27 November 2002

What this country needs ...

is compulsory national service.

Graduate from high school and give two years to your country in the military. Drop out of high school and start right away.

Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines - it's a great place to start.

What got me started down this path was Toys for Tots - the Marine Corps 50+ year-old tradition of collecting toys for poor kids. A nice warm fuzzy program that's hard to criticize.

I got the pitch today in an email at work. This was the part that caught my attention:

The Toys for Tots message of hope for the future has motivated youngsters to grow into responsible, productive, patriotic citizens and community leaders. Toys for Tots has earned the distinction as a program which plays an important role in helping youngsters emerge from a background of poverty to adulthood as assets to society. Toys for Tots is one vehicle for addressing the issue of poverty among children.
The more I thought about it, the more I decided that it was far more likely to generate resentment among many of the recipients. The only long-term benefit I could imagine was that the sight of marines in dress blues might inspire some of the kids to join the military which would probably do as much as anything to get someone out of poverty.

Full disclosure: I was never in the military. But I've often thought it would have been better for me to go into the service before going to college. I got to college with a lousy work ethic and no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I wound up with an English degree - which I don't use much in my life as a software engineer. It ended up taking me almost ten years and two more degrees to find my career.

A little esprit de corps might help us all just get along a little better. I'm concerned that if something doesn't happen to curb the income disparity that's been growing for the past few years we could be in for some hard times. Ghettos and projects could make good recruiting grounds for homegrown terrorists.

I gotta get back to work, but in a nutshell - I think compulsory military service could address poverty and give everyone a little common ground.

11 November 2002

To the best of my memory, I've never seen the term Kubrickian before in my life.
Now, I've seen it twice in one hour.
First from Lileks

But it was the dank Kubrickian fog of hopelessness that grew tiresome. The boy’s search for meaning and redemption is just another variant of the human search for the same, since we’re all machines in one form or another. He prays uselessly to a Coney Island statue, humankind prays pointlessly to various deities, and none of it matters because the world freezes over and everybody dies.

Then in a piece in the New York Times Magazine:

Making a soldier stronger and better through stress inoculation and operant conditioning seems a bit Kubrickian -- and unsettling. I wasn't sure what to think when Col. Charles King, who commands the First Special Warfare Training Group at Fort Bragg, told me that he trains his soldiers in negotiation and combat -- and that they can turn from one to the other in a split second. ''These guys have got to be able not only to work with you but to shoot you, if necessary,'' he said. We laughed awkwardly, and he quickly added that Special Forces soldiers would never shoot a journalist. We laughed again, awkwardly, and I chose not to mention that a U.S. military commander had threatened to shoot a Washington Post journalist who was trying to visit a site in Afghanistan where an American airstrike appeared to have killed civilians

That's just weird - and kinda cool.
*[Italics mine, of course]

25 October 2002

my free host bolted on me
I'm trying to switch to Blogspot.

14 October 2002

Funny one
We don't get to church as much as we probably should. We're Catholic. What can I say. Anyway, we were there Sunday.
Maia (3) is understandably a little confused about the whole experience. First of all, we've told her that Bogie (our dear departed Miniature Schauzer) has gone to live with Jesus. So whenever we're at church she's pretty sure that Bogie is there somewhere.
This week we explained (in hushed tones) that Jesus was up on the cross behind the altar. And on the other wall was an image of his Mary and Joseph with him when he was a baby.
So Mass is over (finally, don't get me started...) and we're walking out past Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
Maia says, "There's Jesus with his mommy and daddy."
And we nod happily. (Religious education proceeding)
Maia looks around and says, "Where's Bogie?"

03 October 2002

Phidipedes and me
I ran in the Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday. First time and in all likelihood it will be the last time.

Gerri ran it last year and I ran with her for the last 10 or so miles. more later ...

