Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hint: What is Today's Date

10 things all tech writers should do
Subject: 10 things all tech writers should do
From: Andrew Plato
To: "TECHWR-L"
Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2003 11:16:37 -0800 (PST)

10. Develop a style guide. First thing make sure you get every possible style perturbation figured out. This is very important.
9. Write a comprehensive documentation plan. Don't skimp here. You need to plan out every last detail of your documents. I usually allow 5 to 10 days to design and write the plan. Make sure you follow all your styles.
8. Single-source everything. There is simply no excuse for not using the latest single-sourcing systems. These can dramatically cut down on writing time and really make you more productive.
7. Hold weekly meetings, with everybody. Use this time to express your issues about management, projects, and levels of respect. Break out into cross-functional teams to form consensus on how to more effectively leverage your team synergies.
6. Get specs. Don't even think of starting work with out detailed specifications on exactly what you should be doing.
5. Set expectations. Require detailed written expectations from management. Point out any deviation from these expectations.

4. Join the National Writers Union: This is the best place for fellow writers to get together and talk about employment issues. And when you get into trouble, the NWU can lend a hand and help you suck the life our of your employer.
3. Get the best tools: Make sure you spend ample time evaluating, cross-evaluation, and double-crossed evaluating tools and technologies. No plug-in or code snippet it too small. Document your evaluations and distribute these via executable files to everybody in your organization.
2. Remain Writer-focused: Don't let your company encourage you to learn about technologies. Remember, a good writer can document anything without knowing about it. Use your SMEs wisely and make sure you focus on what is important: fonts, styles, and communication.
1. Join STC: Devote yourself to this outstanding organization. The services it offers technical writers is truly remarkable. From seminars to lunch-and-learns, there is virtually no end to the valuable resources STC offers technical communicators. Make sure you also only work with those people that are also STC members!

Well, I hope this list has been helpful to everybody. Here's to a great 2003!

Andrew Plato

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hot Dog Turned

Since I missed the 30th anniversary and am likely to not remember the 31st anniversary about a month from now, I am giving credit, today, to one of the movies I call a vice: "Hot Dog The Movie." This is the first rated R movie I (vividly) remember watching as a youth. I think my father had a VCR tape of it. It is definitely rated R (because of its nudity and its language) and as a early teen boy, seeing, well, those and seeing that opened my eyes. A lot.

Here is a link to the article about the movie.

There are a lot of scenes in this movie that I could embed in this post, but none speaks more than this short clip than the following. If you've not heard of "Hot Dog The Movie", it is not on Netflix (I checked) but it is worth seeking out, perhaps if only to understand the context of the following scene.



Oh, okay, two more.





R F L

Indiana has stirred the pot of our country. A "Religious Freedom Act" has been passed.

You'd think the world was ending, like, tomorrow.

The following are a bunch of articles about the Indiana law. It will be interesting to watch how this all plays out.

  1. http://dailysignal.com/2015/03/31/these-19-states-have-religious-freedom-laws-similar-to-indianas-heres-what-that-means/
  2. http://dailysignal.com/2015/03/31/the-indiana-law-treats-all-americans-equally/
  3. http://dailysignal.com/2015/03/30/the-aclus-hypocritical-defense-of-laws-that-violate-religious-liberty/
  4. http://dailysignal.com/2015/03/30/apple-ceo-tim-cook-is-a-hypocrite-and-wrong-about-indiana-religious-freedom/
  5. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/pro-discrimination-religious-freedom-laws-are-dangerous-to-america/2015/03/29/bdb4ce9e-d66d-11e4-ba28-f2a685dc7f89_story.html
  6. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2015/03/30/yes-indianas-religious-freedom-law-could-promote-discrimination/
  7. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/03/26/how-a-new-religious-freedom-law-could-intensify-the-2016-battle-over-religious-right-voters/
  8. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/keeping-them-safe-from-gay-marriage/2015/03/26/88ea407c-c772-11e4-a199-6cb5e63819d2_story.html
  9. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/03/03/another-step-forward-for-marriage-equality/
  10. http://conservativebyte.com/2015/03/vengeful-lawsuit-against-florist-who-refused-gay-couple-could-leave-her-penniless/

Made to Care

From Erick Erickson comes the news that following an investigation - read the details here - the government is now dictating that the Catholic church needs to treat the divorced and the gay differently. What was that, in the Constitution, about separation of church and state? Erickson uses his familiar catch phrase - "[specific person or institution] will be made to care" - to sum up this article.

