Saturday, May 31, 2008

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

So I'd been noticing recently that when I would arrive somewhere and go to get out of my car that my car doors were unlocked. My car doors used to lock when you hit 15 miles an hour. I confirmed that, yep, it wasn't doing that anymore. I kept meaning to look into it, figuring it was a fuse or something.

Driving home Friday night, I was looking through the owner's manual and found that it wasn't a fuse, but some super secret magic spell... some odd thing where you turn the key back and forth four times and then immediately hit the lock or unlock button. Somehow I had actually managed to accidentally perform that feat and had disabled that feature. Excitedly, I looked for a parking lot, pulled over, tried it, the car beeped at me, and then looked at the parking lot. Small, but deserted. If I was careful, I could get the car back up to 15 and then back to 0 again before the rock wall. Just barely. But, the doors locked. Success.

So I read some more during the rest of the drive home and discovered that I could also make the car beep or not beep when arming or disarming, and change how many presses of the truck key were necessary to open the truck. Right on. It's always cool learning something new about a toy you've had for 9-1/2 years. I brought the manual in the house and skimmed the rest of it without finding any additional secret tricks, but I'll have to check Google to see if there are any that they don't want you to know about, like the secret codes for cell phones that let you into all kinds of special menus and screens you're not supposed to see.

Only thing left is to figure out how to get it to operate the garage door. There's a weird trick that involves multiple people and a ladder since it's a newer garage door and apparently more secure than the old one that was on my apartment's parking garage. Dang... I've had this car longer than I've been married and now I have two kids. Geez. I think I need a new car. Even though I love this one and love not having a car payment. And it only has 64,000 miles on it.

I am definitely reading the owner's manual for my next car.


I did not get nearly as much done today as I'd hoped. I thought "Hey, older child off with grandma... that's a few hours when I can get some stuff done." They were even gone longer than I expected. I did get stuff done, but it was silly stuff... my inbox now only has six emails in it and I got my Google Reader count down to 1 from close to 500. I did get several rooms vacuumed, some weeds pulled and the baby bathed, but it wasn't nearly as productive as I'd hoped. It must be a pipe dream. I wonder if I was ever as productive as I imagined myself to be, or if I just had a simpler task list.

We've been talking more about what we hope to have in our next home. It's cool to see that our tastes and desires are starting to really align. We'll see if it's ultimately affordable, and where, and when, but at least we'll be looking for the same thing. We credit our realtor John with a lot of that... turns out that we did like a lot of the same things, but at just never been able to verbalize them. But John listened to us talk before-hand and then observed as we toured the houses, to the point where he was eventually able to walk into a house and know that we didn't need to spend more than a few seconds. Really random, but I still feel really bad for the dog at one house... so excited to see us, he peed on he floor. We put paper towel over it, but I wish we had just cleaned it up because I still wonder if he got punished for that.

Still random, speaking of realtors, if anyone talks to Ben Kelly, please let him know about our new baby. But don't let him think that the baby was named after him. It it was, it was unintentional. (He's also not named after Ben on LOST.)

Can you tell I'm killing time? I want to go downstairs and ride the exercise bike but waiting for Lori to come and collect Ben for his next feeding. And here she is.

Lates. Yes, I said lates. Deal.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thank You, Darlton

Now that was a satisfying episode of LOST. Eight months to the next new episode is tragic, but at least it won't be stressful. (I don't think Jin is dead, I think Farraday will pick him up in the boat and they'll be within the sphere of the island and be plucked up with it. Beyond that, I have a lot of questions. Fortunately, they're all very minor and can wait.)

And Pushing Daisies will be back in the fall. Yay.

Substitution for Common Sense

My wife shops at a local grocery store in town called WinCo. It's a chain where the non-union employees are the owners. I can't stand the place and avoid going at all costs. The customers are really unpleasant and there's just a general dingy feeling to the place.

No, no fancy ahm-bee-yahnz here, they're known for one thing and they do it well - low prices. So my wonderful wife, stretching our meager budget goes where I dare not tread, a place I consider beneath me, a place I hold with a mixture of fear and dread when forced to confront.

A few months back I found myself in line in their customer service area. Long story short, my mother-in-law's purse had been stolen and dumped there by the thieves who proceeded inside to attempt to get money off of her ATM card. The car keys weren't still in the purse, so I had gone in to find out if they had been possibly turned in to lost and found.

As I waited for all the people in front of me to give their various reasons for returning groceries, I regarded my surroundings. The main wall behind the customer service reps was filled with signs. You know the type, putty-colored rectangles with white letters engraved in plastic. Each rectangle a different size, obviously ordered at different times. New signs that had not yet graduated to that level of permanence were printed or scrawled onto 8-1/2x11" sheets of paper.

The signs held various instructions, warnings and caveats to consider when taking advantages of their offerings... Warnings of bounced check fees, hours of operation for check-cashing, requirements for successful winning lottery ticket prize money redemption.

