Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Well, looks like this issue has been solved, the nightmare is over, and the hard drive is bad. Because this is a PC (and I know what a royal pain in the posterior they are for putting a different drive model in since I see it at work all the time) I did the laborious search for the exact same hard disk. This was an experience I like to call extra-special-super-happy-fun-time as it is no longer made and not in stock at 99.9% of the places I searched.

However, now making the trek from Abu Dhabi, probably a-camel-back, is the replacement hard drive which is the same Seagate part number.

What made this extra fun to troubleshoot was the fact that the hard drive is S.M.A.R.T (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) enabled. This basically means that a check of the drive using any one of the S.M.A.R.T. utilities I tried over the weekend should have screamed "BAD BLOCKS, BAD BLOCKS". S.M.A.R.T lied and said all was well on the drive. Even after doing a surface scan and causing another 100 or so blocks to be marked bad, S.M.A.R.T still said all was well. Maybe it should be nicknames N.S.S.M.A.R.T (Not so Smart.....)

The PC anxiously awaits the new drive, and aspires one day to NOT be taking up space on my dining room table!

Link of the day - Feel Special

Speaking of joy-joy feelings in my previous post, are you having a bad day?? Do you need to feel special about yourself???

Well, then delay no longer and simply click here. When the box is displayed enter your first name and feel better!

Identify: Movie Quote

OK, who can identify (without using a search engine!) this line from one of my favorite movies:

"You are an incredibly sensitive man who inspires joy-joy feelings in all those around you!"


Monday, February 27, 2006

Kid time is special time.....

Another fun-filled day at the job endeth! The trip to the chiropractor went fine and the back for the moment feels better than it has in days. The trip back was fun.....as I was getting on the highway for the return trip home a grand-am was riding the tail of the mustang so close I was tempted to pop the trunk open and let him drive in. This too with me doing the full speed limit. As we merged (this was a left lane entry) this cretin decided to try and zoom around me on the right....a light pressure on the gas pedal was enough to dissuade him as he realized his vehicle could not defy physics and go through the car in the right lane in front of him, I passed this car, and moved over to the right, so this person could zoom pass me only to get hung up on more traffic up ahead....ah...it takes all kinds

HOWEVER, upon returning home soon all kids were in attendance, and I decided to take them to dinner, we chose Ucelo's a decent bar/Italian restaurant that is one of the few places all three kids like to go. We came home, watched some TV together, and right now all three kids are downstairs playing games and such while Dad works on his blog.

It never ceases to amaze me that even when the kids are not with me up here, the house feels like a home with them downstairs together. How I miss being married to my X and having a 'whole' family! It is such a difference when the kids are present!

Speaking of families, my friend Josh at worked today announced he and his wife are expecting their third child come October, my congratulations and profound hopes for joyous times for him and his family!

If I accomplish nothing else in life, I am proud to know I have three fine children. Of course, I would not mind being rich on top of that! :)

On this, I will fade out listening to music (I have classic rock from Dish Network piped in through the surround sound receiver playing in the background) and wish you all well!

Night of the living dead KERNEL_DATA_INPAGE_ERROR

The adventure I posted about earlier continues.......

Extended memory, main board, and hard disk tests are now running on this hell-spawned PC!

Whatever is wrong can run (well, run with a Blue Screen of Death!) but cannot hide! I WILL find the problem.....or hurl the PC out the window, or drive over it in the Mustang, or take the 10 pound sledge hammer to it's malevolent shiny case............ (Hey, as I said, it's not MY PC! :)

Had enough Spam/Junk E-Mail??

If you have had enough of SPAM and junk E-Mail, you MUST take a look at this link NOW! Thanks to my friend Glen from the United Kingdom for sending this to me.


The X-Wife had dropped of the HP Media Center PC of one of her many friends a couple of weeks ago, this weekend I started working on it; what a mess! The recovery partition off the hard disk would not boot, and at first the load from CD's to restore it kept dying. Using some utilities off the Ultimate Boot CD, a low-level format of the disk at least got it so the recovery partition could be built and booted off of, but, during the application restore phase the dreaded Blue Screen of Death happened....some research tells me this could be either hard disk, memory, or motherboard, so, today at lunch time I will burn a bootable CD with memtest86 and try and rule out the memory.