Monday, March 30, 2015

WM XXXI Results

Wrestlemania Results
  • Roman Reigns Defeats Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
    • I agreed with this prediction. However, what actually happened was Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase and the match became a Triple Threat match. Rollins pinned Reigns to become the new champion. 
      • 0-1
  • Sting Defeats Triple H
    • I agreed with this prediction. However, what actually happened was both the New World Order (Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, & Scott Hall) and Degeneration X (Road Dogg, Billy Gunn, and X-Pac) came out to the ring area and began brawling. HHH won. 
      • 02
  • Bray Wyatt Stuns Undertaker
    • I disagreed with this prediction. Undertaker ended the match with his finishing move. Speculation now centers upon setting up a Sting v. Undertaker, already rumored to be a retirement match to send Undertaker off with fanfare, for WM XXXII in 2016. 
      • 1-3
  • Randy Orton Defeats Seth Rollins
    • I disagreed with this prediction. What actually happened was Randy Orton won.
      •  1-4
  • John Cena Defeats Rusev
    • I was 50/50 on this prediction. What actually happened was John Cena did win. 
      • 1-5
  • Damien Mizdow Wins the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
    • I agreed with this prediction. However, what actually happened was it came down to the Big Show and Mizdow. The Big Show won. 
      • 1-6
  • Dolph Ziggler Wins the Intercontinental Championship
    • I disagreed with this prediction. It wasn't my predicted winner, R-Truth, but, instead Daniel Bryan.
      • 1-7
  • The Bella Twins Defeat AJ Lee and Paige
    • I really didn't care about this match. AJ Lee & Paige won. 
      • 1-8
  • Tyson Kidd and Cesaro Retain the Tag Team Championships
    • I agreed with this prediction and it was correct. 
      • 2-9

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Applying Pressure

Here's the situation - Alex wants me to go to see Godsmack, Papa Roach, and In This Moment in Moline, IL, on Tuesday, May 20, 2015. He keeps talking about buying his own ticket and 1/2 of mine in order to convince me we should go. As always, there are two sides to the idea of attending.

Reasons to Go to the Concert

  1. My son is showing
  2. Godsmack sound excellent in concert, both during the drum solo and in the embedded below.
  3. I like Godsmack and have seen them several times live - this


Reasons to Not Go to the Concert


  1. It's on a Tuesday night, which means we won't get home until midnight on a school night and, like it or not, I have to be up for work on Wednesday AM at 6 while Alex has to be up for school at 6:30. That's a short night.
  2. Megan graduates from high school on Saturday, May 23. This concert is a few short days before that. We will probably be doing various household tasks to prepare for family visiting. How much will be done on a Tuesday night? Maybe a lot, maybe not a lot.
  3. Not a big In This Moment fan.

Hello Mr. Garvin

Before introducing Mr. Garvin, this is kind of a funny tidbit. While researching a band, I came across a link to another band named Zao. On the Wikipedia page for Zao, the article begins like this:

Zao /ˈzeɪ.oʊ/[1] is a metalcore band from Parkersburg, West Virginia. Founded in 1993, Zao has hosted several musicians and endured numerous roster changes to the point where no original members remain. Former drummer Jesse Smith , singer Daniel Weyandt, and guitarists Scott Mellinger & Russ Cogdell are seen by most fans as the "core" of Zao.

Some might read the text I put in bold/italic and be surprised, but I'm not. A band is a living organism and because it demands
Officially, I am a Living Sacrifice and, by extension, a fan of Lance Garvin. It's really cool when your 16 year-old turns you on to a band you've never heard of previously. Alex introduced me to them a short while ago. They are a Christian death metal band and when Alex heard it, he recognized double bass in the song. YES!! My son is a drummer!! Success!! Living Sacrifice came up after Skillet, his favorite band, on youtube.com so, before he left with Megan for working in the West High theater from 9 - 2 and then at Fareway from 5 - 10, he had me pull them up on youtube.com. The video below demonstrates why Lance Garvin has it going on behind the drums!



And yes, my standard criticism of death metal bands remains true: I'm not a fan of the vocal style so, as I've trained my ears to do, I zero in on the outstanding drums of Mr. Garvin.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Yummy for the Ears


WM XXXI

The biggest event on the WWE's schedule is Wrestlemania and the 31st edition is scheduled for Sunday. Predictions from here are summarized below:
  • Roman Reigns Defeats Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
    • Agree
  • Sting Defeats Triple H
    • Agree
  • Bray Wyatt Stuns Undertaker
    • Disagree - UT will win
  • Randy Orton Defeats Seth Rollins
    • Disagree - there will be some controversy and it will be a no-winner ending
  • John Cena Defeats Rusev
    • Agree/Disagree - I'm 50/50 because, on one hand, it is John Cena and he is the hero of the WWE, but on the other hand, Rusev becomes just another big and immobile wrestler - thinking of you Mark Henry - that has a few power moves but not a lot of in-ring agility. Frankly, I would love it if Jack Swagger stormed the ring - since he was Rusev's latest victim on Smackdown and cause a distraction that very unintentionally casues Rusev to win by DQ.
  • Damien Mizdow Wins the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
    • Agree. I don't see him winning by putting any of the following over the top rope, but I can envision it coming down to Miz & Mizdow. Miz expects Mizdow to jump over the top rope, Mizdow refuses and Mizdow moves out of the way of a Miz move that backfires and sends him out of the ring. 
  • Dolph Ziggler Wins the Intercontinental Championship
    • Disagree. R-Truth has been given a lot of time on commentary and put in this match because of sneaking off with the belt. One detail about R-Truth stands out - he stated during commentary after being put into this match that he was afraid of heights. Maybe Ziggler grabs the belt and drops it and it lands on R-Truth. Then the next night there is a rematch and Ziggler wins it.
  • The Bella Twins Defeat AJ Lee and Paige
    • Agree? Disagree? I really don't care. I consider it a "commercial break" whenever the Divas come on television. If The Bella Twins do win, it is to set up an AJ Lee & Paige feud, one blaming the other for losing.
  • Tyson Kidd and Cesaro Retain the Tag Team Championships
    • Agree. Kidd & Cesaro are hot right now. The Usos are on the downslide - their matches are boring. I don't see the Matadores being able to be champions as they aren't going to be given a lot of mic time to develop their characters. The New Day gimmick isn't really catching on. If the WWE is really serious about The Ascension, they will attack Kidd & Cesaro after the match.
These predictions are not nearly as in-depth as the ones above:

