April 27, 2007: Cleaning Day

Anti-American civil liberties opponent Jack Valenti dies today at 85. Valenti was an ardent opponent of the American public striving to promote big business over the good of the nation and its people he was a powerful political figure from Hollywood famous for his corrupt movie rating system but more recently becoming famous for attempting to destroy fair use rights in the US. Valenti was as powerful a force against America as all but a few in Washington. Our founding fathers look down and smile on our country today.

Dad left Pavilion this morning around nine to head down to Pennsylvania where I will be meeting him tomorrow morning to bring him back out to Newark. This is dad’s second ever trip to New Jersey and the first time that he will ever be coming to Newark itself. It has probably been eight months or more since dad last came down.

Today is another day of very heavy rain in New Jersey. Dominica and I woke up last night to the sound of rain and thunder and flashes of lightning shortly after we went to bed. It was a pretty serious storm.

Today was much better than yesterday. I guess the bottom line is that I enjoy going to work quite often more than I enjoy staying at home at 1180 Raymond Blvd. How sad is that? That is a really harsh statement that nothing ever goes so wrong at work as to make up for how wrong it often goes at home!

Dominica got the BMW in for its insurance inspection today. That is two out of three cars done. Now just the challenging Mazda 6. Dealing with everything in New York is so hard.

Tonight we are supposed to receive the paperwork for the sale of our Geneseo home. They were DHL’d up to us last night overnight and I am to sign them and overnight them right back tonight so that they will have them tomorrow morning. I called the front desk at 1180 and they said that the package had arrived so everything is looking good so far. The closing on the house is scheduled for Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. We aren’t holding our collective breath but at least things are moving forward to some degree. This is the most movement since we started the process the last week in December. We will be very happy to see the house finally sell. It has been such a burden the last several months. We are trying to eliminate things like that as much as possible.

I went out to lunch with the guys from work to Houlihan’s on Route 22. They have really good food there and good service and the prices aren’t too bad. Dominica did some shopping on her lunch break and got some luggage that we need for our trip in less than two weeks (can you believe that?) The two week mark was from last night so we are getting close now. We are very excited.

Today is my first day in my new office (read: cube.) I have been sitting in the same seat since I started over a year ago (this weekend will be thirteen months) and finally I have been moved so that I am sitting with my group instead of off by myself.

The RIAA went to a federal judge today asking, in secret, to be given the right to demand subscriber information from Internet Service Providers without a court warrant. The judge turned down the request but this shows just how much power the RIAA assumes that they have – which probably means that it is close to what they actually have. The RIAA is a private company that believes that it has the right, a RIGHT, to private corporate information that is a secret between that company and its customers. Imagine if a credit theft company demanded all private information from any major company. What makes the RIAA any different. I don’t steal anything from the recording industry represented companies. Therefore the RIAA is attempting to invade the privacy of a legal customer. The RIAA is treating you and I like criminals and trying to force vendors that we work with to be forced to comply with anything that the RIAA demands.

Today a major headline in the US is that a Cary-Grove English teacher requested a student write an essay that the teacher then used to have that student arrested. The school is attempting to prosecute for two account of disorderly conduct for the student’s following of directions. The English teacher is clearly criminal in this case and should be investigated thoroughly. This is entrapment and disgusting. Students at Cary-Grove have rallied behind the arrested student posting quotes from the English teacher on walls that encouraged this student to write this paper. The paper did not make threats and was taken completely out of context – obviously what the teacher was attempting to incite according to the reaction of fellow students. The student who was arrested has already been enlisted in the US Marines and is not happy that he is considered fit to die for his country but not to attend school. Teachers like this who are attempting to harm innocent students should be locked up. Teachers receive extensive training on dealing with students and should be help accountable for actions like this. Dealing with students who are forced to take their classes brings a grave responsibility that too many teachers take lightly. Teachers often act like students choose school but they do not – not normally. Students have little choice and by the time that they do have a choice (at age eighteen) they have been forced to invest so many years into the program that it is not reasonable to act as though they actually have a choice to stay or go at that point.

