Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Sweetie Pie and Love Bunny

A few days ago, I went to pick Rachel up at Louise's house. I said something to Rachel, addressing her as 'sweetie pie' and Louise said "My mom calls me Sweetie Pie," presumably noting that it was her mother who did so rather than her father as it is with Rachel. So Rachel said "my daddy calls me sweetie pie; my mommy calls me love bunny."

Monday, August 30, 2004

Death Warmed Over

Dawn and I have really been enjoying Last Comic Standing. I'm sure it is staged to some degree or other - cringehumor.net would have us believe it's all about the money rather than "the funny" as they put it. Why that's a surprise, I'm not sure. Tonight's show had it's moments. It's a little lame that John Heffron's prize for winning season 2 is about half as good as Dat Phan's for season 1, but it's worse that the new "season" started three weeks after Heffron won!

Anyway, Alonzo Bodden was GREAT and a couple of the others were somewhat funny; Ralphie May answered our curiosity about why he looked so blue during the intros - his dad died last night. I'm sure he'll get some sympathy votes, but no matter what he definitely should stay on the show. Dave Mordal, though, looked like CRAP. A couple of times during his routine his hands were shaking; I can't imagine it was because of nerves.


Our cat, Tom Sawyer, got in a fight yesterday. I suppose it was really Saturday night, but the noise woke me just past midnight. We took him to the vet on Sunday morning; we're supposed to call first, which was a bit of an odd call - are you guys busy, cuz I need to bring my cat in but I'm supposed to meet friends for breakfast in two hours. Dawn and I made it to breakfast, but we're having to keep Tom inside for a few days while giving him antibiotics, and we can't use normal litter in his box - we have to use shredded paper, but he's never had that before.

So now it's been at least 36 hours since he did anything, and he's getting desperate. We've tried the usual thing of putting him on his box, and I almost just locked him in the bathroom with it, when all of a sudden he jumped in the tub. I thought he was hiding from us because Rachel was all over him. 'Til I suddenly started hearing the sound of water going down the drain! I kid you not, he was in the tub, crouched over the drain!

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Wooooow and That's Beauuutiful!

This was quite a weekend. Friday afternoon, I went and picked up my new bike; also dropped off the old one and Dawn's. They're both going to be tuned up and the pedals swapped so Dawn will have clipless pedals and my father will have the toeclips. We'll probably put a new stem on Dawn's too, so she can be more upright and not have to stretch as far. Had them move the rack for Rachel's seat to the new bike, though they didn't do a good job of it, and put a new computer on it as well; this one has only one trip distance, but adds cadence, which I'm interested in. I have a feeling that eventually I'm going to get something more like Jason's that does tracking of cadence, heart rate, speed, and even elevation over time so it can be downloaded for graphing & such. That'll be a while, though.

Anyway, the new bike is awesome; I love it. I took it for a little spin in the evening and found that the front brake was too loose and the seat too low and maybe angled up in front. Have to figure out how to change that. Saturday morning I took the same ride I did with John; took me a little less time, but I didn't stop at the lake or the coffee shop. According to the new computer, it's 8.25 miles; I can't remember what the old computer said, or what John said it usually is, so I'll have to check on it next time, or when I ride to work next. Actually wound up heading back out for a few minutes just to get a couple things from the grocery store so we could have breakfast.

Yesterday was a little rough; after my ride we went to music class, and then I went to the accupuncturist. We tried to clear my plastics allergy, which was very frustrating, because it meant I couldn't talk on the phone or touch much of anything including most of Rachel's toys, light switches, etc. Couldn't even get my vitamins out for myself. Frustrating.

After Rachel's nap Saturday, I took her to the park with Michele, Xin, Carmen & Leila where Xin & I tried to teach the girls a little about soccer. This amounted to encouraging them to kick it to each other or us and many many many repetitions of "no hands, sweetie, just use your feet". Then they all came over to our place for dinner; we could have just as well gone to their place since all we wound up providing was the place and some sausages - Michele brought over a ton of great Chinese food made by Xin's parents. Delicious!

Was constantly forgetting about the plastics - Dawn turned on the BBQ for me, and I actually adjusted the flame using the tongs (which are wood & metal), but then when I took the girls' sausages off I turned the flame down with my hand before I remembered I wasn't supposed to touch it. Sigh. What a pain in the neck!

Today was great. I gave up on the plastics allergy stuff for now because I got tired of trying to explain to Rachel that I couldn't help her do something with her bracelet. Either the clearing took or it didn't. We had breakfast at my parents' place, and then all went up to Marine World where we had a grand old time.

I wore an old pair of shorts because the only new clean ones have plastic as part of the integrated belt; this pair is a size 38 that several months ago I was almost too big for, maybe hanging over the waistband a little bit. Now I've got a huge amount of room in them - I can actually take them off without unzipping them if I don't have a belt on! My mother made an interesting comment about the accupuncture - on the one hand she's delighted with the changes it's helped me make; on the other, it sounds like so much hocus pocus. I certainly was a skeptic before we started, but now I sometimes feel like some kind of cultist when I talk about it! It does sound like hocus pocus sometimes, and I wouldn't have believed the testing would work before she did it on me.

At Marine World, we saw the Sea Lion, Dolphin, and Orca shows, fed sea lions and giraffes, rode an elephant, and walked through the butterfly house. Rachel just loved the shows, especially the dolphins and orca. She said her favorite part was the dolphin show; or the sea lion; or the orca, depending on when you asked, but I thought the best part was when she pointed at the dolphins and said 'wooooow' completely on her own during their show. The butterfly house was amazing and I got some fantastic pictures - Dawn and I decided that one of the things that has to be on our list for after we come into a large sum of money is having a butterfly house of our own! Near the main entrance to the park, there's a sculpture of 4 or 5 dolphins the make up the centerpiece of a large fountain; it's quite pretty really, in stark contrast to all the commercialization going on around it, and Rachel actually commented on it's being pretty on her own, which was great! She said "that's beauuutiful!" several times.

