Sunday, June 27, 2004

Blogs of Note

Good reading can be found at:

Life at TJ's Place
-- the manager of a stripper club talks about what it's like there. A lot more interesting than I would have suspected (and a lot less sexy, too)

Diary of the Food Whore
-- a professional caterer who really loves what she does.... when she isn't totally stressed out and ready to kill the next person who gets in her way, anywhere

Feet First
-- a doctor talks about things of interest to her -- some medical, some societal, all interesting

How good are these? Good enough so that even though they don't have an XML feed, so that I have to manually go to the site (oh, the pain ! ), I still take the time to manually go to the site, just to see what's happened since my last visit.

Go see.

What's Money For?

Which is considerably more glib than I actually am. We don't spend money foolishly, but our idea of foolish doesn't exclude having fun with it, as long as we feel that we can justify it. (All of which equivocation reminds me of a brief session I had with someone who was sort-of a psychologist, during a period when I was quite stressed at work; hearing my reply to a question about what I do for fun (answer: well... ), she said, dryly, "I can hear the joy in your voice"). But thats just the way I am.

In this case, the question is "How much is reasonable to spend for the travel (and lodging, but mostly travel) part of a one week trip to London, which we're contemplating for the end of the year". A friend whose thoughts I value (and who is significantly wealthier than me, though she wouldn't call herself rich, I bet) says that it is silly to pay a ton of money for travel; you'll only be on the plane for maybe ten hours, so just suck it up and save the money.' And she has a point. Round trip airfare to London, economy class, is about $1700, and via business, about $8000. For the extra money, you get better food, more space, things to amuse you during the flight, and access to the airport lounge. Those are all nice, but are they worth $6000? Objectively, you'd have to say no, they aren't.

But this is our Big Flight, maybe our only one for the next ten years. We were supposed to go to Australia for three weeks; that turned out to not be possible, and this is the substitute. This cost is proportional to that cost, so if we were willing to pay that (and we were), then, economically, we ought to be willing to pay this, too. And truth to tell, even if it wasn't proportional, still - it's the Big Trip. We don't get out a lot, we don't spend money freely. And at least one of us will be working for another ten years, so we will be able to replace those funds.

Isn't that what money is for? To be spent to enhance your life, to increase your satisfaction and enjoyment, to be fun? (Sotto voce: yes, when it's someone else's money...)

Ruminations and Cogitations, continued

Some interesting and scary things in the paper today. I guess, since I’m an American, what I find scary might not be what other people find scary, and it could be that I find these things scary because I don’t want to think of the things that really are scary. Say what you will about John Ashcroft – and I don’t like him, not at all – he probably has to think about scary things every day that would leave me shuddering under the bed.

So I’ll stick to the things that scare me but aren’t in that league. Ashcroft comes to mind because of two articles in today’s Washington Post. In one, a guy says that while he was flying, and doing a crossword puzzle, he jotted a piece of dialogue for a book that he’s writing. He wrote this line on the edge of the paper where the crossword was: “I guess this is the bomb.” Another passenger saw the note, alerted the flight attendant, and this guy got to spend extensive quality time with cops and feds, none of whom seemed all that interested in the possibility that they were wrong about him, and it ended up that he was told he would now be on a ‘watch list’.

Its easy to make fun of this, just like its easy to make fun of that guy who wanted to blow up the airliner by using a bomb in his shoe. Wouldn’t have been so funny had he succeeded. Thinking that a person is a threat to an airliner because of something he jotted down on the side of a crossword puzzle seems ludicrous and dumb – but ludicrous and dumb people do pose a threat, and we pay humorless people to deal with that threat. Including people like Ashcroft. And including people like the unnamed person who scrambled a fighter jet in Washington to check out the light aircraft that was carrying a traffic reporter, just like it always does, where it always does, in touch with air traffic control all the time. It ended well, but mysteriously, as apparently no one could be found to say that they asked for the fighter to be scrambled, or even to say that they thought scrambling it was a bad idea. If that plane had been carrying explosives, flying under the cover of its normal mission, would the fighter have been able to stop it, or even get close to it? What about locking on for a missile attack? The light plane, remember, cruises at around 70MPH, and the fighter, around 400MPH. I’m thinking of the fighter to helicopter missile attacks in Blue Thunder, which as you may recall didn’t turn out all that well.

