Archives: October 2006

Tue 31 Oct 2006

Goodbye Zuri

There was a horrible series of accidents just about a day and a half ago which led to Zuri's death. Brandy and I were making a quick trip to the store and to get some things from the old apartment. Amy was home alone. Amy witnessed the whole series of events, but was unable to stop it despite her best efforts. If either Brandy and I had been home, we probably could have stopped things, or it never would have happened at all. But we were not home.

The specifics are quite horrible, and I am not in a mental place where I am prepared to discuss those. I might never be. I certainly don't want people second guessing things we have done and telling us what we could have done differently. I've done enough of that myself, and I've been tormenting myself with it. I do not need more. I've spent most of the last day and a half just dealing with the aftermath of this. Nominally I worked from home yesterday to help my family through everything. In reality, that they were helping me was probably closer to the truth and my productivity for work was close to zero. She was my bird, and I was closest to her and I think I have taken it hardest. It has been a really bad day or two for me. So I won't talk any more about recent events, I'll talk about Zuri...

I first saw Zuri in late 2003. She was in a petstore near Yardley, PA where I had just bought a house. My parakeet Brain had recently died, and Brandy was trying to convince me to get a new bird, a bigger bird with more personality. She had me look at Zuri. I was not convinced. Zuri looked very cute. She was barely more than a baby then. But I was not sure I was ready for the responsibility. With the smaller birds you can basically give them food and water and a few toys and they are happy. Brandy warned me that with ringnecks like Zuri, they need daily attention. They need to be talked to and held and petted. And they can be demanding. And they can live more than 20 years easy, sometimes over 30. I did not make up my mind that day. I did not walk out with Zuri. But for the next few months, more and more often I would make trips to the petstore. Always to see Zuri and see if she was still there. More and more each time I dreaded that someone else might have already bought her. And she was getting older. I was starting to regret each time that I had not gotten her the very first time I saw her. So finally, on 14 Jan 2004 I brought Zuri Kidege Minter home.

I was afraid I had waited too long to get her. That she was older and would not bond with me. Her face was no longer as puffy and cute as a really young bird (or so I thought, it turned out it could be, just depended on her mood) and I was afraid to let Brandy or Amy handle her, because I wanted to make sure she bonded with ME. All my fears were groundless. It took a little bit, but she very much bonded with me. Perhaps a bit too much. For the most part for the longest time she would ONLY let me handle her. (With lots of work earlier this year when I was in Washington and everybody else was in Florida, Brandy finally got Zuri to trust her too.)

If I walked by, Zuri would call from her cage and raise her wings to be petted and beg for me to come get her. Too often I would be "busy" and would not. But when I did Zuri would bound to the top of her cage and luxuriate in in being scratched and petted for as many minutes as I would. She would never tire of it. Then, when I was done, she would climb on to me. She'd play with my glasses. She'd circle my head and play with my hair. She'd nibble and preen me and do her best to take care of me too. And then, if she finally tired of that, she'd start being a nudge and start wandering around to play with my keyboard or anything else that might have my attention.

In her cage she would play with her toys some, and some she liked more than others. Some she would ignore. Some she would fight with all the time. Others she would sleep on. She loved ringing the bells. She loved getting peanuts out of her football. Whenever she would eat she would very carefully pick up her food from her food dish, walk over to the water dish and systematically wash her food to make sure it was JUST right. The water dish was always a mess. She hated the purple food. She would pick everything else out and eat it first. If there was nothing left but purple in her dish, you knew she was mad, and you needed to feed her new stuff right away, even though she still had plenty of purple.

She would sing and call from the cage all the time. She had learned to wolf whistle one time when she stayed at Brandy's mom's house for a week and the bird there taught her. And she did that a lot. But mostly she would just sing and chitter away. Especially when there were people around. She would talk to you. Not English words, she never learned that, although I think she was trying. But just very expressive "sentences". She would go back and forth with you when you talked to her. And she would look right at you and you knew she was listening and paying attention with everything she had.

She was mischievous too. She ate holes in a few of my shirts that I wore when I played with her. She completely destroyed a leather jacket I forgot was draped over a chair one time she was out. But I didn't care. She would pull the glasses right off my face and go carrying them away. She would take pens from me and go walking off holding them with one foot, looking like she was going to start writing any minute. She pooped on and destroyed a keyboard just a few weeks ago. But I didn't care.

