Sunday, December 31, 2006

Childrens' Portraits

Zoe Lynn

Aidan Joseph

Alexander Hamilton

Andrew William

Thursday, November 16, 2006


My blog is so stale -- I wish I updated it more. I've had another child since the last update. Maybe I'll work on adding her picture to my header. :)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

More than a month

Wow, I don't blog much any more. It isn't that I don't have anything to blog -- just haven't found the time.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Uncool Ebay Sellers

Ebay’s feedback system is quite flawed. I’m sure everybody knows this but I’m going to write about it anyway. When I sell something on Ebay, feedback is given once I’m paid. As a seller, that is what counts, being paid. As a buyer, I give feedback once I receive the item, and make sure it is as described. What I don’t like is when sellers who have been paid on time, shipped their item, refuse to give feedback until you have left feedback for them.

Why is that wrong? Well, because I can be the best customer in the world, always paid on time, never ripping anybody off, but if the seller ships me something bogus, or broken, or not as described and I leave them negative feedback, they can simply retaliate by doing the same to me.

Of course, we all know that eBay is all about protecting the seller, because, that is where they make their money.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Crab Feast

We finally did it, a crab feast at our house for our friends and family. Amy put in our order for a bushel of crabs on Friday to be picked up at 1:30 today. Last week we invited some family and friends to join us in Frederick for all the crabs you can eat, at least until a bushel was gone.

Amy, Brandon, and Steve were the crab eating champions. I ate some steamed shrimp and some of Amy’s claws. Also on the menu was corn on the cob and sausage, which, along with some potatoes and onions made up Amy’s steamed, well, boiled shrimp recipe. They were good.

Robin said “I’ll eat a dozen crabs” LOL yeah right, I’m sure she will comment and let us know how many she really ate, but it was probably more like four.

We had seventeen crabs left. We sent six home with Steve and a half dozen home with Brandon and Amy has five plus a bunch of claws in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Family Reunion 2006

Once again we made the trip out to my Grandparent’s house in central West Virginia for their family reunion. I really like spending time with the family and the kids really have a blast. Well, Alex does, Aidan, he just got passed around a lot which he didn’t mind, as long as he got is floor time.

We had high speed internet at the hotel we stayed at, which made Amy really happy. She updated her online journal just about every day. Having a hotel room is a definite plus with the kids. It gives them a chance to unwind and settle down. Not to mention long hot showers where nobody is waiting in line after you.

We went to the Barbour County fireworks display. Terri was trying to get us to leave at eight o’clock, but it turns out that the fireworks didn’t start until ten! It worked out though, we parked the van just outside the gate, had a great view from the tailgate seats, and we didn’t have to wait in traffic to go home.

Tuesday the fourth was our day to travel home. Instead of taking the interstate the whole way, we decided to take some back roads through central WV. The good part about that is, you get to see a lot of the country side, and stop at Black Water Falls State Park! Even though it rained on us, it was a nice break from the trip. This time Alex wasn’t even scared as he was the last time we stopped there.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Field Day

As expected, I really enjoyed operating on Field Day. I didn’t earn as many points as I had intended, primarily because I underestimated the amount of activity on the two meter band. I was able to make some extra points by making some CW contacts. I also failed to make the satellite contact that would have given us one hundred bonus points. There weren’t enough operators for my station on Saturday and on Sunday, it was raining pretty good and I didn’t want to stand out in the rain with the antenna.

The best part was that Alex wanted to be there the whole time! I had him there during setup, but dropped him off with my mom when I picked up Amy so she could spend some time there with me. When I brought Amy back after dinner, we learned that Alex was quite upset that I had left him, and wanted to go back with me. I wasn’t quite set up to have him there, but I figured, he can sleep on the grass next to the station and I could crash next to him when I got tired. That worked out great.

Sunday afternoon was a bit miserable; it rained, and rained hard for most of the day. Of course, we were taking things down, and really couldn’t stay under shelter the whole time, making it that much worse. The good part was, there was no lightning, and being on top of a mountain with a couple of antenna towers doesn’t mix very well with lightning.

The club’s score was 4914, we will have to wait and see how that ranks with everyone else.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Myspace this and Myspace that

What is up with people blaming myspace for their problems, particularly parents who blame myspace when something bad happens to their kid? As a parent, I look at it as my job to keep my children safe, and that is what, along with my wife, I will do.

Lets make a comparison with one of the latest news stories, where a 14 year old girl was sexually assaulted by a 20 year old she met on myspace. The girl and her parents are suing myspace for not protecting the girl. What if these kids had met at the local mall, would the mall be liable anything? I’ve never heard of a mall being sued because some older guy hooked up with an under aged girl, took her to his place and sexually assaulted her. In this case, the biggest problem is that this girl went out with someone she didn’t know, and her parents didn’t even know about it. Myspace had nothing to do with the sexual assault, it is a simple website. Did the guy talk to the guy on a cell phone, via AIM, or e-mail? Why no suits against those companies?