Rachel did amazingly well throughout. She did spend a lot of time being carried, mostly by me, but she wasn't clingy or demanding about it. Part of the reason we went to Marine World with them instead of to the ballgame by ourselves was that we were worried about how she'd do at nap time, or without one, and that we would have to deal with the aftermath; at least if we were there we don't have to wonder what happened. It certainly isn't that we were worried about my parents' care for her, though my mother said she felt that way a little bit because we didn't make up our minds about going until almost the last minute. It's just harder on us when Rachel's routine gets messed up and we don't know how exactly. Although we had a pretty rough night (she was up at 3:00am after having had a short nap and then again at 4:20, when Dawn brought her to our bed, and then up for good a little before 7) and she was obviously tired at points, she did really really well; almost no fussing/whining/etc at all!

Tonight after we had dinner, I did some work on the new bike, with Rachel "helping" me and working on her bike. Raised the seat (still need to ride it to see if it's the right height), repositioned the seat rack, tilted the handlebar up a little (which meant removing the computer mount because its wire was got too tight). Discovered by accident that there's a second barrel adjuster for each brake close to the brake that let me make the front brake tighter. Also discovered that one of the pads on the rear brakes wasn't very tight and it was angled so that it was rubbing on the tire. I think I checked both on the front but probably still need to check the other on the rear. I think that's probably more work than I've ever done on a bike, though I did put V-brakes and a suspension bike seat post on the mountain bike.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Who Wears Glasses?

Rachel lately has actually been reading to us before bed time, rather than the other way around. She pretends to be Vanessa, the newest teacher at her school, and sits on the chair and insists that I sit on the end of her bed and Dawn sit on the stool. Then she "reads" the book to us, including showing it to us pretty much every page. Tonight, she picked a book called 'The Okay Book' to read to me (Dawn was out to dinner with friends). It's a pretty cute book about how it's OK to be different - tall, small, skinny, big, different colors, from different places, freckles, ..., glasses. When she got to the glasses, she looks at me and says, with this very cute inquiring-teacher kind of look on her face, "who wears glasses, hmm?". When I said I didn't know, she said "is it the tall daddy sitting on the bed? is it the man with the phone on his hip?" I just about lost it; thought I was going to die laughing. Later, she got to a page about being skinny or big and started talking about being tall. I suppose the skinny person looked tall, but then she started talking about who was tall and told me I am the tallest daddy in the whole world.

Well, That's a Tradition, Now

I went for a morning ride with my neighbor John (aka John Down the Street) today. Got up at 6, though Dawn heard me trying to turn the alarm off and thought I was snoozing it. Had my morning 'long life cocktail' and a zone perfect bar and hit the road at 6:30. It was just the two of us, although there are three other guys he's been doing this with for years. Eleven, to be exact. Not sure about EVERY day, or the RAIN-OR-SHINE question, but I know it's basically meant to be daily. John turns 59 this Friday and started this ride 2 years before having a hip replaced. It felt great! Wound up through some of the nice residential areas of South Berkeley/North Oakland, including The Uplands and Chabot Canyon. Stopped briefly at Temescal park to enjoy the quiet and the outdoors (and rest a few minutes).

Wasn't really all that hard, though it could certainly be easier. The new bike will surely help with that (more gears, longer top bar, wider handlebars), but ultimately it's just a matter of practice and getting in better shape. There was one point when I wanted to shift into an easier gear (I was in my lowest) but was stuck between needing to hold the handlebars because of the pressure I was exerting on the pedals and wanting to reach down to the down-tube shifters to shift. The bike has arrived and the guy I talked to today said he'd put it together first thing tomorrow if it isn't done today.

I think I would like to make this ride a fairly regular thing...

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

No Wireless Speed Records Either

I mentioned getting the Linksys WRE54G - Wireless-G Range Expander the other day. I tried to set it up a couple of nights ago and it wasn't working, even after a couple of online chat conversations with Linksys support. I tried again tonight, and now it is working, although the link light doesn't light up blue the way it is supposed to. It's a pretty dramatic difference - without it, I get a 'low' signal at best when I'm up in the bedroom. Now that it's in, I'm getting a full signal.

It is relatively slow, though. I'm getting half the throughput (1.4 megabit as tested at bandwidthplace.com) using the repeater that I am getting on the desktop machine that's hardwired to the router. If I were really getting 54 megabit to the router the way the wireless sensore makes it seem, I wouldn't see that difference. I'll have to try putting the repeater somewhere else. And maybe even see about getting the high gain antenna for the router.

No Land Speed Record

I've said before that I'm not likely to set any land speed records, apropos of aerodynamics and bike weight, but I did make it in to work pretty fast this morning. 17.9 mph average, according to my possibly miscalibrated speedometer, just under 13 minutes actual riding time and less than an extra minute of stopped time. I didn't have to stop at a single stop sign, and only a couple of lights. It feels good! I do wish Rachel had wanted to ride with me, even though that would have taken longer, though.

I think that today while I'm waiting for things to happen I may start moving my posts from livejournal to here. I also added a 'favorite links' list to the sidebar and got it to save the template with the "friends' blogs" list set to show on all pages rather than just the main & archive pages. Now, if I can just figure out how to get items to show up in smaller chunks when there are multiple items to a page.

Last night, I did a bit of digging around the area where I figured the water pipe would be. After just a little bit, I decided to check the pipes around the meter and found that the meter has a short length of curved copper coming out of it, but at the bottom of the meter box it connects to galvanized. Doesn't give me much hope that the main pipe to the house is copper, but I started digging on the other side of the sidewalk anyway. Got to about 18" deep without finding the pipe, but I did find some stuff associated with the gas pipe. Guess I'll still have to meet the plumber tomorrow.

Monday, August 16, 2004

6 Ways From Sunday

Ah, what a day. Dawn and I had a meeting, but blew it; she had one time written down and I had another and for some reason we decided mine was right. We went to Doyle Street for lunch instead. Her work is pretty unpleasant right now; there's a ton to do and no place for her to go at work to be alone and focus. The building is under construction, and they're running out of time to be ready for the new school year, both in the construction and in the work they already have to do. And the best part is that the Fed oversight team is coming in later this year.

Elisabeth is going to run in the Honolulu Marathon, working with Team in Training. I've been encouraging her to start a blog, so now we've started one at least for the marathon training. I still think it would be cool for her to have another (or continue to use this) for other stuff - she travels and does so many things it would be fun for her to put them up on a blog. I have a feeling I'm going to have to come up with a good way for her to post pictures soon. In the meantime, we started her marathon blog.

She's also probably going to come live with us for a while; she is selling her house and wants to be out of it before she sells, but can't buy something else until after. It'll be fun to have her with us again; we don't usually get to see her as much as we like, so having her coming home to our place will probably increase that a bit.

