Friday, September 29, 2006

TV and Chicken Pot Pie

Tonight was just a smorgasbord of fun and milestones. Da wife cooked a chicken pot pie that was fantastic, and finished it off with pumpkin pie. Mmmmm. Pie. Then we managed to finish season 1 of Lost on DVD. We also kicked off season 2, since we have to finish an additional 24 episodes before the premiere of season 3 (starts Oct. 4th). I'm taking a break from season 2 (we've watched the first episode where they go into the hatch - sorry if that's a spoiler) to come post our progress. Mostly in case James is wondering how far we've gone.

I did catch a few things I'd missed or didn't remember while watching season 1 again. And only 1 or 2 pieces of the "additional" DVD footage. Unfortunately most of what I learned on the "extras" didn't really seem to fit any MAJOR plot lines, but did fill in some more interesting connections (like one between Claire and the Pilot). The "extras" on season 2 seem to have quite a bit more info, but I'm not going to watch them until season 2 is complete. If you want to know what's in them, then drop me a line when the "omfg we managed to watch the whole season in time" post, and I'll share thoughts in a spoiler post if you want. And yes for those not wanting the spoilers, it will have a proper warning at the top.

In the meantime, I'm back to the discs. I've got to see what happens to Jack, Locke, Kate, and Desmond (well.. and the others, and the rest of the survivors.... *grin*).
4 8 15 16 23 42

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Training or Torture?

So... me and my partner in crime KC went off to McLean for training today for an internal software tool.  I assumed it would be a useful endeavor.  I was unaware, however, that the training class would spend the first hour teaching one how to use web based forms.  ~I~ thought the class was how to use the software, not how to use a browser.  My mistake.
Eventually we moved along... only to have one of our coworkers continually ask questions about the functionality, and bugs.  Or supposed bugs, since it seemed to frequently be "user error".  Mind you, this employee has been to this class several times before.  There goes getting out of class early.
Hopefully meeting da wife for dinner in a town in the middle will be much more fun.  And as long as the waiter doesn't sneak up and hit me on the head with the serving tray then I think I'm golden.
Oh and at lunch, they had "homemade" chips.... and while they looked VERY tasty, they were in fact GROSS.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Dinner and What Not to Wear

Dinner was a surprise hit. I decided to make spaghetti, but instead of noodles we used spaghetti squash. Easy to prepare, had da wife boil it yesterday (about 30 minutes) and cool it in the fridge overnight. Then today I made a batch of Mediterranean type sauce (black olives, garlic, onions, artichoke, mushrooms, porchini mushrooms, tomato base, my own blend of spices, and of course wine!) with some pan-seared chicken (also cooked with some wine and spices). While the sauce happily simmered away, I cut open the squash, removed the seeds, and then pulled the "noodles" out with a fork. After a quick excursion in the microwave, they were ready for a heap of homemade sauce and let's not forget the cheese. Didn't use as much of my "sauce spices" as I normally do, because I didn't want to overwhelm the "noodles", but still a delicious treat. I foresee more squash-ghetti dinners in the future. The next experimental food item on the list (well... it's on the counter at the moment) is butternut squash. NO idea how I'm going to cook that one, but a little research online usually turns up a heap of recipes. Even the dogs liked the spaghetti squash (no sauce for them though) with and without cheese. I think I'd like to try them with a marsala type dish next time.

In other news...
I'm not 100% sure about the etiquette involved in wearing hose, but I think I observed a violation today. A woman in one of my meetings today, was wearing a nice (if short) business suit and hose. A fairly normal occurrence in an office, and I wouldn't have noticed anything on a normal day. Today was different, as I looked at her ankle (because something was out of place) I saw a bulge around her ankle. On closer inspection I saw that it was an anklet, presumably from the beach as it appeared to be hemp and small white seashells from a distance. Now, I can appreciate wanting to keep wearing something that might have meaning... but... maybe just take it off during the day, don't wear hose over it. It just screamed out from the calm business attire of an otherwise nice outfit. Too critical? Perhaps. Keep in mind, this meeting was with the CEO of the company, definitely the day to put your best foot forward. In this case, it would be the one without the anklet.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Miss Manners, where are you?