I have three sons and a daughter on the way. The kids won’t be going out with people that I don’t know and certainly not with people that they don’t know. Their online activities will be transparent to their mother and I. Kids, they don’t need much privacy, if they tell you they do, than they are probably doing something they shouldn’t be. I’m not saying I’ll be reading every e-mail they send or receive, but that is certainly an open option. The kids will learn early on that mom and dad will know about everything that happens on the computer.

Aggressive Negotiations?

I like that John Bolton guy, the US Ambassador to the UN.

"You don't normally engage in conversations by threatening to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles," AP quoted U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton as saying on Wednesday in New York.

Somehow that remained me of a line from Star Wars Episode II

Anakin: When I got to them we got into aggressive negotiations.
Padme: Aggressive negotiations? What's that?
Anakin: Ah well it's negotiations with a lightsaber.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Coming Soon – Field Day

Another amateur radio club I belong to, the Mid Atlantic DX and Repeater Association is putting together a pretty big Field Day event. Ask 10 amateur radio operators what field day is and you will get at least 11 different answers. To me, Field Day is an operating event and contest that is performed in the field with no existing equipment or infrastructure. Of course, home stations can participate, as well as stations that exist in emergency operations centers, personal vehicles, or club hamshacks. MADXRA’s Field Day will be run in the field with generator power and we will bring in all of the equipment needed, including towers, antennas, radios, computers, and so on. It should be a lot of fun.

I’m setting up the stations for the 2 meter band and 70 centimeter band, 146 & 440 MHz. For 2 meters, I will have a great station, with a 14 element beam antenna with 13 dB gain, plus a 150 watt amplifier and preamp. I hope to make at least 100 contacts with that station. I will also have a digital station setup with a small beam to run packet on 2 meters. Two of the big bonus point items I’ll have in those bands is a satellite station, which we will use to make at least one, if not more satellite contacts, and an amateur television transceiver, camera and monitor. We were a little worried about the amateur television setup, that we wouldn’t have anyone on the other end to talk to, but I did find another club that is planning the same thing, and they should be in range.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Frederick Amateur Radio Club Hamfest

I just experienced my first hamfest as a club officer. It was quite an experience, I got to see a lot of folks that I don’t see very often, or that I’ve never seen, but talked to a lot on the air. I was a member of the club last year, but I didn’t make it to the hamfest, and this year, I’m the treasurer, go figure. It seemed to be well attended, the parking lot was quite full, but the count may have been less than last year according to some of the more experienced club members. The good news is, we got an article in the Frederick News Post. I’d link it, but they don’t keep them up very long. My first official act as treasurer was to deposit the proceeds from the hamfest into club checking account which I promptly took care of on Monday morning when the bank opened.

Monday, June 19, 2006

EBay Mix-up

I arrived home to find a package waiting for me at the front door. This was a surprise because I wasn’t expecting anything, at least not on that particular day. I open the box, and what do I find, but a Yaesu 2 meter amateur radio transceiver.

Now it was a nice surprise to get a radio out of the blue, but I figured something wasn’t quite right. Fortunately, the sender’s phone number was on the package, so I called and left a message. It turns out that the sender was someone I had bought a Morse code key and keyer from the day before.

I wasn’t expecting it so soon, which added to my confusion. It turns out that the key and keyer that I won was shipped to Washington state, to the person that won the eBay auction for the radio that I received. It should be worked out soon, the seller sent me a FedEx label so I could ship the radio to its indented recipient, and the person who wanted the radio should be doing the same with my package. It is a good thing too, because the key and keyer weren’t really for me, they were for the Frederick Amateur Radio Club station.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Amy’s Having a Girl

Does anyone read my site that doesn’t also read Well, if you don’t read Amy’s journal too, then you don’t know we are expecting our first daughter in October. With three boys running around, it should be a nice change. After the visit to the doctor for the ultrasound, we went strait to the outlets in Hagerstown and Amy got to shop for whatever she wanted. I thought she was going to spend more there, but she got a lot of clothes and didn’t even break $300 so a few days later we went to the Arundel Mills mall, which is sort of a mall / outlet mall in one building. In all, the closet is bursting with about $500 in baby girl clothes. It sounds like a lot of money, but she got a lot of clothes for that money, something like 70 different things, many of those were two piece outfits.

