Journal

Spring 2008

Tuesday, June 24th

It was a busy weekend. I took off Friday, though I wound up spending a lot of time on the phone for work-related things. I cleaned the house which had been in a state of decline for about a month and half. In the afternoon, my sister Melissa, her husband Tom, and their three kids arrived. Alex, my oldest nephew, just completed basic training at the Great Lakes Navy base. We went downtown and met up with my Mom and my other sister Jessica. We spent a little time at Millennium Park and then went to dinner, before I drove Alex back to base.

My mom and Jessica spent the night, and then they took the train Saturday morning up to Waukagan to spend the day up there with Melissa and family. Sarah and I met up with her family for dinner at Flat Top Grill, a Mongolian barbeque, down on North Avenue. Afterwards we all came back home and had dessert. Her brothers spent the night and we played computer games well into the night.

Sunday morning I picked up Alex from the train station and we watched a movie until Melissa, Tom, and Alex arrived from Indiana where they had been attending her high school reunion. We went to lunch and then played frisbee at the beach until it started raining. They headed back towards the base to have dinner at Gurnee Mills, while Sarah, her brothers and I played a round of Forged Alliance before they went home. So, as I said, a pretty busy weekend.

Tuesday, June 17th

Let's see. Last weekend was my birthday. Friday Sarah made a really nice dinner and then we went down to the local pub for a drink and some pool. Saturday we drove down to my mom's to celebrate both my birthday and my sister's, but then Steve and I spent most of the day trying to install some cabinets while Jessica and Sarah dug up some shrubs.

Sunday we went down to Andersonville's MidSomerfest and did some shopping and eating. We got a neat wooden box to hold our Wii-motes and Wii nunchucks when we're not using them. Then we went up to Sarah's parents' house after a quick stop at the hospital to see her sister Nikki's newborn, Brianna. We had dinner with her parents, her brothers, and her sister's kids.

Yesterday we rode the bike downtown to meet my sister and her coworker at Gino's East for some deep dish pizza. I'd heard of it before, so it was good to finally go there, but the wait was pretty long. It was nice to spend some time with Jessica, since Saturday we were busy most of the day.

Monday, June 2nd

This weekend was Jeremy's bachelor party in Wisconsin Dells. All told I put well over 400 miles on the bike. Saturday I rode up to meet Mike in Madison and we rode from there up to the Dells. It was so windy on the trip up that it wasn't even enjoyable, but once we got up there we had a great time and Jeremy got a proper evening of fun to commemorate his bachelorhood.

Sunday the weather was beautiful and we had a great ride back to Madison, going around Devil's Lake and down Highway 12. Then I rode back home and in fairly short order fell asleep.

Tuesday, May 27th

We had a great long weekend over Memorial Day. We went camping at McCormick's Creek in Southern Indiana. I hadn't been there in at least fifteen years and Sarah had never been there. We did a lot of hiking, crawled through Wolf's Cave, forded a couple of streams, and loafed around the campfire. The only downside was the air mattress, which sprung a leak and despite our repeated attempts to patch it left us essentially sleeping on the ground for three nights.

Sunday we drove over to Cataract Falls, which isn't far from McCormick's Creek, and is supposedly Indiana's largest waterfall. That seems kind of like the tallest mountain in Kansas, but it was still fairly impressive. It has upper and lower falls and a hundred and thirty year old covered bridge. We did some climbing while we were there and enjoyed the beautiful weather. We came back yesterday and today it was back at work.

Friday, May 16th

I've returned from a work trip to Knoxville. We went down to attend a regional team meeting, met up in Gatlinburg and went to a Smokies baseball game. It's good to connect with people face to face, and this year we aren't having an annual associate meeting so this will be one of the few opportunities. It's good to be back, though. Sarah and I were off visiting our respective families last weekend and then I've been gone for a few days, so I'm glad to be home.

Last weekend was Mother's Day, and as I said I was down visiting my mom. My sister Jessica came up from Lafayette and we helped her dig out the cruddy pond in her back yard and replace it with a rain garden and a stream. The idea is to help guide the water, since her yard is at the bottom of a hill and water pools by the house. It turned out really well, though it rained on Sunday and we decided it may need to be bigger given how much water there was. Part of the problem is the layer of thick clay under the topsoil. The water just doesn't soak through it.

Saturday, May 3rd

Yesterday was Wii night. We had a small gathering of friends, grilled some bison burgers, mixed up some drinks, and played Super Smash Brawl, Wii Sports, and tried to get MonkeyBall working but ran into some controllers technical difficulty. We had a lot of fun, though, and having people over is always a good opportunity to get the house cleaned up.

