Thursday, October 30, 2014

Colors and Breaking Bad

Someone had a lot of time on their hands in order to analyze the colors in "Breaking Bad."

More MS Word Hating

Twelve Links to End the Month

  1. From Press-Citizen
    Regina officials decline comment on report about Iben
    The Regina Catholic Education Center Board of Education sent an email Monday to parents and stakeholders about concerns regarding "a report released about Regina's president Lee Iben." The email reads, "Though the Board does not comment on personnel issues, be assured the Board is aware of the true nature of the situation and is addressing it." The Board would not allow a Press-Citizen reporter to attend Tuesday's Board of Education meeting, held at the private education center. Board chairman Jim Nepola gave a reporter a copy of the email before the meeting. After the meeting, Nepola declined to comment on the nature of the report about Iben mentioned in the email.
  2. 30 Actual Sentences Found In Patients Hospital Charts. Is #17 Serious?
  3. The 25 Best Metal Bands of All Time, #13: Sepultura
    Dust off those old VHS tapes and convert them to DVD's. Or just play your VHS tapes and DVD's. This is a Funai SV2000 4-head, HiFi stereo unit and has been used maybe 6 times total. Excellent condition, works great, and includes remote control
  5. Vinnie Paul on his relationship with booze - Metal Hammer
  8. The Star Wars Underworld
  9. Paralyzed Man Walks After Nose Cells Transplanted Into Spinal Cord
  10. James Hetfield Not Comfortable Watching 'Some Kind of Monster'
  11. All of James Hetfield's Guitar Solos (Studio) - YouTube
  12. MÖtley CrÜe: Fan Filmed Footage Of Greensboro Concert

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Get in the Studio

The Internet is unfunny to me when people post idiotic things.

There's a story on about Lars Ulrich playing drums with his 86 year-old father and, in the comments under the story, there is the usual Lars bashing that I've bemoaned. The very last comment in the graphic below is what irks me:

The person who posted "Get James a drink" seems so selfish. It's as if creating / recording a new Metallica release is more important than James' sobriety. It's not. I don't believe that person would tell that to James Hetfield if they were in the same room together. The comments about Lars' dad being cooler than Lars - would anyone really say that to another person's face?

Bill O'Reilly bemoans the lack of interactions between humans thanks to the computer and mobile devices. He could use the comments on this page to prove his point.

Infinity War

I don't have a lot of comic books left in my possession, but I *think* I still have the comic on this page:

Giving Due Drummer Credits

I admit I didn't give "The Rev" credit when he was alive, but I should have. I also admit that I am not a huge fan of Mike Portnoy's drumming. I went through my progressive metal / hard rock stage a few years back where the more complicated the drumming was, the more I listened to that band. As it has been with Tool and Dream Theater, I find myself preferring music that has a more direct and, perhaps, a simpler approach to the drumming. For example, I really like Chevelle's "Take Out the Gunman" as an example of a "current" rock radio song I would choose over listening to Tool or Dream Theater.

That said, here's some isolated drum tracks of The Rev and Mike Portnoy.

Advantage Taken

I take advantage of those occasions when I don't drive Karen to work. When those occasions present themselves to me, I get up much earlier and leave the house around 5:30 AM so that I arrive at work by 6 AM. I put in an extra hour (6 - 7) because I love being up early. I have always been a morning person, dating back to high school during the swim season. I just feel more alive when I am up early. I also like coming in early because it is very quiet. Yet, at 5:40 AM today, I was the third car in the parking lot I usually park in. At least two other co-workers were up and in to work before 5:40 AM. That just means that there are others in the world that like getting up early and getting the day started.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

10 Best Metal Drummers

I came across a list of the top 10 Metal Drummers and learned some things.
  1. The Top 10 Metal Drummers does not include Lars Ulrich, which (of course) I disagree with his exclusion.
  2. In the comments section, there are a lot of links to drummers / bands I've not listened to previously so I look forward to that.
  3. The URL for the list is set up like this: and when you view that page, there is a link to page 2 ( and from there, you can go back to 1 or forward to 3. There are 5 total pages because the 10 drummers are split into 2 drummers per page. What I learned is that when I changed the number at the end of the URL to "all", all 5 pages display on a single page!!!! I had no idea that would work. So here's the link to the list of the 10 Best Metal Drummers with all 10 drummers on a single page:

Monday, October 27, 2014

Catholicism Being Attacked

I read this article regarding a political race in Washington state where the Republican is Catholic and being attacked for believing in "Catholic stuff." In the comments section,

A conservative should be able to flip it around on the leftist as such:
"I seem to recall that in the Constitution it specifically states there shall be no religious litmus testing for higher office. But that's exactly what my opponent is doing. Because of my Christian beliefs my opponent is saying I'm not fit for this office. That's not he America I grew up in, that's not the America I learned in school, and that's not the America we should be teaching our children. Anti-christian bigotry has no place in our public forums. Take those backwards thinking back to Seattle where it belongs and leave the rest of us alone. "
But I suspect in the name of "civility" he will keep quiet about it.

Made me smirk and grin.


I've resisted the urge to write about Ebola because I was an English major and have zero medical training. All I can do is regurgitate what I hear and read in the media, hoping that the information is reliable. That said, it is one of the issues that is gripping the media headlines. Ebola is a disease that is not new to civilization, but is new to the United States. Until recently, there wasn't a lot of attention paid to the disease because in America's selfish view, it wasn't a disease 'here' - it was a disease 'over there in Africa so it doesn't impact us.' I'm not saying that is right or wrong - just documenting my perspective.

This is an article about how distraught the country is becoming:

If I tried to provide a daily and comprehensive list of articles about Ebola on the Internet, the list would be extremely unmanageable. Thus, I am not going to try and create one. While Ebola is a crisis in our country, I feel the need to let qualified authorities offer their opinion. I don't consider my opinion to be worth any more than the product of a trillion times zero.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

HIAC 2014

With no context, doesn't this photo, from tonight's WWE Hell in a Cell PPV, look awesome?

My Desk at Work (After)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

No Win

I didn't win the stool that I bid on at work. Just following up on a loose end.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Bash the Word

It's Friday.

After waking up this AM with a 'clean the house because company is coming' hangover, it's refreshing to be at work, using Microsoft Word. Unlike the author of this article, I like MS Word. The author mentions WordPerfect (WP) and I did use WP in college. A lot. I began using it to write my papers for my classes sometime in 1991. At Mount Mercy College, the top floor of the McAuley dorm was called the Penthouse. The Penthouse had three rooms (in addition to bathrooms). One was a kitchen, one was a common area (the largest) and one was a room with three, maybe four, computers. That's where I wrote a lot of my papers. The room had a window that overlooked the campus and, when possible, I chose the computer closest to the window. This was back in the day of using 5 1/4" floppy disks. I don't really have a point to this post except to point out that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for using MS Word.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hamster Wheel

This post ( led me to and wow! What a great idea!

It's a Punny Day

This was hanging in the entry way to work.


It defies the way my brain works to come home from work to see first, a dirty sink and an empty dishwasher. It doesn't compute. My life is too busy to figure out how someone can empty the dishwasher and not put their dirty dishes into it.

Update to Drinking

I brought this water bottle in to work with me. If I drink 8 of these, one each hour, I will get my gallon of water.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Staying Grounded

I lost the bid in the auction I mentioned here.

Why I Don't Like Indications of "New" in Documentation

I'm sure you'd agree that a document that was "new" in 2007 is no longer "new"....

The Psycho Dad Videos

Warning! There is Rated R Language in these Videos!! I really wish there was an "all curse words bleeped" version because I'd rather embed those videos instead.

