Friday, December 30, 2005

Brandon and Jessie

Congratulations to Erin's cousin Brandon getting engaged to his girlfriend and the mother of their child (Bryan Leonard whom I've talked about before). They were engaged before December 17th (not sure which day though). Brandon had planned a romantic proposal that I thought was really cool. He was going to have the nurses put the ring out in the crib with their son and when they went up to see him on Christmas she would see the ring and he'd propose. Instead, the ring somehow made it into his pants pocket and they got into a fight because he wouldn't let her wash his pants, then during the fight the proposal somehow happened. I wasn't told the story directly, so I'm not sure on all the details.
The ring itself is beautiful. And from when I've been aroudn them, they both seem very lucky to have each other.

Bryan Leonard update

I haven't posted about Bryan in quite a while because I was out of the loop on his status for a lot and I would only hear little bits and pieces of things. He has kidney stones and gall stones but he's finally doing really well. He last stopped breathing on November 14th (I think) and has been eating breast milk pretty consistently since the beginning of November. He weighs 5 pounds and 4 ounces and is gaining very quickly now. Bryan's original due date was Christmas, so he's a good size baby for his due date. It's looking like he'll be coming home soon, but soon has not yet been defined. The hoped for Christmas homecoming didn't happen, but everything is still looking very good for him.

Jaden 2 month update

We still haven't heard if Jaden does or doesn't have FOD. We are waiting for the results that should be back in mid-January. We are already living as if he does, so him having it won't be a big shock or emotional downer, but him not having it would be a huge uplifting feeling. I still hope for the best, but expect that we will be told that he has it. He had his 2 month checkup the other day and is doing well, he's now weighing 11 pounds and 14 ounces. He also 22 inches tall that puts him at the 50% in weight and the 10% in height. Erin and I joke that he's short and fat.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Wedding Update

Take me out to the Ball Game. It's so cool. We are going to have a theme for our wedding. Let me back up. I have been thinking a lot about the wedding and I decided that I didn't want to get married by a judge and not have Jonas there. I think he needs to be a part of the wedding so he understands what's going on and that I am remarrying. I've told him a couple of times about the wedding, and he's excited and wants to go to the wedding but sit with Grandma and Grandpa. He's actually been to several weddings already and has had a great time at them, so I think that's part of why he's so excited. Because of that I decided that we should try to get married by someone on Saturday when we can have Jonas there.

Just before Christmas Erin said "I know I'm going to regret this, but I think it would be neat to get married wearing White Sox Jerseys". She doesn't want it to be only partially casual, she wants to force it to be very casual, and this would be blue jeans and jerseys. I thought it was a great idea. We're still talking about whether or not we should just get Jerseys that say Rigney, Bride and Groom, or a players name. I think wedding pictures will look a little strange from behind us if we are standing there wearing Jersey's that have someone else's name on them, but we'll get more use out of the Jersey than just the wedding that way.

I let it lie for a few days and now I'm thinking of all the cheesey things that we could do to really make it a crazy fun Baseball wedding. I said we have to have ballpark food there, like hot dogs and popcorn things like that. Then I thought right after we say our vows or I do or however it will be done that we "Throw a first pitch". So we could buy some bases and set up a little diamond in the yard. Erin has already said we need to get matching t-shirts for our parents and kids so they can all look the same. I think we can do all sorts of other fun things to go along with this and have a lot of strange corny ideas floating around in my head right now. I'm so excited.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

What a wonderful day. I just had a great Christmas with my family (parents and some cousins) on Christmas Eve. Jonas was there and we had a really great time with him. The 23rd, is my father's birthday and Ady was sick all day. She came down with the flu bug I guess, she must have had what I had last weekend. She was sick all day and it caused us to wash 5 loads of laundry, but that was ok, because when she wasn't throwing up, she was pretty much a normal kid. That night, my brother and I went to the Blackhawks game with my dad. WOW!!! What a game. They lost 3-2 to the Detroit Red Wings, but it was one of the most exciting games I've ever seen. They ended up blowing it, because they were up 2-0 with less than a minute left and Detroit scored twice, once with 38 seconds left and again with 7 seconds left. Then with time expiring on the clock in overtime they did it again. It was very exciting.

Christmas Eve was the big get together. Everyone opened presents in the morning and I think everyone was very excited about what they got, I know I was. Then family came and we had a great lunch and good conversation all day. This is one of the best Christmas's I've had in a long time.

The best gift I got for Christmas, was that Trish said that she was going to let me have Jonas for a full week every other month. I was so excited I almost jumped out of my skin. I'm already looking forward to the next week that I will get to have him here the whole time. Erin was so excited she asked me if I kissed Trish and if she should run after her and kiss her. It was a funny way of her expression for how excited she also was. I'm so very happy.

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 19, 2005

Oh my BARF!!!

Yes, that's what it's been since Saturday night. I thought maybe Erin and I had some kind of food poisoning from the birthday breakfast I made, but Adylynn hasn't gotten anything. Thankfully Jaden also doesn't appear to be sick, but she and I have been taking turns in the bathroom. It's not a pretty sight, nor smell. First the first time in 7 years I'm actually sick enough that I couldn't work. I tried to open the laptop today and get some things done, but after 15 minutes my eyes hurt from eyestrain, and I had to stop to take a trip to vomit in the middle. It wasn't any fun. I'm starting to feel better, and will probably feel good enough to go back to work tomorrow, but the real question is should I. Should I potentially expose all of my teammates to the illness that I have just in time for them to get it for Christmas? I don't want to. This is one of those times that being able to work from home would be excellent. I'm on the upside of my illness (hopefully) and I want to work, but I don't want to get anyone else sick. Working from home tomorrow would allow me to get all of my stuff done without exposing anyone and without costing me a sick day. The other option is to ruin everyone's christmas. I think I like my team too much to do that to them. I'll call in sick again and try talking to my boss about working from home.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Rhetorical question?

It's called a rhetorical question when you ask a question and plan on answering it yourself. It's a question when you ask and expect some to respond. What is it when you ask and don't expect anyone to respond?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Jonas and Ady

Jonas has really taken to his role of big brother. He's reading Ady a story here even though he can't read. She loves copying him too. They are a great brother-sister combo. Posted by Picasa

Jonas, Ady, and Jaden

This was very funny. Jonas was close enough to the couch that Ady didn't fit, but she squeezed in anyway to get into the picture. Posted by Picasa

Jonas, Ady, and Jaden

This was one of the best ones I had of Jonas taken on the morning with all 3 kids, it's so hard to get them both to look at the camera and smile at the same time. Posted by Picasa

Jonas, Ady, and Jaden

This was the try not to laugh picture, we were having so much fun taking pictures that I asked them to stop for a second and the picture ended up being better than most of the smiling shots. Posted by Picasa

Ady and Jaden


Ady was having so much fun with Jaden that she was just laughing up a storm. Posted by Picasa

Ady and Jaden

Ady giving Jaden a lot of love. Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 09, 2005

Public speaking

For the first time, in my life, I had a presentation. The only speaking I've really done was when I was in college taking a public speaking class. Even then I didn't do all that well, I ended up with an A, but it was definitely for content instead of presentation. I just don't have that natural talent for getting in front of a group of people and capturing their attention. I've spoken up in meetings, in front of lots of people, but only for a quick statement or question and even then my palms are sweaty. Today I presented a topic on C# for tracing and logging. I had prepared the topic over the previous three weeks and felt very confident in the material. I felt that I jumped around more than I had planned, but each jump was prompted by a question, so instead of continuing in the direction that I had planned, I went and answered the question and worked my way back to the path I had planned. After the class I asked several of the people who were there what they thought of the class. I was told that I had done well and the content was useful.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Jaden getting strong

My little boy is getting strong. At 5 weeks now he's already lifting his head up when he's on his stomach. Now if he only will keep his food down. He has the ability to projectile spit up and it comes out of his nose quite frequently.

Tonight, the little bugger decided that it was time to pee while I was changing him. He had a good 2 feet above his head that he soaked the floor. It was crazy.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Fast food? Yeah right.

Has anyone else noticed the problems with Subway. I mean, I love that they make their sandwiches with only the toppings you want when you order it, but that only seems to work when each customer orders a single sandwich. I went in last night and ordered three sandwiches. The toppings lady was badgering me for toppings while the meat lady was asking me what meat and bread I wanted. I was throwing out (verbally) the toppings and sandwiches that I wanted, but the sandwich lady had to ask me more than once, I guess she wasn't paying attention, and the toppings lady was also having problems. I think I repeated everything twice. I felt really bad because after I started ordering my sandwich six other people came in and were standing there waiting. My order ended up not taking an excessive amount of time, but in the same amount of time that I did order from subway McDonalds would have had 3 or 4 people place their orders already.

