Wings - Hawks to play outdoors?

This would be way cool. Would prefer if they played at Soldier Field (pronounced "Soldiers Field" if you live in Chicago) instead of Wrigley. Either way, might be worth a trip back to Chi-town.

Go Wings. I predicted the series would be 2-2 after four games... will see Saturday if I am right.


Sidney Crosby game 2 press conference

For those that didn't catch it....

With all the whining from the Pens, I might have to change my prediction to a sweep. Clearly the little kids from armPitt are rattled.

A moment of silence and respect

Our deep gratitude for those men and women of uniform who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom and justice. I have just downloaded "Beyond Band of Brothers" for my Amazon Kindle and really looking forward to a great read.


Some pics from Lake Chelan

The kids playing Wii Friday night after we arrived, doing some boxing to hopefully tire them out.

Spence and I on the Waverunner.

Sunset over the moutains overlooking Lake Chelan. Amy took this pic which is why it turned out better than mine.

The boys on the beach. See the "wall" in the background? That's normally underwater. It's the breakwater for the beach, and Chelan is expecting a lot of snow runoff to melt soon, so they've lowered the lake about six feet.

Amy working on her tan.

Man Overboard

Man, nice topic for my 600th blog post (on this blog anyway).

So Spence and I love to Jet Ski together. It's great bonding for us especially since its one of the few things Spencer can do and Garrett can't. Been doing it for two summers now, and been out on Lake Chelan plenty of times. We enjoy it enough that Amy and I are planning on picking up a used pair of PWCs so we don't have to rent them.

Anyway, today was no different than any other day. Spencer and I got out early, missing most of the boating traffic, had fun under the sun for 50 minutes, and we started to head in to fill up with gas before taking the PWC back to the rental place.

Next thing I know Spencer and I are in the water.

I really don't know what I did to cause us to fall off. I push jet skis through the paces when I'm out, being careful but having fun at the same time. I focus, pay attention to what I'm doing, and to date haven't done anything that even came close to flipping it or falling off. Apparently I did something while turning right toward the gas station to throw us off.

Thus began my most panicked experience in my life. Spencer has taken swimming lessons, so he's used to water, but he doesn't exactly swim. His recent lessons he's been in the water without any floatation devices, but again, not really swimming. So I was immediately concerned about his safety and knew I had to keep him from panicking too much. Before I hit the water I immediately started freaking and thinking Spencer was going to head underwater. We both had lifejackets on, but the water was really cold, and I really wasn't in a mental state to think the situation through logically. By the time I got my head up above water Spencer had found me and grabbed on. Unfortunately, he started climbing for my head, which put a lot of weight in a vertical space, forcing me to work extra hard to stay above water. I finally told Spencer he had to get off me, and he complied without panicking or complaining. Now I was able to keep us above water without much effort. I bet 10 seconds didn't pass during this time but it felt like 10 minutes.

The next phase I remember was trying to get back to the jet ski. I have a pair of Keen water shoes, which are great waterproof sandals, but are anchors when they are in the water. So in trying to swim, with Spencer in hand, I just couldn't get anywhere. Thus my second wave of panick, how the hell are we going to get our butts out of the water. Again, this probably lasted 10 seconds but felt like 10 minutes.

So I start screaming like a little bitch for help (we are close to a pretty populated part of the lake, with a lot of traffic near the gas station), and Spencer had the presense of mind to get the lanyard that holds the key to the jet ski and blow the whistle that was attached to it. Within a minute or so a few jet skiiers came to us, and someone who was a certified lifeguard helped Spencer and I back onto our jet ski. They plucked Spence right out of the water, and at that point I felt such a gust of relief and my panic attack subsided. The funny part now began, as a fat guy had to try and get on the PWC from the back, and this part took the better part of 5 minutes. Seriously, and I flipped the lifeguard into the water in the process. Finally, I am back on the jet ski, only I didn't realize it was mine. So I start looking around for a floating jet ski, don't see one, and start asking "where the hell is my jet ski?" Oh great, someone grabbed it and now I have to cut a check for 10 grand. "Dude, isn't that yours?" I checked the storage compartment for my phone and wallet, and sure enough, it was.