Dad arrived in Tannersville, Pennsylvania at a quarter after four this afternoon. He is tired from his drive but he has all evening and all night to relax and then I will be driving him from Tannersville back to Newark first thing tomorrow morning.

I paid our month end bills this afternoon. I hate paying bills. There must be a more straightforward way than most of these places use for online bill paying. None of the sites are similar. Some are so obtuse that from month to month I can’t remember how to navigate through them. Some show totals incorrectly, or not at all. One shows two separate accounts on one screen but only one can get paid online and the other can only be paid over the phone. And none of them, ever, save my login information even though each of them have a checkbox option for that that doesn’t work.

Dominica stayed late at work tonight.  Her last two weeks have been really busy and she has had almost no time to do anything because work has been so busy.  Unfortunately they don’t give her the option of overtime or else she could but in a little extra time to ease the load.  My Friday nights always run late as it is deployment night.  I got to leave at half past six which isn’t too bad.  Fridays can easily go much later.

Tonight’s plan is cleaning and early to bed as I am scheduled to meet dad between eight and eight thirty tomorrow morning in Tannersville.  So I will have to be up quite early to make that drive.

April 26, 2007: 1180 Raymond Fire Harrassment Continues

The City of Newark or some unidentified body attempting to represent the fire department is having another fire alarm prank masked as a fire drill today. Since I spoke to the department of fire safety and confirmed that these fire “drills” were not in anyone interest nor were they authorized nor legal we have had at least four more! The fire department even came to the building and said that this could not continue but another drill happened the next day. So whoever is forcing this is doing so with full knowledge that the fire department department of safety said that they were not okay. I don’t think that anyone can argue that this is being done for safety now. The story that I was told was that there is a renegade person in the city offices who is apparently out to get us and is masquarading as someone authorized by the fire department doing these drills illegally. Whether they are trying to harrass the residents of 1180 or if they are trying to get people killed or if they are trying to sully the name of the Newark fire department, I don’t know. But they are definitely making living here not nearly as nice as it should be and the police don’t seem to be taking appropriate action as in any other city, as I have said, this would be considered dangerous and highly illegal.

I called fire safety this morning to let them know that more tests were being done without their approval. They decided to pass me over to the fire chief since there was nothing more that they could do than to just determine that the tests were not allowed to be done. The fire chief was very helpful and is looking into the problem. We will see where things go from here.

Dominica emailed me this morning with the results from Oreo’s blood work that he had done yesterday. All of his levels are back to normal and his blood fat content is actually lower than normal! That means that his new diet is really working. He has trimmed off three ounces as well. Very, very healthy. And also very tired.

Last night my package arrived from Amazon (actually from 47th Street Photo) with the new wide angle adapter and filter set for the Canon Elura 60. It wasn’t expensive at all and now the camera has a lot more range before and should take better pictures in bright sunlight. But the real reason that I got the filters was to protect the camera lense. Remember: Filters are cheap but lenses are expensive. Especially when they are built into the camera itself. The wide angle lense adapter will make shooting video in the car much easier to do. It will help in any tight space. It takes the camera from a fourteen times zoom to a twenty eight with manual intervention.

The weather is amazing today. Warm but not too hot and sunny.

I ended up spending the bulk of the day dealing with the fire alarm issue. It just will never stop. They have set off the fire alarm claiming that they are being told to do so by the city every other week or so since we moved in in September. This is way past inconvenience and into criminal negligence or worse. It is awful. It is like they don’t consider us to be citizens of the city and they couldn’t care less that they are seriously disrupting our home life. Dominica and I are really sick of living in 1180. They don’t treat us like we are important customers but act like they are doing us a favour letting us pay them outrageous amounts of money to live in a tiny little one bedroom apartment where they torture us with loud sounds, refuse to fix things that they guaranteed would be fixed seven months ago with our move in agreement and treating us like squatters.

