buy the album it comes with 2 very long extra songs. But it's 19.99 and I might like to have the original box, but I also might like to have it right now - instant gratification. Hmm... And this is interesting... Amazon has two versions, one 2-disc and one 3-disc. And the commentary for the 2-disc version points out that the 4-disc "King of the Blues" set is better (more comprehensive), and seeing the picture there makes me think I may own it. This is why I haven't bought much on iTunes yet, because I don't really know what I have! But this settles it - I'm going to have to get down to pulling off all my music. Might have to buy a couple large hard drives, one for the original rip and one as a backup (which I'll put in an enclosure and not have connected except when I'm backing stuff up).

I did 'The Zone's body fat measurements today. In about mid-June my waist (@ the umbilicus) was 42.5 or 40 inches, depending on whether I held my stomach in (not SUCKED it in, just held). Now it's 39.5 or 38. I haven't lost any weight this month, just hovered within a couple of pounds of 235, but I have been thinking I might have lost some more size. According to these measurements and the table in the book, I've dropped from either 23 or 21% to 20 or 17%. Either way, it's better. Interestingly, while I'm trying to keep my meals balanced in the direction of 'the Zone', I'm not keeping to a low carb diet anymore and I haven't gained any real weight back. Dawn and I are thinking of, after the summer fruit season, doing the no carb thing again for a few weeks. I'd like to see if it has the same effect again and can take me down even further. I think my numeric target is somewhere between 210 and 225, but that's only a general indicator - I'm much more interested in how I look and feel.

We're going to have landscaping done soon... Luke will start around 8/9. Have to figure out exactly what and how much we want him to do as far as the landscaping goes; we're hiring him in large part because we like his style and we want him to help us with the plant selection and initial management. But I really should get to work, so I'll have to sort that out later.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Five and Counting

Rachel put her pajamas on early on Saturday night and when we were reading before bed decided not to put on a diaper for the night. Went to the bathroom before bed, and made it through the night without wetting herself. Sunday morning she was moving around so I went to get her and make sure she went to the bathroom and she seemed to think it was coming, so I carried her down. But she made it and hasn't had a diaper at night since! This is big. It's been great not having to change diapers most of the time, and never for 'poopies' as she calls them, but now if she is really finished with them, well... hallelujah!

She's been making strides in other areas too. She's a wonderful climber and now has stopped needing to hold both my hands when jumping off the top of her little outdoor climbing structure. It's about 4' high and it's still too much for her to do by herself, though I'm sure the days are numbered for that. It's just a matter of her being able to climb onto the top of the wall by herself rather than needing someone to balance her. I don't think she actually needs the support for the jump itself. She's also started jumping off the wall of our neighbor's driveway by herself from higher and higher points on the drive.

And then there's the music and singing. We've been taking her to Music Together ( for about 2 years now, maybe longer. She's always loved it, but recently she's finally started to sing in class, not just at home or in the car. And sometime last week I was actually able to whistle some of the songs and have her recognize them - name that tune!

Dawn and I took her to school on our bikes today. She's really getting into biking lately. She's in love with the cleats on my bike shoes. Almost any time I am around the bike she wants to see them. "Does it go here? Is it for the pedal?" I was planning on just taking her in the truck today because I didn't want to have any problems, but when I said something about getting ready to go she announced that she wanted to go on my bike. We occasionally call it her big black bike to help it be more hers. Yesterday afternoon she got back on her bike to show it to her grandparents in spite of having taken a little bit of a spill a day or so before. Very cool.

Dawn's bike still needs some work. We discovered today that one of the derailers is misadjusted so that it doesn't let her use the largest gear in front. And we still need to do something about the length and/or angle of the neck. And I think I'm going to get her some platform clip-less pedals so that she can use real bike shoes when she wants but can also ride with regular shoes when she wants, too. Might do something with the brakes while I'm at it... the rear is a bit of a kludge. I put V-brakes on sometime back and the rear of the bike doesn't have the right stop for it, so I had to put one on myself... ideally one would weld it on, but that would have been expensive and a pain, so I put a special clamp on. It's just not the most super secure thing in the world. And Dawn does not need the power of V-brakes as I did.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Another Group Bites the Dust

Well... I guess I was just oblivious to the world. On Saturday, when Rachel and I came to get my bike, I was surprised to see my co-worker Rick here. I asked him why he was in and he told me he'd decided it was finally time to clean out some of the crap in his office. And yesterday I still didn't put anything together when our office admin sent out a terse and insistent meeting request for this morning. So, I hauled ass in here on my bike and just barely made it before the meeting started. They announced that because they're expecting a pretty even year with little growth they're having to "take action" but most of the layoffs will affect Engineering. Did they ever. We lost 5 Engineering managers. Now, I'll grant that one might have been able to argue reasonably that we didn't need that many managers, the one they've kept is the least competent, least well liked, and (this is why they kept her) least well paid. That makes nine layoffs I've been through since I started working here in 9/2000. Heck, I've only had my office moved 5 times...

