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.