Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Inventory of the Conversion

Yesterday, I talked to my co-worker Jay about the continuing saga of being unable to retrieve my files. He used a phrase that I give him full credit for: "passion of the librarian". That's what really describes me. I want a massive collection and it's not just with CDs. I have a large collection of books. I have a large collection of cassettes. I have a large collection of journals and a large collection of songs I wrote, which I had painstakingly transcribed years ago that are now lost as they were on the 1 TB hard drive.  Crap.

Anyways, last night I took an inventory of what I have in front of me while watching "The Lincoln Lawyer" in the living room. I spent some time further analyzing the purchase I made in Indianapolis from Mitch. As the picture from Monday showed, there are 4 cases. I have now identified the 4 cases as A, B, C, and D, with a little white sticker and I have now counted the number of CDs in each case:
  • A has 82
  • B has 92
  • C has 195
  • D has 111
So, when added up, there are 480 CDs. I also noticed that I already have some of them, but a lot of them are new to my collection. Bands like The Smashing Pumpkins, The Cure, and Ben Folds Five are new to my collection so I look forward to listening to those bands.

I also spent some time with my existing spindles. I have 26 spindles that hold 100 CDs each.

I have approximately 760 CDs in my CD racks, but that number may be way off because as part of the conversion, I put some CDs on spindles after converting and I put some CDs back in their original case. I don't have a clear sense of the balance. I was originally just going to keep all CDs in their original case so I could find them quickly, but then I changed that and started making piles of empty CD cases because the CD was being placed on a spindle. I didn't do a good job of being organized during the previous conversion.

I have approximately 200 CDs that I had been working on that will require me to manually enter artist, album, and other identifying information, because most are unknown bands and their information is not available in the database that Windows Media Player uses.


So I'm going to start out with a guess of 4000 CDs to convert which may be totally on the mark or totally off the mark.

Notice that is the number of physical CDs, not the number of albums. The actual number of albums I have is going to be several thousand more than that because many CDs - at least 50? - are what I would call a 'data CD' that each have anywhere from 10 to 12 albums, but I don't have an accurate count.

I will say I feel somewhat lucky to have a list of my collection because of running the DOS batch file. The last time it ran successfully for the 1 TB drive that I was able to pull over to the 2 TB drive was on Thursday, 11/14/13. When I search for Directory of e:\music\ as a string of text, I find 6473 and to dig a bit deeper, of those 6473 matches, there are 154 matches for Directory of e:\music\Metallica.

I must admit that I considered quite seriously whether I wanted to create a separate blog simply for the conversion of this collection to MP3, but I decided against it because I figured that when I finished the conversion by, say, 1/1/2016, I would probably want to merge it back into this blog and it would turn into a mess. Instead, I will continue to tag the updates to the conversion so I can quickly locate all related posts. I am also going to not post daily updates of what my DOS batch file results are simply because I felt bored reading them and if I'm bored, I can't imagine what anyone else would think. I am more likely to do weekly posts and to create a separate tag, like "Conversion Project - Weekly Status" so I can take those numbers and pull them into a graph.

As I just mentioned, I am optimistically hoping to be done with this second go-round of the conversion by 1/1/2016 and I'm now trying to decide if I want to do additional prep work in the month of December and actually wait until 1/1/2014 before starting the re-conversion. I guess I'm still holding out a bit of hope that I will find a way to get the e:\music folder off of the 1 TB hard drive, even though I'm not really optimistic. I did read that the freezer trick I tried has worked for people not on the first or second attempt, but on the 3rd attempt. It may be worth it to exhaust all reasonable measures before restarting.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Six Years Ago

Six years ago, I started this blog.

Lee Knutson died on this date in 1996. He was 27. We used to ride in the morning to swimming practice during each of the four years we were out for swimming. He'd get in my car and he'd say to me, "Damn Hans! It's colder than a witch's tit! Didn't you warm this beast up for me?" I wonder what he'd be like now.

Monday, November 25, 2013

He Made It!!

He did it. Alex made the Iowa City West freshman basketball team and I couldn't be prouder. I am so happy that he was able to show the coach that he was good enough to play. Alex has talked about playing basketball for Iowa City West since he was very young. As I mentioned, he has practice tomorrow AM at 6 AM, but has to be there @ 5:40 AM.

I am going to bed.

