Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Robot Scribe

I thought this was an interesting article - an industrial robotic arm was programmed to write out the entire Bible, in German.

It's All a Big Tease

The past couple of days have been relatively warmer here (low to mid forties), even coaxing me out for a walk yesterday at lunch. Over the next week it's supposed to get up to near fifty! But I know that it's all just a big tease. Give me a little bit of hope that warmth is returning, and then WHAM! the arctic weather will be back again. Not sure when but I've been in New England long enough to know that the cold weather does not give in that easily. Sigh. But I'll enjoy it while I have it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Hard to Catch

Question: What does it take to catch one criminal in a car?
Answer: Two hours, 2,250 police officers, 460 patrol cars and one helicopter.

That's according to this news article from Japan. And the only reason it didn't take longer is because the guy crashed his vehicle.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

What Happens When You Click "Publish"

I just found this article on The Life Cycle of a Blog Post. Check it out, it has a cool flow chart you can interact with.

Eleven Year Engagement Anniversary

Friday, January 25th, 2008 was our eleventh engagement anniversary. Head over to my wife's blog to see her post about it and her sweet message to me.

P.S. I love you too honey.

Pain Through En-Light-enment

This past Wednesday (1/23/2008), I went with my friend Andy and six other guys from our church to play laser tag at Lazer Gate. Andy and I are probably 10+ years older than the other six guys who are all in college or just recently graduated.

We played two games, each twenty minutes long. It was so much fun! We played in teams. I was on the red team both times. For the first game, it was just the 8 of us, so we played four on four. For the second game we had another ten people join us, so there were three teams.

Each person wore a vest that contained the energy source (i.e. batteries), lights (with the color of your team - red, blue or yellow), sensors and the phaser attached to it. There was a sensor (the target for someone who's gunning for ya) on the front and back and on each shoulder of the vest, as well as two on the phaser. The phaser was designed so that you had to hold it with two hands in order to fire it. The goal of the game - to shoot the enemy without getting shot (of course). If you got shot, then your phaser was deactivated for 15 seconds.

The arena is dark, lit by black lights, with a few distracting flashing lights around. And of course there is loud music, which helps mask your movements but also the movements of others. The arena has two levels. On one end is a maze of walls, both levels. There are no steps, just ramps going up and down between the levels. At the other end of the arena, catwalks comprise the second level while the first level has various hiding spots.

It's a really intense experience. Maybe because we don't do this often, but we didn't stick together and work as a team very much. It was basically every man for himself, assisting your team mates if the opportunity presented itself but nothing coordinated like a well-trained SWAT team.

The computer system kept track of everything - how many times you fired, how many of those resulted in hits, who you hit, where you hit them, who hit you, where they hit you, etc. It's pretty cool. All of these factors add up to a score. After each game you receive your scorecard, based on the name tag on your vest. The vest I used for both games had the name Aurora. Below are my two score cards (you will note on the second scorecard that it is even possible for someone to receive a negative score).

First Game

Second Game

I think I did pretty well - number 3 both games. The number one and two slots were held by the same two guys both games as well, - Seth and Eddie, respectively. I won't mention where my friend Andy ranked :-).

It was a lot of hard work. I was dripping sweat. And the legs, Oh the legs! Specifically the quadriceps. We did a lot of squatting, crouching and running in a crouched position, trying to present as small a target as possible. The catwalks and many of the ramps only had half walls on them, so you tried to keep the shoulder sensors below the level of the wall. All that adds up to a lot of work for the quads, especially for this desk jockey. By the end of the first game my legs were burning and I could feel them starting to tremble. Half way through the second game I started wondering how much longer was the game going to last because I was not sure I could go down one more ramp without collapsing.

At the end of that second game I knew I was done. However, none of the younger guys seems anxious to go for a third, so that was the end. Driving home, I set the cruise control so as to take the strain off of my right leg.

As bad as the pain was that night, it was so much worse the next three days. My quads were so sore that it was painful to walk and almost excruciating when navigating stairs. The handrail became my best friend. Though I've never played football, I imagine that doing two-a-days must make you feel something like this. Today was the first day I could walk up and down stairs without having to hold onto the handrail, either to support myself or as a precaution lest my legs give out. The pain is down to the level where I would expect if I had had a really good weight-training work out - sore but tolerable.