Pearl Jam Covers Tom Petty

Stop! This is a Warning!






Do I have your attention? DO NOT watch this video!!!! It contains very graphic clips from what I guess are very graphic movies!!!! Definitely NOT for kids!!!! I had a very difficult time watching the first few interspersed movie clips until I eventually had to look away. I am only embedding this video because I like the music I hear, not because of the associated visuals!!!!!






Avengers 2 Trailer

Drinking Water

One of my MANY MANY MANY entries on a list of my vices is that I drink Mountain Dew, most commonly the Live Wire (orange) variety, and Pepsi. And when I say, "I drink Mountain Dew and Pepsi," that can be translated into "I drink too much Mountain Dew and Pepsi." I used to track how much I drank on a daily basis but I have since given that up because I knew the numbers I was tracking were not realistic as I only tracked the Pepsi and Mountain Dew I drank at work so it wasn't the full picture of my consumption. You could liken it to an alcoholic tracking how much they drink at the bar but not when the alcoholic is sitting in the basement with a case of beer. Maybe not that dramatic, but you get the idea.

I mention all of this because when I read this article about drinking a gallon of water a day, I sat up and took notice. What if I try this? What if I try to drink as much water as I do Pepsi and Mountain Dew for four weeks?

Thus, that's what I will begin tomorrow. I will drink a gallon of water every day from Thursday, October 23, 2014, through Wednesday, November 19, 2014, and then, on Thursday, November 20, 2014, I will evaluate how doing this has changed me.

What happened 4 x 4 Years Ago on this Date

Today is Alex's 16th birthday. After picking him up from school, we went to Best Buy so he could pick out a clock radio for his iPod. We found what we wanted and then, after gathering Megan, we went to Old Chicago for supper, then back to Best Buy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rock is Dead

Not too long ago, KISS bassist Gene Simmons was quoted as saying that "rock is dead" and ever since it came out that he said / believes that statement, musician after musician has "come out" and disagreed with him.

Chad Gray, vocalist for HellYeah and Mudvayne, is the latest.

Sebastian Bach, Duff McKagan and John Corabi also have entered the debate.

Frontman Leaving a Good Band

David Lee Roth leaves Van Halen.
Rob Halford leaves Judas Priest.
Freddie Mercury, through his death, leaves Queen.
Steve Perry leaves Journey.
Vince Neil leaves Motley Crue.
Geoff Tate leaves Queensryche.
How many more lineup changes am I leaving out?

There's not a number that goes high enough, but one more band can be added to that list. The Sick Puppies have announced their lead vocalist has now left the band "and is pursuing other endeavors."

That's too bad. I like the band, especially this tune:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Expand and Consolidate

I did some consolidating of my music collection which caused it to expand. I started out the morning with 93011 File(s) in my collection, which was due to yet more consolidating from the MyCloud drive to the main folder structure. I did some quick consolidating and now sit at 92773 File(s). I expect a lot of fluctuation between now and the end of the month. Another thing I did was to audit around 100 CDs on Saturday. I think 3% of the 100 CDs I audited were not quickly found through Windows Media Player so I re-ripped them.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Four Bands Wrongly Hated


Painkiller Kids playing Enter Sandman


I cannot play drums like D-Mile, the winner of the 2013 Guitar Center Drum Off. That's the conclusion I have after watching the video of him. I think he makes excellent use of the octapad and uses it tastefully. I think he is fast and talented and deserves my respect. I don't think he is my favorite drummer of all time. Could he drum circles around Metallica's Lars Ulrich? Perhaps. It's just that I have Ulrich on such a high pedestal that I'm uncertain anyone can ever reach it.

Kids Playing a Killer Cover of Judas Priest's Painkiller

While the musicians, adults and kids alike, have some issues with playing this song, the drummer has better double bass chops than I could ever hope to have! I don't like the vocals.

More Closet Memories

On the same subject of the closet in my bedroom where I read comic books, I remember I had a KISS poster on the left sliding door. This was back sometime around 1977 when they wore makeup. The poster was, from left to right, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss, Paul Stanley, and Gene Simmons. I remember exactly what that picture looked like and that I didn't like the intense look in Paul Stanley's eyes and that demon costume that Gene Simmons wore scared me. Because of that, I vividly remember that I would keep the left closet door slid open so that Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons were covered.

Super Hero Movies

To anyone that will listen, I will say that two things in my childhood contributed to my love of reading. First, during weekly mass at St. Pius X in Cedar Rapids, I remember having the book in the pew open to the readings and as they were read, I followed along. It was like someone was reading aloud to me and by following along, I know I increased my vocabulary. The second was reading comic books. So, when I feel giddy and excited and immature about seeing the scheduled super hero movies that Hollywood is going to make here, there's definitely a source for those feelings. And what essay about comic books can begin without stating there is always a lingering sense of regret when I think about that collection and considering how much money those comic books would be worth to a collector in 2014. Every kid who read comic books believes their collection would be worth a lot of money, including me. 

I often smirk when I remember how certain things in life make a huge impression in the brain. I don't regret the time I spent reading comic books as it nurtured my innate desire to read. I do vividly remember that it was Donna Schlampp who gave me a subscription to Thor. Donna is my godmother. I don't remember the context for why I received that gift - birthday? Christmas? - but I remember being initially disappointed by her gift. I remember it was given to me with a Spider-Man comic book. I remember that Spider-Man was a super hero I knew about but Thor was an unknown hero. Maybe it was the fear of the unknown that I was reacting to in that dim memory of being disappointed.

I remember that each issue of Thor arrived in a brown wrapper. I remember I could simply slide the comic book out of that wrapper. Immediately retreating to my room to read a new issue of Thor was a monthly event. I think reading Thor made reading Shakespeare somewhat easier for me. The characters in the Thor comic book didn't say things like "I like the way the sun looks as it goes down on the horizon." Instead, their characters used phrases like "Upon the distant horizon, sets the sun I enjoy." The way the words were arranged were not easy for me to comprehend as a child but because I read Thor on a monthly basis, I learned to understand the way the characters spoke. Maybe every English major should read Thor as a way to learn how to read literature like Shakespeare? I crack myself up.

Back to reading comic books, I remember exactly where I sat when I read comics. I sat in my bedroom, on the floor, with my left leg in my closet and my right leg out of my closet. I had two sliding closet doors on a track. There was a large maroon box without a lid and it was in this box that I stored my comic books. This box was large and covered my entire closet floor. Leaning against the wall, I sat next to this box and read comic books. I can't begin to estimate the number of hours I sat and read comic books. I read Justice League of America, Thor, and many others. It is still a natural impulse to look for comic books if I am anywhere that has a magazine rack.

Metallica Without Lars

Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian released an autobiography about his life and, in one area of the book, he describes what I call a bombshell. He describes how James, Kirk, and Cliff had decided that they were going to fire drummer Lars Ulrich after their European tour. Ultimately, I am certainly glad that James, Kirk, and Cliff did not fire Lars. This was being discussed when the band was on a tour of Europe and it was the same tour on which Cliff Burton was killed in that black ice bus accident. You can read more about it here:

When I first read this, I was surprised. As I've described in other posts, from what I know of his personality through interviews and videos is that Lars embodies a lot of the qualities in a man that I want to have. I admire his charisma and his attitude. He has always come across as a dude I would like to talk to. In recent years, James Hetfield has also moved up in my mental ranking of who I want to be. The fact that he is now sober weighs heavily into my thoughts when I think about Hetfield.