It might be time to start looking a little more seriously. I'm going to call Sterling's recruiter (and Shaikh & Dave K's) later today to touch base. And I'm sending my resume to the company my old boss JaeSon went to. He can't recruit me because of their internal HR policies, but he can champion me once I send in my resume. I really don't want to have to take a drop in pay or have much worse overall conditions, such as a longer commute or more travel, but I'm not sure I really like the idea of staying here longer. It finally feels as if the bilge pump isn't going fast enough to keep the ship afloat. On the other hand, I do have a lot of work already signed and seemingly a lot more coming. PSO is really the only unit of our practice or division or whatever you want to call us that's making any money. Of course, when we were sold we were told that the point was that this company acquiring us had all kinds of money and was going to pour it into us to keep us going. That never really happened, though they did put some money in... but most of that was just to prove the ability and then implement offshoring of a lot of the QA and bug fixing functions. Then they bought another company which they may be putting more money into and certainly seem more intent on. And now they've axed huge swathes of Engineering which will completely cripple our ability to do more than sustain the product until we start selling more. If we ever do.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


What a weekend. We watched parts of the last several stages of Le Tour de France, starting about Tuesday of last week. Lance is just amazing. He was clearly just lying in wait through about the first 14 stages. Then he goes from 6+ minutes back to 22 seconds back in a single stage. A time trial up L'Alpe d'Huez, one of the hardest rides in the race? He catches up with Basso who started 2 minutes ahead of him. Simeoni tried to join the leaders in another stage (I didn't see this one), so Lance goes with him... doesn't make an overt move to attack or anything, just goes with him. The rest of the leaders told Simeoni to get lost. And then Ullrich blocked Lance's teammate from taking the win in another stage, so when Ullrich's teammate went for it, Lance waited... then came from behind when the guy had about 50m to go (and Lance was probably at least another 25m or so back) and won by a fraction of a wheel. I wanted to see him come from the Peloton and take the final stage as well, even though that would have been really obnoxious. Loved the hats various people were wearing, including Robin Williams: 6, yellow on a black hat. 'Nuf said!

I mentioned the other day that we were juggling furniture on Friday. The Salvation Army didn't show up until after 4 and then they wouldn't take the old sofa. They're being really choosy, apparently because when they have things they can't sell it costs them a lot to get rid of them. The SA guys were nice enough to help me (actually, they did it entirely themselves except when one of them tripped and I caught him & the sofa) move it to the curb where I put a free sign on it. It was gone in less than half an hour. Hallelujah. The new furniture came early, actually, because they happened to be close and called to see if they could come by early. It's really nice. Rachel loves them. The king chair is the perfect size for Rachel and me to sit and read, and she really enjoyed that the other day.

Wound up seeing the Bourne Supremacy with Dan on Friday night. It was a decent movie, either by itself or in combination with the first one, but it really didn't bear much relationship to the book anymore. There were elements... minor ones, but for instance, Bourne is suddenly my age rather than a Vietnam Vet and they killed Marie pretty early. Dan pointed out that might have been because she tested poorly with audiences. He's much more invested in the books than I, having read them several times each to my once. I think they kept to the general concept of the character and if they continue to do that with future movies, for which they'll mostly need to write new stories, then they may have something. It would be nice if they didn't have to dumb it all down for today's audiences, though.

Saturday was a big one; Cathy came by for a while and actually brought Jessica by as well, which was nice. Rachel and I went to music class, then to my office to get my bike, which I'd left there in order to get home in time for the Salvation Army guys who then didn't show up until really late, and then to a park for a while. Then after Rachel's nap, Karolyn came over for dinner, and John eventually joined us as well. We watched Shrek, which neither Dawn or I had ever seen before. It was very funny; I particularly liked all the fairy tale cameos. It was hard to match John Lithgow's voice to his character, but he did provide the right menacing tone, I suppose.

Sunday turned out to be pretty busy too. After the end of Le Tour and much reading and a little brunch with my brother, my parents came over with my neice and nephew. Corwin actually left fairly early to go see a movie with a friend, but Tycho, who is 7, stayed with us and played quite a bit with Rachel. We went to the park near our house, which by itself would have been pretty boring for Tycho, who's a little monkey, but he seemed to enjoy playing with Rachel. She had a ball, including some time on the tire swing, which she's normally a little leary of. She'll swing on it from time to time, but without someone else she doesn't want to go very fast or to spin. When we came home they played with legos and blocks and had a grand old time until nap.