Predictions:
  • Sheamus will return as a babyface, only to shock everyone by turning heel.
  • Seth Rollins will cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Sunday or the following night on Raw.
  • At least two titles will change hands at WrestleMania.
  • At least one person will leave the ring on a stretcher.
  • Damien Mizdow will finally turn on The Miz.
And, perhaps to capitalize on Sting being in the WWE, the TNA promotion is now pushing this DVD: 

You've Got Mail

At work, I was aware that I had a mailbox where mail - outside and inter-office - was delivered to me, but in the 3 years, 9 months, 3 weeks, 6 days, (1396 days total!), not once have I checked it. I'm fairly low-key at work and never really considered that anyone would be sending me anything. Thus, when a co-worker dropped off some envelopes that were in my mailbox, I was surprised. Among the envelopes were a "welcome" letter, a pamphlet with a deadline of 3/18/2013, and an envelope with $1.25 which is what a 20 oz bottle of pop used to cost in the vending machine.



Thursday, March 26, 2015

Same Boat and Captain

From this article, a powerful quote: "Let me say that Lars [Ulrich] is one of the reasons I play the drums and nothing will change that." I will go further and state - again - that "And Justice for All" was the first Metallica release I bit into and was the release I air drummed to for so many hours in my bedroom. In fact, on my way to work after dropping off Karen at UIHC, I listened to "The Shortest Straw" which is the first track on side B of the cassette version and yes, I remember that.

That all said, there was an article published with the sound engineer for "And Justice for All" and he firmly planted the lack of bass in the mix on Ulrich. Of course, there are two sides to every coin and to every story. Nonetheless, a lot of websites are rewriting or borrowing or citing this interview as yet another reason to make Lars Ulrich out to be this evil person. There are numerous videos and websites that love to bash Lars Ulrich as an awful drummer and who turned his back on the very fans that have given him the opportunity to do what he has done in his career. I'm not feeling the vibe of bashing Lars and have posted, more than once, about trolls looking for fresh reasons to dislike Lars Ulrich.

So now, with this latest revelation that it was his direction to the sound engineer to turn down the bass, the trolls seem to think they've found the silver bullet to lay to rest - once and for all - how awful Lars Ulrich is. But this story and the way it's being reported often misses the point. The real meat and gravy of the interview is simple. At the time, Lars Ulrich had a vision for what he wanted the album to sound like. In context, Ulrich simply wasn't ready to be in a rhythm section with Jason Newsted. I make this claim because if what Ulrich has said in videos and in magazines is scrutinized, by the time Metallica were preparing the "Black" album, there was a change in the words he used to describe the songs on the "Black" album. As evidence, when he talks about the rhythm section during an interview on the "A Year and A Half in the Life of Metallica" video, there's already a different mentality. Ulrich talks about wanting to get a rhythm section sound and a groove on the songs that they were putting together for the "Black" album. And that was the very next release.

I suspect Lars Ulrich is tired of the "controversy" that surrounds the bass on "Justice" and that if he could go back to that room when he told the sound engineer to turn down the bass and relive that moment, maybe he wouldn't have done the same thing. At the same time, I also suspect Lars Ulrich realizes, perhaps at a higher level, that it doesn't matter today, in 2015, whether he would want to go back in time to that moment or not because, frankly, it can't be done - the past cannot be changed. Following that logic, maybe Lars Ulrich gets it that life is not about yesterday. Life is really about today. Sure, I would love to go back:
  • to 1990 when I auditioned for Horny Genius and say, "Yes, I will join your band" 
  • to 1992 when I played drums in Old Stew and say, "Let's get out of the practice room, let's get out of Bonehead's and go do this because we have a bunch of original songs that really speak to me and I want to play drums in a band that plays songs that do that." 
  • to 8/6/1993, the day before Karen and I were married and make 8/6/1993 the last day I ever drank any booze in my life. If I were able to do that, I would now be sober for 21 years, 7 months, 2 weeks, 6 days, or 7902 days instead of 4 years, 2 months, 3 weeks, 5 days, or (in total 1546) - a difference of 6356 days.
  • to that day in September 2010 when I accepted the job offer at that hellhole company in Kalona, though I 've since questioned that notion since I can't say for certain that I would be employed where I am employed today had I not accepted that job offer. I don't really know.
And, of course, the list goes on and on. I can only work on today because yesterday is over and tomorrow, frankly, is not a given. My sister-in-law's uncle - only in his 40s - had a stroke and is in a coma. Yesterday, they removed life support from him. I'm in my 40s - who's to say I won't be in the same precise position he is in now at some point today, tomorrow, or soon. I don't know that.

I'm not trying to be morbid but I'm also working on myself to not try to wish myself into another time in my life. My life is this moment, this minute in fact. I wonder if the authors of all the "Lars is evil" words about the bass guitar in the "Justice" mix understand that their words are not going to change the album they own or that I own, for that matter. It's just not going to happen.

