happy new years to you all

I hope the coming year gives you what you need and you can smile about the past year.

My goals for this coming year:
Play more with my son. (like that is difficult to work towards)
Fight less with my wife. (hmm, but i am so good at it and you are supposed to do what you are good at, right? or not in this case)
Finish the masters program. (one more class to go!)
Learn to read music and play a musical instrument. (for some reason the concertina has always been appealing to me. antone got one i can learn on?)
Run five miles in less than 50 minutes, outdoors in above freezing weather. (i just need to start running again, as i stopped after thanksgiving, what with finals and all. *sigh*)
Do more in the garden for a longer stretch of the year. (already picking my seeds, gods i love catalogs)

That should keep me out of trouble ... or at least off of the streets.


pictures of the holiday

Our niece, me and our son. My initial attempts at inflating the teletubby were quite entertaining to my son.

Nice group shot of everyone as the kids opened gifts. We had a hold on gifts for adults this year. The gift of flying so many folk over from Poland was enough.
Here is our son "helping" our niece hang decorations on the tree. Amazingly, no ornaments were harmed.
And here is me, my wife, her sister-in-law and her brother all ready for the party.


all gussied up and nowhere to go

Ok, not true, we have somewhere to go. I just don't want to go. Former neighbors of my folks are having their annual holiday event and we are going. An amazing home, food that is always spectactular and an above average open bar are some of the positives for the event. Larger numbers of people that I do not know, or at best have not seen since high school is not as much on the positive side for me today.
My wife, her brother, his wife and I are meeting my sister and folks there later this evening. It is black tie. I long ago gave in and bought my own tux. Just your basic one button model which should last me, roughly speaking, forever. Or at least until I get the full kilt in the family tartan. (There are a few other things on the list ahead of that purchase, so don't hold your breath.) Since I am, well, me, I do have green chuck taylors to wear with this tux. They sort of complement the dark green vest and bow tie. (NOt to be confused with the red chucks I wore when I got married.) If nothing else I am always more comfortable than everyone else at these things. Luckily I do not have a goal of being taken seriously to slow me down.
With all of the family staying with us for the holidays, I am not feeling terribly extroverted so getting the energy up for going out tonight is not too easy for me. I, and my wife, am currently thrilled if I can just stay on the positive side of surly right now. It is a struggle. I did get a break this afternoon and snuck off to watch a movie. Blissful. I saw "Eragon". It was at the theater nearby and started next. I read the book last year, but can not remember enough details to say how true they stuck to the story. Guess I will have to read it again. Poor me, all this free time and another book to read.


The In-laws are coming! The In-laws are coming!

As I come down from having had my last class for the semester this past Saturday, I am now preparing for the arrival of my in-laws. My wife's mother, father, younger brother, his wife and their daughter are arriving later today. Please note the total number of people staying with us for the holidays is five (5). They will have been on planes and in airports for the last almost 14 hours, not counting what it takes to get through customs when they arrive. They will be with us for the next three weeks, give or take a day.

So as the rush for end of semester ended, it transfered directly to all of the things needing to be done before the arrival. Little things I have been putting off until my papers and presentations were completed, like getting christmas tree, another long baby gate to keep our little one from laying with all the interesting things on and under the tree, a booster seat for our niece so we can safely drive around with her, finshing some woodwork in the kitchen and dining room. Little things, except when they are all in one lump. They have gotten done, mostly. still some work to be done in the dining room.

This is not as crazy as it sounds, but it would have been nice to have had a nice break. The two classes this semester were IT Law and Leadership Fundamentals. They were both really interesting classes but demanding of my attention and time. I had never had a law class so getting a grounding in the basic of copyright, trademark and privacy has been good for me. The leadership class was painful. Sometimes becuase it was challenging my own assumptions about myself and my concepts of leadership and other times becuase some of the authors really want to be scientists but are so far from it in their work it is painful to read. And this is me, with my background in cultural anthroplogy, complaining about a lack o rigorous scientific methodology.