Today was mostly errands. I got some more memory for my computer, since I had a stick go bad and cause random hard lockups out of the blue. I also bought a new surge suppressor, which hopefully will prevent that sort of behavior. We've gotten back into playing Supreme Commander, specifically Forged Alliance since the LAN party. Unfortunately the computer has been kicking our ass. We've got to find a way to keep that heavy artillery out! I'm hoping that the increased memory will improve the performance a little, since it gets laggy when there's a lot going on.

Thursday, April 24th

Today marked a week straight of riding the bike to work. Unfortunately, pulling into the parking lot from lunch today (in Steve's car) I noticed my license plate was bent. Closer inspection revealed that the screws that hold the rear fender to the tail had been snapped off, leaving the fender hanging somewhat precariously. I'm fairly sure that at some point today someone didn't see the bike in the parking spot and pulled into it too quickly, bumping the bike before they could stop. Of course there was no note, no attempt at apology or restitution.

I rode the bike home without incident, and tonight I removed the tail and super-glued the broken screw holes back on. Otherwise, aside from bending the license plate straight there wasn't any damage, so it could have been worse, much worse if they'd knocked the bike over.

On a more positive note I found a City of Chicago recycling center to take the old computers and monitors, along with some motor oil that had been collecting, so I got that dropped off. I also discovered that the catalytic converter on my car can be replaced far more cheaply than quoted by the dealer, and possibly by myself, since there are replacements cats that bolt in where the existing one is with no welding required. I'll try to tackle that some time next month. My vehicle budget for this month is already spent.

Tuesday, April 22nd

Well the motorcycle is officially prepared for the riding season. Tonight I changed the oil and the rear brake pads, and replaced the oil and air filters. I rode it to work yesterday and today, and the forecast looks good for at least tomorrow, though it may rain toward the end of the week. While I was never able to make a case for the bike as a cost saving measure, I'm still glad that I'm spending money on something I enjoy rather than just throwing it away on gas.

Sunday, April 20th

Ha ha! I got my car windows fixed. As it turns out, the rear window didn't have a broken cable, there weren't any rivets to pop, I didn't even wind up using the regulator I got for the rear window beacuse the problem was just the window being off the track, and the whole process went rather smoothly, especially considering I didn't have any directions for the front door that were written for my body style. The previous model directions were pretty worthless, but because I started with the rear window I had a fairly good idea how to fill in most of the gaps. I have to say I'm fairly surprised it went as well as it did, given how my car repair adventures usually go.

I didn't get the motorcycle oil changed because AutoZone doesn't carry the filter. That means I'll have to go back to the dreaded and sworn-off Murray's, since I know they carry it, even though I'm disappointed 98% of times I go there. I hope to get that taken care of tomorrow.

Yesterday evening we went for a walk and discovered someone had put a perfectly suitable dresser out by the dumpster. Knowing that we've contributed our fair share to the neighborhood "recycling program" we hauled it upstairs. It's now in the living room awaiting the removal of the old dresser and a pile of old computer cases and monitors that I've been meaning to recycle for like a year and a half now. There's a place that you can take the stuff to but it's wait out in Elgin and they only offer it the last Friday of the month, which is fortunately just a few days from now.

The weather was great today, and while the garage with the door open does count as outside, it wasn't a bike or mountain bike ride. I hope it holds so that I can take some more recreational advantage of it. Overall, things are pretty good right now.

Saturday, April 19th

Whew. It's been a while since I updated. I've been spending a lot of time working on Spark because I've been trying to get the current development code live. I had to create a development copy of the database, which meant that I couldn't make any posts until I remerged them. That's done, though I didn't get everything done I hoped to.

In any case, the last several weeks have not been without event. VMWare training was good. I enjoyed taking the train downtown for most of a week rather than driving the car. I got the bike into the shop where they replaced the rectifier and put the new tires on. I rode to work for the first time this season yesterday, which was just awesome. I'm really glad to be back on the bike after a long, snowy winter. I still need to change the oil and put on some rear brake pads, but otherwise it's good to go for the season.

Dan came down for a visit the weekend before last. We played some Wii, went out to dinner at a new place near us, hit the local pub and then came back for some good conversation. It was good to see him. Other than the class reunion last fall, I haven't seen him since just after I moved to Chicago.

Work has been work, with not much new or exciting to report. The weather's been getting better so we're making an effort to get outside when we can. We're planning a camping trip over Memorial Day weekend, and I'm itching to try out my new mountain bike that Sarah got me for Christmas, though I did finally get it hung up in the garage.

Speaking of the garage, after I change the oil on the bike I plan to take apart my car door and replace the window regulator. It's been acting up for almost a year now, opening with a nasty noise and closing only with coaxing and persistence. I'm trying something different this time. I'm going to start working on it before I go to AutoZone so that when I do have to go, hopefully I'll get away in one trip. That's the plan anyway. We'll see if it pans out.