Selfishly, I think about how if Ulrich had been fired, it's quite possible that "And Justice for All" wouldn't have been recorded. "Justice" is my all-time favorite Metallica release. I won't repeat what I know I've covered in previous blog posts about this album. It's just the thought of not ever hearing that release is quite an interesting "What If?" scenario.

When I say "What If? scenario, I'm referring to a comic book I remember reading as a kid. It was a Marvel comic book and I had issue #1 of the series, as described here. The gist of the comic book series is spelled out in this synopsis:
In this landmark first issue we are greeted by Uatu the Watcher, who explains to the readers that there exists a number of alternate realities. In each alternate reality, there is a divergence from what what has happened and what could have happened. 
Because I read this when I was young, I think it left a huge impact upon the way I think. I do think about alternate realities. I'm very interested in the ideas that surround how the choices I made or the actions I did or did not do have shaped my life.

On this subject, I often reflect upon what I know must have happened, but I don't know the specific date or time. I remember, when I was very young, I went to a program in Pierce Park (near Pierce Elementary School) called Tot Lot. I remember I went with Gary Hatfield and Tom McElmeel. I remember that we walked home from our neighborhood to the park. I also remember that, one time, Gary and Tom started running. I began running too, but I grew tired and stopped. I often ponder, "What if I wouldn't have given up, at that moment that I stopped running, and found a place within me to push through thinking 'I can't keep running' and instead, to keep running." I think about that moment in time in relation to when I was out for basketball in elementary school and junior high to when I was out for swimming in high school. There were times when I was tired and perhaps of that early moment on the way home from Tot Lot, when I stopped running, I gave up and didn't push myself. Certainly, I can say that was true with swimming and when I reflect upon that epoch in my life, I just wonder what my life could have been like if I hadn't given up. What if my brain worked in such a way that quitting because I was tired just didn't exist? What if quitting when I was tired wasn't a choice, to me, in the sense that it would never cross my mind.

To bring this back to Lars and Metallica, hearing Lars Ulrich's drumming on "And Justice for All" has always been held up on a pedestal in my mind as one of the defining moments as a drummer. After hearing songs like "And Justice for All" and "The Frayed Ends of Sanity" and (of course) "Dyer's Eve," I remember practicing drums more and more in my parent's basement. It wasn't that I wanted to play the drum parts I heard, but it was such a paradigm shift. I was deep in the bowels of Ratt, Dokken, Poison, and other less technical music so hearing Ulrich's performance was very different from those bands.

It wasn't that I was interested in playing double bass or having a double bass pedal. I remember experimenting with a second bass drum, but no matter how often I tried, I didn't like having to sit with my legs so far apart. It just never really felt comfortable. What interested me more was the way the drums and the rhythm guitar meshed together, especially during Kirk Hammett's guitar solos. It still is one of my favorite parts of a song when either the rhythm guitar or bass lock in with the drums during a guitar solo. I have always liked Pantera's "Walk" as an example of the bass and drums locking in "under" a guitar solo.

Wow, what a rambling post. I've gone from Metallica to Spider-Man joining the Fantastic Four, to running home from Tot Lot to athletics and back to Metallica. That's the way my mind works.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Issues II

Hah! net use g: \\nnn.nnn.n.6\ gave me the message to enter my password but net use g: \\nnn.nnn.n.7\ does not! My IP address (apparently) changed! I changed my DOS batch file and replaced 6 with 7 and it worked!


After several blissful weeks of not having a single PC issue, it seems like the hell of owning multiple PCs has returned.
  1. The CD drive on the Windows XP machine from the Elkader library is flaky, When I put in a CD so it can be ripped, Windows Media Player states that a CD drive is required to rip a CD. Uh, there is a CD drive because I just put a CD into it. If I physically shake the PC, sometimes the CD drive is then recognized but often it is not. I'm just glad that I am in the 200ish range of CDs remaining in the reconversion project when this has happened.
  2. I just discovered the CD drive on the Toshiba laptop is equally flaky. When I put in a CD so it can be ripped, the CD is not recognized by Windows 7. When I go to Device Manager, Windows tells me "Windows cannot start this hardware device because its configuration information (in the registry) is incomplete or damaged (code 19)" so, to fix this, I went to this page: There was an UpperFilters entry in the registry so I deleted it - there was not a LowerFilters entry. I am rebooting the Toshiba now to see if that works. 
  3. My work laptop previously would automatically connect to my home network. I have a DOS batch file that maps the network drives to a letter. Today, when I went to do this, Windows asked me to specify the password. Huh? I've never had to do that ever before. I investigated a bit. After finding the unhelpful message below, I learned that I don't have the ability to fix it. 
  4. My Samsung Galaxy S4 has somehow been set to play Skillet's "Rise" when I get a notification from my Craigslist app and I can't remember how to take that off.

Enough with the Crazy Part II

Can you say "crazy" week? It has been a whirlwind of hours going by very fast since Wednesday. I have been busier at home than perhaps I expected to be. Here are some high-level highlights of what's been happening at home.
  1. The Iowa City West High School Homecoming football game was last night. West defeated Davenport North 42-14 and had put 35 points on the board before halftime. That allowed a continuous clock in the second half, which turned out to be good because most of the game was windy and cold.
  2. The Iowa City West High School Homecoming dance is tonight. Corsages have been ordered and (finally) we know when pictures for each kid are going to be taken. Alex's pictures are at 4:30 and Megan's pictures are at 5:45. You'd think it was prom or something. For both Alex and Megan, there has been drama regarding who is going in what group, where the group is eating (at a restaurant or at a house), what time the group is meeting and all sorts of other needless drama. 
    • Side note: this all made me recall that in 1985, when I went to the Kennedy High School Homecoming dance as a sophomore, I didn't have a driver's license. My mother drove my date and I to Carlos O'Kelly's in Marion. I remember that the dog we had (D.D., which stood for Damn Dog) went with us in the car. I don't remember if I sat in the backseat with my date or not. I do remember that when we got to Carlos O'Kelly's, there was going to be a 2 hour wait for a table so I immediately went to the door to try and catch my mom's attention, but she was already pulling onto First Avenue on her way home. This was in the days before cell phones so my date and I were stuck. At the time, there was a Denny's near Carlos O'Kelly's so we walked over to Denny's and ate there. Two other tidbits I think about when reflecting upon this Homecoming Dance. 
      • First, prior to the dance, I had forced myself to start eating lettuce. I remember that I did this because I didn't want to be out to dinner with my date and be embarrassed to say to the server that I didn't want a salad.
      • Second, I am 99% sure that this is the dance at which I kissed a girl for the first time. I didn't keep a journal during high school, or if I did, I haven't seen it recently enough to reread if I even wrote about it. I remember my first kiss was in the Kennedy High School cafeteria, which is where the dances were held.
  3. Both the GMC Canyon truck & the Dodge Caravan van got oil changes this week so I should be good for oil changes until January. 
  4. On Wednesday night, I mowed for what I think will be the final time in 2014. It's getting close to time to be thinking about getting the snow blower started and prepped for winter.

