Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday - A Most Excellent Day!

Today was an excellent day! After sleeping in until 9 AM I arose, puttered on the computer a bit and then shoveled snow. This was the third day in a row I decided to forgo use of the snow blower and just shovel for the extra exercise. There were several inches this morning and the snow was a bit heavier than the past two mornings so it took me about an hour.

After cooling down I got Scott up and he, myself and Danielle headed out to lunch and then hit Meijer to get the ingredients for hot wings.

My son Chris and his friend Mike came over around 3 PM, and Danielle and I played Left for Dead 2 with them for almost 2 hours with me taking a break around 4 PM to get the wings prepped and in the oven.

Chris, Mike, and I then alternated playing Earth Defense Force 2017 until the wings were ready. I made 108 wings in three varieties; hot and spicy, Italian garlic, and and new variety from the Chef Chris kitchens; Spicy Asian peanut.

Scott arrived home from the mall and the five of us tucked into wings while watching the latest Family Guy Star Wars spoof Something, Something, Something Dark Side which turned out to be hilarious!

After Family Guy we watched some video off the PC including the Terry Tate Office Linebacker series, Raging Rudolf, and finishing up with an episode of Man Verses Food. Chris and Mike departed around 9 PM. Danielle and I watched A Garfield Christmas, then the three of us Watched an older episode of How I Met Your Mother. Danielle and I then played some Left 4 Dead.

All in all it was a very enjoyable day, and I was quite pleased that Chris and Mike could join us.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Picture Of The Day 12/26/09

Tails was quite taken by the tree this morning.

Appearances Can Be Deceiving!

Ghost of Snowy Days past - Our House back in NJ back in February 2000

I am CHILLED! I just came in from shoveling snow. It was near 40 yesterday and rained all day and overnight when the temp dropped into the 20's. I looked out at what appeared to be about an inch of fluffy white snow. Not wanting to drive over it since I had to take my daughter somewhere at noon, which is before Scott has to go out, I figured it would be a cakewalk to clear the snow. I also decided, since Scott would be heading out a little later to remove the snow from his car since he does not garage his car as I do the Mustang.

SO, I went out and much to my dismay discovered a very icy snowy bottom layer under the fluffy portion. It took me twice as long as the half hour I had envisioned when heading out because I had to scrape the whole driveway to remove that bottom layer icy layer. In addition I chiseled the ice off of Scott's car.

I came in, and got under a nice blanket on the couch t warm up a bit. I wish I had the makings for some good hot chocolate! I will remedy that when I drop off my daughter and pick up the ingredients for that most wonderful beverage at the store. I will keep it sane though and get 2% milk and light whipped cream instead of half and half and regular whipped cream as I have used in previous winters! I will go for the Ghirardelli Hot Chocolate powder however, I mean you can only do so much.

Previous years when making Hot Chocolate I would also get a bar of imported Belgian chocolate and melt that into the mix! I think the lower calorie version will still be quite delicious!

Picture Of The Day 12/26/09

Below is a panoramic shot I stitched together depicting the general state of bedlam in my living room due to the frenzied unwrapping of presents yesterday! Note there are more Christmas and other photos over on my Facebook page so feel free to pop over and check them out. Not a Facebook member? Well, you can easily join on my Facebook page.

Click the picture for a larger version in a new window!

I hope all of you and your families had as Merry a Christmas as I did!

It's snowing here this morning in West Michigan - Once he awakens it is time to acquaint my son Scot, who recently turned 18, with my "Whoever has to go out of the house using their car first has to clear the driveway" rule. Unless it is not possible to clean the snow, I like to do this before driving over it other wise you get ice when the snow was driven on. Since you get get stretches of several weeks or longer going by with the temps below freezing, it's best to clear the driveway before driving on it.

I know he has plans with his friends later, right now I have no pressing need to go out first though at some point I do need to hit the store for some groceries.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Picture Of The Day Christmas 2009

Before - - - - - - - After

Picture Of The Day Christmas 2009

Virtually deserted roads greeted the Mustang and I this morning on our last minute Christmas mission! 12/26/09 Update - This was to get $20 for each of my kids Christmas cards as I know they hate empty cards. The heart-felt message I wrote each one of them in the cards should have been enough but.....

