Archives: December 2004
Thu 30 Dec 2004
The House is Ours!
It is official. Our new address is:
1457 Meadowbrook Rd NE
Palm Bay FL 32905
Please make a note of it. We'll have the mailbox up there and start switching mail over this weekend.
Now the hard part starts. Brandy is anxious to go buy paint and start changing colors around, so I won't write much. But the final walkthough and closing all went without incident. We went by once to use the keys for the first time. We're now busy calling utilities and such to put everything that needs to be in our name in our name. And I've called the screening people to try to get that moving too. We have the deposit for them out of escrow.
Now as soon as I get out of this suit into something more appropriate, we'll be heading to stores to get the appliances ordered, the mattress ordered, and paint and cleaning supplies... and the move has begun!
Brandy promises more pictures, including interior pictures, once we finish cleaning.
T minus practically Nothing
Last night I was going through my paper "in box" to make sure all the financial transactions I had receipts for were entered into Quicken and all outstanding bills were paid and such, just to make sure that everything was in order, and we knew exactly what the money situation is for closing, and more specifically for after closing, when we start having to spend money on immediate needs to get the place ready to move in. (For instance we need a washer and dryer and a mattress and such.) I was doing all that until around 08:00 UTC.
Then I decided that this might be a really good time to get the "Sam's Net Worth" graph going again. I'd been slowly pulling the data from Quicken to do this over the last month or so, each time I did bills I had been printing a report with one quarter's worth of net worth data at weekly intervals and putting that data into Excel where I was graphing it in my own peculiar way. (Not satisfied with the graphs Quicken produces out of the box.) At the rate I was going, I was adding a quarter's worth of data every couple weeks. It would be a few months before the graph was up to the present and ready to post. So I decided to accellerate that and enter more data.
Well... Next thing I knew it was 12:00 UTC. I'd extended the graph so it now covers July 1994 to December 1998 though. I thought about continuing straight through until it was up to the present, but it would take a few more hours, and I was exausted, and frankly it was already the time I should be waking up. So the Sam's New Worth Graph's return will have to wait a bit longer. (It will be soon though, I'm going to be carefully monitoring things as we adapt to this move and the new conditions... as usual of course the web version will have the vertical axis labels removed, so folks can see trends, but not actual numbers.)
Anyway, finally headed to sleep. Then Amy woke up and started popping her head in every ten minutes. She wanted all kinds of things! She was up and ready to go. She'd set her alarm for some ungodly early time for some unknown reason, and had actually woken up. (She often sleeps through it.)
Anyway, I finally got to sleep. It is now 3 hours later. I am up again. Just woke Brandy up to go get Amy up (who of course fell back asleep). I am about to go hit the shower and get dressed and ready.
90 minutes from now we meet our agent for a final walk through of the property. There are a couple things they were still supposed to be working on which should be fixed by now, even at this late date. (The money for the screen is still going into escrow, some of which will be released to the contractor immediately after closing for them to schedule the work, the balance paid when the work is done... probably not for a couple months yet given the continued backlog for that kind of work.)
3 hours from now we go to the actual closing.
When that is done, we will have a house.
Then we have to start getting everything in order. We have planned out how we will do a lot of things. Others we decided to wait until we could actually be in there to even plan. There are a bunch of things we will need to buy right up front. We have worked out a preliminary budget we will have to live within for those sorts of things. (As well as a tentative budget for the amount we will need to live on PERIOD once we are in the new environs.)
Stress Stress Stress!
But this should be good.
If all goes well, which I presume it will, we'll take some pictures of the new place and post here late tonight. And I suppose we'll announce the new address then too.
Oh well. Gulp. I need to get ready. Already not really enough time to get breakfast or lunch or anything before we meet the agent. Maybe coffee.
Oh, have I mentioned I am sick as a dog right now too? Yucky cold, nasty cough, and lung reading thing under 400. Bleh! I probably should have tried to get more than 3 hours of sleep.
Wed 29 Dec 2004
Perhaps Amy Will Need One
I'm usually not much for the bottom of the line models, I tend to always try to get the maxed out version of whatever product line I am getting in the theory that I will be happier with it longer, but this is probably a good move for Apple. A lot of budget-minded people who would never consider Macs before because they only had higher end models might consider this:
Apple to drop sub-$500 Mac bomb at Expo
With iPod-savvy Windows users clearly in its sights, Apple is expected to announce a bare bones, G4-based iMac without a display at Macworld Expo on January 11 that will retail for $499, highly reliable sources have confirmed to Think Secret.
The new Mac, code-named Q88, will be part of the iMac family and is expected to sport a PowerPC G4 processor at a speed around 1.25GHz. The new Mac is said to be incredibly small and will be housed in a flat enclosure with a height similar to the 1.73 inches of Apple's Xserve. Its size benefits will include the ability to stand the Mac on its side or put it below a display or monitor.