Enough with the Crazy

Can you say "crazy" week? It has been a whirlwind of hours going by very fast since Wednesday. I have been busier at work than perhaps I expected to be. Here are some high-level highlights of what's been happening at work.
  1. We are reworking one of our bigger projects after receiving some feedback from an internal customer. 
  2. Sonia has been off work so (not a martyr, just reporting) I picked up some of the work she was doing. 
  3. Another internal customer has been working with Sonia and I regarding changes for a different product's user guide and those changes seem to have taken longer than expected. Actually, I thought I was done early Friday AM, after a 8 - 8:30 meeting only to be given a marked up version of what I thought was the final version with some minor copy edits. I didn't mind doing those changes as, honestly, we don't really have a copy edit process in place. The copy edits dealt with minor things like formatting a column name to be bold or removing stray references to e.g. and i.e. because we are spelling out the Latin phrase instead, per the Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications. 
  4. On top of all of that, I'm trying to return to my "baby" project. I happened to notice that the Confluence site for this project was created on December 13, 2013, so it's been in progress for nearly a year. The issue with this project is that there have been a number of starts and stops. The idea is to make our documentation be in the same format and use a lot of the same phrasing so it reads like a single department wrote it. That idea is noble and all, but the aforementioned "bigger project" has become the model project and when decisions are made regarding that "bigger project", I end up doing rework on the "baby" project. Thus, the layout of the user guide, the way information is formatted and the way information is written has been in a state of flux for several months.
  5. Late Friday PM, Sonia, Vanessa, and I met to talk about changes to some documents that need to be made and quickly realized what we thought were going to be simple changes are not as simple. The same internal customer in item #3 above has a meeting on Monday with an external client and wanted to know when they could be told the documents would be ready. Since it was late Friday PM and the conversation had gone in circles for several minutes, I summarized and said we should tell the internal customer that we had met to discuss these documents and that we were targeting Wednesday to be done. I then stated that if we were done on Monday and delivered them sooner, fantastic, but that if we needed Monday and part of Tuesday to make the changes, then we were giving ourselves a cushion. I admit it was an unpopular decision, but in this case, it appears 1 outvoted 2.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Music Tagging Tools

These have potential!

How to Remove Duplicate Rows in Excel

This seems like it would be handy to keep in my brain, but since my brain is already overfilled with other data, here's the link:


Even though Slipknot is from Des Moines, Iowa, they are hosting a festival in California called KNOTFEST. The festival is on October 24-26 at San Manuel Amphitheater & Campgrounds in San Bernardino, CA. The bands below in bold italic are the ones I'd be interested in watching, if I were in California and if I was at the concert.

Here are the daily band performance times (subject to change):

Friday, October 24

(VIP Pre-Party for those that have purchased VIP or Camping Packages)

Stage 003

10:30 PM Black Dahlia Murder
9:25 PM Chelsea Grin

Stage 002

11:15 PM Suicide Silence
9:50 PM Butcher Babies
9:00 PM Alterbeast

Saturday, October 25

Stage 005

3:30 PM Fear Factory
2:35 PM OTEP
1:40 PM Amen
12:45 PM Prong
Noon Immolation

Stage 004

4:05 PM The Faceless
3:10 PM Stands With Fists
2:15 PM Dehumanizer
1:20 PM Kings Of Carnage
12:25 PM Play For Blood
11:40 AM Headbang For The Highway Battle Winner TBA
11:10 AM Headbang For The Highway Battle Winner TBA

Stage 003

4:20 PM In This Moment
3:00 PM The Devil Wears Prada
1:50 PM Butcher Babies
12:50 PM Miss May I
11:50 AM One OK Rock

Stage 002

5:05 PM Testament
3:40 PM Carcass
2:25 PM Maximum The Hormone
1:20 PM King 810
12:20 PM Man With A Mission

Stage 001

11:00 PM Slipknot
9:20 PM Danzig
8:05 PM Anthrax
7:05 PM Black Label Society
6:10 PM Hatebreed

Sunday, October 26

Stage 005

3:30 PM Napalm Death
2:35 PM Avatar
1:40 PM Attika 7
12:45 PM Exmortus
Noon Rattlehead

Stage 004

4:05 PM Dead For Denver
3:10 PM Motograter
2:15 PM Five From The Gods
1:20 PM I, of Helix
12:25 PM A Threat To The Enemy
11:40 AM Still Not Dead
11:10 AM Headbang For The Highway Battle Winner TBA

Stage 003

2:40 PM Killswitch Engage
1:25 PM Whitechapel
12:15 PM Upon A Burning Body
11:15 AM Anti Mortem

Stage 002

3:25 PM Of Mice & Men
2:00 PM DevilDriver
12:50 PM Veil Of Maya
11:45 AM Nothing More

Stage 001

10:00 PM Slipknot
8:30 PM Five Finger Death Punch
7:10 PM Volbeat
6:10 PM Tech N9ne
5:15 PM Atreyu
4:20 PM Hellyeah

Two Reasons for This

  1. This is a funny cartoon.
  2. I saw a user guide that has a red border around each and every graphic within it. [sarcasm]That red border will be so VERY helpful if the user guide is printed on a non-color printer.[/sarcasm]

Rising Up

On Monday, September 22, 2014, I began a new era at work: I began standing at my desk. A co-worker raised my desk for me when I was at Megan's UNI visit on Friday, September 19 so that when I came in on that Monday, I could start the day standing. On Friday, October 17, I will have successfully stood at my desk for 4 weeks. I did this because the daily ritual of going for a walk at 10 and 2 have become something of the past. I still think about going for daily walks, but I find it much easier to simply work than to walk away from my desk for 10 minutes, twice a day. As I write that, it sounds awful that I would not simply go. I decided to have my desk raised because I know that I am unlikely to walk during the day.That said, I have sat during conference calls and during impromptu meeting with my co-workers. When I am typing, though, I stand. All of this leads to what I really wanted to write about in this post. My employer is having an online auction where the money bid goes to charity. I am bidding on the chair in the picture below so that, if I wanted to, I would have the option to sit while I type. I currently have the high bid at $8.00 and the auction ends on Monday, October 20, 2015. Either I win and have the option to sit or I lose and the amount the winner pays helps a charity.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Unhelp Me Please

Words cannot begin to describe how unhelpful this error message is to me. There's no link to find information, not even to the Dell website. Hell, the error message text should've said, "You're screwed unless you have the receipt."

Saying the Difficult

It's not an every day occurrence for me to read Forbes magazine but this article about Green Day and Metallica? Very interesting.

Three's a Crowd

I totally understand why Cena and Orton are having a match at the Hell in a Cell PPV. 

If that is confusing and it could be if unaware of the events of last night's episode of Raw.

Dean Ambrose was betrayed by Seth Rollins and, ever since, the two have been feuding on WWE programming. Ambrose's head was driven into cinder blocks (if you believe in acting) and when he reappeared, the announcer's began calling him a "lunatic fringe" which makes me think of Red Rider and Vision Quest each and every time one of the announcers says that phrase. Anyways, at the last PPV, Rollins interfered with John Cena's match with Brock Lesnar, which caused Cena to have an issue with Ambrose. The WWE talked up the idea of Ambrose and Cena forming an alliance to "deal with their issues with Rollins" but in a somewhat surprising move, the two were booked to fight each other at the Hell in a Cell PPV on 10/26 and the winner would fight Rollins.

Those were the events leading up to last night's WWE Raw but, apparently, the writers in WWE Creative Services decided to switch things up a bit. HHH, who I still think is as awesome as a good guy as he is a bad guy, booked a triple threat match of the Uso's, Star & Golddust, and Ambrose / Cena as the participants. He spoke about Cena and Ambrose not getting along and that they couldn't function as tag team partners. This served three purposes. The first is that it made the feud between the Uso's and Star & Golddust a bit more interesting because seeing them battling each other every week is getting stale. The second is not all that long ago, Cena was an ally of the Uso's in their feud against the Wyatt Family (who seem to be about to be reintroduced / repackaged based upon the freaky videos of Bray Wyatt talking). What the announcers should have done is talk that up - the fact that not only does Cena have to tag with Ambrose, he has to fight against the Uso's who were his allies, but they didn't mention that. The third consequence of the triple threat match was to press the issue that Ambrose and Cena don't like each other but had to (somehow) function as tag partners.