On a related note, Metallica are playing in Chicago on Saturday, August 1, 2015, but it's sold out. Damn!

Smug

I am not being smug when I link to this article about Bowe Bergdahl, the US soldier that, months ago, was traded for 5 Taliban members. While I know I posted a lot of links about the whole "Duck Dynasty" controversy, I don't have the same attachment to Bergdahl. I remember thinking that it was good to do what the United States could do to get one of our armed forces 'back' mainly because I know I wouldn't last a day in any armed forces basic training - I know I've mentioned that elsewhere. My perspective is firmly rooted in this phrase from the article - "it would have been irresponsible to leave a man behind" - because while I don't have firsthand knowledge of basic training, I have seen enough minutes of various military documentaries - and no, "G.I. Jane" and "MASH" are not documentaries - about military life. In the Big Picture, should we be negotiating with terrorists? No, of course not. In the Small Picture, it wasn't about the Big Picture - it was about a soldier. I know I have zero credibility about the subjects of the military and what makes the United States "powerful" or "weak" on the world stage. Maybe I shouldn't have even wrote a single word about Bowe Bergdahl. After all, I have not walked a single step in his shoes. See, I don't even know if the military - ever - wear shoes or if they always wear boots.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

OC Turns 5

This is *precisely* why I do not only watch Fox or only watch MSNBC to gather information about the United States and its many issues. It would be like listening only to Jason Newsted's bass guitar tracks on "And Justice for All" and determining that Metallica is a terrible band. It's not the whole picture. Thus, on the 5th birthday of ObamaCare, conservative site politicaloutcast.com posted these articles with their typical "Obama can do nothing right" theory in full view for the reader to see.
On the same day, MSNBC posted this article about ObamaCare and, of course, it is just one of many articles on the site that are tagged with Affordable Care Act. I'm just pointing out that the articles exist, not that I agree or disagree with the content within the articles. And I will say this in all sincerity. Reading personal stories, like the following, are fascinating:
If it weren't for Obama's health care plan, my daughter might be dead today. She is just 21. She was kicked off of our family health care plan as soon as she turned 19. With pre existing conditions, I couldn't find any health insurance company willing to cover her. The medications she needed were so expensive we were borrowing to buy them. Then when we had to take her to the doctor for prescriptions renewal, the office visit was more than $200.00. Because our income was just about $20.00 more than allowed, she didn't qualify for any government help. We were desperate and I was so sick with worry I couldn't sleep at night. My husband as well, and I worried about his heart since he has a health problem. Then Obama Care came and my husband's employer put her back into our health care plan. Our premiums increased slightly, about $15.00 a week deducted to cover her. But the cost was minimal considering what would have happened without Obamacare. All I can say is, people need to stop listening the lies from the right and actually look at the plan. I understand that most people don't like the idea of being forced to have health care plans. But I think something can be done to fix a few of the least popular portions of the plan without throwing the whole thing out! [source]
And, tying it in with my post yesterday about human beings disagreeing with each other, are there not always two sides to a story, just as there are two sides of a coin?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Admirable Intentions

Given that you have a Word document and have several sentences highlighted and want to have a second Word document with only those sentences that are highlighted, how would you do it? This article attempts to work through the mechanics of accomplishing this task. The article first describes a manual process for doing this, almost immediately dismisses it as being a tedious process. The article then offers a slightly more automated approach, but as I read it, I thought, "There has to be an easier way."

I haven't found it yet, but I am sure that there has to be an easier way.

Against

While not directly stating this point, what I take away from this interesting article about the Catholic church is that when the Pope, a human being, makes a choice, it's not a given that all other human beings will agree with that choice, even the members of the Catholic church. Freewill, that blessing and curse that I believe God gave us, is never free - there's always a price. By far, the best example of freewill is when Jesus chose to be crucified. I wish I could take credit for that idea but I can't. I heard a homily or read some article recently that gave me this idea and since then, I've been meditating sporadically about it. There's this burning and unquenchable idea in my head that Jesus realizing choice is the most significant part of the Easter season. It's the question that I wrestle with daily - choose to do God's will or choose to not do God's will. Jesus had the exact same choice about his crucifixion. He must have thought, at some point, either I sneak out of this garden because I know those soldiers are coming for me or after I am nailed to a cross, which is really going to hurt A LOT, I die. Unfortunately, I don't have a profound answer to the question, "Is the article about the Pope's decision fair and balanced or slighted in order to reinforce the author's point?" Only the readers of the article can choose. Freewill strikes again. 

To Live in Louie

If I lived in St. Louis, I could at least audition with a band that needs a drummer. Here's the ad:

Hello, We Are looking for a drummer that like to play 70'classic rock ,80's metal/hair /90's metal /00's Covers. We are looking for a dependable person to join the three of us. We are two guitars ,one bass .we are ages from 23 to 27 . Your age does not matter just as long you are mature and drama free , have your own gear and good transport . We try to play once a week and we do a extra practice out at a local open mic. so far we are close to playing out once to 2 times a weekend , our plan at lest.