TV and a new Taylor Ham Recipe!!

Other than cleanup, chores, and working on the PC from HELL described in the post below, the only other eventful things for Sunday were a NEW TAYLOR HAM recipe!

Yes! Taylor Ham, Macaroni, and Cheese! I took Dreamfield's elbow macaroni and two types of cheddar cheese and mixed that with half a cup of cream and diced Taylor Ham that had been sauteed in a teaspoon of Cajun's Choice Creole Seasoning. On top of this was freshly ground pepper and a bit of freshly grated Romano. A small side salad complemented this dish nicely!

Finished up SciFi weekend with Friday's Battlestar Galactica, which was an excellent episode, and some re-runs off the DVR including Knight Rider, Grace Under Fire, and a Dukes of Hazzard episode.

Leaving work an hour early today for my chiropractor appointment; back has been extra painful this weekend, so, looking forward to it....and speaking of looking forward...can't wait to see the kids this afternoon! It really puts a spring in my step knowing they will be around!

Snowy days and Mondays.....and Donuts!

Well, even on days with the kids Monday's get me down..the first work day of the week....though less this week since I worked Saturday and Sunday....it was 25 and snowing this AM....the light icy dangerous kind. The radio told tales fraught with danger of cars slipping and sliding and one down an embankment....."Where are you" the police asked this last person as he called for help on his car phone "Well, it's snowing pretty bad....I can't......wait! I see the Dunkin Donuts sign in the distance!"...."We'll be right there said the Police!!"....I wonder how many cars will respond to THAT call??

The Mustang and I fared fine on the trip into the office however.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Rainy days, no kid days always get me down....

Not that you usually have to worry about rain in West Michigan at this time of year!

The resilience of kids really amazes me....this is a 'no kids' weekend, and there is always, even approaching the second year mark of living in my own house, a 'blue haze' hanging over the weekends when I do not see the kids. While I know they are sad when they do not get to see me, it does not prevent them from going through the day having fun, etc. With me, there is that 'blue haze' keeping me company.......sigh!

Saturday was uneventful, worked for about 6 hours, came home, did some chores, worked on the PC...and had my SciFi Saturday, well, two-thirds of it anyway! I watched both Stargates and both episodes were excellent! It was good seeing 'Trip' from Enterprise on Stargate Atlantis!

There WAS Taylor Ham, Egg, and Cheese sandwiches for dinner, with freshly ground pepper on the fried eggs and a bit of ketchup on the sandwiches. Delicious! Ketchup and Mayonnaise (separately, NOT together) go great on Taylor Ham sandwiches, or they are good without them! It depends on ones mood of course......

The snow the weather doom-sayers predicted for the weekend never arrived, while it is colder than it has been during the week (in the 20's today), no snow was seen.

However, I miss days like those shown below (pictured are Scott and Danielle tossing a Frisbee in front of my house)!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Taylor Ham, Taylor Ham, Where for Art Thou???

Last night was yet another night with NO Taylor Ham! Tonight there must be the classic Taylor Ham, Egg, and Cheese sandwiches for dinner, with sharp cheddar cheese on multi-grain bread!

As I had the day off yesterday I took Scott and Danielle off to breakfast after the morning session with the exercise bike. They of course opted for McDonald's. As Chris will not usually rise before 1 or 2PM on the weekend of days off from school we brought him back some and stuck it in the fridge.

Scott asked if he could have a friend over and before the friend arrived my friend and co-worker Russ popped over as he was in the area; he had not yet seen the 50" plasma and seemed suitably impressed by its presence. Scott's friend arrived and that was pretty much the last I saw of Scott and Danielle as they vanished off to play video games with the new arrival. I spent a couple of hours doing e-mail for work and playing some F.E.A.R which I finally got to the end of. Video games on the 50" plasma display pumped through the surround sound amplifier are awesome! I fear that when the summer arrives and the sliders in the living room are open to admin the breeze, the police will be called by anxious neighbors hearing shotgun and machine gun fire coming from my house!

While this was transpiring the X called letting me know she had an unexpected business appointment and asking if I could feed the kids. Since this meant extra time with the kids it was a no-brainier and I agreed. Chris got up, ate his McDonald's, and left around 3PM to go to a friends house. After Scott's friend left at 6PM I ran them over to the China Garden a local place that also has a buffet.