So when humorless people do things like stop and interrogate other people who jot down threatening phrases in public places, or check out apparently normal planes that could be a threat, they’re not doing something wrong. But since that also infringes on our traditional view of how Americans act, it feels wrong.

I don’t know about other people, but I haven’t figured out which it is, yet.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Be careful what you wish for....

Which, granted, is a very lame phrase even if Uhura did say it in Star Trek IV to that snarky ensign who ended up getting locked into the closet.

A few days ago, I was whimpering about not having enough to do, and how I wished I had more, and yesterday, the opportunity came. I got a call around 1:30 to the effect that a customer wanted a piece of software installed, and how it would be appreciated if I would do that. And oh, yes, they'd like it operational when they came in on Monday. At that point, I said 'Did they mean the Monday that is in one day, or the one that's a week from this Monday?' And you know which one they said.

I spent about three hours on the PC, downloading the package from the vendor's site (really glad I was doing this from home, with the cable modem; had I been doing it at the office, with the anemic network we have there, I'd still be doing it today). And talking with the customer, and the vendor's contact for my company, and the vendor's contracts person, who is the keeper of the sacred datecode, without which, you can install all you want, Jack, it isn't going to work. But after about two hours, I thought I had it knocked, no problem. Then I learned that when the vendor had changed from version 5.1 of their software to 5.2, they had made Substantial Changes, which translates into You Have To Reinstall The Whole Package. Oh, fun!

After trying to upload to the mainframe for a while, I tossed in the towel and drove into the office, where it took about two more hours to get the upload completed. Things went pretty well at that point, and by about 9PM I thought I was done. I'd say Start, the product would come up, spit out all kinds of status messages, say 'Ready'.... and then shut right back down again. Not being too bright, I tried it about fifteen more times, and each time, same thing, except that sometimes it'd kick out error messages, too, like 13E abends, which say that a subtask hadn't quite finished running when it was told to shut down, or errors from Unix, saying that a task was ended even though it hadn't been undubbed yet.

Finally, an hour later, I thought, hell with this, and called the vendor, telling them what I was seeing, and the guy said well, the only time I've seen this before, the TCPIP port you're using is already in use by another task. So I renamed the port to something else, and, hey presto, it came up.... and stayed up. Damn!

Fooled around with it a while more, entered some commands just to see that it really would respond, then I called the person who had originally asked me to do it (taking some pleasure in the fact that I was calling at 11 at night), and told him it was in, it was up, I was done. Which pleased him. And I then shut down the laptop, put it away, and thought "Damn. Forgot to shut down the task." So I called Ops, asked them to shut it down, and, after some confusion, because they'd never heard of this task before (obviously, since I'd just built it), they did, and I went sleepily home.

Be careful what you wish for. Someone might be listening.

But you know what? It was fun.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Ruminations and Cogitations

This has been a weird week, and I'm in a weird mood. Some good things happened, though.

The most recent good thing was that we went out to dinner for my wife's birthday. The dinner was pretty good. We went to the Olive Garden, which is Fine Dining around here, and a very popular place. I felt badly -- I didn't get her anything, not even a card. She always says that I don't have to, and I know that's true because its true when I say it, but still.... you want to get something as a recognition. She didn't mind, but I still want to do something.

Buying stuff. I have found over the years that what they say is true, at least for me -- buying stuff does not guarantee happiness. I know that's a trite observation, and in a way its hardly new -- we neither of us have ever felt that buying things just because you can is a desirable thing. I don't understand people who buy new, flashy cars (though I like the cars) or gleaming, blinking audio systems (though I like the systems) or even new clothes when the old ones are perfectly good (though I like the new clothes, especially the Tshirts I just got from Lands' End; yum). I think maybe I like the idea of having new stuff; I just don't like the idea of paying for it.