A big thank you to the anonymous folks that helped us. While reflecting on this things certainly were not dire, in the moment I was freaked out and swear Spencer and I were going to drown in Lake Chelan (yes, I know, people reading this are laughing and asking "how do you drown with lifejackets on?"). As Spencer learned, the vast majority of the time strangers are great people (despite what Michelle Obama thinks).

When filling out with gas one of the ladies who stopped to help was there. She had two kids and her husband was there, and she pointed out that her husband flipped his jet ski before, thinking it would make me feel better. It didn't, but thanks anyway.

Weird things during this whole experience:

  • I didn't lose my sunglasses, and didn't realize I had them until I got back to the hotel room.
  • I didn't lose my wedding ring. It started sliding off in the water, and again as I got back on the PWC, but for some reason I made a conscious effort to keep it. Hell I think my Keen's are worth more than that ring.
  • I never felt cold at all. Which is weird. I almost wore a rain jacket the past two days because if I get a little spray on me I'm such a puss cuz the water's cold.

And I will say, it is very sobering to think that I caused this kind of commotion to Spencer. I hope one day we are laughing about this instead of retelling this story to his psychiatrist.

So tomorrow Spencer doesn't want to go jet skiing. In fact, while we were walking back he said "maybe in July we should go on a boat instead." Don't think I want to get on a jet ski myself tomorrow, although I suspect I will have no problem come July.

He also told me... "I was a little scared Dad but mostly I was brave." He was.


Interesting times in Lake Chelan

We knew something was up when the resort we had reservations for contacted us a month or so ago and asked us for a $500 damage deposit for this weekend. And last night when we drove in we saw security and police everywhere - you'd think we drove into Detroit during the NBA finals.

Apparently Lake Chelan is a hotbed for college kids Memorial Day weekend. So far we haven't been inconvenienced - in fact, we are better off for it... nobody is on our end of the beach (Campbell's reserved it for families and older folks, apparently), jet skis are aplenty (apparently college kids can afford beer and room and that's it), and lines at restaurants have been non-existent (apparently in their drunken stupor college kids forget to eat). Nice to see college kids are the same as when I was in school 20 years ago. Although Lake Chelan has nothing on "Indiana Beach on Lake Shafer." Bwahahaha!

Anyway, I got to see two kids toted away by the local sherriff in handcuffs from the Safeway, and got to see a group of ditzy (probably sober, tough to tell with blondes) girls panic as they managed to lock their keys in a car that was running (which in full disclosure I've done in my day). All in a trip to the Safeway across the street. Looks like hanging out on the beach is not where the action is.

Looks like Garrett got too much sun... he's not very lively this evening and is cuddled in bed. Keeping an eye on him and getting Gatorade pumped into him. Good thing Amy puts a quarter inch of SPF 2 million sunscreen on the boys.

And someone shoot me next time I order a burger in the Pacific Northwest. My god making a burger is not that hard, and I have yet to see anyone get it right except Fatburger. Tonight's burger, from a bar no less, was pathetic compared to McDonalds.

We brought the Wii, which is one nice thing about the size of the Wii. We packed it in a kids suitcase, including all the controllers which include two racing wheels and two crossbows. Kept the kids busy last night.

Some fun pics to follow. Available at my SmugMug account until I get them posted here. I was able to get out on the Waverunner with Spencer so I was happy. Will be out on the lake tomorrow.


My prediction for the Cup

In the battle between two of America's finest cities, Detroit wins in 6. Series will be tied 2-2 after game 4. Zetterberg wins Conn Smythe, although Ozzie will have a great series.

I won't catch any games until Monday night, and living in Washington I am at zero risk of catching any scores before then.


Heading to Lake Chelan this weekend

Looking forward to some sun (please, please, let there be sun), some Jet Skiing, some sleep, some kayaking, some hiking, and some Wii with the kids this weekend. We are headed to Campbell's Resort on Lake Chelan, which is an excellent location for the lake. Won't take off until Friday after work, although I will try and get out of here a little early on Friday. Normally I-90 traffic is heavy on Friday afternoon before Memorial Day, will see how gas prices affect it (I expect zero impact... too bad for me).