During nap, Dawn and I actually went to the Wooden Duck. They make great furniture from farmed and recycled wood and were having their summer BBQ bash, which includes 50% discounts on all outdoor furniture. We almost went a little wild, but drew the line on a bench, a table, and 6 chairs; we'll get more dining chairs for inside later. And eventually, I think we're going to want to get a dining table. Jeff just pointed out to me that Smith & Hawken has furniture that's almost identical to what we bought, but for substantially more money, making me feel even better about the purchase.

When she got up from nap, I told Rachel that we'd been busy and had gotten a bench that we needed to paint (actually stain, but I didn't go into that) and new plants that Dawn was going to plant, and that she could help. She immediately announced that she wanted to help me paint the bench. OK. Well. That went OK for a while. I didn't want her getting any of the stain on her, or breathing too much of it. We were doing it all outside, but still. When it started to get more covered and she was putting her arm down on it we called a halt to that help. It was mostly a lot of fun to have her helping; she was trying so hard and obviously really liked doing it. Once we convinced her to help Dawn with the plants, Aaron helped instead, which was much more helpful.

Monday was a vacation-from-employment day; I spent the day working on things around the house. I had the cables rewired around the demarque and a new jack put in our downstairs bedroom. The alarm company put in two new keypads; the one upstairs is just a luxury, and we might actually come to regret putting it in since it beeps in the bedroom, but the one by the downstairs door has become very important for us since we leave the house a lot more through the back to go riding. Besides that, I replaced our shower head and arm so that it is much hgher, put in a dimmer switch for our new living room light (ask, Dawn, and ye shall receive), and fixed a couple of other things. No where near as much as I was hoping to get done, but, of course, the list I had chosen was really planned for having a whole week off, not just one day. This was supposed to be the week when, among other things, I was going to convert the shed on the back of the garage into a playhouse for Rachel. Yeah. Not just yet. Probably not in time for her birthday party, realistically, though it would be nice to get it far enough to be played in by then.

Last night we barbequeued again. We've been doing that a lot lately, which is really nice. This time we actually had Lou-Lou over (and her parents), so she and Rachel sat at a little table in the back yard while the grown-ups sat at the a larger table. We've now added asparagus to Duane's broccoli idea - marinate it for a little while in vinaigrette and then grill it. Deeeeelicious. Between that and 2.5 lbs of chicken and a large salad Niclaus made, we should have had a TON of food, but we finished it all off. The girls ate a TON of chicken, including the teriyaki, which I wasn't expecting them to like.

And now it's back to work... oh joy. M has significantly changed the requirements and scope of the first delivery they want and I think we're going to have to push the delivery date back. Well, you can pick two legs of the triangle - features, schedule or cost. The other one depends on the other two. J wants to talk to me about the stuff I delivered last week, so we'll see how that goes. I can't imagine they'll have any problems... it's all very straight-forward.

Friday, July 23, 2004

New Furniture Friday

I'm juggling delivery appointments today. Our new sofa & "king chair" are being delivered and I've got Salvation Army coming out to pick up the old one. I really hope that they'll take it. Wouldn't put it past them not to. It's in good shape, especially considering that it's about 8 years old. I'm including the green slipcover we've had for it for a year or so because it's a little discolored in places, but I don't think it qualifies as having any "stains" and it certainly doesn't have any tears or rips. I'm going to be annoyed if they won't take it. The timing is the interesting part... S.A. is supposed to be there between 1:30 and 4:30 (I'm 26th on that truck's list) and I was able to get the Harvest Home people to agree to come at 3 instead of between 12 and 2 as originally scheduled. So... if I'm lucky, S.A. will be there first and take the sofa and slipcover and we won't have any problems of space. If they won't take it, I'm screwed. Maybe I'll put it out on the lawn and see if I can get someone to come take it even for free. I've already had it up on Craig's List for a while with no response at all at $250, but it's more advantageous to donate it than lower the price...

Rachel has actually started wearing dresses in the last few days. I think she'd worn one maybe once or twice before last Friday when I took the day off and ran errands with her. We were at Toy's R Us to buy her new baseball bat and started looking at clothes; when I showed her a cute dress she said she wanted it and actually wore it the next day. Then she wore it again yesterday and wore a red one we've had for a while today. She's very cute. Still likes to pick up the hem and show off her underwear, even when she's not really aware that she's doing it. We're working on the flashing, but it's mostly just cute, not a big deal.

This weekend is looking like a busy one. Tomorrow we have music class, Dawn is seeing the accupuncturist, Kara is coming over in the afternoon & evening, and Dawn's friend Cathy is supposed to be in town for a few minutes before helping her daughter move from SF to SD. Dawn hardly ever gets to spend any time with Cathy when she visits. Even when they went to a conference at Disneyland in April, Cathy brought her whole family and spent all her time outside the conference shuttling people around... crazy.