Work's been a little odd; frenetic yet not, at the same time. M was having a cow and we agreed to deliver something to them by tomorrow morning, but then we ran into some more problems and the shear amount of work that a single person can get done in a short period, and they asked whether we shouldn't just push out to 9/15 while adding some more of the stuff we're planning on. Ummm. Gee. That sounds like an excellent idea to me. Why don't we do that? Funny thing is that we tried to suggest that once before, but got shot down and that's why we were doing build 1 tomorrow and build 1a by 9/15. So now we'll do it by 9/15. We do have to be careful, though, to make sure that we get it done because there's a good chance we'll lose the account if we miss again, and that could mean some peoples' jobs - more from a revenue stand-point than punishment/example setting, I think. Including mine. I'm not terribly concerned. I think 9/15 is easy.

Spent most of 2 hours on the phone with J; they're doing a lot of testing this week with plans to make the major transition around 9/1. They did mention going to Oracle, but I am still hoping that's not set in stone. Have to look into that again...

I added True-a-Day to the bottom of the blog's main page today. I can't recommend This-is-TRUE highly enough, so I decided to do it. It was also kinda fun to play with it to get it right. I haven't been getting to do much playing of that sort lately. Randy once asked me if I was interested in helping him build the scripts necessary, and I am sure I could have done it - I just didn't have the time. It would have been interesting. And fun. And maybe even some good exposure. I have a list of things I'd like to do just to learn them and play with them, but having the time for that sort of thing is rare...

We had a really nice party at my parents' place on Saturday afternoon for my grandfather's birthday; also just to get the whole family together at least once while my neice and nephew are in town. Rachel played with her cousins, particularly Tycho. It's been really great to see her enjoying them so much. I know that she could just as easily wind up hating a sibling as loving one, but it does sort of increase interest in having another child. Tycho came to music class with Rachel and me as well, and then we went to a park for a while. That all went really well until Tycho hurt his finger just as we were about to go home. No big deal, really, but it probably hurt a lot at the time.

Rachel and I had a bit of trouble this weekend. She's not napping on weekends for some reason. On the one hand, it was pretty funny to turn back towards the back door after half an hour or so of sitting in the backyard talking to Dawn, while Rachel was supposedly in bed napping, and find Rachel standing outside the backdoor naked with a broom in her hand! On the other, she can be pretty frustrating when she's as tired as she gets when she doesn't nap. Yesterday, we eventually tricked her into napping by taking her "to do errands". We drove to Old Navy so Dawn could return/exchange some new clothes for Rachel, but we went about 15 miles out of the way until Rachel fell asleep!

My new bike has been shipped and will probably be at the store on Wednesday; they may even be able to get it built that day! I'm excited. I hope it actually turns out to be the right size and I like it. I've decided not to get a new computer for it at this point; I'll just move the one I have. I think I'll even let the guys at the bike shop put the rack for Rachel's seat on, since they offered. I got to work at an average of 17.2 miles per hour. I think the speedometer might be over by as much as 10%, though I'm not really sure, but even so, that's somewhat faster than I've done before. I do think part of it was not having Rachel on the bike for part of it and therefore not having her seat at all, but I also felt pretty good. But I still wish I'd been able to ride at least once over the weekend.

Bought a Linksys WRE54G. They call it a 'range expander'; aka a repeater. I've been wanting one of these for a while, and I'm really hoping I can get it to work. At the moment I can't. It doesn't notice the router, even after I upgrade the router to the latest firmware. Even after I put the repeater in the same room as the router. I can actually get my wireless card to hook up to the repeater, but can't browse into the repeater's control system. Spent some time on an instant message chat with someone from Linksys but didn't quite get it solved - for one thing, the setup program kills my connection to the router when it tries to find the repeater. We'll see how it goes. The manual says that it should be placed right near the limit of the wireless reception of our devices; I imagine that it is more powerful and/or more sensitive, so will be able to communicate better with the router from that distance and through the same obstructions. Otherwise, it won't work well. I'm also contemplating the high gain antennas or just running a wire outside the house from the router to the bedroom and then putting a second access point up there. It sounds as if we can even have the second AP set up with the same network name.

The landscaping is pretty well underway, but Luke mentioned water pressure (it's not great) and that reminded me that at some point we are going to need to do something about the water service line and the connection into the house. The water service line is probably galvanized, as is everything under the house, but I'll have to check. The problem is, of course, that to replace it we have to dig up a channel right through where Luke is doing a bunch of work. He's already done some stuff we'll have to interfere with, but I'd rather not have him do more, or let the new plants he's going to put in grow for a couple of years and then rip them up to do this. So, now I'm going to have to do some digging tonight when I get home; if I'm very lucky, I'll discover that the line is already copper... if not, I'll be meeting an estimator at the house on Wednesday to discuss what it will cost and when they can do the work. I wouldn't mind having them replace the galvanized pipe in the crawlspace, along with the three outside hose bibs. They will have to move the water shutoff outside, because having it deep under the house isn't up to code anymore.

Truthfully, I'd like to have them do even more than that if I could... I want to move the water heater into the corner of the basement and redirect all the water pipes around the sides of the room. That would make the room a lot more usable. And I suppose they might also be able to rearrange some of the gas pipe stuff too, along the same vein of making the basement more usable but also to give us a place to connect a gas dryer, which I'd prefer over the electric one we have now.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Curiouser and Curiouser, Said Alice...

I might be leaning more toward using blogger.com; I do like the editor better, and I like that I was able to modify the template so that it includes a section for links to friends' blogs, although I've not yet looked into whether I can modify it to pick the links up automatically from somewhere because I have to 'republish' the blog whenever I change the links list. It doesn't have the current music and current mood bits the way livejournal does, but I don't always use that and I don't know if it matters to me. Of course, there's still the fact that I have a bunch of blog entries on livejournal already. I suppose I could do some general research on blog sites and also learn more about the changes I can make to livejournal without having to pay for it. As if I have that much time for things like this.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

First blogger.com Post

Haven't actually posted anything here before. I've been using livejournal for a couple of months or so and like it reasonably well. I do like the initial appearance of the rich editor here, but I also like the ability to have a friends list on livejournal. So far, this service seems faster, though. Might have to think about switching. I only have one 'friend' on livejournal, at least as far as I know...

