Friday, December 30, 2011

My Thank you note to the Live It Up Podcast


Background: I won a little contest on the Live It Up podcast. I sent them a thank you note for the prize. This is that note. I thought you'd enjoy

***
I promised myself that if I got any extra money this holiday season, I was going to put it toward a new phone.

My old phone, Jeeves, a  3GS has been a faithful helper and companion for several years now. He’s been terrific, always by my side and available for a quick Google or important text message. Jeeves is the closest a man of modest means, such as myself, will ever come to having a butler; thus the name.

But Jeeves was showing his age. His battery didn’t last as long as it once did; his screen wasn’t as responsive to my touch as it once was and he was getting a little slow.

When your check arrived, it put me within reach of a new 4S. I went to the Apple Store not anticipating the crowd that I found there, but I knew what I wanted. I told the greeter; who added my name to a clipboard with a long list of names of people waiting to see a sales person; exactly what I wanted: a 32 GB, black 4S with a case, extended warranty & screen protector.

She pointed to the wall where I could select a case & screen protector while I waited for the sales person. I had those items in my hand in no time.

The wait wasn’t too bad. The salesman, Jeff, introduced himself and asked if I needed any information on the iPhone. I told him no and listed the features I wanted. He punched that info into his iPod; asked which carrier I wanted; asked for my payment information and I was done; an easy transaction.

The hard part was to follow. At home, I plugged the 4S into the computer to add applications, music and so forth. But the really hard part was what to name the 4S. I thought that maybe I should go with something cute, or dirty, or… I just didn’t know.

I decided to keep with the butler theme. I thought and thought trying to remember a butler’s name. I thought of Mr. French, the butler from “Family Affair,” but those kids suffered pretty gruesome fates; so I rejected that.

Then I thought of the most famous butler I knew. Batman’s butler… the ever faithful, ever helpful, the keeper of Batman’s secret identity… shit! What was his name?

Albert, I decided. I looked at the phone, but it didn’t look like an Albert. Albert is a fat kid’s name.

I sat for a few more minutes. My brain kept telling me Albert. It didn’t feel right, but I typed it in. My phone, Albert. A little vomit rose in my throat.

I carried Albert all evening, playing Words with Friends, Tweeting, listening to podcasts. Albert performed flawlessly.

But later that night, I went to bed with a troubled mind. Maybe I was just having buyer’s remorse over Albert.

I tossed and turned finally waking with a start at 3:15 AM.

I thought, “Albert! Albert was the name of the actor, Eddie Albert, in Green Acres! He wasn’t a butler! And Albert would blab everything. He was married to that Gabor twin in that show! She’d leak anything in the world to Boris Badinoff in a heartbeat! Hell; Eddie Albert would try to grow corn in the bat cave!”

“Albert wouldn’t keep any secrets! It was Alfred! Alfred Pennyworth! Alfred would keep Batman’s identity secret! Alfred would keep the location of the bat cave from the bad guys! Alfred would even clean up the bat cave after Batman does the nasty with Robin!”

I rushed upstairs and renamed the 4S to Alfred.

Thank you so much for your assistance in getting Alfred. I’m sure he will be my faithful companion for many years or until my contract runs out… or a newer more handsome model is introduced.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Buddy's Version of "The 12 Days of Christmas"

On the 1st day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
a chew toy under a pear tree.


On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
2 bunny massages;
and a chew toy under a pear tree.

On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love sent to me;:
3 Ripe Cherries;
2 bunny massages;
and a chew toy under a pear tree.

On the 4th day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
4 willow wreaths;
3 Ripe Cherries;
2 bunny massages;
and a chew toy under a pear tree.

On the 5th day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
5 bales of hay;
4 willow wreaths;
3 Ripe Cherries;
2 bunny massages;
and a chew toy under a pear tree.

On the 6th day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
6 ducks a quacking;
5 bales of hay;
4 willow wreaths;
3 Ripe Cherries;
2 bunny massages;
and a chew toy under a pear tree.

On the 7th day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
7 stuffed toys;
6 ducks a quacking;
5 bales of hay;
4 willow wreaths;
3 Ripe Cherries;
2 bunny massages;
and a chew toy under a pear tree.

On the 8th day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
8 bags of blueberries;
7 stuffed toys;
6 ducks a quacking;
5 bales of hay;
4 willow wreaths;
3 Ripe Cherries;
2 bunny massages;
and a chew toy under a pear tree.
On the 9th day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
9 cardboard chew tubes;
8 bags of blueberries;
7 stuffed toys;
6 ducks a quacking;
5 bales of hay;
4 willow wreaths;
3 Ripe Cherries;
2 bunny massages;
and a chew toy under a pear tree.

On the 10th day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
10 shreddable phone books;
9 cardboard chew tubes;
8 bags of blueberries;
7 stuffed toys;
6 ducks a quacking;
5 bales of hay;
4 willow wreaths;
3 Ripe Cherries;
2 bunny massages;
and a chew toy under a pear tree.