It's not enough that it will prevent me from going to Subway. I like their food, and it's just as fresh in slow times as fast, but if I'm the sixth person in the line and the people in front of me are ording more that one sandwich, I'll have to remind myslef to be patient. The setup is meant to be fresh, not efficient.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

A funny thing happened on the way to blogging.

I got home from work tonight and Erin told me that Ady was being adamant about being her Princess instead of her baby. It's funny how kids are when they have a problem pronouncing their words. As parents I think we often forget the cute funny things our children say when they are learning to speak. Erin asked Ady what she was and she said "Mommy's Princess", well she meant it at least, she said "Mommy's fishes". It was so funny. I tried to get her to say it right, but she was laughing so hard herself that it kept coming out "Mommy's fishes".

Finally, I asked, "who calls you fishes"
She answered "Quack, quack, quack"
After another good laugh Erin said, "You better watch out the duck will eat you"
and she responded quickly with "Eat my toes".

All things that to her make perfect sense but I can't figure out for the life of me.

After the laughter died down, she moved on and started playing with a book. I thought it was funny enough to write it up, and while I was writing she had a few more.

She was looking at a Disney book and said "I see Poopies", she meant "I see Pooh Bear".
Then she quickly followed with "Shake your bootie", whch means "sleeping beauty"

I've laughed harder in the last 15 minutes than I have in the past 2 or three weeks, it's been great. I hope the hilarity of it cheered you as much as it did me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Training and work

I've had a good year at work as far as training goes. I've been sent to SQL Server 2000 training, I was sent to Anaheim California for FileNet training. FileNet is an application that we use here at work. I was sent to a custom training by a group called ThoughtWorks and I was taught about Test Driven Development and the Agile development methodology. Now I am sitting in training for an application that we are about to use now called Composite Applications.

I'm pretty excited about the amount of training that I've been to recently. I'm looking forward to picking out which training I'm going to try to attend next year. I am hoping to attend some training about Design Patterns for C#.

I've had some good fortune with my training this year.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

A few days with Erin's niece

It's been an interesting few days with Erin's niece Brianna. She's been interesting to get to know. I've tried to spend some time getting to know her, and she's a little shy with me. I don't feel that I've gotten to know her much yet. I keep hearing about how smart she is, but I wasn't able to see her in a situation that let her display her intelligence. She watched a lot of TV and I did a little exercise with me (I tried to get her to do more, but 3 pushups and 5 situps was all she would do). She did sit with me and play a few games on the computer, and we did some Harry Potter trivia together. I was amazed at how little of it I knew the answers for, there were some really detailed questions about minute things in the stories. It made me want to read the stories all again to see if I would do better in the trivia afterwards.

Other than that I don't really have much more to say about Brianna. She was helpful a little bit, but didn't want to help, and I didn't want to force her to help cook or anything. I tried to get her to run to the store with me this morning so we could make lunch, but she was engaged with the TV again.

I was told that she wants to learn to paly guitar and I offered her a teach yourself guitar book, but she turned me down opting instead to get a book from the library. She's pretty happy with the library, because the last time she was here we tried to give her some books (not just loan them to her) and she wouldn't take them because she could get them at the library.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy thanksgiving everyone!

So today I did what most people probably did. I stuffed myself for one giant meal and snacked a little bit (a lot) throughout the rest of the day.

It was a great day. The family that was here was all very talkative and we had a lot of good times. Too bad the morning football game wasn't any good, but the men were at least kept busy by the afternoon game of Dallas and Denver.

The best part is that Erin's niece Brianna is going to spend a few days with us now. This will allow me an oportunity to finally get to know her. I am constantly hearing about how incredibly smart she is and I hope I get to see it in action.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Almost Thanksgiving

I've had my oldest son with me now for 2 and a half weeks, and they have been some of the best days of the past year. Yes there have been stresses, but I enjoy being able to come home from work and see Jonas every day. He always has something that he'll do that surprises the heck out of me.

The other day we were working on his letters and he was learning new letters and it was great. We worked on an alphabet puzzle this week and he knew all the letters on sight. I was totally amazed by that. Even last night he said he wanted to talk to me (all grown up like) and sat down and started asking me questions, I couldn't help but smile. Late last night I went to check on him and he was uncovered so I situated him on his bed and covered him up and he woke up just enough to say "I wished it Daddy" It was in the sweetest 3 year old voice imaginable. I almost dropped to my knees to cry for joy (almost, but I don't cry when I'm happy). I hope whatever his wish was, he gets it.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

OK So I'm a nerd

About 2 months ago my work finally decided to go ahead and replace any developer desktop PC with a laptop if we wanted it. We are going through a change at work where we are also trying to use Agile development methods to get better quality on our work. I've been very adamant that agile practically requires laptops in order to have the type of mobile work environment that really makes Agile development work. To learn more about agile see the Agile Manifesto.

Anyway, 2 weeks ago the first laptop was handed out, and I was a bit frustrated that it wasn't mine. I waited and waited and waited until yesterday when I got mine 14th. I was really frustrated and felt that I was unappreciated because my computer was the oldest in the department and I am the 3rd most senior developer. I actually fumed for 2 weeks until I got it. But now that I have it, I'm not bitter at all about not having had it for the previous 2 weeks. In retrospect I was being very silly about the whole thing and made myself look like a fool in front of my team at work. Now I'll have to figure out how to make it up to them.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Reading more Maxwell

I started reading another Maxwell book. So far it's been really good. It's called Winning with People, and I expect that it covers a lot of the same topics as How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It has 5 "People Principles" and they are simple enough that anyone should be able to quickly recall them. It's actually a simpler list of principles to follow than some of his other books. So far the book really has you asking yourself some tough questions. If you don't sit down and really think about the answers, you won't gain everything that this book has to offer. And of course, chapter 1 is examine yourself. More to come later...

Friday, November 11, 2005

More Fuel efficiency

I know I've ranted in the past about the fuel efficiency issue, but today I happened to read a few articles that made me smile. There happened to be a couple of announcements at the same time about improvements that may help the industries that actually drive the most. Taxi's and Semi's. The Taxi story is out of New York, and now the Taxis in New York are allowed to be Hybrids. Apparently New York is listed as one of the 3 worst cities for Air Quality in the US and they have a lot of Taxis that put on a lot of miles each year. The story cites 100,000 miles a year. Wow!! Can you imagine the saving in polution and gas that can come from NY alone by having all of the taxis being hybrids? I don't think that the car manufacturers acutally make enough hyrbrids for all of NY to switch en masse, but I do like to dream. What if all of the major cities did the same thing? Come on Chicago, LA, San Francisco, Dallas-Ft.Worth, Seattle, etc. Let's all get on board. Hell not that I'm a fan of government, because I'd prefer that in general they stay out of things. But they could mandate that Taxis have a certain fuel efficiency in these cities.

Similarly There is some research on Semis that has gained the heavily loaded trailers 0.6 MPG. This is small, but they only normally get 4-6 MPG, so 0.6 is at minimum a 10% improvement, just by putting an extension on the back to help fight the drag from the wind. They are going to be running a year long test to see if the results hold up in all kinds of conditions. I wish they would run it for 3 months, publish results and make the product available. Sure they can keep testing for the rest of the year, but some may start to take advantage of this earlier. Again I am elated to hear of semis saving up to 10% on their gas. This can save a lot of gas and reduce overall shipping costs. What other aerodynamic options are available to save us money with these? Can we plug something onto the nose too?


Finally, there are some scientists in Canada that think they can make the cost of Hydrogen viable by combining wind power and nuclear power in generating the hydrogen. Wind power is free and the nuclear power would keep the system producing hydrogen at full capacity when the wind is not blowing. However, it also says that when it's windy additional energy would be sold back to the power company. Wouldn't that mean that the nuclear power is being used to run the Hydrogen generation at near 100% and the wind power is just being used to offest the cost of the nuclear by selling power back to the power company? I don't think I like the way that it sounds, but you can read what they say about green nuclear power here.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Jaden & Ady




















Jaden (2 days ol) and Adylynn before having to go to the ER. Posted by Picasa

More Jaden















Jaden at 2 days old. Posted by Picasa

Another good Maxwell book

I have just finished reading "The 21 irrefutable laws of Leadership". Just like his other books, this is a masterpiece of leadership. For just over a year now, I have been soaking up every bit of knowledge I can from John C. Maxwell. He may have a religious slant to his leadership and the stories he tells, but I believe that he has the right leadership develoment process in mind. My goal is to become a good leader myself and help bring others along with me. Unfortunately my current job hasn't recognized these leadership talents in me yet and promoted me to a position that I think is in accordance with my leadership ability, but at some point it will be seen. My goal though is not just to have a position of power. I want to help others. My biggest challenge in this area is that my default personality can be a bit brash. I am constantly trying to temper my response and be conscious of what I say and how I say it. Over the past two years I have made a lot of progress in this area, but there is still a long way to go. There was a really good quote on leadership in this book that I want to share.

