Archives: October 2005
Sun 30 Oct 2005
Oops - Update
I have been chastised by more than one person at this point because the last thing I posted was a note saying we were at the height of the storm and I wanted to go outside to play in the storm, then I did not post anything (or in many cases email anything) for many days. I apologize. We are fine.
A little bit after that last post our cable internet did go out, and stayed out for about four or five hours. But we never lost power for more than 30 seconds, and there was no damage to the house or anything like that. A lot of trees lost branches, and many of those ended up in the pool. But it was just stuff to clean up and put in a pile by the road to be picked up by the people who pick up lawn waste. No actual damage. Not really even inconvieniant. Well, except that being without Internet for several hours thing. But that was it.
One of our neighbors was not as lucky though. At some point during the storm I looked across the golf course and saw something flapping on a house across the way. I was on a conference call with work. I ran around the house trying to get Brandy's attention, but I couldn't. Then the phone convienantly lost signal. (Really.. I didn't do it on purpose!) So I was able to yell to Brandy and tell her to come right away!
So then we stood on our back porch and watched the house across the golf course as its roof started to flap. Then suddenly... the whole roof just lifted into the air, flew off the house, flipped over, and landed a couple dozen feet away from the house. It was one of those metal roofs. The stuff under the metal was still there, but the metal cladding just ripped right off.
Later on, after the winds died down, a whole bunch of people were standing around that house scratching their heads and looking at it.
That would suck.
But we were fine. I just got busy as soon as the winds died down and the Internet was back. There was work. There was Amy. There was cleaning up. So no blogging and not much email occured.
Mon 24 Oct 2005
Wilma Closest Approach
Looks like Wilma is as close as it is going to get. Right now the wind is going nuts, there are small tree branches down and running accross the golf course. The power has been on and off several times this morning, but never out for more than about a minute so far. Right now outside the wind is going nuts. Brandy and I spent the last few minutes outside on the lanai just watching. The wind is strong enough to be an "Oh wow! Did you see that!" but not quite enough for a "Run for you lives!!". There are a bunch of branches down, but that seems to be the extent of actual damage.
The TV is talking about flooding everywhere in our area. And one tornado ripped up an apartment complex about 3 miles away.
I want to go out and play in the storm and do the lean into the wind thing, but aside from one quick dash out into the open when the wind slowed down for a minute, Brandy won't let me. Something about flying objects impaling me or something silly like that.
In any case, it is has been pretty strong consistantly for the last half hour or so. Shouldn't be much longer though.
And this is just TS force winds. Ain't nothing compared to what they got to the south of us where they got Cat 2 and Cat 3 winds.
Anyway, we'll see if we retain power. Kinda too bad if the whle county doesn't lose power, cause Brandy would get lots of overtime. :-) Just kidding.
We've taken a few pictures, but I can't find the cord to get them off the camera into the computer. So those will have to wait.
Ouch! The wind is whistling really loud right now. I'm going to run outside again.
It Is Kinda Windy
Morning update as of the 9 UTC NHC report
Chances of TS force winds: 85%
Chances of Hurricane force winds: 20%
Right now outside it alternates between calm and not much going on to some pretty heavy gusts and strong winds. But not "you can't walk" type winds.
The weather radio is going off every hour or so with new hurricane warnings in the county. The last one was about 20 miles south of us. The one before that was only about 5 miles north of us.
As of this very second, pretty calm. But not likely to stay that way.
We can now see the eye on local radar, but it isn't at closest approach yet.
Sun 23 Oct 2005
So today we were starting to move all the stuff in from outside and generally get ready for Wilma, whatever Wilma will turn out to be here in Palm Bay. We were testing the generator, when all of a sudden we realized out two 5 gallon cans of gas were gone. We kept them outside since when we put them inside they stink. But someone had taken them sometime in the past few days since I last filled them up. Grrr! There was nothing to be done for it, but Brandy filed a police report, just on the principle of the thing. The person who took their report says this happens all the time right before storms. Grrrr...
Anyway, speaking of Wilma, it is supposed to hit Florida in just about 12 hours. Maybe slightly more, maybe slightly less. It'll get us on the opposite coast a few hours later. Well... that's when the eye will hit. We should start getting effects much sooner than that, and in fact we are already starting to get some outer band rain and wind. The center of the path is now a decent bit south of us, but we're still in the bubble. Right near the top edge of it, but still in it.