Work Update

It feels like my life is going well on so many levels, including work. I love my job, I have a great manager, and I have plenty to work on. I believe the rest of 2013 and pretty much all of 2014 will be crazy busy, but the kind of busy that energizes me. There are a lot of projects to complete, including a radical change in the way the work I do is completed. I can't wait to get started.

Proud Addition

In the same breath that my 1 TB external hard drive doesn't seem to be accessible, I can now report that I have added 500ish CDs to my collection. In Indianapolis, IN, I met up with Mitch, who sold me his CD collection for just over $200. I now have a lot of great new CDs to listen to and, eventually, convert to MP3. Hip hip hooray! I have Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, a lot of Smashing Pumpkins, and even a box set of rarities from the Cure. This is what I bought:

A Classic

Battle Born

What I really like about Five Finger Death Punch is that they write great lyrics to go along with their hostility at the world.


A long time ago, I plotted out how to reach 1400 posts by tomorrow. Unfortunately, the plot requires 4 more posts and I can't, in clear conscience, go to bed with only 4 total posts, including this one, required to hit 1400 posts.

Thus, I give you EMPHATIC's "Remember Me" which is the first single off their sophomore album Another Life. What I like the most about it is the simplicity of the lyrics and the relatively simple music. I hope to see this band in concert when / if they come around the area.

That Didn't Work

Well, it's 8:55 PM and I am not going to write anymore interesting posts tonight. I am tired, my 1 TB external drive hasn't been saved after being in a deep freeze over the weekend, and my back and bones are tired. Plus, I just found out that Alex has basketball practice tomorrow AM @ 6 AM, which means he has to be at practice at 5:40 AM which means that I am leaving with Alex @ 5:10, which means I am getting up at 4:30 AM. All of that means, I am tired and I am quitting. I don't know how to get my hard drive to work and it really torques me off. I am not in the best of moods.

Back in the Saddle

There are so many things I want to capture from the awesome weekend in Indianapolis at NCYC. I can't decide if I want to compose a single post or if I want to break out each memory that I want to capture into snippets of the time I spent. I'm butting up against a self-imposed schedule to reach 1400 posts by tomorrow, which is the 6th anniversary of this blog. Yeah, crazy. I have this post, a scheduled post, plus 4 more to write before tomorrow. I am not sure I will be able to watch WWE *and* write that much. I think it's important, though, to thoroughly capture what I am thinking about my life, about my faith, and about how I want to live my life in the time I have on earth. I'm not being overly morbid, but it was really driven home by more than one speaker, each day on this earth is precious and if you think / say, "I'll live the way God wants me to live starting tomorrow because I'm not going to die today," I am rolling the dice that I will be here tomorrow, but Scripture says, "Be watchful because you don't know the day or hour."

Overall, I had a tremendously amazing time. I made a connection with a lot of people, including some I predict I will never see again, but that connection, that 'touch' will not be forgotten. For example, I talked to kids from Albany, New York. I said to her, "I think there's a famous band from Albany, but I can't remember who." It turns out that Count the Stars is from Albany. Anyone that has read this space for any length of time knows that CTS is MY FAVORITE BAND OF ALL TIME and here I was, unable to recall that tidbit of information. I was unable to find that girl again.

I haven't decided how to capture the many thoughts in my head so stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


The thing I like most about my life is how a plan usually comes together in an unexpected way. Consider that I thought, for sure, I would have zero time tonight to write. Yet, here I am, at the kitchen table with about 10 minutes to spare. The dishwasher is swirling away tonight's supper, the dryer is assigned to a child for later, and, in the meantime, Alex and Megan are upstairs slaving away on homework. Karen? She's getting her nails done because, you know, there are things in life called "priorities." Case in point is that my priority is to make sure my 2 GB MP3 player has enough Bayside, Count the Stars, Mothermania, Metallica, Adelitas Way, and other miscellaneous goodies in my ears during a long bus ride.

The other major thing going on is that I didn't make any progress on the resurrection of the 1 TB external hard drive except to spend 1.5 hours with my neighbor John last night - we were unsuccessful. As a last ditch effort, I have placed the drive in a Ziploc bag and put it in the freezer. I have read / heard that freezing the hard drive may help it. I will try it out Sunday or Monday, depending upon how tired I am from the weekend.

Time to rock. No, not LCR. I'm taking Alex to basketball practice / tryout.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Move Along, there's no Food here...