I'm finally getting back to this after a couple of weeks. I don't have time to blog. The real bloggers amaze me.
Anyway, about the marathon - it was an experience. I don't really consider myself a runner. Gerri's a runner. She's into it, runs all the time, gets edgy when she doesn't get to run. I run occasionally when the stars are properly aligned (warm enough outside, no kid events to attend, etc.) for exercise only.
I wish I was a runner, but I'm too Type B. I think you have to be at least a little obsessive/compulsive to really be a runner, but I could be wrong.
Despite this fact I did actually complete the marathon - an hour after Gerri, of course, but hey, give me a break. My shirt (thanks, dear) said First Marathon on the front which generated a fair number of comments and Last Marathon on the back which got a handful of laughs from people who actually noticed.
I got quite a few comments from other runners on the Last Marathon bit.(As they were passing me, obviously) Most along the lines of "Oh, sure. I say that every year."
I haven't really decided if it was really my last marathon, but it's my last for a while. I don't want to attempt it again until I have more time to train properly. What I found was that I wasn't going to get up at 5:00 a.m. to run (I wasn't too surprised) and running after work just didn't work. Our evenings are way too busy.
Maybe when the kids are older ...

25 September 2002

Yoplait, et al and their 'philanthropic' promotions
If Yoplait is so interested in funding research for breast cancer, why do I have to send in the lid from my yogurt? If you want to impress me just donate the money - a nickel for every tub sold or whatever. Tell me about it all you want. You can have the same huge ad campaign, print the same self-congratulatory slogans on your lids, and have the same or greater impact on cancer research.
If you want to generate some mail you could even ask your customers to match your contributions. I'd be more inclined to do that than to send you back the lid from my yogurt. Yuck.

20 September 2002

Another Falling Woman bit
I hadn't seen the sculpture - just references on Instapundit and other sites. So I finally made an effort to find an image.
The first link I found to it was blocked by our corporate filter (Websense) with the category of offensive site designated 'tasteless'.
If I were inclined to apoplexy it would have been ugly.
I understand (but don't necessarily agree with) the company's desire to keep me from visiting porn, or gambling, or hate-related sites. But I'm a little upset that my employer is now going to audit my 'taste' in the workplace.
Natch, I didn't let this stop me and had relatively little trouble finding an image I could get to. I Googled for 'falling woman statue', I think.
Ben and Foster
Foster and Ben are bonded. We just laugh. The dog tolerates the rest of us - the kids more than Gerri and me - but he just adores Ben.
Now that the kids are back in school, Foster spends most of his day looking for Ben. Gerri said she's sure if he could talk he would just repeat, "I can't find him. Have you seen him? Where is he? I can't smell him. Can you help me find him?"

19 September 2002

Watching George Carlin on HBO. Omigod, he's a riot. The really scary thing is a lot of times he makes perfect sense. At least to me.

His solution for ending the 'drug problem': capital punishment. Not for the dealers or the users - kill the bankers who launder the drug money.

18 September 2002

Darndest things ...
I just got back from lunch and had the following message on my voicemail from Gerri.

"Maia told me to call and tell you that the next time she gets on your motorcycle she wants you to put her car seat on it so she doesn't fall off and get an owie. And don't laugh about it."

13 September 2002

Looking back

I've been looking at some of the re-posts from year-ago blogs. Interesting that a couple (that I've seen) of the stars of the blogosphere(Eric S. and Instapundit (look for 'Tom Clancy')) saw immediately that the biggest danger facing our country post 9/11/01 wasn't Osama or Saddam, but our own (over)-reaction to the attack.

I don't mean the military stuff. I'm down with that. I'm talking about the way we couldn't wait to give up our freedom and privacy. Judicial review for wiretaps? We don't need no stinking judicial review. Big Brother keeps us safe. Big Brother is our friend.

Politics is opportunistic. And there's been a lot of opportunity, lately, to wreak havoc on the founding ideals of this nation.

10 September 2002

9/11 Rant
I'm a little fed up with the tributes to the victims and heroes of 9/11.

I realize this is an unpopular position, but what irritates me is that every day in this country and around the globe people die tragically and act heroically. How many people starve to death every day? How many are tortured, maimed, abused? How many people save others from burning buildings, perform CPR, defend their homes from criminals or their countries from enemies?

