Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Work Tour

Last weekend my boss sent me a late night email saying: "Interested in traveling to one of our hospitals on Tuesday? We're having a meeting between our supply chain executives and Walmart about the health care industry and I can't go. I think it'd be a good opportunity."

I don't much care for Walmart, mind you, but a chance to visit with executives is almost always a good thing. Besides, I've worked here for 10 months and haven't done any actual tours of facilities. After all, my job is to sit in a back room and think up great ideas that have no practical implication!

It was a really great experience. We got to tour the route that medical supplies, equipment, and drugs take from our central distribution center (where manufacturers deliver them and we warehouse them); to a hospital inventory location; and from there to a patient bed. One of the statistics that our company quotes in presentations is that "based on the current rate of growth, spending on technology, equipment, and supplies with overtake labor expenses in the next 15 years." In a SERVICE industry like health care, that's very unusual. Usually labor far exceeds equipment in service industries.

The tour and discussion really gave me a lot of pride in the health system that I work for. I'm still only now learning about all the different ways that we're really a market leader / innovator. Still, health care is behind the times compared to other industries, but we're pushing hard to catch up.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Weather Bonk

Speaking of my work trip (note that it's 1:35 AM and I have to leave the house at 6:00 AM tomorrow) - there might be freezing rain along my route tomorrow. How do I know, exactly? WeatherBonk!

Work Trip

I got an email from my boss at 2:26 AM Sunday morning saying "there's this meeting that our supply chain group is having with some friends from Walmart on Tuesday. I was invited but really can't go. I want you to go to represent our team. Let me know if that works for you."

Now, I don't much care for Walmart as a company. I know that they're a shrewd business, but I think they compromise levels of quality and service in place of profit where I don't think it's appropriate; but our company just appointed a new board member who happens to be a former senior executive from Walmart.

It makes sense for us to learn from them - particularly because they have one of the top 2 largest commercial data warehouses in the world! (First and second place keep flopping between Walmart and AT&T.) So, the more they can say about how important data warehousing is, the better for my department.

Despite my distaste for their business practices, the meeting should be fun.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


Manager of Business Intelligence Architecture

Lots of people ask me what I do for a living, and usually it's easiest to just say "I work in IT." Of course, most people immediately think that I'm a computer technician (which I don't feel qualified to claim despite my degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering). So, I often used to add "I do software development," which is sort of true, but "software development" in an IT organization is a bit different than "software development" at Microsoft; and the kind of development I did was mostly about putting information in databases. Not something that most people can picture, because I wasn't building anything with a user interface. It's a little easier now that I'm a manager, because some people are willing to just stop at "manager" with assumptions about pointy-haired bosses; but when I have to start explaining what everyone on my team does, it gets even harder than it used to be because my current team has about 6 different roles.

For the unindoctrinated, here's the break-down of my title and an explanation of what that means I do (at least according to my current employer):

Manager of
...some who spends a lot of time in meetings, tries to organize and direct the work of other people but usually just makes things more complicated than they need to be, and should be required to have unexpected degrees in social work, psychology, political science, and anthropology.

...the art and science of making money doing something for someone that they're willing to pay for.

...a measure of aptitude or acumen. In the context of "business intelligence" how "smart" a company can be about delivering the right services or products to the right people in the most efficient way.

...the overall design or patterns or rules used in governing the construction of a thing.

Does that help?

Going Out

In the past couple of weeks, I've gotten to go out with my wife a few times -- something that we haven't done as much as we should have been doing since our first daughter was born. No surprise: I love dating my wife. My advice to newly-weds and new-parents: keep dating!

(But make sure it's only each other!)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

First Christmas Adventure

Last year, partly because we were going to be hosting Christmas guests, we decided to go out a cut down our own Christmas Tree at a farm. This is tradition for Sarahlynn's family, but something that I don't believe I've ever done. It was wonderful! Sarahlynn beautifully pregnant, Ellie tromping through the snow, we had Oliver tromping through the snow along with us (and we almost lost him). We got a great tree, there was hot chocolate and hot dogs, and Santa Claus!!