In our case, we have a couple old Window's boxes of Brandy's which could probably be cobbled together with the best pieces of both boxces to make a adequite working computer for Amy, but putting a Windows machine on our network, with all the problems Windows has, stikes fear into me! Cynthia just called me yesterday cause her machine is absolutely infested with spyware, trojans, and viruses and she is having trouble getting it clean again. Sure, you can be careful and keep a Windows machine clean. But it is just more work. YOu actually have to think about those things. Although the situation may change, at the moment you just have a lot less of that to worry about on a Mac.
Not to mention they are just cooler and better in every other way imaginable as well. :-)
Anyway, a budget level Mac might fit the bill perfectly.
I think she would prefer a laptop though. :-)
And then Brandy will need one too.
And I need one too.
OK, budget was just broken. Oh well!
And, I should also submit, this is from a rumor site with a spotty track record. Sometimes they get stuff right, sometimes they don't.
Tue 28 Dec 2004
Fifty hours and forty minutes to closing as I write this.
At the moment, it looks like all issues have been resolved and all systems are go.
I'm heading to the bank this afternoon to get the cashier's check.
Sun 26 Dec 2004
Darkflash: Half Way
Time for another Darkflash. Things that I sent out as emails when I didn't have a blog for a few months that I would have normally posted. They are almost done. Really. Anyway, this one was originally sent to friends and family 8 Sep 2004 06:27:39 UTC.
So, we spent some time in New Orleans. Tried to go on one of those walking tour things, but the one we had the pamphlet for turned out to be canceled. So we just walked around by ourselves for a bit. Bourbon Street was a bit overwhelming for an already tired 8 year old though, so we didn't stay long in that area and caught a kids movie instead. There was also a lot of swimming in the hotel pool.
Word from a few people we have talked to back in Melbourne is that the house is basically OK. Apparently a palm tree out front fell over, but otherwise things look OK. And at least some of the neighbors have power, so there is a good chance we will have power too. So it is looking good. We won't know for sure until we get home though. And we picked up a small generator at a Home Depot in New Orleans just in case we were still out... and for the next time the power goes off. :-)
We are on the way back now. In Tallahassee for the night. That's almost exactly half way home from New Orleans. We'll go the rest of the way home tomorrow.
Work reports that the office is undamaged, but still without power. They were trying to set up today with generators. I'll be back at work Thursday. The trip I was on that had to be called short will probably be rescheduled for next week.
So looks like things should be normalizing. Probably one more update once we get home.
Boxes All Opened
I put a stripe on the tree. Do you like the stripe? I like the stripe!
Well, all the boxes and packages have been opened and the presents dispersed. I think we all got a lot of good loot that will keep us busy for a long time. Thanks to everybody who sent us stuff. We much appreciate it. (I'll of course try to thank people individually too, but I didn't keep an actual list this year, so it may take me awhile to figure out.)
We had a good Christmas. Everybody was up late the night before. I woke up at 9:30 AM and flipped on the TV. Remarkably though, Amy, who we expected to rise at the crack of dawn, did not get up until almost noon. So the whole presents thing took us all the afternoon. Outside it was pouring rain almost all day.
Once everything was open we watched a DVD Amy got. And now Brandy is making dinner. Then I think we'll probably watch another DVD. Between Brandy, Amy and I we probably got about 30 hours of new DVDs to watch. :-)
And Brandy got me some new things to aid in my graphing! And there was a remote control car, and a bathrobe, and some clothes, and a few decorations for the house... and... and... well, like I said, I didn't make a list. But lots of cool stuff!
Tomorrow the cleanup begins. :-)
Time for another new graph. My lung power over time!
Sam's Peak Flow History
Since I was a child I have had asthma. It used to cause me quite a bit of trouble. With modern medicines it bothers me much less than when I was a teenager and younger. But it is still there and likely always will be. So I monitor it on a regular basis. What follows are charts I have kept of my "peak flow". This basically measures how strongly I can blow out, which in turn is one indicator of my lung strength and how well I am breathing at that moment.
As with the weight graph, there is some data which I have but is not yet reflected on the chart. This will slowly be restored as I go through a few places where I have the data and get it entered.
Sat 25 Dec 2004
Trees and Boxes
Happy Trees and Boxes Day from the Minter/Donaghy/Roney's!
Fri 24 Dec 2004
Closing is Scheduled
The time will be 30 Dec 2004 19:00 UTC.
It looks like all the issues have been worked out and this house buying thing will be moving forward. There are a couple outstanding contractual issues to be worked out. Since the house appraised for enough without the screen to get the mortgage company off our backs, any arrangement about fixing the screen is outside of that. So the agents are hammering out the details of how the escrow will be handled and everything. Hopefully nothing will come up last minute that will stop that. That is the last remaining detail.
So this time next week we should have a house.
We won't be moving instantaneously though. We'll do it slowly over a month or so.
I won't send out the new address and such until everything is official. Cause that one remaining detail might still rear its ugly head and cause a problem. But if not...
