30
October
2014
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Zack had an appointment with the orthopedist on Monday to have his arm cast removed. However, when we first had the cast put on, the doctor told us that many people simply remove it themselves after six weeks. He said it’s possible to use tin snips or some other sturdy sort of scissors, although he’d heard of people using power tools and he didn’t recommend that approach. I can’t even picture what sort of power tool you’d apply to an arm cast– a very careful application of a circular saw? Yikes.

Anyway, tonight at dinner we were talking about this appointment and how it would save us $75 (thanks, Obamacare!) if we just took care of the cast ourselves. How hard could it be?

We finished dinner and Laralee went to the garage to grab our pruning shears. Of course she sterilized them in boiling water for five minutes before using them in this delicate surgical manner. No, wait, she didn’t, although I think she might have at least picked out a few of the remnants of twigs stuck in the blade.

zack-cast-1

It took a bit of work, and after about fifteen minutes she’d gone the length of the cast and was ready for the final cut.

zack-cast-2

Zack was pretty happy to see his arm again.

zack-cast-3

We weren’t too thrilled to smell his arm, though. Throughout these six weeks, he had to shower with a plastic bag over his arm, which means six weeks of sweat and grime had accumulated under this cast. It smelled like a high school locker room after two-a-day football practice in July. Holy cow. The inside of the cast could probably have been part of a science experiment.

He says his wrist feels “a little funny” but we keep assuring him it’s because he hasn’t flexed those muscles in over a month. By tomorrow all should be well again. And hey, it didn’t cost us 75 clams.

25
October
2014
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Every year I’m excited about Halloween and spend an inordinate amount of time working on a costume. This year I started early; back in early September I did some research to figure out what would be better: Kevin Flynn from Tron: Legacy or the Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride.

For the Tron costume, I’d need a robe with flexible glow panels sewn into it, as well as some custom boots and of course an identity disc. There’s a local electronics supplier that sells flexible panels and strips– really cool stuff. In the end, though, I decided it wasn’t going to work very well because the annual party we attend is well-lit so the glowing folds of the robe wouldn’t be as cool as they would be in a dim room.

So, I went to work on the Dread Pirate Roberts. I grabbed some screen captures from the movie so I could take a close look at the clothes and accessories he wore. Yes, I’m that thorough in my research.

dread-pirate-roberts

dread-pirate-roberts-1

Then I headed over to Amazon to buy a few things. After a few weeks I’d accumulated leather pirate boots, a black shirt, gauntlets, a frog (a leather device that’s used to attach a sword to a belt), and I’d made a sash, head wrap, and was working on a mask. I looked around for a good prop sword but just wasn’t satisfied with the cheap plastic ones. I wanted this costume to look good, not comical. After some thought I cashed in a few Amazon gift cards to buy a real rapier. As things came down to the wire and my attempts to create a mask continued to fail, I finally bought a masquerade-ball mask at Walmart for two bucks, stripped off the bling, and sanded it smooth. A few cans of black and gold spray paint were needed to touch up the accessories a bit.

Of course Roberts has a little mustache, and I wanted to be accurate in every detail so I spent the last week growing out my beard a bit.

halloween-1

I actually drew a few compliments on the beard– it’s been a while since I had facial hair. Anyway, today I shaved down to a rather pathetic mustache:

halloween-2

Yeah. This is why I’ve never had a mustache. But hey, it was the best I could do given the time.

This evening I put it all together and felt like it turned out quite well.

halloween-3

Yep, that’s a real sword.

halloween-4

True fans of the movie would notice that it’s Inigo’s sword, not Westley’s, but I figured it was okay. I even made a little vial of iocaine powder and tucked it into my sash.

Off to the party! I stopped at the grocery store on the way so I could pick up some ice cream. I got some great looks from people, and my conversation with the 20-year-old checker went something like this:

Him: Going to a Halloween party?
Me: No, this is how I dress every day.
Him: (after a pause) Are you Zorro?
Me: I’m the Dread Pirate Roberts.
Him: (blank stare)
Me: From The Princess Bride. Man, your generation missed out.