Of the words above, "at lest" is the one I am barely able to forgive, even for a Craigslist ad. I am glad, though, I kept reading because I wanted the band to be in my area so that I could play drums for the songs on their set list:
  1. You Shook Me All Night Long AC/DC
  2. Big Balls AC/DC
  3. Thunderstruck AC/DC
  4. Man In The Box Alice In Chains
  5. Come Together The Beatles
  6. War Pigs Black Sabbath
  7. Paranoid Black Sabbath
  8. Iron Man Black Sabbath
  9. Knocking' on Heaven's Door Bob Dylan
  10. Sunshine Of Your Love Cream
  11. Brain Stew Green Day
  12. Breaking The Law Judas Priest
  13. My Own Worst Enemy Lit
  14. Rock Star Nickelback
  15. About A Girl Nirvana
  16. Wish You Were Here Pink Floyd
  17. Every Rose Has Its Thorn Poison
  18. Killing in the Name Rage Against The Machine
  19. Blitzkrieg Bop The Ramones
  20. 18 & Life Skid Row
  21. Born To Be Wild Steppenwolf
  22. Stranglehold Ted Nugent
  23. Seven Nation Army The White Stripes
  24. Kryptonite 3 Doors Down
Other than the Ted Nugent tune, this sounds like an Ideal Band type set list.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Talent

I can't sing, but Chester can.

Theory

I have not wrote a lot about this season of The Walking Dead, so here's
--------
WAIT WAIT WAIT!!!! Do not click the link if you didn't see last night's episode
--------
an article about it.

Dangerous Commercials

The dangerous part of my Monday nights is when there is filler on Monday Night Raw. I was just watching thisthis.

Quoting Cubs Fans

Just wait until next year. Next year, the pieces on the Iowa Hawkeye men's basketball team will fit tight enough to move the program further than this year. That's if you buy into Rick Brown's thesis.

Raw is Six Voices

http://uproxx.com/prowrestling/2015/03/do-you-think-wwe-raw-is-exhausting-hey-so-does-michael-cole/

Every so often, I read a story that goes behind the scenes to reveal the inner workings of professional wrestling. I don't remember when it was revealed to me that the show I watch on Monday nights is a "show" that a creative writer prepares for the WWE wrestlers a script.

What blows my mind is the way a wrestler looks dead straight into the camera and convinces me that his words are not actually a set of lines that are recited. Sure, I don't buy every swamp in Arizona, but other times, I have purchased the swamp and am ecstatic about it.

More Justice

The perspective of the sound engineer and his opinion of Lars Ulrich will do nothing to squelch the trolls that post negative comments about him. http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/lars-ulrich-is-to-blame-for-lack-of-bass-on-metallicas-and-justice-for-all-album-mixing-engineer/

One Season Ends While Another Season Continues

Good and bad news in the state of Iowa as far as college athletics.

First, the Iowa men's basketball team got bounced out of the arena in Seattle by Gonzaga in an embarrassing 19 point blowout. It's kind of okay because I picked Gonzaga in my NCAA pool.

Second, the Iowa women's basketball team bounced Miami out of Carver-Hawkeye Arena with their decisive victory yesterday. They are going to the Sweet 16.

Third, and finally, the UNI men's basketball team were defeated last night to end their season.

I'll hold off predictions for next season until the Iowa women's team ends their season.

It Begins


Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas announces he is seeking the Republican nomination for president in 2016.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Regarding Memories

As I mentioned, this past weekend was spent in Dubuque with the Mount Mercy College group. On Friday night, after the Iowa game, we went to the http://www.eroneldbq.com/ and then to the Rainbow Lounge because - this is a funny story - one of the girls we all knew in college got married in Dubuque and the last time all of us were in downtown Dubuque, we spent at least part of the night at the Rainbow Lounge singing karaoke. Thus, when the Rainbow Lounge was spotted, it became our next destination.

On Saturday, after eating breakfast in the hotel restaurant, the women went shopping while Brad, Jeff, Mark, Kevin & I went to find a bar to watch NCAA basketball. We spent our day sitting at the bar in the Shot Tower in downtown Dubuque, conversing with each other about life's ups and downs and watching the basketball game. At night, before we went to Vinny Vanucchi's for supper, this picture was taken:
Back row: Kevin, Mark, Jeff, Me, Brad
Front row: Nancy, LuAnn, Karen B, Karen, Denise

After supper, we boarded a shuttle to take us from the hotel to the Diamond Jo Casino's Mississippi Moon Bar for a 70s - 00s dance party. To be frank, the "dance party" made me want to go get some $1s because the girls they had dancing on stage looked like strippers with too many clothes. That said, I will always smile when I think about Irish Luck. 

And, yes, since it was at the casino, I played some hands of blackjack as well as donated some money in various slot machines. When I sat down at the blackjack table, I was in the first seat (meaning I was dealt my cards first). The first two hands were almost enough to make me get up and walk away as the dealer dealt himself two blackjacks in a row. I had played earlier and, from the initial $20 I started with, I had $5 which means after two hands, I was quickly down $10. Eventually, my luck got better and when I cashed out, I took $25 with me. I still lost $15 and, rounding up, $15 on various slot machines so I didn't do all that awesome.

Backup Complete

Although I found myself frantically coding DOS batch files until the last possible moment, I was able to kick off a bunch of them on Friday afternoon. We were leaving for the Mount Mercy College winter campout in Dubuque and despite best laid plans to leave at 4 PM, we didn't actually get on the road until closer to 4:30. In the Big Picture, it worked out fine - we got to the hotel around 6 PM and were able to sit down in the hotel bar and watch the Iowa Hawkeyes win their first round NCAA game - their next game is today (Sunday, 3/21) in about one hour (6:10 PM).