The Weight Graph Is Back!!!
After many years, the weight graph is back!
Sam's Weight History
...you can see my steady rise over the last 12 years, starting in 1994 and 1995 when I was trying to gain as much as I could because I was too skinny. And you can also see quite clearly the "weight contests" of 2001 and 2002, especially the big one, where to win the contest (which was a very stiff competition) I ended up eating only something like 10 times in the entire last month of the contest, and not at all in the last 10 days (other than one SlimFast shake on the 8th day) in order to ensure my win (barely!). Um, that was stupid. Very stupid. But I recovered quickly. :-)
I'm a bit above where I really should be right now, but I'm not too concerned. And the trends are right at the moment.
This is the first of several new graphs I'll be adding to the Graph Section
. Some of them will be the return of graphs from the distant past with new and exciting updated data. Others will be brand new.
For those that remember abulsme.com from that far back though (1996 I think), do not expect an immediate return of the "Temperature in Sam's Mouth" graph. Maybe someday, but not right now. Sorry.
Tue 21 Dec 2004
Kerry Loses More Electoral Votes
Looks like there was a mistake in New York. Not only did one elector vote for the wrong guy, they ALL did. Here is a link to the Federal archives with New York's official Certificate of Vote. (Found via LGF.) The New York electors accidentally voted for John L. Kerry instead of John F. Kerry.
Don't know who John L. Kerry is, but if John F. Kerry had actually been in the lead at this point (as opposed to 2nd like he really is, so it doesn't really matter), he would have just lost the election because of this, with the results thrown into the congress because after this neither candidate would have had a majority of the electoral votes! (Although, the votes have to be accepted by the new congress in early January, and they would probably fix it by then.... drat!) So this leaves the full electoral count for the presidential election like this at the moment:
George W Bush: 286
John F Kerry: 221
John L Kerry: 31
John Edwards: 1
Like I said though, it will probably get fixed before Congress officially certifies the results in a few weeks. Drat!!
September 2004 Top Ten!
After long last and many trials and tribulations, the September Top Ten for my email contest has been released to the public. Click through to find out the results...
For anybody that doesn't know, in mid-October there was a major hard drive crash on my mail server, and when I (stupidly and unthinkingly) synced my laptop with the server I lost almost all the mail for the last half of September and the first half of October. I'd had local copies of everything even after the drive crashed, but when the server came back up and my mail client syncronized, it said "Oh, these aren't supposed to be here" and wiped everything. [...] I spent many many hours painstakingly manually matching the log files up against the emails I had actual copies of to ensure I did not double count anything. This was a pain because the logs showed time received whereas the easiest to access info on the items I had copies of was the time sent. After all this though, I know I have counted every message I have any evidence for at all, and am sure I have not double counted any of those messages.
Condition Yellowish Green
Bug Inspection: No bugs.
House Inspection: Lots of little things like a door that sticks when you lock it and sprinkler heads that need replacing and places where the molding doesn't line up quite right. And things like that. But NOTHING MAJOR.
Mortgage Company: The house without the screen appraised for the amount we were going to pay WITH the screen. Which SHOULD mean the mortgage company will get off our backs about the screen and approve it as is, and leave the screen issue to be between us and the sellers and stay out of it. Cause the house is already worth more than we contracted for it by enough to pay for the screen. We will hopefully know for SURE tomorrow.
As things stand right now though, it looks like this will go forward, and we will close on December 30th.
Mon 20 Dec 2004
Amazonia in the Mall
Yesterday I did someting which is just the height of geekdom probably. While I was AT THE MALL to help Amy do some Christmas shopping for her mom and grandma, I used my Treo smartphone and ordered two items from Amazon. While walking in the mall, past stores which may well have had what I was ordering. Go me!
Rebecca had lots of problems with Amazon this year. I saw her warning, but went ahead and did most of my Christmas shopping at Amazon this year anyway. I did a little bit more at ThinkGeek and got one thing from CafePress. And yeah, I reluctantly got a few things in actual stores due to Brandy's influence.
I did almost all of the shopping Saturday morning. Then little dribbles since then. I believe I am done now. The things I bought at the mall via my Treo on Amazon yesterday were the end of my shopping.
We have mailed most of the presents leaving from here already. One more box will go out in the next couple of hours. CafePress and ThinkGeek have not shipped yet. Neither has the CafePress one. As for Amazon... Out of 22 items ordered since the beginning of December... 13 have already shipped... (of which 7 have already been received)... which leaves 9 items which are "shipping soon". They all say they should arrive at the 24th at the latest... but we shall see!
Anyway, ordered from Amazon while at the mall on my phone and ignoring the stores around me. Love it!
Um, now it is time to leave for the house inspection. Gulp. By the end of the afternoon we should know about that, and what the mortgage folks say. Gulp!
True to her comments on my last post, Brandy has gone and made herself a blog. She is calling it Drunken Sailor. Not sure what kind of things she will be posting, but of course I will be checking in regularly.