The ground was so icy, I just let the Mustang idle in reverse out of the driveway without stepping on the gas but we still slid all the way into the street! The main roads were better but the bank parking lot was very slick. At least I made it in and out with no issues. I headed home, exercised, got cleaned up and awaited the arrival of the X and the kids.

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Performed by:
The Cast Of Scrubs

This is HILARIOUS! If you have seen the TV show Scrubs, heck even if you have not, this is a 10 minute version of A Charlie Brown Christmas voiced over by the Scrubs stars.

Be Advised - The dialog is rated PG-13 in my humble opinion!

That's What Christmas Is All About.....

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas To All!

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"

That's what Christmas is all about.

'Twas the night before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas and out on the ranch
The pond was froze over and so was the branch.

The snow was piled up belly-deep to a mule.
The kids were all home on vacation from school,
And happier young folks you never did see-
Just all sprawled around a-watchin' TV.

Then suddenly, some time around 8 o'clock,
There came a surprise that gave them a shock!
The power went off, the TV went dead!
When Grandpa came in from out in the shed

With an armload of wood, the house was all dark.
"Just what I expected," they heard him remark.
"Them power line wires must be down from the snow.
Seems sorter like times on the ranch long ago."

"I'll hunt up some candles," said Mom. "With their light,
And the fireplace, I reckon we'll make out all right."

The teenagers all seemed enveloped in gloom.
Then Grandpa came back from a trip to his room,
Uncased his old fiddle & started to play
That old Christmas song about bells on a sleigh.

Mom started to sing, & 1st thing they knew
Both Pop & the kids were all singing it, too.
They sang Christmas carols, they sang "Holy Night,"
Their eyes all a-shine in the ruddy firelight.

They played some charades Mom recalled from her youth,
And Pop read a passage from God's Book of Truth.
They stayed up till midnight-and, would you believe,
The youngsters agreed 'twas a fine Christmas Eve.

Grandpa rose early, some time before dawn;
And when the kids wakened, the power was on.
"The power company sure got the line repaired quick,"
Said Grandpa - & no one suspected his trick.

Last night, for the sake of some old-fashioned fun,
He had pulled the main switch - that old Son-of-a-Gun!

Picture Of The Day 12/24/09

This morning I needed to venture out and do some last minute Christmas shopping, primarily for supplies to wrap gifts. I knew from previous years Target would have just want I want, and via the highway near my house they are about 5 minutes away. Checking their website last night informed me they would be open at 7 AM this morning so I left my house a few minutes before then.

The shot below shows my plan worked well, the parking lot was nearly deserted!

It was dark and cold and a very frosty wind was blowing. Were it not for the bright lights I would have had one thought in my head: Zombies! Yea, I guess I do play too many zombie games, but it will be a colder day that today was in hell before I play the likes of FarmVille or Restaurant City!!! Anyway, I digress......

The store was nearly empty as well and I was able to do my shopping there quickly with no hassle. I picked up a few last minute impulse gifts for the family, hit Costco too, gassed up the Mustang and hit the grocery store by mouse as well. Total time out was less than 90 minutes.

I then had a thrilling time taking care of some laundry and starting to clean up the house so it will be nice for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day tomorrow. The kids, the X, and I may go see a movie a little later, plus I have gifts for the family to wrap.

Speaking of gifts, I apologize to those I've sent Christmas gifts to past years but finances are quite stretched this year so I had to concentrate on the kids and my family. Feel free however to send me anything you wish! Come on! Do it now! I know from personal experience I truly enjoy giving and I want to share that with you all!

Picture Of The Day 12/24/09

I received a package from yesterday. A picture of its contents are below. I guess they are not kidding when they say they have everything!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We Wish You A Merry..... Whatever!

At this festive time of year I'd like to wish you and yours an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most joyous traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, but with respect for the religious persuasion of others who choose to practice their own religion as well as those who choose not to practice a religion at all;

Additionally accept my wishes for,

a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the generally accepted calendar year 2010, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions have helped make our society great, without regard to the race, creed, color, religious, or other preferences or practices, sexual or otherwise, of the wishers.