Three days of spring in the Pacific Northwest

The gods smiled upon the Seattle area for the last three days, parting the clouds and letting the sun through. Summer here doesn't start until mid-July, so quite nice to put the REI rain jacket away for a couple of days and do a full house search for my sunglasses.

We spent Saturday morning trying to sell our junk at the community garage sale, enjoyed a couple evenings of grilling out, let the kids around the 'hood play our in crappy little pool, and made it down to Snoqualmie Falls to check out the high level of water flow.

The Falls were cool. For a couple minutes until this conversation started.

Spencer: "Dad, I'm going to the rock!"
Me: "The Rock?"
Spencer: "Yeah... THEEE rock!"
Garrett (in his ear-shattering scream that people have come to know and love): "DA WOK! DA WOK! AIEEEEE!"

At this point I look at Amy with a quizzical look as the boys take off from the observation deck. I know we're in trouble when Garrett insists on walking instead of being carried. They dart into a lawn area and make their way to "the rock." Oh yeah, now I remember, the rock. A giant chuck of stone that the kids love to play on. Nevermind North America's tallest waterfall that we are lucky to enjoy a mile from our house. We come to Snoqualmie Falls Park to play on "the rock."

Took a lot of pictures this weekend, here's a sample.

It's on as the water fight hits full steam.

Wow, blue sky, cool. Haven't seen that in 8 months.

Keeping cool

There's my pride and joy that I can't stop talking about and bragging about. And to the left of it is my son, Garrett.

Took a little stroll around the neighborhood.

A shot of the falls.

Facing downstream from the falls, the mist created can be seen in this shot. Never gotten wet on the walking paths here before. Pretty cool.

There it is, the rock, in all its glory.

A wild beast wandered into the park, scaring Spencer...

The Rock.


Snoqualmie River Flood Information

We don't live in the flood plain, so nothing to worry about for our abode, but the Snoqualmie River is in flood stage right now due to the rapid warm weather melting all the late snow that fell in the mountains in April. Looks like it has leveled off, but with such a warm day today wouldn't be surprised to see the river keep rising.

Cool that the data can be tracked on the web.

A nice evening for Spencer

We took a little different tact this year with Spencer's birthday - he got to invite three friends to do whatever Spencer wanted. We ended up deciding just to host everyone and do pizza and playtime at our house. The kids started off on the Wii, then did pizza and cake, and ended up breaking out Rockband in the end.

We invited our neighbor Jack to spend the night with Spencer, and the two stayed up late trying their hand at Lego Star Wars on the Xbox. Amy was successful getting them to bed by 10pm (of course I was out back with my neighbor lighting up an Ashton).

Wine, Cigars, and Classical music

What started as an impromptu chat over cigars and fine wine with my neighbor escalated into six of us getting together for a few hours with martinis, champagne, Killian's Irish Red, and sharing stories about Chicago. What a rare, great weather evening here in the Pacific Northwest - nice 70 degree weather, clear night with stars, all in our backyard. We need to do this more often. Like once a week. Or maybe twice a week.

And I'll never think of pillows the same way again. Inside joke. Amy's cracking up right now.


Now THIS is the definition of irony

I'm a product manager in Amazon Payments, and I launched the "Pay Now" widget back in November of last year.

A friend of mine just sent me this link where a nutroots site the widget to collect payments.

Inside me head... "NOOOO! WHAT HAVE I DONE????"


Now this is some awesome marketing

Seattle Seahawk quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will be a Church on the Ridge this Sunday. Normally I reserve church for Easter and Christmas Eve... if I'm allow to wear my Hasselbeck jersey, I'm there :)

Happy Birthday Spencer

The big guy is seven today, and he was up early sniffing out his loot. He found a new Wii all set up for him with some cool games.

We normally do a full birthday party for each of the boys, but this year we have just having three of Spencer's friends over for pizza and Wii. His friend Jack will spend the night so that should be fun.


Three years in the Emerald City

Just realized that three years ago our family awoke from our first night in Seattle. Seems like only yesterday I was pulling our rental car in front of our temporary housing at 10pm, driving past the "Lusty Lady" adult establishment, and seeing the look of "James where the &*$% are you moving us?" on Amy's face.

