One Man's Eyes

I'm an early 30's engineer with delusions of adequacy. From here, I'll share my perspective, usually through words, sometimes through pictures, of the view of the world from one man's eyes.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Honey Do Weekend

Well, it's been a working weeked for our hero. It started Friday, really. The wife and I were going out for some shopping, but her Mom was having pain and trying to get to an emergency room. We met her part way and the wife drove her the rest of the way while I followed. The wife stayed at the hospital with her mom and I went off to do the shopping on my own. Typical of our fine medical system, they spent several hours just waiting, and I went to pick up the kids and watched them in the evening. The neighors were out with their kids, so I hung out with them in the front yard while all our kids played. It's nice to have a neighborhood full of other young kids. Several are close to our daughter's age and it's been interesting watching them all grow up.
The wife eventually comes home with her Mom's car after her Dad made it to the hospital to relieve her. Her Mom was eventually discharged as they couldn't find a problem and she was feeling better.
So, yesterday, we drive down to return the car. My wife and daughter are off to a couple of birthday parties in the afternoon. I take care of my son, who thankfully takes a two hour nap, and get some chores done. The house has pretty much been a disaster since we returned from vacation. The clothes had been especially bad. Everything was clean, mind you, but it was in random piles in the bedroom. I got everything sorted out and put away and then took care of my son after he woke up.
In the evening, I served on the bar crew at the KC hall. It was a Spainish wedding reception that lasted until 1am. I was fooled again. It started at 8p and by 9:30p, there was still a light crowd, probably half full. We figured they wouldn't last until midnight. But, by 10p, a lot more people showed up and the party kicked up. They turned out to be a pretty entertaining and festive bunch. I made it home at 1:30a this morning and crashed.
My wife woke me up at 10:30a this morning so that I would have breakfast before lunchtime. After that, she took the kids down to her parents for lunch while I worked on the garage. In particular, the garage door opener had broken a few days earlier (actually, the door broke, the opener itself was fine) and we had been having to manually operate it. I paid a visit to the Home Depot and got some hardware - you know, you really can't spend to much time at a hardware store. I could wander for hours looking at stuff and thinking about projects that I'll never have time to do. But, this was a job that had to be done, so I bought the supplied I needed and put the door back in business. Now, everyone else is asleep and I'm turning in myself. It's another week of work ahead for the Lifer.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

A lifer

I'm a Lifer!

To you, a job is what pays the bills. You put in your hours, follow the rules, and then go home. Occasionally, you consider quitting, but then you think of how bad the job market is and you reconsider. Whatever happiness you get, you get from your life outside the workplace. Relationships, family, hobbies, and outside creative pursuits are what really matter to you. You're probably taking this test at work because you don't have anything better to do.

Talent: 33%
Lifer: 56%
Mandarin: 46%

Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.

So, I took the quiz that Shell blogged about a few days ago. Looks like I'm a lifer and I can't strongly dispute the assessment. While I do enjoy my job and the people I work with, I can definitely agree that I work to provide me a means to do the other things I want in life. A friend at work and I were talking about changing careers to things that better matched our hobbies. We came to the realization that, if we did so, they would go from being hobbies that we enjoyed doing to be work that had to be done. I enjoy my (very) amateur photography as a hobby and I improve my skills as I can. I don't think I would enjoy it nearly as much if I was forced to meet deadlines for projects or try to self market for work. I'm sure it probably also has to do with my main job, while involving lots of creative thinking, is strongly technically focused and art. At the end of the day, I'm an engineer, not an artist. And I work as an engineer so that I can afford to go on trips with my family, take my kids to the pool, and soccer, and the park, and to insure that they will have a good education and the opportunities for a good life for themselves. Well, except for my son - with his arm, he's going to have to be a professional baseball pitcher so he can support Momma and Me in our golden days :-)

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Ahhhhhh - It has arrived!