(Disclaimer: This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others and no responsibility for any unintended emotional stress these greetings may bring to those not caught up in the holiday spirit.)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Picture Of The Day 12/20/09

The nearly empty mall this morning just after it opened. I got in and out in an hour getting all my shopping done.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad

I've been really blue today. This day would've been my dad's birthday. While he may not have won the Nobel Prize, invented the TV, telephone, telegraph or anything like that but to me he was a great man! I've really been missing him and my mom today.

So here's to a great guy! I love you dad. I wish you were still here so I could tell you that! Give mom a hug for me!

Love Chris

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Pictures Of The Day 12/13/09

For those of you unaware Tuesday through Friday we had quite a lot of snow and for three days we were under blizzard warnings with winds up to 40 miles per hour. When I was putting the shovel away yesterday I looked out the window of the garage's back door and noticed a ton of ice and snow overhanging the roof on the back of the house.

Here's some higher resolution pictures of the ice and snow overhang on my garage I took with my 12 Megapixel camera this morning. Though they are scaled down somewhat they are much better and larger than the ones I posted on Facebook earlier today. Note clicking on any of them will open a much larger picture in a new browser window.

Panoramic shot stitched from two pictures

Closer shot of the overhang by the garage door

Shot looking under the overhang from the garage door

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Picture Of The Day 12/12/09

The view out my garage's back door; an immense overhang of frozen snow and ice almost reaching the ground!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Picture Of The Day 12/10/09

Note these bushes by my front door are completely under the overhang of the roof so this is all wind blown snow. Usually they don't get anything on them when it snows.

Picture Of The Day 12/10/09

A shot of the snow a couple of days ago! There's much more now!!

Picture Of The Day 12/10/09

Blizzard warning extended to tomorrow as the wind howls and the snow keeps falling!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Conversations with my Father

The other day I was looking at quite a few digital pictures from a few years back. Many of these featured my father. One of my favorites is shown below.

Danielle, My Dad, and Scott July 2007

That night I had a very realistic dream, it was very vivid and made quite an impression on me. My dad and I were talking. We knew he was dead and we knew I was dreaming. "When you dream my son, the veil between our two worlds is more easily traversed." he explained, "I can sometimes come and talk to you as we are doing now. You may think it's just a dream, but it's not."

We talked awhile about how much we missed and loved each other, and we gave each other a big hug when we were done. As my dad faded away, he winked at me with the smile of his I remember and mentioned he'd be seeing me again, and not to be too sad about his being gone.

I awoke, and reflected. Could it really be my dad talking to me, or was it in fact just the product of my over-active imagination? Unlike most of my dreams this one was very clear and very realistic and the full memory of it stayed with me. Anyone else have an experience like this?

Real or not, I will say I missed him a bit less, and felt better about his being gone. I hope to see him again in my dreams some night soon.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Picture Of The Day 12/5/09

The view looking out the back door of my
garage after the first snowfall of the season.
Click picture for a larger version in a new window

Help Desk Log

Found this old tidbit when going through some very old files on my system. It's a bit dated, but still funny!


User called to say they forgot password. Told them to use password retrieval utility called FDISK. Blissfully ignorant, they thank me and hang up. God, we let the people vote and drive, too?

Accounting called to say they couldn't access expense reports database. Gave them Standard Sys Admin Answer #112, "Well, it works for me." Let them rant and rave while I unplugged my coffeemaker from the Accounting departments UPS and plugged their server back in. Suggested they try it again. One more happy customer...

8:14 am
User from 8:05 call said they received error message "Error accessing Drive C. Operating System Not Found" Told them it was an OS problem. Transferred them to microsupport.

11:00 am
Relatively quiet for last few hours. Decide to plug support phone back in so I can call my girlfriend. Says parents are coming into town this weekend. Put her on hold and transferred her to janitorial closet down in basement. What is she thinking? The "Myst" and "Doom"
nationals are this weekend!

11:34 am
Another user calls (do they ever learn?). Says they want ACL changed on HR performance review database so that nobody but HR can access database. Tell them no problem. Hang up. Change ACL. Add @MailSend so performance reviews are sent to */ALL.