The following screen capture shows the log files that were created as part of the DOS batch files that I ran. It shows that I began the backup around 4:16 PM and that the last log file was created at 10:31 PM. That means, to make a backup of my music collection, I need around 6 hours, 15 minutes.




I am sending an email in reply to this ad - I hope I can work something out to do it!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Praise for Destroyer

I own zero songs that were recorded by Lordi but, judging by what "Mr. Lordi" says about KISS' Destroyer release, perhaps I need to touch base with Lordi and find out what their music sounds like. What could it hurt?

Success

Our brief vacation to Omaha, NE, was a success. I always enjoy spending time with Karen and the kids. The reality is that Megan will be a freshman at UNI this fall. It's a short 5 months away! Too soon, she will be moved into her dorm room and begin attending classes. At some point, she'll start thinking of Cedar Falls as her "home" because that's where she will be building her new life and meeting new people. There are only 5 short months left of our family dynamic being what it is now - with both Alex and Megan living in our house. Vividly, I remember what it was like to come home after my first year at Mount Mercy and, perhaps even more vividly, I remember that my relationship with my parents was never the same. Ever.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Moaning

I don't think I got any sleep last night. In the hotel, my son was my bed partner. He moans and grinds his teeth. He's going to the dentist soon as he may not have teeth when he is an adult.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

CD & DVD Blowout

From omaha > for sale > cds / dvds / vhs - by owner

Decided to sell my collection. All types of genres. Most will be $3 each but some rare and out of print and box sets. They will be priced accordingly. I will work with anyone on bulk purchases. I would even entertain offers on buying complete collection, may even be willing to do cash + trade offers, but no I will not let them go at $1 each. No lowballing. They are all originals with artwork and no duplicates. If there is something you want, ask if I have it. Contact me for time to come search through them. Thank you. These are pick up only! I do not deliver or ship and I take cash up front only!
I have approximately 1200 DVDs I'm selling. All originals with Artwork. Some are regular DVDs which start at $3 there are some Blu Ray and sets that will be priced accordingly but still cheap! Many types of movies! If you know the actual titles of the movies you want you can text them to me. I am willing to listen to offers for bulk purchases but no I won’t go $1 each! I am taking a loss on these as it is. These are already at a good price. Some are brand new still in plastic! Yes I built the shelves and they will be sold once the DVDs are gone. If you purchase the whole collection they can go with it! These are pick up only! I do not ship or deliver and I only take cash!



Trivia for the Day

We have a busy week and it's already Tuesday. Tonight, we will prepare for a brief vacation to the west - I'm off Wednesday & Thursday from work. As of now, we have no major plans for Friday so if that holds true, I plan to come in to work. However, if I come up with a reason to not go to work, such as to work on the scanning of pictures for Megan's graduation party slide show, I may not come back into work. I know, without a doubt, that I will be awake at 6 AM on Friday so it's just a matter of whether I am going to work on "work" stuff or "non-work" stuff. 

I also just found out why hospital scrubs are the color they are. Read this article and you shall know as well. That said, when Karen got out of the vehicle this AM, she was wearing scrubs, as required by a recently put in place policy. However, the scrubs she is required to wear are neither green nor blue.


Can I Sell You a K for Free?

I hope it is fixed soon, but to balance out the typos I pointed out in the NBC First Read newsletters, there was a typo in Erick Erickson's "Red State" newsletter this AM that led me to this article-


Update: The NBC First Read newsletter had issues with proofreading as well:



Saturday, March 14, 2015

Qualifications for being a Dumb Ass

While creating a playlist on youtube.com, it has to be given a name. You qualify as a dumb ass if you name a playlist "100 Greatest Metal Songs" and I only add 53 videos to it.

Grease

The ONLY way I can listen to ANY song on the Grease soundtrack....

Friday, March 13, 2015

Bump

Disappointing. PSU defeated Iowa in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. More details here:

Are they going to be in the NCAA tournament? I hope so and I also hope they win in the first round so that their season of achievements is not remembered for ending with two losses.

Hate

From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0lLaO5Ono8&noredirect=1, with the caption, "Still a better drummer than Lars Ulrich" comes this video.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

No Bayside in my Immediate Future

Really, it doesn't matter where Bayside plays after 4/1/2015 as they are all on the east coast and too far to drive. So, despite promising from the stage that they would "see you soon", Bayside's tour that starts on Saturday doesn't include Iowa.

Damn.


It is unfortunate that I can't see Bayside on this tour. While it's been a while since they've played it live, this remains my all-time favorite Bayside song:

Careful What You Ask For

Flat-out, I'm perplexed. There has been no shortage of citizens coming forward and saying that the death of Michael Brown is simply indicative of what it is like to live in Ferguson. Thus, when I received an email at 4:04 PM yesterday with this content, I wasn't surprised.

From Foxnews.com:
Tom Jackson, the chief of the Ferguson, Mo., police department, will resign next week after a federal probe alleged racial profiling and police targeting of African-Americans, the city council says, describing it as a 'mutual separation.'