As I do with anybody who is in the current "top twenty people emailing Abulsme in the previous year" list who has a website that I know about, I have added her to the "Friends' Sites" listing on the left. We're now up to 9 out of 20 having websites. (Since Brandy is on that list twice at the moment.) Not bad. Almost to the 50% mark. But not quite.
Well, Marilyn also one made a page with my help. But she hasn't updated it in years (since the day she made it), and doesn't have access to it to update it even if she wanted to, so I don't think it should count and I don't link to it. Shame though. If it did then we'd be up to 11 out of 20 (since Marilyn also has two addresses on that list right now).
Anyway, back to Brandy. So far she is saying stuff about cheap fruity wine and getting my bird drunk.
We're watching a movie right now, so she probably won't post again until morning. But we shall see! :-)
Updated Ecosystem Graphs
The graph I do of the rankings of this site and some others on the TTLB Ecosystem has been updated. Since the last update, this site dropped behind Al's Phatback site. Drat.
Also, since the last time I did an update, there have been some changes to how the ecosystem works that means these graphs won't be quite as nice as before. Oh well. Anyway, for the actual graph and the explaination of what changed, see below.
Sometime in 2004 Q4 the Bear who manages the ecosystem changed how the details pages at his site are set up. He added some very cool graphs and such, but took away the historical listings of rankings over time. So since I do not check these rankings daily, but only once every couple months, I can't do like I did before and when I do check, go back and fill out all the daily rankings for this chart. Instead I can only chart the rankings as of the date I look. Thus, after the last day I have daily states (19 Sep 2004) the charts will be much rougher and have many straight lines rather than the nice jagged lines from before then. Sorry about that!
Fri 17 Dec 2004
The bank is hesitating at approving the escrow arrangement on fixing the screen enclosure. There will not be any official word on it until Monday, but the wording so far is they are "concerned". They may want the sellers to put a larger amount in escrow (which from what I hear they can not afford) or they might want us to put down a bigger down payment (which we can probably swing if we absolutely need to, but it will be hard to arrange with essentially one weeks notice). We will find out for sure Monday. That is also when we will also find out the initial inspection results. So by Monday evening, we should know a lot better what the situation is.
But my rough guess is that the chances of this purchase actually happening have dropped from around 90% to closer to 60%. Odds still on our side (barely), but also a BIG chance of it not happening. Which would really piss us off. Because we have everything in place. The only reason there is any issue at all is because the seller's bank is threatening the seller with foreclosure if they don't sell by the end of the year, and because there is a shortage of screening materials in Florida right now. Nothing whatsoever to do with us. If we could only get the seller's bank to hold off a few more weeks, then there would be no problem at all. We have no issue waiting. It is the other side that can't.
I hate this. We will be most upset if this doesn't go through. Grrr!!!
Thu 16 Dec 2004
House Moving Fast
There is rapid movement on the house front. The place has to actually finish repairs on schedule and not run into any unexpected delays.
11 Dec 2004 - I get my final relocation check.
13 Dec 2004 - Repairs are in full swing at the house.
15 Dec 2004 - We get word that repairs are on schedule EXCEPT the screen enclosure. It has been delayed because the screen contractor is waiting for the materials to be available to do the work. (There is a shortage because practically everybody needed to have this done after the hurricanes.) We were offered the option to take the repair money for the screen in escrow, and move forward to get the deal closed by the end of the year. Closing by the end of the year is much better tax wise. But we could tell them to just finish it and we'll wait. We think about it overnight.
16 Dec 2004 - We are told we don't really have the option of waiting. While our interest rate lock is good until late January, the people selling the house are in financial trouble. The bank has been holding off foreclosing on them because they have a contract with us, but are getting impatient. They have already waited since September. The house will be foreclosed on them if they have not sold by December 31st. After that, while the bank MIGHT sell to us, all bets are off, and most likely the place would just go up for auction or some such. We have checked with several people and the stuff with the screen seems to be fairly low risk. And we want the house. So we gave the word to go forward. This brings us to now.
18 Dec 2004 - If all continues to go according to schedule, they will be finished with the repairs on the house.
20 Dec 2004 - We have scheduled the main house inspection and the bug inspections.
21 Dec 2004 - The mortgage company appraiser will look at the site.
22 Dec 2004 - The legal survey will be done.
23 Dec 2004 - We have to officially decide if we are NOT going to proceed based on any of the results above. If anything came out bad, this will be when we can back out.
25 Dec 2004 - Christmas
TBD Dec 2004 - Sometime in the week between Christmas and New Years, exact date to be determined shortly, we will close on the house.
All of Jan 2005 - We will slowly transition from where we are to where we will be, maybe stretching into Feb 2005 if we need it. But hopefully not.
Of course, all of this is still contingent on a bunch of stuff.