The World Trade Center is gone along with several thousand people. We can do nothing for those people or those buildings or those airplanes. But there are other tragedies occurring right now that we can actually do something about.

How about instead of another tribute or memorial for the events of 9/11/2001 we do something a little more constructive.

28 August 2002

When you say, "Have you thought about counseling?" ...
Does that really mean - "I think you're fucking up, but I'm not going to tell you why I think that. Go see a stranger."

Does counseling ever really work? I know with marriage counseling it usually seems like a last resort for two people who've already checked out of a relationship. Something to do so they can say they tried everything.
Which isn't to say they DIDN'T try everything. Maybe they did, but by the time they got to counseling at least one of them was already gone.

31 July 2002

How not to leave your wife
Don't tell her you haven't loved her for X years. She doesn't need to know this.
Don't tell her you're not attracted to her body type. Bad enough you're leaving her - why destroy her self-esteem.
Don't tell her you're scrogging a 21-year-old co-ed. Yeah, she'll find out eventually, but she doesn't need to hear it now.
I'm sure there are more, but those are the mistakes one of my old high school friends recently made. At least IMO.
Divorce is no big deal when there aren't any kids or they're older. When you have small kids it should be an absolute last resort. Suck it up!

Okay, just looking back over my posts and I'm laughing at my contradictory statements. In this post I'm dogging my buddy for leaving his kids. In a previous post (July 3) I stated that I thought my wife's friend should divorce her husband.

To try to clarify - I DO think divorce should be a last resort and a certain amount of sucking-it-up is sometimes necessary. But I also don't think you do your kids much of a favor if you continue in a marriage where you can't stand your spouse - where you come to despise them.

My high school buddy was probably at that point, and so it may well be for the best. And my wife’s friend has been separated for two years – her kids are already used to it.

18 July 2002

What to do with people who abuse kids
I was just reading about the rape and murder of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion. I don't understand. How can anyone do such a thing?
It doesn't help that I have a 5-year-old daughter. I can't help imagining how I would feel if it happened to her. I don't think that's something you can ever get over. It would consume your whole life. To know that the last hours of her life were spent in terror and confusion.
I don't support state-sanctioned capital punishment. ONLY because I think that one innocent person put to death by the state is unacceptable.
If anyone were to rape and murder my daughter, I would certainly kill them if I could. If I were absolutely sure that they did it. Certainly if I caught them in the act.
Some people do deserve to die. Absolutely, they do.

03 July 2002

We were philosophizing last night after our softball extravaganza. (We won one, lost one - a good outing for us) Gerri and I were the oldest folks - at 40 and 36 - at the table and the only couple. Z was giving us a bit of a hard time and she said, "You're so OLD, and you act like a couple of 18 year olds."
Someone else said, "That's why you're still together."
Thinking about that the next morning (now) I think there's certainly some truth there. We are the happiest couple I know. We like each other. We like to be together. Not to say it's paradise, we have spats. We get crabby with each other, sometimes. But on balance I can't imagine being happy without her.
So how does that happen?
A lot of our friends are divorced or in not-so-happy marriages. One of Gerri's friends is just divorced (or almost divorced, I don't remember) and it was a torturous decision for her. Gerri and I had many conversations about her situation and what we thought she should do.
She's not in love with him anymore. But she's afraid of divorcing him and then suddenly finding herself in love with him again.
I just don't think that happens. So my thought is that divorce is the right thing for her. They have two small kids, but they've been separated for the last 20 months. Their kids are used to them not being together and I think divorce is actually easier on younger kids. (Guess I could do some research on that theory ...)
I'm rambling a little. What I was trying to get at was how do you know when you've found a soulmate. And I guess you just know. I never had any real doubts about Gerri and me, and we had quite a few obstacles thrown in our way. We just knew that we had to be together.

30 June 2002

The New Patriotism
I'm not sure what bugs me so much about the new patriotism that's sprung from the ashes of the WTC. I haven't added any new flags to my wardrobe. I haven't taped a paper copy of Old Glory to any windows on my house or car. I don't think this makes me any less a patriot than the masses who have made such displays.