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Write Those Things Down!

First, here's a blast from the past. I was swapping the 48 CDs I ripped the last few days back into their cases and another 48 into the folder to take to work starting tomorrow. Came across the CD I burned as a 2nd anniversary gift for Dawn, which has the 17 songs played for the dancing at our wedding. I had the DJ make a list of everything he played for us; I didn't ask him before he started playing unfortunately, so the list may not be quite complete, but it's got 18 dances, the 3 pieces from the ceremony, and 26 from the cocktail/hors d'ouerve part of the reception. I started to say some things about the wedding, but it's late and I have some other things I want to write about, so I'll have to come back to the wedding another time.

I keep saying that I need to write down some of the funny/interesting/impressive things that Rachel does, but I always forget. Well, here are a couple...

First, a recent one from last Monday. I was working at home for a lot of the day because there was no network or phone (some SBC problem that supposedly affected large portions of Emeryville & downtown Oakland) at the office and most people left anyway, so I did too. Eventually, Dawn & Rachel came home. We talked for a bit and then they wandered upstairs to play. After a while, I'd been hearing them playing, when suddenly Rachel came running up to me, stark naked, and said "I have to do some work, Daddy, OK?". I said "OK", and she ran off. This happened about three more times over the next half hour or so.

Second, another blast from the past. When Rachel was about 10 months old, so July/August 2002, we had a 1st birthday party at our place for all the kids in Dawn's Mom's Group. She and Isaiah, a boy about a month or so older, were playing on the floor; not really together, of course, since they're not really old enough yet. They're both sitting cross-legged, or as close to it as they get, facing eachother when Isaiah starts kissing Rachel. After a couple kisses, he leans back, and then Rachel, who hadn't seemed sure of what was going on at first, leaned forward, grabbed his shoulders and pulled him back over for another kiss! It was hysterical!

Clearly, there are tons of other stories we'll have to keep track of. Once upon a time, we were keeping track of the words she knew. I think we started when she was about 8 months old and we went up to Lake Britton where he was saying 'buh' to mean 'bird'. There were others already. Her first abstract concepts were 'eddie' (empty) and 'wheet' (wait). The first time she used empty, she was sitting in her little blue chair on the counter in our new house, and she had a small bowl in her hand that had, for the brief time it took her to scarf them, held either Os (cereal) or blueberries (which she called 'booorrreeeeeeees'); she turned it over, looked at it, and said 'eh-deee'. Took us a couple of minutes to figure out what she was saying.

When she was about 13 months old, we stopped keeping track of the words she could use, because she already had around 50 or so and we weren't remembering to put them into the list regularly enough. She's always been extremely verbal; when the weekly newsletter I used to get from babycenter.com said that most kids could use 9 words and maybe the occasional 2 word 'sentence', Rachel was using over 100 words and had, just days before, used a NINE word sentence. As Patrice said once, it's really too bad that I'm not a proud father...

I think Daniel once mentioned being totally in love with Fergie from Black Eyed Peas; as I type this, she's being listed as #13 on Spike's list of top 52 most irresistable women. VH1's site is better; when they do their lists, you can actually get the list on their website, which doesn't seem to be the case with this one.

Oddly enough, I seem to be getting a migraine right now. It's 11 at night, which may be a first for me. I think I'll say good night, take a couple of the pills and try to go to sleep. I wonder if this is because I had a pretty large amount of carbs today? A small bowl of cereal for breakfast, with blueberries and grapes; a chicken burrito with more rice and chips than I planned for lunch, and spinach linguine with lobster & tomatos and risotto with prawns and such for dinner (Dawn & I split the two entrees). Also a lemon drop (with absolut cintron) and a chocolate pate with rasberry puree. OK, well, since I can only see about half of what I'm typing... good night.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Of Bikes, Tivo Series2s, and Outdoor Furniture

The landscaping project finally started yesterday. We've been contemplating some kind of relatively major landscaping project basically since we moved in to the house in early 2002. And we spent quite a bit of the spring and early summer trying to decide what to do, so we're pretty excited that it's finally underway. There seem to be new decisions to make almost every day.

One was whether we want less disruption in the back yard or a shorter total project time. Luke, the landscaper, isn't going to be at our place every day, but there may be days when he isn't working on our yard but doesn't need his assistant's help and could have him working on our back yard, which is going to take some time. We're having the whole lawn replaced and a lot of dirt and weeds will have to be removed. Juan could work on that on days when they're not both doing something else, but that would mean that the backyard would be unusable for quite a long time. Instead, we elected to have them do all the work in the back in as short a time as possible so that we don't have to deal with not being able to use it for any longer than necessary.

I picked up our 6 new outdoor chairs today. They're teak, from The Wooden Duck. We love the Wooden Duck; all their furniture is made from recycled or farmed wood. We went for their big summer BBQ bash, planning what we would buy on the way there. The funny thing was that we thought the sale was 30% off, but it turned out to be 50%, so we got more than we planned for the same money. We took the bench home that day, but had to back-order the chairs and table, which are now all ready. The table won't fit in my truck, so I'll have to go back at some point with a truck that can carry it. Maybe John or Xin can help me with it. The new chairs are still wet; I guess they must have gone in the container pretty soon after being built and they've had no time to dry, so I'll have to wait to stain them.

I want to call Hank & Frank and see whether they know when they will get my new bike in. It's only been 3 days since I ordered it, but I'm itching to get it. Surprise. I'm trying to decide whether I want to get a new cyclocomputer (as what I have been calling a speedometer is called by bikers evidently). I definitely don't want to spend much on it, though, so I probably won't because I doubt that I can get one for a low price that does much more than the one I have now. My friend Jason has one that includes a heart rate monitor and altimeter and downloadable data. It can do graphs of heart rate, altitude, and speed over the course of the ride. And probably more than that. It's pretty cool. It's also around $300, probably without the downloading kit.

John & I went over to Jim's last night. Had dinner out and then watched 3 episodes of Junkyard Mega Wars, which Jim thinks are the last three episodes. It's a pretty bad show now; they tried to spice it up by adding an "eye-candy" hostess and an "extreme" host. The dork points, gestures, and yells far too much. And has nothing particularly interesting to say. They spent a heck of a lot of time in transit so that you don't really get to see the teams planning and executing as much as might be interesting. And they do things like arrange to find a charged nitrous system in a junk yard. Yeah. Right. It was fun, though; we spent the whole time dissing the contestants and hosts, and the show, and making all sorts of comments about it all.