If I was given this salad on my death bed, I would die hungry.

Consistency In The Leader?

The more I work with Office 2013, the more I fear I am going to continue to find things that are simply wrong. I use Word 2013 and I use Excel 2013 the most. I'm not a big fan of the new "Open" interface that was introduced. By accident, I learned that I can avoid it by doing the following in MS Word but doing the same steps in Excel don't give me the same results. Why? WHY didn't a technical writer at MS say, "Hey, uh, you're not consistent" or, if the technical writer did say that, why wasn't it fixed?


  1. Click the Open icon.



  1. Click the Open icon.

Definition of Irony

Not being able to access a 1 TB external hard drive & taking a course at work about security and then reading this on one of the slides:
  • Remember to always back up your data. Backing up your data is important so you can restore corrupted or lost files. Consider saving your important files to a network drive that is backed up frequently, if your local hard drive on your computer has no automatic backup functionality in place. Save a new document as soon as you begin it and set your application to save automatically every 5 to 10 minutes. Periodically test your backups. Remember, back up, back up, and back up!

I do not *have* a backup of my 60,000 MP3s...

Matthew suggested the old freezer trick, which he defined as "Put[ting] the hard drive in a plastic freezer bag (to protect it from moisture) and then in the freezer. When it is really cold, sometimes you can plug them in and they will work for an hour or two, often long enough to get data off. There are no promises, but if all else has failed, I've seen it work."

I've also found a freeware that is supposed to help me.

No Luck Yet

I wasn't able to spend a lot of time on the 1 TB external hard drive. I plan to see if I can use a boot CD I have to at least access the files outside of Windows and to then copy the files to the 2 TB external hard drive. As soon as Alex came home from basketball tryouts, I was off to bed since I was up early to have him to West by 5:45 AM.

Update! Just talked to my co-worker Jay and he is going to bring a different USB cable to see if that solves the problem. Hope!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sporadic Dies

It had been kind of sporadic inactivity with the 1 TB external hard drive. All of a sudden, it would stop responding and the only way to fix it would be to unplug the power supply and replug it back in, but then, unfortunately, it would only be a matter of minutes before it would stop responding.

Thus, I fear it is on its last leg. I have it hooked up to the Windows XP box and it is doing a chkdsk e: /r command in the hope that I will be able to recover the information. Unfortunately, I don't have the e:\music - yepper, the one directory with all my music - offloaded from it yet so whether all the work I've done since MM/DD/CCYY on the conversion from CDs to MP3, from cassettes to MP3, from vinyl to MP3... I'm staring at the sad face of losing all of those hours.

On one hand, fine. It's not like I don't have the CDs and cassettes to start over. I would maybe do some things differently, such as do a better job of organizing my 'done' pile and 'not done' pile.

On the other hand, though, I am nearly sick to my stomach when I think about the hours upon hours upon HOURS I've spent on the conversions.

I've not given up hope that running chkdsk will, somehow, allow me to recover the e:\music folder at least long enough to move the files to my Toshiba 2 TB external hard drive. Perhaps I was too rough on the external hard drive that seems to be in doubt.

Dream Theater

Who Knew? I Mean Seriously?!?

Who the hell is Zac Brown and when did he grow a pair and start covering Metallica?!?

And Rage Against the Machine?!?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Al Sharpton Blasts Sarah Palin for Making Debt-Slavery Comparison

I am not an Al Sharpton type of guy in the first place, but when he comes out and talks about Sarah Palin being a racist for Making Debt-Slavery Comparison, I just shake my head.

Here's a news flash.

People need to put on their big boy pants. 

Why do we live in a culture where it is racist to ask people to not use certain words. Read the article above. There are other meanings of the word "slave" - it can mean other things than the awful slavery in the United States.

High School Student Gives Devastating Speech Against Common Core Education

I watched this speech about Common Core Education and really liked what he said. I hope this young man uses his talents.

Gasp! In all the excitement, I ....

forgot to embed the new Bayside track!

