Thursday, March 26, 2009

Now I know what DTE stands for

Amy's van has a little display with miles per gallon, temperature, etc. It also had this thing called DTE, now I knew what it meant, it was the number of miles you had before you ran out of gas. I figured that the E stood for empty, but I couldn't figure out DT. Well, now I know, DTE stands for Distance to Empty. Should I start to doubt my intelligence? I think I should have been able to figure that out.

The Priorities of My Countrymen have Disappointed Me

So, Barak Obama wants to answer questions from ordinary Americans, which are voted on by ordinary Americans via the web. I’ve been browsing these questions on and I was a bit surprised, especially in the budget category. I expected that some of the top questions would be related to the budget’s size, the national debt, or other budget priorities. What I read was shocking, the top seven questions were all about legalizing marijuana. While most tied it into the budget as a savings for drug enforcement or income from taxation, the thought of this being the dominant subject in questions for the president regarding the budget is quite a disappointment. I’m not part of the pro marijuana legalization movement, but I understand that it is a legitimate concern for some people, and it is a point of view that should be considered by the government from time to time, but seriously, do the majority of Americans really believe that seventy percent of the top ten questions about the budget should be related to marijuana legalization?

Americans of all political affiliations should be concerned about the President’s budget, if for no other reason than its size. I asked a simple question about federal government agencies and their end of year spending practices which I’ve personally seen waste hundreds of thousands of dollars. I suggested that the President work with Congress to fix this problem by allowing federal agencies some flexibility to roll over money from one year to the next without fear that their budgets will be cut simply because they didn’t spend it all the year before. There were some fine questions about how to pay down the national debt, raising or lowering taxes, eliminating government waste, and other important subjects.

One big problem with the question form is that there wasn’t much room to articulate a question the proper background required for the question to make total sense. I don’t recall the character limit off hand but the first version of my question was about 250 characters over the limit. I had to reword the question many times before getting it to fit properly and still retain most of my original thought. Something tells me that this wasn’t a big problem for the marijuana legalization crowd!

E-Mail is Down

Yes, I work on the email system for my government agency, but my e-mail account has been moved to the new system for testing. Wouldn’t you know it, the new system (which I had no hand in designing whatsoever) is having a hardware problem and they had to take completely down to fix it. This system is so full of single points of failure it isn’t funny, this problem being a good example. Since most of my job revolves around e-mail, well, there isn’t much that I can do right now which is frustrating because I was out yesterday and have some catching up to do.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Kid Cuisine & Hungry Man

You know, if I wasn’t married to Amy, I would probably think this stuff tastes good. But compared to Amy's cooking, my meal last night sucked.

Alex's birthday was yesterday and he was able to choose anything he wanted for his birthday dinner. His choice, a Kid Cuisine prepared meal. I don't know where he got the idea that this stuff is eatable, but that is another story, maybe he is watching too much TV. Ok, no problem, I was just going to get them for the kids, and Amy and I would have something good to eat. Well, Amy was sick and didn't want to eat, so while I was at the store, I figured I'd grab myself the Hungry Man turkey dinner meal that was right above the Kid Cuisine. Yeah, big mistake. I thought it would be a good idea because they cooked in the oven at the same temperature, with the Hungry Man taking about 10 minutes longer, perfect timing for getting the childrens' meals in front of them once they are done.

It wasn't all bad, the apple cranberry dessert tasted great, and the corn, once copious amounts of salt and butter were added was good too. I added a little salt and butter to the childrens' corn too. They really seemed to enjoy their meals, and as much as I don't like the thought of it, they might be a good thing to keep around, especially since we have a couple of coupons for them now.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Will I Participate in the WPX Contest

One of my more favorite amateur radio contests is the CQ magazine WPX contest. The scoring is based on the amateur call sign prefix, meaning that while each contact you make counts as a point, each one with a different prefix is a score multiplier. So, if you contact N3XYZ, N3ABC, W3QRZ, W3QSL, & KB3ZZZ, your score would be 15, because you worked 5 stations with 3 different prefixes.

This is where my call sign, NE3R is awesome. Early in the contest, nobody seems to care, but on Sunday, folks are really out to get those multipliers, and my station becomes pretty popular. There just aren't that many stations on the air with an NE3 prefix. The FCC shows 29 call signs starting with NE3, but I've only ever met 2 others on the air. Compared to over 15,000 N3 calls, or over 17,000 KI4 calls, NE3 is pretty rare.

Also this weekend is the Greater Baltimore Hamboree & Computerfest, which I haven't been to in a while. That would make a pretty good Saturday morning. Aaron's pinewood derby race is also Saturday which might be fun to attend. So, I have no shortage of things to do this weekend!

Aquarium Update

Well, the aquarium fish stocking is basically done.

  • 4 angel fish
  • 5 corydoras catfish
  • 12 neon tetras
  • 3 kuhli loaches (that I've seen recently)
  • 5 adult female guppies
  • 3 adult male guppies
  • 2 adolescent female guppies
  • 7 juvenile guppies
  • a few guppy fry
  • 4 rosy red minnows

I think that two kuhli loaches have died, as has one of the original female guppies. I added an adult male guppy, a turquoise blue color. I plan on adding some live plants and over time, replacing the fake plants to have a completely live planted tank. I already have a java fern which looks pretty good, I think I might add a few more of those next week. I'd also like to get rid of the rosy red minnows, they have served their purpose of getting the tanks biology going, but now I don't know what to do with them.

No more Windows XP at home

The last computer running Windows XP at home has been upgraded, well, formatted and had Windows Vista installed. My XP installation was showing signs that it might have a virus, which was all the reason I needed to wipe it clean.

Vista runs well on this 4 1/2 year old PC with a recently upgraded video card and 3 gigabytes of memory. I also installed Internet Explorer 8, which seems OK so far, with some slight page formatting issues with gmail.

I'm also using Vista's parental controls on a generic login I created for the children. They can only run programs or access web sites that I specify on a list. Their hours are also limited. Alex came down stairs the other night and said, "I know it's bed time" and we asked, "how do you know that", and he said, "because I can't get on the computer".

My old laptop also got a fresh Linux install. The hard drive had died a while back, and I just now got around to replacing it with a free drive I got several months ago. It is a Dell Pentium 3 with 768 megabytes of memory running Slackware 12.2.

Happy Birthday Alex

Today is Alex's birthday. He is 7 years old. Hopefully Aidan & Zoe don't get into his cake and we can have some tonight. His party was yesterday and his gifts were right on target. A skateboard, helmet, & pads from his Grandma Debbie along Bakugan stuff from my mom, Robin, and a friend.

Alex's main gift from us was back ordered and I didn't realize it. I ordered him the Cub Scout day pack. He still got a box of other Cub Scout stuff: t-shirt, wallet, pencil, reminder band, and for next year, socks, wolf neckerchief and slide, and also on back order, a Cub Scout belt. I think that is everything.

Alex really wanted to have lots of friends over, but we like to keep these things low key, so, we let him invite two friends, but one of them couldn't make it. I think this was good enough for Alex though, maybe next year we can expand on it a little.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Jacqueline Charron Gray 1925 - 2009

Well, I haven’t blogged for a while, mainly because I wanted my next blog entry to be about my grandmother who passed away recently.

Jacqueline C. Gray, Obituary

We just had Alex's birthday party, one of those things that Grandma would have attended. I sung happy birthday to Alex in French, something she would have done. Just about everything reminds me of her in some way or another.

I guess it is time to get on with things and start blogging again.