12:00 pm

3:30 pm
Return from lunch.

3:55 pm
Wake up from nap. Bad dream makes me cranky. Bounce servers for no reason. Return to napping.

4:23 pm
Yet another user calls. Wants to know how to change fonts on form. Ask them what chip set their PC is using. Tell them to call back when they find out.

4:55 pm
Decide to run "Create Save/Replication Conflicts" macro so next shift has something to do.

8:30 am
Finish reading support log from last night. Sounded busy. Terrible time with Save/Replication conflicts.

9:00 am
Support manager arrives. Wants to discuss my attitude. Click on PhoneNotes SmartIcon. "Love to, but kinda busy. Put something in the calendar database!" I yell as I grab for the support lines, which have (mysteriously) lit up. Walks away grumbling.

9:35 pm
Team leader from R&D needs ID for new employee. Tell them they need form J-19R=9C9\\DARR\K1. Say they never heard of such a form. Tell them it's in the SPECIAL FORMS database. Say they never heard of such a database. Transfer them to janitorial closet in basement.

10:00 am
Perky sounding intern from R&D calls and says she needs new ID. Tell her I need employee number, department name, manager name, and marital status. Run @DbLookup against state parole board database, Centers for Disease Control database, and my Oprah Winfrey database. No hits. Tell her ID will be ready tonight. Drawing from the lessons learned in last week's "Re-engineering for Customer Partnership," I offer to personally deliver ID to her apartment.

10:07 am
Janitor stops by to say he keeps getting strange calls in basement. Offer to train him on Notes. Begin now. Let him watch console while I grab a smoke.

1:00 pm
Return from smoking break. Janitor says phones kept ringing, so he transferred them to cafeteria lady. I like this guy!

1:05 pm
Big commotion! Support manager falls in hole left where I pulled floor tiles outside his office door. Stress to him importance of not running in computer room, even if I do yell "
Omigod -- Fire!"

1:15 pm
Development Standards Committee calls and complains about umlauts in form names. Apologizing for the inconvenience, I tell them I will fix it. Hang up and run global search/replace using gaks.

1:20 pm
Mary Hairnet from cafeteria calls. Says she keeps getting calls for "Notice Loads" or "NoLoad Goats," she's not sure, couldn't hear over industrial-grade blender. Tell her it was probably "Lettuce Nodes." Maybe the food distributor with a new product? She thinks about it and hangs up.

2:00 pm
Legal secretary calls and says she lost password. Ask her to check in her purse, floor of car, and on bathroom counter. Tell her it probably fell out of back of machine. Suggest she put duct tape over all the airvents she can find on the PC. Grudgingly offer to create new ID for her while she does that.

2:49 pm
Janitor comes back. Wants more lessons. I take off rest of day. Notice Janitor transferring support lines to Loading Dock as I leave..... I like this guy!

8:30 am
Irate user from Monday calls to say chipset has nothing to do with fonts on form. Tell them Of course, they should have been checking "Bitset," not "chipset." Sheepish user apologizes and hangs up.

Support manager, with foot in cast, returns to office. Schedules 10:00am meeting with me. User calls and wants to talk to support manager about terrible help at support desk. Tell them manager about to go into meeting. Sometimes life hands you material...

10:00 am
Call Louie in janitorial services to cover for me. Go to support manager's office. He says he can't dismiss me but can suggest several lateral career moves. Most involve farm implements in third-world countries with moderate to heavy political turmoil. By and by, I ask if he's aware of new bug which takes full-text indexed e-mail databases from management and puts all references to furry handcuffs and Bambi Boomer with the managers name in the Marketing section on the corporate Web page. Meeting is adjourned as he reaches for keyboard, Web browser, and Tums.

10:30 am
Tell Louie he's doing great job. Offer to show him mainframe corporate PBX system sometime.

11:00 am

4:55 pm
Return from lunch. Take support lines of of random dialing to China.

5:00 pm
Shift change; Going home.

8:00 am
New guy ("Marvin") started today. "Nice plaids" I offer. Show him server room, wiring closet, and technical library. Set him up with IBM PC-XT. Tell him to quit whining, Notes runs the same in both monochrome and color. New guy and I boot our PCs.