Drummer as a Tractor

Easy Win

They make it look easy when the score is 109 - 63,

Thursday, November 14, 2013

LCR Status

We rehearsed last night at the studio and while we were rough from not playing together for over a month, we were able to bang through a couple of oldies as well as some new songs (not in order):
  1. Foghat
  2. Hoochie-Coochie Man
  3. Ramble On
  4. Dance the Night Away
  5. Mississippi Queen
  6. Hot Rod Lincoln
  7. Godzilla
  8. Sweet Jane
We rehearsed for nearly two hours. I need to work on Ramble On, Godzilla, and Hot Rod Lincoln. In my opinion, Dance the Night Away isn't going to work. I tried to sing guide vocals and the others said I needed a mic to sing it. Uh, no. I have no singing talent. I will not sing.

Eight Years Have Passed

Grandparents were not really a big part of my life. On my father's side, my Grandpa Hanson was in a nursing home and passed away in the early 1980s. I vaguely remember at least one visit to a nursing home. I know I was at his funeral, but it's funny that what I remember the most about his death is that my mom took Mark and I to Younker's to buy us each a suit for his funeral. I never knew my Grandma Hanson.

So, the only grandparent I had in my life was my mother's mom, Louise Simons. Her husband, Leo, passed away in 1976, when I was in kindergarten. I remember hearing stories about how I would sit on his lap and he'd tell a story about the "moo moo cow" going away and I'd cry, but then the "moo moo cow" would come back and I'd laugh. Whatever that means. So after Leo passed away, Grandma went on to live by herself for another 30 years. For most of those years, she lived by herself. If she were alive today, it would be her 105th birthday today. Sadly, she passed away on April 26, 2006. My brother Mark shares her birthday - he is 41 - but I'm thinking more about Grandma today. I shared the following words, slightly edited, at her wake:

I'd like to share with you a couple of reflections on how her life influenced my life and what knowing her means to me. It's an understatement that she was a very positive influence in my life. I was always close to her. I always viewed her as a strong person. I remember that when I was younger, she would babysit me on Saturday nights. We'd go to 4 PM Mass at All Saints, then go to her house for dinner. We'd have mac and cheese with hot dogs. For dessert, we'd have lime sherbet and Hershey's chocolate syrup.

I always saw Grandma's faith as a model for my own walk with Christ. I can't count the number of hours we spent in church together in addition to the Saturday nights she'd watch me. We always went to Christmas Eve Mass and she kept her bible on the kitchen table. Her faith was a model for me and I will never forget that.

After Grandma went to Hallmar, she was still always trying to care for me. I would visit during lunch hour and when I arrived, she'd be in the cafeteria eating. She would always ask if I wanted any of her meal and I would usually fib and say, 'no, I'm not hungry.' Sometimes she'd try and take something from someone else's tray to give to me. On other visits, we'd sit in her room. While we looked out her window, I would hold her shaking hand.

She was always feisty. One time when I was leaving, I told her she needed to stay out of trouble. She looked me square in the eyes and said, "You ask for the impossible." When the nurses would give her pill, she'd put it in her mouth and fake that she had swallowed it, then she'd turn to me and show me that she still had the pill on her tongue.

When Grandma broke her hip, Karen and I stayed with her a night in the hospital. She drifted in and out of consciousness. In the middle of the night, she bellowed:

Be at my side,
To light and guard,
To rule and guide.

At the top of her lungs.

There was always a twinkle in her eye, even when she was not doing so hot. The very next night, when I went to visit her, a nurse came in. She said to Grandma, "Louise, I'm going to put an IV in you and this is going to poke a little." When the needle touched her skin, Grandma jerked her arm away from the nurse and said, "Hey! Don't do that!" The first nurse called a second nurse. The first nurse held the needle, the second nurse held Grandma's left hand and I held her right. The first nurse said again, "Louise, this is going to poke a bit." This time, when the needle touched the skin, Grandma couldn't move her left arm and she couldn't move her right arm so she tried to spit at the nurses.

One special part of my life that Grandma and I shared was music. She bought me my first cassette tape in 1980. Nearly 4000 CDs and tapes later, I think it is fitting that I heard this song I'm about to play for you just today. It's a song that describes someone longing for the waiting to be over, to join Christ in heaven. The lyrics that stick out when I hear this song are as follows. I think of the conversation Grandma was having with Christ during the last days of her glorious life.

Then I played a song by Chris Rice entitled "Smile."