Friday, May 26, 2006

New Office – Sort Of

I no longer work on the Mall in DC, the office has moved to Herndon Virginia. The commute is a lot better for me, and the building is nice, well, at least it will be. Right now, there aren’t any offices or cube space available so twelve of us share a console inside the climate controlled section of the datacenter. In a picture, it looks bad enough, I have about 30 inches of space to work between two co-workers at the desk, but the cold gets to me sometimes.

Back to the commute, from Frederick I take the scenic route down US Route 15 to Leesburg Virginia, and take the Dulles Greenway toll road to Herndon. The trip takes about an hour in the morning, compared to my ninety minutes to the Mall. I got our smart tag / easy passes yesterday, so, now I don’t even have to stop at the toll booth. The trips home take a little longer, but the good news is that I get a little bit more time to operate on the ham radio, it sort of makes me want to get a radio / antenna to operate HF mobile.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


I finally got around to taking the family to the zoo today. We’ve only been talking about it for a couple of years. All that is required is to get up early on a Saturday instead of waiting around to nine am or so to finish getting up. We left the house just after eight o’clock in the morning, hoping to arrive at the zoo by nine, and we timed it almost perfect.

We didn’t see everything; the national zoo in Washington DC is very large, so seeing everything in one day with three kids isn’t easy. I suppose if I lived in the mid west some where and this was our only trip to Washington DC ever, then, maybe I would have made the kids stop and look at everything, but the zoo is only 41 miles away, so, we’ll go back, someday. We saw the pandas, of course, but they weren’t in the mood to be up close, and seemed to know right when we wanted to snap a picture and disappear.

The trip is well documented in photos on Amy’s site. We took 134 pictures, many of the kids, well, the backs of their heads, with a few poses. A camera with only digital zoom just doesn’t cut it with some of the exhibits, digital zoom sort of muddies the image, and makes it easy to blur with the slightest movement. Amy’s picture of the elephant is probably the best of the group. Amy's Zoo Pics.

One advantage of being a Smithsonian Institution contractor, I get a lot of discounts, for one, I don’t have to pay for parking, that saves sixteen dollars right there. We saved over ten dollars at lunch, with the thirty percent off discount, that also saved a couple of bucks on our popsicles, and ice cream. If that wasn’t good enough, another twenty percent off at the gift shop. I’m sure glad I brought my employee ID.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Basketball Hoops

Amy was visiting yard sales in a nearby neighborhood and I noticed something odd. I was sitting in the van, and I was able to count 9 basketball hoops setup on the street. I decided to go back there and count basketball hoops to houses. There were 28 houses on that street, and 11 basketball hoops setup. That is enough for 44 kids to play some 2 on 2. I don’t know about the kids in this neighborhood, but if there were 4 of us playing some 2 on 2, and there were 40 other kids around, I think a bigger game would be in order, maybe even some 5 on 5.

It peeves me a bit, because these are the same neighborhoods with home owners associations that will flip out for putting a modest ham radio antenna on your house, and a tower, forget it! They say, antennas are unsightly, while some antennas can get out of hand in their size and profile, in general, the modest antennas most ham radio operators have setup aren’t even that easy to see. Not that I dislike basketball, but all of these basketball hoops aren’t the most attractive sights when looking around the neighborhood from your front door.

Work - Datacenter Move

Got up at 1:00am today - went to work, the new office in Herndon Va. Things went pretty well, we are just waiting for some GroupWise things to work to complete our testing.

Co-worker Scott has a little poem for us:

Here we sit all broken hearted
Exchange is up
GroupWise is barely started

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


It is been quite a week for me and antennas. On Saturday, yeah, I know Saturday was last week, but it is within the last six days, I helped a local ham radio operator assemble his 53 foot hygain hytower antenna, which is part tower and part antenna. We didn’t get it set up completely, mainly because we were missing one critical bolt that attaches the base. After work today, I helped two other Frederick Amateur Radio Club members set up a new antenna at our club station. Now we have two complete HF radio setups at the station. This weekend is the Mid Atlantic QSO party, a low key ham radio contest that our club is participating in, having two stations will be great, we should be able to work on two bands at a time when things get busy. Too bad I have to work Saturday, but Sunday should be fun.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Soda at Costco

It's a catastrophe! Costco was out of mountain dew this weekend. While Costco's inventory isn't exactly consistent, mountain dew has become something I could count on. I sure hope they continue to stock the 36 pack of 12 ounce cans, it was a great value, and mountain dew from an aluminum can is the best tasting mountain dew in my opinion.

A similar thing happened with Coke, Coca-Cola Classic. Costco stocked these four-packs of two liter bottles for less than 4 dollars. It was a great deal, and soda in a two liter bottle is ideal for keeping around the house, just in case you want a small glass. Costco stopped carrying the two liter four-packs though, and started selling the 32 pack of 12 ounce cans. They are portable, yes, but not the great value found in the two liter bottle. Amy is the Coke drinker in the house, and since she is pregnant, we haven't bought Coke in a while, but once the baby is born, we will have to stock up, thank God for Costco!