The place has to pass inspection, with no unexpected issues popping up at the last moment
The final mortgage approvals all have to go through with no problem. (We've had pre-approval for forever, but the final final approval won't happen until just days before closing.) My deposit of that final relocation check has to actually clear and be available.
No sudden unexpected needs for money in the next two weeks.
No planet killing asteroids smash into the earth in the next two weeks.
So it could still fall through. But at the moment it is looking good. We shall see.
And then, if all goes well, we'll have to tighten the belts and get used to paying a full mortgage again (about 25% more per month than I paid in Pennsylvania at that -- but it is a bigger nicer place fit for a family of three with room to grow rather than a size perfect for a single guy). That will be a big change from the generous deal of a rent Ivan's family is letting us stay where we are for. (Thanks again Ivan! You are awesome! I'll officially let your dad know when we want to close this out as soon as things are actually final... I'm thinking we'll close it out in February... but that is still a little TBD.)
Anyway, while we transition things will be tight again for awhile. So that probably means no trip to the inauguration this year. Not to mention no new car, new GPS, new computer or random trip any time soon. Maybe later in 2005, but certainly not up front. It will take a number of months for things to fully stabilize again.
This stuff is nerve racking!
But it will be good.
Mon 13 Dec 2004
Electoral College at Work
I love the electoral college!!
Minnesota elector breaks ranks, votes for Edwards
(Associated Press on Star Tribune)
One of Minnesota's 10 presidential electors broke from the pack and cast a vote Monday for John Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential running mate for John Kerry.
The other nine Minnesota members of the Electoral College voted for Kerry, who won the state's popular vote in November.
After the state's Electoral College ceremony concluded, no one stepped foward as the Edwards voter. Most electors chalked the vote up as a mistake rather than a purposeful political statement.
"I'm sure somebody made a mistake,'' said elector Michael Meuers of Bemidji. "I'm certainly glad that the Electoral College is not separated by one vote.''
Republican George W. Bush is due to receive 286 electoral votes; Kerry was slated to get 252, but the Minnesota vote will reduce that total. It takes 270 votes to win the presidency.
(via Blogs for Bush
The article above has an annoying registration that didn't kick in the first time I looked at it for whatever reason, so here is the same article on another site that is registration free:
Minnesota elector gives Edwards a vote
(Associated Press on Minnesota Public Radio)
The best part is they didn't even do it on purpose as a protest like has happened other years. They apperantly did it BY MISTAKE. Because they screwed up filling out the ballot! But it doesn't matter, guess what, IT COUNTS! Ha Ha Ha!
I love this stuff.
Wouldn't it have been awesome if the election HAD hung on one electoral vote with an elector for the person who was ahead accidentally doing this? Surprise! The other guy wins!
I guess that West Virginia Bush elector didn't follow through on not voting for Bush. At least if he did, I haven't heard about it yet. A little dissapointing. Oh well!
Random Spot: Orotukan, Magadan, Russia
OK, I'm procrastinating for a few minutes. Went to play with my Random Spot Tool. Decided to do a little google research on the first place on land that came up. (I will NOT be planning a random vacation there however, the next one of those is still to Chacchoben, Quintana Roo, Mexico.)
So, the first place that came up was 63°43.421'N 152°38.658' E. It is 5470.02 miles from the house we are staying in, at an original bearing of 338.48361°. It is in northeastern Russia:
OK. So it is about 50 miles outside of Orotukan. So lets find the first 10 interesting things about Orotukan we can find on a Google Search on Orotukan:
#1) It is a mining area. (via InfoMine)
#2) There is a Russian blog named after it. (via Orotukan LiveJournal) Unfortunately, I can not read Russian.
#3) A company named Western Pinnacle has an exploration licence for mining there. Apperantly for an "alluvial gold placer mine". You can invest in Western Pinnacle (WPN:CNDX). (via Placer Mine News)
#4) It was a location for one of Stalins "penalty camps". When you got "sent to Siberia" this would be one of those places I guess. (via Yale Review of Books)
#5) It is on the path of something called the "International Peace Trail" that some idealist group is trying to get set up as a ring of parks and trails circling the earth. (via The International Peace Trail Project)
#6) The chief manager of one of the gold mines (Orotukansky GOK) is Alexander Grinenko, and I have his address and phone number now. (via InfoMine Research Group)
#7) A company named Geometall says about their operations there: "The geological prospecting and exploration operations at the facilities "Chai-Yurya" and "Orotukan" performed by the enterprise are oriented towards identification of ore deposits containing gold and silver in the Kolyma area; their opening up will permit compensating for a reduction in the mining of placer gold and stabilizing the socio-economic situation in the Region. " Iiya Rosenblum is the Director. (via Grand Encyclopedia of Russian Goods and Services)
#8) Estimated Population of Orotukan in 2004 was 2,800 people. (via World Gazetteer)
#9) Asdu Oll, Chairman of the Board of the Estonian Institute for Human Rights, used to work in Orotukan from 1962 to 1970. (via World Security Network)
#10) In 1998, there was some illegal panning for gold: "Police seized 170 kilograms of gold from illegal gold prospectors in Magadan Region’s Khasynsky County Aug. 23. According to the regional Internal Affairs Department, five villagers from Orotukan were caught panning gold on a stream 30 kilometers from the village. Police fired several shots when the prospectors resisted arrest. No casualties were reported. Two of the detained are 9th graders at a local school. " (via Vladivostok News)
OK. That is ten items. And I have procrastinated and wasted enough time for today. (Although it is surprisingly quick to do this kind of search. Really only took a few minutes. Ain't the Internets wonderful? :-)
Sounds like an interesting place though, no?