Well, this year we went back to the same Christmas Tree farm.... Having our fancy new car with navigation system, we decided to let it tell us how to get there. It started by sending us North off the highway instead of the correct way - South. Bad start. We got there out of our own memory instead of with the aid of hundreds of GPS satellites. Things went fine for a while. We found a good tree - though Ellie wanted be carried even though there wasn't any snow to slow her walking. She LOVED seeing Santa again, which was really great. Ada got to see Santa for her first time, too. She didn't do as well, but it also wasn't too bad.

The problem... I forgot to bring anything to tie the tree down with other than some cotton twine (not that strong). Being stubborn, I figured it'd be good enough and I could just make it work. Never mind that the place where they shake and bundle up your tree is right next to a huge barn with all kinds of twine and rope... or the fact that that if I asked, they probably would have given me some. Still, stubborn gender that I am, I decided that if I used enough cotton twine, that'd be good enough.

To keep the story short, let's just say that the 30 mile drive home took enough time that Ellie got to watch ALL of Finding Nemo. The tree didn't fly off between the tree farm and Walgreen's (which had a nice selection of thick nylon rope to make sure our tree didn't fly off the roof as we drove down the highway at 65 mph and smash trunk first into some unsuspecting driver's windshield, causing them to swerve off the road, a 6 car accident, and 3 deaths -- glad that didn't happen.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Good Shepherd School for Children

For the first three years of her life, we spent a great deal of time supporting Ellie's development with a host of therapists - physical, occupational, developmental, and speech. They all came to us from Ellie's first daycare/preschool, Good Shepherd School for Children in St. Louis.

The other night we got to attend a black-tie gala event celebrating Good Shepherd. It was incredible! A silent auction, wonderful dinner, awards, good speakers, and a video presentation about the school. That's been uploaded to YouTube, and I wanted to make sure everyone got a chance to see it:

UPDATE: Sorry the video has been removed from YouTube because of a parent's privacy concerns. If you'd like to hear more about the school or receive a copy of the video, please visit the school's website:

When I watched it, it made me want to cash-out my 401k and write a check to the school right then and there. Luckily for my family, I was talked out of that. It does make me think about where my money should go, though.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


A friend was looking over my shoulder tonight as I was looking at my work calendar for tomorrow and joked about how full it was.

One of the things that I noted when I became a manager was that my calendar fullness almost instantly tripled overnight. On the plus side, I take my 4-year old to school every morning and that inflates how busy my calendar looks. On the down side... all those times that I'm double booked... I should really try to be at both (or all three or more) of those meetings.

You'll also notice that tomorrow (Wed), I'll only be attending 4 of the 11 meetings on my calendar:
Meeting 1 - Take Ellie to School
Meeting 2 - 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Meeting 3 - 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Meeting 4 - 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Probably all the same room. At least my chair will stay warm.

I take it back

...turns out that we did get all of the family we visited over Thanksgiving sick with the "blech!" Christmas 2005, I got both sides of the family sick. I guess it's better this year that I only got my in-laws sick. Uh... not because they're my in-laws, just because it was only one side of the family!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Happy Thanksgi.... blechhh..... Ugh.

I like to brag that two years ago, I single-handedly got people in 5 states sick with a horrible stomach flu and put my brother-in-law in the hospital! So, that isn't such a feat... he's already got bad kidneys to begin with. ;-) None of it was pleasant for anyone in either my family or my wife's though. I seemed to get ALL of them sick.

I don't take credit for the fun this year at Thanksgiving. It wasn't quite as bad for anyone except for the 4-year old, and it doesn't seem to have spread anywhere outside of the house - except my father, who we didn't go visit, but who got sick anyway. Weird, that one.

Still it wasn't very fun. Ada got sick first. We took her to the doctor Tuesday afternoon. The doc said it was just the flu -- Ellie said, "Ellie sick, too." "Isn't that cute. No, Ada is sick. Ellie's OK." The next morning Ellie said, "throat hurt." So, we took her to the doc, too. "Ellie has strep." Luckily she doesn't have her father's allergy to penicillin, so a not-so-quick shot and she's on the mend (after a few more hours of dry heaving and vomiting up every sip of water).