Well, only a few hours to go before the in-laws arrive, so I better make sure there is nothing I need to be doing in the meantime. I think my job will be to pour the vodka once we get back and settled in. I can do that, and am looking forward to it. I only hope have enough!

be well


Turkey Trot update, belated

Last Thursday was Thanksgiving and in Columbusm OH there was at around 9am a crowd of several thousand people waiting to start running down Lane Ave. I was one of them, along with my aunt, uncle and their two fourteen year old boys. The weather was excellent. Just cold enough you did not mind wearing the layers but not so cold you lost feeling in your toes and fingers. And there was clear skies and no wind to top it all off. There were 1000 pies each for the first 1000 men and women that crossed the finish line. While I did not get a pie, I did do better than last year.
My time was 0:57:30 which is a minute more than the last time I ran on the treadmill, but more than six minutes less than last years Trot.
So, I have an average of 0:11:30 for a mile. If I really want the pie, I need to get that down to around 0:09:30 or so in order to have any kind of a chance. I also think that means I need to get off of the treadmill and get outside more often.
It is good to have goals.
It also helps to brainwash yourself by repeating them frequently. *grin*

I hope everyone is doing well and as I said before I will try to post more often once classes end in just over two weeks.


radio silence

The radios silence will probably continue until the middle of December. Nothing bad going on, just life.

I hae found that if we do not spend a few evenings together each week, my wife and I start to get annoyed with each other very quickly. It only took five years of marriage for that one to sink in for me. Never said I was quick.

Two graduate classes takes up a lot of time in the evenings and weekends. Neat stuff. IT law and a class in Leadership. The law class has been a real eye opener into how things like copyright and trademarks work. The leadership course is mostly fluff, but it does get me thinking about the concepts even though I frequently disagree with the author.

Our son also keeps us jumping during the daylight hours. I am not home too often during his waking hours so I do what I can to help out as much as possible when I am around during that time. For some reason my wife likes to be able to take a shower and feel like a normal human once in a while, go figure.

I try to work out three times a week in anticipation of next weeks Turkey Trot. I am still under an hour for the five miles and my ability to run without having to take breaks is also improving. A year ago it really did not feel like I would ever be able to run two miles with no walking breaks but I can now.

I do still play DnD once a week. That is about it for the activities on my list of hobbies. *sigh* All those comic books going unread and robotic legoes unassembled, it is truly sad.

My reading (not a hobbie any more than breathing is one) of late has been going back through the fifty or so linear feet of fantasy and science fiction books in my office and re-reading ones I have not looked at in many years. Plus the almost annual re-reading of all things Pratchett. Good thing I hate getting rid of books I enjoyed reading!

Much more than I expected to write, back to the grind.


fiction part 2

Dark smoke and light morning fog swirl between the trees. The bulk of the wreckage is scattered in the distance but even this far away there are pieces of debris and torn tree limbs strewn about. One section of woods does not seem quite right. Instead of smoke or fog it appears as though one of the clouds is spilling out of its own crater. He tastes the electricity in the air at the same time he sees a flicker deep inside the cloud. He tentatively approaches, no longer sure if it was a flash of light or of movement within the cloud. The crater is more a scar, a line made by something driving into the ground at an angle, ending suddenly at an out cropping of stone. The stones themselves have been toppled. The cloud seems to be flowing out from behind and below the stones. Flickering light and the taste of static get stronger as he makes his way almost by feel through the tumbled stones. A sudden gust of wind reviews a figure trapped among the rubble. The cloud quickly reforms, obscuring the stuggling figure. Not sure he can trust his own eyes, he calls out to let them know help is on the way. The static is getting worse as he scrambles down the stones. A sudden flash reveals the area as lightning seems to dance among the stones, causing him to shield his eyes and drop to the ground. He hears stones being moved as he starts to stand up. The wind is stronger now, pulling the strange cloud away faster than it can form. As his vision clears he sees that the figure is not longer trapped but is struggling to move itself out of the crater away from him. Maybe it is the after effects of the lightning flash but he can not see any detail on the figure. There are two arms and two legs and a head but its entire surface is a uniform pebbly grey. He rubs his eyes in disbelief and slows down his approach through the crater debris. The stones and trees around him are in perfect detail. He looks again to the struggling form. Its limbs do not seem to want to support its weight as is drags itself over obstacles. Lightning is dancing around one fist, grounding itself with small pops against anything it touches. Wisps of cloud are forming on its pebbled surface. He moves closer to it, not sure what he is doing there. Again he calls out to it, gently, as he is almost on top of it now. The figure stiffens and starts to spin around to face him. The fist covered in lighting swings toward him in an awkward arc. He does not even think as he lifts the crowbar to ward off the wild strike. A brilliant blue flash fills his eyes as the crowbar meets the arm just below the fist. Both he and the figure are knocked backwards and left sprawled on the ground, electricity dancing over them.


