Tuesday, March 31

The View From Above

Last week's trip to Chicago wasn't the first time I'd taken a plane ride, nor was it the first time I'd taken my camera on a trip. But it was the first time I'd combined the two. So while I did take photos of the snow machine in Denver and the equipment I was trained on in Chicago, I took photos inside a plane for the first time.

The return flight from Denver to Salt Lake afforded me a luxury I'd never experienced before - since the flight was "created" just for those of us stranded in Denver due to the weather, there were only 35 people on the plane, a Boeing 757. With so few people, there was plenty of room to stretch out, and we all took advantage of that.

When I checked in that morning, I'd requested a window seat, though it didn't much matter, since I had a whole row to myself!

During taxiing in Denver and through the de-icing operation, the Captain said he'd keep his chatter to a minimum, said he figured we all would just want to sleep. And we did. So it figures that just as I was floating into peaceful slumber, the plane had just banked right to fly up the Salt Lake Valley and on came the pilot to announce our descent. The loudspeaker? About four inches from my right ear. Emphasis on the loud.

That's about the time I realized I hadn't taken any airborne photos. So here are the best ones. Sorry about the haloes around some of the images, it couldn't be helped what with the several layers of non-optical-quality glass between me and the ether.

Next flight will have more photos, though with my luck I'll only fly at night.

Sunday, March 29

I'm Not A Dreamer

I'm not one to figure out what dreams mean. Someone else in the family has done that kind of research.

This afternoon during a nap, I had one of the most peculiar ones in recent memory. I've never dreamed of this particular subject, so it really took me by surprise. That, and I didn't dream at all over the last week; before, during, or after my trip to Chicago.

Last week, I didn't sleep well. Despite being far from home, without the annoyances of dogs getting between my legs and being in the way when I roll over in my sleep - I toss and turn even when I'm dead to the world - I was never really able to get into a deep sleep. And possibly that I missed the comfort of our bed. And missing Marilee terribly.

Oh, since we've been together, we'd been apart, but the only two times that happened was when I'd gone to California, and had stayed with my Aunt Mary Lou; my Cousin Erin was there, too, both times.

But last week, was the first time I'd really been on my own in the last five years. I'd almost prided myself those many years before I'd met Marilee, I felt I was so independent. So last week was a shock to my system. And though I've felt a bit of cabin fever since I pulled into the driveway Friday morning after an exasperating return from Chicago, I've loved every minute being with Marilee. Even with the dogs getting in the way.

I've been taking more naps than I recall ever taking in a three day period - feels like much longer than three days. I've slept really hard - deep, comfortable sleep.

I expected that during my earlier nap today that I'd sleep just as hard, but wasn't expecting a dream to happen. Upon awakening, I remembered having the dream, and still do, three hours later.

The dream had to do with my Uncle Grover. I never met him - he died in the Pacific Theater during World War II. He was a PT boat captain, though he died several years before JFK came along in PT109. The dream wasn't much more than I already knew about my Uncle. And really, there wasn't much detail in the dream, just that the dream "existed".

What the dream meant, I couldn't say. Just that I had it makes me wonder why.

Maybe there was a disturbance in the Force.

Utah Snow

11:30am Utah time.


Followed me from my trip last week.


Rocket Science

At any moment in time, someone, somewhere is explaining a detail-ridden procedure of some sort to a group of people. Receiving nothing but blank stares, that person, in desperation, blurts out "This isn't rocket science!".

The punch line of this is that the person doesn't realize he's explaining the procedure to a bunch of rocket scientists.

It's a Utah joke. Supposedly this happened at Morton Thiokol, the Utah folks who make the SRB's for the Space Shuttle.

OK, so everything doesn't need to be rocket science. But interestingly enough, I was inclined to blurt out the rocket science bit last week while watching one of my classmates attach a part to another assembly with screws.1 The assembly was of such mass that it could be picked up and rotated on a table top so as to make assembly easier. In other words, to allow gravity to be your friend rather than your enemy.

Consider this: two screws need to be attached to a part. The part can be rotated in six different axes; think of this as a cube. The screws need to find purchase in threaded holes. In only one axis are the screw holes visible.

The room is bright - there are fluorescent lights above. It is also daytime. The person doing the assembly is not blind. And we have not worked on this machine long enough to say that we can work on them with our eyes closed. With me so far?

I'm watching all of this with another classmate - I start vibrating in anguish and use every nerve I have left to keep from grabbing the whole mess away from him and doing it myself. And even at one point glance up to see the other classmate glancing back and smiling; she, too, appears to be vibrating in anguish.

In thirty-plus years in this business I've learned that gravity is your friend, and it's OK to use your friend however you see fit. So if you can manipulate this friend to your advantage, then do so.

The answer would have been to rotate the intended assembly vertically so that not only would the threaded screw holes be visible from above, but that the screws themselves would be inserted from above. And if the screws should become dislodged from one's grip, they'd be right there to grab.

Putting the screws in from the side - any side - where you cannot see the holes, doesn't do anyone any good.

Eventually, after much tribulation and trial, the classmate finally did get the screws in. And it wasn't until later in the class when a conversation got around to discussing two-dimensional bar codes that this same classmate asked "Why not three-dimensional?", that I realized the problem.