What an interesting three years it has been:

  • I've taken up hiking as a serious activity, getting out into the mountains at least a couple times a month. And to my surprise enjoying it.
  • I've actually found a consistent group of friends to hang out with (ok they are my neighbors but hey at least I am voluntarily getting out of the house... even if it is across the street).
  • I've learned to like a "small city." I used to be snide about cities that don't have the amenities of a Chicago or New York; now I realize those cities also don't have the crime, traffic, smog, or asshole level that the big cities have.
  • Spencer has gone from being a pre-schooler to finishing up his second year in school.
  • Garrett has gone from a four month old to a three year old, and now he thinks that the sun doesn't exist due to all the cloud cover.
  • I've learned to overspend on buying a house and like it
  • I've learned to overspend on crappy restaurant food and deal with it
  • I've learned that you can't complain about anything in this town without prefixing it with "It's Bush's Fault that..."
  • I've learned to say "no worries" without thinking
  • I've learned its impossible to see my friends and their families as much as I would like to
  • I've learned to adjust being a long way away from my folks and my roots
  • I've learned to appreciate and cherish those roots
  • I've learned the locals here respect those roots and "Midwest values"
  • I've learned posting on this blog is a lot easier than coordinating time zones, plus I don't have to talk to people
  • And finally, I've learned that time flies and you really have to carpe diem.


A lesson from the Romans

The entitlement mentality in this country has to stop.

Now, its energy. We are entitled to cheap gas. Politicians are pandering to the people to win votes. And we encourage them.

There was a pretty big backlash to big government's response to the mortgage "crisis" - no bailouts for the irresponsible. That stopped the bailout talk. I don't hear the same about gas prices. We need to have the same "let capitalism do its job" mantra that applied in the mortgage crisis.

Gas is $4+ a gallon. So what. You can be part of the solution. Reduce your gas usage. Support alternative energies. The higher gas goes the bigger ROI that alternative energy companies will reap, encouraging them to invest more aggressively. Or mass transportation options become more available. Microsoft operates its own bus system in the Seattle area. Great idea, capitalism at its best, employees win, the environment wins, and citizens win.

The loser will be OPEC in the next decade when enough smart entrepreneurs figure out how to bring solar, wind, and battery power to vehicles. Big Oil had better figure out how to be big energy, else they will fall the way Kodak did when Kodak failed to realize it wasn't in the film business it was in the photo business.

We survived the 70s gas crisis. We will survive this one. If government doesn't screw it up.


Well this is interesting

Former Republican Bob Barr announces running as Libertarian for President. Given the pathetic state of the Republican party these days (eclipsed only by the Dems), maybe other third parties feel they can make some headway.


Happy Mother's Day!

Can't wait to see the look on Amy's face on what the kids picked out for her...

A night at Safeco Field

The Good Guys are in town for a three game weekend series, so we grabbed tix for the Saturday night game. Yeah, Saturday night, in May, in Seattle. Such beautiful weather for a ball game. Everyone grab turtle necks, sweatshirts, and a jacket, we're going to a baseball game!

We were treated to a big second inning for the Sox, six runs including two that went yard near our center field seats. We sat in the family section, and always amazes me how many people don't see "FAMILY SECTION - NO ALCOHOL" on their tickets or on the section entrance. "Gee there's a lot of kids here tonight." No shit sherlock, any guess why you're surrounded by a bunch of rugrats hyper on pop and cotton candy? Always keeps the ushers busy, and always a look of disbelief on the fans' faces who are moved to another section.

Safeco field has a really cool play area with, what else, a baseball theme. Spencer and Garrett got to enjoy that a couple of times. They also got the kids meal deal, which for like $5 you get a dog, a milk, cracker jacks, and a souvenier bucket. Given that dogs are like $6 normally, it indeed is a good deal.

I of course had to partake in a chili dog, and quite sad that the best chili dogs in Seattle are at Safeco.

Always a fun time. Especially the 30 minute wait to get out of the parking garage after the game.

