April 10, 2008: Making Autumn Plans

Today was the most absolutely gorgeous day. More than seventy degrees, clear and sunny. I was actually just a touch too warm as I took Oreo out for his morning walk. We ran into far more dogs getting walked today than usual. Everyone was wanting to get outside and soak up the weather. It is clear too, not like yesterday. Yesterday the haze was so thick that I could not even make out the Manhattan skyline whereas tonight as I am writing this update I can make out the lights in every window of every building in uptown just to the left of the monitor that I am typing on.

Oreo Fell Asleep with His Head Turned Around

I am really going to miss the constant presence of Manhattan being just outside the window when we move away from here. Even if we don’t get to spend all that much time actually in the city it is just so amazing having it sitting right there. I love all of the twinkling lights and the passing cars on the bridges leading in and out of the city. I have always liked cities at night. So many people yet so quiet and still. I need to get some pictures of Manhattan at night from our view here before we leave. It is rather unlikely that I will ever have a view quite like this again. This is very much a once in a lifetime kind of opportunity, I’m sure. Nevertheless, we have had it for a year and a half and it will be over two years when we actually leave and I have worked from home a lot during that time and my work area has always had this view so very few people anywhere have had the chance to take advantage of such a view as much as I have.

We turned down our lease renewal. The apartment building offered a deal to those who would renew in March. Personally I think that it was a foolish move asking us to renew so far in advance. We didn’t have enough time to really think about or make any plans to stay or go. So, since we couldn’t guarantee that we needed to stay we effectively guaranteed that we weren’t. Had they extended the offer to a point where we were really able to make a commitment then we might easily have decided that staying in Newark for one more year was going to make sense. But, now we know that the financials just aren’t going to make sense for us next year and this apartment isn’t really an option. The handy thing for us is that now we have seven months to make plans for moving knowing exactly when we are moving. I have never had so much warning on a move before. Our last day in Newark, or at least at Eleven80, is October 31st. Now we just need to figure out exactly to where we are moving come November.

Oreo was very, very happy to be home today. He was so exhausted. Dominica tells me that he played a lot more than usual at daycare yesterday because Lana, the little puppy that he loves to play with, was in playing with another dog and Oreo just couldn’t resist and he played all day. He was all worked up and being crazy last night when he got home. Today he is making up for it. Just sleeping and sleeping. Even on his walk when he saw other dogs he could do no more than take a quick sniff to acknowledge their existence and drag himself along until he was able to do his business and then get back home to go to bed.

At one point late this morning our silly dog was sitting on the loveseat in the living room and was itching the middle of his back with his head turned all the way around. He was in the sunlight and apparently quite comfortable as he just fell asleep right in the middle of itching himself. It was the craziest thing to see. I look over and there he is all passed out in what appeared to be the most uncomfortable position imaginable. He was so sleepy that I was able to take several pictures of him and walk about without him stirring at all.

Dominica came home and we watched the final two episodes of the 2006 season of Doctor Who.  These were some seriously good but sad episodes.  We are definitely looking forward to the next season as well as to checking out Torchwood the Doctor Who spinoff series.  (For those in the know, “Torchwood” used to be a code name for “Doctor Who” used at the study.  You will notice that the letters from Doctor Who can be used to form the word Torchwood.)

After dinner and the show it was time for bed.  We “popped in” some What I Like About You that we watched while we cleaned in the bedroom.  Dominica assembled her new shoe rack and got it put into the closet which cleared up a ton of space and now the closet doors can close.  It also freed up some plastic bins that I need to organize other stuff around the house that has been sitting around waiting for a box into which to go.

I stayed up for a while after Dominica went to bed and did some web site work and Handbrake conversions.  Nothing heavy just some light stuff that needed my attention and that I wanted to get out of the way.  By a quarter after eleven, Oreo was getting quite insistent that I come to bed.  He doesn’t like it when one of us goes to bed early and one stays up.  It makes him nervous or something.

Dad is finally doing a rebuild of his Windows XP workstation today.  It has been been rebuilt in many years – even possibly never although that seems to be a stretch.  I generally recommend complete rebuilds every six to eighteen months with once a year being a pretty happy medium.  I rebuild my Linux box every six months but that is because I want to use the very latest OpenSUSE release.  My Windows machine probably sees a fresh install every nine months or so.  Being in the habit of constantly rebuilding means that you are always keeping things cleaned and you are always prepared to start fresh at any moment.

This coming weekend is going to be busy with homework.  Dominica is almost caught up in her class but still has a little bit that she needs to do plus the steady stream of new work.  This is one of my busy homework weekends just in general.  I am not behind at all but that doesn’t make it any easier.