Yet I'm not cheap, not in any real sense. I just don't like spending money for things that I don't really feel like we need. We recently bought a new dining room table -- actually, it'd be a new dining table, wouldn't it? Why do we say dining room table? Well, why do we say salmon but we say tuna fish? -- and having used the table for a while, I can say that its very nice to have, yes indeed. It is solid and comfortable, and the PIR post I made a few days ago notwithstanding, I am glad that we have it. It was Worth The Money. But a lot of things aren't, at least not to me, and I try not to obviously envy people who either have the money to get this stuff without having to think about the cost, or just get it; to hell with the cost, put it on the credit card. How money works -- how people use it -- has always interested me, a little bit. I recall, years ago, when I lived in South Dakota, courtesy of the Air Force, how people would buy houses downtown for the duration of their stay, and at the end of it -- usually about three years later -- they'd sell them again. I was quite pleased with myself when it occurred to me that they weren't actually buying the house; they were renting it from the bank. I was wary of that idea -- what if no one wanted to buy it when I was ready to leave? What does it cost to get an electrician, a plumber, furniture? I wasn't ready for any of those things, so I didn't even try to get a house. The pleasure of ownership wasn't Worth The Money. That's part of the thing about buying a birthday gift -- its got to be Worth The Money. Some amount of the cost can be directed just to the pleasure of getting it for her -- I'd unquestionably spend more money for her than I would ever spend for myself -- but still, there is the WTM consideration. Jewelry, for example. I've never bought into the idea of A Diamond Is Forever. Does that make me cheap? Maybe just a little....

Another Good Thing that happened this week is the drama camp that my daughter is attending. It's small-potatoes stuff -- even little theater is more advanced than this is -- but she's enjoying it. The play is going to be held at noon today, and of course I'll go. I am glad when she enjoys things like this, because its sometimes quite difficult to find things that she does enjoy. Part of it is that she's not comfortable with making friends in a crowd, so the mass activities at the regular camp don't appeal to her. She's a friendly, open kid, and she enjoys having friends -- but only in the micro sense. In that way, she's a lot like me, though she's better at the concept than I am. Like most parents, I wish I could give her the social skills that I never really mastered. If being part of this drama group helps her there, I'm delighted --but even if all it does is give her something to do, and maybe a sense of accomplishment, that'll be a good thing, too.

Work has been slow this week, even by normal standards. That's made me glum. I really want to be busy, I really want Stuff To Do. Not so much that it drives me crazy, or fills every waking moment with an awareness of its looming mass, but enough so that I feel that I'm contributing something. I get a lot of my sense of value from what I do at work, and if I don't do a lot -- well.... And yet I was surprised to find this week that this doesn't necessarily translate into a desire to try new things. This was an unpleasant surprise. What happened was that a colleague told me of a technical tool that could make one of our systems run better, and I found to my surprise that reading the manual, I had almost no interest in doing it. I'm not sure why. It could be that the concept scared me, but I don't want to believe that. I told my group's manager (I always think of him as the group's manager, not as my manager) that I don't mind failing, but I do mind not having the opportunity to fail. Well, that's true, but not as true as it could be. The truth is, I do mind failing, and I think I've lost my taste for trying new things because I'm getting afraid to fail. You can see how that would be a disturbing realization. I don't like it.

So much for now....

Monday, June 21, 2004

Not Really Goofing....

I'm not really goofing off, at the moment. I am officially working; I have my pager on my hip (both on my hip and on, period); I have gone through emails and responded as needed, and I am using my work laptop to do it. I am Working.

It's also true that I am sitting at the kitchen table, listening to the birds, and looking out at a perfectly glorious day; I am barefoot, wearing shorts and a light blue Tshirt, and sipping coffee while I leaf through a book. So, I'm not really working. More like, I'm holding myself in readiness, should the need arise.

This is, in fact, exactly the condition that the people who reluctantly pay my salary (not just me; they're reluctant to pay anyone's salary, as if they could get away with never paying, then their P&L would be fabulous) were referring to when they balked. Am I working? No, truth is, I'm not. Am I avoiding work, delaying it, refusing or failing to do what I should be doing? No, not at all. Nothing is waiting for me.

I suppose that one way to look at this would be that if I have nothing to do, then I ought to be finding things to do. Because unless one works in valhalla, there are always things that could be done to improve the common weal, the working environment. Thats true. But I am not going to do them, because I have found, over the years, that it simply doesn't matter. Perhaps thats my failure, an inability to see how things could be grandly better, and to contribute my mite to efforts that could possibly lead to such improvement, knowing full well that by myself, I can't change them. And its true that at one time, I though that even if I couldn't change the totality or anything approaching totality of the environment, I could at least make an effort. But I don't think that way any more. I see a problem, I fix it. I see something I can make better in my small realm, I do so. But I don't try to change the world, the nation, the state, the city, the street. Just my little part.

But I'm not goofing off. Much.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Guess the Army was right!