Oh, I have to add one more thing cause I can't resist...
#11) The town is mentioned in Alexander Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago. The quote is: "In Orotukan the earth thaws only in summer and only to the depth of three feet—and only then can they bury the bones of those who died during the winter." (via Poshlost)
Time for lunch, and then a fully productive and procrastination free afternoon. But this was fun. Maybe I'll do it again with a different random spot the next time I have a few minutes to kill between things.
Fri 10 Dec 2004
Whoa, Another One, A Bigger One
I got a lot of flack from a variety of people when I posted the kidney stone picture a couple weeks back. It was gross and stuff, and why would I post it. But you know, I went through some pain for that. It was kind of an accomplishment. And it is kinda neat. At least I think so. So I'll do it again. Yeah, it is a little gross, but so what.
Ever since the last episode right before Thanksgiving I've had occational twinges of pain. Nothing as bad as that first night though. Just discomfort mostly. At worst I'd take one of the Tylenol with Codines that the doctor gave me and it would get better and be gone in a few hours. For awhile. It would happen every couple of days. In between I'd feel mostly fine, although perhaps not 100%.
Thursday evening after work I started to feel a little uncomfortable. Not bad though. Just a little. I was tired though, after not getting much sleep after my flight home the night before. So I went to bed early. Like at 9 PM. I woke up when Brandy came to bed a little before 2 AM. I got up for a quick bathroom trip. But there was some pain. Not a huge amount, but some. And it felt like it was moving a little, and almost out. Sure enough, a couple minutes later, with some help from me and some strategic use of tweezers, I passed another stone. (I know, too much information... too bad!)
It was huge!!! It dwarfed the other one from the other week. (But for some reason it had hurt less... dunno.) I've been having kidney stone episodes every couple of years since 1996, but this is the biggest one yet. I know lots of people have bigger ones, and sometimes ones too large to pass that require surgery to get out. But still. OUCH!
After some of the other ones in previous years, Rebecca has said something like "The size of a grape-nut? That's nothing! Tell me when you pass a watermelon!" OK, so no watermelon. But I did a little better this time. More like the size of a pea. That is it in the picture above, next to the one from Thanksgiving week. See how much bigger? It is also a much different color. That probably means something, but I don't know what. And while in the picture it looks like it might be soft, trust me, it is a stone. Completely hard and solid.
I am actually amazed how little this one hurt. I hurt a lot more with the little one, and other ones in the past. This one caused twinges over the last two weeks and it did hurt off and on, but when it finally passed, it almost didn't hurt at all.
Afterwords, it did hurt some, and I took another of the special Tylenols. Since then I have been up. I am getting tired again though. And I need to be at work in a few hours. And the Tylenol has me all groggy. (But pain free!) Now that this one is out, maybe this series of stone episodes will be done and I'll be OK for a couple of years. Or maybe there will be more next week. Dunno. Guess I should do that follow up with the doctor soon. They were going to give me a refferal to a specialist, but hadn't done so yet. I'll call them up later today and get that moving I suppose.
I think I need to go to bed now.
Thu 09 Dec 2004
I just saw this news on Drudge. It makes me very sad.
Brudnoy, in cancer's grip, prepares for end
David Brudnoy's voice has filled the cars and kitchens of the everyday and the elite for nearly three decades, his thoughts shaping the way tens of thousands of listeners view the world beyond their doors. But yesterday, the radio talk-show host could muster little more than a raspy whisper as he confided that a rare form of untreatable cancer has overwhelmed his body, and he expects to die within days.
''I'm ready," said Brudnoy, 64, in an interview in his room at Massachusetts General Hospital, oxygen tubes in his nostrils and the light from a picture window highlighting deep caverns that have opened on his face.
''I've said innumerable prayers within [the Catholic] tradition and other traditions," he said. ''I think whatever happens I will be able to contend with it."
''I don't believe in pitchforks and harps," added the declared agnostic.