More on this story: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/03/11/embattled-ferguson-police-chief-to-resign-sources-say/

I was surprised to receive an email today, at 1:18 AM, with this content:

2 police officers have been shot outside the police department in Ferguson, Mo. during protests that followed the resignation of the town's police chief Wednesday

For more on this story, visit http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/03/12/2-police-officers-reported-shot-outside-ferguson-police-department/

I don't know what is going on in Ferguson. I don't get it. If the police department is unfair and if the leader of that police department is resigning, why would there be a reason to protest? Aren't those same people who thought the leadership was not good and thought there should be a change actually getting what they wanted?

Drudging Up the Drums and Pizza Incident from 1990

To this day, I have never spoken to my father about the incident I describe in this post, but I thought about the incident described below this morning when I read the First Read from NBC News newsletter in my inbox.

To set context for the actual incident, I need to explain that I was a spoiled brat in college. I admit this freely - now - but at the time, I probably resisted the idea more than I should have. What happened was that when I was a sophomore in college, I was grounded for eating leftover pizza. I found this leftover pizza in my parent's refrigerator. But that wasn't my only crime. I had played my drums in their basement as well. Because I was a spoiled brat, I didn't have to pay for any of my college tuition. I also lived in a dorm room that was about a 10 minute drive from my parent's house - where my father still lives to this day. I had a routine that worked great for me. Except for socks and underwear, my mommy washed my clothes. I brought it home on a Monday or Tuesday and picked up my clean clothes on a Wednesday or Thursday. Since my Ludwig Vistalite drums were set up in the basement of my parent's house, I made it a point to either drop off or pick up my laundry when I knew I had at least a few minutes to sit down behind them and play. As I said, I was spoiled.

So, in that context, in the spring semester of 1990, I went to my parent's house to either drop off or pick up my laundry. I played drums for a bit and then realized I was hungry. I went upstairs and looked in the refrigerator. There was leftover frozen pizza. It looked good so I ate it. Then I went back up to my dorm. Early the next morning, my father called me. The only details I remember about that phone conversation are that I was in trouble and I needed to be home by 4:00 that day. During that conversation, I didn't think about or mention that I actually had a class until 4:00. After that class, I drove home - it was about a 10 minute drive from dorm to home. I remember that as I turned the door handle to walk into the house, I heard my father say, "I told him to be home by 4:00."

The gist of the situation was that my brother had gotten in trouble for something - I don't even remember for what - and as he was getting reprimanded, he threw me under the bus by defending his actions by stating that I had been home playing drums and eating pizza. The "eating pizza" phrase is what had made my father upset with me. In an emotional tone of voice, he pointed out that he was already paying for me to eat up in the college cafeteria and that if I was then coming home and eating, it was like throwing money out the window. As he made that point, he got up from his chair, opened our sliding glass back door, opened up his wallet, extracted some dollars, and threw them out the window.

Because of this episode, eating leftover frozen pizza, I was grounded from using the car I was driving at the time. At the end of our conversation, I began to walk back up to college. I had a class at 5:20 and when I started walking, it was around 5:00. After a few yards of walking, I realized I would never be able to walk back to my dorm and still make it to class so I turned around and asked if I could have a ride back up to school because I had class.

My father got up and we drove up to my dorm. It was on Glass Road, going down the big hill by the Northwood Apartments, when I mustered up the nerve to speak. I told my father that it didn't do any good to yell at me. Without hardly any pause, he replied, "When I don't, you don't listen." Every time I am in Cedar Rapids and drive down that hill, I think about that conversation and his words to me that day.

All of this is to provide context for the latest development in politics. It is relevant because adults are acting like my brother did when he was being reprimanded. Instead of taking responsibility for his actions, he pointed at me and said, "What about what he did? Why am I the only one getting in trouble?" In my First Read from NBC News newsletter, I read this:

Two wrongs don't make a right
The two big political stories over the past week -- Hillary's emails and that Iran letter -- have led to partisans saying, "Well, the other side does it, too!!!" as one of us recently noted in a Facebook post. Case in point: Hillary Clinton's defenders have argued that Jeb Bush has his own private server, and that Scott Walker had his own email system in Wisconsin. But do those practices mean that Clinton's personal email use is OK? The other example: Republicans contend that the GOP's letter to Iran's leaders is justified because Nancy Pelosi went to Syria in 2007, and because ex-Rep. David Bonior went to Baghdad in 2002 to protest in the impending Iraq war. But when did two wrongs make a right? If you criticized said behavior in the past, you can't turn around and use it to justify your current behavior. It's no wonder that 90% of the country thinks Washington is looking out for its own partisan interest.

While it's too early to describe how the political turmoil is going to play out, the epilogue to being grounded for eating pizza is that on Friday of that week, there was a message from my father on my answering machine. As I've described previously, I had an answering machine that used a cassette and I routinely dubbed my messages onto a separate cassette for preservation so if I were to find the cassette in my boxes of cassettes and listen to it, I would hear my father say that my car was up in the parking lot of the Hennessy building and that I could do with it what I want. The next message was from my mother who wanted to be sure that I had gotten the message about my car from my father and wondered if I could call to confirm that I had. I sometimes wonder what the conversation between my parents was like immediately preceding my father calling and leaving that message. As I said at the beginning of this post, I've never asked. I don't think it really matters.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

More or Less

In what has become a weekly ritual, last night (Tuesday, 3/10/2015) I read the Sunday (3/8/2015) edition of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. I do not do this because I want to read old news. Instead, our weekly garbage & recycling pickup day is Wednesday so if I don't read the paper and put it in the recycling bin, it will sit in my recycling bin for an extra week. Of course, no, nothing is hurt - living or non-living - by it sitting in the recycle bin in the garage for an extra week. Of the articles I read last night, the one that has me really thinking about my technical writer career is this one about content. While the article doesn't mention technical writing in the article, I agreed with the message.

