Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Call it a Wrapper

The end of 2008 is upon me like a wet blanket.

This year was pretty good for me. There were a lot of ups and downs. One of the ups was seeing Rush in May. That rocked. Another up was getting some extra freelance moonlighting technical writing assignments. I am uncertain if they will be repeat customers but I hope they will be in 2009. I also got to mow the neighbor's yard. Of course, one of the downs is that all that extra $ was used for one thing or another. It doesn't really matter. Another sad thing is the disappointing losses Alex's Dudes basketball team went through.

Musically, I am still entrenched in Somehow Hollow, Spitalfield, Ten Foot Pole, and Metallica. Count the Stars also got a lot of listens. I liked the new Offspring and the new Puddle of Mudd. I liked the new Bayside release and I also liked Death Cab for Cutie. I also got a Who DVD and listened to more of their material than I ever have before. I'm not rushing out to buy their releases, but I probably have a deeper understanding as to why Keith Moon is considered such a legendary drummer. On the opposite end, I heard a lot of crappy death bands that couldn't play a decent riff if they were taught it.

2009 looks to be a good year for me. I am hopeful that I will continue to be happy at work and make good decisions there. I am hopeful that I will actually get to do some tech writing the first week of January. I have about 8 weeks stockpiled up and I think my next cut is going to be early February so there's not a lot of time to do a lot of things. I just have to make the best of it.

So with that, and a glasses prescription to be filled tomorrow, I bid farewell to 2008. No crazy plans tomorrow night, which is kind of strange.

Best website of the year still is: http://www.freearcade.com/SuperCrazyGuitarManiacDeluxe3.flash/SuperCrazyGuitarManiacDeluxe3.html

Without You...

I don't know how the heck to do part of my job. This started a week ago. I still don't have a solution and it's really bugging me. I mean, I should be able to figure this out and I *can't* do it. I can't ask our resident gurus to help b/c they're tied up with a hot project. I finally found "Franklin Rogers" and he wants to charge $250 to do the work. I don't begrudge him at all - it is his job to do the type of work I need done but I can't see our company paying for it. I wish they would, though, because then I wouldn't have to mess with it.

However, at my employer, everyone is seen as invincible. We need a product to be able to repel Kryptonite, be able to never sleep, and be able to be 100% bug free. We are expected to be invincible. Damnit, I'm human. I am. I am good at what I do but get me into an area that is unfamiliar to me and without a lot of guidance and I feel insecure and anything but invincible.

Here is my conversation with Franklin, the consultant. It is in reverse chronological order so read from the bottom up, if you want it to make sense.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Franklin Rogers
> Sent: Tuesday, December 30, 2008 1:06 PM
> To: Jerry Rice
> Subject: RE: Administrator: MSI
> Hi Jerry,
> You can also take a look at
> http://www.instedit.com/
> It is better than ORCA.
> I also would like to mention that our consulting rates start with
> $125/hr with a minimum of 2 hrs purchase.
> If you would like our assistance further, I can take a look at your
> MSI and make the necessary recommendations/adjustments to resolve your
> issues.
> Thanks.
> Franklin
> Quoting Jerry Rice
> > I am using Orca. I was looking @ http://dennisbareis.com/makemsi.htm
> > but, at this point, I don't think using that tool would solve my
> > issue.
> >
> > I have already released the setup.exe with the incorrect version
> > displaying to one client on CD last week. By tomorrow, I am to send
> > out three more CDs to 3 different clients. I would really REALLY
> > like to be able to go to my (cool) manager and say, "It's fixed.
> > Franklin figured out what to do and got it working."
> >
> >
> >
> > Network is still down but I will send you my Word doc when it's up.
> >
> > I really appreciate your willingness to dive into this issue. As I
> > said, this MSI stuff is not my primary focus as I'm normally writing
> > end-user and internal documentation. When things come up like this
> > that are outside of my normal job, I acknowledge my limits and
> > gladly take any help I can get!
> >
> > Jerry
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Franklin
> > Sent: Tuesday, December 30, 2008 9:05 AM
> > To: Jerry Rice
> > Subject: RE: Administrator: MSI
> >
> > Hi Jerry,
> >
> > Yes, the information you have explains how you can fix the problem
> > without making a change to the MSI files. However, since your MSI
> > files are embedded into your EXE file, you will probably not be able
> > to pass command line options to windows installer engine during
> > execution.
> >
> > Could you tell me which MSI development tool you are using? Then I may
> > be able to give you better instructions to resolve this problem.
> >
> > You can also send the screen shot when your network is back up again.
> >
> > Thanks.
> >
> > Franklin
> >
> > Quoting Jerry Rice
> >
> >> I have a Word doc that shows how the MSI is behaving. Unfortunately,
> >> our network is down right now. I'll send it to you when the network
> >> is back up.
> >>
> >> I was told the following:
> >>
> >> It sounds to me like you may have done a minor upgrade via a
> >> reinstall, but left off the "v" option for recaching the MSI file.
> >> If you do this, the MSI file in the cache is not updated and this
> >> would explain getting the old UI.
> >>
> >> Your command line should be "msiexec.exe /fvomus MINORUPGRADE.msi"
> >> OR "msiexec.exe /i MINORUPGRADE.msi REINSTALL=[featurelist ALL]
> >>
> >> Does that sound right to you? I am packaging the MSI within a .exe
> >> file so I'm not doing anything at a command line.
> >>
> >> Jerry
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From: Franklin Kaplan
> >> Sent: Tuesday, December 30, 2008 6:58 AM
> >> To: Jerry Rice
> >> Subject: RE: Administrator: MSI
> >>
> >> Hi Jerry,
> >>
> >> Because of the holiday season, I was not able to answer your
> >> question earlier.
> >>
> >> It sounds like your problem is related to ProductCode specified in
> >> both packages. If they both match, you may have the problem you
> >> described.
> >>
> >> If you still need assistance, we can arrange a conference call or
> >> use some desktop sharing program for me to see what you have
> >> developed so far.
> >>
> >> You can let me know. Happy new year!
> >>
> >> Regards,
> >>
> >> Franklin Kaplan
> >>
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From: Jerry Rice
> >> Sent: Wednesday, December 24, 2008 6:13 PM
> >> To:
> >> Subject: Administrator: MSI
> >>
> >> This is an enquiry e-mail via from:
> >> Jerry Rice
> >>
> >> Hi. I'm a Technical Writer at a software company in Cedar Rapids,
> >> IA. I have the job duty of creating a MSI for distribution.
> >>
> >> The problem is that updating a PC with a newer version of
> >> displays the previous version in the UI.
> >> Here are the symptoms of the problem.
> >> I start with a PC that does not have installed.
> >> I install the <01> version of .
> >> Then I upgrade the PC to the <02> version.
> >> The problem is that when you run the setup.exe for <02>, it
> >> displays <01> unless you first remove the <01> and then rerun
> >> the setup.exe. Then <02> displays.
> >>
> >> I can send you a doc that has a load of screen captures. The
> >> solution to run the setup.exe twice is not acceptable.
> >>
> >> I really need some help.
> >>
> >> Jerry Rice