To say I miss Grandma is an understatement. I have converted some College Tapes to MP3 and so I can hear her voice, literally. It makes me really happy to hear her voice. Another way that she is always present in my day to day life is within the name of the band I play drums in. The name of the band is Lou's Classic Ride. There are three people named Lou that influenced that name.
  1. My father-in-law's name is Lou and he always talks about the classic cars he used to own.
  2. Joe's ex-father-in-law served blacks at his diner when that wasn't being done.
  3. Lou is short for Louise. Grandma made drum cases out of denim for me and I still have them. She also helped clean my cymbals at least once in my parent's basement tub sink. I remember she went to mass at St. Pius when I used to play with their music group during my senior year of high school into my freshman year of college. And, as I mentioned above, she bought my first cassette (the Xanadu soundtrack). The story behind that is that my mom said I could get a record, which was a few bucks, but I ended up with the Xanadu soundtrack instead. I think I was supposed to pay Grandma back the difference, but I also don't think she ever accepted the money. Back when this was happening in 1980, cassettes were between $10 - $12 and a 45 RPM record was between $4 -$6.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Collection (not Mine, but Wishing!)


A wonderful woman that I knew all of my life passed away. Martha, or Marty as everyone called her, died yesterday. She leaves behind her husband George and two daughters, Mary Beth and Julie. When my parents went to the hospital for the birth of my brother Mark, Mom and Dad first took me over to Marty and George's house. Marty and George were the hosts from the Hanson side of the family at our wedding reception. I remember their house on Edgewood Road had a huge weeping willow tree in the backyard. I remember many times going to their house after Mass on a Sunday morning. I remember their basement was really cool with a piano - it may have been a player piano. I also remember they had an old phone with the crank on the side mounted on the wall.

I knew Marty was in poor health and it had been many years since I saw her.

Archie Bunker Predicted the Future

Monday, November 11, 2013


My Ludwig drums are see-through shells. I totally love the way the clear snare drum Karen bought for me for my birthday sounds and I'm really grateful that I have a matching clear snare. I think it looks really cool. That said, I get email alerts when there is a match for "Ludwig Vistalite" and the one I just received shows the drum below. What I like about this drum is that it is a 6 1/2" x 14" snare, which is identical to the snare that came with my set, except this one is see-through. It is also listed as $509. No, I don't have an extra $509 laying around and, of course, they only have one left. I'm not going to be a drum collector, ever, but if I were, I would add this to my collection!

22 More

After I ran my DOS batch file last night, I added 22 to e:\music to take me to 64604 File(s) 541,784,607,331 bytes. I don't know, yet, what the week has in store for me as far as progress. In case it hasn't been mentioned lately, Monday nights are usually not all that great because I watch WWE Raw and, if I'm not downstairs in the main area, I'm watching it on our bed and, traditionally, I will fall asleep. Maybe tonight I go downstairs.

I'll take a picture tonight and add to this post so that it makes sense, but I have a long row of the CDs I think I have left. It's kind of exciting to think that I'm almost done. I'll also take a picture of my spindles so I have it documented how many CDs I actually have. Actually, I may just put all of my CDs together and take some pics because the last pictures of my collection I have on this blog are at least a couple of years old.

Sounds like a good child story to work on tonight.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Conversion Status - 11/10/13

After some sporadic activity over the weekend, I am now at 64582 File(s) 541,704,300,501 bytes. I am doing some auditing of some spindles, though not a full-blown audit yet, so I'm not making a tremendous amount of progress towards hitting 65,000 by the end of 2013. It's likely I will hit that number prior to 2013 and, if that happens, I will certainly adjust my expectations.

Number 1

Who else? Black Sabbath!

Number 2

Number 3

Number 4

Number 5 / Dee Snider Defends Heavy Metal Against the PMRC

Number 6

Number 7

Number 8

National Metal Day Eve

It was tomorrow two years ago (11/11/11) when this article put a chink in the armor of the grand day. I don't plan to let that get to me. The following are eight great metal songs I've added to my playlist for tomorrow.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Mouse Dart Shutdown Windows

Anyone remember an .exe file that when double-clicked, would give you the ability to shoot darts at a mouse on the screen. If you hit the mouse, the mouse would walk off screen and return, dragging a dialog box. The dialog box said "Windows will now restart" and the mouse would use the dart you hit him with to press the Ok button. Then the screen would go to a c:\ prompt. Googling "mouse dart shut down windows" and only found this instead of what I was looking for. I have no idea what the name of the file is that I am looking for which makes locating it that much more difficult.