She was very trusting. Very loving. She was a good bird. She was my bird. She loved me unconditionally and with all of her little heart. She was sad days I did not play with her and was overjoyed when I even gave her a minute of attention, let alone when I would have her out of the cage and would play with her for a long time. I wish I had done that so much more. I now cherish every minute I had of that.

She was my bird. I loved her. She loved me. I miss her so much. I am so very sad.

Goodbye Zuri. Goodbye. Good bird. Pretty Zuri. Pretty birdy. I love you.

Abulsme - Tue, 31 Oct 2006, 07:18:29 PST
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Sat 28 Oct 2006

I Am Very Scared

My house has been invaded by almost ten 6th grade girls for a "Birthday Slumber Party". A few minutes ago they were doing Karaoke. Now they are running around the house screaming and chasing each other. This will be a fun evening. I just brought the ice cream cake and pizza back. There will be food soon. Later there will be movies on the projector.

Abulsme - Sat, 28 Oct 2006, 19:07:07 PDT
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Wed 25 Oct 2006

Rocks And Stones Will Break My Bones

The last 30 hours or so I've been having another of my periodic kidney stone episodes. It started just as I was getting ready to leave work Tuesday then got worse over the next few hours. I was pretty miserable overnight, even after I took some pain killers I still had from last time. The pain killers did let me sleep a little bit. Not continuously, but for an hour or so at a time sometimes. By morning I'd passed a few small stones (at least 3, maybe more).

I'd hoped to go to work Wednesday, but in the morning I was better but not great. So I planned to just come in for my first meeting a few hours later. When that time came I got dressed and showered, but then as I was about to head out the door I started getting faint and nauseous . So I reluctantly rescheduled the meeting and then just crashed.

Aside from a quick trip to the Doctor (Brandy made me go) I have basically been asleep off and on ever since. The Doctor gave me more pain killers and a bunch of antibiotics to fight off the infection, etc. I think (hope) I'm done passing stones for now, but I've been running a 102 fever from the associated infection.


About 30 minutes ago I took a second pain killer (Oxy) and so at this very instant I'm feeling better than I have since I left work yesterday. Things are still uncomfortable, but the pain killers have me in a happy place anyway and I feel semi-functional. Still wouldn't want to ger all that far away from the bathroom though.

The doctor is starting me (once again) on a series of tests and is reffering me to a specialist. I started down this road in Pennsylvania, then again in Florida, but each time I've ended up moving before it got anywhere. Basically, someone my age having regular (a couple times a year) kidney stones and UTIs is very rare and unusual even taking into account my non-ideal diet, general state of health, etc.

In Florida I got further down the investigative path than ever before. I went from the Primary Care doctor who just had the usual "take pain killers and antibiotics and suffer through it" to a urologist who ran a whole bunch of tests and basically determined that he could not tell why I was developing so many of these and so he reffered me to a kidney specialist who wanted to start a whole new round of detailed tests to try to find just what was wrong with my kidneys, and therefor how to treat it. But then the doctor died and then I moved. So we got no more information there.

So once again I start the cycle. I'll go to the urologist in a few weeks. They will do a bunch of tests. Maybe they will find something new. If not, they'll send me to a kidney specialist and then I'll do a lot more tests. Hopefully then they will find a cause.

So far none of these kidney stone episodes have been VERY bad. Some pain killers, some antibiotics, and a couple days of rest, and it is over. I haven't needed the ultrasound treatments or surgery. But... the fact that since the first episode in 1995 this has gone from being a one time thing, to once every couple years, to once every three or four months... with additional related UTIs in between... is troubling. It *would* be nice to know what the underlying cause is so that I might be able to start doing things to make it happen less often.

Sigh. Oh well. The pain killer is working quite nicely at the moment though. I almost feel normal. Or at least I don't care. Of course I am also quite loopy at the moment and shouldn't drive and such. Hopefully by morning I'll be in good shape to go to work. I don't like missing work. I don't like being sick.

Brandy says I shouldn't go to work unless my fever drops below 100 and I don't have to run to the bathroom every few minutes. Spoilsport! :-)

Abulsme - Wed, 25 Oct 2006, 22:42:55 PDT
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Tue 24 Oct 2006

Fannie Dodson Ramseur

It has been way too long since I posted an ancestor. My only excuse is that it has been a busy couple of months. The next one in order is my Father's Father's Father's Mother, Fannie Dodson Ramseur.