Just when I thought I had seen bad parenting, TPTB chose to show me something worse. Ok. I ~may~ have known some people that smoked up, and let's hypothetically say that some percentage of those people also had kids. Even in the worst case, how effed up do you have to be to make your kid hit a bong?! I mean, sure... they blew smoke at their cats and dogs (and one whacko did it to their bird and pet turtle, but that's another story), but they NEVER did at their kids. With parents like that it's no wonder there's so many other problems around. But that's not what my post is about today. ;-) (Although I am upset that they only charged her with distribution and NOT recklessness with her baby. AND that they reduced the sentence, although I don't think the punishment will correct the behavior. It will only make it a more private engagement, or one where she won't let her "friends" take pictures of it.)

Today is related to parenting and children though, before you thought you had really heard the last from this "non-breeder". It's an ongoing frustration of mine, that encompasses not only children but people in general. More specifically, it's this sense of entitlement that a growing number of people seem to have, more often exemplified by the more overt behavior of children. More and more I see people believing themselves to be "above" the rules, as if they were so important, that certainly rules wouldn't apply to them. Anyone can see this behavior by taking a moment to step aside almost any seemingly normal activity. Watch other people in traffic, you'll see those people driving up a turn only lane, or swerving in rush hour because their time is more important than anyone else's. They are the people at Starbux that push in line, or sigh exasperatedly if someone doesn't order perfectly in less than 2 seconds. They are the people that yell first and ask questions later. The people that believe they are entitled to anything they want, where ever, and whenever they want it. Sometimes, they are you, and they are me.

I try most days to NOT be this kind of person. I try to think about what the person in the other car, or behind the counter is thinking. Though it's hard when it's a gang of the hoodlum-esque kids are harassing your fur-babies. Da wife had more patience then I, the last time I had neighborhood kids poking a stick into my yard I decided it was the appropriate time to "water the garden, and wash the fence". Strangely I have not seen THAT particular offender doing it again...

Ah well, grin and bear it, right?
I promise the next post won't say anything about kids or manners!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Move over Doctor Spock

Now just to be fair from the outset, no I don't have any children beyond my "fur" babies. However, I was a professional nanny for nearly two years. So I do have some experience related to the topic herein. (If you're curious the ages of the children ranged from 18 months up to over 12 years) I very rarely had to use any kind of negative reinforcement in my behavior shaping, but it never required more than a stern talking to or timeouts, or on a few occasions the withdrawal of favorite items and/or privileges. That's not to say they were angels all the time, but only that when called on bad behavior, they would "usually" respond quickly with manners.

Our story opens at a nearby "family" restaurant, where da wife, some friends, and I had settled down to a leisurely dinner. The next table over had a mother, her two children (ages roughly 2+ and probably 12 or so) and another woman's child (also 2 or so) (The child, not the mom!) [We found out the third child was someone else's near the end of the meal, when his mother came to pick him up.] Normally I try not to watch people parent their children, mostly because I know that I get fairly critical. (I know... it's easy to be critical when you're not the parent.) But tonight it was an overheard comment (by overheard I mean the entire restaurant overheard the woman shout it) that I could almost not believe...

In a very loud voice the woman said, "Don't make me get up and hit you!" No. Really. This was exclaimed at the 2 year old that had been cruising along one of the table rows (a row completely unoccupied, but probably still not a good idea with wait staff bustling about) drink in hand. The child had wandered off that far due to the mom furiously texting (I assume texting) on her cell phone, and she was completely oblivious to her children, or the child in her care. The 12 year old was helping to watch the third child during this debacle, but was not having much luck controlling her sister. The little one managed to make it back to the table before her mom was forced to "get up and hit" her. If it had just been that one thing, I think it would have been bad enough. Indeed, that was going to be just the source of this entry alone, unfortunately it did not end there.

As their dinner ended the third child's mother came and picked him up. He went good naturedly and was happy to see his mom. The mother of the other two managed to stop messaging on her phone long enough to talk to her friend for a minute before diving back into her other "conversation".