Not really sure what the plans are for Sunday. Maybe I'll take Rachel back to REI to return the helmet I bought when I got her bike. I've decided it's too small after all, so I'm going to return it, but I really need to get a new one - mine is almost 8 years old or something like that.

I'm taking most or all of Monday off to do some stuff on the house including, finally, having another alarm panel put in near the back door. We've sort of thought it might be nice to have one there, but now that I tend to come and go on the bike more often than not, it's turned out to be a real pain to have to go up to the front to control the alarm. I'm hoping I can finally put the motion sensor back up for the porch light so that we don't have to leave it on all night. I suppose we don't have to leave it on all night anyway, but Dawn really prefers it. The motion sensor is nice because it turns the light on when someone walks by and then turns it off again about 15 minutes later, so it is presumably off most of the night. I wonder if I'll actually make a significant dent in my list of things to do?

Hey, look. It's time for lunch!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

On the Bike Again

My back is finally feeling better and I'm not sick, so we rode to dinner last night and I rode in this morning, including taking Rachel to school. The ride went really quickly, actually - both of the stop lights on the way were green for me, so I didn't have to stop as much. I felt pretty good and strong, in spite of how long it's been since I rode last, which is nice.

Dawn's out of town for a conference for a couple of nights. We'll miss her, but it might be a good break for her; we've both been having a really hard time keeping our tempers in check. Rachel's been very frustrating. We're sure it's because she knows the effect it has on us and she's just seeing how it works, but it's still hard. Dawn and I talked about it yesterday and we're going to try to back off a bunch and pick our battles more carefully. It remains to be seen how well the next couple of days will go since it's just me, but at least my parents will pick her up for me tomorrow afternoon.

This weekend was a bit mixed... I felt like crap on Thursday and stayed home from work after coming home early on Wednesday. Friday was OK and I went to the game with Chris, which was fun. Bonds hit a home run (though I was downstairs trying to call Rachel, so only saw it on the monitors) and the Giants won. They haven't won since, though I am optimistic that they will tonight since Schmidt is pitching. Saturday, Chris helped me put together the hutch that my father-in-law gave us, at long last. It's kinda nice, especially since we finally carted off all the cardboard we've had sitting by the garbage cans.

Next on the agenda was Daniel's BBQ picnic in the park. It was fun. Saw some high school (& even jr. high) friends I hadn't seen in ages untold. Matt and I held the finish line for the egg & spoon race... and moved when someone started getting close. Got to talk to Erica, Matt, Keiron... Anton and his girlfriend showed up at dinner at a Chinese place (as if we couldn't have made do with the BBQ food or the TON of additional food they had back at Daniel's cousin's apartment, which is where the party moved in the evening).

Family BBQ on Sunday. Grilled salmon for the first time, and it came out pretty well. Not overcooked, for once, which often happens on the BBQ. Discovered that the dressing we like to use for broccoli has MSG, so we tried another and it wasn't as good. Guess we'll just have to keep trying others until we find one we like! Didn't see any fireworks, but from what I hear no one else did either because of the weather, which was typical SF in July: cloudy, cool, foggy.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled work day.

Friday, July 02, 2004

What a Week!

The MacroMedia phone interview was a complete waste of time. MM told the recruiter that it was a maximum of 25% travel, which is pushing the limits of what I'm willing to do right now, but when I talked to them it was clearly a minimum of 50%! The job sounded somewhat interesting, but there's no way I'm doing that much travel, though Dawn and I did discuss that a single overnight a week most weeks is a lot different than a full week away every month. Still don't know if I'm interested. JaeSon has moved on to BridgeStream and Derek is apparently being hounded by people who want him, so I figure it's only a matter of time before one or both of them starts calling those of us who are still biding our time here.

Rachel has been very cute lately, but also very frustrating. She's really doing a lot to push our buttons. We're having to do a lot of tag teaming where one of us tries to get something done for a while and then gives up in frustration and the other moves in.

And to top it off I came down with whatever Rachel had over the weekend... had an horrendous migraine on Tuesday night and got some 'interesting' neurological side-effects from the homeopathic migraine pill my accupuncturist gave me. I might have to stick with the thing I've been taking (Imitrex) since it is more of a known quantity right now and doesn't have Belladonna in it. John did some interesting analysis based on basic research into the quantities given on the bottle... his numbers indicate that the pill basically doesn't have even a single molecule of Belladonna in it based on how many times it's been cut.

I'm going to the game with Chris tonight; fireworks; A's; should be fun. I was supposed to go with him tomorrow to Daniel's big BBQ and party in the park, but between the game tonight and having a family BBQ on Sunday at our house, I don't think it's going to happen. Maybe I can take Rachel for a while in the afternoon after nap. We'll see.