Saturday, May 30, 2009


About the time that I was born, my father had brought home two image579 puppies.  They were pit-bulls, but they didn’t get to stay long thanks to my severe allergies.  Mom mentioned them on occasion as I grew up, and this piqued my curiosity.  These were the dogs that had such a terrible reputation, yet my Mom the church lady thought these puppies were worth mentioning fifteen years after she had them.  One day Mom announced that she had found an advertisement for someone who had pit-bull puppies, and that we should go over just so I could see what they looked like.  We went.  I brow-beat Mom until she allowed me to plunk down $75 for a puppy.

2001-10-22@011 The puppy’s name was Precious, but even as a small dog she was incredibly muscular.  I changed her name to Andy, and we soon became fast friends.  For the next several years, I refused to go anywhere without my dog.  She went to every high school party, every park in the county, and into the homes of more than one chagrined friend.  I routinely took her into local shops as a protest against the exile that most dogs endure in the United States.

A close friend, who delighted in issue orders to her, once referred toimage0735 Andy as “The Machine”.  Such was her training that I had complete confidence in my ability to control her on walks without a leash.  I would purposefully seek out noisy, distracting environments to take her into in order to advance her training.  Not only would she heel and sit crisply, she could climb barriers, crawl under fences, and retrieve hidden objects.

Even as a swimmer, Andy was amazing.  She would swim for hours on end, even diving to retrieve sticks from under the water.  On one DSCN6898 particularly memorable occasion, a fellow approached us on a walk.  He completely disregard me, while warmly greeting my dog.  He had seen her years earlier, trying to drag the floats out of a local dam.  She had tried in vain to pull the cabled buoys to shore for well over an hour, and had thus emblazoned herself in this man’s memory.  He couldn’t remember me, but he remembered my dog.

When Evelyn joined us, some of our family members warned us DSCN5592about a child in a home with two pit-bulls.  Our first pediatrician was one of those people, and it was that first day in the hospital that we knew this was not the doctor we wanted for our child.  In fact, both of our dogs were incredibly patient with Evelyn.  Despite being hit, screamed at, “walked”, and generally tormented by Evelyn, neither Andy nor Hades ever expressed any ire with our small child.

Today as I watched Andy, I realized that her foot was infected again.  Her health has been deteriorating over the last year and half.  After a candid discussion with our veterinarian, it soon became clear that while we could treat her symptoms, we could not restore her quality of life.  This topic is something that has preoccupied my thoughts frequently over the last year, so today I was neither surprised nor unprepared.  Given her poor health, there was really no decision to make.  Andy was almost precisely 15 1/2 years old.  She will be much missed, but much remembered as she was in her prime.DSCN7235


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Friday, May 29, 2009

Life is Too Short

After returning from lunch yesterday, I stopped at our office coffee machine for an afternoon cup-o-joe. A quick assessment of the coffee pot revealed a burnt, acidic aroma. The coffee had clearly been sitting there untouched for well over an hour.

Fortunately I had an epiphany a couple of weeks ago which prepared me for burnt office coffee. Life is too short for bad coffee. I retrieved the french press and bag of premium grounds from my office and proceeded to brew a bold, delicious cup of coffee.

My wife recently shared a conversation she had with another student teacher who had refused a job offer in Hawaii. I marveled that someone would turn down such an offer, but it was not until this morning that I finally put several pieces of information together.

Today is a Friday, but I decided to take the morning off from work. At approximately 7 A.M. I woke up; at approximately 8 A.M. I gave up on trying to sleep any longer. After playing briefly with our puppy, I enjoyed a three mile jog and a hot shower. By nine twenty I was sipping a latte and waiting outside the post office for it to open.

This turned out to be a minor, short lived irritant. Why could the post office not keep hours compatible with working folks? For a moment I contemplated lodging a complaint when they finally opened. The next moment, I had another powerful realization.

life is too short. Too short for bad coffee, and too short for petty grudges. It is too short for enduring unhappiness in ourselves or others, and it is too short for unrequited love. Life is too short not to take job offers in exotic locations, and it is too short not to enjoy. Life is too short to be right every time, and it is too short for regretting things that we have never done.