Obviously, there was a disconnect in the third dimension.

Rocket science indeed.

1 During the entire three days of class, I did not mention my blog even once. Sure, I had my bob's bs journal out in which to take notes, but nowhere is the website address listed. So when I speak of my classmates, I feel rather secure in the knowledge that none of my classmates will ever read my blog. Or know that this post is written about them.

Saturday, March 28

Missed Opportunities

There were a few things I had wanted to do when I was in Chicago last week. No, I didn't want to see the Sears Tower or Wrigley Field. Not that I would have refused a visit, but I really just didn't have time.

[In hindsight, I could have stayed another day due to my connecting flight from Denver to Salt Lake being canceled, but oh well.]

Prior to my departure for the Windy City, I wanted to do only a few things - first and foremost was to pass the class I was there for. This was a business trip after all.

I also knew beforehand that Chicago was to be a book-signing-tour stop for Heather B. Armstrong, one of my favorite bloggers - her website dooce.com is a guilty pleasure. But she was to be in Chicago on Thursday and I was to leave that afternoon.

The only other thing I really wanted to do was make a pilgrimage to AS&S. For some time I've been reading their science and surplus print catalogs and website; when I found out they have a retail store, and was going to be in that neck of the woods, I'd try to get over there.

If I had a car, that is.

As it turned out, of course, the proximity of the airport, the hotel, and the class location made that impossible. I was SO tempted to get a rental car - but finances ruled that out. Hell, I even took Jill with me just in case.

With all the Chicago propaganda I brought back with me, another visit to Chicagoland may be in the cards. Marilee seemed a bit interested in the prospect. And I may go back that way for more training in the future, so who knows.

Maybe even make a mini-vacation out of it.

Unintentional Obama Critique

From the Wednesday morning edition of the Daily Herald, a Chicago newspaper:

I don't know what the political makeup of Chicago is. However, since President Obama is from Illinois, I'd think that the press (and the people) would be reluctant to comment on his presidency in this way.

There's a journalistic term for poorly-placed headlines in printed media but I appear to have misplaced my notes from my Tustin High Journalism class.

THIS is a classic example of headline placement gone bad.

[Please note that I am in no way trying to diminish the importance of the music teacher remembered in the "He was a riot" article. Just one of those times when a poorly-placed headline makes a mockery of print journalism.]

Friday, March 27

Aloft Hotel Denver

This week, after finding out my flight from Denver to Salt Lake City had been cancelled, I was met with the choice of either staying the night in the airport a la Tom Hanks in The Terminal, or using the UAL-supplied voucher for a reduced-rate stay in a local hotel. I ultimately chose the latter.

Ultimately was the case when first I called the supplied number and was told there was only one room left in the area, it was forty-five minutes away, and there was no hotel-supplied transportation. Let's see - it was then 10pm, about 11pm before I'd even get to the hotel, then up at three to get a cab, four to get it, five to get...

I dropped my carry-ons into a nearby seat just as a Denver International employee asked "Staying the night?" "Yup." "Compliments of the City of Denver" and handed me a hermetically-sealed blanket.

This wasn't looking promising.

Adjacent to where I'd dropped everything was a telephone bank, and from where I was seated, could see another weary traveler tapping away at his laptop, his AC adapter plugged into an outlet next to the phones. I figured, what the hell, I'll surf the night away.

That's when I noticed my hotel voucher had a website address. Hmmm... I had nothing to lose.

"Only one available room in the area" my ass. There was a room available, it was only fifteen minutes from the airport, and their shuttle was shared by Marriott, among others. And only $69.

I'd never packed my laptop bag that fast. I was out the door even before the hard drive had spun down.

Waiting for the Marriott shuttle out in ten degree weather - and blowing snow - in a light jacket wasn't fun, but after a short ride I was checking in at the Aloft Hotel Denver.

From the outside, I'd never have guessed that this was even a hotel. It honestly looked like an office building. Inside, however, there was a bar, funky sofas, and a slightly-heavy metal beat in the background. The circular check-in desk was a bit unexpected, but I wasn't in the mood to be picky. What awaited me was a soft bed to catch some Z's before my 6am flight the next morning.

Card key in hand, I made it to my room in no time. Landing on the second floor, it again looked like I was in an office building. This is a hotel?

Once in my room, I wondered aloud who the hell had the air conditioner on in this weather and made a beeline for the heater controls. Cranked it to 79 degrees - the highest setting - and waited. And felt... something.

It felt a bit like I was back out waiting for the hotel shuttle. And amazed that SNOW was blowing in through a gap between the heating unit and the wall.

About to do an about-face, I decided instead to grin and bear it, and buried myself under the covers. And the next thing I heard was the wake-up call I requested when I checked in, four hours later.

Others have reviewed the Aloft chain, and there's no reason to go into too much detail here. The place is designed for the upwardly mobile executive who needs a place to hook up their laptop, a place to sleep, and a place to freshen up before that next multi-hundred dollar business meeting. Million-dollar? I'd have chosen the Marriott next door. But for my needs, it was just OK.

I did eventually make it home; that's where I am now. While the amenities were overly-modern, and unexpected, the surprise of the in-room snow machine made me want to write this review.