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

There it Is

An opportunity to possibly do some moonlighting work for someone arose today. I indicated my interest but did not hear back. Maybe tomorrow, before the holidays kick in full swing, I'll hear something back regarding the potential client's interest. It would be a large project but one to keep me busy. On top of that, my regular moonlighting gig is going to ramp up again after the first of the year.

All of this after fretting a bit about Christmas spending. I bought Karen some stuff on Sunday. She thinks I haven't gone shopping for her so she went ahead and bought some things for herself "that you can give to me." I smirked and said, "You don't know everything you think you know."

The new snow blower came home from Cedar Rapids in the back of our truck tonight. Karen drove up to CR to pick up a present for a nephew at the Super Target and stopped downtown to pick up the snow blower. Lots of smoke so we're a bit concerned whether every thing is really okay with this new beast.

I work from 7:30-11:30 tomorrow and then I'm gone until 12/29. Then I have 12/29 and 12/30 to develop UI changes so that they can be released on 12/31. Then I'm gone again until 1/5. There is no shortage of things I could be doing at work. I stayed late tonight so that I could get my work done so that I can leave tomorrow @ 1130 and not having to stay later.

I need to bust out @ 11:30 so I can make it to North Liberty by 12, eat a quick sandwich with the kids, then load them into the van with me to take my drums to North Central Junior High for 4:00 Mass. The music minister is bringing a piece of carpet so I'm hoping my drums fit on it. The carpet has two purposes: one to not allow the metal claws in my bass drum 'feet' to scrape the gym floor and two, to hold me in place so I don't have the infamous "bass drum creep" while playing. I'm playing with the kids' orchestra - definitely the oldest in the group. We rehearsed on Sunday and it went really well. I don't know where she found all these kids but they listen to her.

It's 11:00 now. I'm tired. I went to Casey's to get gas for the snow blower but failed to remember to get garbage stickers for garbage day tomorrow. That means I need to leave my house by 6:30 so I can get stickers, apply them, and make it to CR by 7:30.

I don't plan to write from Balltown and my favorite mother-in-law's dial-up internet connection so this is it until Sunday.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Waited for the Third Strike to be Called....and it Delivered

I had three serious strikes called against me yesterday afternoon.

Strike 1

I was watching "Bruce Almighty" on USA. Before I divulge the misery of my day, how can you not get sucked into Jim Carrey doing stuff like this? Then, there's his work in the movie "Liar Liar" which is totally funny.