Several minutes later, the little girl (still being ignored by mom and sister by the way) continued acting up, and racing off around the table. When mom finally realized what was going on, she threatened the girl again. This time she said, "I'm going to take you home and beat you!" Now, I've heard parents saying this in a joking manner (ok SOME families are like that, and it's understood that it's a joke. BUT not with kids that young....) but this woman was serious. The elder sister jumped in to help out, possibly to keep from becoming the next target. The elder sisters efforts were met with resistance, and some yelling from the little one, which of course only angered mom further. Mom then says, "Why do you insist on making me get LOUD WITH YOU?!" and then, "Take her outside. Now, take her outside NOW." Both girls left, and it was about 15 minutes later that the mom paid the bill and finally went outside to take her kids home, possibly for a beating. Now, this restaurant isn't in the best part of town, nor in the worst, but I would NEVER leave my kids (at those ages anyway) outside where I couldn't see them at all. (I would consider it if I could watch them through the window, and assuming they wanted to be out front.)

I was sad for the girls to see the mom (obviously still a bit angry) heading out, hoping for their sake that she did not really have an intention of hitting them. It seems to me that if she had merely paid attention to her kids, and taken an active involvement that the little girl would not have acted out so much.

But no, I don't have kids, what do I know, right? Well I know that I've never had to lay a hand (aside from a VERY light tap to emphasize that the stove was HOT!) on a kid. Yes, some of them may have had to sit for 15 minutes watching an egg timer in a chair because of bad behavior. There was also a removal of TV for 1 week for one of the older kids, and there was even once a time I had one of "my" kids write me a short letter about why what they did was wrong, and who it might hurt if they did it again. But NEVER, EVER did I hit, or even threaten to hit, any of "my" kids.

If this had been an isolated incident, I could have maybe written it off. But I've seen this, or things like it, far too often. I know everyone can't be awesome parents, but I expect more than that. Maybe we should have people get licenses to become parents. I mean we make people get licenses to handle major things like driving, marriage, guns, and more. Of course my driver's test wasn't that hard, and looking at the other drivers in this area... licensing doesn't seem to help THAT problem....

I don't mean this to come off like I think all parents are bad. I don't believe that. I've seen plenty of parents that I thought were doing an excellent job, and even a moderate number doing an adequate job, but it never seems to be enough. So to those of you raising well behaved kids - kudos. To those of you raising the hellions of tomorrow - it's not too late to make a change.
Good luck,

Saturday, September 16, 2006

For your amusement

Or was that amusement park?
So my (new) company had it's annual summer picnic today. Apparently they rented out the entire park for just company usage. Ok not the WHOLE company, only those of us on this coast, despite the semi-limited invite list, the place was still pretty full. The ride lines were all fairly short, and only the roller coaster I actually went on had anything resembling a "normal" wait, but even that was only about 12-15 minutes. (That's the black and white image below, and yes one set of those appendages are ~my~ sexy legs.)

For starters, we had a few folks that wanted to ride the old school wooden beasts. We played around on the signage in front of the ride, because I wasn't ready for that kind of vibration. Here's da wife and I, following the directions on the sign.

Although it's not quite the best effect with a photo, since you can't hear us yelling...

Some people I know, and some I don't rode on the ship. If I had realized it didn't actually go upside down, I would have ridden too. (Hanging upside down on those rides is usually a day killer for me. Something about too much blood in my brain...)

(I remember back in the day riding the boat at the amusement park we'd go to, and the ride inevitably turned into a "tastes great" vs "less filling" shout war. Ahhh... the good ol' days.")

And here we have a guy about to go on a VERY fast steel coaster, apparently calling a friend to let them know that he was about to "take off". I wonder if the guy in front of him is texting people on the ground...

Oh and the guy behind him looks like he's just finished the ride. I wish I had grabbed the shot of after their trip. He had his head slung low, and was looking a bit green.

And finally, we have the shot of my big ride of the day. (I say big ride, because da wife and I had ridden the most aggressive tilt-a-hurl ride I've ever been on. I think over two of the hills we managed 4 complete rotations at a high rate of speed. I was thankful to have kept my lunch with me.)

