another misAdventure

"We are all of us living in the shadow of Manhattan."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Got my early voting done today. I got to vote for both Illinois senators.

I hadn't given any thought to this being the year that Dick Durbin's senate seat was up for election. Not that there's a strong reason to note that -- Durbin was unchallenged in the primary so it hasn't been talked about. I haven't even heard about Republicans running for Senate in their primary, so they must have annointed a token candidate to lose to Durbin and others haven't bothered. The seat is pretty secure. (OK: Google search shows there are three no-name candidates in line to lose to Durbin.)

So, the other senator was, of course, my vote for Barack Obama in the presidential primary. Then I topped off the vote by contributing a bit to his campaign (though the website could make that action easier).

Voting was done on a Diebold touch-screen machine. It was my first time doing so, but I found it easy. I could even see how the paper trail was done, though I couldn't see the shredder -- it must be deep inside the machine. Or maybe that's only enabled in the general election.

The early voting place was actually fairly busy -- maybe 10 people ahead of me in line plus several already voting, and just as many showed up as I was waiting. Of course, this was at 12:30pm, so I probably was there at the peak of the day.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I was at work a bit late today. By the time I was ready to come, I called Ellen, looked outside the window, and commented that the snow was moving perfectly horizontally.

So, I drove home a bit slowly. It wasn't too bad on the road because in most places, the snow blew right off rather than accumulating. There were some spots where was some accumulation and maybe a bit of drifting, but most of the snow was gathering around vertical surfaces -- for example, there's a good amount of drifting now by our front door.

This all after we'd had the first period of thawing for a couple weeks. We'd been in such a deep freeze, single digits, with the temperature never coming close to that magic 32°. Yesterday and the first half of today it was warm enough (in the 40's) that most of our snow cover disappeared. We'll see in the morning how much we got back.

Because of that, I'll probably take the Wednesday morning conference call from home, maybe after some shovelling. Then, I'll get my comics and go do the early voting thing -- one of six sites in DuPage county is in downtown Naperville, so conveniently on the way between the comic store and work.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

I Need to Update!

I'm falling behind. It's been more than a week since my last post, and Ellen's updated twice since then. That just doesn't happen!

But then, right now I can't think of what I've been planning to blog about.

I guess I can put up the schedule for the next month, since between now and the end of February I'm on the go way too much.

This week, I'm actually home until Friday, and things should be fairly normal. Sometime this week, I need to figure out the early voting for the Illinois primary.

Friday, Ellen and I go back to Missouri Valley to meet up with Bob and deal with more stuff at Mom's house. We'll be there through the following Tuesday.

Wednesday and Thursday, Feb 6-7, back at home, relatively normal. I'll need to work on laundry and packing then, though.

Feb 8-10 (Friday - Sunday), I'll be at Winter War in Champaign, playing a bunch of Living Greyhawk, catching up on the Verbobonc regionals (and judging a couple slots). Then drive back on Sunday night, getting back home around 10pm (hopefully earlier). Then to bed, because I'll be up and out of the house at 5am in order to ...

... fly to Philadelphia (flight out at 7:30 in order to get in as early as I can without going out Sunday night). I'll be in Philadelphia (actually, King of Prussia, PA) for a bit more than two weeks, supporting a new feature release that's going into Atlantic City (though the office we'll work out of is in King of Prussia). I'll be there until Feb 26.

Then back home and hopefully back to normal, or whatever passes.

On a totally unrelated note: Tony -- check your e-mail. It's just easy to reach him this way.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

At Least I Could Take It Out On Others

I had a lousy day on Tuesday. But at least I could take out my frustration on others.

Well, actually, I was the delegate for my boss this week, as she has been on vacation. On Tuesday I got stuck in lab all day (and a bit into the evening), mainly because another guy begged off while he was working on a customer ticket. OK, that was fine. But meanwhile I was also getting requests from several other sources for help that my boss would normally be covering, so I had to find people to cover that. I had one unassigned customer ticket that needed addressing that day. So, I IM'd four guys that I thought could cover it, and asked for one of them to step forward and take the ticket.

None of them would. They all had their excuses.

So, then I talked to one of them individually to try to get him to take the ticket, because I knew what he was working on could get deferred. He kept coming up with excuses, and I finally got frustrated enough that I said "Forget it, I'll take care of it".

Then more tickets came in.

We got to four tickets when I e-mailed everyone in the group asking everyone to try to pick up one ticket. If they stepped up first they'd have their pick of the four - so they had the chance to grab the easiest. And I'd take the last one not assigned.

Then the fifth came in as I was sending the e-mail, so I e-mailed again.