Had a fairly intense conversation with my group's manager, the other day, the nut of which was, you're doing what we asked you to do, and you're doing it well, but we don't like paying full time for you to do it, because obviously, it doesn't take all of your time to do it. Which, as it happens, is true, but the proof of it was that I have time to a) dial into a recurring teleconference held by his boss's boss (capo di tutti capi? Not quite...), and they wondered how a grunt level person would have time to do this, and b) when he would hold his own team meetings, and at the end invite people who were remote (like me) to hang on and listen to the local stuff, I would -- thus proving that I didn't have enough to do. I thought that volunteering to sit in on these things demonstrated a certain amount of interest in how the organization works, above and beyond what is normally shown, but that wasn't how it was perceived. And since the organization runs on what they call 'claim codes', which is to say, billable hours, the people paying the bill objected to paying for me full time when part of the time -- obviously ! -- I had nothing to do.

Now this is a decent guy, trying to do his job with a minumum of bureaucracy.... and even I know that when a group manager gets that way, you'd better just nod and smile abjectly that's what I did. Offered up some defense, but it didn't matter, he'd already come to a conclusion. Whether it was his or his boss's, I don't know. I'm disappointed in him and for him, though. He's better than that. So am I.

But the old Army aphorism was right. Don't volunteer.

Thursday, June 17, 2004


About a week ago, we took delivery of a new dining room table. It's quite nice -- here's a picture, though that isn't where we got it -- but we now have a small problem.

We occasionally have pizza for dinner, and sometimes we'd have it in the dining room. How unconventional! When it would come, we'd grab plates and drinks, drop the box on the table, and have at it -- which is how that table got a nice glossy spot where the heat of the box, um, damaged it. But not a lot. And sometimes the plates would sit there for a while before getting cleaned up.

But this is a nice table. It seems a bit -- I don't know, awkward? tacky? -- to put down something to protect the table from the pizza box -- along the lines of putting heavy plastic on furniture to protect the fabric (and yes, my family has been known to do that, too; your thighs never quite forget that feeling of plastic sticking to them). But neither do we want to damage the table. The first spill - gasp! We could, I suppose, just leave the pizza in the kitchen, which is all of ten steps away -- but that does ruin a bit of the spontaneity of the event. What's next, napkin rings? Though we do have these napkin rings that we almost never use....

File this one under Problems of the Idle Rich.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Is this Panama?

Driving home, feeling the humid, sultry heat, watching the steam rising from the hot pavement, all courtesy of a day of +80 degree heat and our recurring late afternoon rainstorm. A whiff of damp warmth came in through the van window when I rolled it down at the mailbox... instant change from frigid air to soggy dampness.

But no new complaints today, and a couple of nice things happened. My distant acquaintance is speaking to me again -- I'm delighted by that, more than might be obvious. My daughter's unhappiness with some arrangements at summer camp were addressed to her satisfaction, so that's good. And her final grades came back from school, better than expected. All goodness.

Got involved with a discussion about a technical problem that one of our customers had yesterday. Four people, each representing a different technical discipline, and two non-techs trying to get us to speak English. We didn't come to an answer, but it was a fun discussion. Well, I had fun, anyway. It was an interesting question -- see, the deal is that our customer runs a financial application that lots of people need to talk to, either directly or via an application somewhere else that needs info from it. To do this, they either run a job on our system (a big iron mainframe) that talks to the financial database directly, or they dial in, using a session manager that connects them to an application on the mainframe, and run queries against the database, or they use some unknown (to us, anyway) kind of remote application to connect to one of a series of servers that in turn establish a session with network software on the mainframe that then talks to the database. At about mid-day, the session manager started kicking out error messages, saying that it couldn't hear anything from the application -- it was talking to it, but the application wasn't responding. People who were trying to sign on were reporting very long response time -- hanging, is what its called. About thirty minutes into this, the customer shut down one of the servers, and about twenty minutes later, the problem went away -- error messages stopped, response time went back to normal. Question is, what caused it? Well, the roomful of technical experts said, looking slit-eyed at each other, thats a tough question, you know, could be lots of things... so one of the non-techies asked what I thought was a very good question: next time this happens, what information do we want, and where will we get it? Cause you know, you just know its going to happen again. Reprise the slit-eyed scene.
I love that kind of stuff. Course, I love even better figuring it out, and we're not there, yet.

One month from today, plastic surgery. Not looking forward to walking around with stitches in my chin. Hope it doesn't look hideous; hope even more than the surgeon doesn't say Hey, what's THIS?, halfway through the process. I kid about having a nightlight put into my chin so I can read at night, but truth is, I just want this to be over.