Despite not being a rabid coaster fan, I did enjoy this one quite a bit. (still felt gross for a while after, but had fun nonetheless.) I really do like the smoothness of the ride(at least compared to the wooden ones), and the fact that most of the higher G forces are distributed to the lower limbs and torso instead of the head and neck. To be fair, I was concerned for my legs on several of the turns where it seemed as though if I had let them hang loose, that I would have lost them on a support beam. I would even ride this one again, but before lunch I think. ;-)

To top off a fun day (despite the not quite drizzle of a day), several of us gnoshed on a funnel cake on the way out, and enjoyed the sunshine that arrived at long last. I think next time, we may get some old-time photos and take in some water rides if it's warm enough. And for some odd reason, I have a song running through my head. It's "We Like to Party (The Vengabus)" by the Vengaboys, and it's firmly stuck in there. Ah well, maybe if I hum "Penny Lane" by the Beatles...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Countdown to Lost

3 weeks and a day, or just less than 23 days until the start of season 3.  Not very much time to complete the RE-viewing of all the previous episodes.  Yes, I have both season 1 and season 2 on DVD, and haven’t watched them.  Ok, that’s not quite true, I’ve watched the first half of the pilot episode.   So that leaves 21 evenings to view 47 shows.  I’m thinking it may be time for a Lost marathon on Sunday to try and knock that number down a bit.


Now I haven’t been keeping up with the Alternate Reality Game (ARG), that ABC put together called “The Lost Experience”, but apparently they have significantly expanded the storyline through this medium.  (This is also related to the candy give away that had recently involving the Apollo chocolate bars, which are now selling on Ebay from $10 to about $60 – holy cow!)  If you’re interested in learning more (to include spoilers) check out the Lostpedia.


In other news, Survivor starts THIS WEEK.  I’m still uncertain if I want to watch it this season.  I’m just thinking the split based on race is just a bad idea.  Yes, it will certainly lend more drama to the show, and it keeps adding new twists, but do we really need to call it out?  What happens when the tribes merge?  I guess we’ll see how it plays out.  This Thursday (9/14) is the premiere.


Not sure if I’ll be watching any other shows this season.  Usually I get all my TV info from the Comic Book Guy, since he always seems to have the scoop.  And yes, I still have the episodes of Eureka on my TiVo… I’ll have to try and watch them too.  Geez.  When did TV watching become a chore?


Friday, September 08, 2006


Yeah yeah, another one of ~those~ blog entries...

Today's topic is sheeple. Or the tendency of humans to be like sheep. Well perhaps not JUST the sheeple aspect of behavior, but the often dichotomous pairings we possess. It often perplexes me about human behavior that we can simultaneously want to be part of the herd AND not be like anyone else. So we can ALL be unique, just like everyone else. I don't think I'm above these tendencies or anything before you suspect me of pulling out a soap box, it's more of an observation. Throughout my life, even the people who have, in my opinion, emerged as leaders only seem to do so in one aspect of their life. While outside of their leadership role they have gone to great lengths to be regarded as nothing different from their peer group, either consciously or not the efforts were at times extreme.

I think we as humans are both fantastically complex and yet astoundingly simple, depending on the context, and since I don't believe we are capable of truly grasping what "human" is with our current brainpower (due to the complexity of what makes a person) we only ever get an understanding "in context". So while we may take brief snapshots and glimpses of our fellow inhabitants of this planet, we may never understand them fully. That does not mean we shouldn't try, any knowledge gained is a step in the right direction.

Perhaps if we could truly understand what it is to be human, we might have a way to truly discover peace. But that leads me to another topic of "would we enjoy peace if we actually had it?" Does happiness mean anything to someone that has never been sad? How would they know? They have nothing to compare it to. This should be a topic for another day...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Did someone say PC?

Yep. Got my new work PC today. Went and picked it up from the IT guys so I could get it early and begin working on customizing it. I really really like the new Dell widescreen panels that are easily adjustable in height and have USB, speaker power, s video, dvi, vga, and other connections all at the ready on a very small desktop footprint. The 1280X1024 resolution @ 75Hz doesn't hurt either.

Managed to get it set up and running before I left, with enough time to configure my desktop, settings, video, and email (oh and install Firefox!) It's also pretty cool to login by putting my card into the keyboard slot and having it ask only for my PIN.