In the weeks following the attacks I felt a heightened sense of community with my country-mates. Though I have to confess, one of the first things I did on the day of the attacks was to look up the number of people killed when we A-bombed Japan. I wanted to put this event in some sort of context.

That initial communal instinct was a natural one, I think. Sometime after that first month or so, though, I felt like it began to feel different. The entrepreneurs and marketing firms were in full stride to find the most profitable angles. The government was blowing the trumpets of the War on Terrorism. It just began to feel too managed, too contrived, too spun.

There was a lot of posturing. Threats were made. Tears were shed. And in the end - or should I say to date - not a whole Hell of a lot has really been done. We took over the weakest Muslim country we could find where - so it was said - U/Osama bin Ladin was holed up.

Much like the heralded War on [some] Drugs, we've declared War on [some] Terrorists [who most of the world agrees suck and don't control any oil]. Part of the problem, see, is that sometimes it's hard to tell the terrorists from the freedom fighters. I would think England considered the colonials who dumped tea in Boston harbor to be terrorists.

There's a big difference between the Boston Tea Party and the terrorists of today, but there are some parallels.

27 June 2002

Later, a different day ...
Okay...haven't been here for a while.

We got a new dog. An Australian Shepherd (a red merle if that means anything to you) He's great with kids, but isn't too fond of adults. I'm hoping he outgrows that. Makes me wonder if the people we got him from weren't so nice to him ...

In other news, we're mostly going to soccer games. With both boys on travelling teams we have a game or practice Monday through Thursday for sure. Sometimes they have something on Friday and if they have a tournament that pretty much is our weekend. It's fun to watch, but ... a lot.

30 May 2002

Goodbye, Bogie
We had our dog put to sleep today. Bogie was about eleven years old, and really doing poorly. That doesn't help much. We loved that dog. He was older than all but one of our kids....

I'm very sad.
Okay. I'm a dork.

I ran out of gas this morning on my way to work. The embarrassing part is that it took me 15 minutes to figure out I was out of gas. I was sure something major was wrong with the bike.

The first indication of trouble was when I stopped at a light and it died. Of course, then it started right back up and - at first - seemed to run okay as long as I kept the throttle pretty open. I guess this is why the fuel situation didn't occur to me.

Anyway, I stalled three or four times at various lights and finally decided to try to limp home and get the car. I got it started again and got moving. Then it promptly died again right in the middle of an intersection. I pushed it through and kept pushing the starter, turning on the choke. I actually got it going one more time and started up a hill. Halfway up it quit again. This time the battery finally started giving out as I was cranking and cranking and cranking away.

Finally it occurred to me that it might just be out of gas. I couldn't decide if I really wanted that to be what was wrong ... how embarrassing. I turned the fuel switch over to reserve and tried again, but it still didn't start.

I decided to push it up the hill to a gas station - about three-quarters of a mile away and (did I mention?) uphill. I took off my jacket and laid it across the seat. I stuck the helmet on one of the mirrors and started pushing. Then the helmet fell off. I reached for it quick and dropped the bike. I picked the bike up and noticed the jacket laying on the ground on the other side of the bike.

It sounds too ridiculous to be true. I wish.

I put the kickstand down, picked up the jacket, and decided I might as well try to start the bike again. It started right up pretty as you please.

I rode straight to a gas station and filled her up.
When I bought my new computer, I said I expected prices to drop now that I've actually made a purchase. Lo and behold. Right on schedule.

29 May 2002

It's the bureaucracy, stupid!
Why do we need the PATRIOT privacy invasion act? Supposedly we had to have it because we were blindsided by the 9/11 attack. But, come to find out, the FBI had intelligence that al Qaeda terrorists were planning to hijack airliners. They even had one of those terrorists in custody!

What got in the way wasn't lack of intelligence (hmmm - you know what I mean); it was the bureacracy.

24 May 2002

Redmond's Peruvian Problems
There's a bill before the legislature of Peru that would require all state entities to use open source software. Microsoft thinks this is a terrible idea. The general manager of Microsoft Peru wrote a letter enumerating his arguments in favor of everyone using his company's software.