Wednesday, March 25

Lexie's A Slut

So said Marilee this afternoon after I sent her a photo I'd taken of Lexie last week.

Had a few minutes to spare in class, and had brought my camera to class to take some pix of the machine I was working on.

Realized that I hadn't sent the pic to Marilee yet, so did so today.

That's Lexie the Slut.

Lexie has an unwavering habit of staying outside for potty far longer than is necessary; though I wasn't home for it, I got a play-by-play of what happened yesterday from Marilee.

She'd gone out yesterday and though Marilee had to excessivly coax her back inside, when she did, Lexie was soaked from head to toe from the freshly-fallen snow. And when Marilee tried to pick her up with the towel to dry her off, she ran. And when she finally did capture her to dry her off, Lexie growled at Marilee.

Yesterday I was in one of those funks where I realized I really did need to get Marilee her own dog, since it was really becoming apparent that I really HAD stolen her dog.

Until this afternoon, that is.

Marilee informed me that she has a new admirer - Lexie! Seems Lexie even slept with her last night, something I'm reluctant to admit she'd never really done before.

So maybe I don't need to get her another dog. The real test will be early - really early - Friday morning when I get home...

Ass Key Two

This post is pure geek. So you may want to skip it if you're not up to it.

The title of this post is, literally, a pet peeve. I had not heard someone say "Ass Key Two" since, oh, about 1976. The dark ages. Before the internet as we know it now. Before the web (as we know it now). Before a lot of things, including the IBM Personal Computer.

In the wondrous days of yore.

The term "Ass Key Two" does not actually exist. Partially, it is an acronym coined early on in serial communications. The correct (yes, italicized, bolded, and underlined) version of this acronym is thus:


There is no two.

This acronym means "American Standard Code for Information Interchange". Pronounced only "Ass Key".

ASCII is the code whereby (for example) the letter "A" is represented by the bits 1000001. In hex it's 41.

And the code 0110010?

That is a numeric 2.


That's not a II.

Early Morning Chicago

And I do mean early.

Looks like it's going to be a sparklin' day. Sparklin'.

The overcast is gone and is a bit more chilly than last night. May actually be able to see more of the surroundings if only because the sun will be out.

Was trying to remember the last time I was in Chicago, although I only really got to see Schaumburg then. Similarly overcast as the last two days here, that was over thirty years ago. Wonder if the Tech Specialist from MSI is still around, and would he still remember me. Will have to look him up.

Brian Knox - you still around?

Anyway, as class starts early today, breakfast isn't ready yet down in the lobby. Not til 6:30. Coffee's left over from yesterday - I need my coffee...

Anywho - got me a Dominick's Supermarket Fresh Values card last night and actually got Catalina coupons. How is it that I get coupons when far from home and not at home?


Tuesday, March 24

Nothing To See Here

Move along.

Well, nothing to see from the hotel window, anyway.

Spoke with Dave from the "office" this afternoon; he said to check out "Happy Hour" in the lobby at the hotel. I did not believe him.

Dave's stayed here at the Vernon Hills Holiday Inn Express twice before, so he knew about some of the amenities.

I had already gone around the corner to Dominick's Supermarket (or whatever the hell they call grocery stores in this neck of the woods) and picked up a four-pack of Guinness, and had consumed a couple, so I wasn't quite ready to go out. Or mingle.

Watched a bit of TV, and after feeling quite dark beer mellow - no 3-point-2 beer in sight - headed down to the lobby.

Damn. They actually have a TAP.

So what Dave said was true - free beer.

This experience has suddenly become more bearable.

PLEASE - Share This With Your Friends And Family

A Disposable Society:

Is It True That...

So began a short conversation with a couple of women in town for a conference of some sort or other.

I was down at the nattily-appointed smoking area of the hotel where I'm staying. I thought to myself as soon as the question was asked that I would hear for the umpteenth time what the rest of the world thinks of Utah.

I'd heard enough of that in 2002 during the Olympics. It was, after all, in all the newscasts and publications from around the planet. "The World Is Welcome Here" was the slogan, with the tongue-in-cheek addendum "...as long as you don't want to smoke, or drink coffee or liquor."

The question was directed, of course, at Utah's drinking laws. Sure, the just-completed legislative session addressed several liquor and drinking related laws, and honestly, I don't recall any of them as being passed or defeated, since I don't frequent establishments that serve beverages of that sort. If only to impart wisdom on those who don't live here. I prefer to imbibe at home once I know I'm not going out for the duration of the evening.

Yes, it's true you have to get a membership at a bar - in Utah parlance, a "Private Club" - to drink at said establishment. I was all over myself with glee when I first moved to Utah 22 years ago when I told my relatives in California that I had indeed joined a Private Club - they were so proud of me.

I just laughed.

Monday, March 23

In Chicago

Not really. I'm actually in Vernon Hills, a suburb of Chicago.

First things first: Research the airplane you're going to get before you go to the airport. I had thought I was going to be on a Boeing aircraft. No, THIS is what I flew in to Chicago:

Same plane, different airline - I flew United.

I wouldn't exactly say the quarters were cramped; it's only four per row with a center aisle. But you got to see and HEAR what your seatmates were doing. All over the damn plane.