I tried calling over to the 1180 management offices that are located across the street in 744 Broad and the unintelligible receptionist there claimed that our building’s resident manager didn’t have a boss or report to anyone and that there was no possibility of escalation. I kept arguing that she wasn’t fooling anyone and that obviously he reported to someone and then eventually she gave me a first name but said that he was in a meeting and she would have him call me when he got out. He never called back. But she emailed our resident manager instead to tell him that I had called. Nice run around that they have working there. I called the office in Manhattan and they told me that the guy that Broad Street said was in a meeting wasn’t even in the office today.

After hours of dealing with the fire alarm issue just today and after months of dealing with it in general I finally convinced 1180 to turn over the name of the person that they claim is providing authorization to perform the fire alarm tests. It was late in the day and I couldn’t deal with it. Maybe I will get a chance to deal with it tomorrow. Hopefully. This is really impacting our qualify of life. Today they ran five or six fire alarms and didn’t call us ahead of time so Oreo was in shear panic. He was shacking and had an accident because he was so scared. 1180 Raymond is anything but pet friendly. There are many dogs and probably cats in this building who are home alone being put through bi-weekly torturous fire drills that go on and on sometimes for over an hour. I had checked ahead of time today and we were told that today’s alarm would only last for thirty seconds or so but the test ran on for at least twenty minutes with the alarm going on and off.

I got a chance to do a little cleaning around the house today in preparation for dad coming down this weekend.  But not nearly as much as I would have hoped.  I really didn’t manage to get much of anything done today.  It was just a crappy day.  Nothing went right at all.  This is why I want to move out of 1180.  I should never lose an entire day to my “luxury” apartment making my life suck.  Paying over two grand a month to live here seems a bit much for Newark and being treated like this.  It isn’t like either Min or I even work in Newark.  This is totally not worth it.  We could live anywhere for these prices.  Anywhere except Manhattan and we absolutely would never have this kind of thing happen in NYC.  Ever.  Not after 9/11.  This is like a project to make attacks easier for terrorist.  Prepping everyone to not even consider the possibility that the alarm might actually be real.

Dominica got her hair done before coming home tonight.  She got home and we went over to Food for Life for dinner.

April 25, 2007: Dinner in Edison

I actually beat Dominica home from work last night by a few minutes. She got home and I hopped into the BMW and she drove up to Clifton to do a little shopping and to get dinner. We ate at the Shannon Rose which is a new Irish Pub style bar and grill up there. The food was excellent – we both got fish and chips. And the service was good. But they had the radio cranked so loud that we couldn’t talk to each other and the food took forever. I doubt that we will be going back. It is just too expensive to eat in those places if everything isn’t perfect.

After dinner we did some quick shopping at Target. Today just happened to be the release day for new DVDs and today The Drew Carey Show and WKRP in Cincinnati both came out in their first seasons on DVD. So we grabbed those. Target is also having a special promotion with the food network and they are selling some really good programming for just ten dollars if you can find any. We found that everything except Rachel Ray is sold out.

We came home and watched the pilot of WKRP and were off to bed. I listened to some older SGL Podcasts from Disney World for about an hour before falling asleep. Oreo was completely exhausted. At daycare today they said that he found a sunspot on the floor and just layed down and slept for half the day. He has never layed down at daycare before. He must really be tired. But he had a full five day at daycare week last week and the week before and then we took him out walking on last Saturday and this Sunday so he really got some exercise before going right back to daycare. It was like putting in two six day work weeks in a row. And the one Saturday that he got at home I wasn’t home so he probably didn’t sleep as well as normal as he was worried about why I wasn’t home on a weekend day.

I was up and at’em this morning. I was awake around four twenty but decided to stay in bed and continue to recharge. Then I pulled myself out of bed at six thirty and went right down to the gym and worked out for a little over half an hour. Instead of watching television I have been listening to SGL in Disney World to brush up on what we liked and didn’t like while we were there. It is really cool being able to go back and listen to that stuff. I am really glad that we did that. While I was gone Dominica got up and took her shower. She doesn’t have to leave so early today as Oreo has a nine o’clock doctor’s appointment in Rutherford for his blood work. So he is enjoying a lazy morning. I can tell this morning that he is still very tired. He will be very happy when he learns that he gets to stay home this Thursday with me.