Then the author (I think) of the bill, one DR. EDGAR DAVID VILLANUEVA NUÑEZ. Congressman of the Republica of Perú, responded.

If, like me, you're one of those people who likes to see a weak argument eviscerated, you'll enjoy his letter. It's a thing of beauty.

Here's a related story from Wired.

23 May 2002

It's all good
I'm getting more comfortable on the bike - haven't fallen off or dropped it, yet. The weather has been pretty decent lately which is nice. Everyone is bugging me to get a couple of helmets for passengers. There's no helmet law in Minnesota, but Hailey would have a fit - rightly so IMOP - if we let anyone ride without one. She always points out people riding bikes without helmets.

I've been playing softball on the company team. We've pretty much sucked, so far. Mostly we just can't hit for shit. Defensively we manage, we just can't get enought runs on the board. I haven't been doing too great, myself. After I embarrassed myself in the first game, I realized I hadn't been on a softball team in about 15 years. It definitely showed. I'm slowly knocking the rust off, though. I desperately need some batting practice.

17 May 2002

The bike arrived promptly at 7:00 a.m. Of course I had to ride it around the neighborhood once - and around our cul-de-sac about a hundred times. Fun, fun, fun. Matt has a soccer game tonght and we pretty much have to leave as soon as I get home. That means I won't be able to ride it when I get home.

Only one complaint so far on the bike. One of our friends called Gerri to tell her to get the bike out of the driveway so her hubby wouldn't see it. bwah-ha-ha

Also got the computer set up and running. Gerri's not happy with the state of the office - the new box is on the floor and there are various cables laying about. She keeps saying - you're not keeping all THREE computers in here, are you??? .... Noooooo.... Well, kinda. What I'll probably do is move the Mac, and put the CrappyOld98Box-cum-ZippyNewLinuxBox in it's spot. First I have to finish transferring stuff from old to new box.

XP was pre-installed and it was all ready to roll, so set up was pretty darn simple. The only problem I had was me being an idiot for a couple of hours. I installed a second NIC in the new box to use it share the internet connection. After much futzing with settings and re-running the network config wizard about 20 times, I was able to see the old box from the new one and copy some stuff over. BUT I lost the internet.

Long story short - at 11:30 I realized I hadn't added the DNS servers to the connections. One more reboot later I was back online.

16 May 2002

Met Al at the license bureau yesterday to transfer the title and money. No worries. He's bringing the bike by the house tomorrow morning around 7:00. I'll probably be able to sleep ... except that I went at lunch today and picked up the new computer, so I may have to play with that 'til the wee hours. First, of course, I have to find time to open the box and hook everything up. Hailey and Ben have soccer tonight, so it won't happen 'til sometime after that.

Hope the neighbors don't have a problem with me riding around the cul-de-sac at 7:15 a.m.

15 May 2002

New Toys
I'm getting a motorcycle and a new computer. Whoo-hoo!
The motorcycle is a '96 Yamaha Seca II. It's red and looks really clean. It's not a huge bike, but that's okay. I haven't been on a bike in 15 years, so I don't want to go too nuts. I looked at quite a few 'entry-level' bikes and this one is the best fit for what I'm looking for - at least in my price range - around US$3000. If I had more money to spend, I'd probably get a BMW F650. The Seca II is a good bike, though, and I'm thrilled with it. It's even recommended by BeginnerBikes.com. I'm going to pay for it today and transfer the title, but I don't get the bike until Friday. A little frustrating, but that's okay. I could take it today, but I don't want to ride it home on the freeway. I need a little practice before I'm ready for that mess.