Since I was all the way in the back and conveniently located next to the lavatories, every sound known to man and then some were coming from in there, but came nowhere close to the SCREAMING baby on board who commenced before takeoff to just before landing. The little dear was probaby worn out.

Since there was overcast - undercast? - at 37,000 feet, there wasn't much to see outside, but the German couple in front of me were starting to get everone's attention. Cramped quarters nonetheless, they kept up a show they could have charged admission for.

Thursday I'll be flying Boeing aircraft, thank God - a 757 for one hop and a 777 for the other.

Next time I'll drive before getting on a CRJ700.

Sunday, March 22

Where I'm Not

OK, I've said I miss my old work-issued Blackberry. Now I have a work-issued Motorola VU204 phone. Stripped bare, it has no email address associated with it, nor does it come with a plan allowing me to surf the web. It is, for all intents and purposes, just a phone.

Which is fine - also work-issued is an AirCard which allows me to email and surf the web, wirelessly. But back to the phone.

One thing that always bothered me about my Blackberry was not the phone per se, but the phone number.

Someone in upper management [tread carefully, Mr. bobsbs] had decided that to cut down on people getting telephone calls from friends during the work day and thus not doing work, that we should have long-distance phone numbers on our phones. No one is going to want to call someone if it's going to cost them money.

Critical Note: These phones were initially issued years ago. Years ago when the thought of free long distance was only a dream, if not an unreachable goal.

But I digress...

So it came as no surprise that my phone had a long-distance phone number; to be precise, my phone is locked into a Riverside, California area code of 909.

Similarly, my old boss had - still has - a phone with an area code of 410, for Baltimore, Maryland. And the rest of the country? Since the company at the time was based in Utah, yes, all of those phones have area codes of 801. Confusing? You betcha. Caller ID doesn't help for sh!t.

SO the dictum came down that thou shalt not have a Blackberry and an AirCard. One had to go. I chose to have a full-on laptop and give up the Crackberry.

The order was made for the new phone and I received it about a month ago. Carefully transferred all my old numbers into the phone and proceeded to activate the phone. And...

[I bet you know where this is going.]

Yes, I STILL have a phone with a 909 area code.

So. friends, even if any of you don't know anyone in Riverside and surrounding locales and you get a phone call from area code 909, you just might want to pick up.

It's probably me.

Foxtrot Cartoon

I love it when tech meets the Sunday Funnies in the newspaper:

FoxTrot by Bill Amend

Saturday, March 21

Fur Turds

Everyone else on the planet calls them something else - allow me to give the gory and oh-so-gross description of what WE call them...

When a cat grooms him- or herself, they are, in effect, removing dead hair from their coats. You'd think that the hair would just pass through their digestive tract and come out the, uh, other end.

BUT if there's too much of this fibrous material, the digestive tract knows not what to do with it and reverses direction.

As the reversed exit is primarily cylindrical, so, too, is the mass. And what the rest of the world calls a hairball, around here we call them...


A fur turd.

[Phrase originally coined by Marilee DeLong.]

There Should Be A Petition

To ban sunglasses on wives.

I truly hate it when Marilee wears her sunglasses. The ones she wears all the time are so dark, one cannot see behind them. Oh, I'm sure she can see through them; I just can't see what she's looking at.

That steely glare she gave me last night at Penney's would have been lost if she'd been wearing her shades; then again, she would have gotten her fair share of stares for wearing them indoors.

Friday, March 20

Shopping At JC Penneys

With Marilee.

For unmentionables.

While I don't much mind shopping with Marilee, when she goes off looking for stuff like that, I need to keep my mind on the matter at hand, and just grin and bare bear it.

And keep my damn mouth shut.

After commenting on the old saw "Over the shoulder boulder holders" and getting a steely stare - and not much else - I then became a mobile hanger, carrying her new bras for her. She, of course, got quite the kick out of it. I figure I had it coming.

And kept my damn mouth shut.


For the first time in a loooong time, I'll be going to a formal training class for work. In Chicago.

I'll be in transit to Chicago on Monday, school is Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and I'll be back in town for all of Friday. It'll be a late night Thursday, however, since the flight lands at about 11:30pm.

May not be too coherent on Friday, but we'll see how it goes.

I'll try to post updates while in Chicago, and yes, I'm taking my camera.

Look for tweets on Twitter from time to time as well...

Today Is...

...the Vernal Equinox.


The dinosaurs in that town in the Uintah Basin are celebrating.

[from an email a friend sent today. It was worth repeating. Thanks, Susan.]

Awesome Taste Treat

The local Costco now has half-gallon jugs of blueberry juice - in fact the label says simply "Just Blueberry". And is it tart? No, it's TART. With the ubiquitous capital T. Italicized, and bold, no less.

When we first picked up a bottle of this stuff, I added a teaspoonful of sugar to make it palatable. A few days later, when Marilee went to Target, she picked up a half-gallon jug of Welch's Concord Grape. Upon seeing the two jugs sitting side-by-side, it dawned on me to mix the two.

Oh - My - God.

JUST tart enough that you know you're getting the blueberry, and JUST sweet enough to make out the grape.

And I'll bet you can't overdose on anti-oxidants - blueberries are chock full of them.

Awesome taste - do try some!


Yeah, I took the plunge. I'm on Twitter.

How often will I post to my Twitter account? Dunno.