Traffic was bad going into the office again this morning. Not nearly as bad as it was yesterday but still not the way that it should be. And, once again, there was no reason why it was slow. Just a region of really slow moving traffic and then nothing.

I am a lot less tired today than I have been the last week or so. I guess that I am starting to catch up a little on my sleep. And getting to the gym got my blood pumping this morning so that probably helped too. I really hope that I manage to keep getting up early and getting out to the gym. That is a great way to start the day. I don’t want to fall back to getting up late this week since I am doing the early shift next week again. Switching back and forth isn’t really good for me so best not to do that.

Dad was able to get a new battery into the Mazda 6 in Geneseo today and he said that the car ran great. That is a relief. It has been sitting for a long time. Close to eight months I think.

Today was pretty slow. I have a backlog of work that I just kept plugging away at. The office was quiet. Nothing really significant happened all day.

I took off a little earlier than normal today – but still later than normal people. I am driving home to Newark and picking up Dominica. We are then driving down to Edison, NJ to meet some friends formally from the office and we are going out to dinner on the legendary Oak Tree Road which I have heard so much about.  We are trying out Mithaas.
I discovered today that HP has finally released an AMD based tower server in their ML family. It is a 100 series server which is not what I would have hoped for as I prefer 300 series servers but it will meet my needs. I was going to get an Intel based ML350 G5 to use as a storage box but the new ML155 has an Opteron processor and is about half the cost. This is a great machine for small business although I would prefer if they were to make the more flexible ML355 to match the Intel ML350.

I will be home tomorrow with Oreo.  I expect that Oreo will be sleeping all day.  He really needs a day off.  As do I.  I haven’t had a work from home day in two weeks nor a full weekend so I am really looking forward to not having to travel tomorrow.  I don’t get a work from home day again next week so Oreo and I are going to be that much more tired again by next weekend.  Tomorrow will give me some time to clean before dad comes down on Friday.  He is coming down to Tannersville on Friday and then I am picking him up and bringing him into Newark on Saturday where he is staying for the weekend.

Dominica started listening to our podcast from Disney today at work.  I think that she is excited about doing the podcast again while we are down there.  The shows that we did from there turned out really well.  It will be really fun to do them as a team again.  Maybe I can figure out some way to get better sound this time.  The one microphone that we used was not very good. I wish that there was a way for us each to use USB headphones like I normally use.  That would be great.

April 24, 2007: WDW – It’s Official

Today’s quote comes from Blaise Pascal: “Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.”

I got home from work last night and Dominica and I went right over to Food for Life and got our dinner. I am FFL deprived after last week having to skip my regular Thursday and Saturday meals there. We also made a quick trip to FedEx-Kinkos to send off my Mazda 6 key fob to dad so that he can get a new battery put into the “6”. The car has to have the fob so that you can turn off the alarm when you put in a new battery. It is a weird security feature I guess.

We came home and watched Material Girls with Haley and Hillary Duff that Dominica bought the other day. She has been wanting to see that movie for a while. It wasn’t very good. It was okay – I didn’t want to shoot myself or anything, but there just wasn’t any plot at all. It was written like a bad episode of a low rated sitcom that dragged on for an hour and a half. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t dramatic, it wasn’t intelligent and there wasn’t any action. Just absolute blah.

After that it was time for bed. I am still recovering sleep from last week and I am not able to stay up very late yet.

Scott Alan Miller and EeyoreThis morning I was up and moving and out the door at a pretty good time. I was very proud of myself and was going to be into the office at a very good time which is always a challenge for me. But the moment that I got onto the highway I discovered that traffic was moving like molasses. It took me almost an hour and a half to get into the office! Normally it takes just under half an hour. I was never even able to figure out what was wrong this morning either. Traffic was just stop and go everywhere for no apparent reason.

The latest version of Pinnacle Studio is out today. Just two months or so after dad and I both bought version 10 now 11 is out. I will probably upgrade because it works with Vista and has some new features and I am a big believer in keeping up with software upgrades when the discounts are deep (and they are – 50% of the retail price.) So maybe I will be getting that. I have been using Pinnacle Studio 10 a bit. One of the few commercial software packages that I use with any regularity.