Thanksgiving Day was enjoyed with limited vomiting, lots of attempts at rest, and a first after-sick meal of chicken noodle soup. Mmm mmm good, but nothing next to turkey, ham, green bean casserole, stuffing, yams and apples, mashed potatoes, sweet breads, and pies. By Thursday evening, though, we were all well enough to head out of town on my weak attempt to break the infamous Christmas 2005 flu-vector record.

48 hours of official Day After Thanksgiving leftovers and Wii play seems to have left everyone uninfected.... so far.

Monday, November 19, 2007


It was very nice of our friend Scott to come over and watch the girls. It was going to be for a specific appointment, but that got canceled. So, instead, SL and I got to go for pizza. Instead of having to feed one kid and constantly tending to the other... we got to sit and talk to each other.

I love my kids, but sometimes it is nice to get away for a dinner alone.

Sometimes I get very jealous of people who have relatives that live in town with them and get to go on a date every week.

Thanks to Scott for the great job watching our girls and the opportunity to go out on a date!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Triadic Continuum

One of the Vice Presidents that I work with sent me an email the other day with the subject line "Is this something we should be looking at?" He's no pointy-haired boss, but a subject line like that, followed by a cut and paste of an article from an industry magazine certainly does bring images from Dilbert to mind. As I read the article, those images only got stronger.

This particular article is about something called the triadic continuum - yes, sounds like something out of Star Trek, doesn't it? Still, it is interesting - especially if you have a PhD in cognitive science. There's a book about this invention that goes into more detail for those of you who are curious.

After a couple of back and forth comments in which I tried to look smarter than I am (and considering pitching the idea that if my boss wanted to send me back to school for my PhD that I'd be happy to go), this VP ended with: "But they said simple, scalable, universal." Yeah, right there on the package! ;)

My snide remark (being in a healthcare field) was going to be something like:

Right, and so is DNA!
Simple - only 5 compounds in the whole thing!!
Scalable - from a flee to a whale!!
Universal - it is a defining characteristic of life!!

I didn't send the response, yet.

DNA is simple, universal, and scalable, too.

As an introvert

I've been doing a lot of interviewing at work - as the interviewer. We've been looking for a department admin (sorry Rob, but we've already picked someone), and data architects, and Business Objects expert. (If you know anyone, let me know.) Somehow it came up in many of those interviews that I'm a bit of an introvert... but one that likes being around people. All of the interview candidates say something like "I'd never have pegged you as an introvert." Which either means that they think being an introvert is a bad thing and they don't want to insult their potential boss, or I some how pull off being friendly.

Well, maybe I'm not really an introvert, but I do have this love/hate relationship with the idea of having other people around. I like having other people around, interacting with each other... but not necessarily having to interact with them a lot.

At work, for instance, I'd much rather sit and watch a meeting happen rather than run the meeting; but I'm a manager and one of the senior technical people in my department, which means that I often need to run meetings. I like being part of a team, but I struggle with the "ask people how their family is doing" kind of stuff.

At home, too - last night we had a game-night party with about a dozen friends. I like having people around, I like playing games, I don't usually like just watching people play games, but last night I felt more like just watching the kids while they watched Finding Nemo, putting Ellie down to sleep, watching other people play games, and then playing the Wii by myself as people were leaving. Not very friendly or polite, I suppose. It was a great time, I just didn't feel like having by interacting with other people last night.

Hope everyone else had a good time, too!


I'm lying here on my back on the couch, letting the girls fight over books and watch TV and figure that now is as good a time as any to start blogging again. I'm on my back... and back to blogging.

Friday, September 28, 2007


I haven't published a post since July!?!? Wow.

Well, if you've been eagerly awaiting something profound and stunning from me... then here it is!!! I've launched a political website about the importance of having local, personal conversations about the political candidates that we are presented with in the voting booth.

Ask Me How I'm Voting

The website is still a bit rough, but there's an "about" page that explains my motivation and opportunities to support the cause via a CafePress store.