Back to Bruce Almighty, eh, which was to be over by 3:30, which would be perfect, as I would then have enough time to get ready to leave by 4-ish and we would not be late for 5:15 Mass.

Unfortunately, I got the urge to have one of my wife's cookies that are in the big freezer in the garage. I went out to the garage, got the cookies and, noticing the garage door was open, I hit the button to close it.

Make sure, if you have a truck with a topper that the topper is closed when you close the garage door. Otherwise, it may catch on the garage door and bend the bracket.

Of all the stupid things to do. Strike one.

The topper now does not line up correctly and will have to be taken to the topper place in West Branch to have them look at it. There's a slight possibility that one of my brothers-in-law or my father-in-law will have the bright idea that fixes it when we are in Balltown over Christmas.

Strike 2

If I look back to how my day started, I could easily call a strike before 7 AM. I had made an appt with Dave @ Linder Tire to look at putting the spare tire winch that my father-in-law found on our van as well as to investigate the drops of oil on our garage floor that are coming from the van.
We did not take it over Friday night so it had to be taken over Saturday AM. I said that I would walk home - it's a 10 minute walk and I've done it before - but my wife insisted getting up and going with me. Strike two occurred not on the ride over or on the way back. It occurred when Dave called to say that they had put the new spare tire winch on the van. The drops of oil, though, were because of a casket leak and it was going to run $300 to fix it. Right there - strike 2.
However, Dave said, it was a 4 hour job and would have to be done during the week, not today. Still, a $300 car bill around the holidays is a strike. It's awful.
Later, I was assigned the job of taking the kids to the rec center so Karen could wrap presents and so we decided to pick up the van on the way over. When I went in to pay my labor bill for looking at it ($68), I asked Dave more about what needed to be done. It's not a big deal, I can still drive the van. I asked if it could be done after Christmas. Dave replied that he was going to be gone from Christmas to New Year's so we should try to do it after New Year's. So at least it seemed like a partial strike. Maybe a delayed strike as sooner or later, $300 will hit me.

Strike 3

It should have been a relaxing Saturday night 5:15 Mass in the sense that I would allow God to take away all my everyday worries and to just take an hour to relax in His grace. Playing drums for him normally calms me and puts a serenity over my body as I hit the beat and with Judy, the Music Minister, playing piano, we sound good. Keith plays bass and he locks in as well so as a trio, we're sounding pretty good after playing together pretty much weekly since September. Tonight, we get through all our songs and are about to begin the last song. I start playing 4/4 time but... the piece isn't written in 4/4. Judy looks over her shoulder with this puzzled look, like what are you doing? Then I recall, oh. This song is in 3/4. So I picked up on the correct meter and kept playing. In itself, it's not a big deal but tripled with the day that I had and the way things had gone for prior to arriving at Mass, it was the big climax of a day I can only see as negative.

But moving on...

The day turned out okay, I guess. We stopped at Hy-Vee, got a pizza - which was coming out of the oven when we walked in so I asked to have it boxed and I'd take it home. It was truly ideal timing. We watched "Back to the Future Part II" and the kids caught on to the space time continuum and how 1985 didn't look like 1985 that they left and blah blah blibby blah. I attempted to stay awake and work on a schedule for getting all my work done - 8 weeks and that doesn't include projects that haven't arrived in QA yet, including the rewrite of the systems project I've been talking about for months - but that bored me since I didn't have any paperwork to look at - just a daunting calendar and no clear idea when stuff has to be done.

So I fell asleep and my wife fell asleep and the kids took themselves up to bed and I was in bed before our Christmas lights timer turned off the lights for the night @ 10. Kind of a boring Saturday night to cap off an exciting Saturday day.

Now, I need to get showered and go to 11 AM Mass. I have a noon rehearsal with the orchestra that is playing Christmas Eve so I told Judy I might as well come and play @ 11 AM Mass. Going to an extra Mass seems like the right thing to do, especially today when I look back on how much worse my day could have gone.

I could have snapped the entire door off the topper.
I could have had a $300 bill yesterday.
I could have continued playing in 4/4 for the entire duration of the 3/4 song.

It may not seem like luck was on my side and that's fine. I have hope that God was and He helped me through some of it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Six Pepsis later... Coors

Officially, I am calling it a day. I worked from home because of the bad roads between here and Cedar Rapids. I don't mind working from home. I do wish I had a bigger monitor than my 17" monitor. I consumed 6 cans of Pepsi today while I worked and now that work is done, I'm sipping a Coors Light. Alex took the neighbor boy home, Karen and Megan are coming back from Wal-Mart and it's peaceful in the house except for listening to The Sleeping's "Believe What We Tell You." I decided to not put in Count the Stars or Spitalfield or even Dexter Danger this afternoon. Instead, I went with Amino, The Sleeping, G-n-R's "Appetite for Destruction" and Tesla's "The Great Radio Controversy."