We tried to talk Francesca into letting us take the girls to Disney World in two weeks but we couldn’t convince her. We tried to get both her and Bennie to come along as Bennie has never been there at all and Francesca hasn’t been there for fourteen years but they are waiting a year or two (they say) before they go but then they will go during the summer when the park is really busy and really hot and more expensive. I had to note this here so that in the future when Madeline and Emily look back and read this they will know that we tried, for several hours, to convince their parents to let us take them to Disney for three days. 🙂 Just in case they wonder why we never took them anywhere.

Dominica and I are planning on going down to Edison tomorrow night to have Indian food with friends that live down there. Oak Tree Road is considered to be “the” place for getting great Indian cuisine so we are looking forward to checking that out. We have been trying to get together for weeks but Dominica and my schedule is just so busy and we are never around on weekends so it is very difficult to get together with anyone.

From Raymond Chen: People didn’t answer your first email for a reason.

I fired up CentOS 5 (Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Server 5) today for the first time. The CentOS rebuild of RHEL 5 has only been available for about a week now and I have been looking forward to seeing it in action. I use RHEL 3 and 4 extensively at the office and RHEL 4 (via the CentOS rebuild) extensively at home as well. New versions of RHEL don’t come out all that often so it is exciting when a new package becomes available. I have been waiting for this too because I am planning on installing it to run my main MySQL instance on.

We are booking our Disney weekend (read: mini-vacation) today. We are flying out of Newark on Thursday night and flying back on Sunday night. Thank you to AirTran for making weekend trips to Florida affordable. We also decided to make a little Disney World investment this time down and buy ten days of non-expiring tickets instead of just three days for this one trip. We are very likely to be back fairly soon and the cost per day of ten days is so much lower than the cost for three days that it is totally worth it. That means that we could take three three-day weekends like this one and still have a spare day. It makes going to Disney a lot easier down the road.

One thing that makes the “all Disney” vacation cheaper than if you do the “alternative” accommodations option like we did the last time that we came down is that Disney handles all of the ground transportation for you while you are in Florida. They pick us up from the airport and drop us off and take us directly to the hotel and everything. And it is all included in the room price. During a short stay like this that is pretty significant. That could easily be $100 of the cost right there and the last time we were down the car to take us to the airport never arrived or called and we could easily have missed our flight. So we will really appreciate that this time.

We are definitely taking cameras and the camcorder on this trip (we didn’t have the camcorder until a few months after our last trip) and the plan is to do more podcasting this time down. We had such a good time doing the podcast last time and so many people were following along that is was just a lot of fun. So we will be doing that again and hopefully with plenty of video and pictures as well.

We are spending all three night in the Animal Kingdom Lodge in a Savannah View room. This will be the first time that I have stayed in Disney is a premier hotel since I first went with my parents in 1987 and stayed at the Contemporary Resort near the Magic Kingdom. This is Dominica’s first time staying in one of the Disney premier resorts. This will be my sixth time going to Disney World and the fifth time that I will be entering the parks. Dominica will be going for her third time.

There are some changes in Disney that we are excited about. On our last trip The Living Seas was closed for renovations so we didn’t get to do that. Now it has been replaced with The Seas featuring the cast from Finding Nemo. So there is a new pavilion that we didn’t get to see in 2005 just waiting for us full of new stuff. And also in Epcot there is the new Gran Fiesta Tour featuring the Three Caballeros ride that replaces the aging El Rio del Tiempo in the Mexico pavilion. I liked the old ride but felt that it really needed to be updated and am very excited to have a chance to see what Disney has done with it. And, of course, there is the new Johnny Depp character in Pirates of the Caribbean that we have not yet seen. Also in the Magic Kingdom is the new Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. But I doubt that that will be all that high on our lists of must see new attractions. In the Animal Kingdom there is Finding Nemo the Musical which opened last year. There would appear to be plenty to keep us busy on our three day weekend.