Everyone's using it, but I'm not sure just how I'll use it. Besides, do you really want to know what I'm doing during the day?

Besides, if I'm elbows-deep in a printer or server, I've got better things to do than text on my cell phone.

Thursday, March 19

Proposed Caffeine Tax

From ksl.com last week: "...A proposal to tax caffeine in Utah is being met with skepticism, even outrage, from people who cherish their diet colas and coffees."

Article's here.

There's a "Thou shalt not" on just about everything bad for you in LDS literature. Of note is one which says - paraphrased here - "Thou shalt not imbibe intoxicating beverages" and "Thou shalt not imbibe hot beverages". The former is extended to wine, hard liquor, beer, etc. You get the picture. But the latter? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot1.

The question is and always has been what, exactly, is a "hot beverage". If it were me making the "laws" from an ecclesiastic point of view, I'd say that that points to coffee. But is not hot chocolate also a hot beverage if only from its definition? And what about hot tea?

Coffee and tea (each in their hot state) contain caffeine. But so does Coca Cola, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, etc., albeit in a cold state. So what does that mean for the major percentage of Utah's population?

It means caffeine must be bad, too.

And addictive.

Walk into a 7-11 or Maverik any time of the day or night and see the hordes filling up their gallon-sized mugs with caffeine-laced beverages. Hell, there are even gallon-sized mug holders hanging off of their car window sills. Don't know how many times those folks fill up their mugs throughout the day, but I'll bet they get more caffeine - and more sugar than their bodies can metabolize, I'm sure - than I do in the several mega-cups of coffee I consume in a day.

But wait, there's more. When I lived in California, no-one I knew had ever touched a drop of decaf coffee. Or decaf Coke. Or... you get the idea. Why, then, are decaf drinks so BIG in Utah? Decaf cans of coffee fly off the shelves at grocery stores; so do decaf cans of Coke. So what's the deal with that?

There are those who would believe it's not the hot beverage that's to blame, it's the caffeine. So consumption of a hot decaf cup of coffee is OK from an ecclesiastic point of view.

And cheaper, too, if that new tax goes into effect.

1 aka WTF. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is the NATO phonetic alphabet version of WTF. If you have to ask what WTF stands for, you probably should cover your ears when you find out.

Wednesday, March 18


A common sight in the early days of computing was the ubiquitous "THINK" sign, as shown here at IBM's website.

As common as the slogan was, the idea of thinking has been a credo we can all live with, computers or otherwise.

So, too, must we think about everything we do. Like the mother who says "If your friend jumped off a cliff, would you do the same?", or the lemming who follows all the previous leaders who do likewise and jump off their cliff, we all must think before doing something that would otherwise be threatening to our survival.

This morning, out of curiosity's sake, I clicked on a link at Facebook for a group that suggests they can get one million Mormons to join. Called appropriately "1 Million Mormons on Facebook" or "1MMoFb", I read with disinterest one of their posts regarding objectionable content:

While I don't believe in Mormon bashing, and I've written about that fact before, it's definitely a bad idea if you want that portion of the populace from ever visiting your blog again. I think this Facebook group should think about what they posted and how it comes across to those who consider thinking as important as breathing.

Yes, I thought about what I've written above in this post.

And that's the whole idea.

Tuesday, March 17


Occasionally, Marilee will see a boss car on TV and say "We should get one of those."

Did I say "boss"?

SHE says "hot".

Don't know if she wants one due to some sort of midlife crisis, or if she thinks I need one for my perceived midlife crisis.

I'm not going to have a midlife crisis.

Yeah, right:

Photo Gallery: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro

Dammit, I miss my '79 Camaro...

Man Used Drive-thru To Rob Bank

Texas Police Say Man Used Drive-thru To Rob Bank - CBS News

The article says the FBI is declining comment - probably because they're still laughing hysterically.

Monday, March 16

Morning Upholstery Cleaning

Any early morning blog post that begins with "cleaning" cannot be good. And, yes, Bambi was involved.

Saturday afternoon shopping had Marilee at Target - we won't be going to the local Walmart anytime soon - buying a bubbling, warming, massaging foot bath, with likewise Aveeno Oatmeal Foot Bath "stuff".

Did I mention oatmeal?

Marilee had her foot bath last evening; afterwards dumping the water contained therein, unit dried and set aside. And the remaining "stuff" left on the side table. Bedtime last night, Taylor announces Bambi is into something but it's late and we pay no nevermind to him.

Morning comes, Lexie has already been out, and now the other regiment now needs to potty. And afterwards, Bambi troops up to the bedroom carrying something.

Yes. The half-empty oatmeal foot bath packet.

The stuff is EVERYWHERE. On the floor, on her, and ON THE CHAIR. Bambi, having licked, licked, licked, LICKED the oatmeal to a thick glue consistency, has now embedded it into the fine fibers of the chair. For those of you familiar with this chair, it was formerly known as "Jenn's Chair". Makes you want to sit in that chair again, hmmm?

The vacuum didn't get all of it up as it has a problem sucking concrete. But it'll eventually come out. How?

There will be a giant wet spot on the chair when we get home.

Sunday, March 15

Bubble Butt

That would be Bambi.