I wasn't surprised when Ambrose and Cena won the match. After all, if either of the other two teams won, their feud would then turn into Ambrose and Cena wanting some sort of retribution. What was surprising is that, after winning the match, HHH came out to announce that instead of waiting until the next PPV, Ambrose and Cena would fight tonight to determine who will fight Rollins at Hell in a Cell. In a way it makes sense because it allowed Randy Orton to go up to HHH prior to that match and state that he wanted a match at Hell in a Cell against the loser of Ambrose and Cena. As soon as Orton said that, I knew that Cena and Orton would face each other at Hell in a Cell. I knew that the WWE Creative team had given up on Cena seeking revenge against Rollins and were now going to put Cena in a yet another PPV match with Randy Orton.

Part of me is okay with that because Cena and Orton are adversaries that know each other well. I just entered "how many matches have cena and randy orton had" in and it took me to this page: so, obviously, the WWE is aware of their history, which dates back to 2002.

However, the WWE wants to control what its viewers think when packaging John Cena v. Randy Orton. They don't want you to know that they've actually been in 76 matches, dating back to 2001. Their first match was on 7/28/2001 and John Cena was known as The Prototype, which is something not a single one of the WWE announcers has ever mentioned on WWE programming. I only know this because I found a comprehensive listing of their matches.

This is why I adore professional wrestling. There is story, there is action, and it's a soap opera for me. I can't wait until next week's episode!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Did not see this Coming

The Dead Walking

I never watch zombie movies. I would rather watch "The Shawshank Redemption" for the 200th time than to watch any movie about zombies. That said, thanks to Brad W, Alex and I are starting to wade into "The Walking Dead" television series. Here's a recap of the first episode in the new season.

Weekend Was Good

The football game on Saturday ended with a victory, which I guess some would say is the most important aspect of any college football game. I wanted to go beyond that for a moment because I don't want to miss an opportunity to note that there is another aspect of the game day that I really enjoy. When Alex and I go, we take the Hawkeye Express train. We board near IHOP and arrive at the stadium without having to deal with parking in or around Kinnick Stadium. Sometimes, I wish the train would also run during the winter for the basketball games, but I also realize that most people wouldn't want to walk the distance from Kinnick to Carver Hawkeye Arena in the cold weather. Still, there must be at least some people that actually park in the Kinnick Stadium parking lot when they come to an event at Carver. I think it'd be worth a feasibility study.

Anyways, we get off the train and walk over to the recreation building. We wait there until the drumline puts on their drums and marches over to the outside of Kinnick Stadium to do their warmup. This is a highlight each time we attend an Iowa game because, as if it is not obvious, I play drums and Alex plays drums. It's always fun, as a drummer, to watch other drummers play. I appreciate and acknowledge that in order for what we saw on Saturday morning, there were a lot of hours of practice that accumulated. Playing the way the drummers in the video below play is not something you can begin to prepare for on Monday and be ready by Saturday morning, especially since these are college students that have other academic requirements.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Hawkeye Football

Late yesterday afternoon, Karen called to say that she could get two tickets to today's Iowa versus Indiana game at Kinnick Stadium. I thought it was a great idea for how to spend a Saturday. We picked up the tickets on our way home, paying $130 for them. The original owner cannot go to the game because of a funeral.

Thus, I am in our living room at 6:32 AM. The plan is to leave at 7. Alex and I will go get breakfast pizza at Casey's, then park near IHOP so we can ride the Hawkeye Express to the stadium. That's what our tradition has been. When we get off the train, we go to the recreation building and wait until the drumline goes to warm up by the entrance of Kinnick Stadium. After the drumline warms up, they return to the recreation building and the band plays. It's not until after that do we go to the gate of Kinnick Stadium and then to our seats.

I'm excited to be going to the game. It's the first time going this year. I'm thinking it will be the only one we go to in 2014.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dwayne Rocks Raw

While this video shows the Dwayne Johnson ("The Rock") during his time with the microphone, I found myself really swept away when his music began, which isn't in this video. The fact that his appearance wasn't something I knew about (and yes, I read the Raw preview on Bleacher Report) made it all the more better. It was a great setup. The heels are in the ring, Mark Henry isn't fighting with Rusev anymore because of his new feud with Bo Dallas and his opponent from Friday's episode of Smackdown (the Big Show) is required to remain backstage. Who can come out and stop the heels from spouting off? It had to be someone new, who had not been in the same ring. That's why The Rock being the "face" or good guy in the scenario is a great stroke of writing.

New Gutter Paper

Twenty years ago, when I was working at ACT as a temporary data entry clerk, I read the Iowa City Press Citizen (ICPC). I thought the copy editors were awful. One article that I have taped into a spiral notebook includes the priceless mistake of stating a driver drove east to west to get from Iowa City to Omaha, Nebraska, which, anyone who has seen a map of the United States knows, is backwards - if you drive from east to west from Iowa City on your way to Omaha, Nebraska, you will eventually reach the east coast of the United States and be stopped by the ocean. It's a simple mistake that points to not reading what is being edited. I thought that the ICPC was the lowest of the lows when it came to newspapers and I've never paid for a subscription to that newspaper because of what I considered to be a low quality product.

I'm wondering if the Cedar Rapids Gazette can now overtake that position in my head. I just read an article about comedian George Lopez coming to Cedar Rapids for a couple of shows. The text I put in red caught my critical thinking skills:

George Lopez is going back in time, to January 2014, in order to be in a television series. Why can't the word "sitcom" be used anymore. It's a situation comedy, just like "The George Lopez Show" was many years ago.

Monday, October 6, 2014

No Filter

Here is an entire thread in a LinkedIn group I belong to that I responded to yesterday. The title of the thread is "CHMs instead of Topics for page-level help" and it's an interesting read.

kelley bennett, a Technical Writer at Suncoast Solutions, started out the thread. I've included the comments from other forum members, including mine.

So, just started at a new company. In looking at the current help set up, apparently the person who originally created the online help had no training in HAT use at all. So.. using RoboHelp, she set up a chm for each screen in the application. This means there are hundreds of chms... NOTHING is repurposed... and each time the current writer (besides me) has had to update anything she's had to recompile each chm... and check each one in separately! And i think there might be chm's within chms.. i'm not thoroughly sure how all this is set up, but it's rather daunting... and even, to me, frightening.

I still am a bit clueless as to what's being used to develop various applications here, but there's no way this process is efficient... and it's hideous.. also, they can't really drill down beyond the main screens to get help. Getting help from subscreen at any level requires that you back OUT of everything until you get into the main screen... in order to call the help up.

Additionally, they have rigged it in such a way that the chms are viewed over the network... previoulsy, my understanding was that each CHM would have to be downloaded and viewed locally to be used. However, I found out that they did some sort of scripting or fancy workaround that allowed them to push chms to users for use over the network/internet. At first i couldn't believe it, so I checked Peter Grainge's website and found that there IS a way to beat the system and use a chm over a network. I'm just not convinced that's a good idea.

Additionally, and obviously, this does not allow for any sort of single sourcing.

So, that said, I am writing a proposal for a change in how the help is set up an implemented. I'm thinking it won't require much change for the developers - perhaps revise the current script that is linking all the chm files - but being a very NON-TECHNICAL technical writer, i am not sure what is required for the way things are vs the way things might need to be.