Friday, May 05, 2006

My Metro Ride Home Thursday

The Metro was packed yesterday, and, as usual, I was standing. When I first got on, a middle aged woman sitting down was arguing with a standing old guy with a cane, he had to be at least seventy-five, about a seat clearly marked for disabled people and seniors. She finally got up and stood like the rest of us.

Later in the trip, the doors wouldn't shut, the operator tried several times. If you've never been on the Washington DC Metro, when the doors close, there is a chime and voice command that says the doors are closing. The operator comes on the intercom and says, "the door chimes are not for your listening enjoyment, they mean the doors are closing, please step away from the doors to avoid personal injury and inconvenience to other passengers. If the doors can not close, the train will go out of service." This happens sometimes on a really crowded train.

A few stops later, I see this rather large woman standing, someone really should have offered her a seat because what I saw next was something I wish I hadn't. With her back to one of the poles people use to hold on to, she leaned against it, the pole slowly disappeared in her backside, literally, to the point where there was part of the pole that wan not visible because the lady's butt was wrapped all the way around it! I'll probably think twice about hanging on to one of those poles at waist level from now on.

Monday, May 01, 2006

E-Mail is Down

Here I sit, waiting for someone to fix the Storage Area Network so that I can turn e-mail back on for everyone where I work. Unfortunately, I have no involvement with the SAN, so, I depend on it, and those who manage it to work right so that e-mail works right.

While I wait, I guess I could do some work. I got a few comments on my immigration post, one saying something about the economy, I thought I addressed that, in step one, fill the need with legal immigrant workers, we will need more of them, of course.

My comment on illegal immigrants

I have no sympathy for those in the country illegally, in the real world, if you do something illegal, you should be punished, instead, many say "I love America" but then they proceed to violate the laws of the country they say they love. The system is broken, we all know that. I work with a guy from India here on H1B, working to get a green card, a painful, and expensive process. Why should 11 million people here illegally get citizenship while this guy waits for his green card, that he might not even get? The system is broken, but it isn’t that hard to fix, just hard for politicians to fix. Step one, secure the border, nobody gets in illegally. Step two, setup a legal process for people, a good million of them to start with, from all over the world, not just Mexico, to legally enter the country to work for several years. Step two must occur very soon after step one. Step three, crack down the businesses and those here illegally that they hire, after step one and step two are implemented, I’d have no problem with making these illegal actions a felony. Step four, the hardest of all, determine the path to eventual citizenship that is fair to all, but doesn’t make the United States the worlds dumping ground for the undesired citizens of other countries.

Sunday, April 30, 2006


Saving Private Ryan is one of three Tom Hanks movies, along with Forrest Gump and Apollo 13, where socks play a role in the plot. The G.I.s use their socks to hold the components of sticky bombs that they improvise in the field.

Frederick Marathon

I took the kids, loaded them in the van for a quick trip to McDonalds this morning to get Amy some hash browns (and me a sausage McGriddles). What would normally be about a mile and a half trip took about four miles due to road closures related to the Frederick Marathon. Ordinarily, I would be helping with radio communications for that type of event, but the organizers of the Frederick Marathon and the local ham radio clubs had some sort of falling out. I think the story goes, that the head of the marathon was out of town on the day of the race, it snowed, things were all fouled up, and the radio operators sort of took charge and got everyone safe, making the race organizers not look so good. Oh well, it happens.

Fun with Dick and Jane

Fun with Dick and Jane was good - I especially liked the special thanks to Enron, Adelphia, WorldCom, and Tyco (there may have been more). After much reminding from my lovely wife, I recall the previews, but they didn’t really convinced me to watch the movie. When Amy opened a new Netflix account, the first movie she put on her list was one that she thought we would both enjoy, and she was right. I don’t know how she does it, but she knows what movies I would like better than I do. I guess that is ok, by some miracle, Tom Hanks, she watched Saving Private Ryan with me last night.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Amy’s Web Site

Amy has been busy updating her site. Not just with blog updates, but the entire layout. She switched from moveable type to word press and completely changed the look. Although she hasn’t decided on a final layout, it will definitely be different than the one that has been there for the last few years.

There is a great picture of Aidan in a toy dump truck posted on April 25!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Amy's Bread

Amy baked fresh bred for Easter dinner.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Missing Mountain Dews

I keep a couple of spare Mountain Dews in the refrigerator at work, just in case I need more than I bring with me every day, or I forget them all together. Yes, I drink a lot of Mountain Dew. It also allows me to get a cold one first thing in the morning.

