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Journal Entries for February 2010
February 12, 2010 - 6:01PM (Florida Time)

From a Laundromat in Florida
Some of my best thinking is done in laundromats...
It's hard not to comment on the apparent IQ drain down here, a trend that seems to increase with the size of the people observed. My minds's eye keeps wandering back to scenes from Wall-E of all the fat, rubber-like people whisked around on automatic carts, a straw in their mouths and a screen in their faces - oblivious to every real thing around them. I'm sitting in the hotel laundromat, waiting for two loads of laundry to dry. As I sit perched atop an unused top loader, my vantage point has allowed me to observe several transactions demonstrating the aformentioned point that bear repeating: First, the token machine.

In this particular laundromat, every machine - that is, washer, dryer, and soap dispenser, operates on tokens. There is a large red sign on the wall which reads, ALL WASHERS & DRYERS OPERATE ON TOKENS ONLY. Above every machine's coin slot reads a large sticker announcing the expected currency: 8 Tokens. Yet in my short stay atop this washing machine I've watched no less than three different people attempt to insert quarters in these machines, all with the same result. Confusion. From a security standpoint it makes sense. A small box on top of a washing machine could make an easy target for vandalism, and who knows how many quarter or dollar coins may be stashed inside. A tempting treasure for a bored teenager. Multiply this by 26 or so, and you would have a situation sure to require regular servicing. But wait, what if these boxes contained no currency of any value, and at most breaking into one would yield a free box of soap. Not quite so tempting a target now, and instead, one needs merely to secure the token dispenser. It's a brilliant solution to a costly problem for any laundromat operator. If only the users could read one of the obvious signs. Perhaps if they were electric less heads would need scratching?

The second incident I observed from my perch was much less exciting, but no less amusing. I watched a young male, probably 10-12 years old, attempt to enter the laundromat. Now this laundromat has a standard glass door. There is a handle on the outside one would pull to draw the door towards oneself and a bar across the entire width of the door on the inside one could use to push the door outward upon requiring egress. To boot, it's a glass door. Yet this young man pushed upon the handle outside the door. Alright, it's a common mistake and really, if we were honest, we've all done it - right? What made this action unique was that instead of realizing his mistake and pulling where once he pushed, this individual stubbornly continued to push even harder on the door. He got both hands involved and braced his feet behind him as though he were getting ready to knock the whole door down. Still no go. Finally, the light went on, and with barely an effort in comparison the door was pulled and he entered the place, unaware that his little moment of brain lapse would be documented for the world to read. When push comes to shove, this guy had better hope for a world of revolving doors.

February 12, 2010 - 11:48 PM

Kids and Castles

Guess where we've been this week!!!

February 16, 2010 - 9:20 AM

Second Ultrasound
The Search for Genders
I'm sitting in the waiting room with what I'm assuming are two other husbands. Kristi was just taken into the back. It's her 19 week ultrasound, but perhaps more relevantly, the one that tells us what colors to paint the babys' room. I can only imagine what this day must be like for most parents, but we get to roll the gender dice twice! It's like getting a free spin, an extra turn, a free play. Personally I'm hoping for one of each. We've got some good names picked out for a boy and a girl, but I'm excited regardless of what the result is. Actually, I think boys would be a little more scary as I don't have any experience raising boys, except perhaps a few decades ago when my cousin Mark arrived...

The whole process has been interesting, the milestones approach, arrive, and then time marches us on forward. I can't help but feel like I should be taking more time to reflect, but life rushes continually on. Florida was a nice getaway but vacations are a lot more work when you're the parent. It was fun to see the girls' faces light up with delight at the experiences, but they're such easy going children I don't think they had any more 'fun' at Disney World than they do having a snowball fight with me on the front lawn or orchestrating their own orange juice stand in the kitchen. I came upstairs yesterday to find them sitting at a set table with our 2L jug of orange juice, a stack of cups, and arrow signs around the house (including one on the front door) advertising 25 cent 'Oring Juce' for sale.

It's been half an hour. I'm getting butterflies in my stomach. Kristi and I watched Little Miss Sunshine last night. It's probably in the same vein as Napoleon Dynamite, but with Steve Carel and swearing. Personally, I don't know how Kristi could laugh through that entire movie and yet hated The Party. Peter Sellers was the king of awkward situational comedy, a torch I'd say has been picked up by the likes of Steve Carel (and that guy from Curb Your Enthusiasm, though I never did care for that show...) The Office sported some painfully awkward moments, and often I would cringe just watching it.

I shaved my head this morning in the shower, and despite having a mirror this time I cut the back of my head something awful. In Florida I shaved the whole thing with a new razor sans mirror (by feel) without a single cut.