I think it's important to make sure that we all have conversations with each other about politics. It astonishes me how much I learn about politics through discussion that I miss in the sound bites. Obviously, individual people don't always have perfectly accurate information about issues and candidates, but the conversation stimulates thought and research and a desire to learn more. If you agree, feel free to support the movement by posting links to the site, displaying merchandise, but most importantly - talking to people you know about political issues and ideas.

Good luck!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Grandpa G. (part 1)

This past week, my Grandpa G. died. He was only 89, but that's a lot older than many people from his generation lived, I suppose. He wasn't in the best of health, but it did come somewhat unexpectedly. For the past few years, there's been a big rift in his children's (my parent's) generation, but yesterday I talked to one of my cousins and we've resolved not to let it impact our generation permanently like it seems to have our parents' generation.

This post is about memories of Granpa G.
  • Since I can remember, Christmas was a time to get together at the farm house in Iowa where Grandpa G. was born, raised, married, had his kids, and lived until it just wasn't practical anymore about 7 years ago.
  • At Christmas, the extended family all got together and stayed at the farm house. When I was little, I slept on a cot in the middle room upstairs with some combination of my sister and my three cousins. Usually I was in there with my sister and cousin Amy, who's nearly the same age my sister. Down the hall were either my parents or my aunt and uncle. On the pull out and couches downstairs would be my other two cousins and my other aunt. Sometimes, Amy's cousin would stay with us, too.
  • We'd watch movies, play pool in the basement, go sledding on the rolling farm hills outside, and have an annual bowling competition.
  • Christmas eve was always snowy.
  • We'd pile into my aunt and uncle's fullsize van and one or two other cars and head into town for church. The service was a traditional Christmas nativity story told and acted out by the church youth. When I was little, I'd shift laps between my aunts and oldest cousin. The service always ended with silent night sung to the light of a hundred little white candles with waxed-paper guards for your fingers. I always let the wax drip on me so that I could play with it.
  • After church, we piled back in the cars and van and headed back to the farm house for food and presents... but not before our own service using Grandma G's advent wreath and bible. The grandkids (those who could read) always did the reading. My Mom always lead the hymns.
  • Christmas eve food was always incredible. Little smoked sausages in bbq sauce. Fudge. Scramble (aka Check Mix). Annis candy. One Christmas my Mom brought a new recipe of cheese dip with salsa and ground beef... that was a huge hit, though it only repeated for a couple of years.
  • Our tradition is to do presents on Christmas Eve and stockings on Christmas Day. When we had really little kids, we start with the youngest. Out of respect, we started letting oldest go first later. I remember how unusual it seemed that my Mom and her older sister had both married younger men... and how weird it was when my other aunt married someone between my parents' ages. That broke things up in a weird way. Not bad. Just notable.
  • Never on Christmas Eve, but I remember getting to sleep on the couch in the family room where we did all the present opening, eating, and TV watching. The room had a great fireplace in the garage wall. My grandpa and Dad regularly discussed how the hardwood that they burn in the midwest burns so much longer, but cooler, than the soft pine wood that my parent's burn in the Rockies. My Dad knew so much... The couch was black leather, but soft and comfy; and it always had this black and white and brown wool blanket that was warm and cozy. I always associate the couch and blanket with my eldest cousin, for some reason.
  • On Christmas morning, we'd eat egg casseroles and coffee cake, then open stockings.
  • My favorite present in Iowa... when I got the Omega Supreme Transformer.
Part 2 tomorrow...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


This week, we got back from a 10-day vacation in Scotland, where we decided to move... once the mortgage is paid off and my wife has written a couple of successful novels. Then I can learn to fly fish, again, and she can sit in our loch-side home (or castle depending on how successful those novels are) and write. Until that happens, we've got some great memories:

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Knee High

Ada's about knee high, but she doesn't stand on her own yet. I have certainly known her since she was "knee high to a grasshopper," though!

Turns out that "knee high by the Fourth of July" doesn't hold true any more. I get the impression that most farmers are pretty worried if their corn isn't knee high well before the Fourth of July.