But overall, things are good here in Saunaland.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Dueling Headlines

From Google News....

US court-martial to hold pretrial hearings for three soldiers next week
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) A US Army court will hold pretrial hearings next week for three soldiers charged with abusing Iraqi inmates in Abu Ghraib prison, a coalition legal officer said Monday.

Somali Charged with Plotting to Blow Up Ohio Mall

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Somali man living in Ohio was charged with plotting with al Qaeda supporters to blow up a shopping mall in Columbus, Ohio, Attorney General John Ashcroft said on Monday.


Working from Home

I'm working from home today, and will be, on Mondays and Fridays, for the summer. The reason is to let me retrieve my daughter from the summer program at a relatively early hour, like 4:30, without having to cut out from work way early to do so. This way, I start my work day about half an hour earlier, and end it about ten minutes later. That is the rational brain reason. Underlying it is the emotional brain reason, which says that I want to work from home because it saves me an hour of commute time,plus the associated gas. It also isolates me from the noise at my office. Truthfully, the noise isn't that bad, but sometimes, it is. I don't care for people goofing around a lot. A little, sure. A lot, no.

I feel guilty about working from home, though. Feels like I'm cheating. When I'm at the office, that same background noise that can be irritating is also a hum that says yes, you're doing the grown-up thing, you're At The Office. When I work from home, it's not there. I do about 90% of the same stuff no matter where I am. Most of that remaining ten percent is paper-oriented stuff that can only be done there, and the rest is walk-up stuff where the person decides to wait until they see me again. Delaying the first a day or so is not a problem, but I don't like the idea of delaying the second. Part of that is that I don't think it's professional of me to make people wait (okay, they could IM me, and some do, but some don't), and part is that people tend to draw quick assumptions that you're somewhere slacking off -- and as I've said, I tend to feel that way, too. It leads me to question my own professionalism.

I think I need more to do.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

So That's What Homilies Do

I take my daughter to church on Sunday mornings, the 7:30 Mass, which is the one that doesn't have singing. I don't care for the singing, and neither does she. Truth to tell, though, neither of us particularly cares for the mass anyway. We don't get anything out of it. I go because I think she should; she goes because I make her go. I'm not sure this is a terrific arrangement, but it's probably not all that unusual.

This morning, the pastor gave the homily. He's been the pastor for a long time. His homilies are not very dynamic, but he tries, and I think that he means what he says. I've had the full course of Catholic school, though, which tends to bend you pretty sharply one way or the other. You either become a true believer, or you shuck it all off. I don't usually get much from the homily.

This morning was different.

He told a joke, which he likes to do. The jokes are usually pretty corny, but he usually gets a polite laugh (though he got a bigger one when he remarked abruptly, having walked away from the lectern at the end of his sermon, 'Hey, I didn't have the mike on! Could you hear me? Hate to think I did all that work and all you saw was my lips moving!). But what he said today caught my attention.

He said that a lot of people don't like things the way they are. They don't like their job, their marriage, their kids. As a result, they hide from the things they don't like -- lingering in thoughts of how great things used to be, or mulling over how nice life would be if something great happened. But they don't take even a small step toward fixing the things that they don't like, and so, usually, those things don't change. They won't tell themselves the things they don't want to know -- your marriage stinks, your kids are out of control, you're not very good at your job -- and they won't even think about the possibility of trying to fix any of it. They cringe away from the idea.

I know about this.

Purely aside from my reaction to doctors, about which I've spoken, I know about cringing from things I don't want to face. About three years ago, I wanted to create a spreadsheet to give me a general idea about how much money we'd have when we retired. I was flabbergasted to discover how little that would be. As it turns out, I had forgotten a couple of income sources, and I had overstated one expense, and I had forgotten that one expense would not last past another ten years or so -- but I was so stung by the experience, that it literally took me six months to get back to making the spreadsheet work. I would see it in the list of files, and think 'I should work at that', and I would shiver at the thought. And this was just a spreadsheet, not a person, not a family, not a job. Scared the bejesus out of me.

So while he was saying all of this, I was thinking, well, yeah, that's true, but you don't understand -- I'm fat, and I can't seem to lose weight; I don't take care of myself or my chronic medical condition, which never gets better and stays that way; I don't get stuff done that ought to be done .... and then I thought - well, just what the hell do you think he's talking about? And who?


