They'll give a blog to anybody.

Monday, October 31, 2005


Well, it's Halloween. All of the little ghosts and goblins will be out tonight hoping to find the house with the really good candy. If you want to mess with them a little, ask them "what's the "trick"?

We went to a halloween party last Saturday. It's been a few years since we have done that. The last one was with some friends. This time it was with neighbors. Both were fun, in different ways. Both involved alcohol, although the party with friends included a much larger quantity. The nice thing about a party with neighbors is that you can just stagger home when it's over.

As I was driving home last night, I was looking at all the orange lights on people's houses. Except for ours. We appear to be the Halloween Scrooges this year. I have Halloween decorations. I just haven't had the time or inclination to put them up for the last couple of years. I'm sure I'll make up for it at Christmas.

Altogether now...

What's the trick?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Relief at Last

I think summer is finally over.

I hate the heat. I'm one of those who prefer cool weather where you can add a layer to be warmer. There are only so many layers that can be removed when it is hot. When I took my daughter to school this morning, the ground was wet from an apparent overnight rain shower and I was able to wear a sweater and still be comfortable. Of course, I am still wearing shorts. But after playing winter soccer for most of my life, I don't think my legs feel cold anymore.

I love the spring and fall, but especially the fall. I love the crispness of the air and the whiff of burning leaves. At last, after months of summer heat, I get to enjoy a few weeks of perfection.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Maybe Boring Isn't So Bad

I'm currently filling in as the temporary treasurer at our church while the official treasurer is on maternity leave.

I got the job because I have 3 basic qualifications.

1. I know how to use QuickBooks.
2. I have some background in accounting
3. My wife is chair of the finance committee and asked me to do the job.

I'm not sure about the people who have been doing the job before now. But from what I see, they appear to have less of a background in accounting than I do.

When I graduated from high school, my primary consideration for where to go to college was whether or not I thought I could make their football team. I picked a division II school which was 0-10 during my senior year of high school. I figured I had a chance with these guys. When I was filling out my application, I had to put down a major. Being 18, just wanting to play sports, and never really having had a "calling" kind of interest in any class, I had no idea what I choose as a major. I finally decided that since my dad was an accountant and I liked our lifestyle (we were comfortable), I would take accounting as a major. I had no delusions that I would ever have a career in sports so I needed to take something I could use to earn a living afer college.


Time passes. I play 1 year of football and 1 year of soccer. I take lots ( I mean LOTS) of PE classes in addition to my business and general ed classes just to keep school interesting. Then, after 3 years I've just had enough. This was at the same time my parents were divorcing, but I can't remember how much of an impact it was at that point in my life. It just got to the point where I discovered that accounting classes are BORING. So I quit school.

I went from part time to full time at my job and basically had a lot of fun. I was making enough money to have fun. I had a sports car. I went out drinking with friends on a regular basis. I coached high school wrestling. Overall, it was quite a bit of fun. Except for my conscience.

My conscience's name was Joyce. She was the mother of one of my best friends at church. She kept letting me know that I should go back and finish college. After only 1 school year of "vacation", she had me convinced to go back to school. I owe my current life to her. Thank you!

So now that I am ready to go back to school, I have to decide what to take. I know it's not going to be accounting because it's too damned boring. I ended up being accepted by 2 different schools in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science majors. Because some things never change, I ended up choosing EE because the school with the CS major wasn't going to let me play on their soccer team. So, after taking 3 years of accouting, I changed schools and changed my major to something where I had to start completely over.

My mantra ever since has been I chose Engineering over Accounting because I wanted to do something creative and if you are creative as an accountant, you go to jail.

So, let's bring this whole thing back around...

After all these years, I have never had a job where I used my EE degree. A CS degree would have been useful. Oh well. The accounting stuff seems to have always been useful and is actually helping in my current job as a project manager.

Between what I am doing at work and filling in at church, I'm really liking the accounting type of stuff. The rules are defined. There is very little ambiguity, it's either right or wrong. It balances or it doesn't. After taking over a set of books that are definitely in need of some work, I can see there actually IS an art to accounting. While it is doing the same thing all the time, there is enough variation to make it challenging. While it may be a little boring sometimes, I am really enjoying it. There are problems to be solved which creates a mental challenge.

Maybe boring (or safe, if you like) isn't such a bad thing if there is still something in it you enjoy.

I wonder if it's too late to become a CPA?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Bitch, Bitch, Bitch

I just happened to catch a glimpse of the last few post titles. Man, am I a complainer or what?

I don't think of myself as a complainer. Cynical, yes. Complainer, no. Maybe it's just the nature of the forum, but I had intended this to be a fun blog which people might enjoy reading. I don't imagine this is likely to happen with the current subject matter. Hello? Is anybody out there?

I guess I'll have to make a decision. Is this a forum for me save a few bucks on a shrink by just venting. Or is it a place to provide my (maybe not so) unique perspective on life, its events, and how we all interact with each other in a humorous manner.

Does anybody really care? Anyway, sorry for harshing anybody's buzz.