Because I don't read nearly as much as I should, I thought this was a "knee high," too.

Is there a saying, though, for when you let your yard get so overgrown that it's nearly knee high? A few more days of rain/sun/rain/sun, and I'll be there!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bold Commentary

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Quick Birthday Post

Thank you to everyone that made my birthday party this weekend so much fun -- namely my wife, but also all the guests and entertainment.

I was suspicious that there was going to be a surprise party. First, there was Cherry Coke in the house. I only know one person who drinks Cherry Coke, and I'd planned for only two couples to come over for my birthday, not including him -- no offense Scott, I was just planning a much smaller party. Second, my wife was insistent on getting me out of the house for a while. Very pushy about it. But those were the only clues.

I had no idea that there would by 50+ people at the party!! No clue that my parents would drive all the way from Wyoming (not just for my birthday since our 3-month-old was baptized this weekend, too)!! And never could have imagined that there'd be a CLOWN!?!

She was there for the kids. ;)

It was a blast. Thank you to everyone who helped out. And that you, especially, to my wife. The party was great and made me feel very loved.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


I don't remember learning the word "proxy" until learned about "proxy servers." OK, that sits between you and the Internet so that it can filter out undesirable websites, perhaps improve performance by caching, whatever... Only later did I start thinking about what the word means in the context of regular people:
  1. An agent or substitute authorized to act for another person.
I think the first place I heard about "proxy" outside of computer science land was the idea of having a proxy vote a shareholder issue on your behalf. Which reminds me just how much my wife really dislikes when computer science takes an existing word and uses it for something in their field that's only slightly related.

I'm involved in a controversy that is clearly (and merely only) a proxy for a totally different situation. The idea being that there's really some other huge issue, but hiding behind something concrete is an interesting one. Rather than let an other idea proxy for you, why not speak you mind?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Lead Like Jesus - Prologue

I'm sure that someday I'll have something more intelligent to say about this book. I'm not done with it, yet, but I've certainly found a lot of good information in it. I went to the bookstore looking from a new management / leadership book by some well known inspiration writers. "Lead Like Jesus" has a title that really pops off the shelf next to all the others. The well known author, Ken Blanchard, has a strong record of management/leadership books that come before this one. So, he comes with some human authority on the idea of successful leadership styles.

I've only read the first third of the book. I'll keep posting more as I read, but the book comes highly recommended so far. It's fun to try to mix parts of your life that often feel otherwise isolated: work and church being a prime example for me (thought not some people, of coures).

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Blogging with Older Kids

I wonder what it will be like in 10 or 15 years when Ellie and Ada are old enough to read and potentially care about what their Mom and I blog about. Think we'll still be blogging in 15 years??!? Wild to think about, but it just occurred to me.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

First Week

The whole first week at my new job is done. I have two key observations. First is that, in contrast to every other job I've started, where the first few days or weeks have been a very slow going period of ramp-up and figuring out what to be working on... in contrast to that, this job has had me engaged from day-1 and I'm really enjoying that.

I think that part of it has to do with where I am in my career, part of it has to do with where this work is at, and part of it has to do with the personalities of the people on this overall team. I'm definitely excited about the new job and finished the week with a smile (if also with a yawn from not getting enough sleep this week).

One of the oddly comforting things about this job, though it only manifests itself at a corporate level so far, is the faith-based nature of the organization. I'm not planning to convert to Catholicism, mind you, but there is something nice about getting a daily devotional email, being invited to prayer meetings, and knowing that there's a meditation room just down the hall. Very different work environment than the corporate America that I'm used to.

Here's to hoping that week-2, and most of the subsequent weeks are as satisfying!!

Monday, April 23, 2007

First Day

Today was my first day at my new job. As you might expect, it didn't feel like the most productive day I've ever had in my life - lots of getting acquainted, figuring out my default password for my new laptop, setting up printers, and email, and applications; meeting lots of people for the first time that I probably won't remember tomorrow; talking about the thousand things that I need to get up to speed on ASAP....

