Monday, June 27, 2011

The Old Ball Game

It was 90 degrees in the shade tonight and that’s perfect weather to sit outside with a few hundred strangers and watch some AAA baseball!

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It was hot as in sweaty and humid hot. As hot as I was, the guy in the cat suit had it worse.

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The visiting team was New Orleans and Nashville clobbered them 8-2.

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A good time was had by all. I am going to go sit in the fridge for a bit and cool off.

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Ramblings

I’m considering turning the blog responsibilities over to Alex the Dog. She seems right at home in front of the computer.

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The next picture is from last Sunday but it looked a lot like this today so I thought I would use it. Even the electricity got knocked out for a couple of hours by the storms that moved through this morning.

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This picture is from Wednesday before last. I don’t remember it being a particularly bad day but I was tempted to hide when I saw the temperature. I took a picture just in case.

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Finally, I discovered a new singer via the XO podcast that I listen to. Before I get to the music, here is a bit about the podcast. A warning: this is a family-friendly blog. The XO podcast is a podcast for those 18 and over so there might be some wirty-dords in there. If you can handle it, the latest episode, #25 (version 1 has the first song below in it), is really good. It is called  “5 years missing” and it is a very personal, honest, and eye-opening account of a marriage falling apart. Now, on to the music.

This is Emily. She is on the You Tube and writes these songs. I do not possess this level of talent so I shall live vicariously through her talent. Enjoy. The first song, as I said, is the one that was in the podcast. The second song is another one that I really liked. You can see all of her stuff here.

OK – onward into another exciting week.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Reboot City

Warning: the following post contains a lot of nerd talk. Please use caution.

I ended up back in reboot city on my work laptop yesterday. It all started with another in the annoying series of recent Windows updates. They have really been piling them on lately. At the end of the day Thursday, another group downloaded and installed and instead of rebooting at the end, I just shut down for the night. Big mistake. Friday morning came and the laptop would not boot. It would just sit there on the Windows XP boot screen.

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And, the machine (a 6 month old Dell Latitude E6510) would blue screen when I would try to boot off of the SP3 disk to go into recovery. So, I finally got in by using “Last Known Good Configuration”. This was a temporary fix because the next time I shut down, the same thing would happen when I powered up.

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Finally, after reading through Dell’s message board for techs and a bit of trial and error and three wasted hours, I deduced the following:

  1. The drivers listed on Dell’s website for my Dell laptop for my video card and chipset were actually outdated thus causing a conflict when Windows Update applied a new update to my .Net.
  2. I went directly to Intel’s website and installed the newest drivers.
  3. I discovered my boot order in my bios was wrong and I corrected it.
  4. A driver which helps protect my hard drive in the case of a sudden fall was missing and I installed that.

Some combination of all four items fixed my laptop. I’ll never know exactly what the problem was. That is the mystery (frustration) of Windows.

What is most frustrating to me about this is that I work with computers daily. I have probably set up and fixed problems on hundreds of them over the last decade at work. Stuff like this did not happen five years ago or even two years ago. You know how car manufacturers have made it where you can barely change your own battery now? I think PC manufactures (and Microsoft) are starting to do that with our computers.

I wonder what someone who casually uses them at home does when something like this happens. I guess this is how places like Geek Squad are able to charge unbelievable prices to fix even the most simple problems. If someone can’t fix it themselves, highway robbery is most likely the only option. That is a shame.

At least it is all fixed now and it is Saturday! That means I have to decide if I am going to try to mow today or just put it off until one night next week. It’s hard to choose between mowing the yard and going to Walmart. Both are tedious and energy-draining.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dog Days

Ah, the dogs have the good life here at the home office.

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Sadie does her best to watch me work until she collapses due to the sheer boredom.

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I’m typing this entry on my latest crazy eBay purchase – the Alphasmart 3000. I wanted one of these a long time ago when I only had a desktop PC at the house and I wanted to have the ability to easily write when I was out and about. Fast forward about 7 years and now I have a laptop and a netbook. I somehow came across a message board thread last week on NANOWRIMO discussing the Alphasmart and that renewed my interest.

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I no longer feel like I am tied down to a desktop but I do want something that gives me the ability to quickly type up a blog entry or an idea without having to fire up the laptop. It’s like a virtual scratch pad. There are 8 button-accessible file locations and the file saves as I type. I don’t have to worry about writing a bunch of stuff in a notebook and then having to dread re-typing it once I get back to the PC. I can just fire it all out at one time on the Alphasmart and then transfer it to the PC whenever I want.