While I didn't find the file to download, I did find a description of the file on a blog. The blog title includes the word "daily" but I think we have different definitions of the word "daily" when it hasn't been updated since September 2008:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Putting Events into Perspective

I came across this essay from an old WinHelp file and thought it was reasonably well-written. This was back when we had a pop-up camper so I'm going to guess it was around 2001 when the events below happened.

When my wife Karen called me at work Tuesday to tell me that she had been rear-ended at a stoplight and that the hitch on our van had been bent because of the accident, the first words out of my mouth were, "Damnit! That means we won't be able to get the camper home tonight!" She replied with something to the effect of, "I'm really not worried about that right now. I'm okay and the kids are okay." Only after I hung up with Karen did I realize the value of priorities in life and how easily one can get caught up in the little things that don't mean a lot in the big picture of life.

This pop up camper of ours, for example, has lately become a tightening noose around my neck and only was getting tighter as the week continued. Last Friday night, I went over to pick up our camper with my son Alexander. We had left it there while the good folks at North Liberty Tire replaced the two leaking tires. It had rained that day and I had my brand new tennis shoes on. All I could concern myself with was not stepping in the mud as I tenderly hooked my camper to the van's hitch. As soon as the chains were hooked, I jumped to the concrete and took off my shoes, clapping them together to get the mud off of them. Then I took Kleenex and put them on the passenger side of our van and placed my muddy shoes on that so the carpet wouldn't get muddy.

I shifted to Drive and pulled forward. I heard this awful ear-splitting scrape of metal and jammed the van back into Park. I hopped out of the van and saw the damage. In my haste to get the camper home, I had forgotten to crank up the front support of the camper. The long cylinder support pipe was now bent and as I tried to crank up the pipe, obscenities began rolling off my tongue. The pipe would not retreat into its sheath.

Marck at North Liberty Tire said, "No problem." He took a large sledgehammer and began whacking the pipe towards the van to straighten it out. After one such whack, we noticed a crack in the pipe. Even if the pipe had straightened, it wouldn't have supported the weight of the camper.

"No problem," Marck repeated. "There's a tractor supply store in Cedar Rapids. They'll have a replacement. Grab one and we'll put it on for you. No big deal." I returned home to explain to Karen what had happened and made the plan to go to the store Saturday morning to get a replacement part.
I loaded the kids up Saturday morning and off we went to Cedar Rapids. The man at the store took me right to the part I needed. Feeling relieved, I bought the kids some candy orange slices to celebrate how easy this issue had been resolved. I cranked the radio and the local station was playing Heart's "Barracuda" a song I've always liked. And even better, the replacement part was $17.99, cheaper than the $50 ballpark figure that had automagically popped into my head.

Monday night, on the way home with the part, I stopped at North Liberty Tire. I took the new part out and positioned it at the hole I needed to insert it into. The new part's diameter was too large. "No problem," Trevor told me. "Get the right size part and bring it back."

Tuesday, during my lunch hour, I went to the store and exchanged my bad part for a good part. I triumphantly returned to North Liberty Tire after work and found I hadn't solved my problem. This second part was too big in diameter as well. This time, though, Trevor gave me some good advice when he said, "Maybe you'll have to go to a store that specializes in camper supplies."

Ever have a blonde moment?

Wednesday morning, I returned to the store with the 2nd bad part I had purchased and got my money back. At work, I called Jeff's RV in Marion. I described my problem and he said, "I should have the part you need." I drove out during my lunch hour and sure enough, Jeff had the part I needed. $34.45 was my final bill.

Wednesday night, I returned to North Liberty Tire to drop off the part for Trevor. He happened to not be there, but would call when it was done. Not more than a 1/2 hour later, the phone rang. Karen answered it. The camper was done.

Only now, the car being in an accident came into play. The hitch on the van was damaged so there was no way to hook the van to the camper. Luckily, my neighbor Dave was home. He drove me over to pick it up. To make things even better, he backed up the camper into its resting place until Spring 2001.

This whole ordeal  has taught me that material possessions are not worth fretting about. As it turned out, I was worried about a material thing when I should have been worried about my wife and kids, who were at the van when it was rear-ended.

TNA Wrestling Job Opening – Seeking Writer/Producer

I would give anything to have a life where I could write for a professional wrestling organization like TNA. This job looks so awesome to me. Except I don't qualify. Well, I do, but I don't. I don't have any experience writing for television.