Things have been moving around and the odds have been going up and down with each update. The early morning update had us at much higher risk, then later updates moved the path further south and dropped our risk. Right now, as of the 21 UTC update, in terms of tropical storm force winds, we are right in the middle of the darker orange band, which puts us at about a 55% chance of sustained tropical storm force winds. And even on the 45% chance of not having tropical storm force winds, it is still going to be a bad storm with lots of wind and some gusts which would be TS level.
Hmm. The weather radio just went off. We're now under a tornado warning in Brevard county as well as the hurricane warning we were already under. So I guess we are starting to get some effects already. Fun, fun. Anyway, on the odds for hurricane force winds, we are in the middle of the middle green stripe, which puts us at about a 15% chance of hurricane force winds. But even if that happens, it should only be a Cat 1 by the time it gets here. We shall see though.
Anyway, guess it is about time we hunker down and start watching some DVDs or whatever. We're as ready as we are going to be this time. We even got some wood. Although we weren't really able to put it up properly this time. Should all be fine though. This one ain't like the ones last year. At least that's not what is expected right now. We shall see.
Brandy is still very mad someone stole our gas. We got new gas though, so we'll be able to run the generator if we have to. :-)
Sat 22 Oct 2005
So, 18 hours since the update when we went into the 3 day bubble. The forecast has changed a bit. Wilma not spending quite as much time over the Yucatan, and speeding up a tad. Etc. The predicted path is a bit further south, but our odds of trouble have never the less increased. Here is where we are as of the 15 UTC update today:
Chances of tropical storm force winds: 45%
Chances of hurricane force winds: 8%
Probably Monday morning rather than Monday evening.
By contrast where my friend Ivan lives, it looks like this:
Chances of tropical storm force winds: 55%
Chances of hurricane force winds: 15%
Those are approximate of course.
We'll keep watching. But we have no plans to evacuate or anything at this time. Probably not even board up, although we are thinking about it.
Fri 21 Oct 2005
Finally Bubbleized by Wilma!
Finally, days after initially expected, as of the 21 UTC update from the National Hurricane Center, we are in the three day bubble for Hurricane Wilma:
We've been in the five day bubble for what seems like forever, but this is the first we've been in the 3 day. We've been thinking "surely we'll be in the three day by the next update" since Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
Not that we like being in the bubble or anything, but it has been "coming" for like a week now. Of course, one of the reasons it is late coming here is it is absolutely pummeling the Yucatan, which looks like it will be horrible for folks living there. They are predicting for Wilma to basically sit on top of Cancun ALL WEEKEND. And it already has been having major effects most of the day Friday. That will not be good.
Anyway, I've found two new charts at the NHC that I like a lot better and tell more I think. They were there for the last few hurricanes too I think, I just didn't pay any attention. These reflect the actual odds of given places getting certain amounts of winds.
So for instance, in this one covering from now until 18 UTC on Wednesday you can see what the chances are of hurricane force winds in that time frame at different places:
So looking at our approximate location, and doing a little eyeball interpolation, the chances of us getting hurricane force winds here in Palm Bay are about 5%. So not zero, but not all that high either.
For tropical storm force winds, our odds are a bit higher:
For our location I guestimate about a 35% chance of tropical storm force winds.
Of course, the way odds go, as the time of the event approaches, it either moves to 0% or moves to 100% since quantum effects aside, it will either happen or not.
But the long and short of it is that we will probably (65% chance) get absolutely nothing of note. But there is a decent chance of getting some tropical storm force winds. And even the 1 out of 20 chance of hurricane force winds is nothing to sneeze at. It could happen.
So we'll of course be watching carefully the next few days.
I'd like to point out that we are almost exactly on the centerline of the new official projected path. This is one of the reason I like the ones based on probability a lot better. It better reflects the total uncertainy about the path and what may happen. The fact that we are right on the center line is concerning, but really not of much more concern than if we were anywhere else in the bubble. There is enough of a chance of trouble to pay close attention, and make basic preparations, but not for panic.
Like they keep saying on TV, don't just pay attention to the centerline. Look at the whole bubble.