In every case, someone got tired of having to explain themselves or repeatledly confront someone trying to work over the system and thought 'we should have a sign.'. But after awhile, this piecemeal approach gets out of control. It looks tacky. And taken as a whole, it makes the WinCo customer look like someone who is ignorant and in many cases, prone to fraud and theft.

It's an interesting phenomenon. I mention it now because I feel like I'm starting to slip into 'sign mode' - if such a thing exists.

In order to combat a never re-filled Brita, Lori asked me to come up with something that indicates a minimum level at which point if the water is below, you need to refill it before putting it back in the fridge. Common sense or common courtesy, but it wasn't happening.

Tired of dirty dishes everywhere, I bought a large plastic tub last week to put dishes in if the dishwasher isn't accepting dirty dishes. We went away for memorial day and came back to find all the dishes washed and the tub in the dining room. After replacing it, I've seen dishes set next to it repeatedly. Which suggests either an attitude problem or one of ignorance. I finally had to put a note on it last night which directs the reader to put dishes in the tub or dishwasher.

I'm getting close to putting one on Rachel's stool in her bathroom so she can safely get to the sink - it keeps moving to the other side of the bathroom no matter how many times we put it back. Or the vacuum cleaner that's never in the same place. Or how to avoid breaking the belt on the vacuum. Or about how leaving hot things like curling irons or clothes irons on low, kid-accessible surfaces to cool is a bad idea. Or how to snap the broom to the dustpan handle correctly. Or that forks go on the left. Or to let someone know (or add to shopping list) if you use up all of the detergent or softener sheets or my instant coffee mix, instead of throwing away (actually they should go in the recycling bin) the containers and letting us hunt all over for them until we find the empty containers and realize we won't be doing any laundry or drinking coffee until we go to the store..

Or how to fold clothes. I would much rather start with clothes from the dryer than have to reflod everything. Don't even get me started (too late)... on what planet does it make sense to fold towels in such a way that you must re-fold them before you can hang them on a towel rack? This one isn't preference. It's common sense.

And yet I fear I need a sign.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New Look

I decided to mess around with the design tonight. I'm not 100% happy with it yet, but I've messed enough. I worked hard to try to understand CSS and how blogger implements it along with their own crazy code. I think I understand it a little more now. I'd love anyone's advice on how to fix the quotes around the comments. They're on their own lines and I'd like them to be right up against the content. Oh well.

Well, I must be off. Up, upstairs and away.

Multimedia message

What a tragic waste of Peeps.

Friday, May 23, 2008


"President Shepherd" by Marc Shaiman, the title track from American President came on LaunchCast again. Still such a great piece of music. But it was also a little disappointing to listen to when I thought about how cool West Wing was when it started but how boring and uninteresting it got about the time we stopped watching. It's amazing how a piece of music can transfer you to another place and time.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


In a different place, separated from the first only by the dimension of time, a few hours to be imprecise, I'm somewhat happy. I got to spend time playing with Ben and Rachel, got to hang out with Lori and rode the exercise bike. So I feel a little better. And truth be told, I did get some good chores done tonight. And today I resisted cookies and brownies and candy and doughnuts. And my lunch even came with a cookie and the first thing I did when I opened my lunch was remove the cookie and carry it across the room and put it on the tray with the doughnuts for someone else to take. You'd think it'd be killing me, but Lori's also made cupcakes for Rachel for school tomorrow. But there will always be more cupcakes and I know these particular ones are off-limits, so I'm quite content to enjoy the smell and leave it at that.

120 Seconds: Bad Mood

I'm feeling kinda cranky at the moment. I'm listening to Depeche Mode. It's not making me cranky, in fact, I'm finding it soothing. I just finished vacuuming most of the house. That should have put me in a better mood, but at the moment, it has failed to do so. I'm finding it too loud in the house and I really wish my mother-in-law wasn't here. She's in the way and it's to the point where even the sound of her voice grates on my nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard. I don't know when or if she'll ever leave before I die, but it will not be too soon. I know she's a help to Lori, but I really wish she'd stay out of sight when I was around. Only 10 seconds left. But I don't feel like being done. beep. Ok, guess I'll type some more. One of the things that utterly frustrates me is that she ends up getting far too much play on here which just further angers me because it points to how much of my waking time is spent wishing she weren't here. And so I just sit here shaking my head unable to even come up with words to describe my anger. It's almost like I'm shaking. It's like what my new son does when he tries to suck on someone's finger and realizes that he's not going to get fed, he just shakes his head back and forth very quickly as if to say "NoNoNoNoNo" Yeah, we had a son. I don't even know if I posted about it on the other blog yet. How sad is that? I do know I posted about the photos being available, but I don't think I've posted much about him besides that. He is very mellow and he eats a lot. He actually let us sleep all through the night last night. Lori should have woken him up after four hours and gotten him to eat, but she was so tired that didn't happen. She figures it's the first full night's sleep she's gotten in months. Literally. I've only seen my son for a few seconds tonight. He's either been eating or sleeping on Lori or in my mother-in-law's arms. She needs to go. Lori's promised to talk to her in six days if there's no obvious signs that she's preparing to move on. Lori talked to her last time and they said "end of April" but it came and went and Lori's mom seems to have completely forgotten about it. This time, Lori's promised to issue a declaration of a specific date, a finite point in time I can count down towards.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Photos Uploaded

The photos have been uploaded to Flickr. If you can't see them, you need an invitation (or you haven't logged in).