Acheivement comes to someone when he is ble to do great things for himself.
Success comes when he emplowers follwers to do great things with him.
Significance comes when he develops leaders to do great things for him.
But a legacy is created only when a person puts his organization into the position
to do great thins without him. -- John C. Maxwell

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Jonas says hello to his brother.

Jonas, Grandpa and his new baby brother. He covered his head. What a ham! Posted by Picasa

Baby Jaden in the role of Rocky Balboa

Cut me Mic, cut me!!!

Jaden in his film debut attempting to imitate Sylvester Stalone. Posted by Picasa

A happy family of 5

From left to right.
Back Row - Steven, Erin
Front Row - Jonas, Jaden, Ady (Cheese) Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Mommy And baby Jaden


Mommy and baby Jaden are both doing great. He was born at 7:46 PM, weighed 6 lbs 7 oz. He came out a little beat up looking but is already looking a lot better and is most likely going to come home on schedule Sunday. Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 28, 2005

On to the hospital.

Here we are finished getting ready to go have this baby, ready to run out the door, and I had to stop and let you know. We're off. I've been up since 2:45 AM and have no idea how long this day will be. I'll let everyone know soon how things have gone.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Coming around the bend is... the beginning

Almost 9 months of pregnancy. Almost all of it has been good. We've had our fights here and there, but they have all worked out for a better understanding. And now at the end, we are about to begin. I like the cyclical nature of it. You wait and wait and wait for it to be over, just so it can start. Erin is going to be induced tomorrow morning. Tomorrow there should be a new baby in our lives. I feel like he's been a part of our lives already for a while now. We've already picked a name and I've been calling him by name for probably 2 months. It just feels so natural for me to say it now.

We're naming him Jaden Patrick. At first it sounded funny, but felt right. I decided to go with my instinct and we worked together to come up with a spelling. I'm more of a traditional kind of guy and am just fine with a standard name. My name is Steven and I've loved it most of my life. Erin loves being different and creative. It's really a wonderful quality that I love a lot in her, but I was worried at how it would affect our selecting a name. When she originally said Jaden, it felt right but didn't sound right, so I had to think for a minute or two about it. Then we discussed the spelling. The traditionalist in me just couldnt' vary too far from a more normal spelling of the odd name, Jaydyn, Jayden Jadyn. These are all great spellings and will work wonderful for someone else, but I didn't feel right with that. I loved the name already though, so I wanted to work on a spelling that I also felt comfortable with. It came down to Jaden. It's simple to look at, easy for hin to learn to spell, it's something a teacher can look at and pronounce correctly and I love it. We threw out a few ideas for middle names, but my brother's middle name Patrick seemed almost a natural fit. It flows nicely when saying "Jaden Patrick" and I love my brother and wanted to honor him with the name. I still get some strange looks when I tell people what we are going to name him, but they don't last long. After they hear it once they seem to give it a second chance, and on a second look they find the name to be rather lovely.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

ice chunks, out of place cliches and other quirky things

The past few days have been very interesting.

First a guy I work with received a hand written piece of spam that's pretty common. You know the one that says, I'm from Africa and my father is rich but died, I need to get your bank account number to help me get the money out of the country, blah, blah, blah. Well, this one was handwritten and mailed from Ghana and even had a Ghyana stamp on it. I looked up the conversion and it was about 50 cents to send it via airmail. The funniest thing is that the person who wrote it (not in cursive) wrote the name, and screwed up and had to scratch it out and write it again.

Second, someone I know overate at lunch the other day, and when asked why he did it, he said he was under a lot of pizza pressure. I don't know if it was just the situation or what, but I was dying.

Third. A few of us were sitting around talking about keeping our cars clean and getting gunk off of them. The expert said, use peanut butter to get road tar off. And the other guy immediately responded with "Not chunky, right?" Again a laugher. My side hurt I was laughing so hard.

Finally there was the funniest instance of blowing chunks I've ever witnessed last night. On our way to the hospital for my fiance to be monitored we were chatting and joking and while chewing up some ice she laughed so hard she shot an ice chunk out of her nose. I had to work very hard not to need to pull over I was laughing so hard, it's a good thing there wasn't much traffic around.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Baby or World Series

Erin and I were filling out some of the things in the baby book last night. Since she may end up being induced tomorrow we are doing all we can to be ready. One of the line in there was "Dad's favorite things". I laughed because I was watching the World series wearing my Sox hat and the new bracelets I just bought this weekend to support my team. I responded with "Since the game will be on while you are pushing, I would put baseball first." She didn't find it funny. I know that most of the time I am a comedian, but I wasn't trying to be funny. I don't want to miss any of the series. I was seriously thinking we could have the game on while she's giving birth. I guess when I stand back and think about it, the baby is more important, but I've been a White Sox fan my whole life, and only a Jaden fan for the past few months. It just feels like I have so much more invested in the sox. Oh well, maybe I can have my cake and watch it too. There is no telling what time the baby will actually come, I may get to watch the game without interfering with the birth. In that case "Go Erin!!!"

Friday, October 21, 2005

An excited (if out of place) Sox fan

My whole life I've loved the White Sox. The "winning ugly" team of 1983 is my earliest memory of baseball. I still compare home runs to what I remember Ron Kittle hitting for the Sox. I've still never seen one hit farther than what he hit one. I remember when everyone who's now coaching for the sox played there. Greg Walker was at first, I still have a 1986 Topps baseball card of him. Harold Baines, whom I always thought was sleeping, playing in the outfield. I was at a couple games where he hit the game winning homer. I was at a couple more where he was the last out of the game with a drive caught on the warning track. He always made it interesting. Joey Cora was there in the 90's as part of the Smurfs. Does anyone else remember Craig Grabek? Tim Raines was there late in his career and wasn't the prolific basestealer of his younger days, but it was always fun watching him. I've got a lot of fond memories of the White sox. In 1990 or 91 I bought a White Sox team pack of baseball cards. There were 2 cards in it that were draft cards that I thought about getting rid of. After all a draft card can't be that good. I had a Bo Jackson Rated Rookie, but these are just draft cards. Instead I bout 2 more team sets and have a couple copies of the Frank Thomas and Robin Ventura draft cards. They are now some of most special cards. We've had a lot of good players go through Chicago in their one year that no one else seemed to want them. Ellis Burke, Kenny Lofton, George Bell (ok, we traded for him). This is not just a walk down memory lane. I want to be clear, I'm a sox fan, first and foremost in baseball. I love my Braves also, but I'd sacrifice to see the sox, the Braves I'll just cheer for.

At work, I'm an outsider. Here in Central Illinois there are precious few White Sox fans. It's pretty much split down the middle between Cubs and Cards. And they are back and forth at each other all of the time. We're rare enough, that when I'm out shopping wearing my Sox hat, if I stumble across another Sox fan they have no shame in saying something about it. It's rare, maybe once a month someone else will say something. It's strange now with it being the Sox and Houston in the world series how quiet the Cubs and Cards fans are. I'm sure if the Sox take a nose dive I'll hear all about it, but for now they are sitting back and waiting. For Cubs fans that's kind of a typical thing, they always seem to be waiting until next year. It drives me nuts that by June they are usually preaching it too. I could never be a part of that. I have be able to pull for my team all year. They don't have to win it every year, but start with a fighting chance and fight. I'll keep supporting them even in bad times, so long as that's the attitude that they take.

You know, it wasn't that long ago that the owner of the White Sox brought a few basketball championships to Chicago. I hope he can do the same thing in baseball. Let's go White Sox. Win or Die Trying.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Recycling

What does it take to get recycling going in a town?
Do cities make anything from the recycling or do they do it at a loss?
What about the places that actually do the recycling, what do they make?

I'm interested in improving recycling in cities, but this information must be known.
Maybe I'm just too optimistic, but I think we can improve the world.

Pumpkin patch

Well, it's getting close to halloween and I took a trip to the pumpkin patch with the kids and Erin this weekend. It was not nearly as bad as one could imagine getting pumpkins with a 2 and almost 4 year old would be. There was a neat hay maze that Jonas had fun finding his way through and there was a stack of hay that he got to climb up and jump off of. There was also a corn maze, but it cost money to go through so we skipped it. The place was set up pretty nice with a bunch of wheelbarrows and wagons to let people move their pumpkins a lot more easily. The kids each picked a pumpkin from the already picked bunch (which saved me a trip into the field) and we were out of there. We were there for about a half an hour and spent more than an hour cleaning them out and carving jack-o-lanterns. I had laid out what to cut to put the kids name into one of the pumpkins, but I didn't make it big enough and the letters collapses while cutting them out. I guess next year I'll have to make each letter much bigger.