crazy work week and background for fiction

So I knew this week was going to be crazy. I was just wrong on the details.
I started the week off knowing that I had to get my GIAC certification done before my second class started on Saturday. The only time I had to review the material, take practise exams and take the actual certification exam was during the work day. Luckily work is paying for the exam and my boss is of the opinion I can manage my own schedule. On Monday I got a little review done. Tuesday I got some more done and stayed a little late to take a practise exam. Did ok on the exam. Wednesday I decided to just go for the actual cert instead of a second round of review and practise exam. Good thing I did too. There is a three hour window to finish the exam and I needed every second. About halfway through the exam I started getting horrible network delays. I would press "submit" for a question and have to wait a minute or longer for the next one to appear. I was not sure if I would get enough answered correctly before that caused me to be behind enough that it was impoissible for me to pass. As it turned out I was able to get enough done to pass before I ran out of time. A huge relief for me. So it is 6:30pm on Wednesday and I open my office door, much to the surprise of several of my coworkers that had no idea I was still in the building. They were running around dealing with a problem with several systems using our SAN. To make that story short, we have been working on that SAN problem since Wednesday late afternoon. It is now Friday evening, approaching 9pm. Two of my coworkers have been here nonstop since this started, one of them my boss. This is sort of computer problem a sysadmin tech person has nightmares about as the SAN contains the data for all of our critical services. And we had to reboot it.
Keep in mind the SAN is actually six different sets of hard drives in two different buildings, designed such that it should never have to be rebooted. And we had to reboot it. Not sure if it worked yet but it is definitely making life interesting.

So I stayed late Wednesday night and did what I can to help out. I am not a server admin so mostly I just made sure the problem was not in the network and opened up a few ports for some different kinds of testing. I have actually been able to go home each night. I woke up really early on Thursday. Long before I was supposed to get up to go in early for some scheduled maintenance that needless to say has not happened. A very vivid and strange dream woke me that morning. Half asleep I tried to understand what I saw in the dream and try to explain to myself how the events could have taken place. As I did this a detailed story was created in my head. The post called "fiction part 1" is an attempt to see if I can get all of these details down on paper and out of my head. I am curious how it will go as I have not done anything like this before. And I had time to get a good start on it as I waited for various things to get done on Thursday. Friday was busy enough that this is the first time I have had to post. And no time to try to get the next segment of the story straightened out enough to post.

Tomorrow is the first day of my 2nd class. It should make for a nice break from these 14 hour days at work. Granted, I might be coming into work after class is done.