Not bad for $36 shipped! These things were over $150 back when I wanted one before. I’m thinking that I am really going to enjoy this device and I think it will help me write more than I have before just because it is so simple. I’m also thinking about adding a tab to the blog with some of the technical details I have found on it so other people might be able to avoid having to Google and visit all kinds of sites looking for information.

Enough about my new toy. There’s more rain coming in and we have to get out in it to go to church tonight. As much as we need the rain, I am starting to hope for just one sunny and dry day to break up the pattern we appear to be trapped in here lately.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Crazy Hot

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It was just about brutal out there today. The temperature is staying in the lower 90’s but the dew points are up to the lower 70’s so it doesn’t take long out there to get caked in sweat. I went out for my doctor’s appointment at 9:30AM and it was already a scorcher. With all of the rain coming this week, I had no choice but to mow this evening and it was hot even with the sun mostly down.

The good news from the doctor was normal blood pressure. This was my first completely normal check up in two years though it has been gradually going down with each appointment. I go back in a year and only have to keep taking my allergy pills and staying away from too much bad foods and stress (ha). I guess one out of two will have to do.

Aside from the doctor, today was fairly quiet. I’ve got a bit more going on tomorrow but that just makes the day go by faster.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Movie Round-up

We saw three movies this weekend – one on cable and two in the theater.

Before I tell you what I thought of those, I need to go back to last weekend and fill you in on the movie the kids had been begging us to take them to every time they had seen the preview over the last few months.

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1 Sentence Review: “Redbox it for the kids and go mow the yard”
The kids have read most of the Judy Moody books and they went in with high hopes. Unfortunately, the movie was an original screenplay from the author and there just wasn’t enough material here to carry a whole movie. The kids got bored and I felt like I was being tortured at Guantanamo. I learned two things: the earning of thrill points has no standard formula and having a guy in a Bigfoot costume is supposed to somehow increase ice cream sales. You just have to wonder who at the studio could see this and think, “Wow! We have a winner here!”.
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1 Sentence Review: “Surprisingly Good!”
Via the mighty magic of cable, we finally watched “Knight and Day”. I was happily surprised. It was slick, smart, and fun.
Tom gets plenty of knocks for being a bit of a nut but he still delivers the goods. Cameron Diaz was just crazy enough to be believable in this role.
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1 Sentence Review: “Best kids movie so far this year”
This is what a movie for the kids should be: Yes, there is a lesson (Ignorant parent realizes he needs to straighten up thanks to penguins), but it is not gooey and overdone. The movie is big on the funny and doesn’t attempt to be overly believable. The kids loved it and the adults laughed a lot. I think this is a huge win for Jim Carrey. I’m amazed that it was not the #1 movie for the weekend since the place was packed.
My prediction is that it will be much better than what I think is a very over-hyped “Cars 2” that opens next week.
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1 Sentence Review: “Another Woody Classic”
I was looking forward to this one due to all of the good reviews. The theater was packed and the reviews were right – the scenes where Owen Wilson is in “old” Paris are really entertaining. What gets cringe-worthy at times is how good Owen Wilson is at playing Woody Allen – he’s down-right neurotic at times and he speaks at a million miles a minute. So, if Owen is playing Woody, I wonder who Rachel McAdams is supposed to be? I wonder if Woody is firing a shot at Mia Farrow in this one because the fiancĂ©e character is portrayed as completely selfish and overly self-absorbed.

This movie is “Hannah and Her Sisters”/”Crimes and Misdemeanors” good. I think Oscar may come calling on this one.

I’m thinking the next movie I’ll see, unless the kids sneak one in on me, will be “Larry Crowne”. The previews look good. Another good preview was for “The Descendants” with George Clooney.

That’s all for now. I need to get off of the laptop and head to bed. The weekend is over. I have to get up and work tomorrow. Oh, poo.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The good news: “I won’t be mowing today”

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The bad news: “I still have to go to Walmart”

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There’s no escaping the weekly appointment with destiny that is the supercenter. They should have Chinese on their signs here since so much of what is sold there supports the Chinese economy.

Or, how about a law forcing any store that sells 51% or more imported goods to have to have “Imports” added to the name?

Hmmmmm.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Songs!

Prepare for the weekend by turning these up and trying not to think about having to mow, going to Walmart, and doing all of the other stuff that can make the weekend just as crappy as going to work!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ghosts appear and fade away

Our song for the day is obviously “Overkill” by Men at Work. You can hit play while you read this one.

It’s been a crazy couple of days. The storms have been rolling in, wave after wave. I upgraded my work laptop to Windows 7 on Monday (I bought into co-workers hype for Windows 7 – I am so dumb), discovered that Windows 7 severely hampered by ability to work on Tuesday (I am so dumb) and then proceeded to roll back to Windows XP by 9PM last night (Being dumb comes at a price). I am finally back up and running problem-free today. And, in between all of the laptop fun, it was crazy busy at work and I’ve still be getting over this touch of stomach whatever.