The good thing is that I'm really excited about the new job. There are a lot of great, exciting opportunities. I can't wait to really start getting my hands dirty!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Super Dad!

I had both of the girls for a few hours on my own this weekend. That doesn't usually happen since Ada still likes to nurse every 2-3 hours (except today when she's been sleeping for the past several hours), but she will take a bottle on occasion. So, Mom went out to lunch with a girlfriend and the kids and dog and I stayed home for some valuable and enriching time together.

We were watching Monsters Inc.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Big Girl Hair

Last post for my barrage this evening...

Ellie's got a new hair cut.


Our daughter is now officially a Ralph's World groupie. If you aren't familiar with Ralph, find a toddler and ask them about red bananas, they'll be happy to tell you all about Ralph. Ellie and Daddy went to see him in concert at the Pageant a couple weekends ago. It was her THIRD time seeing him in concert. She's 3 years old, and she's been to three rock concerts!

I think that next time, Ralph will probably remember us. He has a younger sister with Down Syndrome, and we've met him personally twice now. Maybe during his next Chicago show, we'll drive up for a visit and he'll invite us out to dinner with the band!

New Job

Today, it became public knowledge that I'm resigning from my current position with Express Scripts, the pharmaceutical benefit management company, effective 4/11. I'll start my new position as "Manager of Business Intelligence Architecture" with Mercy Health System on 4/23. Mixed emotions, obviously, because ESI has been a great place to work, but I look forward to the opportunity at Mercy, too.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 04, 2007


So... I totaled my Jimmy... again.

These things seem to be bad luck for me. I bought my first Jimmy in 1999. It was a '97 model. At Christmas in 2001, we were driving up I-55 across IL, followed another car across a bridge, she hit ice and lost control, we smashed into the side of her car and ended up bending up the front axel -- totaled. No injuries other than sore back and stiff neck.

That Jimmy did so well keeping us safe in that accident, I decided I really wanted another one. So, I bought a 1999 model.

This weekend, I was on my way out to a church retreat. Freak snow flurries had hit the area unpredicted. Yes... snow flurries. Sometimes a VERY heavy flurry, but none of was really sticking to the ground. Just after coming across the Missouri River bridge on US-40, I started changing lanes to pass the cars ahead of me. Hit a slick spot and started skidding out of control. I headed for the center median, corrected, but started skidding toward the shoulder. I smashed the front-driver's side of the car into a retaining wall on the shoulder, spun around, and came to rest on the shoulder, facing the wrong way. No injuries except a stiff back. I didn't notice until I got out to visit with the highway patrolman who responded to my 911, but the front two tires were pigeon-toed at 45-degree angle pointing in toward each other. Totaled.

So, now we're off shopping for a minivan!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

On Family

I love having two daughters.
It's amazing to watch them learn, grow, struggle, succeed.

I love my wife,
The mother who carried them and brought them into the world.
-- Just a segue --
I love her for all she is:
Wife, Mother, Woman, Daughter, Sister, Lover, Confidant, Peer, Mentor, more.

They warm my heart,
make it tremble,
make it throb,
Filling me with warmth, comfort, and strength from the inside out.
Struggling, striving, straining to get out.


Monday, February 26, 2007

How Old Are You?

Turned out to be pretty accurate. I wonder how old I'll be in 10 years, though.

You Are 30 Years Old

Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sleep!! (revised)

It's been five nights now. I feel like we (or rather I, since breast-feeding-mom always has a trick that will work) were learning a few tricks here and there, but there are times when Ada cries and nothing I do seems to work. Or course that raises my stress level and makes it even harder to soothe her.

What I should probably do is put together an actual list of the various things to try. Then just methodically go through them one by one. Change up the order in which I try things. Record which ones work / don't work on a given occasion. Record my impressions of Ada's mood or any other pertinent details. Then run some correlations to figure out which tricks work best...

And by the time I'm done with that, it'll all change and she'll want something else to soothe her. ;) Just seems like that's the way it works.