This morning, when I go to transfer the Mountain Dews I brought with me from home to the refrigerator and grab a cold one to drink, the two that I had left there on Friday were missing.

Who would do such a thing?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Verizon wireless 411

It is about time that mobile phone companies give us a feature we can use. In the past, when calling 411 from the mobile, they would connect you and that was that. The problem is that you can't always write down those numbers, so, if you are disconnected or need to call back for some reason, you'd have to call 411 again.

Verizon Wireless now has a feature that allows you to get a text message with the number they connect you to. I'm sure they charged me extra, if not only the 10 cents for the text message, but it is worth it.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


This is my 300th blog entry! :)

Metro Seats

Ok, so, this morning I’m riding the metro sitting down in my nice comfortable seat when an old lady with a cane gets on. I get up so she can sit down, I step back a little so that I can hold on to one of the poles so I don’t fall down. The very next stop, the old lady with the cane gets off and I take a step toward my seat. Instantly, another guy who was standing almost jumps into the seat. I guess it doesn’t pay to be nice to old lady’s with canes.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


We got the original Superman DVD and watched it yesterday. I didn’t expect Andrew to be interested, but he really liked the opening credits. Alex on the other hand, I tried to keep interested in the movie, but he wouldn’t sit still. I can see how the first half of the movie would be a little boring to a four year old. I think I was five when I saw it for the first time, probably in 1983, and on laser disk. Once the action picked up a bit, Alex was sitting on the sofa at attention staring at the screen. Of course, Andrew was no where to be found, IE: in another room watching cartoons.

Cracker Barrel is Good

Yesterday I took Andrew, Alex, and Aidan out for breakfast to Cracker Barrel. As restaurants go, especially franchise types, Cracker Barrel is probably the best when it comes to breakfast, much better than the International House of Pancakes. Andrew and Alex both had a pancake, and Andrew had some bacon with his. I had a big stack of French toast, also with bacon. Aidan, he didn’t get anything because he is only four months old. One thing I forgot, I bought a coke for myself, and after eating the French toast covered in that yummy maple syrup, you can’t taste the sweetness in the coke and drinking coke that isn’t sweet isn’t cool. Before we left, we put in an order for pancakes, bacon, and hash browns for Amy, she stayed home to do some cleaning up, and deserved a good breakfast.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


I got eight dimes as change the other day. I don’t know why, but I decided to check the dates on each one. Out of eight dimes, two were minted before I was born. The dates are, 2005 Philadelphia, 2003 Philadelphia, 2000 Philadelphia, 1994 Denver, 1983 Philadelphia, 1983 Philadelphia, 1972 Denver, and 1968. I examined the 2005 and 1968 dimes closely, and they are definitely different. For starters, the 1968 dime doesn’t have the P or D to tell you where it was minted. The dime from 1968 has a slightly bigger portrait of Roosevelt and the date, the word “LIBERTY”, and “IN GOD WE TRUST” are closer to the rim of the dime. The reverse looks like it could be exactly the same, although I see some differences, those could be from general wear and tear.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Final Solution

You have to be careful how you use words these days. I sent an e-mail related to some technical work I am doing on a problem, and said "The final solution to this problem would be …" . Someone pointed out to me that "The Final Solution" was the term that Adolph Hitler used when describing the elimination of the Jews. I knew that, but when I'm in geek land, the history of the world isn’t exactly filtering my e-mails. I guess these days you can never be too politically correct. Maybe they should add a political correctness or sensitivity filter to Microsoft Word to go with the spell checker.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Went to Costco today, the plan was to pick up two mattresses for the bunk beds that we are getting for Alex. When I was there yesterday, I walked past the area where the mattresses are, and saw that there were plenty. What I found out today, was that the mattresses I saw were all sets, not the individual mattresses that I wanted for bunk beds like the price tag above described. Yet again, I make another trip out for nothing, well, I did get laundry detergent that I forgot yesterday, but it turns out that I didn’t need it, I had enough for today.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Public Service

Something I haven’t done a whole lot of recently, well, at all in the last few years is any sort of volunteer work. That changed this morning; I had the chance to help with communications for a five K run benefiting meals on wheels. It was a smooth event, I was responsible for monitoring two points on the course, one at the beginning, and one near the end. Although that might sound tricky, those two points were only about a block apart. It was a little cold, in the 20’s with 15 mph winds. I was fine except for my hands, I didn’t wear my thick gloves because it would be hard to use the radio with those gloves, so I wore my leather gloves but they didn’t keep my hands very warm for long. I’m a little over conservative when it comes to preserving my battery life, I tried to use the radio on 50 mw, which worked fine for my first station, but just a block away, I was having trouble being heard, so I moved up 1 watt, and I was loud and clear. I should probably get a second battery and charger for my radio, it is just a good idea to have more than one.