Listen to how awesome these drums sound:

Now, I'm going to beat my son in darts.

41 Sum and other Misteaks

Watch the next video and memorize the words because . . .

Now you can be your own vocalist!

Or just relish in how good these skins sound!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

No, I'm not moving to the West Coast but...

If I were, I would not be interested in this position:

I found the response to it hilarious:

Walked into Disaster and other Tales re: coming home from Work

It was an innocent question. "Are those new socks?"
It was an untruthful answer. "Yes."
"They don't look like new socks. They look dirty. Are they new socks?"
"So, you lied."
"No TV and no computer. We do not tolerate lying in this house."
That was Tuesday.
Today, Thursday, I call the kids. They have been let out early because of the upcoming snow storm.
"What are you doing?"
"Watching a movie."
"You were told no computer and no TV."
"But a movie isn't TV."
"What? How do you watch the movie?"
"With the DVD player."
I give her a 1/2 inch for imagination.

"No. Turn it off. You were told no TV and no computer."
"No. Listen to me. Turn it off. Now."
"But Dad I "
"No. Listen to me. I'm not going to argue with you."
"But I'm bored."

I NEVER told my parents I was bored when I was growing up. NEVER. Did you? I didn't think so...

"Bored?" I repeat. "Do you have the dishwasher emptied?"
"Then you're not bored. Go do that."
"But Dad."
"Dad I..."
"No. Turn it off."
"Can I talk?"
"No. I'm done talking to you about it."

I leave work. My wife calls me on my cell. "I'm out and about. Do you want me to pick up sandwiches at Wendy's for supper?"

"Whatever. I can make something when I get home." More husband-wife chatter until I say, "Did Megan tell you she was watching a movie?"
More chatter. Hang up. A couple of minutes later, she calls back. "The pop in the garage fridge is frozen."

I get home and a can of Diet Pepsi has exploded. There is frozen pop every where inside. I open the door to the house and nearly stumble over their pile of boots on the rug. I usher the kids outside to help me. The shelves, I tell them, need to go downstairs to the bathroom shower so they can thaw.

My wife comes home. I'm kneeling with a bucket of water and a towel, wiping out the fridge. "Did one explode?" she asks.

Later, I go inside, we sit down for supper (Wendy's) and almost immediately after grace, I look at my daughter. I say, "I want to bring this up. You were told no PC and no TV." I went on to talk about listening when being told something. I said "As long as you live in this house, you will live under our rules. When you're in college, do what you want, but in this house, if you are told to do something, you do it." It wasn't only the disobedience on the phone - there were other poor choices. Among the topics discussed at supper:
unhealthy snacks
not studying for a test tomorrow
not finishing putting away the dishes from the dishwasher.
Both kids made poor choices. It was very frustrating.

There was an ultimatum laid out tonight. We are giving the kids through January to get their act together. If they don't have their act together, we will find an after school daycare for them. They need to make better choices.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Spoilin' For a Fight & the Dudes are Done

http://www.wrestlingnewsworld.com/tna-spoilers/tna-impact-taping-results-1-08-spoilers.php reveals what you will see on TNA Impact in January 2009.

The Dudes played their final game for the Fall session tonight. We had a 7 point lead before watching it crumble into a 24-23 defeat. The team we played, Tipton, had not won a single game in the session but they sure beat us tonight. Holy cow. I was the only coach so if anyone is to blame, it is me. I put in our two tallest kids at the same time to try and secure more rebounds and that made us weaker other times. We missed some hangers that just didn't go our way. We resume practice in January for the Spring session and hopefully are able to build upon what we accomplished in the fall session. I still don't know how you go from 7 up to 1 down.

It's 11:49 - and I'm hitting the sack.

America ROCKS

America rocks because we don’t have a govt like this:

China Says It Has Right to Block Some Web Sites
China's foreign ministry said on Tuesday the country was within its rights to block websites with content illegal under Chinese law, including websites that referred to China and Taiwan as two separate countries. Read this story

That just doesn't seem right to me.

I couldn't find "The Army-Navy Game," which is described as here as:

The Army-Navy Game"
gs: Alan Manson [ Colonel Hersh ], David Doyle, Tom Richards, John A. Zee [ Sturner ], Sheila Lauritsen [ Nurse Hardy ]. Bobbie Mitchell [ Nurse Mason ]
rc: Klinger, Mulcahy, Ugly John

The camp tunes into the Army/Navy football game, only to be shelled and have an unexploded bomb land in the middle of the compound. They ring around trying to identify the bomb, and the camp prepares for the worst. Hawkeye and Trapper are left the task of following instructions to disarm the bomb, which turns out to be full of propaganda leaflets from the CIA.

b: 25 Feb 73 pc: J322 w: Sid Dorfman. s: McLean Stevenson d: Gene Reynolds

NOTE: In this episode Henry's wife is called Mildred, although at most times she is Lorraine, and Potter's wife will be called Mildred. This is the first of 4 appearances by Sheila Lauritsen as various Nurses. The last will be episode 41. This is the first of 15 appearances by Bobbie Mitchell, as various Nurses. The last will be episode 101.