Given the opportunity, Bambi would eat herself to death. We always have to keep an eye on her; no food can be left within her reach. That skinny nose would be in as small a spot as you could imagine, and would lick and lick her quarry until she couldn't get back out.

But that's her breed - she is, after all, a Rat Terrier. Any space a rat could get into, she'd be after it.

Saturday evening's meal was Mac and Cheese. A favorite around here. And this morning was time for leftovers. Marilee had just nuked a plate of The Cheesiest with sides of green beans and taco salad. And while watching a bit of TV, had an audience: both Lexie and Bambi were in rapt attention.

Afterwards, Bambi took up residence on Marilee's lap. Now, in the evenings at bedtime, Bambi's favorite place is under the covers. And while mornings are times for being awake, Bambi would rather spend more time under the covers than being out and about.

Showing her burrowing nature, her head was the only thing covered on Marilee's lap.

And showing her great love for food, Bambi decided to give us an ample view.

Of her bubble butt.

Sunday Morning Jackhammer

Or at least that's what it sounded like.

This morning, bright and early, it again sounded like someone breaking concrete nearby. That's right, this wasn't the first time I'd heard this sound. First time was yesterday afternoon; I heard it, Marilee heard it, and Bambi and Lexie heard it. Bambi, so much so that she started barking at the sound. At the fireplace.

I know that sound travels in mysterious ways - an echo from far away can reverberate in ways only an audio technician can understand, and I'm not an audio technician. This sound could have originated deep in the earth's crust and found an outlet in...

Like in my old apartment in Murray, I kept hearing a strange buzzing sound coming from one of my walls. It sounded like a 60-Hz AC buzzing like you hear in speakers when the shielding's not quite right. That buzzing ended up being the next-door-neighbor's aquarium pump in a too close proximity to my ear. Or when two AC circuits are too close to each other and the actual wires' electromagnetic induction makes them vibrate, of which there can be disastrous consequences.1

But this sound was a vibration. Coming from outside. Yesterday I'd heard the sound, stepped out onto the back porch, and heard the sound. And promptly figured it was the aforementioned jackhammer so went back inside; the noise promptly ended, so that was that. Then this morning happened.

Upon hearing the sound again, I went outside and slowly approached the chimney. And heard the sound - FROM the chimney.

A bit closer, and peered up at the chimney. And the sound happened again.

And backed up sufficiently to see the top of the chimney...

I think Woody snickered at me. Yes, a woodpecker has taken up residence atop our chimney.

1 Back in the day, I recall either a video or a photo - may have been a drawing - of a factory that had burned down because there were wires laying on an upstairs floor. Whenever the machinery below would start up, the electromagnetic induction between the two sets of wires would make the wires vibrate; this happened for a long enough time that the insulation eventually wore off the wires and shorted out, thus causing a fire. And for the life of me, internet isn't playing along and I cannot find reference to the fire. It's out there - somewhere.

Saturday, March 14

Book Sale

Sam Weller's is moving.

A Main Street fixture for 47 years, the store is moving to an undisclosed location, and that new location will be smaller. But according to an article in today's Des News, it will be just as funky as the current store.

Of course, if the new store's to be smaller, that means a heck1 of a lot of books will need to move before then.

So, starting Monday, used and rare books in Weller's massive basement and elsewhere will be discounted 25%, with deeper discounts as the move approaches.

If you have never been to Weller's Main Street store, now's your chance. And be sure to allocate enough time for your visit - there's much to see.

As the Des News article suggests, a new chapter is beginning.

1 As the complete name of Weller's is "Sam Weller's Zion Bookstore", I figured heck would be more appropriate...

I Have Too Many Dogomones

What's that you say?

In the same way that some people are able to attract members of the opposite sex without any real effort, I seem to have an ability to turn into mush any female dog that comes into my immediate area.

But "dogomones?"

That's what Marilee calls them. Pheromones that only a dog can detect I guess.

Considering that Bambi, Princess, and Lexie - and Jenn's Lady to a certain extent - all can't get enough of me, I imagine that's possible. Ramin's Belle, not so much; I think that may be the whole Bully breed thing.

So why should I be concerned about my excess of dogomones? Because Marilee says I've "stolen" Lexie from her. Late evening, Lexie would rather hang out with me than spend time with Marilee. Lexie will even have that "save me from this human" look when Marilee is holding her.

Even now, Marilee's gone off to work, and Lexie's sitting next to me on the couch rather than cutting a few extra Z's upstairs in the bedroom with Bambi.

I've tried ignoring Lexie, but she gives me that "I'm so cute look", or does a play bow that's equally cute and I can't help myself.

Traditionally, I've been a "cat guy" and not so much for dogs - male or female - but with three female dogs in the mix it appears I'm screwed.

Marilee says now she wants to get a dog that will only hang out with her - but that's what Lexie was supposed to be.

But maybe - just maybe - I need to get a dog just for ME.

Stay tuned for that brilliantly stimulating conversation.

Wednesday, March 11

My Wife, The Dealer

Actually, she's not THE dealer, she's more of a middle-person.

Last Friday she comes home with a box. Smallish in size was the box, containing five smaller boxes. Green in color.

One box for Marilee, one for me, one for Taylor, and one each for Chris and Jenn.

THE dealer is the Girl Scouts.