I also looked around their Tivo Series 2 a little. The main thing we want them for is to be able to watch things recorded on one from the other; i.e. in the bedroom. It also includes the 'home media options', which would be cool since I'm now ripping all our music; I wonder if I can connect the Tivo to the little boom box we have in the bedroom? Another nice feature on the series 2s is that anything recorded with the same title can be grouped into folders, which would surely make it easier to find the things we have recorded. I am particularly interested in the fact that it supports wireless networking, including encryption, although I don't know if I would really get a good enough connection up to the bedroom for the wireless to be useful, but it should be relatively easy to run a wire from the hub in the study out the east side of the house and then into the bedroom. And then, if I were smart, I'd put a wireless access point there and still use wireless. Or I could put a 2-port hub with a wireless access point on one port and a wire to the Tivo on the other. We'll see. First we have to commit to buying them. The prices look pretty good right now, although we'd still have to spend $300 to get lifetime service for one and then $6.95 a month for the other (because it would take 44 months for the monthly service to pay itself off with the multi-unit discount).

Of course, the rebate they're doing right now expires tonight. And I can't reach Dawn. We're both interested, but we also were thinking about putting some of the other purchases we've been thinking about on hold... Tivos, new window coverings, track lighting for the kitchen... there's always stuff to think about buying for the house.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

You Did WHAT???

Figured out Thursday's problem on M's project yesterday. Something about the class path. Pretty much finished with that task, which is good since I'm theoretically on the hook to deliver it and 2 or 3 more I haven't started on by the end of next week. I say theoretically, because I sense there's going to be some infighting about it. M changed their requirements the day after I started working on things. I told Bob (our project manager for M) that I needed to know by the next day (7/27) what was in and what was out and that, anyway, I didn't know if I could make the 13th the way we'd been talking about. A week or so later we finally got their response to the technical design we sent them back then, but I haven't actually been able to get Bob to call me back to talk about it. I really ought to give Patrice some warning on that. But it's good that I've made some real progress.

Once I had that done, I left a little early to go bike hunting. Went to Missing Link, where I tried the Trek 520, a touring bike that was really quite nice except that the shifters are on the bottom ends of the handlebars. That's better than on the drop tube, but not much, and I really want click shifters rather than the older 'feel' style like what I have. I also tried the Bianchi Brava and the Trek 1000 or 1500. Can't remember which it was. The Brava was OK. The Trek was really, really, really nice. I think it would even give the one I eventually picked a run for its money, but the Trek 1000 and 1500s don't have attachment points on the back for me to put Rachel's seat on. It's also about 3 or 4 hundred dollars more than the top of my intended budget (before tax). If it'd had the attachment points and been, maybe, 50 bucks over, I might have thought about it pretty seriously.

From Missing Link, I went to Mike's Bikes, where I only tried one bike, the LeMond Big Sky SL. VERY nice. Initially the same price as the Trek, but it's on sale, which puts it just at the top of my range. I don't know if it is quite as nice as the Trek, but it's pretty nice and I was pretty interested. Today, though, I spent quite a bit more time at it. I went to Solano Cyclery, REI, Velo Sport, the Bent Spoke, Hank & Frank's, and back to Mike's. It would have been nice to have had the time to do all that on my bike, but it seemed as if it would take too long, so I took the truck instead. Tried the large (not XL, which is what I need) Giant OCR2 at Solano & they said they'd have more in a week or so), REI offered to build a 61cm Novara Strada, Velo Sport had only one that met the general requirements, but it was a custom at $2250 (!), and the Bent Spoke had nothing. The OCR2 was fair, but not great. It was too small, which is understandable, but I also wasn't crazy about the shifting or braking.

Hank & Frank, though, had the OCR1, which I've been pretty interested in since finding it online yesterday. The XL is a bit bigger than the 61cm LeMond, and it uses almost all Ultegra parts, which are a step up from the parts on the LeMond and a step or more up from the OCR2. They only had the L in stock, so they raised the seat & the handle bars & I test rode it. It's very nice. Smooth shifting; quiet freewheel; quiet brakes. I would probably make the brakes a bit tighter, but other than that, it was a nice ride. Amazing how much nicer it is to be on a bike with appropriately wide handlebars; the ones on my old bike are 42cm, and I think these are 46. Not sure, though... will have to check. Anyway, they're a more appropriate width and that alone makes the ride nicer, along with having the shifters integrated with the brake levers.

After riding that, I went back to Mike's to try the LeMond again. It's nice, but its parts aren't as good and it's a little smaller than the XL OCR1, so I decided to get the Giant. There were a couple of other factors; I decided I like the guys at H&F better - they were nicer and they gave me more interesting and useful side information, like confirming that it's best not to shift under high torque and it's best to keep the chain inline, so if you're using the big gear in front, you shouldn't also be using a big gear in back. Then there's the difference in service - Mike's is free for 90 days, then $95 for five years' free tuneups & labor, and for the 90 days (or so), everything else you buy is 50% off (though I assume that doesn't extend to, say, a second bike); H&F's, though, is free tuneups for the life of the bike, including labor on all parts (I assume bought from them, though they offered after I paid the deposit to adjust Rachel's bike and move her seat from my old bike to the new). I just got a better feeling from these guys.

I also picked the Giant because when I asked Rachel whether I should get silver or blue, she said blue. I know they train lawyers for this: I only asked the question because I knew the answer would be what I wanted it to be.

After a while, we rode back over to Hank & Frank's and paid a deposit of $100, fully refundable, just in case I decide I don't like it after all. By that time, it'll be too late to get the sale price on the LeMond, but I'm willing to take that risk because I think the Giant is better and it's certainly a better value for the price. They have to order it from Giant, but it should still be ready in about a week. I think that I'm going to move the bike seat myself, because I want to ride the new one without the seat or the rack a couple of times before I put it on. It only took me about 30 minutes to put it on the old bike, not counting the trip to Mike's to get the extra clamps I needed. I'd forgotten about that. This'll definitely be better in that respect - there are attachment points where I put some of the clamps on the old bike.

