Sunday, January 29, 2006


Stardate 59012.9
Where was I on January 28, 1986? I was in the North Salt Lake industrial park. I has just finished maintenance on a client’s equipment, and called into the office for the next job. They told me the shuttle had exploded. I thought, yeah, right, that’s not a very good joke. I turned on KSL radio in my truck to find that it was no joke. I was shocked. This was the flight that teacher was on. It would be weeks before they found a cause. A lot of stories went around during that time. Some were true, others didn’t pan out. The one I thought was the worst is that the occupants were still alive as the cabin fell for two minutes to the Atlantic.

It’s been snowing the last couple of days, so I took advantage of it. Rachel and I went sledding in Kaysville. I took the dog along, but he quickly got tired of running up and down a hill. Someone had constructed a small jump. I went over it once, and only once. The impact on my back was very painful. It doesn’t hurt now, so there’s no permanent damage.

We also went back to Clearfield to practice basketball again. The baskets were higher than before, and Thomas could not reach them. I asked if they could be lowered, but the manager wasn’t too happy with the idea. She lowered it a bit. I found another one, and ask the guy there if he minded that Thomas played on the same basket. He didn’t, and his son and Thomas started to play together after a couple of minutes. I guess things work out.

Warning, another political rant. Senator Howard Stephenson and others in the state Senate want to do away with the 17 th amendment. This is the one that removed the ability of the state senate to elect the states senators to the national congress. Worse, they were surprised that voters didn’t like that idea. Every year around the Fourth of July, I watch a BYU production called “A More Perfect Union”. It’s about the Constitutional Convention in 1787. In it, the argument over how the president and congress should be elected is running hot. James Wilson tells James Madison that if state senators are allowed to elect national senators, and those senators are allowed to elect the President (yes, that was considered one of the best ways), then each will get the idea they are important on their own, and they don’t need the people. I disagree with Senator Buttars about his views on gay rights, and his push to amend the teaching of evolution, but at least I comprehend his point of view. This, however, seems to be nothing more than we don’t like the way the people decide things, so we want control. I often don’t agree with the voters in Utah, but I think they should get the right to vote that way.

End Of Entry

Friday, January 27, 2006

Stock Market Manipulation

Stardate 59012.7
Stock market heads down, and it’s all my fault At least that’s one person at work’s opinion. When the company stock went down by a dollar a share, he asked me if I had sold any stock. I told him I did, and that I had to or I would lose it. If I had known I had that kind of influence over world and national markets, I would have been having a lot of fun. Bin Laden audio tape, Abarmoff scandal, oil going back to $70 a barrel, NSA wiretapping, Google denying a government request, none of those things matter. But I can make it go up or down by buying or selling a few shares. Amusing.

I dropped the car off to have the damage fixed. It’s done now, and it looks much better. I rented a car from Budget. I got on the freeway to work and noticed a wallet on the floor. I went through it at work trying to find a phone number for the owner. Budget called in about another hour, and I gave them my cell number so that the owner could call me. This poor woman has every possible piece of ID in the wallet, military, UT drivers license, social security card, birth certificate, plus some cash and credit cards. I think I would be on the edge of panic to lose all that. The wallet was reclaimed by the owner Monday night. I kind of wondered how I would have had her prove who she was, considering every acceptable ID was in my hands.

I finally caught the RadioWest interview with Senator Chris Buttars done a couple of weeks ago. I am sorry I could not listen to it live. It would have been fun to ask a couple of questions on his positions. He pushed a resolution that requires teachers to state that not all scientists agree on evolution. He wanted that because they don’t know how life started. That’s true, but it’s also true for most areas of science. Scientists carry their morals and biases with them. To my knowledge, nobody understands gravity, so should it be taught as a simple theory, and Newton’s formulas may not work? Einstein’s theories of general and special relativity threw out some common assumptions in Newtonian physics, and to this day there are detractors. Einstein refused to accept quantum theory, famously quoted as saying he could not believe God played dice with the universe. So should we teach that E=MC2 should not be accepted as fact? I don’t understand why evolution is singled out, other than it does not agree with the Biblical accounts of creation. Why not teach that all of science fact is up to interpretation? That could have some interesting long term consequences. How many inventions were done because the inventor was never told something was impossible? Some kid today could wind up creating a real Heisenberg compensator.