To my dismay, he wasn’t the only person who thought I was Zorro. A lot of people at the party– even adults– didn’t recognize me. Ugh… I couldn’t believe the heathens. Everyone knows Zorro wears a hat. Maybe next year I’ll buy a wide-brimmed round hat and wear the same costume, except tell everyone I’m Zorro instead.

Anyway, it was a good party and a lot of fun to work on this costume. I sure enjoy Halloween.

21
October
2014
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This fall I did my first stint as an ultimate league coordinator, running a weekday evening league here in Longmont. It was awesome. We played under the lights every Tuesday through September and October. The weather was beautiful every week, which was unusual for this time of year but made for a good time.

I was also a team captain (as usual) and joined forces with my favorite co-captain ever, the indomitable Brenda (also as usual). We had won the summer league and picked another strong team at the draft. Brenda’s favorite color is orange, and just like in summer we chose that as our team color. When discussing names, the consensus was the Cuties. So, yep, I was a Cutie this fall.

cuties-logo

We ended up 8-3-1 for the season, which was enough to land us in second place. Tonight were the last games of the two-week tournament. We were bumped out of the semi-finals but enjoyed a fun game against another team, then went to watch the latter part of the final game. It was a close, hard-fought game and definitely worth the price of admission.

This evening we took a couple of team photos:

cuties1

cuties2

What a great group. We had a lot of fun together.

There’s one more week in the season: next Tuesday we’re having a Halloween hat, which means I’ll shuffle all of the players in the league and we’ll all play some ultimate in costume. That should be fun to see.

21
October
2014
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Wow, the beautiful fall weather continues. It’s been in the 60′s and 70′s throughout October, which is pretty unusual… but amazing. Today I enjoyed another great game of lunchtime ultimate, basking in the sun and running barefoot on the warm grass. Tonight we have a league tournament and it’ll be fun whether we win or lose (hopefully win!).

I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and a blizzard to slam into us, but so far it’s been awesome. Global warming isn’t all bad.

19
October
2014
Permalink

After two and a half years, Laralee finally had her braces removed. It was a happy day for her.

la-no-braces

Of course there’s still some work to be done. She has titanium posts implanted in her jaw right now, and in a few months she’ll get permanent teeth attached to them. Total time: roughly three years. But it’ll be worth it… we hope.

17
October
2014
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My new duvet cover arrived, and it looks awesome on the bed!

galaxy-bedcover

Laralee isn’t all that excited, but for a guy who loves astrophysics, it’s perfect.

11
October
2014
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Here’s Thom at Beau Jo’s, posing in front of a big greasy pile of grease. Mmm!

greasy-pile-of-grease

11
October
2014
Permalink

Always a good motto.

life-is-good-bear

11
October
2014
Permalink

I’m working on my Halloween costume, and stumbled across this awesomeness:

iocaine-powder

8
October
2014
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This afternoon La, Alex, and I headed down to Colorado School of Mines in Golden. This is the first of a few campus tours we’ll be doing in the next few weeks, as Alex begins the process of choosing and applying to colleges. Wow, time sure flies.

It was a beautiful October day, and we had a 45-minute tour of campus with a student. She’s a sophomore majoring in geological engineering, and she was very nice and answered a lot of random questions we threw at her. I asked about campus life, living in the residence halls, scholarships, why she chose Mines, etc. Afterward we listened to a 30-minute presentation from one of the people in the Admissions office, and she answered a few questions from the group. Finally we went to the Financial Aid office to understand how to apply for scholarships, recommendations for the best things to do, and so on.

I really enjoyed it. Alex seemed moderately interested. For me, it totally took me back to my days at UMR in Rolla. The campus is pretty small– a ten-minute walk gets you across it– and their student body is about 5,000 strong. It’s almost entirely an engineering school, with a couple of majors like applied mathematics and physics to round out the curriculum. UMR was a true university in that it offered majors in, say, history and English, but very few people went to UMR for that reason. Mines had a very similar feel, so it was pretty cool to me.

Laralee contrasted it with her experience at BYU, where 35,000 students attend, you need a bike or car to get anywhere, and their Division I sports teams are really good (UMR games were free to students and seldom had a big crowd, because no one goes to places like UMR or Mines to play football).