Then the sixth came in as I was sending that e-mail, so I e-mailed again. I said that any ticket not taken would be assigned randomly to people by the end of the day, and no, I wasn't kidding.

That got results. Four of the six went quickly. Then I tracked down the remaining members of the group, rounded them up in one spot, and was about to do the random assignment. One of the three stepped up to take the second-to-last, so I took the last (the one I said I'd take earlier anyway).

So, we wound up the day with no unassigned tickets, and we've managed to keep the queue low all week. That's how it's done!

Of course, one of the ways the queue has stayed low was that I took care of 4 or 5 tickets in the past two days. But all of them were relatively easy, though, and mostly involved giving people some information (in a couple cases, setting them straight with something they should have known).

Ah, but I'll look forward to Tuesday, when my boss is back and I won't have to do they stuff that people come to her for.

Not so much else going on at the moment. I'll try to have a bit cheerier post tomorrow. No promises.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Mexican Chipmunks

I was driving to Omaha this morning, poking around on the radio trying to find a station to listen to. The scan landed on a Spanish station, and lo and behold, the song was yet another Chipmunk voice. This one clearly meant to emulate the Chipmunk sound, though whether it was legitimately Alvin, Simon, or Theodore I don't know. Probably not. It may have even been technically meant to be a mouse, as it was singing about a cat (or, at least "un gato" was one of the few phrases I could pick out, and it was repeated.

I guess it wasn't really a Spanish station per say, it was a local affiliate of Radio Disney. It was all Spanish for the little bit I listened to it, though, including a few minutes after the chipmunk-y song finished.

So, other than that, we completed the deal for the sale of mom's car, so that bit has been taken care of. I went to Omaha to drop off a bunch of mom's clothes and coats at Goodwill, then I went shopping and got myself a new coat.

This evening, we went with Beth, Don, and Rachel to "The Melting Pot", a fondue restaurant (one of a chain). It was good, and the whole experience was geared more to socializing (we spent 2.5 hours there, which I think was pretty standard). We had to laugh at Rachel as she was having trouble finding things that were to her taste, at least until we moved to the pots of chocolate in the desert course. Mainly because there were just a lot of things she just hadn't tried before.

So, time to crash for tonight. Tomorrow we'll get the VUE loaded with a bunch of the stuff from here that's going back to Aurora. Hopefully we'll get going well before noon so we can be back home at a reasonable time.

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Pounding out the Miles

Sitting in Missouri Valley, after driving a bit more than 6 hours (about 10 'til 5 this afternoon to about 11:10 tonight. Ellen and I are here to take care of a bit of business (selling my mom's car), take Ellen's sister out for her birthday, and haul some stuff back to Aurora (as part of the whole cleaning-out-the-house exercise).

I don't really have anything else to say -- this is mainly here to let Kalen know we got in (since she's the one who worries). Assuming she even checks the blog from Indy this weekend (OK - Cody will tell her).

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Chinese Chipmunks

It makes a better post title than a story. Kathy and I ate at a Chinese buffet in San Antonio on Saturday night. While we were sitting there, I noticed that the background music had a vocal track that sounded most like Alvin of the Chipmunks. I don't know if there was a reason for it, or whether the singer was just singing in falsetto with a fairly effected voice. For all I know, since it was in Chinese, it was the translation of "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)".

OK, it was a lame story.

The other note about the buffet: we were talking about how every Chinese buffet has essentially the same items, faithfully reproduced in each place even though each restaurant is totally independent of any other. Then I went to get my usual desert of an almond cookie and tapioca pudding, only to discover that this buffet had no almond cookies!

And, on the other thing I mentioned. In Oklahoma, pretty much every interstate exit had signs that said "See <insert town name>!", with a list of about four local sites to visit. So, for example, there was "See Purcell!". But the exit was "Purcell / Lexington". As if the sign said "See Purcell! But screw Lexington, it's got nothing!".

Yesterday I visited the Alamo briefly, then walked over to San Antonio's Riverwalk and finally through the convention center to HemisFair park, site of the world's fair in 1968. The latter was interesting as there was still plenty in indications of where the fair was and how it might have looked, though there had been also a lot of redevelopment of areas since then. Some nice water features near the base of the Tower of the Americas looked like something that would be for a world's fair, but I later discovered they were added when the area was re-done less than 10 years ago.

I cut some of my touring short to go set up Kathy's wireless internet access, since the installer had been there to set up the cable modem. It was a good thing I did, since the router we'd gotten didn't set up properly with the given instructions. I called tech support and they got me straightened out. One line telling me the IP address of the configuration page in the router itself would have save the call, though.

The flight back was smooth and a bit shorter than expected, though a late departure meant we got into Chicago right on time. Ellen, Kalen and Cody met me at the airport, and then we met Ryan for a quick dinner. My the time we got home (about 10pm) I was ready to crash.