January 30, 2008: First Netflix Movie

I was exhausted this morning, the last few days have been catching up with me, and so decided to sleep in with Oreo for a little while and leave about the same time as Dominica. I was surprised to find that it was decently warm and raining when I got outside. I can’t believe that it is January. (Or February -1 as we say at work.)

I stopped at Cafe Airlie on the way through and got my usual egg, cheese and potato with black pepper on a hardroll and some apple juice for my walk to the train station. It is so warm out that even with a light rain my fleece is a bit too much and I am too warm.

Dominica discovered this bit of disturbia today that occurred along a highway that we drive past on a regular basis. This is right along our normal route between Newark and “back home.” Although now we tend to go out to Williamsport before heading north.
Things were relatively busy at the office today. But busy in big bursts. Really busy bits with large bits of nothing as well.

I learned today that the coach of the New Jersey Giants (an American Football team from Rutherford, New Jersey which is playing in the NFL Super Bowl this year) used to be the coach of the Rochester Institute of Technology, RIT, Tigers. RIT is where I am currently attending for my Masters of Information Technology degree.

My Ruby based email log processing script ran today processing about two million database rows of data. That took several hours of intensive processing. It was 230MB of data sitting in my email account that had to be moved out. But that is a lot of stuff that isn’t stored in there anymore and that is no longer stored on my home storage area network (SAN.) I am very happy with how the script is working.

I did have to make some modifications to the script to get it to process all of the rows correctly. I had not dealt with some older data yet and there were some “end of log” messages, some unnecessary quotation marks and some bad line feeds that needed to be stripped out. But the script is more robust now and is getting better by the day. I think that by tomorrow night that I will most likely be done with all of the archival email processing except, possibly, for one small batch that needs some special oversight. Then I can focus on some reporting tools to dig into all of the data that I have been collecting.

I did some reading in “Practical Ruby for System Administration” today and learned some new tricks for using Ruby as part of by BASH command line. I never think of using Ruby (or Perl, for that matter) in a “one liner” or in-line mode. But it can be extremely useful for that. So I think that this is some good learning for me.

During her lunch break today Dominica went shopping and picked up a folding table for us to use in our apartment. We have been without anything resembling a table for two years now and it is beginning to be a problem. We definitely need a table for our Dungeons and Dragons games. So she picked one up at Home Depot. She also picked up some shoes while she was out. Her shoe collection is getting pretty big.

Dad lost power due to a massive windstorm tearing across Upstate New York today. We were talking over instant messenger when his power went out and he disappeared. It was gone for what seemed like four or five hours but it was on again by the time that I got home from the office.

I had to rush home so that I could help her to unload the car but she got stuck in traffic and I was home almost an hour before her anyway even though we left at almost exactly the same time (she left five to ten minutes before me.) I got home and logged right back into work and put in another hour or so. Then I helped Dominica unload the car, we fed the dog and we ran right over to Food for Life for a quick dinner.

After dinner we came home and I wrapped up the “office” work, started in on my Project Management homework, read some of “Manage It!” by Johanna Rothman which I am trying to finish reading this week and kicked off another long round of email transfers so that I can continue the process of migrating the data into the database. I can’t believe that I am already into the seventh week of my Project Management class. It is amazing to me how quickly the classes just fly by. When I was young they seem to drag on forever. Now I can’t even seem to get a chance to get into one before it is over.

Our first Netflix DVD came via the post today – 28 Weeks Later. It is the sequel to 28 Days Later which is one of the greatest, if not the greatest zombie apocalypse films of all time. Dominica has been extremely anxious to watch it. So I am trying to make time tonight so that we can watch it. If we don’t get to watch it tonight it could be a long time before we get to see it and one of the problems with Netflix and us is that if we don’t get to watch one movie then we don’t get to move on to another movie until we do. This is a problem when there is a movie that we both want to watch like this one. Normally the plan is for Dominica to get movies that only she wants to watch and use Netflix as a method of providing just her with movies so that she can watch them when I am working. It is already apparent how difficult a serialized movie stream will be if we try to watch everything together.

Dominica did some homework tonight as well for her GPS and the New Geography class. I pointed her in the direction of the O’Reilly Where 2.0 Conference which is perfectly tied in with her class. If you are interested in the content from the conference from 2005 through 2007 you can listen to the talks and panel discussions on IT Conversations for free. Very good stuff. Well worth a listen.

Tomorrow is a doggie-daddy day. Oreo is very excited. He was totally ready for today to be his sleep-in day but had to go to daycare. I will be working from home tomorrow and performing a much needed clean up of the apartment. Tomorrow night Dominica and I are heading to the Prudential Center for the first time and will be seeing the live show of Dancing with the Stars which was one of my Christmas presents for Dominica (yes, she actually asked for that.) The really cool thing about the show is that we will get to see Wayne Newton who will be singing, but not dancing, at the show. On Friday we are thinking about heading north up to my dad’s place to visit for the weekend (surprise dad!) But we will have to see how the weather is going to be. We don’t want to be driving in snow. But we do want to avoid the American football game this weekend.