But back to my sleep post -- I have to rescind the statement about Ada and Mom sleeping together for a while. Ada slept on and off. Mom slept very little. I think I have breast envy.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Speaking of rough nights, I haven't gotten more than 15 minutes of consecutive sleep since 2:30 AM. Sarahlynn and Ada have been sleeping soundly for quite some time, though! It's all Ellie. I'm sure she doesn't mean to be such a pain - she's got a running nose, she's still excited about having a new baby sister. Given my own sleep habits, though -- if I'm horizontal, I'm asleep -- it's hard to understand why Ellie wouldn't want to go back to sleep at 4:55 AM.

Oh well...

Sunday, January 21, 2007


We have a very good friend in the military whose husband is a chaplain currently serving near Tikrit, Iraq. He's expected to be on his way home for his "Christmas" visit this weekend. As you might expect, we're all very anxious with him traveling across the country, and then the news comes out yesterday about the helicopter crash. The crash was on a flight path he could have been taking. He could have been in a black hawk. He was expected to call around 12:00 CST... but our friend hadn't heard from, yet. To top it off, her internet access wasn't working, so she couldn't even obsess over the nuggets of worthless information that got out to the media...

3:00 PM... 5:00 PM...

We went over and had dinner. Played with Ellie. Fixed her internet access.

6:00 PM... 8:00 PM...

Ellie needs to go to bed. She can be a big of a bear when it's past her bedtime. So, we head home, with an offer for Sarahlynn to spend the night if need be.

9:00 PM....

Finally. Her cell phone rings, and it's him. She calls us after she's off the phone with him: He's in Kuwait, "safe" and sound -- at least relatively so. He'll be on a flight sometime today to come home for a couple of weeks. Phew.

I don't like war at all, especially this one; but I love our friends and truly admire and appreciate what they do. I just wish they didn't have to do it in a war.

11 Day Old

Our church has just called a new senior pastor / head of staff. Part of that process is for the new pastor to come and preach for the congregation before there's a final vote to hire (in this case) him. So, he and his family are here this weekend to meet some of the congregation and preach for us today. Yesterday, to the surprise of most of the congregation, we showed up the reception with an 11 day old baby... still inside of Sarahlynn. That's the way another mom put it: "You're carrying around an 11 day old inside you!"

Well... one way or another, we'll have a 13 day old outside of Sarahlynn later this week. And all of us are very ready to finally meet her. As my brother-in-law would say "HERE, baby, baby, baby!"

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Pieces, Pieces, Back Together

The web server is all fixed up, now. It took me a few good hours to install Fedora 6 on it and get everything up and running. I really love how easy it is to setup and install, with one exception. I kept getting APIC errors. Some kind of incompatibility with my motherboard, I guess. That and a couple other little quirks kept me puzzled for about an hour. In the end, I've got an upgraded O/S and new web-based photo management software, to boot! Not bad for a pointy-haired boss, if I do say so myself.

Thank you, Ando

Ando Momofuku is probably a name you've probably never heard; but if you went to college or have ever lived alone, you are likely to owe this man a debt of gratitude. Ando is the "Ramen King" -- the inventor of Ramen Noodles. Ando passed away yesterday at the age of 96.

Thank you, Ando. Your legacy will live on for generations! (Assuming this new generation of college kids isn't too spoiled.)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Pieces, Pieces, Everywhere

Those of you who are family and close friends are probably already familiar with my family website, so I won't bother to post a link. Besides, the website is down right now... here's the story.

Since about 1998, I've been running a webserver on my home computer. The first time around, it was a Pentium-90 that I bought from Sarahlynn's ex-boyfriend accessing the internet via dial-up. My roommate and I even shared that dial-up connection, thanks to Linux's built-in network routing. That computer has been torn apart and rebuilt with new parts several times since 1998. Added a new harddrive here, replaced a motherboard there, new network cards and video cards.