Oh yeah, the good guys won 8-4. "You can put it on the board, YE-ESSSSS!"


Spencer breaking a board

Here's the video of Spencer breaking a board with an inside block, first attempt. I love the courtesy bow afterward. The black belt that's holding the board is one of Amy's friends from MOPS; small community we live in.

I used SmugMug to store this, a much better job on quality versus Youtube or Google Video.


Spencer gets his green stripe belt

I have a good video of him breaking a board with an inside block, first try no less, but I've uploaded it to SmugMug and they convert it into a standard H264 format, and its taking a while to convert. Will post when its ready.

In the meantime, a couple pictures:

Spencer performing a flying side kick.

Spencer finishing his test form.

The proud guy after his board break.

This HAS to be a joke... has to.

I don't know what's more scary, the fact that these guys come up with a weird idea for water, or that there are so many flavors!

A new Amazon Kindle

My Amazon Kindle had a little problem with the eInk display going on the fritz, so I called Amazon Customer Service last Friday and they shipped a replacement one. It took some time re-configuring it online - I had to deregister the original one and register the new one - as well as reactivate my newspaper subscriptions, but looks like all is good on the new advice. Everything can be done through the web, including resending your previously purchased books to your new Kindle. Boo ya!

I will say this: I'm addicted to reading the morning papers on the Kindle. Amazing how quickly I have gotten into the habit of catching up on the news by whipping out the Kindle first thing in the morning. Very handy.


Time to give Chris Osgood his due

The guy is 7-0 in this year's playoffs. 7-0. Jamie Franzen is the talk of the town, and deservedly so for his 12 goals in 11 games. But Ozzie came in when the netminding needed tightening, and he has delivered.

If he keeps this up, he gets my vote for the Conn Smythe. If I, uh, had a vote that is.

Funny, I keep asking the same thing

Glad I'm not the only one noting the media's gross distortion of the state of the economy.

Hortons did NOT fire a worker over a Timbit

For those that think that Horton's really fired someone over a Timbit, let me explain it to you: they fired her because they wanted to fire her, and the Timbit was the policy excuse they used.

Companies don't fire employees over 20 cents. They use silly policies as reasons to fire bad employees.


If there ever was a case for child abuse...

...this definitely would fit the bill.

Only thing worse would be if someone let their kid wear a Notre Dame jersey for that long. Or even once.

And I thought Spencer showed obsessive behavior.

Seriously, every day for four and a half years? Yikes. At least put the kid in a Zetterberg jersey if you're going to do that.

Leave it to Google...

... to inform me that today is National Teacher Day. Happy National Teacher Day to all of our fine teachers, whom I envy since I most certainly don't have the patience to teach my own kids let alone other kids, and especially Spencer's teacher at Cascade View Elementary School, Mrs. Saxton, for being so patient with Spencer.


I'm not a renter...

... but I signed the petition at AngryRenter.com opposing government bailouts of those not responsible enough to manage their finances or responsible enough to run a sound lending business.

My prediction for Yahoo

Two years from now they will wish they accepted Microsoft's offer. I don't think MS will buy them in two years, but someone will buy them in 2-4 years for under $20 a share.

Should have taken the deal, Jerry.

Just want this prediction on record. I've been wrong before :)

Great quote from Dave Ramsey for all voters

I'm paraphrasing... "If you're waiting for a President of the United States to make your life better, you're going to be disappointed in a lot of Presidents in your lifetime." Amen.

I wonder if America has always had this entitlement attitude that is pervasive in the country these days.

Ooh, how brave, admitting "mistakes" when you get caught

Man if there is something that pisses me off its weasels they get caught in affairs, drugs, associating with criminals, etc. that think they are so damn brave and strong because they get in front of a microphone and admit they've made mistakes... AFTER THEY'VE BEEN CAUGHT! No fvcking shit you made a mistake! You were CAUGHT. The mistake was that you didn't cover your trail.

And let's be clear: these are not mistakes, these are choices. When I misplace my keys or sunglasses, that's a mistake. When I give my wife an iRobot thinking I am thinking of her needs by having her do less house-cleaning, that's a mistake (and insensitive, and lazy, and...). Having an affair or letting a terrorist fund your election campaign are conscious decisions.