It was almost nine when we started watching 28 Weeks Later. The movie was very interesting because it takes place in London and specifically on Canary Wharf where I worked while I was there just a couple of months ago. They showed people riding the DLR, getting off at Canary Wharf train station and had tons of footage of the buildings, Citi London and One Canada Square, that I worked in while I was there. There was just tons of shots all over the place that Dominica and I got to go which was incredibly cool. But that didn’t redeem the movie which was a horribly cheesy successor to the first film. This film seemed to be a zombie apocalypse cover for social commentary on the US military today. It was not an enjoyable film in the least. The plot was weak and boring and the gross factor was way too high and unnecessary. And every character in the movie was so horribly stupid and everything relied on so much coincidence and plot holes that it made no sense at all. I would avoid this movie unless you just can’t resist seeing Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs firebombed. And even then, just watch those bits. For those of us who have worked there it is pretty neat to see your office used as the site of a zombie infestation!

After that we popped in an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air to watch before heading off to bed. The final result is that the movie was bad but Netflix is a great deal and we are very excited to be using it now.

June 23, 2007: Standing in the Subway Stations

Today was crazy Manhattan day. We were up fairly early – Dominica way earlier than me. She got up and cooked two different fruity breakfast treats for everyone – one blueberry and one peach. There were so many people trying to get into the shower that I just went down to the gym and used the nice showers down there. They even provide soap and shampoo and everything. Including towels. That really helps on days like these. It is only available to the people who pay for the extra gym membership but the price is really good and this is a great feature. A normal gym membership doesn’t give you extended shower capacity in your own home like this. In a pinch Dominica could have showered in her locker room too.

Last evening I had planned ahead and charged up the Nikon D50. I haven’t been using it too much recently and I hate not getting to. But today we don’t have any plans that would keep me from just using it all that I want so I decided to take it along with us. So it is all charged up and ready to go.

Everyone wanted to take NJ Transit this morning instead of the PATH. I am not sure why this is. We did the same thing last week with the Ralstons and the PATH was quick and easy and NJ Transit was slow and insanely overcrowded. There are few scenarios where taking NJ Transit from Manhattan to Newark seems to make sense. And it costs more than the PATH, I believe. It is definitely much harder to deal with logistically if nothing else and riding it is far less comfortable as it is not designed to be used like a subway which is how everyone uses it for that stretch.

We got into Penn Station in Manhattan and then it was off to the American Girls Store on Fifth Avenue near Rockefeller Center. Half of us just went to Rockefeller Center and did some window shopping while the girls did their doll shopping. It took over an hour for the doll shopping. While they were doing that I did poke my head into the Nintendo World Store just to be sure that there were no Wiis since Dominica still really wants one even if she won’t admit it but, of course, there are none to be found. If I was a third party software maker for Nintendo I would be canceling any projects I was working on for them too if they aren’t going to bother making the consoles at all. We also found a camera store where I was able to buy an SD card for my Nikon as the card that used to be in it is now in the Kodak camera.

After the American Girls Store the plan was to head for the American Museum of Natural History which everyone wanted to see after watching the movie Night at the Museum. We walked several blocks to get onto the subway and then took the metro over to the 50th Street Station and then caught the northbound line which took as much as half an hour to catch. While we were there we realized that all that we could do to get to 81st Street, where the museum is located, was to ride all of the way north to 125th in Harlem and then come back down on another line because of track and station construction. So after an incredibly long wait at the station we got on the train and headed north.

Once we arrived in Harlem we had a lot of time to stand around on the crowded platform and watch the sewer rats playing down by the tracks. It was at least another half an hour before a train arrived there. We were getting very concerned by this point. We were very happy to finally get to get back onto a subway car again. By the time we got down to 81st it had been well over an hour since we had first gotten onto a subway car. It was ridiculous. We lost a huge chunk of our day just standing around waiting for trains that were very poorly labeled.

We finally got to the American Museum of Natural History and everyone was starving so we decided to just eat right there in the cafeteria. That took forever as well as the place was totally packed with sheeple just standing around in lines, dawdling and not being able to decide what to eat. That took probably forty-five minutes or more just to grab the fastest thing and eat.

We made a mad dash around about two-thirds of the museum attempting to glimpse the most significant parts that were used as inspiration for Night at the Museum which, while loosely based on the AMNH, is not about that museum in particular. We didn’t get a chance to actually stop and see many of the exhibits which was disappointing but that would have taken a lot of time as the museum is very large. The dinosaur stuff is really top notch and quite interesting. We spent more time there then at any other exhibit.