Eventually, we upgraded to DSL. We went with this great local DSL provider... Value Net. (Notice the name.) They were absolutely great. When I moved into Sarahlynn's apartment in 2000, the DSL came right along with me. When we moved to our house in Kirkwood, though, DSL wasn't available. So, we dropped the service and went with Charter Cable. Never have like Charter. Their static IP packages were too expensive, so I setup a pseudo-dynamic DNS service. Every time we got assigned a new IP, I'd go out and re-register. Within 12-20 hours, the DNS would be right. Luckily, Charter let me keep my IP for months at a time usually.

Finally SBC upgraded the infrastructure in our area so that DSL was available again. I went right back to good-old reliable Value Net. Great service... until... one day.... poof... internet service is gone. Sometimes that happens. So, I reset the modem. Nothing. I waited a few hours. Nothing. I called the phone number of Value Net. No answer... ?? Suspicious. I looked up their address: something N. Lindberg. OK. That's up by the airport. I'm headed that way for a conference tomorrow anyway. I'll stop by and see what's up.

As I drive up N. Lindberg looking for the right address, I start counting up. Oooh. I get the excitement of driving through the new tunnel that is built UNDER the airport runway. What fun! ... Start looking at numbers again... they're too big. Ack. Must have missed it somewhere. I turn around and drive back through. Nope. Not there either. There's probably an Old N. Lindberg now, right? Nope. Turns out that the Value Net's office building is gone. So is Value Net! Huh?! Never saw a letter, never got a call, no one ever said anything.

On to practical matters: where to find a new internet provider. Alright. I didn't want to go back to Charter, but I wanted to go with someone reliable. I ended up going with the phone company. They own the wires, they'll be as reliable as it gets. So, I call them up. "Sorry sir. We show that you already have DSL on that line through another provider," they tell me. "That company apparently went bust," I tell them. "I see." "Well sir, we can't open up a ticket for new service until this old service is turned off. And we can't turn off that old service without a work order from Value Net." (Ummmmmm... that isn't going to happen!)

Well, long story (and a side story it was supposed to be) short. We finally got DSL back, and have been as happy as can be expected since.

Back to the story about this computer's body parts...

In 2002, though, it really was time for a wholesale upgrade. So, I took a few scraps from other computers, but bought a new harddrive, CPU, memory, and motherboard. The important things. And built a new PC from scratch.

Over the past 5 years, that PC's had a motherboard replacement and another new harddrive, a couple of power supplies, etc.

Today, that harddrive finally failed... for good. So, Ellie and I went out to the computer store (her third favorite place), and bought a new HD. My last one was 40GB... biggest I'd ever bought until Sarahlynn's laptop. Today's new harddrive... 250GB!!! Big enough for all that video of Ellie we still have on tape!

So, for a while, I had all the pieces of the old computer strewn about the kitchen table, separately trying to keep the old harddrive alive long enough that I can copy off all of the pictures and website stuff.

I think I was successful. Now, I'm busy installing a new version of Linux on the new harddrive. Something I've been meaning to do for a couple years, but have just never justified to myself the time it would take. I guess "broken" is a good justification.

So, until baby comes, I've got a little hobby.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Three Beautiful Things

I don't know why this Oct 10, 2006 post popped up on the top of the atom-feed from my brother-in-law's blog... but it seemed like a good idea to follow his example and try to follow this example.

Three beautiful things from my day... and this was quite the struggle today.
  1. My wife, who is 39+ weeks pregnant, about to go into labor any moment, is not only an incredibly beautiful pregnant woman (I'll post the maternity pictures when we get them back); but she's sitting here on the couch studying for the GRE that she is planning to take tomorrow morning, three days before her due date! Her drive and dedication is beautiful.
  2. Yesterday, we availed ourselves of a house-cleaning gift certificate that my wife received from my parents. Today, despite being ransacked by a three-year-old, the house is still in better shape than it's been in a long time.
  3. (Partially because I couldn't come up with a third thing) I'm back on the exercise wagon today. I vowed to put on 20lbs over the holiday season, and lose 50 by June. With a low-carb diet and 3-5 nights on the elliptical machine each week, I was able to lose nearly 50 last year. I gained a total of 25 back (not just over the holiday). So, I'm back on the elliptical machine again... as soon as I publish this post.
Thanks Rob!