Humans make mistakes. They also make conscious decisions. And what these politicians, atheletes, etc make are conscious decisions. I'm so sick of hearing people have sympathy for those that make conscious decisions.

And are our moral standards so low in this country that these people that make, ahem, "mistakes", are still idolized? The older I get, the more I realize its not that hard to "be good." Yes, when we're young and stupid, we're young and stupid and make a lot of bad choices. But when we're old and stupid, we may make a lot of mistakes, but the bad choices should be zero.


Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA4) Review

I snagged a copy of Grand Theft Auto IV for the XBox 360 on release day (last Tuesday) from the local Blockbuster. The last game I picked up the first week of release was Halo 3, and that was hugely disappointing. GTA4 has been hyped as potentially breaking Halo 3's sales record, so I wondered if I was setting myself up for another gaming disappointment.

I won't bore people with the background of the game and the gratuitous vulgar language, sex, and violence in the game (hence the M for Mature rating... although my wife claims that disqualifies me due to my immaturity).

GTA4 does a good job providing a plot that eases the player into learning the controls of the game. This makes the plot a little slow in the beginning, but the plot is real and doesn't feel manufactured (like most shoot-em-ups). You play the role of Niko, an eastern european who has just arrived in New York, er, Liberty City with only one contact, his cousin Roman. From there, you have to help Niko make his way in the world's largest city.

The map of New York, er, Liberty City is huge, detailed, and realistic. Simply amazing job by Rockstar to pull a map of this size off, and to do so without any caching interruption.

The driving controls and feel are excellent. The shooting leaves a little to be desired. Gun choices are aplenty, and cycling through your weapons are easy, but free-fire is really poor - almost impossible to get a bead on your opponent. Luckily, GTA4 has an auto-lock feature. It works very well, but for me it takes the fun out of shoot-em-ups. This applies to hand-to-hand combat as well.

The selection of cars is impression. From GTOs and 60s Mustangs to Corvettes to soccer mom minivans to pimped-out SUVs to garbage trucks to buses to motorcycles, you have quite a selection of vehicles to get around Liberty City.

GTA4 has a main plot, of which I am 26% through. The plot is well done, understandable, and believable. Along the way you meet friends, and if you earn their respect they will give you jobs for which you can earn money. Some as clean as driving a taxi, others, well, not so clean. If you do well enough, you become friends with them and you can hang out together in Liberty City's many places of entertainment - pool, strip clubs, dining, drinking, darts, shows, you name it.

The user interface is really impressive. You use your cell phone to call friends, receive calls, get text messages, manage appointments, and even access multiplayer mode. Very easy to use, and feels seamless with the gameplay.

While you're cruising around in your ride-of-the-minute, you can tune into one of 16 radio stations, each with a deep variety of tunes. All music in the game is available via Amazon's GTA IV MP3 Store.

Throughout the map there are side surprises, although they are few and far between. Most of the map and objects in it (including people) are not-interactive. You can drive just about anywhere, and you can run/jump/climb just about anywhere (I got myself stuck on top of some buildings once).

The multiplayer mode is surprisingly good. When I was playing single-player, I just couldn't see how multiplayer mode would be any good. How wrong I was. Free for all is awesome. You against other players, with whatever weapon and vehicle you can muster, duking it out all over Liberty City. Hit a non-player, fire a weapon, etc and you will attract the attention of the cops. In which case you can escape, or fight them and attract even more police. You can also play co-op, but the AI of the computer players is pretty weak. Some will argue that makes it fun :) There are also other good modes like carjacking, where everyone competes against each other to steal the most cars and return them in good condition (the more damage the less money you get for each car).

One note for those with kids: don't play it with kids in the house. Plenty of language to make Bobby Knight cringe with disgust.

So far the most fun thing I've done is escape from the cops when I had "4 stars" (tops out at 6 stars), which is quite a feat. Took me 10 minutes of scheming and focus and fine-tuned reflexes to pull it off, but I did.

At this point I'm addicted to it. Definitely have to see single-player through to completion, and definitely this is now my favorite multi-player game for Friday night game night. This game lives up to its hype.