Normally I am not too thrilled with the food in the buffet, but, we timed it right on a Friday night so they were constantly replenishing the supply in the buffet, and I just followed the pattern of getting food as it was brought out. It turned out to be one of the best meals I have had there. Danielle joined me in eating from the buffet and soon adopted my style of going for the fresh food. We both pounced on hard-sought items that are rarely put out like fried chicken wings and other items, snagged the majority of them before the hungry hoards present could! Scott had his usual Chicken lo-mien with no vegetables. He does not go much for the buffet since there is only vegetable lo-mien which he does not like.

We then went home and started watching one of the original Pink Panther movies with Peter Sellers since I wanted to see how they liked it compared with the Steve Martin remake. They both liked what they saw but we had to stop midway through as their Mom arrived a half hour earlier than the had expected. :( Scott's friend who departed earlier returned a few minutes after 8PM and they headed back to the X's house for a sleep over.

I was very pleased that they enjoyed one of the original Pink panther movies, it seems very rare these days that there is a common ground regarding movies and music that I grew up with that the kids enjoy too, so, when one occurs it is a special occasion that really makes me happy.

I recorded Sci-Fi Friday as I had expected to have the kids later, so, this evening there will be Sci-Fi Saturday! I spent a couple of hours watching TV (re-runs from the DVR including Knight Rider, Darma and Greg, and Murphy Brown) before retiring as I knew I would be heading into work in the morning.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Video of the Day & Google Video Project

Think YOU are lonely? Click here for the video!

Speaking of video, Google announced today it will digitize the entire video content of the National Archive and offer it for free to everyone in the world! This is amazing, over 70 years of history available to anyone in the world with a computer!

Read the full announcement here.

Thanks to my friend Jason for sharing that with me.

Cold, cold, Mr. Mustang

Yesterday the weather alternated between sunny and snowy as shown by this picture. Note though an hour after this was taken, the Mustang and the tree were both completely snow free. This year will mark the sixth year of living in Michigan, and no two winters are the same!

Last night, alas, there was no Taylor Ham, but, I made the kids walking tacos (Chris' with chili-cheese Fritos, Scott with regular Fritos, and Danielle's with regular Fritos and shredded lettuce, Cheddar, and sour cream. For myself I made nacho's topped with hot taco sauce and sour cream.

The kids go back to their Mom's tonight...always a sad occasion for me...but at least there is SciFi Friday to look forward to later this evening, and next weekend I have the kids!

Everyone enjoy their Friday night and the weekend!!

Links of the Day

Four links to share this morning:

If you are into computers, then this link is an absolute must! It contains 46 of the best freeware utilities ever written. Everything from Antivirus, video/audio editors and more. If you subscribe to the mailing list you get a link to another page with over 30 more free packages. There is some excellent material here! Being a computer geek I pride myself on knowing where to get the best free software; I am not ashamed to admit I found some programs here I did not know about!

Many of us have tried different IM clients; because of the firewalling I use at home (both hardware and software) I have trouble sending/receiving pictures. So recently I started using the Hello Client which lets you chat and easily send pictures back and forth easily. From their web site "When you use Hello, you get to see your photographs together with your friends online. You don't have to wait for huge email attachments to download or upload your pictures to a public website. Just point at a picture and you can tell the person who sent it exactly what you think. With just one click, you can get the original high-quality, full-sized file to print"

If you download the Hello client and want to chat or send pictures with me, just let me know. Hello also works with the program described my next link below.

Have pictures you want to organize? Then try Picasa. From the Picasa web site: "Picasa is software that helps you instantly find, edit and share all the pictures on your PC. Every time you open Picasa, it automatically locates all your pictures (even ones you forgot you had) and sorts them into visual albums organized by date with folder names you will recognize. You can drag and drop to arrange your albums and make labels to create new groups. Picasa makes sure your pictures are always organized. "

Both Picasa and Hello are now owned by Google. I have been using them for some time and they and excellent free programs.

And finally, Are you having trouble caring today....well...click here and let the computer do it for you!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

What do you think of this picture?