I was glad to find out that it wasn't just me, the old man, who's legs were hurting. Seth, who blew everyone one away in points both games and is still in college, was just as bad as me. In fact, he still was holding onto the hand rail at church today. He told a story on himself - on Thursday or Friday he was going to cross the road, trying to beat a street sweeper, but when he started to run, his right leg just didn't work and he collapsed onto the road. Don't worry, he's fine, he didn't end up in the tangles of the sweeper's brushes.

Seth asked me today if I would be willing to go again. I replied to give me about a month to fully recover and then I would be willing to go again.

"Pancakes take too long"

That's Ben's opinion anyway. Saturday morning I had slept in. Both boys were already up when I finally roused myself. As I was preparing to make our traditional Saturday morning pancake breakfast, Ben told me that he did not want pancakes because they take too long. I guess he was hungry. We had them anyway and his reservations seem to have disappeared as quick as his stack of pancakes did :-).

Oral Update from 01/25/2008

I went to the oral surgeon on Friday at 11:30 a.m. He took a look and like what he saw. The fistula was nearly gone. So I'm going back in two weeks (Feb. 8th). If things still look good, then I will go back in three months.

Thanks to all who have been praying. Keep it up.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Oral Update, 01/23/2008

Just to give a brief update for those who are curious - the stay of execution has been extended until this Friday. At last week's visit I had a small fistula that he wanted to see what it would do. Well, it went away for a few days but came back Sunday afternoon. As a friend commented at church on Sunday, Sundays seem to be the days that things happen around The Tooth (as I'm starting to think of it).

The fistula that came back was a little smaller than the one last week, so the oral surgeon wants to see, again, what it does. He's still hoping to save The Tooth. So I'm going back at 11:30 a.m. Friday. If the fistula is bigger, then the execution date will be set. If not, this wait and see thing may continue to stretch on. I'm praying that it's gone completely.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Not Much Going On Here, 01/21/2007

I don't have much to say but I thought I would put a post out for those who wander by. Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It is a Federal holiday but it is an optional holiday for my company, which means that I can choose to take or I can bank it and take it another time. I decided to bank it. Half my team did the same while the other half chose to take it. And what did I do all day? Not much. Read news articles on line, read about Ruby on Rails, read about Apache HTTP, caught up on e-mail, etc.

Now that my wife has her new laptop, I have acquired her old one and am in the process of turning it into a developer's machine, albeit it not the fastest one. I am installing a bunch of open source/free applications, utilities and programming languages. I have installed Java, Perl, Tcl, Python, MySQL and Apache HTTP (thus the reading about Apache HTTP at work). Tonight I was able to configure the Apache HTTP server to execute Perl scripts for CGI stuff. Granted, the test script just output a hello message, but it worked! It's the small things that excite me the most sometimes.

Tomorrow I go back to the oral surgeon to see how things are going. They seem fairly good to me but I do have a tiny fistula. Hopefully it's small enough to be a good sign.

Here are some news articles that I found interesting (most of these are not from my reading today by the way).

  • Did you know that the U.S. has the world's largest reserve of helium gas? And did you know that scientists (or at least one of them) say that we Americans are using it up so fast that it could be all gone within 8 years? And that there's no economically viable way to produce it in the quantities in which we use it? So you better have all the parties with balloons that you want in the next 8 years because after that, your out of luck or it will cost you a small fortune to import it.
  • A unique disguise for a bank robber - drywall compound. I bet that felt nice when it dried. Talk about alligator skin. He is one of those "not so smart" criminals.
  • Many of you may have seen this one before but in case not, here it is - the FBI had an international wiretap disconnected because they did not pay their bill.
  • People in Texas are seeing UFOs. And did you know, according to the article, Texas, California and Colorado are the top three states for viewing UFOs? Keep that in mind when planning your next family vacation.
  • This next article is about a 14-year old boy who likes to play with trains. What's interesting about that you may ask? That seems pretty normal and healthy. Except that this 14-year old hacked into the city's transportation system and programmed a TV remote to control the city's trams, resulting in accidents and injuries but no fatalities. After he finishes his punishment, whatever that it, someone needs to enroll him in MIT (or send him to my house to program a remote to make stoplights green :-)).
  • Iowa road is littered with chicken litter, 3 inches deep for 1 1/2 miles. Pew-wee! And some people drove through the stuff - that's one way to take care of that unwanted new car smell.
  • Honduran prisons are not very secure, but you would not want to start a gang war in them unless you want a remake of Stallone or Schwarzenegger movie (lots of explosions and gun fire).
  • Another incompetent set of robbers - the getaway man drains the battery on the getaway vehicle listening to music while his partner is holding up the bank, which by the way is the same building as the police station (Royal Canadian Mounted Police).