I’m hoping today’s experience gets Alex excited about college, and he starts digging into scholarships and applications and all that. It’s sort of scary to contemplate, but I think it’ll be a load of fun for him. The journey begins.

csm-logo

24
September
2014
Permalink

We’ve had kids for almost eighteen years, and none of them have ever broken a bone… until today. Zack took the prize.

In gym class today, the kids were playing soccer and Zack was the goalie. Apparently at the end of the game there was a penalty shot, and one of the guys on the other team kicked a real bullet at Zack. He deflected it with his arm (and saved the goal) but immediately felt a sharp pain. Laralee picked him up from school and he spent some time on the couch while we thought about whether to take him over to an urgent care center. (It wasn’t worth an emergency room visit, since it was hardly life-threatening.)

After a while, and the advice of a neighbor who’s a nurse, we felt it would be best to get it checked. Laralee took him in and sure enough, the x-rays showed a slight fracture in his radius, just above his wrist. The doctor wrapped it in a thick bandage because they can’t put on a cast until the swelling goes down. I guess that’ll be a few days from now.

zack-arm-xray

Now, a little after midnight, the poor kid is having trouble sleeping because his arm is throbbing. He popped some ibuprofin and hopefully it’ll kick in soon so he can get some rest. I’m sure it’ll feel a lot better in the morning, and he can show off his injury to his friends.

19
September
2014
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Last night was the final server move for my company BitRelay. I’ve been running 100+ servers at a co-location facility managed by Sungard, but after ten years there I decided to move to a smaller facility owned by ViaWest. They were able to give me a substantial break on pricing, which means BitRelay’s co-location costs are going to be about $25,000 less per year. Nice.

I’ve learned that moving servers– especially those that have been in place for ten years and built up gradually over those years– is a huge endeavor. At times it felt sort of like moving from one house to another, where you have to plan where everything will go in the new place, find out something isn’t going to fit like you thought, and of course do all sorts of heavy lifting (servers are bulky) in the process. Oh, and all of it has to be coordinated with several hundred clients who don’t want their web sites to go down during the process.

My clients, as well as my team at Zing, have been very patient as I’ve worked through all of this over the past few months. I gave up many Friday nights in August and September, mostly because those were the nights when it was easiest to stay up until one or two in the morning moving servers between datacenters. Last night was the final one. I started at 5:30 in the evening and thought I might be there until midnight, but it turned out to be nine hours so I wasn’t home until after 2:30 in the morning. But hey, it’s done.

It’s sort of sad to leave Sungard, because in general they’re a really good company, but I couldn’t ignore the cost savings. Hopefully I won’t have to move out of ViaWest any time soon!

One of the funniest moments was when I was shutting down an old Windows 2000 server that I’d been managing for a client. The server was used infrequently, so I didn’t do much to upgrade it. In fact, for the last few years, I don’t know if it was used at all but I kept it running just in case. When I shut it down, out of curiosity I checked the logs to see how long it had been running.

bitrelay-windows-uptime

Hmm, that’s a little over eight years, running non-stop 24/7 without a single reboot. I think that’s the record for my longest uptime, although I’m a little disappointed it’s a Windows server instead of a Linux one. Oh, the irony. Maybe Windows 2000 is a champ.

I also took a shot of all of the servers after they’d been installed in their racks. It’s tricky to get a good angle in the walkways between racks, but I think it gives a good idea of what 100+ servers looks like.

bitrelay-servers

So, with all of this behind me, I guess I can take a nap to catch up on all of those long nights…

13
September
2014
Permalink

Kyra and some friends had a “photo shoot” a few weeks ago with one of their leaders at church. This is Kyra’s photo.

kyra-umbrella

I’m not sure how I ended up with a girl who’s so beautiful…

9
September
2014
Permalink

Funny because it’s true:
group-projects

1
September
2014
Permalink

Whether or not this is real (who can tell on the internet?), it’s pretty darn funny.