Such is life.
be well


fiction part 1

A beat up truck is driving along an empty stretch of road on the less busy side of the airport. The driver is enjoying being the only one on the road this early in the morning, watching the fog and dew settle in the fields at the end of the run way. A large jumbo jet rises above the fog not too far ahead of where he is driving, heading into the low lying clouds. The jets normally graceful path into the sky is marred by a waggle of the wings. The driver chuckles, thinking it must be the pilot having some fun with the passengers and control tower. The waggling does not stop. It starts to get worse as it heads into the low rolling clouds. The plane is actually banking, trying to avoid the clouds. The rolling of the clouds gets worse. Sparks seem to be flying through the clouds. The truck skids over to the side of the road as the plane banks further away from the strange clouds. Sparks are jumping from the clouds to the plane. The rolling clouds are now ripping themselves apart, smaller clouds following the rolling plane in a vortex. The sparks are getting worse, jumping from the small clouds to the plane leaving burn marks across its wings and body. One of the sparks hits an engine causing it to explode. The whole plane shudders as it loses control of the bank away from the cloud cover. It is so low to the ground now it is hitting the tops of trees with its lower wing tip. The driver sees one wing dip below the tree line and then suddenly the whole plane spirals out of sight, throwing the vortex of trailing clouds into chaos. Fire and smoke are visible through the trees, just over a low hill not too far away from the driver. Now the only thing in the air are the small clouds, slowly rising back up to the low lying clouds from where they were when the plane lost control.

The driver does not even think about the clouds as he gets back on the highway and heads toward an access road going roughly in the direction of the downed plane. He scrambles for his cell phone and gives a curse when he sees it has no signal. He just drives through the flimsy gate at the head of the access road, hoping the owner will not mind given the circumstances. As his truck crests the low hill he sees that the access road runs parallel to the path the plane took through the trees. He gets as close as he can to the wreckage and pulls off into the woods. While not very thick, there are still enough trees to stop him from getting too far off of the road. He grabs his cell phone and a crow bar from behind his seat before continuing on foot.


5 mile update

Ok, so I actually ran 5 miles on the treadmill today with a time of 55:30.
To say I am quite pleased with myself is an understatement. My time a year ago was around 1:03:00 or so. I shaved more than a minute of my mile average time and my last two miles were faster than my first two. I also saw a number on the scale I have not seen in many years, 209. Might be a low point, a fluke or some other strange anomally, but I am counting it!

So the Turkey Trot is in a month. And I am looking forward to it. I am really close to the time where they were still giving out pumpkin pies.

Wish me luck.



What is a network weasel?

Network weasels are members of the genus Mustela trained to install network cabling between the BDF (Building Distribution Frame aka "wiring closet") and the end station (aka "wall jack" or "network outlet"). Due to their high intelligence, elongated bodies and agile fore paws they have been found to be particularly successful in navigating the conduits, plenum ceilings and wall cavities. In recent years special accommodations have been made to increase the specifications of the diameter and bending radius of conduit used to provide the cable paths within buildings in order to improve the efficiency of the network weasels. A typical scenario for which a network weasel is used would be as follows: An end user requests a new network connection from the networking group. The networking group notifies the weasel wrangler on call in the weasel pit and informs them of the request. The wrangler selects an appropriate weasel from the pen, puts on the special collar to which one end of the cable and weasel adapted tools are attached. A proprietary method of images and scent markings are used to communicate the requested station location to the weasel and it is then released into the correct conduit path. The weasel wrangler then monitors the tension on the cable spool and amount used to ensure the network weasel does not take a path that exceeds the IETF distance recommendations for the cabling used in that facility. (As a side note, one weasel wrangler can in general monitor up to 10 different weasels actively installing cable. Some notable exceptions have been able to succesfully monitor up to 24. These are the elite weasel wranglers and often are found in the most demanding, and rewarding, environments.) Once the network weasel has navigated the conduits, ceilings and walls to the requested station location as indicated by the scent markings it proceeds to terminate the cable onto the preinstalled jack in the faceplate. It then returns to the wrangler in the weasel pit where the cable is cut from the spool, terminated and connected to the network hardware.

Please note that network weasels are working animals, much like seeinng eye dogs, and as such should not be distracted from their duties by petting or offers of food. Should a network weasel fall through a damaged ceiling tile in your office, do not panic and do not approach the weasel as it will be disoriented and may bite. It is also important to not touch the weasel as the contact might disrupt the weasels scent memory and cause it to perform its duties incorrectly. Please contact your on call weasel wrangler who will safely and correctly return the weasel to its duties. Do not forget to contact your Facilties department to request a new ceiling tile.