So much for Tim and Kathy's Big Adventure. I may be doing the same thing in reverse in May, but I've got four months. Hopefully Kathy will pick up some blogging telling us about her student teaching.

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Running low on time

In particular, I'm running low on charge on my laptop, so I'm just pounding out a quick place-keeper post.

I'm in San Antonio in a hotel. Kathy's in her apartment a couple miles away. The apartment is very nice. More on that later (maybe Kathy will post).

Remind me to talk about the Chinese Chipmunks. And Oklahoma not caring about all their towns. And, hmm, I guess about whatever I see at the Alamo tomorrow. I'll check the basement for PeeWee's bike.

Maybe I'll post tomorrow before leaving, if I'm chillin' at Kathy's apartment. Certainly when I get home, but it's possible the post won't get out until Monday then.

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Friday, January 04, 2008


So, we got into Oklahoma, and about 50 miles in there's a tollbooth. So, I pull up and ask what the toll is. And the toll taker says ....

"I'm goin' need about tree-fiddy".

Just then I noticed that the toll taker was the dang-old Loch Ness Monster!

OK, apologies to Parker and Stone. But the toll was $3.50, so that's the first thing that came to mind for both Kathy and I. Actually, the sign at the booth said it was $3.50. The toll taker was an older woman who barely paid any attention to me (as another woman held a cell phone up to her head. ?????).

Oklahoma has a ridiculously inefficient toll system. The toll both is in the middle of the road. If you want to get off at a a exit shortly after the toll both, you collect a receipt and then they refund you part of the toll at the exit. (If you get on at a ramp after the beginning of the toll stretch, you collect a ticket and give it at the booth to pay less).

Also, we stopped for lunch shortly after the second toll booth (also $3.50). We got a refund of $2.00 when getting off. Getting back on the tollway then cost $1.75. So, we saved a quarter by getting off the road then getting back on. Although I could have saved more, maybe. The booth was the same for both east-bound and west-bound, with west-bound (to Oklahoma City) paying $1.75 and east-bound (to Tulsa) taking a ticket. I didn't see anything really keeping me from taking a ticket and then getting on west-bound.

Strange system.

Anyway, we are currently in Burleson, TX, just south of Ft. Worth. A bit less than 4 hours left to go to San Antonio. It took a little longer than expected today because we stopped for a while so that Kathy could talk on the phone to the internet company arranging installation at her apartment on Sunday. They called her cell (as directed), but with the road noise she couldn't hear them until we stopped. And then, we hit Ft.Worth right at rush hour, so traffic slowed us down a bit.

And, for those of you reading only for the porn store report: I saw a couple in western Missouri that didn't have religious signs right next to them. It must be mainly an eastern Missouri thing that they are trying to one-up each other. Through Oklahoma I didn't see any such stores. May have been a toll road thing, or they may have outlawed them at least along the interstate. Probably the latter, as there was a big store just across the Texas border (just like there are fireworks stores just inside the Indiana and Wisconsin borders from Illinois).

By the way, I have no real strong feelings one way or the other about either porn stores or religious signs, but in Missouri they are both eyesores.

OK, that's enough for tonight. More tomorrow, if I wrest the computer from Kathy for a bit.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Live from Springfield

Springfield, Missouri that is. Day one of the drive to San Antonio is complete. I'm beat, but I should be able to get a decent night's sleep. I didn't bother having Kathy drive at all today, but tomorrow she'll get her shift(s) in.

One thing I managed to leave home without is the power cord for my laptop. I thought I had more charge, but I onliy have about 30 minutes left. So I'm using Kathy's computer for everything - unless I get on for a bit on Saturday night when I won't be with her (by then she'll be in her apartment and I'll have a hotel room, until I fly out the next day).

Driving through Missouri -- there are a LOT of porn shops along the interstate, especially in the first hour out from St.Louis, and equally as many billboards decrying porn. Equally as many, because the billboards are strategically placed right beside EVERY shop. By contrast, there's exactly one such place along I-80 in Iowa, more subtle in it's advertising. Similarly one on I-65 between Chicago and Indianapolis - identical in every way (including being in an old Stucky's restaurant). None along I-88 in Illinois, but that's probably an artifact of the difficultly in exiting the toll road. There may be one on I-80. Just an interesting bit of sociology. Soooo many in Missouri.

I'm happy with the results of the Iowa caucuses. I'd be just about as happy with a Hillary or Edwards candidacy, but I like Obama best at this point and think he will be a good general election candidate. On the Republican side - eh, who cares among the lot of them. The real good news is that the 9u1ian1 campaign got embarassed.

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