Friday, August 31, 2007

Living Large For A Moment

My friend has finally lived the dream of his life. He rolled in to the city of sin and checked into Imperial Palace Las Vegas like a big-time spender. This is something he has wanted to do for a very long time. He hit it big too. He arrived there in his $8,000 car and came back home by way of a $50,000 bus. For some reason, he's lost his fondness of greyhounds now...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Free Form verses Review type posts

There seems to be some confusion about what a free-form post is and what a review type post is. For example, if I were to do a free-form post on intranet software and link it to, I might write about the adventures that I'm having at work as I develop a program to connect our production test equipment through our network. In contrast, if I were to write a review type post, my post would be focused entirely on Epazz's intranet program. In this case, I would probably write about their 30 day free trial of their software; how they seek to improve workflow through an effective collaboration and in-depth personalization to the end-user's level; and how the software is designed to easily integrate to all of an enterprise's backend systems. The difference is that in a review post, the advertiser dictates what point they want covered. In a free-form, the writer has a creative license about the topic.

So if you are an advertiser who would like to have posts written for your product or service, please know that there is a difference between a review and a free-form entry. Please make your request accordingly and thank you for your support.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Marriage Tactics of One Southern Woman

Would you like to hear how a woman who is just under 5 feet tall was able to straighten out my friend, her 6 foot 6 tall husband? After a few months of marriage, my friend's wife began to realize that her husband wasn't quite as perfect as she believed him to be while they were dating. In fact, she discovered that he could be a downright slob at times -- his dirty clothes could be found strewn about the house, he drank straight from the milk carton and put the nearly empty container back in the fridge. As he put it, he was just short of marking his territory in the house. This blushing bride brought her concerns to his mother who told her that, as a new wife, she was going to have to get his attention right away "even if it takes hitting him upside the head with a frying pan."

The next day during dinner, this petite, patience, very passive wife talked about her concerns with large, loud husband who simply laughed it off as the mutterings of his "little woman". There is a limit to the patience of any good person. And his reaction simply infuriated her. She took the figurative advice of her mother-in-law literally and applied a fine piece of berndes cookware upside my friend's thick skull. When he came to, his new bride was nowhere in the house. She had in fact gone immediately to his mother, screaming "I think I killed him." The two women went straight back to the scene of the attitude adjustment and found my friend sitting in the kitchen, clutching an ice bag to the back of his head. He immediately apologized and said that he would change his ways. His mother added, "You gosh darn better!"

I am very happy to report that they have been married over 15 years now and have six children. My friend tells me from that moment on, he had a new found respect for his little bride. It's funny how a nonstick frying pan can cause some good things to stick.

He's Not As Bad As You Think

He steps into the office with the swagger of a bad ass. His leather boots make ominous thuds as he walks down the hall. The chains on his leather pants and jacket jingle just enough to get your attention. His black shaded, tough guy, Wiley X sunglasses hide his eyes so that all you can focus on is a dark mustache riding atop a deep scowling mouth.

Of course we know better. Outside is a beat up AMC Gremlin, held together by bond-O and chicken wire. Inside, he removes his sunglasses to reveal deep wrinkles about his blood-shot eyes. His mustache is an unnatural shade of black for a man his age. His leather pants may have once held a cow but now they stretch to extreme limits to contain his gut. His dark boots are scuffed and dull with the soles threatening to walk away on their own accord if they could. Clothes don't make the man. The man makes the man.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Programming for Fun and Profit

I have often heard that it is easy for programmers to make themselves indispensable to a company. Just keep your code cryptic and your documentation minimal if not, nonexistent. But these are just signs of a bad programmer and not of somebody that company could value.

Since I have never followed these ill-advised practices, perhaps that is why I am the only programmer left in my company. And now, my job function is in extremely high demand (though you never know how valuable I am from my pay raises, or lack thereof). So to try and make my job more accessible by the shrinking number of workers in our facility, I was able to convince my boss's boss to purchase a programming environment known as LabVIEW. Instead of writing thousands of lines of code and documentation, I can now drag and drop an icon of the function that I need. I can then draw a wire from the icon's inputs and outputs to that of other icons to create my program. Result is a picture that shows how the program flows in a way that almost anyone can understand. Amazingly, the size of the executable file has shrunken like a large person on a hoodia diet. So now I have a smaller, often times faster file that can be read and modified by someone other than me.