Closed Stores

I can’t seem to win. The other day, I got to the Sears auto shop and it was closed, they had recently changed their hours. Today, I get there 40 minutes before they close, and they say, they can’t take any new customers because they are closing soon. But wait, there’s more, we went out tonight to purchase Alex’s bunk beds, and guess what, that store was closed too, we were there at six forty-five, and they closed at six.

Interestingly enough, we went to Best Buy, since it was in the same shopping center as Furniture for Kids, and we left without buying anything. There were several DVDs that I wouldn’t mind watching if I had time, but DVDs at Best Buy are a bit over priced. After Best Buy, we walked over to the Educational Store, where Amy picked up some educational supplies for Alex.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Discover Cards

A couple of weeks ago, we lost one of our credit cards, so, we thought it would be best to get a new account. A couple of weeks go by, and no cards show up. I finally get around to calling them and it turns out that they didn’t ship them in the first place, but they did change the account. They sent them two us next day, which was actually two days because I called at night.

The cards arrived today and what a surprise, the look like crap! I liked my old silver discover card, it worked for me. Now I have this orange one. But it gets worse, Amy’s has this 1960’s hippy van/bus thing on it!

My Card

Amy's Card

I figure, I’ll keep this one for a few months, then order a replacement.

Alex & Me – Night Out

Amy and the kids haven’t been feeling well, and Amy isn’t getting much sleep because when Aidan goes to sleep, Alex decides it is time to play, and either keeps Amy up, or wakes up Aidan.

The idea was for me to take my car up to the Sears Auto Center / Jiffy Lube and have them change the oil, transmission fluid, and replace a tag light (I pulled over and issued a repair order for the tag light and to have my window tint checked). Since that place is attached to the mall, I’d take Alex in for some fun, dinner, and stop and pick up a new belt for myself.

Well, the shop changed their hours and closed at 6 before I got there, causing me to completely forget about walking through sears and getting a belt. Alex and I did have a lot of fun even though they removed the play area from the mall. We through pennies into the fountain, got on a couple of quarter rides, and had some candy. We also grabbed dinner at McDonalds, I had a double quarter pounder with cheese, and Alex had a cheese burger happy meal. That boy has been eating cheese burgers fairly well. It was funny, I was telling him that my burger was the same as his, but mine had two meats, and he said, “I don’t like meat, but I like cheese burgers.” LOL

Amy, on the other hand, didn’t get much sleep, Aidan decided to be awake the whole time we were gone.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Trip to West Virginia

This Saturday we went to visit my grandparents in Philippi West Virginia. The trip out was interesting, we ran into a pretty heavy snow storm in far Western Maryland and into West Virginia on I-68. It was worth it though, my grandparents hadn’t seen Aidan yet, and it got us out of the house for the weekend and my grandmother really likes babies!

We arrived Saturday afternoon and it was still snowing. My grandmother had a brand new flexible flier sled and told Alex that I would take him out sledding. Even though it was snowing a lot, there was a good wind and the snow was very light so it was all blowing off. Even so, Alex got to go out and play.

On Sunday morning, we made a trip to the nearest Wal-Mart which is about 25 miles away, the trip took more than thirty minutes. The point was to get Alex some gloves, some window washing fluid for the van, and some travel packets of formula for Aidan. Of course, they didn’t have the travel packets, but we left with everything else we wanted, plus a shirt for Alex, and cookies for all of us to enjoy.

Alex got to play in the snow again later Sunday, this time with gloves on his hands. I wore myself out pulling him on the sled (I even took two runs on the sled myself). Somehow I ended up with a headache later in the evening and ended up going to bed at about 7 o’clock Sunday evening.

The trip back was the best, we took the short cut through the back roads since the weather was good on Monday. Like the trip in, Amy was monitoring for wireless networks with her computer, which was pretty entertaining. Around lunch time we wanted to find a diner but ended up stopping in Frostburg at Pizza hut for lunch. We were back on the road in about an hour and stopped at the outlet mall in Hagerstown. I took Alex to the play ground while Amy shopped. Unfortunately (or fortunately) our replacement credit cards have yet to arrive, so she was limited to cash, but for $60 she bought 2 pairs of pants and 3 shirts for both Aidan and Alex. While I was at the play ground with Alex I got on the ham radio for a few minutes, that was fun too.

In all, good trip.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Now that is a long delay!

Surely a typo, but it was a shock seeing this on the blackberry this morning before I got on the train!