The actual contents: Thin Mint cookies.

"What's in the box?" is said to Marilee.


It's Not The Heat

Yesterday, I asked Marilee if the printers at her work jam a lot; she said they did. "Why?"

Lately, she's had a persistent cough - one of those little tickle kinds of coughs. Nothing ever comes of it (read produced), but doesn't stay around all the time.

Last Sunday, as she always does this time of year, she went out to Jenn's for the weekly NASCAR race. She said she coughed all the way to Jenn's, but not while she was in the house.

Feeling a sparkle in my eye and a light bulb over my head, I asked "How long have you had this cough?"

"Since about last June" was the reply.

"Do you remember coughing when we were in California?"

A deep thought later, "No, I didn't."

Getting up off the couch and walking over to the mantel, I asked "Did you cough at all after you got back from Jenn's on Sunday?"

"No, only on the way."

I handed her what I had picked up off the mantle. "And you cough all day at work?"

I had handed her a very low-budget humidity gauge. The plastic kind you can get at a home-improvement store like Home Depot; typically they're in the HVAC section.

She took it to work on Monday; she reported the humidity level was about 25.

When she got home last night (Tuesday), she said the humidity level had gone down to 15 percent.

Only when she's in a humidity-rich environment like here at home, or at Jenn's, does she stop coughing. And though the weather in California in December wasn't wet, it wasn't as dry as it was outdoors in Salt Lake City on Sunday.

Or in her office.

And printers are very sensitive to humidity levels. Just a quick look at one of my printer service manuals confirms that - a typical office printer should not operate in humidity levels lower than 20 percent.

...it's the humidity.

Safe Baby Handling Tips

The following book was (sort of) referenced in a post by a friend on Facebook. From the start, I needed to find out just where such gems as the following came from:

Utterly hilarious. Looks humane to me.

The book's available from Amazon.

Tuesday, March 10

Shopping Tonight At WalMart

I actually like shopping with Marilee. By myself, not so much. I don't shop - I always know what I'm going to get, so it's in and out without much thought - with the all-important BUY in the middle.

Yesterday, after a brilliantly stimulating conversation, we realized we had nothing substantial in the house to eat, and planned on tonight for our foray into the abyss of WalMart. Big box stores being what they are, this particular WalMart always seems to be overrun with customers and under-staffed. Guess they haven't yet figured out that the majority of people wait until after work to go shopping. As did we.

After shopping the expanse of the store prior to the grocery side, Marilee turned to me and, with a serious look, said "Do you realize I haven't been in a grocery store since before Christmas?"

Now THAT was profound. And made me realize that I had been the one shopping since then. If carrying a shopping list means that I was shopping, then so be it. But again, it's in and out with BUY in the middle.

We shopped for an hour. At least. Then came the reminder that this store is understaffed.

Only four registers were open, and I swear the cashiers were all trainees. Seven-deep past the registers the customers stood. Mentioning that the wait was easily going to be a half hour, I had to agree. And then I saw my lovely wife do something I was NOT prepared for.

She did an about-face and headed for one of the clothing areas.

I followed, not really knowing what she was up to, until she turned, talked to me imperceptibly, and walked AWAY from the cart. And soon the store.

Without the BUY in the middle.

"I taught you a bad habit tonight" was all she said.

I had to agree.

Monday, March 9

No More Hunchback For Me

Over the course of the last few years, I'd had this odd back problem - no, not that back problem, the other back problem. Not like I had a mop handle up my...

No, this particular back problem made me look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame - I had a Blackberry. Crackberry for those of you in the know.

Today, I stopped using my CrackBlackberry cold-turkey. Even President Obama couldn't do that, as we've been told. Why would I want to cease my addiction to the little device that's been my pal for so long?

Because I had to.

I really had no choice - either the Blackberry had to go, or the laptop's AirCard. The AirCard only runs at the blistering speed of 115K, but it's full internet capable. Wirelessly. Nice to have out on a late night call waiting for some help-desk or other to decide whose problem it is. In the meantime, I can check my GMail or play Scrabble with a friend over at Facebook.

The Blackberry's limited internet speed and limited screen size made the choice easy. But I already miss the little bugger. It's been clipped to my belt for a long time.

So now I have the high-speed AirCard and a real phone. And, as with the Blackberry, it STILL has a California area code.

Don't get me started on that travesty.

You Just Never Know Who's Going To Visit

While I use the ClustrMap service over on the right-hand side of my blog to get a general idea of who is reading me, I use a bit of embedded code on said blog to give me a bit more detail. While it's more detailed, it does not show actual names. But after many months it has become clear just who visits. To wit:

Hi Nanci!

Hi Chris!

Hi Jenn!

Anyway, I had a visitor this morning from somewhere in Texas. Houston, to be exact.

The web works in mysterious ways - all I had to do was mention the red panda story that Texas' Houston Press ran, and who should visit, but someone from THE Houston Press.

Imagine that.

Hi, Houston Press!

In The Trib This Morning

According to Benjamin Edelman, a Harvard Business School professor, broadband Internet users in religious conservative states subscribe to on-line pr0n sites in disproportionate numbers, and Utah leads the nation with 5.47 subscribers per thousand.

Likely won't see mention of this in the Des News.