I'm glad we all had fun. Erin got some good pictures of the kids, I'll try to get them up here soon.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Bryan Leonard

Well, baby Bryan is doing better. There is still concern about his heart, but he is finally progressing well again. Since the heart surgery he has taken off. He is now at 2 pounds 5.5 ounces and 13 inches long. Continue to keep him in your prayers.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Me in my newly painted dining room.

I don't appear in many pictures, and I wasn't sure if I would show up in this one; after all I was taking it in a mirror.

The mirror reflects the light from the windows giving the room a more open feel. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Oriental Feel part 2.

Here is the second hanging plaque. I don't know why I like these so much, but I do. Posted by Picasa

Hanging decorations

I wanted to put a closeup of these on the site. I thought they were such a cool buy at $7 each.

It's kind of strange that I decided to do the dining room with this oriental feel, nothing else in my house matches this. Posted by Picasa
My dining room. The painting is finished, I even watched it dry, which was almost as much fun as watching the corn grow. I think wooden shades in here would give it more of the oriental feel. The clock and the hanging decorations have oriental symbols on them. Posted by Picasa

Dining room finished

I'll have to get the pictures up tonight, but the dining room is finally finished. I have all the edges touched up and the decorations hanging. I still have to find some curtains for the room, otherwise it's done. It's about time.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Hockey game

Friday night I went to a Peoria Rivermen hockey game. My dad had some tickets and my mom, my dad and I went to the game. The seats were great. Center ice. 17th row. I looked right down at the center line. When I got there, a greeter handed me a magnet schedule, which is kind of cool, but it's also kind of large. The magnet is 5x8. It takes up quite a bit of space on the fridge and didn't fit into any of my pockets either, so I was stuck akwardly carrying this giant magnet around during the game. While sitting in my seat waiting for the start, the announcer stated that the first 5,000 fans were going to get a magnet. I don't know why they were telling us, we were the ones that were there with a magnet. Plus with as empty as the place was, I'm thinking they ended up having about 1,000 to donate to some school.

The announcer came back over the loud speaker to give the lineups and about half way through the Rivermen he named 2 players that weren't there. The speaker system was garbled (or the guy has a serious lisp, it sounded like a deeper voiced Harry Carry), so I couldn't make out any of the names, but I thought how terrible it must be to play for the team and be low enough in their eyes that the guys who aren't there are announced before you are. Even if they announced all the reserves first then the starters, the ones that weren't there were announced after the ones that were and before the starters.

The national anthem was ok. The crowd wasn't into like at a blackhawks game where half way through the song you can't even hear it anymore. A junior high band was playing it, so they weren't real loud, and there was no singing. The crowd was almost dead silent, which just felt wrong.

The game was awesome. Peoria started with an early power play goal, then gave up 3 in a row. They came back with 3 of their own and won 4-3. The strangest part of it was that 2 of the Rivermen goals were on power plays in which they had gotten into a fight. The thing was, the Rivermen player had a major and the Manitoba player had a minor, so the Rivermen had a power play. I don't know the justice of getting into a fight in order to give your team an advantage like that, and I think that from a fairness standpoint something just doesn't feel right about it.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Visualization

After creating and setting your goals, you must visualize them.

This is not a new concept, it's something that's been around for a long time. Every book that I read about success always mentions visualization. There are even books that are specifically for using visualation such as "Visualization for Change".

The key is to use the right phrases when visualizing, and to make it real. You don't just say "I want to be rich", it's too generic. You need to act as if you already are rich, and define rich, it's too generic. Instead say "I have 10 million invested in the stock market". This is an example of a specific amount that it means to be rich and where the money is. However, it could still be better. There's no feeling with this statement as well as no time frame. An even better phrase then would be "I'm relaxing by the pool on my 35th birthday with 10 million invested in the stock market". Now there is a very specific timeframe, feeling, and amount.

To get to that 10 million dollar mark now, you have to set more specific goals. What are you going to do first to start getting there, next, next...? You don't have to know how you are going to get to each step, just state what the next step is. Are you going to write books, be an inventor, start a business? Then your subconscious will help you come up with ideas, and you will start on your way. But the key is to start. Too many people (I speak from experience) procrastinate and don't start something now. It's better to start the wrong thing now, than it is to do nothing and hope that your goals just fall in your lap.

Oh well, time to get back to creating my goals list. Good luck on yours.

Go White Sox

I've avoided the subject for a long time now, knowing that I'm not an insider and there are probably many more people who are capable of discussing what's going on with the White Sox.

However, it's playoff time and they are up 2-0 in the series over Boston. Yesterday was awesome with Boston shooting iteslf in the foot (almost literally). Tony Graffanino missed a groundball that was reminiscent of the Bill Buckner ball at first. Hopefully the outcome is the same and Boston loses the series.

The thing I like the most about the White Sox is that they are scrappy. They may have a lot of homers and get a lot of their runs that way, but they also get little things done. They make other teams make mistakes, by constantly putting pressure on them. It's just great baseball to watch when the White Sox are on. Go White Sox

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Do I have enough goals?

I'm reading "The Success Principles" by Jack Canfield and in it he says to sit down and create 101 goals. Things you want to do with your life. Don't just put little incremental things that are like a 4 yard run in football. List things that are equivalent to a 50 TD pass.

I've gotten completely out of habit of keeping my goals up to date. For a while I was doing pretty good with this, but I realize that I have gotten so wrapped up in getting through the day that I am no longer doing things that are pushing towards a goal. I'm curious how much of my insecurity about where my life is headed stems from not keeping these goals up to date and in front of me. Do you have your goals? Are you keeping them visible and trying to make your life push towards achieving your goals? Heck, I feel better and more energized just thinking about getting my goals list going again. I found it interesting that Jack (the author) said to buy a book and make it your goals book. I bought a book when I was in Colorado 10 years ago and in it on the first page I wrote that it was going to be my goals book. I was going to write all of the goals and things that I wanted to do into it. Sadly after 10 years I have only used 5 pages in this book. I think I will follow the advice that Mr. Canfield gives and devote a page to each goal. Not only stating the goal, but the reason behind why I want to do it. Maybe I'll be able to fill up that book. Speaking of which, I wonder how it's companion is doing? At the same time I bought the same book for someone else and told her to use it for her goals book. I've never heard anymore about it, I hope it was used the way that it was intended. Maybe I'll post again if I can find out whatever became of it.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Masking Tape is not painters tape.

I learned the hard way that Masking tape and painters tape don't work the same. After removing the tape from the dining room we are having to go back over it again and fix all of the edges.

At least I know this now, before I paint the bathroom and Jonas' room.

Speed Reading

If anyone didn't know, I've been taking an online speed reading course. I was a little leary about it at first, because I didn't know how it could be any different than just reading a book about speed reading. I have read the Evelyn Wood book on speed reading and tried it's techniques. This online course definitely was better for me. I won't get into the details of the course too much. But basically it comes down to this. You can't say the words in your head when you are reading. Try saying no in your head while you are reading and keep reading. It's possible, and thus you realize that you can read without subvocalizing. After that, force yourself to read faster and increase your eyespan (the number of words you consciously see at once when looking at them). Tachioscopic (sp) training is used to help increase your eyespan.

In the 6 week class that I just took I improved my reading speed from 300 WPM to between 550 and 650 consistently. I even had one story that everything must have been perfect for or something that I read in 800 WPM (words per minute).

Never give up. Anyone can read faster, and still understand it. This is not skimming. It's not skipping words, it's just reading faster.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

To Do Lists

I wrote the other day about having gotten organized. I wanted to give a quick review of the tools that I used to do that.

First, a lot of the little notes that I had were listing birthday's. So I needed a calendar to put everything. I just needed to be reminded about them ahead of time. Thankfully my Yahoo email account has this functionality built right into it. I just took a little time to get each Birthday set up, but I also won't have to worry about it as long as I have Yahoo. I have had it now since 94 I think. That was the year I went off to college and was ecstatic to set up a free email account.

Second, I had a lot of items to do. I took all of my work To Do items and put them into the Google Sidebar. Then I took most of my home To Do items and put them in a blog so my fiance could see them and prioritize them. Call me crazy but I like having someone work with me to set priorities. I also had some lower priority things that I didn't need help with, so I put these into the Notes Section of Yahoo.