We postponed Amy's birthday party from this weekend to next weekend because a couple days ago when we had to make the call it was more like a 60% chance of TS winds and a 30% chance of hurricane winds, and right on Saturday to Sunday when the party/sleepover would be. We had to make the call in enough time to let all the invitees plan accordingly. But still... now Amy is all disappointed by the delay in her party and it will probably be a beautiful day tomorrow. Sigh!
But we did let her open her big present though. As I am writing this she has the new kareoke machine cranked up and is singing "Mony Mony". So I guess that is all OK. :-)
Thu 20 Oct 2005
Two Digits at Last!!
Since this is me, I have of course accounted for the fact that a year is not an integer number of days, time zones, leap years, and all other relevant factors... well, aside from relativistic time dilation... I must admit I didn't account for that... I also have assumed that the clock they used to record the time of the initial event was accurate, which is probably not a good assumption, but in any case...
At 15:43:40 UTC today Amy will be exactly ten years old.
That is 11:43:40 AM Eastern, 8:43:40 AM Pacific.
So, be sure to wish her a happy birthday and all that!
Happy Birthday Amy!!!!
Tivo is Dead, Long Live Tivo!
I've been waiting to blog about Wilma, but I had determined that I wouldn't do that until we were actually in the NHC's three day cone. It looked like that would happen at the NHC's 21 UTC update, but it didn't. I thought surely it would happen at the NHC's 03 UTC update. But once again it did not. So screw it, I'll talk about something else. At least until the 09 UTC update. Maybe we'll be in the three day bubble by then. Anyway... other topic...
I blame Erica. A couple weeks ago she emails about her Tivo suddenly not starting up. It was a dead hard drive. So what happens this weekend? The exact same thing happens to my Tivo. It was probably sympathy, since the Tivo we used here was once a brother and housemate to the Tivo of Erica's which died. It sensed the departure of its long lost friend, and decided it had to go with it.
So anyway, we discussed if we should replace it with a stock DirecTivo, or an upgraded one. The deciding factor ended up not being cost or anything else like that, but the fact that to get a pre-upgraded one we'd have to order online and get it shipped to us. And it was Saturday night by the time we were making decisions, so even with overnight shipping that meant we wouldn't have it until Tuesday. Which meant that it probably would not be fully set up and recording until Wednesday.
Now, we knew we could hijack Amy's Tivo and use it to record some of our shows in the meantime (and we indeed did that over the weekend). But Brandy decided she absolutely could not wait. So Sunday we went to Circuit City and walked out with a new DirecTivo. It has less hours than the one that died, but we'll manage. We'll probably end up getting a third one in a couple of months so each of us can have our own Tivo and not have to share. :-)
In any case, the new Tivo was all hooked up Sunday evening, and had collected and indexed all its initial guide data and so was fully up and running by mid day Monday.
And all was once again right in the world.
Except for the fact that we lost about 100 hours of programs on the old Tivo that we hadn't gotten around to watching yet. That made me very sad. :-(
But aside from that, all was good!
Wed 19 Oct 2005
At Least It Wasn't Crowd Hoot
I am really so not sure what I think about this. It could end up being really good, but somehow I am filled with a sense of dread. I really was not a fan of Captain Jack. He was funny if the first episode he showed up in, but at least for me he wore thin pretty quickly. Oh well, of course I will watch it.
BBC to screen 'Dr Who for adults' as new spin-off show
The BBC has commissioned the Doctor Who scriptwriter Russell T Davies to make an adult post-watershed spin-off of its most famous sci-fi show. The new programme will be called Torchwood (an anagram of Doctor Who) and will follow a crack team investigating alien activities and crime in modern-day Britain. It will feature in its starring role John Barrowman, who played Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and who will play the same character in Torchwood.
Mon 17 Oct 2005
As folks might have guessed from what I said about the Firefly DVD, we went to see Serenity, the Firefly movie. I'm way late posting again, we didn't see this over the weekend that just ended, but rather the weekend before.
In any case, it was awesome. Took everything that was good about the TV series and upped it a notch or two. It tied up some things from the series and threw in a few surprises. I had manger to stay almost spoiler free, and at least one thing really caught me by surprise. In any case, all three of us really enjoyed it.