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2006 6:37 AM
To: METRO Alerts
Subject: Metrorail eAlert on the Red Line

A 1000-minute delay is in effect between Fort Totten and Tenleytown-AU in the direction of Shady Grove.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Vice President Dick Cheney Shooting

It seems that, at least the media is making a big deal over why the White House or the Vice President’s office did not inform the public that Dick Cheney was involved in a hunting accident. Must they report on every aspect of the Mr. Cheney’s day to day activities that have nothing to do with his duties as Vice President?

Breaking news: this just in from the White House Press office “Dick Cheney was taking a leak yesterday and his aim was off, and some landed on his shoe.”

I think they did exactly what they should have done, accidentally shooting someone while hunting is embarrassing enough, nobody would go around advertising it if they didn’t have to, and the last time I read the constitution, I didn’t see the part about informing the media of the most embarrassing moments of our elected officials. The mainstream media is just ticked off about a small town Texas paper getting the story from a local before it was aired on CNN and the rest. The Vice President’s office and White House did exactly the correct thing, when the story broke; they confirmed it and that was that.

The late night talk show hosts sure had fun with this one. Jay Leno said, “That's the big story over the weekend. ... Dick Cheney accidentally shot a fellow hunter, a 78-year-old lawyer. In fact, when people found out he shot a lawyer, his popularity is now at 92 percent.”

Monday, February 13, 2006


Why is myspace so slow?

oh yeah - I have a myspace - I don't know why

Snow, What Snow?

Ok, so it snowed Saturday night and Sunday morning. By seven thirty in the morning it was reduced to flurries in my area. The governor was on TV telling everyone to stay off the roads and the media was making such a big deal out of dangerous roads. We had planned to go to my sister’s house in Dover for Aaron’s birthday party. After shouveling out and getting ready, the sun was out, so, we decided to go. I had thought about taking the long way, around Interstate 95 to Delaware route 1, but after seeing that the road conditions were much better than had been described on the news, I decided to go the normal route, across the bay bridge. That was a good choice because there were only a couple of isolated spots on the road where there was slush, even on the state routes on the eastern shore. The worst travel we experienced was a slushy Delaware route 8, I’m sure it didn’t snow that much more on that side of the state line, I guess it says something about Delaware’s snow removal capabilities. Anyway, I didn’t think the snow was all that bad in the Maryland area.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Alex’s Generosity

While I was out shopping, Alex had some M&M’s after eating his lunch. When I returned, I asked Alex if he saved any M&M’s to share with me and he said yes. So I asked him, “Where are the M&M’s you saved for me?” and he replied “In my mouth!” his term for what happens when you eat something.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Aidan the Smiling Boy

I was up early with Aidan today and he sure was in a good mood. I was on the ham radio for a little bit and I put Aidan in his bouncy chair. Took a break from what I was doing and Aidan was so happy and smiley. Again, I had enough time to grab the camera and take a some good pictures.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


I had a great night playing Civilization IV with Amy and Brandon in our play by e-mail game. I have a whopping three cities, and I’m still spending more than I make and don’t have much of a military. Amy is still killing all of us, I’ve never done so poorly in a game of CIV before.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Blog Template Update

Can you believe it? I changed my blog template. I’m sure that the changes are obvious, I added a family of pictures at the top. I’ve been very happy with the general template from blogger that I lightly modified once before, but it seemed to be missing something. I think it is fixed now.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Super Bowl Snacks

Back in the day, I didn’t think that Super Bowl snacks would ever amount to much more than chips and dip or something else from a bag in the chip isle. This weekend’s shopping list included several items indented to be consumed before and during the Super Bowl game, most notably, crab meat and meatballs. I think the crab meat dish is going to be something that I’ve never tasted before, but I’ll probably like it, and I already know I’ll love the meatballs, made with a secret sauce that includes grape jelly and chili sauce. MMM I’m really looking forward to overeating on Sunday!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Installed some lights

Last night when I was laving to go get Andrew I turned on the light that is just inside the front door and it seemingly burned out. While I was at Costco getting gas, Amy called and said that none of the lights worked on the main floor. I talked her through resetting the breaker and wondered why a light bulb burning out would blow a breaker.

It turns out that something failed inside of the light fixture causing it to arc and crack the plastic casing that holds the bulb. I was hoping to find that plastic casing, but realized that I might have to buy a new light fixture, which is what I had to do in the end. Below is a picture of the new light fixture installed.

While I was at it, we had needed a chandelier type light over the kitchen table since we moved in. In the summer, it isn’t so bad, there is plenty of natural light, but in the winter, even during the day, the sun just isn’t at the right angle to make that side of the kitchen very bright. I had to modify it with a power cord that would reach the wall socket and that had an on off switch, since there was no light socket above the table in the kitchen.