Well, I am just stunned. During my order process on Sunday, HP gave me a build date for my computer of today (7/27) with free delivery 5-7 working days later. So, imagine my surprise when the wife calls me at work to tell me a big box arrived today from HP.
Sure enough, it's my new machine. I'm typing from it at this time and getting my programs installed. There's a bit of hassle uninstalling all the extra crap that it comes with (a 60 day trial of Office 2003? What am I supposed to do with that?). Still, overall, it's nice to be able to plug a machine in, turn it on, and just have it work.
I also got a 19" flat panel LCD monitor for $100 after a rebate as part of the deal. I'll probably stick with the 21" CRT monitor that I have and use the new one on the wife's computer.
Finally, HP had an offer for a free printer after rebate and that came as well. I didn't pay too much attention to the details since it was free. It was a nice surprise to find out it is actually an all-in-one printer-scanner-copier. The wife is particularly thrilled about that one.
Now comes the long and arduous task of rebuilding my Itunes collection.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Crash & Burn

Well, quite unexpectedly, I find myself in the process of buying a new computer. Sunday morning, I come in to find my desktop hard drive had hosed itself again. Mind you, this was the drive that I put in brand new back in January after the previous hard drive had hosed itself several times over the course of a week.
Back then, I was able to use a program to recover most of my data and pick up again with the new drive. This time, I was not so lucky. I've been doing a better job of backing up, but I've still lost the last couple of months of email and my Itunes database is lost along with my ripped CD's. So, I'll be starting from scratch with Itunes when the new machine comes in.
And speaking of the new machine - I guess I'm getting old. I've just about always built my computers from parts that I've selected, including this last one that has failed me miserably after three years, the shortest by far. All my older machines continue to serve in some capacity, such as providing one for my daughter. I'm pretty certain that it was not the drives that were bad. Two failing the exact same way in six months from different brands is to much of a wild chance. So, being about 99% sure there wasn't a virus involved either time, I have to conclude that either the memory, processor, or motherboard has developed problems. Since a new hard drive didn't "fix" it, I'm chucking them all and getting a new machine....a preconfigured machine.
It took me a while to stop convulsing at even considering buying an assembled machine, but I finally got over it and put in an order for a new HP that should arrive in a couple of weeks. I picked my components well and got a good deal. It won't be the ultimate gaming rig (although, I can upgrade the video card later if I want). Truth be told, I just don't have the time for gaming on my PC like I did before the kids. Imagine that. These days, the computer is mostly for surfing, photo editing, and video editing. This new machine will do all that better than the dead one.
The other bonus is that I got no interest and no payments for a year from HP and I'll be getting miles for Continental. Now, I just have to make do with this old laptop we have until the new machine makes it in.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Circus Circus

Somehow, between the wife and myself, we always managed to elminate any potential for free time. For this past week, our daughter has been going to a soccer camp in Alvin in the late afternoons. She really enjoyed her first season of soccer last year, and the wife thought this looked like a good opportunity to help her get ready for the new season. My daughter has definitely benefitted from it and I hope she'll have fun again this year. We want to to do her best, but I refuse to become like those parents that over drive their kids at sports and embarrass them by getting into shouting matches with coaches and officials. I'm sure I will do enough to embarrass my kids as they get older without having to throw tantrums on a soccer field.
And today, instead of hanging around the house and relaxing, we went to the circus. My wife and I took both the kids along with my sister-in-law and niece. All in all, we had a good time, but boy did I pay for it. Between the tickets, the food, and of course, some sort of light up gizmo toy, I don't even want to add up what we paid for this couple of hours of entertainment. But, the kids enjoyed it and it was a good show. Definitely not something I plan to do every year.
This afternoon, I took the kids to a bowling party for one of my nephews (while the wife recovered at home from the circus trip - yes, I am superman...). The party was fun, although my son was getting grumpy since he never went down for a nap in the afternoon. The kids bowled on the bumper lanes and I bowled with some of the other adults on another. I forgot to bring my ball (a gift of inheritance, I've never actually bought a bowling ball). That and the fact that I had to take most of my shots while holding my son in my non-bowling arm made for about the worst performance I've ever had. But, fun none the less.
My daughter went over to another cousin's home for a few hours and my son fell asleep on the drive home, so the wife and I actually were able to have some time without the kids while the sun was still up. We usually don't get that until after 10 when our daughter finally gives up fighting and goes to sleep.
And, it rained heavily here this afternoon, which is always nice for those like me who have a house and a yard. Free water is your friend.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Vacation Update 2

I really was going to try to post more during the trip. But, invariably, by the time I had a chance to get to a computer, I was too tired to care. I don't rest on vacation, I prefer to get out and do things. I can rest on the sofa on Sunday in front of the TV. Vacation time is for getting out and doing something fun and new. So, to pick up from where we last left our heros....

Friday found us sleeping in after a full Thursday. We got on the road around 9am and heading up to Natural Bridge Caverns. The wife and I had each been there before long ago and we still can't figure out if we actually went together. But, we worry no more as we have definitely done it now. As I recalled, it was a fantastic journey and I think Denali was suitably impressed with it all. Despite being in the 70's in the caves, the humidity is so high, that we were soaked and sweaty by the time we came out.