That is a great episode of sitcom TV.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Destination: Algona, Iowa

That crow is tasting mighty fine. I'm glad to eat it. After all my complaining and whining about concerts not coming to my area - and the demise of Waterstock in Des Moines - I about fell out of my chair when I started reading about Rock Gone Wild - a music festival in IOWA - that is going to have one of my favorite bands of all time - Dangerous Toys - included in the lineup. Where is Algona, Iowa? Don't feel bad. It's only 3 hours 33 minutes or 214.60 miles.

My daughter just came downstairs and it is 8:00 (her bedtime) so I may write later.

It's 10:06. I got sucked into watching "Independence Day." That movie always seems to have a negative connotation - that it was overly dramatic and cliche and all these bad things, but I like it.
Work was okay today. I have a lot of work to do tomorrow but I made good progress today. I wouldn't say I'm behind schedule because I can't burn a CD until the cut is made and, as of today, the cut hasn't been made. I know that I have until 3:00 on Monday, 12/22, to have the CDs in the mail. What happens between now and then is likely to be chaos. Pure chaos.

So, back to Rock Gone Wild. Here is the line-up as of now: http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=383689151. The following bands are listed on the website as being a part of this 4 day concert:

Here's the prices: http://www.rockgonewild.com/tickets/types.php

I can't find anything on a lineup for Rocklahoma 2009 or Memphis in May 2009 - http://www.thebealestreetmusicfestival.com/bealestreetmusicfestivallineup.htm - which I will not be attending. It is May 1-3, 2009, and my nephew is receiving his first Holy Communion in Chicagoland so I'll be attending that event.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

That didn't GO the Way I wanted it to GONE & Odds

First, my review of the Odds (or New Odds) is here.

So... Survivor. I have Sugar in my pool. There's Susie and Bob and Sugar. So, I'm in the final 3. I have a 33% chance of winning the office pool and putting some $ in my pocket. There are seven people that vote for the final winner. How many votes does Sugar get?



I would have done better had I had someone who didn't even get to the final 3. NOTHING to show for my entry fee into the pool. What a load of crap. I mean, not a single person thought Sugar deserved $1,000,000. Hmmph. I did.

The other thing that I was wondering about is what would happen at the WWE PPV tonight. Here are the results:
Dark John Morrison and The Miz defeated Jesse and Festus Tag team match
1 Vladimir Kozlov defeated Matt Hardy Singles match
2 CM Punk defeated Rey Mysterio Singles match for a future Intercontinental Championship match
3 Finlay defeated Mark Henry (with Tony Atlas) Belfast Brawl
4 Batista defeated Randy Orton (with Cody Rhodes and Manu) Singles match
5 Maria, Kelly Kelly, Mickie James and Michelle McCool defeated Maryse, Jillian Hall, Victoria and Natalya Eight-Diva Santa's Little Helper tag team match
6 John Cena (c) defeated Chris Jericho Singles match for the World Heavyweight Championship
7 Jeff Hardy defeated Edge (c) and Triple H Triple Threat match for the WWE Championship
(c) - refers to the champion(s) heading into the match

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Venting to Relieve the PRESSURE Building

As you may guess, if you've been paying attention to this blog, it was another crazy week at work. I really didn't feel like sitting in front of a PC after sitting in front of one all day when I got home so that is my explanation for not writing more frequently. There is no limit to the amount of things I need to get done between now and the end of the year. There is no slowdown. If anything, things are going to escalate to a lot of work needing to be completed in a short amount of time.

I am, as you may recall, trying to complete two full-time jobs when I am work. My core position is Technical Writer. By itself, that position would keep me busy forever. My secondary position is creating the Windows-based user interface. When my friend BSS left, I inherited his position.

This week, I was informed that it is very critical to the business that I am at my desk, ready to work @ 8 AM and that it is equally critical to not quit working until 5 at night. I recalled how, in 1992-1995, I worked at a company doing temporary data entry. That position had no benefits and was not considered "professional" by the company, even though the decisions that I made directly impacted the company reaching their contractual obligations. I worked at that job from 7:30-4:30. Our work day was 7.5 hours and you were expected to work those 37.5 hours a week. We were told that we had to be in our chairs at 7:30 and could not walk out the door until 4:30. We'd lne up and as soon as the second hand hit the 12, we were gone.

That same idea is now prevalent at my work. From a business standpoint, I understand it. There are a lot of things that must get done and, in order to do that, we, as a company, must put in the extra time.