Remember When...

My oldest daughter has recently come to the realization that getting older doesn't mean you get to do whatever you want. She is in high school and has had to cut back on some of her fun things because of the required things.

My youngest daughter is still in her "I can't wait to grow up and do anything I want" period. Ah, the blissful ignorance of youth.

I watched a football game last Saturday, USC vs Notre Dame, and Monday Night Football last night. Well, most of MNF anyway. We recently got a high definition receiver from our satellite company. I am still in the process of performing the permanent installation. I ran a temporary cable just to watch the games. Did you know that HDTV signals also carry surround sound signals? Oh baby!!

It was wonderful. The USC/Notre Dame game had lots of scoring and lead changes. The game wasn't decided until there were only 3 seconds left. On MNF, Al and John were as good as always. , the sound of the crowd was all around me, and the game was pretty good, too. All in all, they were pleasant experiences.

So what? How does this tie together?

The key thing here, is that I can't remember the last time I watched just one entire football game. I used to watch college football all day Saturday, professional football all day Sunday (I went to church at 8:00 AM and was home for the 10:00 AM kickoff of the first game), and I never missed MNF. I didn't stop watching games because I stopped liking football. I stopped watching games because I didn't have time to watch. Life pre-empted it.

It seems that days are now filled with committee meetings, school activities, yard work, trying to catch up on sleep missed by going to work early in the morning, spending time with friends, and who knows what else. I'm not saying that any of these other things are bad. Most of them occur as the result of a conscious choice. The days/weeks/months/years just seem too short to fit in all the things I would like to do. For example, I would like to start playing soccer again. I have no idea when THAT would happen.

To sum it up...

I miss the innocent days when I thought that when I grew up, I would be able to do whatever I wanted.

The key flaw in that thinking, was that I also thought I would have time to do it all.

Everybody go take a nap. :)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Busy busy

Let's see. It's 8:45 AM and I've almost finished putting in my 4 hours of work to complete my 40 for the week. It's almost time to start working. Lot's to do today.

go to home depot,
go to the pharmacy,
clean old mail off inding room table,
sort through garbage bags from child cleaning room to make sure none of my stuff is in them,
buy cowboy boots for charity dinner tomorrow (country theme, I already have a hat I can use)

I'm sure you can hardly contain yourself reading about the excitement of my life (or the closest thing I have to a life).

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Different Day, Same ....

Ah Thursday. The last full day of the week.

Our client, the organization which thankfully has been paying for my companies services for the last three years, has taken the wonderful position that no one may work more than forty hours in a week without prior written approval from the contract manager. Never mind that I am on salary and my company only pays me for forty hours anyway. The means my company can't bill the client for any overtime I work which would be 100% profit because they don't pay me any of it to me. I'm sure they are disappointed.

The impact to me, is that I only have to work 40 hours a week. Woo hoo!! Since my group is understaffed and the days are long, my work week ends either Thursday afternoon or very early Friday morning. This week is going to be a long one. I think I have to work all the way until 10:00AM Friday. Then we'll let the party start.

Isn't there some kind of law about this?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Sleep? Who needs it?

Bah humbug!!

I only slept for 4 hours last night. There is no good reason, I just couldn't get to sleep. It was my turn, my wife couldn't get to sleep the previous night. I am going to be be totally useless today. Good thing I only have a report to finish at work and a church committee meeting to go to tonight which will require a couple of hours of preparation. But I'm not bitter.

I remember way back in the olden days (my late 20's or early 30's, it all blends together now) when my soccer team would practice until 9-9:30PM then go to our coaches restaurant for a snack and a couple of drinks. After he closed down, we'd go close down the bar across the street. I'd get up and be at work at 7:00 the next morning without any problem at all. At least, then, I had an excuse to feel this crappy in the morning, but I didn't. What's up with that? (Don't you dare say I'm getting old)

Why do people look at me funny when I say that I'll catch up on my sleep when I'm dead? Do they not get the joke? It will peaceful, nobody will bother me, and I won't have anything else that I should be doing. I just don't get it. I don't think I am being morbid (overly morbid, at least).

I think that years of getting around 6 hours of sleep a night has a detrimental effect on one's mental capabilities. Maybe all those doctor types who keep saying 8 hours of sleep a night know something. No, that can't be it.

Keep that coffee coming.

And make it double strength!

It better not be any of that half strength, flavored water, weak-ass shit you usually make!

Monday, October 10, 2005

State Holidays

Today is a State holiday (Columbus Day).

All of the State employees are home doing whatever it is they do with their time off. All of the contractors are at work.

Today is one of the most productive days of the year for the State.

Draw your own conclusions...

Thursday, October 06, 2005

What the hell is a dirpus, anyway?

Ah, the embarrassing stories of my youth. Fortunately, the only memories I have of this are of my parents telling me the story. I was too young to actually remember it. Or maybe I just blocked it out.

Not really. It's not bad.