I like the Yahoo notes because I can create a Note type of TODO and add each task as a separate note. The first line of the note appears when I look at the list, and I can write additional information in the rest of the note. I wish the Google sidebar had the ability to attach notes to each task. I've used Outlook, Word and Excel in the past for TODO lists, but without having them up all the time in front of me, I can get sidetracked more easily. I like that the sidebar is up and constantly reminding me of what is next on my list. It helps to keep me from jumping from one topic to the next.

I wish that the Google TODO list would incorporate in to GMail and allow me to choose whether each task should be shared or not. Then I can have some tasks shared between multiple computers that I use and others that are PC specific. I could also view all my tasks from a random PC and see if there is anything that I need to think of when I'm out of town for a weekend.

I also like Wikis for their editability, but they aren't really much better than a blog when it comes to editing a small list like this. I think a Wiki works much better for collaborating on a project where there is a lot of documentation to do and it can all be done on the web. I think Wikipedia is a great resource and start a lot of my searches there now when looking for information that I would have pulled from an encyclopedia in the past. I'm so happy with Wikipedia that I won't be paying the monthly fee to get the Encyclopedia Britannica online.

Below I list Tada List and Bla Bla list, which are both some kind of To Do list applications. I haven't used either of them, but thought I would add them to just show that there are additional possibilities out there.

Tools to use for creating a To Do List
Some posts about making a better To Do list and how to get through it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Getting close to baby time?

For the past few days Erin has been nesting. She's up at all hours of the night folding clothes and doing whatever else. She is so worried about how much we have left that we want to do before the baby gets here. The due date is November 14, and I'm anxiously awaiting it.

There is a lot of things that we have left to do, but I don't think that they are impossible. The biggest one that could possibly wait until spring is painting the boys room.

Besides all of this nesting Erin has been having a lot of contractions. She was having them about every 4 minutes last night when we went for a walk. I really enjoyed the walk. It was a nice quiet peaceful walk. We haven't been out walking for too long. I really needed the exercise. It's beginning to look like I'm the one that's pregnant. I hope I'm able to get this weight taken off before long.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Mini generators.

Ok. I've been saying it for years to anyone who will listen to me, and now I'm going to post it for the same reason. I think the future belongs not to the huge generators, but to mini generators. The human body produces a lot of energy that just gets wasted. I'm not a scientist so I don't know anything about the difficulties of creating any of this, but here are some ideas that I have.


  1. Windmills. We should be able to be have smaller backyard varieties of windmills. They don't have to generate tons of electricity, just some.

  2. Solar. Why isn't every roof made of solar panels. They all face up which happens to be the direction of the sun. Even if they aren't extremely efficient, that many of them would generate a lot of electricity. Is it too hard to wire them up? If they are made in mass quantities for roofing tiles, I would expect the price would drop making it more cost-effective to have.

  3. Rain. I've been thinking about rain for a long time. Rain falls and hits the roof, there should be some kind of pressure generated energy. Then it runs off the roof and down gutters, this should be able to power some kind of water wheel within the gutter or something like that.

  4. The human body in motion.

    • There should be an input device into a battery store or something in a house that every stationary bike should feed into. This will allow the exercise that we do to generate just a little of the electricity to help power our lives.

    • We walk around the house a lot. If we had the pressure sensitive generator for the roof we could put the same thing into our floors and every step by everyone in the house could help generate more electricity.

    • I don't know how, but I think that opening and closing doors should also have some potential. I don't know what kind of device would even be needed, maybe something in the hinge, but any moving item like that should be able to generate something.

I read recently about a micro device to recharge batteries based on the vibrations of a window. See it and some others in this Alternative energy methods

Dining room in progress. All the trim is still taped and I don't have my decorations hanging yet.

Dining room in progress. All the trim is still taped and I don't have my decorations hanging yet.

A long weekend painting

This weekend I had my first real painting initiation. I found out a few things. Don't paint with an old crusty roller, get a fresh one. Saturday night, I started painting with an old roller and it dripped and splattered all over the floor and the wall. It could be that I just had too much paint on the roller since it was my first time, but I think I'll blame it on the inanimate object.

I went out Saturday shopping to get the paint so I could start, and I forgot to buy new rollers, and after my old roller experience, I decided just to tape off everything for an easier job of just painting on Sunday. I looked high and low for my tape, and Erin finally found it 20 minutes later. Fate was just against me getting an early start on this room. I didn't get half way through taping it when I ran out. Of course, it was late enough that the stores were closed, so I decided a good night sleep would probably serve me better than a long drive to a town with a 24 hour store.

Sunday I spent most of my day painting. I stopped in the middle of the day to fold clothes and watch the Bears game. I was pretty impressed with their defense holding Cincinnati for so long. If the offense wouldn't have kept giving Cinci the ball in such good position we may have fared much better. I think we'll just chalk that up to rookie jitters. Kyle Orton is a hell of a quarterback, and I saw him throw great at Purdue, but I always hear how the game is faster in the pros, and he will just have to get used to it. I'm sticking to my preseason prediction of it being about half way through the year before we start to come together this year. Heck we have a rookie who's supposed to be running for us too. There was a rookie safety that was all over the field for the Bears yesterday too, I think it was Chris Harris. He was something special, he's got a big NFL future in front of him, if he can play like that.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Contagious Success

I finished reading the book Contagious Success written by Susan Lucia Annunzio the other day. I though this was a pretty good book as far as business books go. It has a philosophy of how to improve a company that I can agree with (some of which is mentioned on a previous post). What I like the most about this book is that it's not another parable. Don't get me wrong. I love reading everything that Ken Blanchard has written. His books are all easy to read, quick, and fun. But they are all parables and there are never any real world examples. With as much fun as it is to talk about moving cheese, it's hard to get the real hurt that can go along with a large change that can happen such as being forced to change positions or even careers.

Contagious Success on the other hand is an actual study. It was performed by the Richard Day Research group in Illinois. The findings basically state that employees need to be treated well. Companies need to do things that will keep their employees happy. More specifically the leaders of the high performing group needs to shield the group from the company to keep it high performing.

In my post Thoughts on how to improve a company I wrote their suggestions for overall company improvement.

The other very intersting thing that they point out is that when they did the study they only selected the people who met the basic category of being high performers. Then they analyzed whether or not they actually were high performers. They found that only 10% of the high performer group actually appeared as high performers. They list a lot of technical data to help support this finding, but the biggest part of it is that the high performing groups are actually generating new revenue streams for their company where as the other groups are just working. There's a huge difference here. I think that this study shows quite effectively that there are too many people who are just working and trying to make the old process more efficient rather than analyzing it to see if they can find an entirely new way to solve the same problem.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Removing the clutter

I find it amazing that I always have 15 pages of notes and lists of things for me to do. I have a blog with no purpose other than to be a list of things that I have to do, and I almost always have access to update it. Even if I don't I have access shortly after having written something down on a piece of paper, so it shouldn't be hard to do.

Lately I've been very negligent at organizing myself and have had lots of papers lying around. I decided today to go through and organize. I have already thrown away about 30 pages of paper that I was keeping for maybe one or two lines on them. I still have another 30 or more pages to go through. At the very least I'll feel a lot more organized at the end of the day. I wonder if that will help ease the feeling of being overwhelmed that I've had lately. Now I have a clear list of things I need to do and I can start attacking them one at a time.

I'll write more on here later about the ways that I organize.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Thoughts on how to improve a company.

These are really driven from the book I'm currently reading "Contagious Success" by Susan Lucia Annunzio. The book is awesome and I highly recommend it to anyone who has a mind to make things better wherever they are.

Thoughts on how to improve a company.
1. bring up the bottom.
2. move the middle
3. move the top.

All of these will be useful. The biggest benefit is to take the high performers and make them even higher performers.

Then you can split them into a SWAT unit that works with the best of the middle until they also become high performers.


This will provide more high performers within the company and increase the performance of the existing high performers.

What about brining up the bottom? This should be the last thing done. It would appear to be the first thing done, but if the initial investment is to bring up the bottom then those who are the highest performers will see that the spending is going to those who do the least and don't desreve it. They will then become disenfanchised, their performance will drop and they could leave. Keeping the high performers has got to be the number one priority. How hurt will the company be if the low performers become disenfranchised and leave? Now they cannot be excluded forever, but first the high performers must be happy. Content is not enough, they must be happy. There's nothing wrong with providing additional perks to high performers, beyond salary. Flex hours, work from home, etc. These things keep the high performers happy, and create a desire for the lower performers to increase their performance. After all they could potentially get these same benefits.

Saving the world one way at a time.

I sit and think often of how I could save the world. I think about those best case, if it were a perfect world situations. One of the ideas I've been thinking about a lot lately is working from home. Here is a quick thought analysis of what it would mean if companies actually allowed people to work from home.