Read the article.

Sunday, March 8

Got An Email Last Week

It appears that time has accelerated over the past year. As we all know - and some of you being younger have not realized yet - as we age, time seems to go by much faster than when we were young.

So that email I got last week came rather more quickly than I ever imagined. The email was from GoDaddy - an official email, no less. An email that tells me my domain name registration is about to expire.

Actually, that's not entirely true. When I originally grabbed bobsbs.com, I set the re-registration to automatically renew. Now that the one-year anniversary of this blog is coming up next month, I'm contemplating letting the registration run out. Oh, the blog will still remain at blogger.com, just without the bobsbs.com part.

I had this dream, when I started out this blog, that I'd make some money doing it. I've got some ads over on the right-hand side that no-one ever clicks on, but just their presence makes me money, although as of today my sum total "earnings" from said advertisements adds up to a whopping $5.55.

That gives one pause when you consider there are folks making tens-of-thousands of dollars writing a blog. Some hundreds.

Part of the problem, and it's something I hadn't realized until Marilee and I went book shopping this week, that if someone reads your blog via a feed, they never see your ads. Even so, shouldn't there then be folks hitting your blog in the first place to get the feed?

I got a book while shopping called "ProBlogger". Maybe it will provide some insight on how to make this thing worth my time.

I know I can write. YOU know I can write. But everyone else doesn't seem to know, or at least want to read what I've written.

So what to do? Dunno. Over the next few weeks I'll decide if I should keep this up, or devote my time to writing other things.

I'd appreciate your comments.

Friday, March 6

Thursday, March 5

Bizkit The Sleepwalking Dog

A word of warning: Do not drink ginger ale or root beer before or during your viewing of the following video.

Nose explosions aren't pretty.

Wednesday, March 4

Music Appreciation

The drive to Taylorsville High to drop off Taylor this morning offered some insight into the mind of a teenager - no, I'd rather not know ALL the things that go on in a teenager's mind, I've been there - and how music affects them.

This particular conversation which was marginally brilliantly stimulating had to do with some current band that had remixed "You Spin Me Round" by Dead or Alive in 1985. Taylor said they'd made it sound better.

Blasphemy! told him. "No, the words are the same, and has the same baseline, they just added drums and a guitar."


Jeebus, he gets crap grades in school and knows baseline?

Hell, I don't even know what the hell baseline is.

Maybe I do want to know what goes on in his mi...

No, not really.

Sunday, March 1

I'm Reading A Book

About writing a book.

The title is "Telling True Stories", an anthology of original contributions from many of today's leading journalists and non-fiction writers. I'm not even a quarter of the way through and know this might be THE best book about writing non-fiction.

My decision to read about writing began last year with this post. Marilee and I were talking again about the subject the other night; she said she'd ask her Mom for ideas, since her Mom was a teacher in an earlier life. Maybe that's why I seemed to like her Mom, since I came from a family of teachers - my Dad was a high school teacher (and Principal) as was my Aunt Shirley and several others that escape me just now.

Marilee also suggested I check out what classes might be available from SLCC, though I already knew one class that was a good starting point: Humanities. At that point, I showed her a keyword search I'd used on the TiVo last year. There were a couple upcoming shows on the humanities, so we set them to record.

One such show was to be on KUEN, titled "Humanities Through the Arts"; I watched it Saturday afternoon while Marilee was at work. I intended on watching the whole episode, but stopped about five minutes in - I had seen the phrase I was missing in trying to find books on my own about writing.

That phrase is "Narrative Non-Fiction." With that phrase in hand, off I went to a book store - specifically, the Barnes and Noble in Sugarhouse. I like the way that particular store is laid out and figured that was the best place to find what I was looking for.

And I wasn't disappointed.

I found three books that are getting me started on my narrative journey. The above-named book about telling stories is the one I'm reading now.

A second book by Stephen King (yes, that Stephen King) titled "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft" I started reading first in the book store, but stopped at the Foreword; he said in one short sentence that "...every aspiring writer should read 'The Elements of Style' by Strunk and White."

So I picked up a copy of that as well. I'll save the King novel for later.

Thus begins anew my desire - no, need - to write. I've an idea for a book but don't want to let on - yet - what the subject is. Mayhaps you'll just have to wait to see it on the best-seller list.

Made In Heaven

Tomorrow - Monday, March 2, 2009 - is the five-year anniversary of when Marilee and I met.

And we'll be celebrating it at the same location, doing the same thing we did five years ago - browsing the books in the basement at Sam Weller's.

[As it turns out, we may not be going after all. Marilee and Chris typically go to the gym on Mondays; she just reminded me of that. I'm hoping she decides instead to forego the gym visit.]

There will be only one real difference, of course - we'll get there in the same car. That night, I'd parked my van at the 21st South Trax station and rode it downtown wile Marilee drove her Grand Am and parked around the corner from Weller's.

After finding several books that struck our fancy, as we were about to go our separate ways, she asked where I was parked. I told her, and she offered to drive me down to the Trax station. I gladly accepted.

Arriving at the station, I took a bit of initiative, and leaned in for a kiss and caught her not only by surprise, but on the cheek as well.

Thus began our journey.

And how did we meet?

On match.com. A match made in heaven.
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