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Great Unmasking

I recently posted two entries (Guess Who? and Guess Who #2?) with pictures from my university's newspaper, only I masked the faces of certain people using the really high-tech method of covering them with solid yellow ovals using the Paint program. Today, their secret identities will be revealed (drum roll please).

Picture #1

If you guessed Tim and Leslie, you were correct. Give yourself a pat on the back. Thanks for being such great sports Tim and Leslie.

Picture #2

Our friend Charity guessed correctly - it's yours truly. Great job! Have Marc babysit the girls for an afternoon as a reward while you do whatever you want. She was also the only one who entered a guess, though my mom knew but declined to answer due to having insider information. Based on the clothing worn, it must be cool weather and I would betcha that I'm wearing long johns (see bullet number 2 in the post 5 Weird Things About Me). Also, for those who went to school with me, the guy in the background over the girl's shoulder reminds me of Nathan N. Does anyone else think so?

January 17, 2008 Update

I guess it's about time that I gave an update on how things are going.

  • My tooth. I know that everyone is waiting anxiously on the edge of their seats as to how my tooth is doing. I had an appointment to see the oral surgeon Monday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. So I walk into the doctor's office and the receptionist looks at me and says, "Oh, the doctor's gone to the hospital [to see a patient]. He must not have seen your appointment on the calendar." Great, thanks for not using the two telephone numbers I supplied to you to call and tell me. Anyway, so I rescheduled for the next morning. I went in and he took a look. I was still having some fluid pooling in a fistula but since it was only a quarter of the size of the one from the previous week that he amputated, he said that was a good sign. He thought it might still be caused by the body filling in the gap left by the removal of the infectious material. So he wants to see me next Tuesday after I've been off of the antibiotics for a week. My tooth has been given a stay of execution for another week and the drama drags on. Stay rooted to this blog next week to see if my tooth gets to stay rooted.
  • Last week we had our first Homebuilder's Bible study. We had a good turn out - four other couples besides us. One couple has been married longer than we have, one couple is fairly newly married and two couples are engaged. I'm praying that God will use this study to strengthen all of our relationships, cause none of us is perfect yet. Unfortunately this week we had to cancel the study due to two couples being away and one couple calling in the day off to say he was puking. Yes, please stay home.
  • In case your interested, I think I'm in danger of becoming a computer widower. My wife now has someone else to share in her love of blogging, Sally, her new laptop. I guess I shot myself in the foot be getting her such a nice, new and fast one. I should have saved a lot of money by buying some used bargain laptop that moves slower than me shoveling the driveway. Actually, she did share Sally with me last night so that I could play a computer game - Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II. My dad got it for me over a year ago but I never could play it because we did not have a computer that met the minimum requirements. Now we have Sally. Only Sally and Stephanie are attached at the finger tips, so I have to beg, borrow or guilt her into allowing me to utilize some of Sally's CPU cycles. One day, I will have a Harry or a Lightning.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Turn That TV Off, Now

The 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show was just held in Las Vegas. Can you imagine all of the really cool up-and-coming electronics on display? All the game systems, all the computers, and all of the TVs? Imagine all the fun you could have there, especially if you brought along a nifty little device call TV-B-Gone which can turn off most of those TVs, like these guys did (check out the video, it's great)? I'm now thinking to myself, "I've gotta get me one of those."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Strange But True Story

I just had to share this news article. Fact is stranger than fiction.

Did they really think it would work? How were they going to explain the fact that they had to wheel him in to the store in a chair? Did they not think their charade would be discovered once the store clerk asked the dead man a question (as he surely would have if they had gotten that far)?

I struggled over coming up with some title for this post that played of the story but could not think of any that didn't seem in some respect disrespectful to the dead man.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

5 Weird Things About Me

Gee, I never thought I would write a post exclusively about the weird facts concerning me. Thanks to my wife who tagged me, I am now.