Pictures are getting scarce in this generation and while I have pictures of John Russell Minter's next wife, who acted as step-mother to all of Fannie's children after her death, I have none of Fannie herself.

I don't have a whole lot on Fannie other than the fact that she was born in 1845 in North Carolina, married in 1868, had six children, then died tragically at age 36 in 1881:

There was a fire in the John Russell Minter home in Sedalia, SC on 15 Mar 1881. Daughter Fannie's dress caught fire before the fireplace. Her mother Fannie, pregnant with a near-term boy, rushed to help and her clothes also caught on fire. Daughter Fannie died that day; Mother Fannie and baby died 10 days later.
Oh, and one other thing, not really about her, but close I guess. She was the sister of Stephen Dodson Ramseur who was the youngest Confederate General during the Civil War. I have a biography of him in my very large pile of books I want to read, but I have not yet read it.

So her brother has a Wikipedia entry, and her daughter Josephine married Nathaniel Barksdale Dial who also has a Wikipedia entry. That's the closest I've gotten so far to an ancestor with a Wikipedia entry. Which isn't to say that close, but one and two degrees away I guess. :-) I know there will eventually be ancestors with Wikipedia entries of their own, but I'm not sure just how deep I'll have to go to get there yet. :-)

Abulsme - Tue, 24 Oct 2006, 23:58:06 PDT
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DVD: The Third Man

It has been almost a month now, I have been so negligent. But I did watch a DVD! The Third Man had arrived from Netflix way back in something like February. In all the stuff that was going on it sat and sat and sat and never got watched. One night while Amy was off with friends Brandy and I sat down to watch it.

Brandy was... how shall we say it... underwhelmed. Thought basically nothing happened and it was very slow. Which of course it was. It is basically an atmosphere movie. Black and white. Moody. Very slowly developing and unwinding. And of course without a happy ending.

Given that, I actually liked it. This is the second time I have seen it. A number of years ago Ron sent me a version of it and I watched it. The one Ron had sent me was from before the resoration though. This time I watched the restored rereleased version and the quality difference was amazing. They did an incredible job. In any case, although I must admit I did briefly fall asleep at one point, it was not because of the movie, it was because I was very tired. I wouldn't watch this movie all that many times, but I did like it.

Of course, a BIG part of why I liked it was the music. (Short sample of the zither music here.) I really was mesmerized by the soundtrack. That is the part of the movie that really grabbed me the most.

Gotta love the zither.

Abulsme - Tue, 24 Oct 2006, 20:16:15 PDT
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Mon 23 Oct 2006

My Train With Harry

A MissSmish recently contacted me and said she had used an old photograph of mine as the basis of a picture she had drawn and wanted permission to use it. Of course I said it was fine. The Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling picture on the right is the result. Click through to her site for a full size version.

Abulsme - Mon, 23 Oct 2006, 20:12:20 PDT
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Fri 20 Oct 2006


According to my calculations (taking account of things like years not being an even number of days, leap years, the time she was born, etc) Amy will be exactly eleven years old in just about two and a half hours, at 21:36 UTC. (That's 5:36 PM Eastern, 2:36 PM Pacific for those of you without UTC skills.)

Congratulations Amy, welcome to 11.

Abulsme - Fri, 20 Oct 2006, 12:10:59 PDT
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Thu 19 Oct 2006

Saturn Nearing the End?

Back on 30 Jan 2004 I posted that my Saturn had finally reached the point at which I had always said I would get a new car... namely, I got a repair estimate for more than the value of the car. It was burning oil and they said it needed some major overhaul or whatnot to fix it. Well, I just added oil more often, and it has been fine for another 2 years and 9 months.

But today I took it in for routine service (way overdue, the last year or so has not been good for those sorts of things) and they say the clutch is barely hanging on and could go at any moment. That'll be $1100 or so to replace. Plus it needs work on the brakes ($350). Plus a new horn ($100). Plus a new Oxygen sensor ($150), plus the regular routine service ($200). Add taxes and all the other random charges and you are over $2000. Kelley Blue Book gives the value at $1700 or so if it was in "Fair" condition... and of course unless I did all the work listed above, it would not be in "Fair" condition. So "as is" it is worth a lot less than that, if anything at all.