In addition, I'm trying to come up with arguments for the change... the benefits of revamping the help design - which obviously will help the tech writer.

But I have to provide a good enough argument for "The Management"... so here are my questions and anything you can add will be MOST appreciated!

1) what advantages might there be in changing from this bizarre chm mess to a more traditional topic based help?
a) single sourcing is then possible
b) more fluid transitioning within the help presentation to the user
c) more efficient for the technical writer for updating and checking in?
e) someone mentioned to me that using chm over a network/internet could pose a security risk/issue/problem - can anyone verify if this is try or not and why this might be the case?
d) what advantages would updating this help process provide to developers?
e) what advantages would updating this help process provide to users?
f) seems to me (altho, I am not able to verify this at this time) that several smaller chm files would require more space and take more time to load that one larger, traditional, topic-based project would - would you believe this to be true?
g) for thick client app purposes (since recently I've only dealt with web based apps), what would be
the best output for us to propose and why?

OK.. i think that's all i can think of to ask at the moment, but as I said, if you can think of anything else to add for or against my argument to make this change in practice, feel free to list it.

I want to extend my appreciation to anyone and everyone reading and/or responding to this plea for assistance!



Rick Stone
Adobe Certified Captivate and RoboHelp instructor
Wow... quite a post there!

1) what advantages might there be in changing from this bizarre chm mess to a more traditional topic based help?

Maintenance is tremendously simplified and by simplifying things, it will result in obvious cost savings.

a) single sourcing is then possible
b) more fluid transitioning within the help presentation to the user

It really depends on how it was set up. For example, if it were set up as a proper merged system, folks would likely not even realize they were dealing with a highly fragmented output.

c) more efficient for the technical writer for updating and checking in?

I'll leave it to someone else to comment on usage of Source Control with this approach. Certainly there is a lot more overhead this way because of all the RoboHelp specific project files.

Inter-topic links may or may not exist today. Certainly it will be very cumbersome to create and maintain these types of links with the existing system.

e) someone mentioned to me that using chm over a network/internet could pose a security risk/issue/problem - can anyone verify if this is try or not and why this might be the case?

Only Microsoft can say for certain, but the reason CHM files no longer easily operate over a LAN is because they discovered a vulnerability.

d) what advantages would updating this help process provide to developers?

For the developers, there would be a single CHM file to deal with as opposed to hundreds.

e) what advantages would updating this help process provide to users?

Without seeing how things are set up, it's difficult to say for certain. But the way it's been described, it would seem that there is no single cohesive way for an end user to easily find information within the complete system.

f) seems to me (altho, I am not able to verify this at this time) that several smaller chm files would require more space and take more time to load that one larger, traditional, topic-based project would - would you believe this to be true?

The CHM acronym means "Compiled Help Module". The process of compiling typically results in space savings. Only by performing a careful analysis would you be able to determine if more space were needed for this method over a single consolidated CHM (or other) methods. But I'd say that generally speaking, that would seem to be the case.

g) for thick client app purposes (since recently I've only dealt with web based apps), what would be the best output for us to propose and why?

Typically folks opt for CHM usage when they have a locally installed software application.

Sounds like you have an interesting journey ahead of you!

Cheers... Rick :)

Carlos Mills
Senior Technical Writer at AWTA Ltd. (Aus)
I have being working with RoboHelp for quite some time and I would recommend to import all Chms into one single project using RH import feature. If you do not have the CHM source files (Word or HTML) you may decompile the CHM files as single projects and then import each of those projects files into your master project.
Even though that involves a lot of work it will save enormously in the long term maintenance and enhancement of the system.

kelley bennett
Technical Writer at Suncoast Solutions
Thanks guys for your input... And yep, Rick, it's quite the mess... Thanks Carlos, for the past 10 years I have not needed to do any importing using RH or Flare so I had completely forgotten that as an option to pull all of the info into one without the old copy and paste tedium... THANKS!

kelley bennett
Technical Writer at Suncoast Solutions
Hi Rick,

Quick question... since I have never used chm for page-level help, I am not sure how that would work. I always thought I would need to use a non-chm form of HTML output... can you provide additional info on using chm for page-level help?


Rick Stone
Adobe Certified Captivate and RoboHelp instructor

I've seen it work in a couple of different ways. In way number one, all your "page level" topics are in one single CHM file and all the other typical topics of the system are in a separate CHM file. So in this case you have two CHM files to maintain. One for the CSH page level topics and the other for all the other topics.

The other way is to simply have all topics inside the same single CHM. Then when you need a page level topic for CSH, you call only that topic.

To do this, you use what is called a "Map File". Basically a map file is a text based cross reference. Each potential exit point from the application that would normally open a page level help has a unique identifier. As the help author, you will need to use RoboHelp to establish the correct mapping to topics for each of these identifiers. To get to this area, you open the Project Set-up pod in RoboHelp. In that pod, you should see an area for Context Sensitive Help.

For more details on this process, check out the link below:

Note that Willam's article is specific to WebHelp and FlashHelp. But the general principles are the same for CHM.

And here's a Microsoft article on it for CHM (not quite as easy to follow as Willam's article is)

Cheers... Rick :)

  • Earl Eddings
    Advisor: Technical Writer at CSC (GIS)
    @Kelley Bennett's original post -- Wow, just wow. That is amazing. *shakes head in disbelief*

  • Rick Stone
    Adobe Certified Captivate and RoboHelp instructor
    @Earl - That was my first impression!

    Made me recall an old issue from my days working in a call center. I was in a specialized area that supported things that the company I worked for didn't offer. For example, how to install Microsoft Office or how to use Microsoft Paint. Folks paid $2.25 per minute to get advice from me and a co-worker.

    Someone called with a problem using the old "Microsoft Cardfile" application. In a similar way to what Kelley was reporting, instead of creating a new card for each contact, they created a complete new Cardfile file for each contact! When it came to light that it was much easier and more efficient to use it as intended, the person DEMANDED that we send Bill Gates to his doorstep so he could fume at him personally.

    Ahhh, the good ole days!

    • Earl Eddings
      Advisor: Technical Writer at CSC (GIS)
      @Rick That's hilarious!
    • Paul Hanson
      Software Technical Writer
      By your own words, you are a "very NON-TECHNICAL technical writer" so before redesigning or doing any rework, you need to have an understanding as to why things were done the way they were. If it was truly done the way it was done because the previous writer didn't know what they were doing, then that's one thing. After you understand why the writer did what they did, then you can look at a better way.

      A long long time ago, I had a master.cnt file that linked together (roughly) 100 WinHelp files. I had a good reason for doing this - there were 13 collections of screens that went together so there was a 1:1 - and (roughly) 87 .exe files. Anyone that didn't understand the reasoning behind creating 100 WinHelp files would call it a mess.

      My point is that there was a reason for doing things the way I did and you don't know the reason the previous writer did things the way they did. Only after you know why can you be qualified to say, "the current setup is stupid and a mess" or "the current setup is not stupid and makes sense." In your shoes, I would dig through any "old" documents or source files for this help system to see if there was any sort of explanation for why it was set up the way it was. Pick the brain of your co-workers that worked with the previous writer and, if it still doesn't make sense, find that writer's email address and ask, "Why did you set up the help files the way you did?" You may be surprised with the response!

      Good luck.
    • Rick Stone
      Adobe Certified Captivate and RoboHelp instructor
      @Paul - It certainly depends on the situation as well as the content of the files. When I was cutting my teeth on help using Winhelp and RoboHelp version 2, I ended up with a system that linked 250 or so separate WinHelp files.