I ordered the new computer a couple of days ago from General Nanosystems - they're a Twin-cities outfit that has a good local reputation among the geekerati - decent prices for good components. I'm getting a pretty basic Athlon XP1600 machine -
Athlon Value System
Athlon XP 1600+ (1.4G) CPU
ATX Mid Tower Case w/300W Power Supply AMD Approved
Lite On 16X DVD-ROM
Cooler Master Socket A Heatsink and Fan
Teac 1.44 Floppy Drive
Western Digital 40G 7200RPM ATA/100 Hard Drive
Keytronic PS/2 Keyboard
Biostar M7VIB Mainboard w/Integrated 16bit Audio
256MB PC2100 DDR
Microsoft Optical Wheel Mouse
TRENDnet 10/100 Network Card
Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
Chaintech GeForce2 MX 400 64MB AGP Video Card w/TV Out
1 Year Parts and Labor Warranty

Subtotal $664.00 Tax $46.48 Total $710.48
If you're thinking about getting a computer, wait a week or so. Now that I've actually ordered one prices should drop dramatically.

I'm just glad to be finally getting away from the broken down box we have at home right now - see previous rant - 4/25/2002.

13 May 2002

I'm baa-aaack.
My %$@% free web host was down for the past two weeks. I finally just created a new account. Hopefully, it'll continue to work for a while.

30 April 2002

More on Bogie
Bogie's our Miniature Schnauzer. He's about 11, I think, (That's 77 for you and me) and not long for this world. He's been acting like a little old man dog for the past year or two, but he's gotten worse in the last couple of months.

The first sign we had was when he started puking on a regular basis. We thought maybe he had some sort of stomach tumor or some degenerative condition. Gerri and I debated whether or not to have him treated or just put to sleep. I kept saying that if he had something treatable - within reason - then we should do it. Eventually she agreed and took him in to the vet. $400 later we found out that his esophagus had basically lost all muscle tone and stretched to several times it's normal size. The reason he was 'regurgitating' (as the vet put it) was that the food wasn't getting to his stomach - it was literally stuck in his throat. He was down to 7 lbs. and was essentially starving to death.

That made us feel nice.

The fix was that he had to stand on his hind legs to eat and drink. The vet also recommended some high-calorie food to help him gain some weight. So we did all that and he really started perking up a little. Amazing what a difference regular nutrition can make.

29 April 2002

Weekend Update
Trekked on over to Green Bay this weekend for a wedding. My step-sister-in-law (?) got married. Gerri, Ben, Hailey, and Maia left around noon Friday with Jennifer, Madison, and Peyton. (how terrible is it that I'm not sure I spelled my niece's name right - may be Payton - this is no way to start the week) Dave flew into Green Bay from his meetings out east, and I left after work with Matt and Bogie (the dog - more on him later).

Matt and I were listening to a book on tape - Far North, I think - and I was pretty into it, and not-so-much paying enough attention to where I was going. I missed out exit and didn't figure it out for a loooong time. It could have been worse I guess, but it still cost us at least an hour.

Saturday morning we got up and I took the kids swimming in the hotel pool. Maia pretty much monopolized my time - "Let's jump in, Dad!" "Come into the hot water!" Come into the cold water!" She had a blast, but by the time we were done swimming she was about ready for a nap. This was bad, because it was time to get ready for the wedding. That was an adventure in itself - six people taking showers and getting dressed in one hotel room. Eventually it was decided that Dave and I would skip the wedding to stay with Maia and Peyton while they napped. It was a tough job, but we managed to get through with beer and the Hornets vs. The Magic. (Baron Davis was robbed at the end of regulation - that was a ridiculous call.)

Eventually the wedding-goers returned and we all freshened up and headed over to the pre-reception party. It was in someone's garage, which is very Green Bay, and there were plenty of adult beverages. It was a nice garage, but I'm not a fan of parties where I know virtually nobody. I find that I just smile and nod a lot, and usually follow in Gerri's wake. The kids actually did great - the boys played cards and Hailey hung out with some high school kids and played a computer game - she's much better than me at making friends in strange places. Which makes me nervous, sometimes. I'd rather my cute, five-year-old daughter was a little more cautious with strangers.

The reception was fun. Dinner was the obligatory fried chicken, cole slaw, mashed potatoes and dressing. It was fine. For some reason we had a table right up front. I was a little uncomfortable with that since we barely know the bride.