My soundtrack to all of this excitement has been an audio book I downloaded from the library called Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I had read about it in the last Entertainment Weekly and our online library actually had an audiobook copy (which is rare considering 95% of what I look for is not available). In fact, I was listening to the book when I decided to take a break and flip over to Men At Work. It was more than just a decision – I needed the break.

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Thirteen Reasons Why is classified as a young adult book (as are many of the popular books today) and it’s about teen suicide – specifically a teen who commits suicide and leaves behind a series of cassette tapes detailing the reasons why this happened. I had heard of it in the past but decided to give it a download if the library had it to see if it matched up to what the article said. So, why did I decide I needed to read this book? Because, at least for me, no matter how many years pass by, there is still that grain of “Why?” in the back of my mind.

The real answer to “Why?” can’t be answered – it is a multitude of things and they are all unique to the person going through them. But, there are things I recognize in this book that are so close to things that actually happened. It’s eerie how realistic this book is

As for why I am writing about this here and now, I don’t know. Maybe if someone comes across it and looks up this book and it makes a difference, then it’s a good thing. I spent too long not writing about it or talking about it and that wasn’t a good thing.

The book is divided out like fronts and backs of the cassette tapes and the tapes address 13 different people. I think the audio is a good idea because reading with all of the back and forth between the characters would be difficult.

So, I am down to the section that is the last tape and I am putting that one off for a bit. Maybe I’ll get to it later tonight

I remember going to the library and reading books and articles just to make sense of the whole deal but there were no books like this one twenty-one years ago. It might save lives. It might make people understand. It might remind us older folks to pay attention to the little things our kids are saying or doing. It might remind us that they are going through what we went through and that we shouldn’t just blow it off because we happen to know that what is important at 15 won’t be important at 40. That’s an unfair way to think.

It’s a tough book. From my perspective, it’s actually hard to listen to. I’ve had to turn it off and walk away from it a few times. It’s made me think of things I hadn’t thought about in years. It reminds you that what may not be important to one person is certainly important to someone else. A chance encounter or a simple conversation might mean everything. It’s scary to even consider that, but it’s true.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Puny Sunday

A couple of months ago, I got jinxed by someone at church. They told me that I “never get sick”. Since then, I’ve been on the edge several times and today was my day on the couch – socked by some sort of stomach bug. My temporary diet centers around toast.

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I should have seen this coming yesterday since I felt sort of anxious most of the day. I had a hard time sitting still and got way overheated outside while grilling lunch and then washing the dog (who had gotten into the grease like the little furry monster that she is).

Then, the dogs kept waking me up most of the night so, between feeling crappy and the constant dog interruptions, I think I managed about three hours of sleep.

It’s finally getting better. I owe that to buttered Elvis, I guess.

I’m heading back to the office tomorrow. Last Monday was pretty productive so we’ll see if this one ends up the same.

That’s it for now – back to couch patrol.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

On the night shift

I don’t typically update the blog when I can’t go back to sleep after the dogs wake me up to go out in the middle of the night. Normally, I walk around the house and look at the odds and ends that need to be done – empty the dishwasher (not full yet), restock the TP in the bathrooms (did that), fold the clothes in the dryer (too lazy to do that tonight) check the dogs for ticks after coming back in (did that), surf the internet endlessly (about tired of that), etc.

It’s remarkably quiet around here at 3:45AM but I’m too tired to make something of it. I haven’t been out of the house at this time of the morning in years except for leaving for the airport to catch a 6AM flight a couple of years back.

I worked the overnight shift at Taco Bell in 1992 when they were experimenting with staying open 24 hours. It was a disaster. One night, a hung over dude in a jeep fell asleep at the window after we handed him his food, locked the window, and walked off. I noticed him an hour later. We almost called the cops. I finally opened the window and woke him up by asking him if he needed something else. He was in a daze and seemed to be trying to figure out where he was and finally turned to me and said, “I need mild sauce, man”.

All the weirdos are out at night. This picture is not of my Taco Bell. It looks just like it looked back in the early 90’sbut mine was torn down last year and replaced with a more modern building. Ah, progress.

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Most nights we had no more than four cars between 2AM and 9AM. Then the goobers in charge decided to start selling cinnamon rolls and orange juice. They didn’t realize that just the off-chance of catching a whiff of cooking taco meat at 5AM was more than enough reason for people to avoid pulling up to our drive-thru window. There’s just something about early morning tacos that can easily activate a gag reflex.