I've started using Eclipse in the development of my automation and integration software, and what a difference that has made! I've created some shared objects, libraries that in the Windows world would be .DLL's, and am working towards a much more robust and uniform code base. The possibilities appear endless, and I'm hoping to drum up some more interest in the project and even get some test sites going besides my house. A friend of mine had an early version of two of the modules set up at his house, but then he had a baby and I've barely heard from him since. I can only assume I will all but disappear once our two (still unknowns) arrive.

I'm really getting hungry. I booked the morning off, so hopefully once Kristi gets out we'll have time to go for lunch before I have to go to work. It just occurred to me, I have no idea if I have any clean work clothes. We did do all the laundry before our trip though, so it might be a safe assumption that it's all clean. It's foggy outside today. Yesterday was gorgeous, the girls and I went outside and played for a bit. We took down the Christmas lights and scraped some of the snow and ice from the sidewalk and road. Every exposed surface melted yesterday, but today the sidewalks were sheer slick. Even the wooden steps were trecherous. I was half way down the steps when Andrew, my next door neighbour, shouted across the lawn, "Watch out! It's slippery!" I hit the sidewalk and slid several feet before adjusting to the ice. I don't think I've ever seen it so slick.

It's going to be strange going back to work. I've been off now for ten and a half days. I'm not even sure what I'll be doing today. Tomorrow I'm teaching another class at the Airport on the use of their new video system.

It's been an hour. I wish I'd brought my laptop. I hope my babies are cooperating. Apparently last time they were being 'difficult' for the technician, not holding still and blinking in the pictures... I am now sitting in the waiting room with three women. There's a TV on the wall, cycling through a number of programs ranging from advertisements for this clinic, news and trivia questions, to some sort of food channel.

Hour and a half. Maybe've forgotten I'm here? Maybe there are complications? Twins are considered a high-risk pregnancy. The mind does wander at times like these... Why is it that in the absense of fact, we gravitate towards a worst case scenario? When someone goes away on a trip and doesn't call, why do we always worry that something awful has happened to them? A thousand times to one, all is well ad they're actually having such a good time they've simply forgotten to call, a telephone is inaccessible, or some other equally normal reason has prevented their communication. But we wonder if they're lying in a ditch somewhere, have been taken hostage, or were involved in some unreported plane crash. The mind does certainly wander...

Not getting any less hungry...

If I write now that I've been called to go see Kristi (and the babies) maybe it will trick Murphy into causing it to happen? I was explaining to my oldest the other day why "It's always in the last place you look" is a ridiculous expression, namely because nobody continues searching for an item after it's already been found. Thus, it IS always found in the last place you look.

... And we got one of the genders, but the other baby was too modest!

February 27, 2010 - 9:20 PM

Happy Birthday Dad!
The Best Father In The World
Today is my dad's 66th birthday. Where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday he was 65... It's not hard to be grateful for having the example of such a wonderful father all my life, especially when I hear friends tell of their formative years without a fatherly influence and how that affected their upbringings. I can only hope that I will be as much a man for my children as he was for me.

We had another Ultrasound on Tuesday, this time successfully seeing the gender of both our babies. Not that it's definitive, as apparently even ultrasound images can be wrong, but I am pretty sure of what I saw. Anyone want to take a guess? We already know one is a boy... But the other we just learned is the compliment. We are having the complete set, one of each. One boy, one girl!

Of course, there is much to do in preparation for their arrival. I bought a window for the new basement bedroom yesterday, and we need to have a hole cored in the concrete so that it can be installed. Then there's all the fun stuff, the electrical & data, (of course I'm wiring the room for everything) insulating it, drywall, plaster, sanding, painting, flooring, baseboard, hang the doors, do the trim, install fixtures and faceplates, and then move one of the children two stories downward, shuffle the other child's stuff into the newly vacated room and prepare the baby's room for it's two new occupants. Nothing like a deadline fast approaching! I have found that I do accomplish more with a little pressure. Still, if you know of anyone who cuts concrete, I'm going to start phoning for quotes this week.

I've been plugging along on my little home automation project as well. Home automation has a restrictive feel to it because truth being told, it's designed to be quite scalable and expandable. I've set up an electric lock and card reader on my garage's door now so I have a working card access door for testing. It looks promising, and some day I'd like to start my own company and perhaps even get into the home automation / energy management market as a side job. With our house already decked out in Insteon devices, we are very satisfied with them and love to show them to guests, some of whom have expressed an interest in doing something similar in their own homes. The primary goal of my automation project has been to take unrelated systems and make them work together to better the comfort, ease, and efficiency of the homeowner. I have high hopes (but limited and fastly disappearing quantities of time!) Maybe before I retire...

Kristi baked cookies tonight. Mmmm. I love that woman.

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