After dinner there was free beer at the bar and a band. The band was great. They were from Milwaukee and really a lot of fun, though not at all your usual Wedding Singer type band. They played a lot of alternative rock stuff - Dave Matthews, Sara McGlothlin, Alanis, Train - and some different older stuff - James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkel, Grateful Dead, Warren Zevon.

Gerri had told the girls that they'd get to dance, and they were way into it. Hailey made a new best friend with the flower girl - another five-year-old running around in a miniature bride dress. Maia dragged me onto the floor and had a blast except for her complaints that it was 'too loud'.

26 April 2002

Cars are a pain in the ass
I despise most aspects of owning a car.

I mean it's nice being able to get where you need to go, and mostly I even like driving. It's all the other stuff that makes me crabby.

Some people enjoy buying cars. My brother-in-law does it for a living - actually, now he's in charge of a lot of other people who buy cars, but he used to do it himself. These people like to negotiate; they like the back and forth, the games, the histrionics of the salesman who'll 'have to check with my manager'. I am not one of those people. The whole process makes me very uptight and when it's all over I'm always sure I got screwed, and everyone at the dealership is having a nice chuckle over my inept attempts to be a hard-nosed deal-maker.

Only slightly less upsetting to me is having a car serviced. Actually, I think I feel even more helpless when I have to talk to a mechanic then I do talking to a salesman. I don't know enough about cars to know when they're selling me shit I don't need. I know the salesman is trying to ring every last drachma out of me. With the mechanic there's at least a chance that he's being honest and only fixing stuff that's actually broke.

My whole car-service-buying life I've known one mechanic that I really (almost completely) trusted. He had a shop in Knoxville, Tennessee and he only worked on Hondas. At the time we owned two Hondas (actually a Honda and an Acura - same thing) so it was perfect. Unfortunately, I didn't discover him until right before we moved to Green Bay.

This subject is on my mind because I took our van in yesterday to get two new tires. The tire people tried, of course, to sell me four tires. Our van has all-wheel-drive and they were telling me about some (supposed) friend at another shop who just got sued for putting two tires on an AWD van, because the transfer-case crapped out. After a couple of minutes of back-and-forth I convinced them to just sell me the two tires I came in for. But it's still in the back of my mind - what if they're right ...

All in all, cars are just barely worth the trouble.

They were right ... $1800 later, I can tell you, they were absolutely right.

25 April 2002

My latest jones, and some serious rambling
I really, really want a new computer.

The one we have now is a piece of shit. It's about five years old which makes it an antique in Moore's law time. It has a Cyrix 166 processor, 96MB of Ram, two hard drives totalling about 11GB. The last time I re-installed (crappy) Windows 98 I partitioned the drives into about five different logical drives so I'm often moving stuff around to free up space. I thought it made sense to have separate drives for me, Gerri, and the kids. I put the OS on one partition, and also created another miscellaneous one. I don't ever remember smoking crack, but this makes me wonder.

At one point I had it set up to dual-boot Linux, but I trashed that. I'd love to move to Linux, but I don't think Gerri would be thrilled. She fears change. I have Linux running on my laptop which is currently living in my closet. The good news is I bought it old and used off of Ebay. The bad news is it has a 1GB hard drive so I can barely make it fun.

Actually the biggest problem is that my home network doesn't so much work. I have DSL through my phone company - a small non-Bell former co-op. Instead of a cable/DSL router, they gave me some kind of funky modem with only one connection. I've got it running into a hub with all my (two at the moment; three if I haul out the laptop) computers hooked into it, but I can only have one on the Internet at a time - my ISP doesn't do DHCP anymore. I've got a fixed IP. (uh, I think) I think if I had an open PCI slot , I could throw another NIC in it and maybe get something going, but all my slots are full on my Win98 machine and I don't really want to mess with my Mac - an old 9600 with a 133 MHz processor (I think) that I got for $40.

So, you see, all my problems will be solved when I get my new computer that I really, really want. It'll be:
* faster
* more stable with XP
* better for networking, 'cause XP is
* more capacious - I'm thinking at least a 40GB drive
* ready for another NIC so my home network is really a network
* generally cooler 'cause it's new

And then I plan on turning my current clunker into a bad-ass Linux rocker. Or something like that.