(via Drudge Report
I started to listen to David Brudnoy when he first came onto WBZ. Must have been around when I was in 8th or 9th grade when he replaced Larry Glick, who I had listened to on the same station before him. But while Larry Glick was essentially a comedian with a light hearted show on interesting and quirky people, David Brudnoy was all politics. Um... and movies... :-)
But he was not of the ilk you usually hear on talk radio today, with extreme positions and everything cultiovated to cause controversy and to push a political agenda. No, Brudnoy took an intellectual approach. He made sure he knew his facts when he approached a subject, and while he had strident views, would make sure he understood in depth those of his opponants as well. His obvious depth of knowledge and background research set the tone. If you came on with Brudnoy you had to know your stuff, and you had to argue based on reason and facts, NOT on emotion.
I was hooked. From the day he came on the air, until I left for college, I would fall asleep each night listening to David Brudnoy on WBZ Boston.
In a way you could not find anywhere else on radio or television, except perhaps PBS and NPR, on Brudnoy's show you got long in-depth detailed discussions of the issues of the day. And it was not "dumbed down". Brudnoy expected... and got... listeners who educated themselves and did their homework and thought through their arguments. If a caller was not able to articulate themselves or defend their argument well, they would only be on a minute or two... but unlike other shows, if a caller was smart and well reasoned and knew their stuff, Brudnoy would sometimes keep them on for the greater part of an hour.
Unlike PBS and NPR's typical commentators, Brudnoy was not a Liberal. He was not a Conservative either. He was a classical die hard Libertarian willing to take on "both sides". For me at the time it was a refreshing and eye opening viewpoint that I was not hearing from other channels. I did not know such a point of view existed, and it appealed to me immediately. As I listened to Brudnoy religiously through until my graduation from high school, his style of argument, his intellectualism, and yes, his political views influenced me greatly during my formative years.
Did I agree with everything he said? No. Not even close. I often disagreed violently. In some cases I simply could not believe how someone that seemed so smart on so many things could be so wrong on others. But the process of listening to him, and the way he articulated his viewpoints and backed them up rationally was refreshing and deeply affected how I approached things myself.
Many of the opinions and ideals I formed while listening to the Brudnoy show still guide me today, although perhaps softened a bit with the years. And because of listening to Brudnoy, I got involved in college talk radio at WRCT in Pittsburgh. My time at WRCT, perhaps more than anything else during my college years, is what I would identify as the "critical experience" that formed me in that time period.
Once in college though, I did not listen to Brudnoy anymore. At least not often. With KDKA in Pittsburgh at 1020 and WBZ in Boston at 1030, I just was no longer able to get the station reliably while living in Pittsburgh. I'd still listen occationally when I was visiting DC or Maryland on holidays, but I fell out of the habit. When I later moved to Virginia and later New Jersey and Pennsylvania the schedules were just not right. I never remembered to tune in, and with the FCC letting other stations crowd in on the old "clear channels" like WBZ, it was harder to get good reception. I missed it though.
For the last 10 years Brudnoy has been struggling with health issues of various sorts. He has been close to death many times in those years. After recovering from one of them, he wrote Life is not a Rehersal
. Reading this book was my major exposure to Brudnoy since I was a regular listener in high school. It is basically his life story, most of which as a listener I had no inkling. While he made some very bad choices at a few times in his life, he also struggled through a lot, and came out on top, and with his dignity. It did nothing but increase my level of respect for this man.
Over all the years though, I never called into David Brudnoy's show. I never felt quite worthy. In retrospect, I think I could have been a good caller. But I never felt like I had just the right thing to call in about. Now I regret that.
David, you are leaving with the same self respect and dignity you always showed in life. Aside from family and friends who I have known personally, you are probably one of the biggest influences I have had on my life. I thank you for that. You will be missed.
Wed 08 Dec 2004
The comment spamers have started to get me. They got about a dozen old posts over the last couple days. So I am now requireing registration to post comments. Sorry for the inconvienance!
I'm about to get on a plane, they are boarding Zone 4 and I am Zone 5, so I have to shut down. I haven't fully tested the required registration thing yet. I will when I get home later tonight.
Rebecca's baby has traveled back in time from the future! I found him!!!
(Well, actually Brandy found him, then told me, and I'm sure Rebecca and Chris already know... after all, he must have contacted them, right?)
Gideon Hart - Vocals Guitar Bass Keyboards
Non conventional instrumentation, opium den songwriting, huge guitar tones and hyptonic rhythms are key. Listen up.
Opium den soungwriting. Yup, that has to be the little Morrow, coming back via the DeLorean at 88 mph. He's just hiding the "Morrow" part of his name to be discreet. I know it has to be the same Gideon Hart, because there can be only one
So, we (myself, Ivan, Rebecca and Chad) were driving from the DC area to my old house in Pennsylvania. We had been doing Interstates, but near Baltimore, we got off to do some things. Rest stop, food, a little shopping. Then it was time to get back on the highway and continue. Ivan was driving. It was his car. I was navigating. I wasn't using my GPS, but was going by memory, and was trying to backtrack a route I had taken earlier. I had Ivan turn onto a dirt path going through a construction zone. It was a shortcut to the onramp to the Interstate. I knew it would come out right by where were needed to get on the highway. There were sharp hills and valleys and ditches. and I knew you had to basically go around to thr right, but couldn't see the way clearly. So I hoppped out of the car and ran ahead to check out the right way in order to make sure I knew how to navigate.