From a human relations standpoint, I think it is a very poor choice. I think that if we are being trusted to be professionals and to use our professional judgment, we should not be treated as non-professionals. It seems to matter not that
I am at work at 7:30 every day,
I dialed in to work last Sunday from home and worked 4 hours (11-2 and then from 11-12),
I rarely take a full hour for lunch and with the weather so cold, I don't take my two 15 minute breaks.

None of those things "count" except in that I am getting my work done and that I am doing what I think needs to be done to get my work done.

This is my personal belief. IF you can get your work done and IF you have been putting in extra time and IF you are meeting your deadlines, then when you have to leave 15 minutes early to take your daughter to an eye appointment, you should not feel guilty. You shouldn't have to fill in a piece of paper to say "I have to leave 15 minutes early." That is my situation on Tuesday.

This blog has traced how I have dialed in to work on my own time to check things and to get things done by deadlines. I have come to the conclusion that, no matter how hard I try, I am hopelessly addicted to my work. Honestly, I think about what I need to get done and what I don't have done and what would make me get my work done. Right now, at work, I have immense things that have to get done in order to meet an insane deadline. And I will meet my deadline, as it is not an option to miss it, because I don't miss my deadlines. It's not an option. Failure to meet my deadline is just not going to happen. It can't happen. There's no way.

This deadline is immensely critical to the company. I believe that. I also believe that someone decided that we need to ship the early release of our next version of software on Monday, 12/22, so that our client can have these system changes that they want to implement prior to the beginning of the year. That same someone has allowed deadlines prior to mine to slip.

The other factor is that this early release of the software getting out the door is only 1 of about 5 hot projects that also have to be sent out the door.
In order to make this deadline, this is my insane schedule:

12/15 - Monday - development / @ night - piano lessons. I will probably have to dial in to work to get more development done.

12/16 - Tuesday - development/ @ night - eye doctor appt. I will probably have to dial in to work to get more development done.

12/17 - Wednesday - testing/ @ night - piano lessons and 8:30 Dudes final game

12/18 - Thursday - assembly of CDs, create install/ @ night - donate blood

12/19 - Friday - cut CDs, leave @ 11:30 / be @ Regina by noon when the kids get out of school (no bus service) and take Megan to her orthodontist appt.

12/20 - Saturday - take the van in to see if Dave @ Linder can put on the spare tire winch my father-in-law found @ a auto salvage yard in Dubuque and to investigate the oil dropping on my garage floor. Probably probably play @ 5:15 Mass

12/21 - Sunday - probably Christmas shop all day to get everyone's present purchased.

12/22 - Monday - package the CDs and get them out the door by 3 so that they arrive at the client's site in time. I will then, probably, try to get back to the 5 weeks of work sitting @ my desk, including creating a master HTML file for someone to create 59 new HTML files for the new systems I talked about previously. I also have to do some other stuff.

12/23 - Tuesday - I'd like to hope that I can spend the day immersed in doc changes.

12/24 - Wednesday - I work until noon, then am off until the following Monday.

Thursday 12/25, 12/26, 12, 27, through Sunday 12/28 - we are going up to Balltown on Christmas Day and staying until 12/28.

Monday - 12/29 - dive into the new systems or work on my backlog of projects.

Tuesday - 12/30 - dive into the new systems or work on my backlog of projects.

Wednesday - 12/31 - dive into the new systems or work on my backlog of projects.

Thursday 1/1/09 - Sunday 1/4/09 - off

Monday - 1/5/09 - back to work. Hopefully, the new systems are in my department and I can dive into those deeper.

Beyond 1/5/09, I'm hoping to get somewhat back to normal - if that exists. There are oodles of doc changes to write and oodles of user interface changes to develop. I am weeks behind in my list of projects. There is that much work to do.

Final 4, Armageddon 2008, and Work

Sunday is a big day in my world for two reasons.

First of all, there is the finale of Survivor Gabon. This finale has special meaning to me and I will watch it. Why? At work, there is a Survivor pool that costs $ (I don't remember what I paid, but I think it was $5 - I just give my money to my friend Phil and consider it a donation> to get in. My co-workers and I draw names and if you have the name of the person that wins, you get the pot. I have gotten into these pools for Survivor and for Big Brother for a number of years. I actually won the Big Brother pool one time and I don't even watch the show! So, anyways, with Survivor Gabon, I am in the final four. The name I drew is Sugar, a pin-up model. I had no hope for her at the beginning of the season and I've missed a couple of episodes, due to someone scheduling music concerts at school on the last two Thursday nights - how rude - but according to http://www.cbs.com/primetime/survivor/recaps/1713/?season=17, I'm in the final 4, I have a 25% of winning the pot, no one expects Sugar to pull it off, but I'm cautiously becoming optimistic. We'll see what happens.