Then we were going to meet Dawn & Karolyn at Barney's, so Rachel and I went riding for a bit longer. It was pretty nice; did some little hills up & down a few times, nothing big. Turned for one without much speed and it was too high with her on the back. I wasn't going fast enough and the front wheel was coming up, and then I couldn't get my foot out fast enough, so we fell over. I'm not quite sure who was more scared, Rachel or me, but I don't think I was on the ground for more than about half a second before I turned around (my foot had come out right before we hit) and picked the bike up. Rachel was pretty upset and had a tiny little bit of road rash on her elbow. It, and what I got on my knee, were barely even worth calling road rash, but it sounds more dramatic. It took a little bit for us to be ready to move on again; we talked about how it had been an accident, and I'd thought I could make it, and we weren't going to do any more hills today. Before I put her on the bike, she decided she wanted to walk to the bottom of the hill, so we did, and then we got her in the seat.

Before we started, I reminded her again where we were going and that we weren't going up anymore hills today and told her that after dinner she could ride home on the bike or she could go in the truck with Dawn & Karolyn. She said then that she wanted to go with me, but changed her mind by the time we were finished with dinner. Dawn, of course, is the source of tonight's subject... I told her pretty soon after they met up with us and she was pretty worried. We're both completely fine, but I probably won't be taking any significant hills with Rachel any time soon.

Odd that the first thing I did after ordering a new bike was dump the old one. Can't remember the last time I did that; went over the handlebars on the mountain bike several years ago; broke the (practically brand new) leather strap on a toe-clip when I was in high school - I was coming to a stop near Mining Circle on the Cal campus and the strap was too tight and I started to fall... then my foot was free and I put it down. Didn't notice until later than the strap was broken. The guys at Missing Link were impressed that I'd broken it since it was so new; I think we all agreed that there must have been something wrong with it or it wouldn't have broken.

Also in the flashback category for the day, I bumped into my 10th grade science teacher, Amy Hansen. I still remember her dropping pieces of Sodium into water; she was doing it because she thought it was important for us to see, but she was not entirely comfortable with it. She stood every bit as far as her reach and the little spoon would allow her to, and dropped the Na into the water from as high as she could manage. Neither of those distances was terribly big, of course, because at best she's 5'3". She's principal of Oakland's Skyline High now but seem to have about the same view of public education as we do right now - believes in it, but despairs of its future because of the economy and current views on public funding for it.

Friday, August 06, 2004

To Replace or Not to Replace...

I made it up to Left Coast Cyclery "on the way" home yesterday. It was about a mile and half to two miles longer, and some of it noticably hillier than the normal ride home. They were somewhat helpful, though they do seem a little bit snooty. I had hoped they might be more gracious; they weren't rude or anything, so it might have been my own expectations or something. I think I'm going to go by Missing Link and maybe Mike's Bikes this afternoon and look at new bikes and maybe talk to them about what to do with the old one. The thing is that putting a new handlebar and brake levers on it will help and with a tune up come to somewhere between 200 and 300, depending on whether I wind up having to put a new stem in, but if I can buy a new bike for only double that or so, that might be better. In particular, because I have realized that I really would rather not have the shifters on the drop tube and I basically can't do that to the old bike because the rear fork isn't wide enough to accommodate a larger cassette. Hmmm...

Found out that my friend Jill's husband has started a new business. It sounds great so far; they're working on a nicer web site. Jill and I talked about how they ought to be getting a couple more domain names related to the business name... I hope they do it before someone else jumps on them.

I rode in with Rachel again today. We stopped for muffins at "the muffin store", as she calls it. Actually a bakery near her school. There was a woman there who cracked up when Rachel just started chomping away at the muffin. It was almost as big as her face, so I'm sure it did look pretty amusing. When we left the bakery, I couldn't get my left cleat into the pedal. I've been having trouble with one of the screws, so I actually went ahead and took it out and left it at home, in hopes of not losing it. Of course, that meant when I pulled my foot out the torque twisted the cleat out of alignment. After dropping Rachel off at school I managed to get it back in for the ride to work, which was good. I definitely made use of it. Dawn is going to bring the screw and driver down here for me so I can put it back together for later. Another thing I guess I have to buy that I wasn't planning on... new bike shoes. Looks as if they'll probably be about $50... Amazon wants 80 for the ones I have, so I certainly won't be buying them there! I should probably try some on when I'm at those two bike stores to see if I can get a better fit or want to get some that are less meant for walking in.

I've been hovering at 235 give or take 2 pounds for over a month now with no special effort to lose any more weight. I know I'm getting in better shape, because my riding is improving and I have lost a little more size since July 1. The only thing I've really done is to continue to make sure I don't overdo carbs, which principally means not having cookies or ice cream anywhere near as often, not having a sandwich for lunch everyday, and not having pasta for dinner very often. I think Dawn and I are going to make a new plan for both of us to do a few weeks of an extreme diet to try to drop some more weight for each of us. I'm starting to be pretty convinced that I can keep the weight off now, so I think another quick kick to drop some more exta weight will be good.

Time to work. Can't figure out why the change I made yesterday isn't getting picked up. Oh, and let the ripping continue.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Bike Work...

OK, so I didn't pay much for this Cat Eye Mity 3 speedometer I have, so I don't really expect a lot from it. I also know that I may not have it calibrated perfectly to the tire size, but I'm working on requirements for a new one...

1. cadence monitor
2. multiple (i.e. more than 2) trip monitors - right now if I clear the primary during the trip I get 2, but I really want 4 or more
3. elapsed time as well as actual time in motion
4. each trip monitor should store distance, av & max speeds, and travel & elapsed times

I also need to do some work on my bike. I don't think I really need to buy a new one. I want a new one, but I certainly can't justify a new mtn bike unless I'm going to put a rack for Rachel's seat on it. If I don't do that, then I would only ride it when I'm not taking her somewhere, and that means not most weekdays. I don't really need a new road bike either; the one I have is in fairly good shape. It needs at least a couple of things done to it; primarily an overhaul, new (wider) handlebars to accomodate how wide my shoulders are, and possibly new brake levers - the levers are probably long enough, but the hoods are small for my hands. I suppose that new handlebars may also take care of that by virtue of being longer just above the hoods. I really want to put a shock seat post on it like the one on Dawn's bike, and I ought to get a new seat as well. From there, I think it's just adjustments... the seat probably could be a little bit higher than it is, and may need to be moved fore or aft some.