      Note that each of these had far more information inside them than a single topic. ;)

    Friday, October 3, 2014

    Malpractice Drummer is Amazing

    Iowa Men's Basketball 2014-2015

    Let the hype get into full swing motion with this article about the Iowa men's basketball 2014-2015 season!

    My only hope for the team this year is that they play 40 minutes of basketball in every game. Not 35, not 38, but 40 minutes of basketball - from opening tip to ending buzzer. No stretches of several minutes without a basket that creates a deficit that they have to claw out of in order to win. 40 complete minutes. 100% focused. Making free throws is part of the mental toughness I hope the team achieves.

    Go Hawks! I hope it's a great season! I also hope Carver-Hawkeye Arena is rocking at each and every game!

    Thursday, October 2, 2014

    Bad Day for Using Templates

    I call this a bad day for using templates to send out email newsletters. First, in the Metal Sucks Newsletter, there's no content, just instructions for how to use the template:

    Then, in my Morning Briefing newsletter, I see the "Lorem ipsum ...." text but that is not actually in the article!

    Wednesday, October 1, 2014

    Political Snivel and Snit

    I absolutely refuse to turn this blog into one solely about politics. That said, with the elections that will determine if the Republicans can become a majority in Congress, I have a feeling it will be impossible to not write about or think about politics. The elections are Tuesday, November 4, 2014. That means on November 5th, or in 35 days, I will probably not write as much about politics.

    All of that to introduce the this article about the twenty ways President Obama's successor can be different from President Obama.

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014

    Bad Bands

    Prepare your ears for misery!

    Came to Work

    Unfortunately, last night, I simply donated my $20 to the Riverside Casino. Actually, they took $25 of my money. I had $2.50 in chips from the last time I was there. I was playing blackjack and got 21 so I won $2.50, which I added to the $2.50 in my pocket. I lost it. I sat at the table for one entire sleeve of cards and was at $5 when the dealer shuffled the deck for another round. I lost that $5 on the first hand, briefly considered pulling out another $20, but decided that was not a good idea. I thanked the dealer and walked away from the table without my jackpot.

    All of this means, simply, my career will continue as a technical writer. Honestly, I don't know whether I would stop being a technical writer if I had won the jackpot. I know I can write that now and think that now, but I really enjoy my work. I have achieved what my student teaching cooperating teacher encouraged me to do back in fall 1991. He told me I should find my bliss and to do what makes me happy. He also said I would know what I should be doing because it would give me energy.

    Being a technical writer gives me energy. I work with great co-workers who want what I want - to create useful content. This year has been a breakthrough year for me as a technical writer. I sometimes remember the work I have done at previous companies. My workflow in other places would simply not work.

    And that's a good thing. Changes and the challenges that come with change are what drive me. I definitely want to work smarter, not harder. When it comes to documentation, here's what I want to do every time I write.
    1. Communicate in such a way that the information can be understood and located.
    2. Write content once and reuse it when it's applicable. Software is a series of patterns that tend to behave the same way. I want the content I write to have patterns as well. I don't want the user to have to read a "how do I use this documentation" section in order to figure it out. Certainly, this is not a new concept in the world of technical writing, but it's a new concept in the way I approach my work. I could have used the current mentality I have about this when I worked at other employers. There was so much copying and pasting of content into multiple documents! It makes my skin crawl. Without a doubt in my mind, the major reason I had a huge list of projects to work on was because I didn't apply this concept.
    3. Use standards until they need to be broken. That's a paraphrased quote from my co-worker John. It's awesome to have standards but if those standards make the documentation cumbersome, unhelpful, or in any way hinders the user from obtaining the information needed to do their task, following the standard doesn't serve the user, who is the ultimate person that must be served.

    As I step down from my technical writer soapbox and step up to my Metallica fanboy soapbox, the Lars Ulrich interview I just read is definitely relevant.

    Here's the relevant part of the article that I want to draw a line to what I do every day.

    Asked if there is anything "off the table" for a band like METALLICA, Ulrich tells Billboard magazine: "Increasingly in our career, absolutes don't play a role. The minute we have a conversation about 'what does the fan want?' we stop ourselves, because it's a lost cause. If you put 20 METALLICA fans around this table, they're going to tell you 20 different things. We really turn the conversation inward: 'What are we comfortable with? Is this something we feel we can get behind?' It's not about selling out, but whether it's selling our souls. As you lay in bed every night, [you ask yourself], 'Do I feel good about the choices I made?'"

    Lars, I feel your pain when I feel it's a hopeless cause to serve the user! I can easily apply what he talks about to technical writing:

    Asked if there is anything "off the table" for a technical writer, "Increasingly in our career, absolutes don't play a role. The minute we have a conversation about 'what does the user want?' we stop ourselves, because it's a lost cause. If you put 20 users who use the documentation we have written around this table, they're going to tell you 20 different things. [Instead], turn the conversation inward: 'What are we comfortable with? Is this something we feel we can get behind?' It's not about selling out, but whether it's selling our souls. As you lay in bed every night, [you ask yourself], 'Do I feel good about the choices I made?'"

    Read the entire article here.

    Monday, September 29, 2014


    Around 8:30 PM last night, I began the copying of files from the "N" drive on the My Cloud (yes, I realize "N" means nothing to anyone but me) to my external hard drive. I came downstairs this AM, around 6 AM, and the last file was being copied. There were 18,575 (118,080,803,886 bytes) that were copied. The next step is to combine those files with the existing files on the external hard drive and weed out the duplicates. The website to retrieve file metadata (artist, song title, etc) that is automatically accessed through Windows Media Player (WMP) is still down (damnit!) so until that is either resolved or I begin using an alternative to WMP, there are likely to be duplicates. One example of why I have duplicates is I am using underscores, as in _, in my file names, but when I began this project on 12/1/2013, I was using dashes. Thus, I happen to have some files named 01_SongTitle_Artist_Album and others named 01-SongTitle-Artist-Album so if those two files are the same band and same album, it doesn't appear as a duplicate. I can get around that by setting Search My Files, the freeware app that I couldn't live without, to search for duplicates.

    All of this to say that tomorrow, when I edit the reconversion statistics page on this blog, the statistics are going to be out of whack. Consider that on 9/15/2014, there were 73393 files, per the DOS batch file. If today were tomorrow, at this precise moment, those same DOS commands would give me 132610 File(s). That means there are a lot of duplicates that need to be located and eliminated. I just used Search My Files - I eliminated 6625 files. When I copied files from the N:\ drive to the external hard drive, I copied them to an alternate directory structure, but now, I'm combining them. Lots more duplicates will need to be weeded out.
    I do not plan to even make it downstairs to the den tonight. We are going to the Riverside Casino. I have my $2.50 in blackjack chips, my $3 off coupon for the buffet, and my coupon for $10 to be put on my card for use however I see fit. I think we will be lucky to be home before 10 PM, which is when the DVR will finish recording tonight's episode of WWE Raw. Either I will go to bed or I will zip through the episode and then go to bed.

    Sunday, September 28, 2014

    Beating on Death's Door

    Sebastian Bach... Still One of My Favorite Metal Vocalists

    Back in July, I wrote a post about Sebastian Bach being sober, but what I failed to mention is I think he is a great heavy metal vocalist. This video shows his range.

    Work Stuff

    Since this video exists on a youtube channel, I'm including a video that my co-worker Vanessa made:

    I don't plan to intermingle work with this blog.

    WWE in Moline

    I learned on Friday that there is a live WWE event in Moline, IL, at the iWireless Center tonight. Actually, the doors open for it in 26 minutes and it starts at 5 PM. It's too late to make plans to attend. From what I read here, I'm not heartbroken I'm not either on my way to or in Moline right now.