My PC finishes booting up.

8:45 am
New guy's PC finishes booting up. Tell him I'll create new ID for him. Set minimum password length to 64 characters. Go grab smoke.

9:30 am
Introduce Louie the Janitor to Marvin. "Nice plaids" Louie comments. Is this guy great or what?! I really like this guy!!

11:00 am
Beat Louie in dominoes game. Louie leaves. Fish spare dominoes out of sleeves ("Always have backups"). User calls, says Accounting server is down. Untie Ethernet cable from radio antenna (better reception) and plug back into hub. Tell user to try again. Another happy customer!

11:55 am
Brief Marvin on Corporate Policy 98.022.01: "Whereas all new employee beginning on days ending in 'Y' shall enjoy all proper aspects with said corporation, said employee is obligated to provide sustenance and relief to senior technical analyst on shift." Marvin doubts. I point
to "Corporate Policy" database (a fine piece of work, if I say so myself!). "Remember, that's DOUBLE pepperoni and NO peppers!" I yell to Marvin as he steps over open floor tile to get to exit door.

1:00 pm
Oooooh! Pizza makes me so sleepy...

4:30 pm
Wake from refreshing nap. Catch Marvin scanning want ads.

5:00 pm
Shift change. Flick HR's server off and on several times (just testing the On/Off button...). See ya tomorrow.

8:00 am
Night shift still trying to replace power supply in HR server. Told them it worked fine before I left.

9:00 am
Marvin still not here. Decide I might start answering these calls myself. Unforward phones from Mailroom.

9:02 am
Yep. A user call. Users in Des Moines can't replicate. Me and the Oiuji board determine it's sunspots. Tell them to call Telecommunications.

9:30 am
Good God, another user! They're like ants. Says he's in San Diego and can't replicate with Des Moines. Tell him it's sunspots, but with a two-hour difference. Suggest he reset the time on the server back two hours.

10:17 am
Pensacola calls. Says they can't route mail to San Diego. Tell them to set server ahead three hours.

11:00 am
E-mail from corporate says for everybody to quit resetting the time on their servers. I change the date stamp and forward it to Milwaukee.

11:20 am
Finish @CoffeeMake macro. Put phone back on hook.

11:23 am
Milwaukee calls, asks what day it is.

11:25 am
Support manager stops by to say Marvin called in to quit. "So hard to get good help..." I respond. Support manager says he has appointment with orthopedic doctor this afternoon, and asks if I mind sitting in on the weekly department head meeting for him. "No problem!"

11:30 am
Call Louie the Janitor and tell him opportunity knocks and he's invited to a meeting this afternoon. "Yeah, sure. You can bring your snuff" I tell him.

11:05 am

2:00 pm
Start full backups on UNIX server. Route them to device NULL to make them fast.

2:03 pm
Full weekly backups done. Man, I love modern technology! Usually takes 3 days to write it all to tape!

2:30 pm
Look in support manager's contact management database. Cancel 2:45 pm appointment with Doctor for him. He really should be at home resting, you know.

2:39 pm
New user calls. Says want to learn how to create a connection document. Tell them to run connection document utility CTRL-ALT-DEL. Says PC rebooted. Tell them to call microsupport.

2:50 pm
Support manager calls to say mixup at doctor's office means appointment cancelled. Says he's just going to go on home. Ask him if he's seen corporate Web page lately.

3:00 pm
Another (novice) user calls. Says periodic macro not working. Suggest they place @DeleteDocument at end of formula. Promise to send them document addendum which says so.

4:00 pm
Finish changing foreground color in all documents to white. Also set font point size to "2" in help databases.

4:30 pm
User calls to say they can't see anything in documents. Tell them to go to view, do a "Edit -- Select All", hit delete key, and then refresh. Promise to send them document addendum which says so.

4:45 pm
Another user calls. Says they can't read help documents. Tell them I'll fix it. Hang up. Change font to Wingdings.

4:58 pm
Plug coffee maker into Ethernet hub to see what happens. Not (too) much.

5:00 pm
Night shift shows up. Tell that the hub is acting funny and to have a good weekend.