Denali is so funny some times. At the Montessori school, they do a great job of keeping a large group of kids fairly well behaved. We would linger a bit as the group moved to the next area so I could take some pictures and Denali would get all concerned that we weren't staying in line. I think she eventually just decided that Momma and Daddy weren't any good at following the "rules".

After this, we headed to New Braunfels for some lunch and rest. Then we continued on to San Marcos to the Aquarena Center. I had been them probably 20 years before on a field trip when it was the Aquarena Springs amusement park. A lot of people my age probably remember the commercials for the underwater theater and the swimming pig. It apparently went under just a few years later after nearly 50 years or so. Texas State University in San Marcos was able to take over the property in 1994 and the only thing still in operation are the glass bottom boats on the lake. Everything else is there, but it is all abadoned and rusting. The boat ride was cool, but it was kind of sad to see the place in such a state. The tour guide said that over the next few decades, the university plans to remove all the amusement park leftovers and work to restore the lake to its original state and make it a nature preserve and education area.

From here, we headed back down to New Braunfels for a visit to Landa Park. Its probably been at least 15 years since the last time I was there. The cool attraction is the pool that is fed by the river. I had originally planned for us to spend a good bit of time there and take in the train ride and paddle boats. However, our schedule lead us to just spend about an hour playing in the pool. Denali enjoyed the pool and I made a few runs on a big suspension slide that had been added.

We finished the day with dinner at my parents house and visiting with my aunts. Once again, my son spent the day with my parents and he enjoyed a good deal of it in the backyard in a small blowup swimming pool. After dinner, Denali wanted to go play in the pool, so we put both the kids in their suits and turned them loose. It was really quite a sight to see those two splashing and jumping around together in that little pool. After that, we were once again worn out and turned in.

On Saturday, the day centered around a road trip up to Lake LBJ. We attended a delayed wedding reception for some old family friends at their lake house. It's probably been 20 years since the last time I was there, but I remembered the place well. We spent several hours visiting, having lunch, and playing in the lake before making the trek back to San Antonio. A much slower paced day compared to the others.

On Sunday morning, we returned home early. The drive did not go smoothly as Little Ed wouldn't settle down to go to sleep. Jen had to crawl into the back of the minivan to entertain him and even with that, we had to make a couple of extra stops to give him some time out of his seat. I'm not sure why he was so fussy. He finally settled down to sleep for the last hour of the trip.

Denali had a play date to meet some of the other kids that would be going to the new kindergarten with her. Apparently that didn't go very well. I watched the boy at home and managed to get most of our stuff unpacked and put away. Finally, in the evening, we parted with the minivan that we had grown rather fond of. The utility of a minivan just can't be beat. I don't think I would buy the van that we used, particularly for the price vs. comparable models. However, I wouldn't hesitate to use it again for a rental and I expect we will be for some future trips in the fall.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Vacation Update 1

Well, no pictures today I'm afraid, but plenty of adventure. Yesterday morning we picked up a rental minivan to use for the trip. I wanted us to have a little more room for stuff and people. We got a Pontiac SV6 from Alamo. Their price was a good deal less than most of the others. There were two that were cheaper. One had reviews so poor that I didn't think it was worth the risk and hassle. The other would have rented a Ford Freestar and there's no way I'm putting any money into one of those. The Pontiac has been better than I expected. It came with a rear DVD entertainment system as well as an active XM radio. Denali has loved the DVD. I think I'm pretty well certain we'll have one when we get a minivan of our own. The XM radio has been usuable. I would have prefered an connection for my iPOD, but those are few and far between.
We got into San Antonio yesterday afternoon with plans to catch the late day rate at Schlitterbahn in New Braunsfels. Jen was too tired, so we rearranged things a bit I and took Denali to the Castle. She had her birthday party there back in April and we promised to go back. She and I played games, rode the race cars and the bumper boats. It was a fun afternoon with just the two of us. In the evening, we all went to Los Barrios for dinner and ate well. There was a singer performing and Denali and Little Ed danced for those waiting in the lobby. We came home and were done for the day. The night went poorly. Little Ed did not adjust well to the new sleep arrangements as was up often during the night. We slept in to make up for it.
One thing Denali asked to do on our vacation was ride horses. So, after much searching, we found some short rides available at the Guadalupe River Ranch near Boerne. Jen and Denali each took turns on the Corral Ride and I got plenty of video and pictures of each of them. After that, we returned to my Parents for a while to rest and have lunch. Then came the big event of the day.
I have never been to Schlitterbahn, a fact the Jen has teased me about for years. Well, we corrected that today. Jen, Denali, and I went to do the late day admission to the park. We spent all our time on the west end of the park and did just about every ride and went in every pool in the area. And when I say we, I mean Denali, too. We pushed her a bit and she was the youngest kid going on several of the red diamond tube rides that we went on, but, once we got her over her initial fear, she had a great time on all of them. We went on the Raging River and Hill Side tube shoots, as well as the hardest one for Denali, Der Bahn water slide. We stayed until about the time the park closed and we all exhausted. Once again back to my Parents to get Denali settled and fed. After the kids were put to bed, Jen and I went out to a rare dinner with just the two of us. All in all, a pretty good first two days on the vacation.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