How many gallons and miles could be saved by allowing people to work from home?
Software developers are geeks to start with and most likely already all have broadband internet connections. I personally drive 27 miles each way each day. My car gets a wonderful 30 MPG, so to keep the numbers simple I use 2 gallons of gas a day getting to and from work. Currently ($2.60) that's 5.20 a day. 52 weeks, 5 days a week that's 260 days a year. Which is also $1352 a year in gas to and from work as well as 520 gallons of gas and 14,040 miles on my car. With an oil change (25$) every 3,000 miles it's an additional 4 oil changes adding $120. Now the personal cost savings of working at home is $1472.

However, that's an individual. If my entire department (all that could do it) were allowed to work from home, then there are 30 less people in the building. Some of these live in town and some live further away. Most drive cars that aren't as efficient, so guessing that all 30 people would use about as much gas as me (on average) a year this would reduce the gas being consumed by 15,600 gallons a year. This doesn't look like much until you realize that this is what just one company could contribute with a change in attitude. What if all of the knowledge workers in Illinois were allowed to do this? How many are there? 100,000? I know many drive to Chicago and use more gas than I do. I would bet that on average they probably drive further than I do. So just guessing the same amount for all 100,000 people now saves 52,000,000 gallons in Illinois.

That's also 100,000 less cars driving all those miles to and from work. Less traffic congestion, less polution, less gas being used. If we could get companies to get into the mindframe of allowing the knowledge workers to work from home then we could drastically reduce emissions, cut the cost of gas and reduce traffic problems. Granted not every job can be done working from home, but there are many that can. Potentially there could be companies that don't have more than a very small office as their headquarters, because they would not need to house all of their employees in one building.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Getting married

We've set a date for our wedding. We are planning on getting married at the courthouse on May 12th. I don't know if they do marriages every day, or if we will have to change it to another day. I'll have to investigate and find the answers to those questions.

The wedding will not be anything. We are just going to the courthouse and signing the papers. Then on Saturday the 13th we'll have a reception so the family can all celebrate in the joyous occasion. There will definitely be more blogged on this topic.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Son for the weekend

I sympathize with anyone who's gone through a divorce and only gets to see their child once in a while. I was somewhat lucky. The divorce that I went through, wasn't very ugly itself. However, the end result is that I don't get to see my son nearly as much as I would like. Of course, no matter what, whichever of us actually had custody of him, the other wouldn't have seen him enough. There's no nice way to split a child when both parents actually love him and want him. That was our biggest problem. The only thing that held our marriage together is that neither of us wanted to be away from our son.

Now, I only have him every other weekend. We did work it out where I get him 5 weekends every 2 months, which amounts to an extra 4 weekends a year over the parents that only have a strictly every other weekend deal set up, but it's still not nearly enough. For 2 weeks I miss him very dearly, and then when I have him, the hardest thing for me not to do is to smother him. I really just want to spend every moment being with him and doing exactly what he wants. I can't because I have to be a good parent and teach responsibility and help him to grow. So it ends up that I get to have a small slice of actually being with him perfectly, the rest of the time I am trying to be a good dad and keep teaching him and being an example for him.

I took him back to his mom tonight. and I had a hard time with it, becausee I love him very much and want to be with him. I sometimes sit and think about all of the things that I miss by not being with him. But then I have to remind myself that having forced myself to be with him mom any longer would have only made it worse on him. He would have had both parents, but he would not have seen them love each other.

We had a great weekend. He wanted to watch football. It was practically the first thing he asked to do when I got him late Friday night. We did too. We watched Notre Dame lose on Saturday and the Bears win on Sunday. He had a blast watching football with dad.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Bryan Leonard Heart Surgery

Bryan had heart surgery on Wednesday and they were able to see him pretty soon afterward. On Wednesday everything looked pretty good.

Yesterday there was an issue where his kidney's shut down. This wasn't passed on to me until just now.

Today, things are looking better for the little guy again.

Continue to keep him in your prayers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bryan Leonard


Some of you may have heard the story already.
Bryan Leonard was born September 2 at 11:40 PM. He was 1 pound and 5 ounces. Yes, he is a premie. His mom, Jesse, had been in the hospital for 2 weeks and was doing a great job of keeping her spirits up, despite having to also keep her feet elevated above her head. She was having complications. After 2 weeks of being laid up in a hospital bed herself, unable to even use the bathroom, she gave birth to Bryan. Nobody was sure if he would make it more than a few hours. He's now 10 days old. Bryan still has a long way to go before he's ready to come home though. They won't let him leave the hospital until he weighs 5 pounds. He has a heart murmer and a valve in his heart that won't close. He did get one good feeding then it was decided that they need to fix the heart before he can continue eating. As of now we are waiting to find out when the heart surgery will be scheduled. It's hard to image when you see how small he is, that a doctor could be careful enough with his instruments to perform a surgery on his heart. I keep him in my praryers daily. The picture here has his eyes covered. They are open now (they were still fused shut at birth), but the light is too bright for his eyes, so he wears his little mask. He is also a tinge of yellow (it's jaundice that is not visible well in the picture), so he has the special light shining on him a lot to help reduce the risk for problems from it. This little guy is fighting and is amazing. I was able to see him in person for the first time on Sunday (9-12) and watch him breath and move around a little. He's very active for his size and does most of his breathing on his own. It is trully amazing the good spirits that Jesse and Brandon (the dad) have been able to keep during this time. Keep them in your prayers.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Why blog

Before I started this, I asked myself (for about 2 months) if I should even blog.

I am a nerd and thought I could easily blog about some fun nerd stuff, but I didn't want to be lost in all the static that already exists on the web. After all, I don't work for a company that's on the leading edge of anything. We don't use the newest tools or hardware (although we aren't stone age either). Our biggest asset at work is that we are able to get each individual project out quickly. And that's awesome, but it's not a project that's out to the masses. You can't buy the stuff that I write, it's all only good internally at my compnay. So that really ruled out blogging about fun programming. Besides, most of the information about my projects is considered a company secret that I wouldn't want to let out.

Then why blog? Initially it started with me wanting to have more of a presence on the web. Why? I don't know, it's just the nerd in me. I wanted to have a website, a blog and participate in a wiki. Well, 1 out of 3 isn't bad. I don't have a website, although I have free space from geocities, I've never taken the time to set up anything. And although I have used Wikipedia as a reference for things, I've never actually felt llike enough of an expert on anything that I looked at to alter it in the least.

Then it happened. My parents kept asking me what I needed for my upcoming baby, and I thought "I can put a list of things I have and need on the web" Woohoo!! I finally have a topic to blog about. Not an exciting topic, but it's a start. Then I started thinking about blogging and what is it's purpose in general. Here's my thoughts:

Blogging is a way to put information about who you are out into the world. A blog is only useful to those who read it and initially the only ones reading it will be those that know you. It is also however a method for someone who doesn't know you to find out something about you. That whole six degrees of separation thing. If you have some kind of an interesting life and blog about it, then someone you know will tell someone they know, who may pass it on to someone else they know with similar interests, and viola, you have a new potential pen pal. Someone who is also blogging that can leave you a comment. Then you can each read about each other's lives and discuss similarities. Blogging is a more random way of finding people than using a forum or newsgroup that is focused on a single topic. The benefit of blogging though is that you can also include the link to your blog in those forums and newsgroups that you participate in. Thus you can advertise yourself and additional information about yourself to those groups of people that you already have something in common with. Some people use blogs to share their favorite news stories or to talk about the one subject that they are really passionate about.

Well, after a lot of time thinking about blogs and what they are, I decided I was a jack of all trades (no pun intended dad). I didn't think I could focus on just one subject. So I decided to create a couple of different blogs. One, my first blog, a list of things. Just a stupid list. I use it to list what I need to do on my house, have done on my house and what I need or have for my upcoming baby. I'm planning on eventually showing some before and after shots of things I did to the house. I'm also trying to think of other list things that I could put out here, I have a list of wants for me already (kind of like a christmas list). Then I decided that I could track my exercise easier when I was away from home if I did it on a blog also. Not that I really wanted anyone to know how much (or little) exercise I'm doing and how much I weigh, but I find it easier for me to look at and see when I exercise and how well I'm doing. This is going well, but it's not an exciting blog either, not something anyone else would want to read.

Finally I have this blog. I started out as a journal and was going to be a quick recap of my days, but I found out real fast that most of my days are boring. What I do is far less interesting than what I think. After all who wants to read that I played 25 games of Penguin (a freecell type game), or that I sat and watched a baseball game. It's not the watching of a baseball game that's interesting, it's what I thought about the game, or my analysis of a specific incident in the game that I found fascinating. Those are the quirks that let's someone get to know me. Those are the things that when I blog are actually somewhat interesting. So I changed the title from journal to just my name. Ultimately, this blog is me, maybe only a part of me, because I don't have time to talk about all of the interesting thoughts and things that happen to me, but it's still me.