Ford announced a restructuring plan this week that involving huge layoffs and idling plants in many places in the US. Ford blames a lack of sales in gas guzzling SUVs and higher fuel prices. It’s a big topic for NPR, and I have been thinking about it and the similar GM announcement last year during my commute. I wonder if they were among the companies lobbying against better gasoline mileage in cars, and a bigger investment in alternate fuels Congress had in a bill last year. According to another NPR report, GM went out of its way to recall and destroy all EV1s. Ford only reluctantly developed a hybrid engine vehicle. Granted, some of the plants Ford has were built post World War II, and are not easy to change for new types of cars. But it does seem like they stayed on a collision course to sell high profit SUV’s until too late. It worries me that American companies give a inordinate emphasis on short term profit and stock price over long term investments and innovations.

On a similar note, UPN and WB will soon be replaced by a single network to be called CW. I laughed at Leslie Moonves assertion the new network would have hit shows every night of the week. He hasn’t done this with UPN, what changes in CW give him this magical ability? I admit to being bitter that he was in charge when Star Trek: Enterprise was cancelled, but the fact remains that the track record does not back up his claim.

I read most of the books in Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe series a couple of years ago. It’s about a Napoleon era British soldier. Wandering on Amazon, I found out the BBC had made the books into a television series staring Sean Bean. I remembered him as the crazy IRA terrorist in Patriot Games, and he played Boromir in the Lord of the Rings. Last week I found that the series was available for rent from Blockbuster Online. I put the first few episodes in the queue. I am looking forward to seeing it. IMDB indicates there are more Sharpe episodes being made.

End of Entry

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Stardate 59011.7
I caught the flu last Friday, and spent most of the weekend on the couch alternately freezing or sweating. I did take the kids to their first basketball games. As I said, Saturdays are now spent at St. James Church in Ogden. Thomas’s team lost, mainly due to the one kid on the other team who seemed to know what he was doing. Patrick’s team won, but I don’t remember much of the details of that game. Rachel’s team won their game as well, mainly due to the coach’s daughter who has lay-ups mastered. April suggested I take the kids to Clearfield and practice with them.

Patrick’s game Monday ended in a tie. This was a pleasant surprise to most of the parents because this team wiped the field with us the last go around. Two goals were scored against the goalie the team could not get anything past before. April and I talked about the change that has happened over the last couple of months. Not only has Patrick become an excellent goalie, every player on the team has improved. The other team had some talented players, and I watched them get handled very well. One item the other team did not do well that Patrick’s team does is cover the goal if the goalie moves off of it. This cost them one goal, and almost another.

We used some Best Buy gift cards to get a DVD recorder. It took most of the evening to set up. That was last week, and after a week I’ve come to appreciate the features. All of the VCRs we have support VCRPlus, but I’ve never used it until now. I wasted too much time setting up the system and then trying to find out what was on each tape to make it worthwhile. The recorder can put each program right after the other, and since it is a DVD there is no rewinding and fast forwarding to get to the show. It shows a menu of all the shows on the disc. The only complaint I had is that it warned us that the machine needed to be off for VCRPlus to work. I didn’t think this was a big deal until I realized there was no power light, and the display showed something on or off. It took several tries to find out the OFF meant the current time is in the display and ON shows you the time left to record on the disc. The discs need to be ‘finalized’ to work in any other DVD player (including the computer DVD players), and then erased and formatted to record again. The only missing feature is the ability to record two shows on different channels at the same time. I may actually start watching a few more shows this season because of this machine.

Nope, Carl, I didn’t intend for blog entries to be a means of communicating. I was making an observation and no insult or innuendo was implied. Communication via blog is too slow, especially when there's no comment section.

End of Entry

Thursday, January 12, 2006

MS View

Stardate 59011.2
Microsoft has an interesting view of the world sometimes. I installed Visual Studio 2005 on my work computer, and then loaded an old version of a common project (old in terms of it was worked on in September 2005). Rebuilding it resulted in thousands of C4996 warnings. Apparently much of the C standard library functions have been deprecated. In software development, deprecated means the feature is slated to be removed at some unspecified time in the future, so don’t use it. Now, I call attention to the word STANDARD. These have been part of the library for longer than Microsoft has existed as a company. Granted, not understanding them or misusing them opens security holes, and has led to many a critical update or patch. But these are common to millions of programs. MS does provide ‘safe’ alternates, but for projects such as mine and many others that need to port to operating systems besides Windows, these are not an option. My opinion is that this is the same as telling people that driving cars is not recommended because you might get in an accident, and you need to find an alternative because we will be taking them away in the next five years. There needs to be a better solution.

I took Patrick to his first fencing lesson. He loves it. The instructor was nice and very patient. We will see how long his interest holds, but now I have one more thing to do.