    Weekend and Beyond

    It's a rare Sunday afternoon entry on this blog. Karen and Alex went to Wal-Mart so Alex could return an airsoft gun, Megan is cleaning her room, and me? I'm down in the den.

    Last night, I went to 5:15 Mass and played drums during Mass. Then, I played Euchre in the basement until 9:15ish. We played 5 handed, which I had never played before. I liked it. Third place had 30 points and I had 28 so I didn't win, but I turned around a couple of very dismal rounds into something worth mentioning. I returned to St. Thomas More for 11 AM Mass as it was the youth group doing the music. I played drums again. I really like playing with the youth group.

    After work tomorrow, we are all going down to the Riverside Casino where Lou and Jean are staying for their wedding anniversary. The kids are swimming and that probably means the four of us will play more euchre. Tuesday, Megan works. Wednesday, I am returning to Riverside because I am playing golf with members of the Pearson golf league. From what I know of it, the golf course is very tough. Thursday, Megan works. Friday is another Iowa City West football game.

    Friday, September 26, 2014

    Wondered Too

    Can Two Drives Connected via USB Hub Bypass a Computer When Sharing Data?

    That Feeling


    I like this article about C.J. Beathard, the #2 quarterback for the Iowa Hawkeyes who was inserted into the game at Pitt last Saturday.

    Pausing for a Moment

    Right before I left work yesterday, Sonia pointed out a help text file that had a small cosmetic issue with it. I told her I would look at it today, Friday. I created a Google calendar event so I would be reminded that I needed to look at it and correct the issue. I didn't look at the help text file yesterday in Fatwire (the tool we use to create and edit the help text for this system). So, when I came in to work, my Google calendar popped up and I went into Fatwire. I found the help text file and when I looked at its properties, I discovered that the last co-worker to work on this help text was my co-worker who committed suicide on 2/1/2012, which I wrote about here. It made me momentarily pause any action as I looked at her name. Her former cubicle, where I sit, looks pretty much the same except two weeks ago, I had my desk raised. Since Monday, 9/22, I stand at my desk instead of sitting. Other than that, it looks the same. I thought about her and about what dark place she must have been in if she thought suicide was an answer. I hope her soul has found peace.

    Thursday, September 25, 2014

    Shaun Cassidy

    One time, my brother Mark was mad at me. Because he was mad at me, he took my Shaun Cassidy 33 RPM record and wrote on it with a pencil. When I put it on the record player, it skipped. During my mom's investigation into why it skipped, the scratches put into the record surface were discovered and, ultimately, Mark confessed. The three of us then went to KMart, where the record had been purchased I would presume but I don't have a vivid memory of it being purchased. I also presume that my mom convinced the store to exchange the scratched record with a new one.

    On that Shaun Cassidy record, I remember listening to this song over and over again. Tonight, for no apparent reason, I started humming the chorus.

    Collection of Stories on Metal Sucks Website

    It's Not Me, It's You

    Recently, I was using Windows Media Player. I selected a music file and right-clicked. Instead of seeing the option of looking up artist and song information for the selected file, I saw this:
    When I fired up a browser to look for more information, I found this article. The gist of this error is that it is not unique to me or my device, which is good. It's not me, it's you (the Microsoft server), which also happens to be the name of my all-time favorite Skillet song:

    Writing Lesson for the Day

    From my Daily Writing Tips email newsletter, an article about beginning a sentence with and or but/ that is worth reading. I think that in my daily work as a technical writer, I have not begun a sentence with any of these three words.

    Wednesday, September 24, 2014

    Question worth Pondering

    There was a Craigslist ad from Josh, a guitarist seeking a drummer. After sending him a link to the page of videos on this blog, he wrote back:

    Why is it that all your bands broke up after you started playing out?

    Great question. I think there were two major "things" that have hindered the progress of both LCR & Uncle Rico.
    1. Lack of connections with area venues to book a gig. 
      • I tend to not be an overly social kind of guy and going into a venue and talking to the person that is responsible for booking a band is not something I've been able to do. I can email that person and communicate that way very easily, but the actual face-to-face 'selling' of a band to a stranger makes me uncomfortable. Thus, for both LCR and UR, when both of those tasks seemed to fall upon me, I wasn't able to schedule a gig. That's honest.
    2. The rise of issues that had nothing to do with the band interfering with the band
      • I can only speak for me. I am 44 and I have many balls up in the air. Life is busy as I juggle commitments related to work, family / kids / wife, and things I want to do in life. I know that there is more to life than playing drums in a band. I'm not going to go out and replace Neil Peart or Lars Ulrich or Tommy Aldridge or any of my other drumming heroes.
    Disbanding was never something I really wanted to happen. Both LCR and UR sounded good and were progressing.
    • For LCR, we decided to take a short break and to resume practices  after the holidays. Unfortunately, what began as a short break morphed into a large break. After several months of being dormant, we made it official and disbanded.
    • With UR, it was a combination of the amount of time spent practicing and playing in a band outweighing the desire to spend that time on the commitments I mentioned above. 
    There are no bad feelings between myself and the members of LCR and / or UR. I enjoyed rehearsals. Collectively, there was a kindred spirit, due to all of us being around the same age. We all had at least some common ground upon which to build a set list. We all have families and 7/8ths of us have kids in various ages (elementary through college). The fact that there were at least some of the same songs on the LCR and UR setlist points to that. It also was good for me as a musician to not be pigeon-holed in "only" the bands that I would choose to listen to when given the choice. For example, LCR played "Stuck in the Middle" and "Switching to Glide" which were tunes I knew marginally but you wouldn't find them on my regular playlist. Likewise, some of the tunes UR played, for example, "Folsom Prison Blues" and "Hot Stuff", were not ones I would have selected, but I adapted. I enjoyed playing "Sunshine" with UR and "Paranoid" with UR.

    That's how I answer Josh's question.

    Tuesday, September 23, 2014

    We're at War with ISIS

    From my NBC News First Read email:
    • The New York Times: "The United States and five Arab allies launched a wide-ranging air campaign against the Islamic State and at least one other extremist group in Syria for the first time early Tuesday, targeting the groups' bases, training camps and checkpoints in at least four provinces, according to the United States military and Syrian activists."
    • From "In a statement early Tuesday, the U.S. military said that in addition to taking out ISIS targets it mounted eight separate strikes overnight "to disrupt the imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests conducted by a network of seasoned al Qaeda veterans," also known as "the Khorasan group." The strikes against Khorasan - which had established a haven in Syria to plot attacks, build roadside bombs and recruit Westerners to fight - targeted the group's training camps, explosives production facility, communication building and command and control facilities, the Pentagon said."
    • The AP reports that Washington informed Syria's U.N. envoy before the strikes. 
    • Meanwhile, in Iraq: "After six weeks of American airstrikes, the Iraqi government's forces have scarcely budged the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State from their hold on more than a quarter of the country, in part because many critical Sunni tribes remain on the sidelines," writes the New York Times.
    • "A Syrian fighter jet which apparently strayed into Israeli-controlled airspace over the occupied Golan Heights has been shot down by Israel," the BBC reports.
    • Reuters: "A French national was kidnapped in eastern Algeria on Sunday, France's foreign ministry said, and his kidnappers issued a video threatening to kill him if Paris did not halt its intervention in Iraq."
    • "Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi pledged his support for the U.S. war against Islamic State militants, but called on President Barack Obama to widen his campaign against extremism well beyond Iraq and Syria," reports the Wall Street Journal.