Post a comment and let me know if you like this picture, it's one of the many thousands of Digital Pictures I have taken over the years. Click on the image to display the larger version.

I love shots like this that depict nature in all her glory!

Next to pictures of my kids, these types of shots are my favorites! Posted by Picasa

Venting about gas prices and taxes.

Good morning everyone!

Before the venting portion of this post, check back later today for a link or two and perhaps a picture from my library. I had obtained my first digital camera over five years ago from my good friend David (The link to his blog is over to the right under my favorite links).

I discovered last night I have over 11 thousand digital camera pictures I have taken since then! I am on my third camera...the one David Sent me took a spill years ago when my (at the time) brother-in-law and I were mounting a satellite dish on the roof of our house in New Jersey..HE dropped it! That camera, after some repair ended up with my brother in NJ and finally died last year.

On to the venting! Back in December when I got my first natural gas bill of the heating season I was shocked that it was over twice what the previous years had been! I had heard gas prices were going up and I had adjusted my thermostat to use less heat, and here's a bill TWICE as high!!??? How do people on a fixed income get by?? People with minimum wage jobs?? It's a crime in my humble opinion! Gas and oil companies posted record profits this past year, how can they make the statement their price has gone up and they are losing money......

I noticed on Tuesday when I headed home that Gasoline prices gad gone up 30 cents to the gallon at my corner stations! I knew I had to do my 'tick' the next morning, so, yesterday I arose a few minutes early and hit Costco's gas station at 6:15AM. From talking to the attendants there we have discovered they usually only set the price once a day, some time between 9AM and noon. SO, gas there was still at the before 30 cent hike and was now 36 cents cheaper a gallon. I felt smug filling the tank! It's like having a mini gas hike time machines.......The savings on gas alone has justified the annual cost of the Costco membership several times over! However, gasoline prices are just too high these days!

I also picked up my taxes yesterday, quite a far cry from the married filing jointly refunds we used to get. Through creative accounting I'm getting a very small refund (about 95% less than when filing married) but, at least I do not have to pay. However the X and I now have the extra expenses of car insurance and time share maintenance which used to come out of the taxes. I am glad at least that the X feels the divorce was for the better...if she is happy at least something good has come of this.

OK, enough grousing for now.....It was great having the kids yesterday, I took them to dinner at IHOP where I had a t-bone steak and eggs, Danielle had the (I shudder to type it) Rooty-tooty Fresh and Fruity breakfast, Scott French Toast and Christopher Stuffed French toast. We then zipped down to Gamestop so Scott could get his 'got a good report card' present.

As the kids slept over last night (and will tonight as I have them for this half of their spring break) I parked the Mustang outside since my older boys room is off a stairwell in the garage. While he sleeps the sleep of the dead, the booming sound of the Mustang's engine and the roar of it's throaty exhaust is enough to wake the dead. This cacophony is only complemented by the sound of the creaking garage door opener could be described as "the Devil's own noise'....so, I like to spare him of that. Last weekend though I informed him that since the low temperatures were expected, the mustang was being parked inside! I felt justified last Saturday morning doing that as the temperature was one degree. This morning at 27 I had enough fun getting the ice off the windows.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

What's important in life

Since my divorce last year I have learned the hard way not to let most things bother me, and most days I just forge ahead, head bent into the wind metaphorically speaking, and take whatever the day throws at me. I am still sad about the divorce and doubt I will ever stop loving/missing my x-wife, but, life must go on!

Yesterday however the wind won.......I had one of the most stress filled days in a long, long time at work. Take a huge workload, trying to juggle many tasks, and technology that could be pictured as a living, breathing evil entity that would not cooperate, and in fact was fighting against me will a vengeance! I felt like hurling hardware across the room and stomping it into bits after it landed!

It took a day like this to remind me what's import; family, friends, kindness, and love for my fellow man. On my friend David's blog there was a post (you can read it by clicking here) that described a troubled woman that he was kind to. This storey heartened me and helped get me through the day making my problems less important.

Stress though did continue to mount as more problems were encountered with the technological nightmare from a vendor whose name I dare not speak! Near the end of the day I called the X's house to see if any of the kids wanted to come home with me. My daughter answered and she said hello and that she loved me, and all the cares and stress of the day melted away. It was as if I had swallowed a restorative elixir.