If there are any questions about network weasels, please feel free to contact me in the weasel pit.


I guess all that time in college really paid off..

My score on The How Much You Know About Women Test:


A Femme Fatale!
(You scored 95% !!)

"Da-Yum! You must BE a woman! Good job!"


Take it!
I am not sure how to think about this result.
I wonder if they count my Pez dispenser collection as "action figures"?

You can thank Taokodr for this one!

You are 38% white and nerdy.
How White and Nerdy Are You?


Running for my life

My doctor gave me an ultimatum about two years ago. It was not a new topic but with the coming birth of my son it took on a whole new level of significance. He told that if I did not loose a significant amount of weight and start watching my diet I would probably have a serious stroke in my fifties. I had the triple threat of warning signs: obese (greater than 235 at one point), outrageously high cholesteral (and higher on the follow up test) and a family history of heart problems. Even I could not argue with the facts on this one. I got winded walking up stairs and could rest my drink on my stomach.

Biking has always been my favorite way to get a workout. I had lived near bike trails growing up, in college and even at my last apartment six year ago. Now, while I really like our house, it does lose points as it is a twenty or thirty minutes drive to the closest bike trail. Not very encouraging, having to waste an hour just going too and from a place to ride. No wonder it had been a few years since I had even touched my bike.

So I started by getting back into running, something I had not really done since my days in Army ROTC. This was the last time I had been part of a regimented workout program, so I went with what I knew. What I remembered from my early morning PT was doing two mile runs, so this was my first goal in training. It is good to have goals. It really helps if they are realistic. Mine may not have been very realistic at first. The two mile runs started off more as two mile walks with brief periods of what can only be described as shuffling. It was fun for a few months and I could see steady progress. Eventually I started noticing all sorts of pain in my left foot and shin splints. The pain in my foot got bad enough that I talked to my doctor. It was planar fasciitis. No fun and a long slow trek back to where I was when I realized I was injured.

So I started slow again, paid a lot more attention to the shoes I bought and did everything I could to make this become a habit I could realistically do for the rest of my life. About this time last year I was back to where I had been many months earlier. I could finish two miles and actually have run for most of it. This felt great.

We were making arrangements to visit family in Ohio for Thanksgiving, when my aunt mentioned that her family, all four of them, were running in that years Turkey Trot 5K and did I want to sign up for it? The first 1000 men and 1000 women across the finish line got a pumpkin pie. My dad and I said sure, why not, and did not think of it again until we got there. What did I have to worry about, 5K was only 3 miles, more or less. It was a stretch but I was due for a challenge. And I like pumpkin pie.

Imagine my surprise when I found out I was mistaken about the 5K distance. It was 5 miles. A bit more than I was expecting and about double what I had been doing. Ouch. And the weather forcast was that it would be windy with freezing rain turning to snow and a temperature in the teens. My father wisely decided that what he really needed was a good chance to sleep in and wished us all luck. My wife was convinced that was the wisest course. I think the was the thought of the pie that made me decide to brave the elements and do the run.

It was everything you think it could have been. Cold, wet and windy. The route doubled back on itself, so at least halfway the wind was helping you. And did I ever need the help. It was more grueling than anything I had done since I was a cadet running around downtown in the early hours or crawling through the bush at 3am on a nearby Army base. I loved it. Not because I did well or anything but becuase I was out there trying. Just getting off my ass is always the hardest part for me and there I was running in the gear I had bought, and used, many years earlier for a backpacking trip in the White Mountains. I did not get a pie, but three of the other four in my family did. And I was within ten minutes of the last pie. I came in at around 1 hour 4 minutes and the last pie was around somewhere in the 50-55 minute range. I had a new goal. I would come back and at least do better. Hopefully enough better to warrant getting a pie.