Dominica Miller Eating a Norwegian Pretzel

Now we have to work to remember all of the food that we really loved while we were there and we need to figure out what we missed that we really want to try. We only have a couple of meals to experiment with so we are on a tight culinary budget. Dominica remembered the sweet pretzels in Norway today. We definitely don’t want to forget about those. They were our favourite snack.

Dominica had a really busy today in the office today but mine wasn’t too bad. I got a chance to watch another episode of Floaters (I am up to eight of fifteen now) and to catch up on Rocketboom. She managed to get car appointments for both of our cars down in Newark to get into a shop to get inspected for our car insurance. That is such a pain having an insurance inspection. It takes so much to keep cars on the road. Inspections, registrations, insurance inspections, etc.

Dominica worked late tonight until six to put in some time because she is going in late tomorrow as she has to take Oreo to the hospital in the morning to get some follow-up blood work done.  We are planning on running out this evening to do a little shopping and to get some dinner then will probably just relax in the apartment.

April 23, 2007: A Possible Return to WDW?

I slept in this morning and really needed it. I didn’t pull my sorry butt out of bed until eight. It was a bright and sunny morning when I finally got out of bed and it is great to be getting fresh air again.

I had one of those mornings when it was hard to keep things together. Luckily I managed to remember the stuff that I needed that I had no way to make due without like auto insurance paperwork but I forgot my ID badge for the office and my multi-factor authentication device but I decided to make due rather than to turn around and go back home for them.

The office was mostly slow today as everyone is tired and still recovering from the really long weekend. I actually had it much better than most people if you can believe that. My weekend was a trifle.

There has been a slight change to my schedule and I am back on the early shift again next week all week. It is sad because I will miss another day at home with Oreo but I do enjoy my early morning weeks as I get home in bright sunlight and get a little time to myself which doesn’t happen very much these days.

Dominica and I are attempting to schedule a trip to Disney World in the next few weeks. We are hoping to take a long weekend and do some serious eating at Boma. I am sure that we will eat there at least twice while we are down there. It will be tough to resist not going back to the Garden Grill Room too as that was so good. That is the biggest problem with going to Disney – trying to find enough time for all of the food that we want to eat. There is just so much amazing stuff all in one place that it is nearly impossible to choose.

For those not aware, Allison Krauss has released a new album which contains a lot of her material that has appeared on other people’s albums (like John Waite and Brad Paisley) so if you have failed to get your hands on Baby Mine or Whiskey Lullaby here is your chance: A Hundred Miles or More.

I found out officially today that I am going to be featured in my company’s summer employee magazine as professional profile. The magazine comes out four times a year.

I managed to get through another episode of Floaters today. I am through six of fifteen episodes now. I haven’t managed to get Dominica hooked on the show though which is surprising as it is totally her type of show.

I ordered more camcorder supplies today for the Canon Elura 60. I ordered some filters for the camera including a UV and Neutral Density filter. I only need the ND so much but the UV is really important in protecting the camera lens and is generally suggested to be used at all time for any camera since it can protect the expensive lens. I also ordered a wide angle adapter for the camcorder which should really increase the field of view allowing me to use the camera more effectively in the car which is where I use it a fair amount of the time.

We found out officially that I have the time off at the end of the day so Dominica and I are heading to Disney World. We will probably be leaving the night of Thursday, May 10th to fly from Newark to Orlando. We will be in the park from Friday morning until Sunday night. Sadly I doubt that there is anyway for us to make it to Boma in time to eat on Sunday night. We would be SO happy if we could do that. That would be the best. One extra dinner can make a big difference when you are traveling that far just for food. We are currently planning on staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge where Boma is located. We toured the resorts the last time that we were there in 2005 and we were pretty impressed with that location. So that is the plan.

Hopefully we will be able to continue podcasting like we did the last time that we were down there. That was a lot of fun and I think that people really enjoyed it. This is just a long weekend so it isn’t the same but it should be cool to do a two year recap. It is hard to believe that it has been so long since we last went down. It does not feel like it was that long ago.

Work went smoothly today and I was able to leave around six.  Errands to run tonight and then Food for Life.  Yay!