A lot of the exhibits were really poor or just weird. Like all of the mammal exhibits. They didn’t seem to be about education but were like a really cheap and morbid version of a zoo. But zoos have real animals which is much nicer and more interesting. And NYC has several world class zoos so it is quite strange that so much money is going into this exhibition of carcasses. A lot of museum seems to be nothing but evolution propaganda. The only point of huge exhibits is to demonstrate evolution as if it was observed (ergo science) and not assumed. A lot of money is going into promoting dogma rather than research. And to what benefit? Of all of science it seems that evolution has become the only bit anyone cares to teach (sounds like religious fanatics) and chemistry, physics, biology (biology is NOT the study of evolution as people would be lead to believe today but is actually the study of living things,) etc. But we can’t use evolution as a basis for furthering the advancement of humanity. We are using it to pull critical resources away from studies that are good for us and help us advance. We are using evolution as an excuse to stop looking forward and to always look behind.

The museum had some interesting exhibits on the American Indians, the African rainforest and other things but we didn’t get to see them long enough to even know what was there. We just walked through them. Maybe Min and I will make it back sometime to see what there really is in the museum. It is pretty close to us. Sometime when the museum is not full of little kids would be good. Most of the people at the museum seemed to be too young to even grasp why they were there. The rainforest exhibit was really cool, what little we saw, and we definitely want to go back and see that because it is a large scale replica of a portion of the rainforest in the area of Africa where the Ralstons are moving later this year. It is too bad that we didn’t know that that was there a week ago when they were here or we would have gone there so that they could have seen it.

We did the whole museum in about an hour which means that we spent as much time getting to the museum (when we were only half an hour away by foot) as we did in the museum! Everyone was exhausted by this point and we just headed back to Newark. We took the subway down to the World Trade Center this time so that we could take the PATH which proved to be much, much better than taking NJ Transit and much faster.

Oreo had a really long day alone in the apartment but he took it well and was a very good dog all day. We all came back and hung around in the apartment until eight. Before leaving we had dinner delivered from Nino’s since Italian was about the only thing that everyone could agree on. We had wanted to take everyone over to Food for Life so that they could see where we eat all of the time and try the amazing food but no one wanted to not have meat and FFL doesn’t do meat so Italian it was. Nino’s was very good though.

After dinner we all went down to the bowling alley and the media room. Dominica and Francesca played Guitar Hero II while everyone else bowled. I took the camera down and took pictures since I can’t bowl. I got over a hundred pictures while we were down there. The girls seemed to have a good time bowling. We were surprised to find that the bowling alley in our building has “auto bumpers” that come up when the girls would come up to bowl! The system kept track of whose turn it was and it knew when they were up and the bumpers would just pop up. It was very cool. It made it a lot more fun.

After the bowling and the Guitar Hero we all did some karaoke on the PS2 and then it was time for bed. Everyone is getting up early tomorrow so they need to get to bed tonight.

October 15, 1989: Amazing Winds in Ithaca

Today was the last day, I believe as I write this eighteen years later, of a long weekend “camping” trip to Cayuga Lake with the Brick Presbyterian youth group from Perry, New York.  After all of these years I remember very little about this day in particular although I do still remember the camping trip itself and the boy scout cabin that we stayed in.

This camping trip was the first time that I got to visit the city of Ithaca where I would later live and my first time boating (canoing in this case) on the water of Cayuga Lake which would later be a major location in my life.  I believe that it was this morning in particular that Nathan Parker and I did some canoing out on the lake.

This evening the whole youth group, bundled into several cars, and drove through the city of Ithaca.  I have no idea what the idea for the trip was for.  But we were in the city when high wind warning too effect and the place became increasingly dangerous.  I was only thirteen but I remember the people driving the cars becoming very worried as the winds got going so fast that they couldn’t control the vehicles anymore.

It was one of the windiest days that I have ever seen.  The sky was so dark and the wind was fierce.  Some of the kids rolled down the windows of the Dodge Omni that I was riding in being driven by Earl Hobbs, my friend Amy’s father, and debris from the storm was shooting straight through the car!  I have never seen anything like it since.

We took shelter at the School of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University.  Our youth group leaders, the Stoddards, had both graduated from Cornell and knew Ithaca and the campus well.  So we went inside and got a tour whilst we awaited the storms departure.  We got to see the grotesque museum of animals that had died with massive deformities and mutations.  Horrible, horrible accidents of nature or scientific experiment.  Really sick stuff.  It still bothers me eighteen years later.

Years later I found the New York Times report on the high wind storm that hit Upstate New York this day.  At the time the tornado was not confirmed or denied but being investigated.