So, after I got off the phone with her, I paused, wrote some trouble tickets with the vendor whose malevolent hardware I was battling, and departed work, with a song in my heart knowing I was going to see my daughter Danielle. AND I was doubly surprised and pleased when I went to pick her up because my son Scott came too. We stopped at the store for a few items and I got them each a treat, and we had fun watching some TV together before their mom picked them up.

So....remember what's important....a lesson I should have learned many years ago and I vow to never forget as I go forward. I am off to work, where the hardware awaits, yet I know whatever the outcome I will not succumb to stress and react as I did yesterday.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Link of the day...AM/FM station finder

Going to http://www.v-soft.com/ZipSignal/zip_answer.asp and entering your zip code will display a list of stations in your area along with signal strength, call sign, frequency, and other info. Excellent for those that enjoy listening to the radio!

Thanks to my New Jersey friend Barry for this link!

How NOT to keep warm.........

While it has been cold here in Michigan, they have had their cold days in my former home of New Jersey as well. My friend Kevin sent in this shot of a house down the street ablaze. Evidently someone had plugged in a heating pad and I'm thinking left it unattended. When using electrical appliances care is necessary! You should never leave any kind of heater unattended.

Today begins a warming trend here in Michigan, this AM a warm and comfortable 28, projections of highs into the low 30's and perhaps 40's tomorrow!

It is to be a short reprieve however as snow and single digits are again forecasted here for the weekend.

My friend David in California does not trust the weather forecaster. He has stated that he can often get a more reliable forecast by looking out his window each day!

HERE they are much more accurate; not because they are better, but because if they say cold in the winter, they are usually right!

Everyone have a good day!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Hey Mom, what's for dinner?

Oh yea, just in case anyone was wondering, I had Taylor Ham again for Dinner. The kids have off this week so today and tomorrow they are at their Mom's though Danielle opted to come home with me after work for a few hours. We stopped at Forest Hills and picked up some items (and some Skittles for her) and came back here. We spent some time watching TV and playing her new video game.

But....after she left the question of what to have for dinner came up.....and I had a Taylor Hamburger, which is a beef cheese burger with a thick slice of grilled Taylor Ham on top between the beef and the cheese.

This taste treat was the crazed idea of my brother Rick and I which we decided to try at his house when I visited there last August. I have not had it since then until tonight, when I was reminded just how tasty a treat this could be!

What's a Blog?

I've had quite a few friends and family ask me "What is a blog?"

To put it simply it's a place where anyone can create and share a log or diary as it were of their thoughts, ideas, hopes, dreams, ramblings, rantings, the sharing of good times and bad......and more. What ever you wish can be put in your blog.

A blog is even better when readers choose to post comments on the blog; in such lively discussions that can ensue new ideas can be brought to light, wisdom can be shared, humor can bring a laugh or a smile, advice can be asked and offered....and...most importantly; new friends can often be made! So, if you are reading this blog I'd welcome your comments on any of the postings.

Anyway, thanks for reading, thanks for visiting, and I hope you come back often.

For those wabting a more complete definition of blog I found this on wikepedia:

A blog is a website in which items are posted on a regular basis and displayed in reverse chronological order. The term blog is a shortened form of weblog or web log. Authoring a blog, maintaining a blog or adding an article to an existing blog is called "blogging". Individual articles on a blog are called "blog posts," "posts" or "entries". A person who posts these entries is called a "blogger". A blog comprises text, hypertext, images, and links (to other web pages and to video, audio and other files). Blogs use a conversational style of documentation. Often blogs focus on a particular "area of interest", such as Washington, D.C.'s political goings-on. Some blogs discuss personal experiences.

Blogs can be hosted by dedicated blog hosting services, or they can be run using blog software on regular web hosting services. In the early 21st Century, blogging has quickly emerged as a popular and important means of communication, affecting public opinion and mass media around the world.

Pink Panther, Sci-Fi Friday, TV, and work work work

For good bargains on Electronics, computers, etc, Chris goes to
Edeal Info on a daily basis

Unlike the bitter cold of the past few days today's go to work temperature was 19 degrees.