Then I turned around and headed back to the car, and in one of the dips, I suddenly saw just the roof of the car, slowly sinking in a hugh pit of quicksand. The car was almost out of sight and huge bubbles were going "glug glug" from the sides as it sank.
Suddenly, I saw Ivan's head, then Rebecca's, then Chad's. They had managed to get out of the car and were trying to get out the quicksand. They got to the point where they were not sinking any more, but were still chest deep in the mud. I told Ivan I was sorry about his car. I expected Ivan to be very upset, but he was amazingly calm and said it was OK. Meanwhile, Rebecca was pretty upset at me for giving the wrong directions and making them almost die. Chad did not say a word.
And then I woke up.
Mon 06 Dec 2004
I Had to Buy a Coat
It is just before 07:00 UTC. I have to wake up around 11:30 UTC to be at work at 13:00 UTC in order to drive to Orlando to catch a 15:45 UTC plane to Newark. I will arrive at 18:11 UTC if all goes according to plan. Then will be at my old haunts in Plainsboro, NJ for a 21:00 UTC meeting with my old co-workers who are now clients. This will be the first of four meetings with clients in the NYC area between Monday and Wednesday. Then I'll come home.
But we noticed that while the high temperatures are due to be in the 80's here most of this week, that is not quite so much true in New York and New Jersey. So Brandy and I went out to get a new coat for me that would work with a suit and such. The winter coats I have just weren't suit worthy. And the last coat I had that really did go with a suit fell apart years ago. So it was time I guess. But I'd completely forgotten about needing warm clothes in the winter. What's up with that?
Anyway, it is a business trip and I will be with another guy from work, so I won't have a lot of flexibility to go visit all the NJ/PA/NY friends, but I'll see a few just because they are who I am seeing for business. Which will be fun.
So anyway, off for a trip.
And I have to be awake in just over under four and a half hours. So I'd better get to bed.
Fri 03 Dec 2004
The Divided Left
I notice it has been a long while since I last posted anything on news or politics or anything like that. The last time was November 3rd, right after the election. It has been a month. Wow. The main reason I guess was that I was just newsed out. The election was exciting. It was over. It has for the most part been a slow news season since then (with a few exceptions). And I had other things to think about and talk about on the personal front. All that is still true.
But while I don't have time right now to comment much on them, I found a couple of interesting articles I thought I'd at least post links to. They center on how Democrats are responding to the current "War on Terror" as compared to previous Democratic responses to Germany and France in World War II and the Soviet Union in the Cold War.
An Argument for a New Liberalism: A Fighting Faith
(Peter Beinart, The New Republic)
and a response to it (which I actually saw first):
Liberals and Terrorism
(Kevin Drum, Washington Monthly)
Both are good reads and bring up good points. And you can see some responses from folks that disagree with both of them in the comments after the second article. As usual for comments threads, some are just flames, but a few are well thought out as well and have good counter arguments to the first two.
It is an interesting and thought provoking debate and definately worth the read (including the comments).
Wed 01 Dec 2004
Goodbye Sweet Pleco
Right before lunchtime today I got a very upset call from Brandy.
One of her two pleco fish, which she'd had for around six years, had died overnight.
She had spent a lot of time and effort and love on these two plecos. Gotten them when they were like an inch long. They had grown to over six inches long. They had survived when a disease wiped out all the other fish in her tank in Pennsylvania. They had survived a long harrowing trip from Pennsylvania to Florida in a cooler. They had survived many days without electricity for their water pumps and filters after the hurricanes, and were still thriving.
We're not sure exactly what happened. He had seemed fine. There had been no signs of problems, and all the other fish still seem fine. He might have gotten stuck behind a rock. But that rock hadn't moved for months, and there had never been the slightest problem before and they can get out of tight places. Chances are we will never know. In the end though, the reason doesn't matter, we lost a memeber of the family.
For those of you thinking "its just a fish"... Plecos have personalities and character and interact with each each other and are very charming creatures. They are just nice and sweet, and help take care of the tank by eating the algae that builds up naturally. There were many hours spent watching him do his thing. They are so cute.
He was a sweet pleco.
When I got the news from Brandy I rushed home earlier than I normally do for lunch, and we spent a couple hours mourning and comforting each other, and we buried the poor guy under a bush in the back yard. These guys have been with Brandy for years, and been through a lot with her. It is especially hard on her.
After they lived through everything in the last year and seemed to thrive and be happy, we were so sure they would live for years and years and years. I am so sorry Brandy.
It is a sad day today. And the other pleco is lonely.
Goodbye sweet pleco. We will miss you. You were loved.
Edit: Brandy says I got the wrong pleco. I am so sorry. I tried. But they do look alike. :-( Here is the best picture I had of the correct pleco. He didn't want to look at me...