All in all it's been a pretty good first month at this place. Much less stress, true I know way fewer people, but the environment is a good bit better. That's not to say it's without it's own unique challenges, but I'm prepared for them. Except perhaps... the fact that I discovered recently. My step-father works there, and I believe my mother is a contractor there from time to time as well. *sigh* Oh well. Could be worse. I could be in their division or working for them. I am not sure they even know I'm there yet, but since I talked to one of the guys in their group today... I'm sure it's only a matter of time. Too bad they aren't allowed into the suite that houses my office. *grin*

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Thanks Ernesto

They say every cloud has a silver lining. I don't know who they are, but clearly silver is mined from the ground. The clouds did however bring quite a bit of rain, which was very convenient as we're trying to patch the side hill. It seems to have helped maximize the yield on the grass seed. Take a look.

Much better than before. We seeded the hill on Aug 27th, and da wife has dutifully watered it every day that it hasn't rained.

Now... if I can just keep the dogs off of it long enough for it to fully establish itself... (The last time grass was planted and had grown this much, it rained and the dogs tore through the section. Returning to the mud patch from whence it came.
The rain has also been good for the tomatoes (although I still have yet to have one ripen). I am eagerly awaiting these little nuggets!

Things to think about.
In a recent chat, someone had said "Kill da Wabbit!", which brings the consistent reply of "With my spear and magic helmet?". Only this time someone said after that "I got yer spear and magic helmet, right HERE." This of course led me down a path of rethinking the entire context of the masterful work of Chuck Jones in "What's Opera, Doc?" The innuendo about the spear/helmet also gave pause for thought about "kill da wabbit" and how in the past pregnancy tests involved killing a rabbit. And truly the spear/helmet would cause a rabbit to die, if Brunhilda was caught in a compromising position. I may have to rewatch the short to see if any other subtle (or overt) hints are laced within.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

It's working... it's workinggg!

The copy, expand, and swap increase finished about 45 minutes ago. I finished reassembling the parts (to include the old PC I used for the transfer), and placed the old TiVo drive into a safe place as a backup. So the new drive has 40GB (of old Twilight Zones and I think 5 Eurekas) and about 120GB of, as of yet, unused space. I think it may move from the bedroom to the basement though, since we wind up watching more tv downstairs. Mostly all I need is weather channel (although can I just say having the morning's weather/news available whenever you get up/out of the shower is wonderful) and a few shows, but the DVD player prolly gets more usage (which is still minimal). I can't justify buying a third TiVo, but you never know. So everything has been rebooted and tested (not exhaustively, but thoroughly) I even added the new season of Lost to the Season Pass menu, so it kept all the programming info as well as the old shows.

If you're going to do this on your own, it's a snap (with the right tools, planning, and preparations). If you can, delete as much of the old content as possible. All I can tell you is that doing the copy with a full drive took less than 8 hours, but NOT less than 7. True it doesn't have to be watched closely, but it's still a long while. Remember to have both the T-10 AND T-15 screwdrivers/bits available since they use TORX screws. Some models use both sizes, one for the case, the other for the drive rails. And please remember to be VERY careful around an open power supply, as a lingering charge can cause injury to yourself and/or the unit. (heh heh... I said "unit") Also make sure you test the boot CD (or floppy) on the system you plan on using for the transfer (no problem for me this time, but I believe the very first one I did this on, the CD drive did NOT like the CD).

And with Ernesto crowding around, outdoor work will most likely be postponed until later in the weekend. Good thing there's plenty of chores left inside. Good news is, da wife doesn't have to water the new grass, as it's probably getting all it can handle right now.

Well that's it for me for now, kids. Until next time. Same bat time, same bat channel. Unless you have TiVo. Then you can watch it whenever the heck you want!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Hack the planet

Ok maybe not the planet, maybe just a TiVo...

The insides look like this:

And for a random image... a picture of a puzzle that I have on the wall.

The TiVo process is at lik 5% (been running for a little while) so it most likely won't be done till very late. That's what I get for letting the wife fill up the whole drive with Twilight Zone reruns.

This is only a test

Had this been an actual post, there would have been content here.

Although, I may have found ~the~ TV for JamesF. I think that makes it about 62 inches by 82.5 inches. That's a BIG TV!

(Still trying to get email of posts working right.)
(Test #4)

YAY! Success at last!