if-i-had-a-billion-dollars

If I had one billion dollars I would make an orphan believe he was going to Hogwarts to learn magic. I would pay actors to pretend to be wizards and have a fake Hagrid take him shopping at a pretend Diagon Alley. I would plan elaborate magic illusions to convince him he really was a wizard. Finally, I would convince him to run at the wall to get to Platform 9 3/4. As soon as he hits the wall balloons would fall from the sky and a giant banner would fall down and read “Magic Isn’t Real”.
30
August
2014
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Alex wasn’t feeling too well today, so he called Papa John’s and told them he wasn’t going to make it in for his eight-hour shift. He then spent most of the day on the couch, alternately poking listlessly at his computer, reading comics, and napping. Finally Laralee suggested that he might enjoy watching Lost. Without anything better to do, he agreed and she dug up the old DVD’s from the first season.

lost-poster

I walked in when Jack and Kate were talking to the pilot of the downed plane, and suddenly there’s a roar and a lot of shaking and a scary monstrous thing that no one can quite see. Of course the pilot peeks out the window, gets grabbed and yanked out of the plane, and then you just hear a scream.

I turned to Alex. “You’re probably thinking that in the next episode, or maybe later in the season, you’ll find out what that was. But you’d be wrong. You can watch this series for six years and never know what the heck just happened.” I also spoiled another thing for him by telling him that in a few episodes you’d see a polar bear on this tropical island. Yeah, a polar bear! Weird, huh? But you’ll never find out why there was a polar bear on the island. Add to that dozens of other fascinating plot twists that make the show interesting but, ultimately, are never resolved.

Man, that brought back memories. I really enjoyed Lost for about four seasons, until I realized that all of the stuff J.J. Abrams introduced in the show would never actually be explained or resolved. Whee! It’ll be interesting to see whether Alex gets interested in the show now…

23
August
2014
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Laralee thought our grass was getting a little long today, so she asked Zack to plan to mow the lawn. He’s at a friend’s house but promised to mow later this afternoon.

Well, the storm clouds rolled in and it started sprinkling a little, so Laralee decided that it needed to get done in short order since it’s trickier to mow wet grass. She went out and started working on the backyard.

Just then I came home from an appointment and saw Alex sitting in the family room– right beside a window where he could see her mowing– poking on his computer. The ensuing conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey Alex, what are you working on?
Alex: Nothin’. Just playing some games.
Me: I notice mom’s out in the yard mowing.
Alex: Yep.
Me: While you’re playing games.
Alex: Well, Zack’s going to mow it.
Me: Zack’s not here.
Alex: He can mow it later.
Me: Or you could mow it now.
Alex: Mom didn’t ask me.
Me: It would be okay if you went out and offered to do it.
Alex: heavy sigh. Okay.

So he went out and took over. In what can only be described as some kind of poetic justice, it then started to pour.

alex-mowing-in-the-rain

He was running back and forth– not that it mattered, since he was already completely soaked. I think the lawn was mowed in record time today.

21
August
2014
Permalink

Today’s winning spam message:

toilet-paper-coupons

Clever copy: “Unroll Savings”… awesome! And hey, puppies!

21
August
2014
Permalink

Last night we had a Zing outing to the Rockies game. We started out with dinner at the Viewhouse, which is across the street from Coors Field and has a really cool rooftop area. The weather was beautiful, so it was fun to enjoy a summer evening eating and then head over to the game.

The Rockies pretty much suck this year, and I didn’t even know anyone on the roster (I guess several of the more well-known players are injured now). We got off to a rough start and fell behind 2-1 in the first few innings, but then in the sixth one of their new players, Matt McBride, stepped up to the plate. He’d been called up from the minors the day before and it was his fourth Major League at-bat. With a mighty swing, he sent a grand slam home run into the left field bleachers. Wow, that’s gotta make you feel pretty good.

A bit of rain gave us a beautiful double rainbow:

rockies-1
Double rainbow!

Here are a few of us watching the game intently while munching on some peanuts– and I guess Mike was checking whether it was past his bedtime. According to Therese, it’s not officially summer until you’ve been to a baseball game, and it’s not a baseball game unless you’ve bought peanuts from a vendor standing on the street corner outside the park.

rockies-2

Another great Zing activity. Thanks, guys.

19
August
2014
Permalink

Wow, here’s today’s front page from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, reporting on the civil unrest in Ferguson:

militarized-cops

Crazy. These are policemen facing a crowd at a Quiktrip convenience store, but it looks like a massive military operation. Does anyone still doubt police forces these days are over-zealous and over-equipped with military hardware?