Rachel and Thomas have started basketball practices. Rachel’s coach is a little reserved, and seemed to favor his daughter over everyone else. I could be wrong, though, but we shall see. Cub Scouts is the same time as Thomas’s basketball practice, so I didn’t get to see it. I’m told his coach is good. Thomas’s games are all 8 or 9 on Saturday, and Rachel’s is 1 or 2, so I’ll be spending a few Saturdays in Ogden.

April took the car to Young Chevrolet for an estimate. $849 was the total. I figured about $1000. I pay the $250 deductible; the insurance company gets the rest. The other issue is that it will take three days. I’ll need to get a rental since I need a car.

2006 is turning out good so far, in a strange way. The printer started flashing all the lights on Monday and would not print. I checked HP support website, and it said the printer has a hardware failure. April called support, and found out the warranty expires at the end of the month. HP is shipping us a new one. I’ve been pleased with their support, if not the products. We seem to go through printers very fast.

I updated my resume on Monster.com after getting an email that said I’d be entered in a contest. I figured it could not hurt. I’ve had calls from a bunch of headhunters…er, recruiters to use the new century term. Nothing they’ve offered is outstanding yet.

I got message from SmithBarney. They wanted to verify my mailing address. I was a little puzzled since I don’t have an account with them. I called them and gave them my address. They had tried to mail me a check for $3.50, but it was returned. My guess would be it got delivered to the wrong house, since that happens a lot. It turns out they are managing some stock options I was granted in the mid nineties. I had forgotten about it. I checked on them, and found out one grant of more than a thousand shares would expire on the 18 of January. So I exercised them at $61.41 a share. I am in a little bit of shock.

Mood: uncomprehending
Music of the Moment: Rossini’s Overture for William Tell. Besides reminding me of the Lone Ranger, this also conjures Daffy Duck. It was the background music for many a Looney Tune.

End Of Entry

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A New Year

Stardate 59010.3
News Years Eve was fun, if a little subdued from previous years. I¡¦d like to thank Carl and Erica from hosting. I know the work that goes into it and after it. I'd like to offer one small suggestion, parties like that are not a good venue for videos. You have to turn the volume way up to hear, and that then drowns out the conversation, which is the main reason for attending. We had to leave early because Thomas started to get cranky. That was anticipated. The Bajoran Renewal Scrolls were a great idea.

Patrick¡¦s birthday party on the 30th went well. We went to Davis Lanes for bowling, pizza, and cake. The one thing I did wrong was to take the establishments suggestion that all eight kids could bowl on the same lane. There¡¦s too much time between turns this way, and they all started to get bored. Patrick had his friend Hans stay over for three days. He got his much desired Battlefront II for the PS/2. So they spent the next few days on the game system. I kicked them off a few times, especially when Hans complained of blisters forming.

The family started one of those 3-D holographic puzzles before Christmas, and we finally finished it the night of the 30th. It was one of the more difficult ones I have done. The pieces were a lot alike, and changed color when you tried to fit it somewhere. Once it was done, we put puzzle glue on it.

During Patrick¡¦s party, it started to snow. It snowed pretty well, so I thought I¡¦d take the kids sledding the next morning. During the evening it turned to rain, and by the next morning the snow was gone. It rained all day. A bonfire was planned for the party, but it was too wet. The sun came out on the first, but the second it started to rain again. I don¡¦t like rain in December/January. Snow is much more fun, especially when I don¡¦t have to commute through it.

Monday we took done the tree and the Christmas decorations. The house is back to normal. April took apart the vacuum, and replaced the broken belt. It seems to pick up the dog hair much better now.

I went to dinner with my Dad on Monday. Actually, we stayed at his place and ate the salmon my brother sends to him every year. He had a bad spell last Tuesday. Apparently he could not get his legs or arms to work, and lost his vision for a few minutes. He went to the doctor the next day, but they didn¡¦t find anything. From what he tells me, they mainly checked his heart. The symptoms sound more like a stroke. He is going back to the doctor next week for more extensive testing.

When I walked to my car afterwards, there was a dent in the back bumper. It was not there when I arrived, so someone backed into my car. No note, either. The fiberglass is broken, so the bumper will need to be replaced. I am angrier that no one at least left a contact number or even an apology.

Patrick was so caught up playing the PS/2 he didn¡¦t want to go to soccer. After making him go, he was glad he did. Apparently, the other team was very good. He was not supposed to play goalie, but he was pushed to do it in the second half, and turned in an amazing game with some goal line saves. April told me one kid on the other team was ejected because he got frustrated with his shots being blocked and shoved some of Patrick¡¦s teammates into the wall. Patrick also got some assists in the first half, and April said his teammate Trey also had a good game, scoring a number of goals. Patrick¡¦s team won.

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