About this time last year the finishing touches on a new athletic center were being done at work. I could not ask for better timing. I had new goal for the year and a workout facility with 7000 square feet dedicated to machines and weights just opened at my job. Free of charge and between my office and the parking lot. Ok, I was more than a little sick of the building as I had spent the last few months making sure it got wired correctly but I could get over that little twinge.

It took a while but by this past spring I was really going two or three times a week. I used the treadmill and the bike machine. I tried getting into some of the strength training machines but after aggravating a few old injuries and losing a week here and there I put that on the back burner until I was comfortable with the cardio. Then I noticed my left foot was starting to ache a lot and I had to back down on how hard I could push myself in the treadmill. This felt discouraging as I had never really gotten past the point I had reached during last years 5 mile run. My two mile time was never lower than 22 or 23 minutes. Ok the first mile was usually around an even 10 minutes, but I could not maintain that in the second mile.

Then early in the summer I started getting the very familiar pains in my foot again. The only problem was this time it was in my right foot. So again I had to back off of using the treadmills for a while and let that heal. This time I think I caught it early enough and followed a reasonable course of treatment. Stretching the legs each morning and before and after each workout really made a difference. I found that I could use the treadmills but only if I did not go faster than 5 miles an hour. 5 miles an hour is 12 minutes a mile and that put me at one hour even for five miles, assuming I could even go that far. I was still in the two miles mindset and rarely worked out longer than 30 minutes. Again a discouraging thing to think about compared to the one year goal I had set.

One of my coworkers who was also making use of this new facility saw me working out and asked why I wasn't using the cross trainer? That stopped me in my tracks as the only reason was that it looked silly and I had never tried using it before. The cross trainer has a platform for each foot. When using it it can be adjusted from being like walking on a flat surface to climbing a ladder, as well as the resistance it takes to move the platforms. This thing kicked my ass the first few times I used it but I had found something I could do that gave me a great cardio workout with low impact on my heels.

Slowly this became the only machine I used, especially once I understood the significance of some of the readouts it was providing. Who knew that METS were so important a reference for gauging a workout? I had set myself a short term goal of increasing the time of my workout from the thirty minutes or so to a full hour. This machine gave me a great way to do this in small increments. I could increase the resistance a little one day or increase the level another day to give the workout some variation as I increased the time. And slowly I was able to get up to using this thing for a solid hour three times a week.

Since the start of my own classes the begining of this past month and the amount of reading that goes with it, I had started having to drop workouts. I even missed a week due to allergies or some flu thing that just knocked me out. I knew that while being able to go for an hour on the cross trainer was a very good thing, it was not the same as running. I had to find out where I was if I was going to be able to make any adjustments in time for this years 5 Mile Turkey Trot. So I set myself a new goal: run five miles on the treadmill. See if it kills my feet or does something to my neck or back. Just find out if I can do it at all.

I wanted to be able to do this several times before the trot and the first deadline was tonight, the last day of the month. I did it, despite having stayed in the office an extra hour and really wanting to come home and spend some time with my son before he went to bed. I ran five miles in just under one hour on the treadmill. It was great. The first three miles hurt but once I got past that point and got into a good groove I could just shuffle along like there was no tommorrow. It was not pretty but it felt so different than where I was a year ago, let alone two years ago. It really was amazing.

Now I am in a monitoring mode. I plan on taking it easy this weekend and see if any part or parts of my body start to complain about the abuse they are taking. I will go back to using the cross trainer for at least the next week or two, then we shall see about giving it another shot. That and stretching my feet and legs a lot.

Wish me luck. I will let you know if I get a pie, or at least do better than last years time.


btw, in the last two years I have lost about half of the weight the doctor wanted, enough to get me out of the obese category. While I have stalled at the 215-218 range, I feel much better and can really see a difference. For the first time in many years I have had to shorten my belt by a notch. Small steps. It took me ten years to get to this point, I do not expect it will happen overnight. Now if only I lived near a bike trail again...


this blogging thing is getting out of hand

I started out on yahoo's beta blog service, as my primary email is through them.
Check it here if interested:

We shall see if the joining of gmail with blogger will change my habits any.