Now I’m starting to get tired. I’m tempted to just stay here on the couch with my slanket and Alex the dog (who had to come in here and crawl under my slanket). I’m just about too tired to walk back across the house. I’m also afraid I might notice some more housework that needs to be done.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The most beautiful sunset picture ever taken

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I think the world would be a better place if we could all take a Dairy Queen break every day. Unfortunately, my aging digestive system wouldn’t allow such tomfoolery. And, if we all did take a Dairy Queen break every day, the economic boom that all of the toilet paper companies would reap would not offset the sudden need for all of the sewer infrastructure upgrades that would be suddenly required. Taxes would go through the roof and the economy would be doomed forever.

Still, I wish I could find one of these signs on eBay so I could install it at the end of my driveway.

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Tuesday was not quite as crazy busy as Monday but it was close. I dread tomorrow since that is the busiest day of the week for me and also typically the day that some unexpected chaos ends up making it even worse.

Finally and unrelated to anything I normally write about here, Vanderbilt University made the decision yesterday to scrap its campus radio station and end what was really the last truly alternative station in Nashville. Maybe it’s another result of the general public turning off the radio and turning on the iPod or maybe it is the power of the almighty dollar. The frequency was sold to Nashville Public Radio for over three million bucks.

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The only good thing about all of this is that it is not becoming another Bott automated religious station. The bad thing is that Nashville Public Radio killed classical programming last year in favor of talk because no one was listening.

Sure, WRVU will live on as an online stream and will end up being put on an HD channel for the handful of people that have an HD radio (I’ll be able to tune it in on my Zune) but Nashville’s FM dial loses its last home for student programmed, student radio. That is a shame. Sometimes it was just nice to turn away from the overly programmed corporate stations and hear something original. I’ll miss it but I guess I’m a dinosaur. No one listens to radio anymore and I guess that’s the problem.

Tuesday ends. Wednesday looms.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday

For the first time in six months, I headed over to the office today and worked at my hardly ever used desk. It looked exactly how it looked when I last saw it and, just like the last time I went in to the office, craziness ensued.

I should have known this was going to happen when I woke up at 5:15AM and could not go back to sleep. Another sign was when I drove down the driveway into fog that seemed to have rolled right in from London.

I won’t go into detail but today ended up being much, much busier than a typical Monday and that made the whole day go by so fast that it is now 8:36PM and I have zero free time before I need to go to sleep so I can get back up and start again at 6AM.

I’m slowly losing the battle against the library books. When I have time to read, I’m too tired to keep my eyes open. When I wake up fully awake at 12:30 in the morning, I don’t want to turn on the lights and read because I might wake up the whole house. Also, the dogs have random nights where they run into the living room barking like maniacs if they hear me switch on a light. Apparently they think I am robbing my own house and feel the need to eat me since I am an intruder yet they are both afraid of cicadas, birds, and fake spiders.

Let’s see what Tuesday brings.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Go Go Gadget Weekend!

I’ve said the magic words and now the weekend is upon us. Do you want to know what kind of week I’ve had? This picture should tell you all you need to know.

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Holiday weeks are a drag because you stuff the work of five days into four. Monday is typically my light day and losing it was a real bummer.

Aside from all the fun of work, I also figured out why people who eat “healthy” frozen meals actually do lose weight. It happens because the meals taste so bad that you throw half in the trash. Check out this fine example. Notice how similar the actual meal is to the picture. Also, notice that I have dug around and made sure to put all of the miniature shrimp on top.

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I threw at least half of this away. The sauce tasted like cheap pizza sauce. Yuk.

In reading news, the new Nook came out today. This means that my classic Nook is now going the way of the cassette tape. I’m not planning on “upgrading” any time soon. Sure, I would like the longer battery life but I am not really a fan of smudging the screen with my fingers. Also, the new Nook does not have the web browser that mine has. I hardly ever use it but it’s nice to have in a pinch.

Long live the classic Nook!

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Finally, we took the kids to the library yesterday to get them signed up for the summer reading program and a copy of “The Pale King” by David Foster Wallace called out my name. I had read the sample on the Nook a bit ago and I guess I got caught up in the nostalgia of seeing an actual book.

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I don’t know if I can finish it or not. The writing style is just about manic and I guess it might have been considering that supposedly working on this book was the last straw that nudged him over the edge. We’ll see if I can finish it up or if I end up just giving up. I’m also trying to read a library book on the Nook right now and there are just so many hours allotted for reading in a day.

Tomorrow we’ll be heading to my parents house to deliver and set up their new lawn mower. It’s at this time that I will repeat the “visiting home” mantra in preparation for this trip:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the parents I cannot change, Courage to not scream if they ask me if I am taking my vitamins, And wisdom to keep my mouth shut.