So... looks like the call for now is... fix the brakes (since it could be a safety issue) and do the usual fluid changes and such, but nothing else. I'll then take the car back and drive it until it stops moving. Then I will buy a new car.

It would be really nice if it could make it until January or so. But the dealerships opinion is that it probably won't and it is rather lucky it hasn't died already. But, we'll see. I'll drive real gentle like.

It is a 1996 Saturn SL2 with 175000 and change on it. That isn't a bad life. It did OK.

Every single car I have ever been the primary driver on... with the possible exception of the Toyota Corrolla that got totalled, I don't remember... died between 175000 and 180000 miles. The 1976 Dodge Colt did. The 89 Ford Taurus did. I don't remember the Corrolla. I should. But I don't. I didn't have that car that long.

Anyway... we'd prefer to wait as long as possible, but I guess we should start car shopping pretty much ASAP and see what is out there in price ranges we are comfortable with.

Abulsme - Thu, 19 Oct 2006, 12:45:07 PDT
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Mon 16 Oct 2006

Tis Back

Took a little longer than I thought cause I had to figure out a few things on the DSL router, but Cronus (meaning the web cam and the Wiki) is now fully back online. (It was partially online awhile ago.)

And we're here, about to sleep at the new place for the first time. A few minutes ago it suddenly got quiet, so I'm thinking maybe Amy, Brandy and Roscoe have fallen asleep. I'll go join them shortly.

We didn't get everything moved, so we'll do a bit more next weekend. But we are now actually LIVING at the new place.

Anyway, it is late and we have a meeting at Amy's school in less than 8 hours, and we have to have the truck back before that... so I'm going to go crash.

Abulsme - Mon, 16 Oct 2006, 00:06:30 PDT
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Sat 14 Oct 2006

Closing Up

In a few moments I'll be shutting down the computer here to move it to the new house. DSL supposedly was put in place there on Friday. We've got a rent a truck full of some furniture and other things. It isn't fully loaded yet, but we're going to make one trip with whatever gets loaded before the pizza we just ordered gets here. I'm intending the computer to be in that load and part of what gets unloaded and set up at the new place tonight. But it may end up being tomorrow.

The goal is to have everything that won't fit in a car moved this weekend. Anything that is left after that, we can bring one carload at a time. But all the big stuff... tonight and tomorrow.

While this computer is being moved, the wiki and the web cam will be down. I'm sure you will all greatly miss both. But they will be back soon. Downtime could be anywhere from 3 hours to 24 hours though. We'll see how it goes.

Anyway, as soon as I get this posted, Cronus will get shut down and boxed, so I can move the desk it is on.

Abulsme - Sat, 14 Oct 2006, 19:53:18 PDT
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Thu 12 Oct 2006


I haven't been posting much lately. I apologize for that. There is one DVD I watched I haven't posted a review for yet. Gotta do that. There have been other things going on. Haven't posed about those. And I haven't posted interesting articles I've seen online in it seems like ages. Things have just been busy.

Work is very busy now. (Not that posting while at work is good anyway... Hi Llew!) When I get home there is moving related stuff to be done and I am way behind on my personal email as well as dozens of projects I try to work at while at home. So, very little blogging of late.

Oh well, some other things come first... as they should.

Abulsme - Thu, 12 Oct 2006, 11:19:02 PDT
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Fri 06 Oct 2006

Once Again, A House

New address for us as of TODAY.

6124 125th Ave SE
Bellevue WA 98006

Phone numbers and such remain the same for now.

We will have overlap with the apartment until the end of October, so will move our stuff slowly as we have time and desire. We'll probably start actually sleeping at the new place next weekend. But as of NOW this is our new address.

It will be quite nice to be back in a comfortably sized place again rather than the dinky apartment. We're quite ready for this.

Abulsme - Fri, 6 Oct 2006, 14:26:04 PDT
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Wed 04 Oct 2006

Random Things

I haven't posted all that much lately, so here are a variety of short notes to make up for it.