Game on!


A happy ending (I hope) to my Fathead story

We got a Purdue helmet Fathead a few months back, and put it up in our kids' play room as part of our repainting it as a football theme (turned out way, way, cool... kudos to Amy for the idea and actually doing it with no help from me). And, as I recounted on my other blog, I had a very disappointing experience with Fathead after contacting their customer service when our Fathead simply fell off the wall.

I wasn't disappointed in a crappy product - that happens, buyer beware, blah, blah, blah. I was upset that they used a customer complaint touchpoint to try and sell me another product. Wow that's bad in my book. Like real bad.

Sure enough, a couple days after my post, someone from Fathead leaves a comment on my blog and asks me to contact them. So I do, and they ask me for my address so they can send me a replacement. To paraphrase them "we simply can't have a situation where we turn a raving fan into an upset customer." Fodder for any company out there, seriously.

Turns out their PR dept saw my post and decided they wanted to make me a happy customer (what a concept). Good for them to monitor the web to see how their product is being received and how their brand is being defined.

Last week we got our replacement Fathead, and we have it lying flat (it comes in a tube and needs to straighten out). Will try and put it up this Sunday. And hopefully it stays up!

Frustrating times with HP, Microsoft Vista, and SafeEyes

For those of you that are technical, you might find this interesting. Probably not, but you might. The rest of you should probably save yourself from wasting precious minutes of your day and just ignore this... unless you're looking for some help getting to sleep, in which case read on.

Wednesday night I decided to download a bunch of software for my laptop (a three month old HP Pavilion dv9700z if anyone cares) - trial version of Visual Studio 2008, an XBox Live-to-twitter status adapter, and other things. At the same time I started cleaning up my machine by uninstalling software that I was no longer using. So I start deleting, downloading, and installing; one of the things I had to install was .NET Framework 3.5, and the new VS is a behemoth 3.5GB download.

Somewhere along the way, I needed to reboot, so I did, and after that my Wifi stopped working. Interesting. Works for my iMac, works for my T-Mobile Wing, works for my old iMac. So let's investigate.

Looks like it can connect to my wireless router but cannot get to the Internet. That's interesting. Everything else can get to the internet, including my XBox and my Vonage phone. So I reboot my router, my Vonage adapter, and my broadband modem. Usually that fixes weird networking problems in my setup.

No such luck.

Hmmm, so let's look deeper. I open up a command prompt, and sure enough I can ping my routers, and I can even ping my Comcast DNS servers. When I run a tracert, the resolves IP address to domain name as well (of course that information was probably caches in Windows somewhere).

So, I can reach the internet from my laptop, but I can't get there from my browser. I conclude that the problem must be with SafeEyes (I'm so upset with them and their support that I won't even link to them because I don't want them to get a backlinking or traffic benefit), an Internet parent/child control program to hopefully keep Spencer from wandering to the wrong sites on the internet. My trial had expired, and I tried to uninstall it (the program was highly intrusive and blocked lots of legitimate sites which left me looking for a better alternative) but their uninstallation didn't work. So, I simply deleted the folder. That looks to be the culprit of my problem.

I contacted them to try and fix their bug, and they said "reinstall it then uninstall it." So I did. Same problem - their uninstallation doesn't work. So, I try Vista's/HP recovery, where I can roll back to a previous version of my system. To make a long story short, I did that a few times (rolling back to different versions), but none of them worked. To make matters work, I can no longer connect to my wireless router!

HP doesn't ship source Vista CDs with their system (they do advise you to create them when you first get your computer... seeing as I have never needed them in 20 years of computer ownership I didn't take time out of a busy day to do that), so I had to order them from HP. $30, ouch. Hopefully I get them in a couple days, and hopefully that works!


One Octopus down...

...one to go as Detroit pimp-slaps the Avs in game 4.

In my best Monty Burns impression... ."exxxcccellllent...."

Exactly what I've been trying to tell my Seattle friends

Seattle does not have bad traffic, at least not nearly as bad as other cities.

Chicago worse than Boston? New York only #5? Atlanta #2? Those surprised me.