If we pursue happiness as a destination, we will almost surely fail to find it. If, however, we accept that happiness occurs unexpectedly as we experience new things perhaps we can enjoy more fleeting moments of happiness and fewer fleeting moments of irritation with stodgy institutions that open counterproductively late.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bizarre MS Office Problem

Earlier this week, Microsoft Office stopped working on my computer.  The same thing happened whether I was using Office XP or Office 2003, and it was maddening.  While I might put on bravado and claim that I don’t like MS products, that’s pretty much a lie.  I pay $10 each, every month for my wife and I to have Exchange accounts.  If I’m paying for Exchange, I want Outlook to work too.

The error indicated that “Word [Outlook, Excel, etc] is not installed for the current user.”  So, I did some searching and found a whole litany of reasons why this might be.  After spending an entire week installing and uninstalling office multiple times daily I had decided that most of the “fixes” were simply superstitious coincidences.  Every time I saw a post indicating a fix, I wanted to scream “LIAR”!

My user account is an administrator account, so permissions seemed an unlikely culprit.  Oddly enough, though, the machine Administrator account could run Office.  Strange.  So, I created a test user with limited authority.  That user could also start Office.  Harumph.  My logical conclusion was that my user profile must be corrupt, so I reset my profile.  Still no dice.

The final step was to completely delete my user account and create a new account with the same name.  And (drumroll please….) it worked!  After reclaiming permissions on my original profile, I got my settings back too.

This begs the question “What’s up with that?”  What prompts a problem with someone’s security account?  Should I expect more shenanigans?  Perhaps.  In the meantime, I’m simply happy to have Outlook open and synchronizing in the background.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Honestly honey, it just followed me home!

My big surprise this week was supposed to be that my new business cards from Moo came in.  That really isn’t as lame as it sounds.  They are very cool cards, designed by yours truly.  Anyway, I raced in the back door and nearly broke my neck racing back out the front door to retrieve my cards from the mailbox.

The reason for the nearly broken neck was a very large box.  A brief review of the shipping label had my curiosity piqued.  Hmmm…Hobby E-Store.  There was only one thing that item that I could fathom might come from that store, and be the right size.

I wonder who might have sent such an incredibly cool toy to me without saying anything?  Thank you!

Notes after [trying] to fly…

I’ve had an E-Sky Lama 4 for a long time.  In the picture above, you might notice a lot of tape and aftermarket parts.  There is a really good reason for that.  I crashed it a lot.  In fact, I probably bought the thing two or three times.  By now, I’m pretty good at flying it.  I thought that transitioning to a collective pitch would be pretty easy.

I was wrong.  First, the Belt-CP is bigger.  A lot bigger.  That makes it scary for two reasons.  First, it will hurt more when it hits you…and it will hurt more when you buy new parts. 

Now, the other scary thing is that it’s a 3D helicopter.  That means that faster blades do not really equate to more lift.  It just means that the blades are moving faster.  You have to tell it how much lift to give you.  It doesn’t care for idly sliding sideways, the way my Lama does.  The slightest, tiniest movement on the controls sends the thing rocketing off in a different direction.

After trying to do a simple hover (in my very small living room, where there is no wind), my heart was in my throat and my pulse was in the range that I normally expect only when running away from rabid squirrels.

After a few minutes, I began to remember my humble beginnings with the Lama.  For several days I would get it an inch or two off the floor and then I would have to set it down because it was out of control.  It will probably take the same amount of practice with this helicopter.  The only problem is that I doubt Evelyn will sleep through the noise, or Aimee will permit me to fly it in the living room while she’s here!

By the way, if you’ve ever tried to fly a 3D helicopter on FMS…yeah, it really is that hard to fly one in real life!

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