When I was around 2, my granfather used to call me a "twirp". Since I was at the age of just learning to talk, I tried to repeat it and it came out as "dirp". From that point forward my nickname was "Dirp" and some in my loving family called me a "dirpus".

There is also the joy of other children learning to talk. This story is that some friend of mine came to the door asking if "Dirt" could come out and play.

In writing this, it's not a very interesting story, is it? But at least now you can answer the burning question: "What the hell is a dirpus?"

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Oldies But Goodies

Some stories just stay with you. This was making the rounds years ago, in the pre-web days. You've probably heard variations of this several times, I know I have. But I still smile every time I hear it. It has also evolved into an "in" joke. Many are the times when either I or the person I am with will hear someone say something, turn to the other, and say "Do you still have the box?" It will undoubtedly make the other person smile.

Whether you've heard this before or not, it's still funny and frighteningly appropriate for a large number of people. So read on...

This is a true story from the WordPerfect Help Line, which was transcribed from a recording monitoring the customer care department. Needless to say the Help desk employee was fired; however, he/she is currently suing Wordperfect for "Termination without Cause."

This is the actual dialogue of a former WordPerfect Customer Support employee.

(Now I know why they record these conversations!)

"Ridge Hall computer assistance; may I help you?"

"Yes, well, I'm having trouble with WordPerfect."

"What sort of trouble?"

"Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away."

"Went away?"

"They disappeared."

"Hmm. So what does your screen look like now?"



"It's blank; it won't accept anything when I type."

"Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out?"

"How do I tell?"

"Can you see the C: prompt on the screen?"

"What's a sea-prompt?"

"Never mind , can you move your cursor around the screen?"

"There isn't any cursor: I told you, it won't accept anything I type."

"Does your monitor have a power indicator?"

"What is a monitor?"

"It's the thing with the screen on it that look like a T.V.. Does it have a little light that tells you when it's on?"

"I don't know."

"Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where the power cord goes into it. Can you see that?"

"Yes, I think so."

"Great. Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it's plugged into the wall."

"Yes, it is."

"Good, now when you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two cables plugged into the back of it, not just one?"


"Well, there are. I need you to look back there againand find the other cable."

"Okay, here it is."

"Fine, follow it for me, and tell me if it's plugged securely into the back of your computer."

"I can't reach it."

"Uh huh. Well, can you see if it is?"


"Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over?"

"Oh, its not because I don't have the right's because it's dark."


"Yes - the office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in from the window."

"Well, turn on the office light then."

"I can't."

"No? Why not?"

"Because there's a power failure."

"A Pow..... A Power failure? Aha, okay, we've got it licked now. Do you still have the box and manual and packing stuff your computer came in?"

"Well, yes, I keep them in the closet."

"Good. Go get them, unplug your system and pack it up just like it was when you got it. Then take it back to the store you bought it from."

"Really?" Is it that bad?"

"Yes, I'm afraid it is."

"Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them?"

"Tell them you're too stupid to own a computer."
(End of recording)

I think these people are building system from the previous post. They're too stupid to build software.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I May Need A New Job

Because this may get me fired.

I am a quality assurance manager on the largest State government software development project in US history. If you listen to the management of the company developing the application or read any of the State reports, everything is just swell. If you talk to the people who are doing the work or the contractors hired to advise the State (including me), you mostly hear "We're doomed!"

Why is it that someone would hire experts in their field and then totally ignore what they say because it's not what you want to here? Instead, you bury your head in the sand and listen to the people trying to sell you a bill of goods saying that there isn't a problem at all. It doesn't matter that the application hasn't had a system integration test, it can't test automated features before it goes into production, it has hundreds of open defects, etc.

It almost sounds like any version of Windows. Q: What does Microsoft call beta testers? A: Users.

The last time the State tried to build this application, the developing contractor was fired after delivering a non-functioning application at a 200 percent cost overrun. The State auditor issued a report identifying all of the things that went wrong. We are currently going through that report and identifying similarities between that project and this one (there are a lot). Apparently, a similar effort is being undertaken by the State.

Their version reads like a college thesis on how to plan a project to not repeat mistakes. It talks about all the things that are going to be done to prevent past mistakes. The problem is, they are written from the point of view of before the project starts. They say all sorts of wonderful things about how mistakes will be prevented.

Our version looks at where the project is now. It compares what happened on the previous project with the mistakes that have already been made.

I guess the difference is, ours is written to try to help the State fix the problems. Theirs is written to pull out when the press comes looking for someone to blame after 800 million dollars of taxpayer money is spent on a system that doesn't work.

Maybe it's just me, but I think it would be better to actually FIX THE PROBLEM instead of planning the cover up.

Don't you just love government agencies?

I guess that's enough venting for now. We'll just keep our report for our defense.

New Math

A co-worker just told me this joke. I spit out coffee laughing, so I figured it must be good enough to re-tell.

Here's proof that American's are getting worse at math. Two liberal arts majors were walking to their political science class when one says to the other:

"I just saw in the paper that 12 Brazilians were killed in a factory fire."

The other student said:

"That's awful. How many is a brazillion?"