The theater we saw it in, at the time we say it, was actually pretty crouded. But apperantly that was not average. The word was that if this grossed $80 million at the box office, there would be sequels. Things do not look good. As of it's third weekend, it dropped off the top 10 down to 12 and had only made $22.1 million. The number of theaters it is in is dropping rapidly. So if you want to see it, you'd better go NOW! Or you'll have to wait for the DVD in a couple months.
Anyway, even allowing for international box office and DVD revenue, looks like the chances of a sequel are dim. Which is a shame, cause it is a great series. [By the maker of Buffy and Angel, blah, blah, blah.] But he did get a chance to wrap up a bunch of what was brought up in the series, so if this has to be it, at least there is a feeling that between the TV show and the movie there is a begining, middle and end and you are not left hanging.
But sequels would be nice.
So go see it damn it!
If this guy can buy $2,500 tickets to this movie to help the quest for a sequel, you can all go out to buy three or four, right?
Sun 16 Oct 2005
Dedicated to Phatback
This is for you Al!
Thing a Week 5 - Baby Got Back
This week is a cover of Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-a-Lot (note: he is not an actual knight). Had to activate the whole team for this one - guitar, mandolin, banjo and even some shakers and tambourines and other things lying around the house. I've wanted to cover this song for a long time, because it is excellent - there's a wonderful message in there for those of you who have big butts. In the proud tradition of many white Americans who came before me I hereby steal and white-ify this thick and juicy piece of black culture. Watch for my album "Jonathan Coulton Sings Songs by Black People."
Sat 15 Oct 2005
DVD: Firefly: Disk 4
When it was first on TV, I'd watched a couple episodes, but never really gotten into it. And it was a busy time, so I just plain didn't get to a bunch of them. Of course, as it turned out, Fox had scrambled up all the episodes and shown them out of order so they made no sense, to the point of what was supposed to be the first episode that set the context for everything else was actually the last one they showed. Urgh!
Anyway, this summer SciFi started replaying all of them, in the correct order, from the DVD versions, which had been fixed up to be back the way they were supposed to be, both in terms of what order they were in and in adjusting a few scenes that were changed around because they were shown out of order.
Well, given all the hype about how good the series had been and with the upcoming movie and all, we had been watching it. And getting into it. Of course though, by the time the movie came out, we hadn't quite watched all of them, and we missed a couple on the Tivo for whatever reason. So we got the DVD set. Where we left off via TV was actually in the middle of Disk 3. We watched two episodes from there, but it wasn't a full disk, so I didn't post here. Disk 4 was the first full disk we watched. It had three episodes. Two of which hadn't aired on TV when it was on the first time.
The highlight was the third episode "Objects in Space", which was also the last episode of the TV series. (Although it was not aired last.) A bounty hunter came on board, and River outsmarted him. I thought about seperately talking about each episode, but I don't feel like it.
In any case, we finished up the TV series. It was great. A real shame it was canceled before they had even aired all the episodes that had been filmed. We had a blast watching them all summer though.
And the extra features on this DVD were fun too.
Fri 14 Oct 2005
This is awesome. I've used systems very similar to this for a variety of things, but never knew it had a name, although of course it makes sense that it does. As I read this page about it, I am very tempted to use this for more things more often. I like it!
The Noguchi Filing System
New documents (envelopes) are added at the left end of the "envelope buffer," and whenever a document is used (i.e., the envelope removed from the shelf), it is returned to the left end of the bookshelf. The result of this system is that the most recent (and frequently) used documents migrate to the left, while documents that are not used often or not used at all migrate to the right. After the system has been in use for a while, the shelf starts to look like the following. ...
Thu 13 Oct 2005
DVD: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
I am getting really bad about doing these things in a timely fashion. It has been at least a couple weeks, maybe longer since we watched this. It was a birthday present, but we didn't watch it for around a week after my birthday. Where does that put it? Anyway, too long ago. I actually have another DVD and one theater movie to report on to catch up. But I won't do them all in a row.
Anyway, we watched the new Hitchhiker's movie. I'd wanted to see it when it was out, but we never got around to it. It was OK. I laughed. But I can't say I was blown away. H2G2 was a favorite book in my teenage years. This just didn't seem to quite do it justice. It had a bunch of the right parts, but it just didn't seem to come together quite right for me. Brandy and Amy liked it more I think.