On the Road Again....

Tomorrow the wife, the boy, and I are heading to San Antonio for vacation. My daughter is already there with the grandparents. She's starting kindergarten in the fall, so we will no longer have the freedom to just take off on a Friday for a long weekend anymore. Now that's she old enough to appreciate a few things, we decided it was a good time to take a little trip and go on a few adventures with her. My son will be hanging out with the grandparents while we're out, so it all works out well. I'll try to post some on each day's adventure if I'm not to worn out.
The wife and I haven't really taken a vacation since before the kids. When we do, they tend to be pretty active and this one is going to be no different. Stay tuned!


Saturday, July 08, 2006

A wet week for Houston

Wow! I emptied my rain gauge today for the first time since last weekend. 5" of rain just at my house over the course of this week. I think we got some amount of rain every single day.
Independence Day was particularly bad. Although, thankfully, it held off long enough for me to march with the KC's in the Friendswood parade. As I understand it, Friendswood has hosted the longest continuous series of Independence Day parades - 111 years. Naturally there are older ones, but they have apparently been interupted in their runs. We were able to finish our run through the parade and get back to the host church in Friendswood just before a massive rain storm came through. After that, I joined the rest of the family in Alvin and all the cousins over ran the house. It was too wet, humid, and mosquito infested to play much outside. (although, I did get a new bear and wolf picture and they are up on Flickr now).
The rest of the week was pretty routine. I paid a visit to the Clear Lake Blood Center. I normally do platelets every few weeks, but the machine was down, so I did plasma instead. Today, there was only a little rain in the afternoon. I spent most of the morning and early afternoon at the KC hall for a work day. Several areas had been identified for fixing and I spent most of my time outside cleaning up the landscaping that had become over run with weeds. We had a good turnout and it was a fun time. But I was sore, tired, and a bit sun burned by the time I got home. Now, it's time to get some sleep.
Tomorrow, we start packing for vacation, but that's another post.

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

YMCA and Getting Fit

As has become tradition at my company, I spent the first 10 weeks of the year in a weight loss challenge. I did pretty well, dropping about 20 lbs in those 10 weeks. I've had to use the challenge each year to try to recover from the weight gain of the previous year. The trouble is, I gained a lot of weight last year. So, even with the good losses, I only managed to get back to the weight I STARTED last year's challenge at.
I had gotten on a pretty good roll this year. We got a family membership to the YMCA and the wife and I had both gotten into a pretty good routine of working out. After the contest ended, I lost my losing momentum, but had managed to hold on to my finishing weight for a while.
Especially during this last month, that fell apart. I got sick and didn't make a workout for almost two weeks. After that, I was making it maybe once a week. Even better, I've been letting more of the junk food back into my diet and eating out too much. I was starting to slide back up like I did last year, and I was coming home feeling too tired to exercise.
These last couple of days, I've been pushing myself to get turned around. I've made three days in a row of workouts at the Y and I can already tell a big improvement. I'm knocking the pounds back off that I'd picked up and I'm feeling a lot better in general. I know that I need to exercise regularly and vigorously if I'm going to get all the way down to where I need to be.
I got close just before my daughter was born five years ago, and I've lost ground each year since. With the addition of my son and a whole new round of sleepless nights, last year was really bad on the waistline. I really need to drop a good 35 lbs to be in decent shape (although I think the government says I need to lose 50 lbs, which is just crazy. Even when I was in pretty decent shape in high school, I was never that light.
Still, I've got a good way to go, but I've been there before and I know I can get there again if I keep at it. Of course, it's not any easier this time since I'm another five years older than I was then. But, the alternative is to give up, shoot for 300 lbs, and have a heart attack by age 40. Not the future I want to have, so I'll stick with the exercise.