  • Even though it is not on the menu, the coffee place at work does White Chocolate Mochas. This is a good thing.
  • The wireless network at home has suddenly gone flaky over the last few days, so AbulWiki has been available intermittantly. Looks like the base station is flaking out. Will probably replace it. Of course, that machine should have a wired connection anyway, but we still need the wireless for other things.
  • Everybody is sick at home except for me at the moment. Some kind of flu thing it seems. I'm sure I will be next.
  • Roscoe is doing great and is learning how to behave as we expect, but he will still go to real training classes soon. He is a hoot though. Very funny dog. Very playful. Very loving.
  • Amy's school is great. She gets up excited to go in the morning, and we have to drage her out in the afternoon.
  • Having money again is great. Just have to avoid the temptation to buy EVERYTHING all at one time...
  • [Self-Censored]
  • Waiting for news that you need before you can move forward on something sucks.
  • Brandy continues to slog through the VA health system to have them properly deal with what the Navy broke
  • Haven't commented much on current events lately, but most are depressing.
  • Work is good, but I have to beat whatever has been making me tired and groggy the last couple weeks, it is slowing me down. Two prime suspects: Lack of sleep, allergy meds. Am working on adjusting both. And drinking more coffee.
  • Having a kid in prep school is interesting, as most of the friends (specifically their families) seem to be independantly wealthy, many of the "I joined Microsoft in the 80s" variety. This is not a bad thing or a good thing though... just interesting.
  • My boss at work just got a new team reorged under him. In the short term I'll probably do a bunch with that team as well as the folks I have been working with, but in the long term that team will proabably hire their own me.
  • As of last night my computer at home is fully backed up and has an automated daily backup running to mirror the whole internal drive to an external drive for the first time since early January. This makes me feel much more secure. It is still only onsite backup though, I'll have to come up with a good off-site backup solution as well, but this is a major step forward.
  • Fishalump
  • Antihypersyllabicsesquipedalian
  • We picked a rental house to apply for last week. Theoretically we should know today if we got it. If so, we may be moving again within days, which will be good, cause the current place sucks with three people, a dozen or two fish, three birds a skink and a dog. It was fine with one person, but more... nope.
  • I've never gotten into the RSS habit for some reason. Perhaps I'll try again someday.
  • I don't watch much TV any more.
  • I'm still way behind on things I want and or need to do at home. I'm trying to catch up each night, but never seems to happen.
  • The meeting I was waiting for is starting, so I will stop.

Abulsme - Wed, 4 Oct 2006, 08:59:39 PDT
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Mon 02 Oct 2006

Cinema: The Covenant

Not this last weekend, but the weekend before, Brandy, Amy and I went to see this. I had no real interest, but both Brandy and Amy are into this kind of movie and really wanted to go. So we did.

Short summary: This thing is mostly out of the theaters by now, but even if it wasn't, don't bother. And no real reason to Netflix it either. It was just sort of a big nothing. I mean, perhaps if it is hot outside and you need the AC in the theater or have a craving for popcorn with unidentifiable yellow goo on it.

Longer version: It was just missing something. It started out with the feel of a suspense horror type thing. Things in the shadows just out of sight that were going to get you. And it was starting to build up in that direction. And then it decided it wanted to be more like a Buffy/Charmed/Dark Angel sort of thing with teenagers with special powers trying to work out how to live life with those powers. And then it decided to be a big battle with a bad guy, and try to do Matrix style fight things. With one scene where the one guy throws CGI spaghetti at the other guy. Um... yeah. It just never came together, and you never really cared at all about any of the people. And then after the big battle, in the part where the cliche says that everybody is feeling safe, so there must be one last attack coming, or at least a glimpse of the bad guy crawling away to set up the sequel... there just wasn't. Not saying that cliche is always needed, it is a bad cliche after all, but given that it was NOT there, you just kept feeling like things had built up, and then it was just over in a way that was so predictable you couldn't quite believe that was REALLY how it ended.
Lets put it another way... Amy fell asleep during the climactic fight scene.

Amy and Brandy wanted to go to another movie tonight. I pointed out that we had gone to one pretty recently. Brandy said "But that sucked so much, it doesn't count!" And that was that. I stayed home cause I had some things to do. But they went to another movie tonight. The Guardian. I hear that sucks too, so they will probably want to go to another movie next week.

Abulsme - Mon, 2 Oct 2006, 21:31:15 PDT
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