One of my problems I think was that I had the image of the old TV series in my head the whole time. This seemed a little less British, and of course a lot more rushed since it was a movie rather than a whole bunch of TV episodes. But the comparison was definately always in my mind.
So much so that the absolute highlight of the whole movie for me was when the Marvin from the TV show made a cameo appearance. He didn't talk, but I was very excited. Cause this was the REAL Marvin!
Having said all that, it was still a good present. Can't go without your guide. Or your towel. Any versions of it.
Sun 09 Oct 2005
Run Smurf Run!!!
I don't remember seeing this episode when I was a kid...
Smurfs used as shock treatment in UNICEF's fundraising drive
(David Rennie, Daily Telegraph)
It opens with the Smurfs dancing, hand-in-hand, around a campfire and singing the Smurf song. Bluebirds flutter past and rabbits gambol around their familiar village of mushroom- shaped houses until, without warning, bombs begin to rain from the sky.Tiny Smurfs scatter and run in vain from the whistling bombs, before being felled by blast waves and fiery explosions. The final scene shows a scorched and tattered Baby Smurf sobbing inconsolably, surrounded by prone Smurfs.
Of course, one day when the ice maker wasn't working properly, we found out it was because there was a smurf caught in the crushing blades. So that is sort of similar I guess.
Wed 05 Oct 2005
No Time to Blog
I have so many things that pop to mind that I want to blog about, but I no longer have any time. So it just tends to not happen. Even now, at home in the evening after dinner and approaching bedtime, I really should be working on a document for work that needs to be done in the morning. But I am tired. I would go to bed, but Amy is in my bed doing her homework while Brandy talks on the phone with someone. So I am in the living room on the couch getting droopy, but figure maybe I'll post. So, just a few short blurbs about a bunch of stuff I've been meaning to talk about but haven't.
* State of the Tivo: What with the macrovision bruhaha and with DirecTV dropping them before long, I have doubts about where they will be a year from now. I want to believe! They are still the best thing out there... barely... at this very instant. But it seems very unlikely for that situation to still be the case a year from now. We shall see.
* Our Roof: A few weeks back the roofers FINALLY came to fix the roof over the lanai which had been leaking during big storms ever since we moved in. It was under warentee, it just took them forever. But finally they sent a crew and redid that whole part of the roof... and then it leaked again the next big storm. Bleh. After that they sent someone out again and supposidly it is all good now. But... I'm still reserving judgement.
* The Screen: We finally got to the top of the list for the screen, but then they got out here and said they couldn't attach it, cause some of the wood on the edge of the roof... where it had been leaking... was rotted. Sow e had to have that replaced... not under warentee. we've been very tight on cash lately, but my mom very generously decided that would be her birthday present to me. So when they fixed the rest of the roof, they fixed that too. So we told the screeners we were ready to go. But of course we had slipped on their list. So we are once again waiting for the screen. Supposidly it would just be a couple more weeks, but it has already been that long and nothing yet. This is another where I will believe it when I see it.
* Speaking of house things, saw a report in the paper last week that the average increase in home value in this county over the last 12 months has ben 48%. FOURTY EIGHT PERCENT. That is just absolutlely insane. This bubble is going to have to pop soon. I just don't see how it can't. But hopefully it will have gone up enough, so even when it goes down, it will still stay above where we bought.
* We're also looking at refinancing. Doesn't look like a super huge amount, but it does seem that we would be able to save a bit on the monthly payments. If we get some cash out and pay off all the plastic too, it will be even more dramatic. So we will probably do that. But we'll stay away from the newer non-traditional plans. It could get payments even lower, but with interest rates where they are, just too risky...
* Princely had surgery a couple weeks ago to remove a small growth on his front right foot. I think we were suppposed to get a followup call from the vet by now to confirm that it was a benign tumor and not something more serious. But I don't think we have heard yet. Princely is a good dog. He is curled up at my feet right now. He really didn't like hgaving the humungo cone thing on his head for a week to keep him from rip[ping out his stitches. He got a couple of them anyway.
* I left the book I was reading in a hotel in Delaware while I was on business travel a couple weeks ago. I kept calling to see if it had turned up, but it never had. Guess one of the staff was really into Civil War autobiographies. I finally gave in and ordered a replacement. Just found where I had left off and started reading again today. I'll post about the book when I finish it, but so far I am really enjoying it.