  1. I have a neurosis regarding pens. I must know where all of my pens are or I start to get anxious, not a lot but enough that I will exert a good deal of effort to locate the missing pen.
  2. I really don't like the cold, yet I've lived in New England for ten years. Go figure. I'm the first guy to put on the long johns and the last guy to take them off.
  3. Similar to my friend Leslie, I like even numbers and multiples of fives (yes, another neurosis - are they contagious?). Evens are better than fives, but fives are acceptable because they are one of two halves of tens. Unlike her, this does not just apply to the volume but to any number of things. If at all possible, I choose a number that fits this criteria. Thank goodness this post is about FIVE weird things and not three or seven!
  4. As an extension of number three, I like things to get used evenly. For example, I like to try and rotate through my undershirts, making sure each gets worn in turn. If I put up my clean undershirts, which rarely happens as Stephanie will attest to, I will put the clean ones at the bottom of the stack so that the ones on the bottom have their fair chance at being worn. Again, this is not a really strong neurosis, so my laziness overcomes it most of the time in the example given and I don't care enough to take back the laundry duties from my wonderful wife (though, in my defense, I do assist on those occasions that I'm asked or when laundry is being done while I'm at home). It does apply to other areas too.
  5. I can sing "This is the Day that the Lord has Made" in three different languages. With all the people I knew at my university who could speak Spanish fluently, I should have gotten one of them to teach me and I would know it in four.
As a bonus item, number 6 (making it an even number :D), I must be weird to share five personal items of weirdness with anyone who cares to read them. I'm a guy, this is too much personal information being divulged at once. Some of these probably have not even been clearly articulated to my wife of ten years - surprise honey, you married a weird man.

So that I'm not the lone guy on this trail of tagging, I'll tag Mr. E at Thoughts from ME and Scott at Honey, I Fed The Kids!.

Guess Who #2?

The first Guess Who? post has been such a hit, I thought I would post another one with the only other clipping I found from my university newspaper (that means this is the last one of these clippings you will see). It's not as fun as the other one, which is why I did the other one initially.
Who do you think the mystery person is?

I will post the official "unmask" photo at the same time I do the other one.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Oral Update, 01/07/2008

So I went to the oral surgeon today, expecting that he would take one look at the newly forming fistula and declare that an extraction was necessary. To my surprise, he did not.

He did take a pair of scissors and cut off the new fistula, squeezing all of the liquid out from within the gums to check for any signs of infection, such as pus. (Have those with weak stomachs rejoined us after a trip to the nearest receptacle?) He tested the tooth and it was solid. He does not want to give up on it yet. Since there is no infection visible and the tooth is not moving around (a sign of infection), he's given me another prescription of antibiotics for the next week. I will see him next Monday. He said that he removed quite a bit of material in the operation and so these fluids are probably just bodily fluids pooling in the hole until the body fully heals and fills it (my layman's summary of what he told me). He had put in two gel packs to try to fill the gap to help the healing occur quicker.

If another fistula has come up as big as this last one, he says the tooth will have to come out. I was instructed to do a mouth rinse (salt and water or peroxide and water) and to feel free to try to push against that area to try and squeeze liquid out. Believe me, I will in order to try to keep my tooth. He said that if it came to an extraction, I would be knocked out again because he would have to break the tooth and cut out the roots - oh yeah.

For those with stronger stomachs who made it this far, I would appreciate prayer. While this is not a life threatening condition, I sure would like not to have to have the tooth pulled, the recovery and then having to go through the process of getting it replaced (it's a middle molar and primary to the grinding of my food, which I like to eat). Thanks.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Guess Who?

This is a guessing game for those of you who went to university with my wife and me. I was rummaging around about a week ago and came across an old picture clipped from our university newspaper. It is of a couple of friends of ours performing on stage. I've scanned in the picture but I've masked their faces. Can you guess who they are?

Leave me a comment with your guesses. Use first names only please. In a week or so I will post the "unmasked" picture and reveal the identities (again, first names only). To these two, I hope you'll forgive me for doing this but the picture was too good to resist.

What Else Has This Recovering Patient Been Up To?

Last year God provided for us to be able to pay off our home equity loan (see my wife's post that includes this). As a result, we felt we could take some money and buy a new laptop for Stephanie so she could blog in the warmth of the upstairs and not in the meat locker that the basement is during the winter, and so she could blog without becoming frustrated at the snail's pace our current laptop (really a desktop due to a dead screen) has been running at.