Now, I don't think my life is going to now be a series of illuminated steps in the darkness, just because a homily gave me something to think about. I am just as capable now of ignoring and defering as ever before.

But I at least know that someone thinks that change is possible, that improvement is possible. It can be and probably will be a bitch, and its not a guarantee, but if you try, truly try, then yes -- its possible.

Giving that sort of hope -- I guess that's what homilies do.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Chin Music

I'm pretty sure that that's a way of slyly saying 'A lot of talking, not a lot of saying.' That's kind of what I'm in the mood for, though, at the moment, and it's even one of the things I've been thinking about.

Found out about three weeks ago that a really large lump on my chin is a basal cell carcinoma. As cancers go, it's pretty small potatoes, but anything like that on your own personal body is unsettling, and this one was big enough to cause the plastic surgeon to express surprise. Came to figure out, too, that I've likely had it for Quite Some Time, because of a combination of things -- my beard covered it, doctors that I see for other stuff didn't notice it (or when they did, thought it was something minor), and, mostly, because I didn't push the question with them, because I don't like going to doctors, because they tell you things you don't want to hear. I realize that's stupid -- I have known that for some time. Now I really know it. In about four weeks, I'll have some plastic surgery, and it should be corrected. The carcinoma scares me, the surgery kind-of scares me, and the 'should be' scares me. So much so that last week I asked my local medical people for some kind of tranquilizer, because, frankly, I was freaking out. Not running, ranting, and shouting, but fixating on it and not sleeping. They gave me some. So far, I haven't had to use it. Hope not to, but it's nice to have.

I also found this week that a friend of mine -- I guess 'acquaintance' would be a better term -- whom I know only via email may be getting ready to end our electronic acquaintance. She tells me that she's just becoming more guarded about who she talks with, and since she doesn't really know me.... well. I guess I understand that. It's what I'd advise my daughter to do. Can't say I like it much, though. But its a funny thing -- protesting Hey, I'm Normal! sends exactly the opposite message.

And we learned on Wednesday that a) the woman who comes one day a week to spend time with my mother, whom we like very much (both of them!) may be quitting that business. She spends a lot of time with infirm people, and it's getting to her, and b) the cleaning crew that does our house once every couple of weeks told their boss that they're quitting, en masse. They did want to tell us that they liked my mother, though.

Good news is in short supply this week -- which may be partially why I am so taken by the Varley book. No, on second thought, that's not it. It really is a good book.

I could use some lazy, hazy days in the hammock, though, right about now.

John Varley is a Good Writer

...which I realize is like saying 'And that Isaac Asimov, and that Robert Heinlein, man, they're pretty good, you know?' People know this already. Nevertheless, I wanted to say it, because I like sharing information, and heck, who knows, someone might stop by who's looking for a good read.

The novel is Red Thunder. Its the kind of book that I can lose myself in, looking up after twenty minutes have passed that I didn't even notice go by. The plot is fun, the characters are believable (okay, there is one... but I want to believe in him, so I will.)

I'm starting to care about these people, and I'm only on the fourth chapter.

Red Thunder. Good read.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Man, This Makes Me Feel Old....

I was just wandering through the list of Favorites on my browser, and came across this page, which is dedicated to a squadron that I was part of when I was in South East Asia -- Korat RTAFB, Thailand, to be exact. I clicked on a couple of the pictures, and smiled. And then I thought: that picture is more than forty years old, dude....

I don't care. It reminds me of my youth, and I like it.

Late night munchies

Living life asynchronously, at the moment -- went to bed early, while the others were awake; then I woke up just as the daughter went to bed and the wife was signing on to work to look at a job she had run, which meant that I couldn't check email. So I did what most people would do -- went out to the kitchen and found something to eat.

I was reading a magazine, the other day, that's oriented to people who really like to fix up their homes with lavish technologies. (Actually, the phrase that came to mind was 'people who like to tart up their homes') I know, the magazines are intended to sell the concept, but even so: small microwaves and refrigerators for the master suite so that you don't have to trudge all the way to the kitchen for a midnight snack? A central command post controller in the kitchen so that you can see if the garage door is open? Speakers in the halls so that you can listen to the soundtrack of the movie playing down in the media room? Good golly.......

I read the magazine to get some ideas, and I did. Obviously, I'm not doing enough to support the economy. Think I'll buy some books.