Yesterday after staying in bed until the almost unheard hour of 8AM, after riding my exercise bike I took Scott and Danielle to see The Pink Panther with Steve Martin. This was one of those rare re-makes that was very well done. The interplay between the characters was hilarious as was Steve Martin. A good flick for all ages, all three of us loved it. Sci-Fi Friday (A Friday night ritual at my house) was a two out of three. Stargate SG-1 has one of the most lack-luster episodes of the new season, while Stargate Atlantis and Battlestar Galactica were both excellent. I can hardly wait until Monk starts showing again along with new episodes of Iron Chef America, both of those shows Danielle and I love to watch. She often surprises me with her insights as to "Here's what happened" on Monk. Sci-Fi Friday is enjoyed by myself and Christopher, though sometimes Danielle will sit in. The three of us love Lost. Of course, after the kids went back to their Mom's house around 6PM, I had......Taylor Ham, egg. and Cheese for dinner....the rest is now frozen to enjoy down the road.

It's amazing how empty the house is once the kids have gone for the evening...however it gives me something to look forward to the next day when I'll have them again!

Work will be interesting this week; My boss from the United Kingdom will be in, and His Boss from the East Coast (my old stomping grounds) will be in too. We are trying to become the companies IT outsourcer by consolidating servers and such from around the globe into two Data Centers utilizing the latest technology. It is a lot of work and long hours, but, I would rather have too much work than too little on my plate.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Weather outside is frightening

Unlike yesterdays morning temperature of one degree, it was a warm 10 degrees in West Michigan this morning! This picture is looking out the front door.Was there any doubt that last night Taylor Ham would be on the menu? Christopher and I had Taylor Ham, Turkey Bacon, Egg, and Swiss Cheese (I also added a slice of Cheddar to mine). Christopher had his on a NY bagel, and mine was on whole grain bread. Danielle opted for just Turkey Bacon and Egg on a NY bagel. Scott had a NY Bagel with cream cheese.

Scott was doing much better last night, still tiring easily, but obviously feeling better! We are planning on going and seeing the Pink Panther movie with Steve Martin this morning.

After I arrived home from work yesterday and rode my recumbent exercise bike (because of my back I need the support that the seat and back rest provide) Danielle and I headed out to do assorted errands. We hit several stores including Costco (Good samples abound there!) followed by Target where I picked up some Jones Sugar Free Black Cherry soda. Since Danielle had done so good on her report card I also got her one of those portable five game video games that you just attach to the RCA inputs on your TV. She also got some markers and a Spongebob creativity set. We hit Meijer's for some needed groceries and picked up (ugh!) McDonald's on the way home for her and her brothers.

The remainder of the day was spent playing video games, using the computer, and watching TV with assorted combinations of kids depnding on what was on. We finished up with a couple of Wallace & Gromit short features. After the ritual of getting Scott to take his medicine (the worst smelling stuff that ever came out of a bottle!) he and his sister retired.

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

And so it begins......


Rather than continuing to send out multiple e-mails with the same content I've decided to create a blog; that way for things I would send to everyone, I merely need to post them here, and I welcome and expect your comments!

After receiving a 6 pound Taylor Ham from New Jersey earlier this week, and debating the purchase of a meat slicer....yesterday after taking my friend Josh to lunch to celebrate his 30th birthday, we stopped at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and I bought the meat slicer

This was the best $99 I ever spent! Less than five minutes to perfectly slice the entire 6 Pound Taylor Ham! I cut it in half and then sliced one half into thin slices (about cheese thickness) and the other into about quarter inch slices. I then cleaned and stored the slicer, and made (on whole grain bread) a Taylor Ham and Cheddar cheese sandwich!

It was ONE DEGREE this morning with a wind chill of MINUS 17....just a balmy Michigan day, though the sky was incredibly clear at 6AM when I left for work and the stars above shown in all their glory, a site rarely seen in such magnitude. It makes a person seem small when presented with such a majestic canopy in the heavens above!

Today is my 13th day in a row working, but, I will be out of here at 10AM since I have the kids this weekend. By 'in a row' I mean coming into the office since I usualy connect to the office remotely every day.

Scott, who has been sick all week with a viral infection, is doing a bit better and now thanks to his codeine based cough syrup he has been sleeping through the night like a log! He has never been this sick for this long, but, I'm hoping this weekend sees him clearly on the mend.