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Terrafugia Transition

When I see Terrefugia, I think "fugly" - and yet I'm sure it's "Terra-foo-ghjee-uh" or something. It would be cool, but it wouldn't be pretty. Yeah, c'mon flying cars. From

Weird: Volkswagen Aptera

1 liter tank, 75 MPH max., 235 MPG. Seats two, tandem. 2010. More on

Thursday, May 08, 2008

H&R Block @Tweeted Me

Last night as I was clearing out my inbox, I facetiously made the Twitter post:

@h&r block - why are you emailing me? It's May. You are of no use to me now.

In the twitter verse, that's not even legitimate... it only caught @h as the response. But yet, not too long after that, I had a response back from HRBlock:

HRBlock @tvjames Info on tax rebates. Plus, it's what you do 2008...that determines what you'll owe (or get back) come April. Good tips!

So, nice job catching my twit and providing a good response.

I get too much email, so I did unsubscribe, but I've used them for years for my taxes and this goes on to further cement in my mind that they are a quality company.

(And right about now the guy who said "Our logo should just be a bright green square." is probably telling the naysayers to eat his shorts.)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

No Less Crazy

It has been so crazy lately. And I really don't see it letting up any time soon. I am getting a little more caught up, though. I slammed through a backlog of MyPoints emails. Most of them had expired, but at least they're all done and gone. I also ripped through most of my Google Reader
stuff. There's still 92, but there's also a lot that I starred that I need to get back to. I am simultaneously reading 2 Reader's Digests, a Consumer Reports and 2 books. There are others, too, but I've lost track. Let's just say there's a giant stack of magazines and books on my nightstand and not enough time to get to them all.

Work, as well, has been crazy. We lost one of our team at the end of last week. I was curious to see how that was going to affect us, but then the thing in Myanmar happened. (They're saying over 100,000 people dead? Hard to actually imagine 100,000 people. Let alone all of them being dead. It's hard to focus on individual people when numbers are so huge.) Anyhow, please consider going to World Vision and giving a small gift. Every little bit helps. The biggest concern is safe drinking water and health. I believe they're distributing kits to help make sure people have those essentials and vitamins and high energy foods to keep them healthy. Apparently there are entire areas still far under water. I hope that at least out of this the government of Myanmar learns to trust the global community a little more and opens up its borders a little more to aid, democracy and a better way of taking care of its citizens.

So I'm supposed to be developing a training plan for someone from another group who's going to come help us. I got some work done on it today, but it's not complete enough to use. Needs lots of refining and reorganization. I won't have it done in time to do any of the training myself, but at least it will guarantee that they learn what I want them to learn and they get trained in the right things in the right order. That didn't happen with the last person we borrowed and it caused them to plateau in their competency far earlier than they should have, which was too bad. I'm hoping this time the framework I develop will help them to be more productive quicker and rise to a higher level of complexity in the work they're able to do for us.

Oh, and the baby will be here no later than Monday. If things don't kick off on their own, they're going to induce on Monday. It's a little weird that in just a few short days we won't have a child, we'll have children. But honestly? Things have been so crazy lately in every other regard that I have not had time to really contemplate this and so it's going to hit me pretty hard. It's going to be awesome, but I am soooo not ready for it. And yet I am.

And the mother-in-law still lives here with no signs of moving out. It's starting to get really bad and really weird again. But at least this time, it hasn't come between Lori and I. But, this is the last time. She's used up all of her "live with us" credits from now until the end of time.

It's getting late, I should be getting upstairs to bed. As far as I know, I'm going to work as per normal tomorrow. If you don't count the two hour lunch break where Rachel comes and stays with me at work while Lori's at a doctor's appointment.

This feels good. It's been too long since I've posted.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


"I believe we should have a gas tax holiday and we should pay for it!"
-- Hillary Clinton

So... we should pay for it. By more taxes later to make up the shortfall?

This was the clip they played after saying that Hillary had the 90% of the popular support in the least educated counties of some state which I'm also assuming is one of the least educated states. The reporter went on to say that she (Hillary) intends to keep it that way. Which way? Uneducated?

I am really impressed with the strategy the Democrats are laying forward. The Republican party has an incredibly weak candidate, yet another old white guy. So instead of just putting forth one candidate, the Democrats continue to allow Clinton and Obama to duke it out in the spotlight.

And just like that, they've reframed the question... come November, who are you voting for? Will our next President be black or a woman? Granted, you really won't get that choice, by then, you'll have completely forgotten about John whatshisname, if you haven't already.

Gotta hand it to the Democrats, a truly brilliant piece of political engineering. (If this isn't intentional, then they're incredibly lucky to have two people willing to burn through other people's money -- practice for being in office -- and an opposing party with a truly lame duck offering.)