Now this doesn't mean I'm putting myself out of a job. Like any programming environment, LabVIEW has its own set of complexities and learning curve. But if I write my LabVIEW programs well with enough flexibility in them, someone else can be called to the floor to do the hand-holding that our production and sales often need. I can then spend my time more productively ... like looking for another job with a more appreciative company.

Fun With Toprol

I hope that this drug, Toprol, is worth taking because its side effects have been something else. When I began taking it a few days ago, the doctor instructed me to take only a quarter of the tablet and to do so in the evening. An hour after taking my first dosage that night, I understood why he said this. It was like feeling a gentle fog roll in through my muscles and through my thoughts. Have you ever had dreams where it feels as though you're moving through molasses or, worse yet, you have a claustrophobic immobility? As this drug-induced fog became denser, I became a bit concerned those nightmarish dreams were going to take form in my waking hours. Fortunately it stopped and simply became a slightly euphoric but overwhelming tiredness. In addition to that, my dreams have been nothing short of bizarre when I release myself to the world of sleep.

I am supposed to increase the dosage to a half of a tablet in a few days. But in reading more about the drug on WebMD, I've discovered that I can't suddenly stop taking it. Yet, while that tired euphoria isn't all that bad, it doesn't appear that I will have to seek addiction treatment because of the medicine. So to make sure I can stop taking Toprol, I'm changing my diet and habits. Time will tell how well all of this will work out.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Virtual Pain

More and more, virtual worlds like Second Life are mirroring the real world. For example, a Philharmonic Orchestra will be conducting a concert in the Second Life world. Tickets are on sale as you read this. Major car companies like Ford and Toyota have set up presence in these virtual worlds to sell virtual cars to virtual people. You can even buy real estate, which I think should be called fake estate or fantasy estate. But it is for sale when you transfer your real money into the virtual tender. There are even some greedy government officials (including those in the United States) who are considering taxing the transactions in these worlds with bills to be paid in real-world money ... naturally.

Where is this all going? I don't know. I guess I don't understand the idea of grinding away for 10 to 12 hours at my real-world job, only to come home and spend a couple more hours doing the same thing in a virtual world ... because it's fun? If I have my choice between this and a prickly heat rash, I am going to have to choose the latter, less painful option. But then, that's just me.

My Children Grew Up Too Quickly

One day my children were just learning to walk. And then I blinked and found my two oldest children in their 20s and my youngest in high school. I still love them even though they are older but I miss those carefree days of when they were little. They had a way of brightening up whatever room they were in. And not only because they wouldn't turn off the lights. They were, and still are, a joy to be around.

I was reflecting on this as I went through boxes of books and toys that they had as young children. There were old Dr. Seuss books, their favorite stuffed animals, and a box with kids bedding and their sleeping bags of the Little Mermaid and of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While these sleeping bags have faded over time, my memories of my children camping out in them are vibrant in color and sound. It's as if everything happened yesterday. So it will be with a touch of deep sadness as I give some of their old childish possessions to Goodwill. But they've grown up now, which is a good thing. Who wants kids that have grown sideways? I have learned a lot of things from them -- like patience ... and that the thirstiest child is the one who just went to bed. I may be getting rid of a lot of unwanted toys, but I'll still have lots of fond memories of my children until the day I die.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Have you ever wondered what happens to all those commercials that are on your TiVo, your replay TV, and your DVR? You know, those annoying wastes of valuable television viewing time; the ones that you zip through to get to the good stuff. Well, hold on tight to your remote because I think I have an idea who's time has come. How about a business that will pay you for all those commercials that you've collected on your recording devices? That's right, I'm talking about a commercial collection agency! After all, you are renting that equipment. And all those TV ads are taking up space on your equipment without paying you so much as a dime. It's time they paid their way instead of coming into your home and freeloading off your recording devices and your electricity. Would it be great if you could get rewarded because of a show's commercials? Of course, this may be difficult to do with QVC since it is ... commercial free? ...

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Wild And Crazy Bathroom

I have a friend who is remodeling his bathroom. He could do it the easy way and just throw in some fixtures from the hardware store, slap a coat of paint on the walls and ceiling, and dangle a couple of frilly towels on the towel rack. But noooooooooooo! He wants to do it in a 70s theme.

Imagine this. Instead of normal bathroom lighting, he's installing a disco ball. Actually, this complements the slick tub that he's installing very well. When I say "slick", I'm not referring to something sophisticated. I'm talking about a tub that is so slippery, you look like you are doing Travolta's dance from "Saturday Night Fever" as you try not to slip and bust your butt. "Stayin' alive, stayin' alive, ah ah ah ow!"