Secondly, there is another pro wrestling PPV on Sunday called Armageddon. You can read the Eric Cohen's predictions here. I haven't watched a live PPV in years and Sunday will be no different. I will say that I hope to read the results online Sunday night.

I anticipate being on the PC late at night on Sunday.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Brief Interlude...

Part III: More

Part II: The Party!

What's a party without a cake?

This is Cindy (we used to be neighbors) roasting me...

This is my father-in-law roasting me...

This is Mark, brother-in-law roasting me...

This is Mark, brother-in-law roasting me...

This is (from left: Jeff, Denise, and Brad) 1.5 of the 2 college friends couples that were there roasting me...

Part I: The Twist to the Gut...

How do you react when you see a typo in public? Do you really care or do you even notice that our acceptance of misspellings seems to expand daily?

On the Techwr-L list today, someone wrote :

*Santa Clause will be here on (dates).*
I informed both the manager and the cashier about the error, boldly taking out my pen and scratching out the trailing 'e' on one of the posters. How would you have reacted?

Someone replied:

Differently, but that's just because I have manners. Telling the manager about the misspelling was appropriate, I guess, since she may have been able to do something about it. I can't see any good reason, though, for telling the cashier, unless you just needed for her to know that you have no life.

Gleefully vandalizing the poster... Wow, I don't even know what to say to that.

When I see spelling and grammar errors, I try to imagine that they've been made by someone I care about, and then I react as I would to that person. I like doing it that way because no one is publicly embarrassed, no one's property gets defaced, and I don't end up looking like an asshole.

Wow. Harsh? My take on it is that I agree with the responder. I mean, the idea that you don't take glee in a tyop is a good thing - after all, we all make mistakes (only God is perfect and I'm not her).
Phil Rosenkranz chimed in with this hilarious story:
Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away... I worked for a Lumber Yard where the weekly sales advertisement included assorted sized paintbrushes. The sign was posted stating that we were selling
Ass. Brushes for 99 cents each.
And with that, I end part I of my post. I am going to post some pics of surprise party Friday night.

Monday, December 8, 2008


I was feeling like I had a lot to write about tonight. I was going to download some pictures of the surprise party on Friday night and post them here. I was going to write a long piece about working from 11-2 and then from 10-12 last night in order to get my work done. I was also going to write about my progress on getting more doc changes done so that I am ready to cut on Friday. I was even going to speculate on the reasoning behind holding a Catholic Holy Day Mass at a place that is not a church and how I felt about that. Finally, I was going to even write about how my wife, my son, and my daughter are all sick with some kind of bug and that I am glad I haven't been hit with it.

Instead, I'd like to briefly tell you about Nancy. Nancy was killed in a car accident on Sunday, per this website: http://tinyurl.com/5en7hl Nancy was involved in a group called CEW or Christian Experience Weekend. These are weekends that celebrate community and friendship and faith. We attended Mass at the Education Station. At the end of Mass, Father Helms announced Nancy's passing.

Those that knew her will be saddened but also acknowledge that she is in a better place.

Now I've written what I wanted to really write about this evening.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

And so it goes...

I wrote that it was my birthday on 12/4. I turned 39.

On Friday, we were to meet our friends, the Hills, at the AmericInn in Coralville. Paul Hill was to be bringing his family down for a weekend away from their home in Wisconsin and, supposedly, see some of his clients.

As it turned out, Paul had to stay in Milwaukee, WI, for a meeting.

Anyways. We arrive @ the hotel at about 7:15. As we're walking to the pool area to meet them, we pass by this open door. Inside the door are ...
  1. Dave and Cindy - our former neighbors and their two kids
  2. Debbie, Jessica, and Anthony - Debbie is our our former neighbors; Jessica is her daughter
  3. BSS - who I wrote about the other day
  4. my parents
  5. my in-laws, including my two brothers-in-law and all of my nieces and nephews
  6. Jenny and Colleen - our neighbors across the street
  7. Jenny - our neighbor across the street
  8. the four musicians from our Saturday night Mass music group
  9. two of the 4 couples in our college group

Later on, my manager and her husband showed up.

Surprise on me!

It was a good time. Karen had booked a suite so we stayed at the hotel. I hope to post some good pictures sometime soon.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


It's my 39th birthday today.

To celebrate, I will attempt to make progress on the remaining 3 projects that are to be released tomorrow.

Tonight, Alex has his school concert.

And ER is new.

I have submitted a review to DV but while I wait for it to fit into the schedule, I give you my frined Phil's perspective of Death Magnetic.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

That was a Scrimmage not worth a pile of beans and thanks but see ya...

It turns out that the team we were supposed to play tonight called and said that they couldn't make the drive from Tipton because of the roads. We ended up scrimmaging a team that we had beat previously. Tonight, no such luck. We lost 24-12 or something crazy like that. At 1/2 time, we had missed 18 shots.