I ordered the laptop a week or so before Christmas and it was due to be delivered this past Friday (which it was). Since I'm the geek member of this marriage, it was my job to configure the laptop and install all the necessary software (it came with pretty much just the operation system installed).

So over the last week (and actually before that) I've been planning and researching how I want to configure the operation system and finalizing what should be installed on it. Other than the operating system, all the software on the laptop came free with it (Microsoft Works 8.5 and two Microsoft games), was already in our possession (Money Matters, HP printer software, Nero CD/DVD authoring software) or was available for free online (firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware, browsers).

So the laptop came Friday afternoon. I was not able to start the configuring, tweaking and installing until after the kids had gone to bed. Because I am such a loving husband and wanted to get it to her as soon as possible (interpret that to say I had a new toy), I literally spent all night working on it. I finally decided that the games that had not gotten installed could wait and went to bed at 5 a.m. Saturday morning, only to get up again around 8:30 a.m. for breakfast with the family.

See Stephanie's post about her new laptop. I threatened a couple of time just to make the laptop mine but decided living was more important :-).


Post Operation Status

I know many of you may be wondering if I died in my oral surgery operation since you have not seen anything from me this week. Well, let me dispense with that rumor. I'm alive and eating, again.

Here's a brief summary of the day of surgery (last Monday) and the subsequent days. You can also read my wife's version of that day.

  • Arrived a few minutes prior to my 10:00 a.m. appointment. They took me back, had me sign a consent form and had me knocked out within 10 minutes.
  • About 45 minutes later I was back in the land of the conscious and was assisted to a recovery area, mouth stuffed full of gauze.
  • After recovering sufficiently, my wonderful wife assisted me to the van. That was after she took the kids out and strapped them in - yes, she had the kids with her in the waiting room. Brave woman.
  • Went to the Wal-Mart pharmacy to get my prescription of antibiotics and pain killer filled. When I say went, I mean I sat in the van and waited (holding an ice pack to my swollen face and tried to keep the kids happy) while Stephanie went inside. She came back out and we went to another pharmacy because Wal-Mart was out of stock of the pain killer - no I could not wait a day or so to have it filled.
  • Got home and climbed into bed.
  • I stayed in bed most of the day. The routine went something like this - apply ice pack, take off ice pack, apply ice pack, take off ice pack, sleep, wake up, take pain killer, apply ice pack, take off ice pack, ....
  • By Tuesday morning, New Year's day, I was feeling better. All bleeding had stopped. I was still swollen, but I did not need the pain killers until I went to bed that night.
  • Wednesday I went back to work. Good thing my beard helped hide the swelling.
  • Since then I've improved each day. The swelling is pretty much gone. Yesterday, Saturday, I was able to eat pretty much normally.
  • I'm brushing my teeth pretty normally now too. I started on Wednesday, staying away from that whole lower right side of the mouth but now I do those teeth as well, just gently.
  • I go in for a check up tomorrow afternoon. I'm feel pretty confident that the cuts from the surgery are healing nicely. However, I think the doctor will say the tooth needs to be pulled. Why? Because I noticed yesterday that there appears to be another fistula forming. So sad. I've grown attached to that tooth.
I just want to say that Stephanie is my hero, or rather, my heroine. This past week she has been sick, all three kids have been sick and I had oral surgery and the recovery from it. And she took care of all of us and herself. There's no way I could have done that (at least not as well) if the roles had been reversed. Thanks sweetheart.

I have a confession. I was not one of those "do it by the book" recovery patients. Monday for supper, Stephanie took the kids to McDonalds so that I could get some rest. At one point I finally roused myself out of bed because I was starving - I had not eaten since supper the previous night. I was eating mashed potatoes and gravy left over from KFC, which was delicious but not very filling. The kitchen table still had the dishes left over from lunch (did I mention she and the kids were sick too?) and Ben had left part of a piece of a KFC chicken strip. Boy, did that smell good to me. Oh yes I did - when Stephanie and the kids arrived home, I was finishing off the last of it. I would pull of little tiny pieces and chew them slowly and carefully on the opposite side of my mouth from the operation. And yes, it did taste as good as it smelled. Stephanie admonished me on my foolishness but my stomach was happier for it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Welcome 2008