For bathroom faucets, he is installing the Farrah Fawcett line of fixtures -- very blonde, very poofy, and a pearly white design around the opening. (It makes me wonder what my friend has tapped into.)

The toilet is done in shag carpeting. Not the seat cover -- the entire toilet!

His hand towels are a odd shade of peach. He said it was called "impeach peach", which would explain the inscription on the towels "I am not a crook". He said he wanted to make sure that his guests didn't get any ideas about his towels.

At this point, I'm rather worried about him. He still has several ideas about this renovation that scare me. But, if you are a brave soul, I'm sure he would have no problem showing them to you if you were to boogie on down for a visit. I'm also sure that you will find him to be one wild and crazy guy...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Go Ahead, Buy Me Stuff

A few posts ago, I happened to mention that I don't usually wear a lot of bling. Just in case some of you are getting together to buy me lots of expensive jewelry, please don't let my previous post change your plans. I have no qualms about wearing shiny pieces of metal and glittery rocks. I bet I even look great wearing a large gold chain with large gold letters that spell out my name. (You never know when I might forget who I am and need a little reminder.) In fact, I don't mind wearing something around my neck that is worth more than my head. So if you're considering buying expensive trinkets to improve my looks or to distract from my hideous flaws, please do so as soon as possible. And thank you for your support!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Poker - Alexia Style

I don't know what to make of my Alexia scores. I bet if I sat at all the poker tables in the world, I would do better than I am at this stupid popularity contest. A couple of months ago, my score was under 150,000. Today, I am up to over 206,000. This means that there are 206,000 sites with more alexia visitors than this blog. But so what? The Alexia group is a tiny fraction out of the millions of travelers on the Internet. Yet, one of the pay-you-for-blogging companies uses this flawed metric in divvying out their opportunities. Apparently, if the number of non-alexia visitors to your site continually increases, that is not important. But then, it's all a game, isn't it. In poker, you can increase your luck with a little skill. But this Alexia nonsense has as much skill as playing a roulette wheel. Perhaps it's time to fold ...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Fun Of The Inflatable Kind

Have you ever had one of those guy friends that seem to do nothing but constantly brag about their bedroom conquests? (I'm sure that it's not always about the furniture. I want to believe that sometimes women are involved.) One such friend was about to celebrate his birthday a few months ago. And being the good friends that we are, we weren't about bring his birthday down with any sentimental gift. That's the kind of friends he has. But we couldn't go out and get him an inflatable woman. We had no doubt that he already had several to begin with. Then, one of us had the bright idea of going through an animal inflatable catalog. It was a brilliant idea! So for his birthday, he got his very own inflatable sheep. A few weeks later we asked him how he liked it. He sheepishly said that it wasn't too baa-aa-ad.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Trucker is a .... Lady?

Well, I know this "woman" who believes that she is God's gift to mankind. With her new job as a trucker, she's started covering herself in makeup to accentuate her femininity. Femininity? The only decent rack that she has is on her truck! Have you ever heard the expression "putting lipstick on a pig?" She's not only using lipstick by the barrel full, but she's applying every pencil and powder that there is in existence. In a vain attempt to catch the eye of some unsuspecting soul, she has resorted to heavy usage of eye liner. She's even into heavy usage of truck bed liner to make sure that her intentions come across. I shudder to think what those intentions might be. If you see her ... Run! Hide! Rip your eyes out! You'll thank me later!

What Do I Wear?

I have never been a guy that had to cover his body in bling. I felt that I wasn't coordinated enough to make the light dance off my jewelry and blind that pretty girl that I wanted to go and talk with. You know, the old come-out-of-the-sun- and-surprised-'em-before-they-had-a-chance-to-run maneuver. Nope, nothing shiny on this unassuming dude. The less attention that I draw to myself, the better. I have enough embarrassing moments as it is without attracting more onlookers.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Is There A Doctor In The House?

The Internet is a great source of information, yet I'm having a difficult time using it to find a decent doctor. And, in keeping with my previous post, I do need to find a good physician. You know, someone who didn't cross their fingers when they took the Hippocratic's oath. A professional that doesn't keep you waiting hours after your scheduled appointment. An astute person that has competent diagnostic skills instead of someone that has instant assumptions based on the first couple of words out of your mouth. Someone who doesn't think that "virus" is Latin for "your guess is as good as mine." Does such a qualified physician exist?