* I have now fathered dozens of frogs. I think the original batch of tadpoles has now long been froggifed or eaten by their siblings, but there are still many dozens of tadpoles in the tank. The process may never end. A few hours ago, I decided to do some work on the lanai. I picked up a cup which was ont he table out there and yup, there was a frog inside.
* Oh, Brandy got a new job! Did I ever mention that on the blog? She started almost two weeks ago now. First check from it should be direct deposited about 2.5 hours from now. That will be nice. She is working for a local utility doing something or other while sitting in a cube. Sounds like a blast. (Seriously though, she is liking it a lot more than the last place.) It is a one year contract gig. At the end of the year it will end. But that gives plenty of time to find something else.
* Amy had some issues with her teachers a couple weeks back, and so did we. But we had a big old teacher parent conference. A lot of tension initially, but all issues are resolved now. We think. In any case, things seem to be positive right now.
* I am thinking of volunteering to be the coach for her school's chess club. They have a bunch of students interested in a chess club, but there is no chess club right now, because they don't have a coach. Now, as much as I enjoy chess, I am not that good at it. But I am good enough to help a handful of 4th and 5th graders play a few games together. It would be one morning a week I would have to come into work 90 minutes late or so. If I feel I can get away with that, I'll do it. (Amy is one of the kids who is interested... she has been on a chess kick lately... Fritz and Chesster 2 came for my birthday, and she pounced.)
* The Treo is fully healed! At first after it's swim and drying off for a week, everything seemed to work EXCEPT using it without a headset or speakerphone. If you wanted to use it the normal way... out of luck. But I accidentally tried it again a few days ago... and surprise! It worked! Guess the speaker just needed a little more time to dry out.
* Have I mentioned I really wish weekends were longer? I am so swamped all week long. And always tired. Then I sleep just a tad more on the weekend, but never get even half of what I want to get done done, and then I'm still just as tired by the end of the weekend. I really don't function well with less than 8 hours of sleep a night, and really feel I need at least 9, maybe even 10 sometimes. And I'll certainly take 12 if I can get it. But I mostly get 6 or so these days. I'll get the 8 on weekends maybe. And it just leaves me constantly dragging and tired.
* Amy was sick yesterday and today. Sore throat. Apperantly a viral thing, but not strep. I worked from home the last couple of days since I can and Brandy can't. She mostly stayed quiet and did the sick thing and I was able to do work. In fact, I think I have been more productive at home than I often am at work. But new work keeps getting added to the pile faster than work is getting done. It is a busier time right now for me work wise than it has been in ages. Which I guess is good. Oh, and Amy seems to be doing better. She is all back to her 9 year old argumentative self.
* I am thirsty. I think I will get some water.
Bye for now.
Sun 02 Oct 2005
Fantasia Anybody?? Please?
For years now, I've slowly but surely been watching the AFI 100 Years 100 Movies list. I started at #100 and have been working my way up toward #1. The last one of these I watched was #59 Rebel Without a Cause. It was good.
But now comes my problem. The next movie on the list, #58 Fantasia is not available currently from Netflix, or directly from Amazon for normal purchase. It was still there on Netflix a few months ago, but it is not any longer. This is because of Disney's infinantely annoying policy of only releasing their major animated works every X number of years and then only for a limited time. So the Fantasia DVDs were out, but now are not any more.
Now, they can still be bought. Amazon even has it via a bunch of their partner sellers. Problem is, the price for a NEW copy starts at $52. Even they used ones are mostly in the $30+ range. (The ones less than that seem to have missing bits or be non-US verisons.) I want to see the movie, but I'm not quite ready to pop $30 or $50 dollars on it. And I don't want to go VHS knowing there is a DVD version out there. And I also don't want to go looking for an, um, "online" version of it. I do want the real Disney release version. Even though the DVD release *is* edited in several places from the original theatrical release to remove some sections with negative racial overtones which is annoying. (There are a couple other related examples, but that is the reference I could find quickly.) It is what it was, and those kinds of changes just try to rewrite history... But, regardless, I want the real Disney DVD release if at all possible.
Anyway... anybody out there reading this have a copy of Fantasia on DVD that I can BORROW for a week or two to watch? I'll then get it back to you intact and promptly. Promise. Anybody? Please?