And yes, "I Don't Wanna Stop" is current Ozzy. This is vintage Ozzy. The opening lyric "Finished with my woman because she couldn't help me with my mind" is brilliant.

The news came across late in the day. Layoffs at Adobe, the makers of RoboHelp, Acrobat, Dreamweaver, and Flash. Here are some links:



-----Original Message-----
From: John Hedtke
Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008 4:33 PM
To: techwr-l@lists.techwr-l.com
Subject: ****LAYOFFS AT ADOBE??????****
I've just heard that there are is a huge layoff going on today at Adobe. The rumor is that the entire San Diego office has been shut down, including the building itself. I've also heard that the Senior Product Evangelist for Flash/Flex/AIR has been laid off, along with a bunch of tech writers.

There's also a rumor of 10% general cross-the-board layoffs throughout the company.

Does anyone know anything further about this, please? This is really bad news both for Adobe and for the people who are getting laid off right before Xmas in this lousy economy. I am sorry to be hearing this.

Yours truly,

John Hedtke

Not to make light of the Adobe situation, but this is a great cover of the Judas Priest song "Painkiller."

Who is your real friend?
This really works...!
If you don't believe it, just try this experiment.
Put your dog and your wife in the trunk of the car for an hour.
When you open the trunk, which is really happy to see you??

I'm requesting of the new Nickelback DVD that has these songs on it:
Track Listing


Woke Up This Morning


Because Of You

Far Away

Never Again

Savin’ Me


Side Of A Bullet

How You Remind Me

Too Bad

Figured You Out

This is hilarious.
The info re: this video from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2MTAW59BXI is this:
Mark (Vocals), Ben (With Red Guitar), Fraser (With Black Guitar), Ralphy (Bass), Carey (Drums). We aren't a proper band or anything, we just put these covers together for shits and giggles. This is song 3 of our 4 song set. Sorry, we screwed up the ending pretty bad. The tambourine guy wasn't meant to be there.

Without a doubt, this is my favorite guitar riff of all time.

5 in 5 and more Lunacy Eruptions

I started the week with 4 projects all due on 12/5. Today, my manager gave me project #5 that has to be done by 12/5 for a demo on Monday. She told me that if she has to juggle, one of the projects - incidentally the one that hasn't been brought to the correct software environment for me to do my work - would slide past Friday in order to get this new 5th project done. I made more progress on one of the projects today and that felt good.
Tonight is our regular season final game for the Regina Dudes. We played the team we play tonight in our first game. In that game, we won. However, we have lost 3 of our last 3 games so things are not a given. We are 3-3 so I'm hoping to win tonight to make us above .500.
In other news, I FINALLY got the User Interface for 7 of our new systems that are arriving in my department on 12/31/08. I spent last night, from 9-11, marking the user interface up. It is 54 pages. There were simple things like correcting "email" (should be e-mail) and "fax" (should be FAX) as well as other larger questions like having five fields with the same first four words as the label. I suggested creating a group box with those four words as the group box name so that the actual field name is 1 word (or sometimes 2).
I listened to the Dance Club Massacre today. They suck.
Ozzy Osbourne is 60 today.

Monday, December 1, 2008

New Day Dawns and... it's looking the same to me

Another Monday comes and goes.
Drive north on I-380, go to work, write documentation, eat lunch, write more documentation, drive south on I-380, eat, talk to the wife and kids. Tonight, it was take Alex to piano lessons. He's trying to play less choppy and it's difficult to him. It's not easy for him to play flowing. It's more:

phrase 1 (pause) phrase 2 (pause) phrase 1 (pause) phrase 2 (pause)

when the music is written

phrase 1 phrase 2 phrase 1 phrase 2

with no pauses. He needs to practice more - that's the bottomline.

I wish I could show you screen captures of the user interface I have to work with this week. It's ugly. There were design decisions made that will allow our users to use a user-defined value as the title of a menu option as well as the actual menu option. That menu option is going to be in ALL CAPS but the rest of the UI is in Title Case. I understand the need for flexibility. We want to be flexible but, frankly, seeing some fields in ALL CAPS on the same screen as some fields being in Title Case just looks ugly to me. Normally, I use what is called a translation table to change ALL CAPS to Title Case. However, that is when the text is defined by my employer. In this instance, the text is user-defined so there is no way for me to guess what they want to call it. So, you end up with some ALL CAPS field labels and some Title Case labels. I did make decent progress on my work today. It's a challenge to have 4 different things going at the same time and to make enough of a dent in one to make it feel like I'm making progress. I did finish one project that has to be released on 12/5 so I only have 3 more to go. I don't know what I am going to do with the largest, which is essentially a new product. I don't know how I am going to do it.

In other words, it's going to be very interesting. At least as interesting as the instrumental version of Metallica's "Ride the Lightening."

Club Scene in JW

The video below is from a movie that was rated R by the MPAA. Viewer beware!