It is kind of hard to take pictures of lights.

Friday, January 27, 2006

More Civilization

I’ve been playing two games of Civilization 4 for a little while now. The first, a play by e-mail game with Amy and Brandon, hasn’t progressed very quickly, but it has a lot of potential. So far, Amy is kicking our butts, she’s lost more settlers to barbarians than I’ve been able to create so far. Of course, she did get lucky with the goodie huts. The only goodie hut I was able to get only gave me a map of the area (actually, I think I found another one with some gold).

My single player game, on a huge archipelago map is getting a little crazy. For one, it runs real slow and takes a long time to load. It is a lot of fun however. All of the map has now been occupied, which has caused my score to stall a little. I’ve fought a couple of wars earlier in the game, but I just started a war with the Romans who while not quite as advanced as me, have at least fighters and destroyers in their arsenal. I’ve already lost a couple of stealth bombers over their cities. My goal is to surround the Germans, my land is on one side, and the Romans are on the other. The Arabs had a defensive pact with the Romans, so, I’m at war with them too, but I have a couple of other computer players at war with them, so, I’m not too worried about it. I did send a fleet of battleships to their area to bombard cities and to intercept warships that might be trying to help the Romans. War, even in Civilization 4, has a lot to do with logistics, which I’ve been setting up over the last few days. In the archipelago map, it is all about shipping convoys, and making sure all of your cities have airports. I expect to have a lot of military capability left over from this war, but will probably need to spend a few turns making money. I really hope to finish this game with a conquest or domination victory, the only victory options I selected for the game. It has been quite fun.


I skipped breakfast at home this morning so I bought some oatmeal from the cafeteria here at work. Basically, it is plain oatmeal with toppings. I chose brown sugar, honey, and granola. Interestingly enough, oatmeal and honey are hard to mix together. Maybe next time I’ll use chocolate chips.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Didn’t Blog for 10 Days

Can you use Blog as a verb? I guess I just did. Anyway, it isn’t that I haven’t had a lot of interesting things to Blog about; I’ve just been busy doing other things, like feeding Aidan, playing with Alex, sleeping, playing Civilization 4, getting on the radio, or whatever.

Also, I didn’t really want to push those pics of Aidan down from the top :).

Interesting Outlook Problem

A customer was complaining that she wasn’t getting any e-mail. Of course, I figured that it was a typical problem where the customer was working offline and didn’t think much of it. That turned out not to be the case so, I had to do some investigating. Eventually, the customer told me that sometimes she would see the some of the missing message in the Large Mail search folder. I started my search there and found that some of the messages were indicating they were in the folder “Top of Information Store”. This was odd, because mail never really goes there. I could not seem to figure out why this was happening, so, I was about to delete the customer’s mailbox and re-create it again. Before I did that, I wanted to see if there were any rules I need to make note of because they would be deleted along with the mailbox. That is when I saw it, the customer had a rule that said mailbox sent to the customer should be moved to “customer name – mailbox” or, the root folder, also known as, “Top of Information Store”. Mystery solved, rarely do I enjoy the helpdesk type work I get stuck with way too often, but this one was kind of fun.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Aidan in his Crib

I don’t know why but I put Aidan in his crib tonight while we were putting Alex to bed. Aidan sleeps in his cradle in our room and the crib is in Alex’s room. He smiled so big, I just had to grab the camera.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Today is my Birthday

I’m twenty-eight years old today. I guess that qualifies as pushing thirty.

General Class Ham Radio License

Back in October, I passed the Morse code exam, one of the required elements for the General Class License. Last week, I passed the written exam. The General license allows you to operate on almost all of the amateur radio frequencies, using CW (Morse code), voice, or data communication modes.

So far, I’ve made four contacts using my new license privileges, three yesterday, to Vermont, Indiana, and New Hampshire, and today’s contact was to the former Yugoslavia, now known as Serbia and Montenegro.

Unfortunately, those contacts were made using single side band voice. I have yet to actually get good enough at using Morse code to copy weak signals. I often call CQ and get no response; it could be that my sending is just that bad. The catch 22 is, to get good at it, you have to practice a lot, but to make a contact, you have to be able to send and copy the code on the air.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Aidan Eats Peas

No, I didn’t get a picture this time, but Aidan has just finished his first jar of peas. Of course, it took three meals for him to finish the jar, but he is only nine weeks old. He has done quite well with his rice cereal, he actually seems to enjoy it. The best news is, he will sleep from about ten o’clock at night until five o’clock the next morning. That’s my boy, he’s learning how to sleep in already, all he needs is just a little more practice, that’s all.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Haircut Day

Alex, Amy, and I all got hair cuts today.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Two K Six

What can I say, it's a new year!