With the thousands of doctors across the country, you'd think that there would be some form of consumer rating system. There are a few medical websites. But since they want you to buy a membership first, I have no idea if they offer the service that I'm looking for. I guess I'm going to have to use the tried and true method of opening the phone book, picking a doctor at random, and then calling him to ask, "Who do you see when you're sick?"

Remember This Charity Walk for Alzheimer's

I was reading that three things happen to you as you age. First your memory starts to go. Next there, well, I seem to forgotten the other two. Lately it seems that my memory isn't quite as reliable as it used to be. I don't know if it's just the stress of these past few years taking their toll. But at times it's been embarrassing, if not downright scary, when I find myself forgetting the name of someone I've known for several years. There may be a bright side if this trend continues. One year I may find that I can hide my Easter eggs and, a few moments later, have the thrill of trying to find them. I'm trying to laugh about these recent bouts of lapses in memory. Yet, in the back of my mind, there's a small fear that grows slightly with each incident of forgetfulness. That fear goes by the name of Alzheimer's.

It wasn't until 1901 when a German psychiatrist, Alois Alzheimer, documented the first case of this disease that now bears his name. In the hundred years that followed his initial case study, we have learned more about this debilitating disease. It is much more than just occasional forgetfulness. The onset of the disease also shows up as a difficulty in orienting yourself in space -- such as walking down the aisle in the grocery store. As Alzheimer's progresses, there is a marked deterioration in short-term memory. A person will also begin to become disoriented in areas they used to know so well. At this point, there can be noticeable changes in the behavior of the afflicted, such as violent outbursts or extreme passivity.

While the symptoms and the causes of Alzheimer's are better known today, there still isn't a cure. To help in the research, I want to direct your attention to a nationwide Fundraising event. Set for the Autumn of this year, this vital charity walk is in need of our support. Please go to this site and type in your zip code to find the nearest memory walk in your area. I encourage you to sign up as a team captain for this very important function while it is still early. It is quite possible that the memory you help to save may be your own.

Everything Will Be All Right

This is the first weekend in a several that I spent by myself. Yesterday I was able to spend uninterrupted hours tending to troubling concerns that I've been putting off. I guess that's what led to disturbing dreams in the night. Yet, this morning as I sipped my coffee and looked out over the yard, I suddenly found myself having a distant memory from happy time in my childhood. Maybe it was the way the sunlight danced on the leaves of the trees. Maybe it was the way the cotton candy clouds drifted nonchalantly across Carolina blue skies. Whatever the reason, I was immediately overcome with a feeling that everything was going to be all right. It wasn't like the feeling of hope that I had when I got my divorce last year. It wasn't like the feeling of relief earlier this year when my congressman said that he would help me straight out a major mistake made by the IRS. In back of both of those feelings were nagging doubts that things could still turn out for the worse. (And unfortunately, time and events certainly haven't done anything to lessen those doubts.) So this morning's unexpected sense of well-being was very welcomed. For the moment, I'm content to let this warm calmness bathe a very tired psyche...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Garden Of My Life

Lately, as I walk through my own particular garden of life, I seem to be stepping in a lot of manure. I say "manure" because of the positive connotations of the word. Even though I feel like I'm wading waste deep in the muck of past decisions, I'm hoping that happier times are being fertilized for future cultivation. Either that or I'm just a blooming idiot and am reaping what I unwittingly sowed. (Note to self: start using an industrial-strength pooper scooper more often.)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Beating The Cubicle Game

A few years ago at work, I was being bounced from one cubicle to another. It is extremely difficult to develop test equipment and write code when you're having to set up and tear down your tools every few months. So when an office in a remote part of the plant became vacant, I quickly became a stealthy squatter. The office was ideal because it had whiteboards covering one of the long walls. And instead of one of those small office desks, the room held one of those large conference tables. I spent the next few months quietly moving my books, test equipment and computers into my soon-to-be new home. And, before anyone noticed, I had a new permanent base of operation. Since then, many of my colleagues have had to either move within the plant a few times or move outside the plant because they were laid off. But I'm still in my little hiding hole in the back of the plant. Maybe they forgot about me.

I'm Back From my Training

Well, I just finished a week long training course for LabVIEW software at a community college on the coast of North Carolina. The classes were held in a air-conditioned trailer on the college campus. While I wasn't expecting the room to be filled with fancy office furniture, I was pleasantly surprised by the ergonomic table and chair arrangement for each student. I didn't notice this comfortable arrangement in classrooms that were inside the college building. So I am very appreciative of where I had to plant my body during this grueling course.