In fact, one of the driving initiatives with our "next generation" of software for our "next generation" of documentation was that we don't need to tell the user to click a button with the label "Add" when the task they are completing is called "Adding a Widget." We approached our documentation with the idea that the User Interface (UI) and the documentation work together, not as islands in the same ocean. While that was a noble idea, the feedback we have thus far received from our users is that without explicit step-by-step instructions (including a step to "click Add" in a procedure), the documentation isn't helpful.

Which brings me back to the article. My aim is to create content that will help the user complete a task. The common scenario that I keep in my head is that Suzy Clerk is trying to complete a task that she thought she knew how to do but when she got into the system to actually do it, she couldn't remember something - it doesn't matter what it is - so she went to the user guide (what my department writes) to get assistance. If she gets to the place in the user guide that is about the task she's trying to complete and the information she finds is helpful, then our job is a success. If she gets to that place and the only information she finds is unhelpful, then we are not successful. If the content I write / create is driven by the single goal - to help Suzy Clerk - then I don't really care if there is a lot of content or if it is sparse. That said, throwing words into the content like "simply" (as mentioned in this post) must be questioned. In fact, as I write, I question whether if each and every word helps Suzy Clerk.

I hope I've made her a satisfied woman. <grin>

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Alleviate Panic While Reducing Credibility

This article takes a jab at using the word "simply" when used in instructions - do you know how many times I tried to rewrite "in instructions" because it sounds so awkward in my brain?!? - for accomplishing technical tasks. It made me go out to the documentation I am associated with on a daily basis and search for the word.

More Details

I can't get on board the excitement train. Yes, Metallica re-releasing their demo "No Life Till Leather" on cassette on April 18th as part of the 2015 edition of Record Store Day should be exciting, but it would be even more exciting if they stuck on a demo (or two) of the material they are writing now. After all, "No Life Till Leather" came out prior to "Kill 'em All" so why not be non-nostalgic and release a cassette of songs no one has heard previously? That would be Metallica doing something crazy. Yet, after reading countless interviews over the years with Lars Ulrich, I am guessing that when he describes that demo from 1982 as "effortless", it's an indication of where his head is at when it comes to the new material. Maybe he feels that some of the new material is too calculated or too cerebral.

Personally, I can't imagine the pressure the four members of Metallica must be feeling. They are scrutinized for every thing they say or do; the haters are always waiting for the next reason to badmouth Lars' drumming ability or James' voice or Kirk's guitar tone or Robert's walking around the stage in a crouched position. As a band, they are criticized (still) for the Napster thing, for working with Bob Rock, for St. Anger, & for recording "Lulu" with Lou Reed.

How do they win?

If the next release has material that is even vaguely close to sounding like "Master of Puppets", they'll be accused of pandering to their fans that have been with them since 1986ish. If the new release has material that is even vaguely close to sounding like "St. Anger" or "Load" or "Re-Load", all the hatred that has been spewed about those releases will be drudged up.

What does it even mean to win?

Perhaps the best part of the criticisms that are thrown at Metallica, though, is that they are corporate sellouts - that they just want to live in the past and not write new material. How the hell is that different from any band at any level? I would love to think that they perk of recording classic albums is that you don't, really, have to go and record new classic albums because the set list is already full. Over time, songs have dropped out of the set list because there are new songs to replace old ones. The day that Metallica doesn't play "their classics" is the day there is a fan riot. Imagine going to a Metallica concert and not hearing "Creeping Death" or "For Whom the Bell Tolls" or "Master of Puppets" or "One" or "Enter Sandman" or "Nothing Else Matters"? That's crazy talk.

Yet, I argue that if Metallica does continue creating albums that are extraordinary, that crazy talk may become a reality. Already, they have dropped what used to be a given in the set list - "Harvester of Sorrow" - in favor of a tune like "The Memory Remains" or even "Fuel." At what point does Metallica think to themselves, "Aren't we done writing new material? Isn't the set list full? What songs are we going to can't play the new songs because we would have to do a 2 hour set, take a 30 minute break and then do another 2 hour set." That's simply not feasible. The other option is to do a two night stand in cities, but just how practical is that? I dread the day when Metallica is only playing concerts in LA, Chicago, and New York. They built their following by touring relentlessly and continuously and already fans are complaining when they are playing more shows in Europe and South America than they are in the USA. Personally, I'm okay with that - I'd love to have the opportunity to go to another country and play music - but I get where the negativity is coming from when I read those types of comments.

The bottom line is that Metallica can't win by any definition of the word win - there's no way. It is in a genuine pickle. They can't run forward or they are criticized; they can't stay where they are or they're criticized. Is it a time in their career when they simply pick the lesser of two evils? If they choose to go that route, which is the lesser evil? That is up to them.