When it's being overhauled, the main things I know need to be done are adjusting the front derailer so it doesn't rub in low gears and the rear so the chain doesn't hop off the smallest gear (at least the gap is large enough to leave it running free most of the time, so it's easy to shift it right back on), and a serious examination of the brakes & their adjustment. Coming down Spruce the other day was a tiny bit harrowing because I suddenly realized that the brakes aren't as good as the Vs on the mountain bike and I don't really know how well they're adjusted! Oops.

Rachel's back in school today. Took her there by bike & made it pretty fast... 9:08 ride time (not sure of the actual elapsed time) and actually made it to work at a total average speed of 15.8 mph, which is probably the fastest I've done yet.

OK, time to finish the email to J telling them about my concern about their licenses...

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

No Subject Given

We met with Luke, the landscaper today. The plan's changed a little based on our conversations with him. In the front, we'll expand the main planting area only a little, grading it and putting a small rock wall in front of it, maintaining a curved border; in front of the border, we'll put a walkway of some kind from the driveway (where it will widen out to give space for someone stepping out of either car door if the car is positioned properly) to the front walk. We will probably actually have the front planting area extend for a narrow bit toward the sidewalk along the front walk, sort of hopping over the walk from the driveway. That will let us camouflage/de-emphasize the side of the front walkway. Other than that, we'll leave the rest of the lawn in place for Rachel & her friends to play on. On the other side of the walkway, we'll remove the lawn completely, put in some sort of step stones from the bottom of the porch steps to the gas meter, and create a planting area that otherwise runs all the way from our walk to Michelle & Xin's retaining wall.

We really didn't talk about the side much, except in generalities; we'd like to do something about all the weeds and we'd like to add some more things that will do well in that space and give us (and Michelle & Xin) some privacy without risk of damage to either house.

In the back, we're going to replace the lawn completely, along with removing a LOT of the old, bad dirt; mainly we'll do the lawn, including it's shape toward the back to leave planting areas and do some basic planting. We'll probably tackle the area under the tree in the back West corner later. It's pretty exciting that he's actually going to be starting on this in about a week! We talked about putting something in the space between the driveway and the fence to the west of it, just in front of the garage. There used to be a tree there, but it was right up against the garage and was pushing the garage out of square, which makes it hard to close. I'll have to work on that later, but as part of this project we're actually going to run a small drip pipe around the garage to provide a drip to whatever we decide to put in that space.

I meant to ask him about running small drip tubes up the sides of the front porch so that we can use the irrigation system to water whatever little pots we decide to put up there. Dawn always likes to have flowers and things on the porch or the walls around it, and as long as we have irrigation, we might as well let it take care of that too. I'm pretty sure it'll be no problem; I'll just mount the tube carefully and then paint it.

Today was a so-so day at work. I rode in and back. Turns out that's almost exactly the same distance as my ride up to Spruce and Grizzly on Sunday. Not as hard on the uphill, nor as easy on the down. Got some really good work done on M, for whom I supposedly have work planned at least through the end of the calendar year. Of course, I'm also trying to get into position to get J to upgrade to 6.5, which just came out and will be a revelation for them - it's much better than 5.6 was, in a lot of ways, and in particular will solve all of their deployment problems, though it does occur to me that they may have a relatively high portion of Netscape users. That could be a problem. I'll have to check on it.

Meanwhile, O is having a cow because there are things that aren't working and support isn't responding fast enough. She's also blaming it on Laszlo, which is not necessarily reasonable in all cases. Seems that one of the big things is actually a defect (something about timesheets exporting twice) and another is a design change (she told me to do it one way, so I did, and now it turns out it's meant to be another). Got that calmed down a little bit, but also got support to take a closer look. And Rich sent me an email with limited detail about Mz wanting to do single-sign-on for email approval all of 15 minutes before going on vacation. I think I got the email more than an hour after he left.

Oh, and I realized that with J integrating their new acquisition, they almost certainly won't have enough licenses to cover all the document owners, which is bad enough, but since the license requires that they pay for all active users regardless of their roles, they're really going to be under! This may result in some good revenue for us, but I hope it doesn't wind up driving them away. Our new Eastern region sales guy, Dick, is making me nervous. I'm afraid he's going to be too ham-handed. I mean, he thought they were impatient with us and that we were having "relationship problems" with regard to the contract for this last work, but that's only with an hopelessly narrow view. We had committed to a date, but the contract negotiations and signing took so long that they were, quite reasonably, worried that we were going to wind up missing that date. I think everything's fine. I'm going to broach the license subject with them myself by email tomorrow to make sure that they don't get offended that I didn't talk to them about it at least at some level myself.

Through all that, had a nice lunch with Duane and Sue and ripped 18 more CDs. I might swap those 18 out of the case I took to work, but it'll have to be in the morning, because I'm too tired to bother right now. Besides, I've still got 30 more in there that I haven't ripped, so it's not exactly a problem to carry the 18 back and forth another time or two.

Rachel is feeling a lot better; she was almost ready to go to school today, but Dawn decided to let her stay home. I think it was good for both of them. Dawn's been pretty stressed at work. I hope she can start making some real headway soon; I know how hard it is to keep working when nothing's going well, etc. And, of course, all the crap going on with her brother isn't helping. We had a long talk with Dick on Monday afternoon (I only joined in after recovering from my migraine, so I wasn't even in on it most of the time). It's really important that he stop enabling Darryl & Molly's problems and focus on protecting his own future because we're not going to be in a position to give any of them any significant help when he runs out of money. Dawn wrote them all a tough letter tonight that she's going to mail soon.

Anyway, she and Rachel stayed home and had a pretty good, mellow day. Rachel's back to being dry over night after that one accident while she's been sick. I've told her each of the last couple of nights that she should come get me if she needs to use the toilet in the middle of the night and doesn't want to go by herself. I'm faintly worried that'll lead to her coming for me every night and taking a long time to start being able to go by herself at night, but I think it's more important that she not have accidents in her bed than that she never need help going at night. I think she'll probably do OK, though; we have a night-light in her room, another in the hall right outside her door, and another in the bathroom. Of course, other than the occasional bad dream or wetting herself the other night, she rarely wakes up in the middle of the night, so maybe it'll never be a problem anyway.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Big Big Big Big Big...