Desired Skills and Qualifications

  • A creative, original thinker with great programming instincts.
  • Minimum of 3 years writing and production experience in television preferred.
  • Deep understanding of pop culture, trends, and topical events, especially as they relate to television programming.
  • Writing and directing reality television a plus.
  • An experimental, risk-taking mindset. Must be open to thinking outside of traditional television formats and outside of the traditional linear television model.
  • Highly developed written and verbal communications skills. Ability to communicate story lines, including vision and strategy, effectively with senior management, writing and production teams, and external parties.
  • Awareness of, and potential passion for, TNA content.
How awesome!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


This week has been slipping away from me. Not only does the CD to MP3 conversion get no love Monday or Tuesday night, it is unlikely it will get love tonight. Today, the count is 64356 File(s) 534,568,250,156 bytes and I am pretty sure it will be that again tomorrow morning. What has happened this week?
  • Monday
    • Megan had a doctor appointment at 4:30. After the appointment, we went to KFC for supper, then dropped both kids off at West High for a West High v. Bettendorf playoff game. Karen and I went home and shortly before WWE Raw went off the air, I fell asleep.
  • Tuesday
    • Karen and I had a meeting about NCYC at STM at 4:15. The meeting lasted until 6:30 PM and by that time, I was famished. Karen and I went to Wendy's. After eating, we went to Fareway and got pop to take over to Dave & Cindy Downes' house. Why? See Wednesday.
  • Wednesday
    • Art, Cindy Downes' father, passed away and the wake is today. We brought over the pop because that's become our 'thing' to help out during the wake / funeral cycle.
    • Originally, I had penciled in a Lou's Classic Ride rehearsal with Joe / Brian (Matthew is out of town until Saturday). Yes, we are still a band. It's kind of funny how life has taken over our desire to rehearse. 
      • We have added a few songs to the list of ones we want to do: 
        • Van Halen's "Dance the Night Away" 
        • Rolling Stones' "It's Only Rock and Roll"
        • Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On"
  • Thursday
    • I have a doctor's appointment at 5.
    • Alex has an open gym at West from 6:30 - 8.
  • Friday
    • Not 100% sure. The Iowa men's basketball team plays at Carver-Hawkeye Arena at 8:30, but I'm not itching to go.
    • Megan works 6-10.
  • Saturday
    • We have yet another NCYC meeting at STM at 9 AM.
    • Household chores
      • Clean up the garage
      • Assemble the crib for Christmas (weather permitting)
    • Megan works 12-4.
    • 5:15 Mass
  • Sunday
    • Alex has a confirmation meeting from 4:00 - 5:30 (I think).
Next week looks just as busy. I love it, though. I love the fact that life is busy.

I especially love the fact that each day I come to work, I love my job. I just had a short conversation with my manager about some suggested changes and it went really well. Life is good.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I first saw this video on this page and I marveled at the defense of President Obama's promise about being able to keep your health care plan if you like it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

On the Way to 65,000 MP3s

I made significant progress on the conversion last night as my total rose to 64356 File(s) 534,568,250,156 bytes. The schedule for this week is still being shook out, but I'm hoping for at least some time tonight and tomorrow night to continue. I am thinking I will have 75,000 MP3s when all of my CDs are converted.

So while the CD aspect of the conversion is progressing, the cassette aspect is dead in the water. I was somewhat disheartened when I noticed how far behind I am on that aspect. I have marked the boxes of cassettes I have with a two month window. I am several months behind, partly due to a sharper focus on the CD to MP3 conversion aspect. My new plan is to focus on CDs from now until 12/31/2013 in the hope that I can actually get through them all. If that happens, the start of 2014 will be the start of a renewed effort on converting cassettes. I have nearly 1000 to go through so I know it is an aspect of the conversion that will take at least a couple of years, if not more.

My hard deadline for the entire conversion project (CDs, cassettes, videos, LPs) is 12/31/2021 but my hope is that I am not working on this in 2021. I have no idea how many hours the cassettes are going to require. I don't even have a firm idea if 2021 is realistic.


The theme of the season is "Rising" and many believe the Iowa men's basketball team will begin their march to a post-season appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in many years on Friday. While still not earning the respect of Michigan State or Ohio State or even Wisconsin, there are some in the media that have begun to notice this year's team. The question, the challenge, then, is for this year's team to not live up to the expectations of BTN analyst Jim Jackson and what he thinks they can do. The challenge is for the team to surpass their wildest dreams.