I hope you enjoy meeting and finding out about me, and maybe you'll start to blog about you. If you do, let me know. I'd love to find out who you are and what quirks that you find interesting enough to write about.

Annoying Game part 2

Well, my high score yesterday ended up being 490.

What a game. My heart was racing. I decided to find out actually how much, so I tracked it after each game. I was getting between 130 and 150 beats per minute after playing this little typing game. I wonder if that means that this game is good for cardiovascular exercise, or if that means that I put myself under too much stress to type.

I now know how that kid in Taiwan could die of a heart attack after playig video games nonstop for a week. A week of this and my heart would give out too.

If you read this and play the game, let me know your scores, I'm interested to hear.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Annoying game

Here's an annoyingly addicting game that gets under your skin if you are competitve like me.

http://hannu.daug.net/letters/

My high so far is 417. I am getting more and more frustrated with it though, because the last 10 times I played my score was 337. C'mon already, I've got to get a different score at least once.

AARRRGGHHH!!!!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Gas Prices

Strange to post this less than a week after being happy I got gas for 2.49. I bought it for $3.19 this weekend and I felt pretty happy about it being that cheap.

Granted, the price of gas did prevent me from my holiday plans. I ended up driving a lot less than I had originally planned. Maybe having driven less will help ease the use of gas. I hope that others did the same. I also slowed my car a few miles an hour (to the speed limit now). The MPG didn't change much though. I got an additional 3 MPG, 31 instead of 28 this time. I guess withe the 10 gallans of gas it saved me one gallon. Let's see at 3$ a gallon and filling up 10 times a month, that may save me one fillup a month. Wow, not bad. 30$ a month savings. That's $360 a year, which is a whole car payment. Woohoo!!!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Just a rant

Just like everyone else I want to rant about gas prices. I don't drive the most efficient vehicle, but I do drive a Chevy Cavalier and get 30 MPG. Gas prices in Springfield, Illinois today hit $3.00. I was lucky enough to fill up this morning for only $2.49. How is it that the local stores can change prices by as much as 50 cents, or 20% from hour to hour? As for fuel efficient vehicles, I am always reading about new discoveries to make something quicker and cheaper. I guess none of it is ready for mass production yet. The best we have for now is the hybrid, which is awesome. I wish I had the funds when I bought my current car, in order to get a hybrid. I will make sure that I budget properly in the future for a more fuel efficient vehicle. It's not my 30 mpg car that's the issue, it's all of those people that are driving minivan's with only one person in it, or big SUVs. I can't really explain what a Hummer is good for in central illinois, the biggest ditch can't even be fun for it. My brother is also at fault. He has a giant Chevy Yukon. He fills up at least once a week for a palty 70$ (well it used to be 70$). I complain to him all the time that he needs to sell it and buy something more fuel efficient.

Therin lies the problem. Buying something more fuel efficient will help him, but it will not remove the Yukon from the roads, it will just shift to someone else that wants it. I think there needs to be a buyback program, similar to what local communities did for guns. Buy the SUVs back and destroy them, so long as the replacement car is a fuel efficient vehicle (more than 30 mpg). Maybe you won't get a lot of takers for this, but everyone that does it will help, because it removes that one SUV from the road.

Hybrids are only the start. I think Fuel additives and alternatives need to be investigated, funded and mass produced. Rather than look for the best solution, look for other fuels that work with the engines we have. Add more Ethanol to the fuel. Find other things that burn and are cheaper to thin the gas that we have out.

Not that this will be noticed anywhere. I've yet to receive a comment, but for now, this is my complaint.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Home again, home again, jiggity jig.

Well, this has definitely been one of the more interesting week long episodes in my life. It's not tv show worthy, but for me it's been quite an adventure. I wonder if this is the way a hobbit is supposed to feel about adventure. They never really seek it out, it just kind of happens.

I slept in this morning. I had thought about getting up and taking advantage of the great weather one more time, but decided that I didn't want my legs to be sore for a day of 5 hours on airplanes. My adventure today had to deal with getting the rental back to the airport.

I made sure I looked at the map and directions from Avis about how to return the car. Unfortunately I didn't have exact directions from my hotel (something that Avis may want to consider in the future, afterall the hotel won't move, these should be able to be made once and then just provided to the customer based on where they are staying). The generic directions state to head south on 405 and exit following the signs to the airport. Ok, and from my map I know I have to take 55 South to 405, piece of cake. I'm on my way.

Driving along in the right lane, again because most exits are on the right. Well, there's a sign that says 405 S exit left. (Not Again!!!) I merged 6 lanes to the left and here comes my exit, at least I can see it this time, what's that sign? Oh no, Exit 405 S on the right to the airport. There's also an exit on the left. Well, I just take this one to the left then get to the airport (Wrong!). The airport exit is immediately across 6 lanes to the right. I have to go to the next exit to turn around, only there is no exit for the airport heading northbound, I remember reading the directions this morning and they have to exit somewhere else. I get off at the next exit anyway, and that's the somewhere else that they have to head. After getting turned around to go the right direction, I see the back of the airport. With my map in hand I finally find exactly where I'm at, and all I have to do is go through that stop light directly in front of me and follow the road to return the car. However, when I get to the stoplight I see 5 cop cars. I can't get into the airport, nor can I turn left. All the rest of the traffic is open, but there's a lot of people stopped up for some reason, but it's obviously not an accident, just traffic is blocked.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

California Day 4

Well, my week is almost at an end. Day 4 was the last day of training. We covered exclusively topics related to IS (which means nothing unless you work with me).

I was up early and ran again today. I spent time in the hot tub also. I went back to IHOP for lunch. I couldn't pass up another Turkey sandwich for free.

Class ended at 2 PM. Officially it wasn't over, there was a 3 hour lab for queueing, however the product that we have at work doesn't have that capability. I went ahead and left.

I decided to go to the beach. For the first time this week directions were good. I made it to the beach and was able to see the ocean (actually the bay) Parking was a pain, there is no free parking at the beach. I pulled in and starting feeding change into the machine. It says 15 minutes for 25 cents. Apparently it meant for each quarter. All other change was ignored. So for the cost of just over a dollar I got 45 minutes. I only had 3 quarters, so I had to make my beach stay short. This didn't bother me too much, I'm not a big beach person. I saw a few jelly fish on the beach, and there was a natural (man made) rock pier that I climed out on. There were some crabs and the smell of dead fish. I then walked over to the real pier. A lot of people were fishing and the main catch seemed to be Stingray. I could see a bunch of Jelly fish floating in the water too. As beaches go, it wasn't all that exciting. I was kind of surprised when I got back to my car that the meter had expired already. Well, at least it was 45 minutes of exercise, even though it was just walking.

I decided to treat myself to the first quasi-expensive meal of the week for dinner. I went to Olive Garden and had Chicken Fettuccini. I ended my night by going back to the hotel sititng in the hot tub for a while longer and laying around watching tv.

California Day 3

I woke up early to go for another run, only I fell back to sleep. I ended up not getting up until 6:30. I was still in bed by 10 last night. I don't knwo what I need all this sleep for.

The day was fairly normal, to start with at least. I had training. Lunch was back at WingNuts again, this time I had a Hot & Spicy wings, they were excellent.

Training covered using ADO to pull docs from FileNet and using the viewer control.

But my evening was slightly more interesting. I decided to take in an Angels game. I looked it up online, and the instructor ( a soccer fan that hadn't been to an Angels game in 16 years ) tells me that it should only take about 30 minutes to get there. I was excited because I would get to see some batting practice.

Well, the instructions on how to get to the park weren't very clear. I missed my corner, which wasn't named what it was supposed to be and drove right past Disnyland. I was driving along looking for a baseball stadium and Disneyland just jumped out at me. After fighting through the crowd there, I did a very unmasculine thing. I stopped and asked for directions. I had missed it and had to turn around. 15 minutes later I am turning into a parking lot that has a great sign. No Angels event parking. I asked (for the second time in 15 minutes) where I needed to go. Apparently I was at the parking lot for the train station and I had to turn around again. But it was easy, I just had to go left, then left, then left, then park. 20 minutes later I am almost one tenth of a mile from where I asked for directions, and parked. At least parking only cost 8$.