OK, I just have to mention some more about the train museum. They've got this one locomotive there, #4294, that's this enormous (well, anyway it towers at least 15 feet to the top, not couting anything sticking up from there, like the smoke stack) black monstrosity of gleaming black metal. It's amazing to think that, as big as it is, it isn't even as big as some out there now. I stood on the track just in front of it and looked up and felt dwarfed. I know that's how some people feel standing next to ME, but jeez! It's actually the last of the diesel cab-forwards. The cab-forwards were created by the SP because in some of the longer tunnels and snow sheds, the train crews could actually suffocate because of all the heat and smoke being produced by the engine if they were in a cab that was at the back of the engine. So, sensibly, they moved the cab up to the front of the engine. Wow. I remember sometimes being at Jack London Square and standing on the sidewalk some 10 feet or so from the tracks there as a freight engine would roll by. They are so unbelievably huge and load and create so much vibration it boggles the mind. I never had a problem with thinking it would be a good idea to try to drive across the tracks going around the crossing arms with a large train coming on, but I remember once thinking how could anyone be that stupid??? I mean, even going only a few miles an hour the thing generates enough wind and vibration to strike fear into the hearts of anyone noise sensitive or small, and the amount of momentum involved is truly stupendous. Oh well, I guess that's just Darwin for you.

Sunday was a pretty nice day. The weather was mediocre, as it has been for a while, but Dawn and her father took Rachel to a friend's birthday party. I went for a bike ride and then folded laundry. The bike ride was really nice. 3.67 miles each way up to Spruce & Grizzly. Took me about 40 minutes round trip, and only involved maybe 4 minutes of stopped time. Also took almost exactly twice as long going up as coming back down. No big surprise there. I was pretty pleased, though; from Hearst & Oxford I made it the rest of the way up without stopping at all. It's not that it was a trivial climb, but it wasn't as daunting as I sort of thought it might be. I've been reading a lot of biking info lately (at least starting to), including roadbikerider.com's 29 tips which include having a positive attitude about hills, and that might actually have helped some. I did have a funny moment with shifting - the mountain bike (Dawn's, now) has 3 cogs in front and for some reason I was convinced that my road bike did as well. I therefore got into my lowest gear a lot sooner than I planned. Of course, I didn't discover this until it wouldn't shift the front into the smallest of three cogs - mainly because there is no third cog. Duh.

In the afternoon, we went to the game, having gotten the other three tickets from Alex, Holly, and Carol. Rachel did really really well, although letting her insist on not wearing her jacket might finally have come back to bite us (she's sick now). She asked to leave sometime in the 2nd inning, but I was able to distract her. Then around the 4th I started talking about singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame, which she was really interested in. She even wanted to practice a couple of times, so that got us through to the 7th. And that might have been when I pulled out the big guns - we went and got a $7 Ghirardelli chocolate sundae. I was planning on not buying another (that's two this season) because it offends me that they charge so much; after all, they would probably sell a lot more of them if they were, say, $5, so they'd probably make more actual profit which is clearly their intent. And don't try to tell me they've done research and blah blah. It's gouging and they'd do better to charge less. We did leave after the end of the 8th in order to end on a high note. Rachel was still doing pretty well, but she was clearly getting tired and if we'd stayed longer, we'd have wound up having to deal with a lot more other people leaving and such.

Monday sucked. Got another migraine, which makes 3 in just over a month. Like last time, the homeopathic sugar pill my accupuncturist gave me did a pretty good job and didn't cause any bizarre neurological side effects, but it's still a hassle. I had to have Dawn & her father come get me and my truck so I could go home and rest. Did get some work done, but not a whole lot. At least it was not last week when we were trying to get extra hours in to get a little closer to our targets for the quarter. I obviously didn't ride in yesterday and since I thought I might be going home to take care of Rachel (I mentioned she's sick) for part of the day, I didn't ride today either. Maybe tomorrow, if she is feeling well enough to go to school. Naturally, she'd made something like 10 days without wetting her bed, but last night she woke up at 3:20 in the morning because she'd done so - I think because we gave her "purple medicine for my nose" - it's sudafed, essentially, which is a diuretic. Poor thing. She was very disappointed about it. Dawn, meanwhile, feels badly for picking Rachel up fairly late on Monday - Rachel was playing when she got there to pick her up, but was obviously going on adrenalin, or something, because she completely dissolved on the way to the car. I hope she feels better soon. And I really hope I manage to duck this one; I've been doing pretty well at not getting these colds & coughs since I started working with Sandy in February, but now I'm trying to rule some things out as causes of the migraines, which means not taking most of my daily pills, including echinacea & vitamin C, etc.

I decided it was finally time to start ripping my CDs, and since I hardly ever get time to do so at home, I am doing it at work on my extra desktop machine that has tons of space. I haven't figured out how I'm going to get it all home. I figure I can either bring my laptop in, put it on the network and copy everything over, or I can just open up the desktop and borrow the hard drive for a weekend. I think I'll still need to get a couple of new large hard drives to hold it all, one for a backup and one for bringing to work... I think I might have decided that the actiontec wireless media center I have sucks. It was nice to use it for displaying pictures on the television over the wireless from the computer, but it is very limited in folder management. I need to look a little more, but it isn't all that great so far. We'll see how it goes. We might just have to break down and get those Tivos, especially since that'll let us play the music in our bedroom as well as in the living room, and that would be quite nice. I also put a small flat screen television on our list of wanted items - now that we have a cable hook up in the downstairs bedroom, I figure we ought to have a television down there for our guests, but you know I'm not going to put a new one there! I suppose we don't have to buy a flat panel, but it seems as if we really should...

We're meeting with our landscaper tomorrow evening. I think the basic plan for the front is this: remove the grass on the East side of the front walkway and make it a planting area; expand the size of the planting area behind the front lawn a little bit; grade the front lawn so that it drains away from the house all the time; replace the front lawn; possibly add a small planting strip directly to the West side of the front walkway; add irrigation throughout. I'm not sure what we're going to do on the side other than provide irrigation for the vine and two trees and try to do something about the weeds. In the back, we're going to add irrigation (that's the primary purpose of the whole exercise), plant Rachel's Rose, remove & replace the lawn, including reshaping it some and leveling it, particularly at the end of the concrete patio, put in a stone patio under the tree in the back corner, and plants... more plants. It'll be interesting to see what else he recommends at this point.

But, really, I need to get some actual work done now!