24 April 2002

Those bastards at Yahoo
Yahoo's doing away with free Pop email forwarding and I'm a little crabby about it.
I switched to yahoo as my primary personal email a couple of years ago because I got tired of asking all my friends to update their address books every time I switched ISPs or jobs - which seemed to be happening a lot. I picked yahoo over the other web-mailers because of their Pop server access - I could set up my email client to download my yahoo mail just like my email through my ISP.
Now they've decided to charge for this service. The words 'Bait and Switch' come to mind.
I won't be giving those yahoos (ouch, sorry) one thin dime. I'm shopping the alternatives. I'm thinking about going ahead and getting my own domain and getting my email through whoever hosts it.

23 April 2002

Funny Maia Story
Gerri met her friend Gina at the health club today. She dropped Maia (age 2) off at the club's daycare and got away with minimal fuss - no tears, Maia just told her she needed a hug.
Gina was still getting her Tyler settled when Gerri left, but when she was done she went to give Maia a hug. Maia told her, "No, Gina, I not want to hug you. You're scary."
An amused Gina told her, "I'm not scary, Maia. I'm your friend and my feelings will be hurt if you don't give me a hug."
Maia's other friends Hannah and Hailey were standing right there, too. Hannah was hiding behind Maia, but Hailey was standing besider her. Maia pushed Hailey towards Gina and said, "Hannah's afraid of you, too, but Hailey will hug you."
The weekend
Friday I got home and ran 5 miles. It was chilly, but I ran okay. Gerri was working, so i just hung with the kids for the rest of the night.
Saturday was a little busier. Gerri and I had planned to run in the morning, but we decided it would be warmer in the afternoon. Matt had his last indoor soccer game at noon. They demolished their opponents 11-0. A nice change from their last two games which were hard-fought losses. Matt scored a goal, so he was happy about that.
The girls missed the game 'cause they went to their cousin Madison's birthday party - she's three. I took the boys over there after soccer. It was quite a party - all the kids got to decorate t-shirts with paint, glitter, and all manner of decorative doo-dads. Our boys skipped that bit, but they were happy to have some pizza and cake.
All was good until I went outside to check on the girls and saw Matt throw Hailey's candy bar. Then as she was walking to go get it, he threw a football and hit her in the back of the leg. I made him go sit in the car for the rest of the party - about an hour. Matt, Ben, and Gerri all thought that was a bit much, but I don't think it was too extreme. He's 12. He shouldn't be throwing things at his 5-year-old sister. Anyway he cried and yelled at me most of the way home in the car. He said Ben had tackled Hailey several times and didn't get in trouble. I said I hadn't seen that and yada, yada, yada.
Gerri and I ran 8.5 miles after we got home. We ran to and around Cleary Lake. I felt pretty good and we were making pretty good time (for us). Gerri's all about us improving our speed. Last year when she ran the Twin Cities Marathon we were running 10/min miles. Now that she's talked me into running it this year, we're going to try to knock a minute or two off that pace. The faster we can run the less time we have to spend doing it. I still can't quite imagine running 26.2 miles. I ran a 25K last summer (roughly 15 miles) and that was rough. I'll definitely have to focus a little more on my training this year.
Saturday night I played poker with some guys from work. I'm not much of a poker player. They kept having to explain the rules to me - not the BASIC rules, just what the hell High-Low Chicago, Baseball, In Between, and Criss-Cross meant. I played pretty conservatively and ended up about $20 up on the night.
Sunday Gerri worked and I stayed home with the kids all day. Sunday night I played basketball. We had about 13 guys which worked out okay. A few weeks ago we had over 20 and that was a nightmare.
All in all it was a decent weekend. We'll be in Green Bay this weekend for my step-sister-in-law's wedding. That should be fun.

19 April 2002

Apparently I'm blogging.
I guess it'd be more compelling if I had something to say...
I'll work on that.
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