I walked the quarter mile to the gates and buy a ticket. Field level 27$. I was about 10 seats behing the foul pole in left field in row K ( 11 ) rows up. I figured a foul home run would be right at me (it never happened). I bought a large pepsi (20 oz) 5$ and a bag of peanuts 5$ (way too expensive). Sitting in the seats I felt really out of place and let the fear overcome me and purchased an Angels hat from a roaming vendor for only 7$ (a really great price). I wish I had bought the hat 10 minutes earlier. Some of the Angels were signing autographs only one section from my seat before the game and the people in front of me had 2 signatures on each of their hats. That would have been awesome.

Some comments on the Stadium:
Angels stadium is really nice. Everything is wide and clean. The seat was actually comfortable and not too small for me. The hallways were all really clean, even the bathrooms were clean. The fans there were more excited when Mike Sciocia was announced than they were for any player other than Vladimere Gurrero. Adam Kennedy was the next most popular. I find it strange, even though I like him a lot, because he's the number 9 hitter. There was even a text message vote during the game for which player would make the best male model and Adam kennedy won with 80% of the votes.

There was over 43,00 fans at the game and 90% stayed until 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th with the Angels down 4-1. Pulling for the Angels was a little tough, but the game was exciting The Blue Jays made 3 awesome diving catches (all 3 made ESPN). There were also two awesome plays in the infield, a clean bunt that was unexpected and caught the 3rd basemen off guard and a stolen base by each team. All-in-all it was an awesome game.

Driving home was much faster, I got on the interstate, instead of taking the backstreets again, but I missed my exit. 1 mile from the exit a sign read 55 south left lane. 1/2 mile from the exit was another sign that said 55 south left lane, so I merged from the right lane all the way to left 6 lanes away. Then the exit appears on the right (AAARRRGGGHHH!!!!) I took made my way back to the right and got off at the very next exit. I wasn't sure where I was, but I thought I was heading in the right direction. After about 5 minutes I got to a street that I knew, so I made it back to my hotel without a problem at about 10:30. I had trouble sleeping and was up until after 12:30.

Day 3 was much more exciting.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

California Day 2

I was up early again. Breakfast was pretty much the same.

I showed up early for training and checked up on my email.
Training was interesting. We went through several modules.

We learned how to delete items through code and how to unfile documents from folders. I don't think we use folders at work, so that portion won't be helpful to me.

We then used a custom context menu in the browser application instead of the built in context menu, showing us how to override this menu when writing our own applications with the FileNet Listview and Treeview controls.

Next we learned how to rename documents in FileNet and what to do to update the IDMListview and IDMTreeview.

We then used an IDM Common dialog to add a document.

Finally we played with setting FileNet properties for a document on a custom Form with our own validation for the properties. We checked to see if the field was required and forced user entry when it was. This was finally something that I found interesting thinking that I could possibly use this back at work.

I went out to a place called WingNuts for lunch. It was a hot wing place that I got a Chile Taco from. It was OK. I wasn't feeling great though, so I went to buy Ibuprofen. I walked across the parking lot towards Target and saw Henry's Foods. I thought a grocery store would have what I needed. I was wrong. This was not a grocery store. Henry's is a health food store. Half the store was fresh fruits and vegetables with a quarter of the store being vitamins, minerals, and natural remedies. I felt like asking an employee where the section was for things that cost a lot but didn't do anything.

I still didn't feel well after training so I went to my room and laid down. After a short rest (not a nap) I went out looking for dinner. I found a Chile's and just wanted something familiar so I had a quick burger around 9 and was in bed early 10 PM pacific time.

Well that's it for day 2. I still haven't done anything exciting.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

California Day 1

I had a pretty good day yesterday. I got up early 5 AM (7 AM back home) and went for a run, then hopped into the pool and sat in the hot tub.

Breakfast, provided by the hotel is pretty good. They make omelett' s to order, have scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, pancakes, bacon, and sausage links. Also available is several kinds of cereal, donuts, muffins, English muffins, bread, and bagels. For beverages you can choose between coffee, milk, and several juices.

I ate a couple pancakes, some scrambled eggs, and potatoes.

Training itself was not very interesting. We had an overview of FileNet and started using the TreeView and ListView controls to build our own FileNet browser. We used the FileNet error object also and learned to show the ugly error box it provides. I want to play more with this to see if we can get access to all the errors without showing the dialog provided by the object.

Lunch was at IHOP. I had a Tureky Super Stacker sandwich. This was one of the best sandwiches that I have ever had.

After training I decided to drive around and see what I could find for dinner. After driving for an hour I ended up at a place named Spoons that is only 1 block from my hotel. On my drive I came to understand why Taco Bell was chosen as the restaraunt that won the restaraunt wars in the movie "Demolition Man". There were 7 Taco Bells or Del Tacos for every McDonalds I saw. The only other restaraunt that I saw that I could have chosen was IHOP. Since I was at one for lunch, I decided not to have it again for dinner.

Dinner at Spoons wasn't very good. it was a scaled down Mexican type restaraunt. The food wasn't very good and I probably won't be back there this week.

I guess tonight I'll have to try going a different direction for dinner.

My evening was spent just sitting around the hotel talking with Erin. It was a pretty relaxing evening, and I was asleep by about 9:30.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Trip to California

My trip out to sunny southern California wasn't too bad. The flight out of Bloomington left on time and landed in 28 minutes instead of the 1 hour schedule.

This made my layover in Chicago a little longer. It was a nice long walk from the landing gate to the departure gate, but I had over 2 hours before my next flight. I felt like I was out of place just walking nice and calmly along. I almost laughed watching everybody else practically running to wherever they were going.

Lunch was nice I had Panda Express right across the hall from my gate. Other than that, I roamed the airport, watched airport personel work on the planes and read in from the book I brought.

Boarding the plane out of O'Hare, was 5 minutes early. I was excited, thinking I that we could get to Orange County early and I could eat dinner at a decent time, since I was going to be eating 2 hours late already. Unfortunately after half an hour on the plane the pilot announced that we would be delayed due to some kind of communication issue between the cockpit and the flight attendants (they have forgotten how to yell, they should take a trip to a fast food joint). It took over an hour before the flight finally took off. I was extremely uncomfortable the entire time. The guy sitting in front of me laid his seat down as soon as he got into his seat and didn't set it up until he was standing up to get off the plane 5 hours and 15 minutes later.

The flight was nice, we only hit 4 or 5 small spots of turbulence. One of them was a little bigger and made my stomach drop like a small drop on a roller coaster. I was excited because the in-flight movie was "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". This was a book that I loved and a movie I wanted to see. Although the movie was very light-hearted and funny, it still did not live up to the hilarity of the books. Also there is a trilogy of books and the end of the movie just feels like there is more to the story. Strangely, Saturday night I was watching Elf and discussing with Erin that the woman that plays opposite Will Ferrel in the movie hasn't been in anything else. Then on Sunday here I am watching "The Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy" and there she is again. She does a pretty good job again here.

The arrival in Orange County California was smooth. It's a nice small airport about like we have in Bloomington. Getting my bag and renting the car took no time at all. The hotel is nice and close to the airport. It took less than 5 minutes to drive to the hotel. Then I called home and went out to dinner. I didn't feel like looking around much so I took the first fast food I could find (Burger King). I ws starved. Lunch had been 9 hours earlier. I stayed up and read and watched some tv before hitting the sack. You can read about my morning exercise in my exercise journal if you are interested.

End of line for Limestone.

Limestone Little League didn't make it past the Great Lakes regional. They ended up losing in the championship game 11-10. They made a great comeback, they had been down 9-4 at one point and must have rallyed hard. I gave up at that point and watched Elf on an Encore channel. I wish I would have stuck with it and seen the great comeback.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Limestone Advances

Limestone was able to win tonight against Wisconsin. The final 10-2.

If you are interested, they will be playing live on ESPN at PM on Saturday, August 13.

Little League Update

Limestone lost 8-6. You can follow them yourself if you want at http://www.unpage.org/greatlakes/glr-dir2005.htm

They play again tonight at 6PM. They have to win against Wisconsin, the team they just lost to. Hopefully they learned their opponent well enough to come out on top. Good luck Limestone I hope to see you on TV Saturday night.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Little League fan

I miss coaching. I coached several years in Little League for Bradley Bourbonnais in district 18. Coaching is some of myfondest memories, because I was able to spend time with my dad doing something that we both love.

Anyway, it's getting close to the Little league world series and Limestone Little league from district 18 is still alive playing in the Great Lakes regional tournament. Wether they win or lose today they will advance to at least the semi-finals and play on Thursday. If they can pull out a win on Thursday they'll be playing live on ESPN Saturday night. Although Limestone was always my opponent and I always wanted to beat them, which we did, I still want them to win now. I grew up playing and coaching in the area and always thought that there was some really good baseball there. The past few years the area has had a lot of success at all of the levels. Keep an eye out, I'll update my blog when I find out what the score of tonight's game was.