So, that means the big news out of Carver Hawkeye Arena is not that the team won. The Big News that victory does not encapsulate this year's team - it's a passion for a better performance. I wasn't at the game but I love it - absolutely LOVE IT!! - that the Iowa men's basketball team earns an exhibition victory, winning by more than 20 points. You'd think the coach would be ecstatic. Instead, the headline on Hawk Central paints a different picture:

McCaffery: Iowa men ‘substantially outplayed’ in victorious exhibition

A win by a huge margin is not "enough" for this program, for this season. It's about effort and, frankly, it's about changing the mindset of young men to believe that they are a better player than what they even imagine they can be. And when you look at the box score, they have work to do. The 3 point shot was not falling when you shoot a miserable 11.1% in the 3-point shot department. Can you do that against *any* Big Ten team and win? No, you cannot.

So, good for Fran and his team. I hope this attitude takes them deep into the NCAA tournament. I hope it makes the seniors on the team mentor the underclassmen a bit more, and I hope they are successful.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

New News / Old News

  • New News
    •  64060 File(s) 533,402,861,838 bytes is my count.
  • Old New: 
    Recently on Techwr-L, there was a question about whether you use tables in your documentation. I responded with this:

What is your delivery format? PDF? HTML? Something else?

Speaking about Word docs, I worked for a company that had numbered procedures within a three column table. The first column was an empty square (the thought being that the user could print the procedure and check the box when they were done), the second column was a numbered step, and the third the actual content.

I remember this time in my career with fondness because as I began the massive task of converting that Word content to HTML (during the WinHelp to HTML conversion), I was also learning HTML and about this amazing technique for controlling format called "Cascading Style Sheets." With the three column format, I learned that you couldn't do a continuous OL within a table without adding start="N"
so, essentially, it was manually numbering. I also learned that code like this:
[ol start="2"] 1. Complete the ....
2. Complete the ....
Should be rewritten to: [ol]
[li]Complete the[/li]
[li]Complete the [/li]

And if I did that, adding a step prior to step 1 in a long procedure would not require manual renumbering. All of this was also at the time when the tables in the Word docs were being used to control formatting. The big buzz about *not* using tables to control formatting was deafening at the time.

Around this time, I talked to Dave Gash @ WinWriters in 2004 in Boston about using tables in documentation and the takeaway from that discussion was that if your content is tabular, then yes, use a table. If it's not, don't use one.

All that to say I do not have procedures in tables in any content I work with on a regular basis.

Off-list, I was reminded that my example is irrelevant to how content is presented. If a table is the best way to present the data, then use a data; if it's not the best way to present the data, then don't use a table. The tool & the format is not nearly as important as the content.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Good News / Bad News / Bad News

  • In the Good News department, the conversion of CDs to MP3 has reached the 63883 File(s) mark. 
  • In the Bad News department, the Iowa Hawkeyes football team lost to Wisconsin 28-9. Iowa scored 3 field goals while Wisconsin scored touchdown after touchdown.  
  • At the time of this writing, Hawk Central was having problems with editing their story about the game. Just now, this is what was on their website. though I'm sure they will have this fixed:

Friday, November 1, 2013


Halloween is not for 364 days, but I came across some scary documentation a bit ago. Looking at documentation whose creation I have nothing to do with and then analyzing it is still fun, especially when I can poke holes in its design and word choice. Why would task-oriented documentation require you to go to step 3 prior to completing steps 1 & 2? In the link above, step 3 should come first. You can't get from step 1 to step 2 unless you are on the screen that is shown in step 3. And why is it necessary to mix up the verbiage in the instructions. The existing text says To drop your collection, click on Delete collection icon. What is the difference between "drop" and "delete" in their system? Why not write To delete your collection, click the Delete Collection icon. Why introduce "drop" when the name of the widget includes the word "Delete" in the description? I wouldn't write a document that explains what changes to a software suite have been made, where XYZ is the exact same functionality that was added to 4 separate menu options in various sub-systems, like this:
  • Menu Option 1 - Changed the program to do XYZ.
  • Menu Option 2 - Altered the program to do XYZ.
  • Menu Option 3 - Modified the program to do XYZ.
  • Menu Option 4 – The program was changed to allow XYZ functionality.
Who would?

Club Scene in JW

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