On the 11th day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
11 bunny rattles;
10 shreddable phone books;
9 cardboard chew tubes;
8 bags of blueberries;
7 stuffed toys;
6 ducks a quacking;
5 bales of hay;
4 willow wreaths;
3 Ripe Cherries;
2 bunny massages;
and a chew toy under a pear tree.

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
12 baby rabbits;
11 bunny rattles;
10 shreddable phone books;
9 cardboard chew tubes;
8 bags of blueberries;
7 stuffed toys;
6 ducks a quacking;
5 bales of hay;
4 willow wreaths;
3 Ripe Cherries;
2 bunny massages;
and a chew toy under a pear tree.






... Wait! What was that last verse?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Day from Hell

Today was a crummy day at the ol' salt mine. Late yesterday, a server processor quit working. That server was a single processor box that is fairly old.

When we bought it, we were told, "oh, it's just a file server; so only put a single processor in. It doesn't need hot swappable parts, because it's not critical and we need to save money."

Famous last words.

Well a project that was due today depended on that server, and it sure became important to the person doing the project yesterday.

Anyway, a person on the team worked into the night trying to get the computer running, but found the doa processor. He called and located a company that could overnight the part. BUT, we have to get approval from 2 different departments for emergency purchases and they weren't there that late at night to give the approval.

The order had to wait until today; never mind the poor user that needed their files.

So today, we started the process to buy the part. We filled out forms to make the purchase. Got them signed by our director, logged in by the secretary and walked down to the purchasing officer, who, as luck would have it, was offsite for the day.

The request went to the desk of a lower level purchasing agent, who called to say the vendor had to have a credit check before we could buy from them. That credit check would require an additional 24 hours.

I Googled the part number & found another vendor, Amazon. Now, it was an Amazon affiliate, but the check would go to Amazon. I gave this information to the purchasing peon along with 10 pages of additional vendors. They found one to their liking and the purchase process was back on.

It went to our financial department next who moved heaven & earth to get the order processed. It was logged into another computer system and the money was allocated for the purchase. Next, it went back to our purchasing office for the signature of the director who, remember the director? Was offsite.

I took the piece of paper, hopped in my car & started driving; right after the purchasing peon told me, they had to fax it by 2:00 PM for the vendor to get it to fedex for delivery today. Also, I had no idea where I was going.

I plugged the address into my smart phone & with fingers crossed, started heading across town.

I got lost!

I knew I was in trouble when the mapping app started taking me on winding back roads through a warehouse district in the, well I'll say it, the BAD part of town.

But through shear determination, I finally found the place, It was a warehouse that looked like the perfect crime scene location from CSI.

I rushed in; took a while to locate the purchasing director; got a signature. 15 minutes until 2:00 for a 30 minute drive back to the office is the lights worked in my favor.

Abandoning the mapping software, I took another route back to the office. I was guessing that there had to be a more direct route since I had been near that part of town on bike rides.

I was right and got back to the office in 20 minutes only to find that someone had taken my parking space in assigned parking. I took a visitor's space, put my parking id on the dash, informed security that I was in visitor's lot & there was an asshole in my space. There referred me to the guy that writes the tickets, saying "If you don't tell him, you might get towed."

I found him; reported the issue. In his most official way, he grabbed his ticket book saying "I'll take care of this."

I didn't offer my car keys, so I figured it wouldn't include moving my car.

So next I was off to the purchasing office... in the next building...

I was 5 minutes late, but I'm keeping fingers crossed that the part will be there tomorrow.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Lights at Nearby Mall

We walked around a nearby shopping mall called North Hills. I think they have some of the prettiest Christmas lights around. I shot a short video of those lights & hope you enjoy them.

In the last bit, notice the roses that are in bloom. It's pretty warm around here and yes, that was Pooh walking around in shorts & a t-shirt on November 27, 2011. It was that warm.


video


Saturday, October 29, 2011

A visit to the Reading Market

Recently, we went to Philadelphia for a weekend visit. We got a chance to stop in the Reading Market and fell in love with it.

Here's a little of what we saw.


video

Friday, October 7, 2011

Gray Fox

I thought I saw some movement among the trees in the back yard. Grabbed the phone and shot this short video of a gray fox coming up to steal a bit of food.

It's a little dark, but hope you can see ok. BTW the tub that is in the picture normally has dog food. The back yard isn't too messy normally.


video

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Retire?

A co-worker asked if I planned to retire anytime soon since I now have 30 years in here at my place of employment. With 30 years, I’m fully vested in the retirement system and can get my full pension.

I told him that I really don’t know. I planned to work another 4 years, but so many things are beyond my control.

There are the possibilities of layoffs here and I’d retire before being laid off; hopefully with an incentive package to entice me into leaving.

But that also raises the question of whether I’d even want to live in North Carolina after I retire. NC is proposing an anti-gay marriage amendment to its constitution. If it passes, I don’t want to live here. There are a handful of states that have either marriage or domestic partnerships that I’d consider moving to.

As my partner and I get older, we are thinking more and more about the ability to make medical decisions for each other and inheritance rights. We don’t want to get stuck paying twice for the home we’ve bought together. (As an unmarried couple, we have to pay inheritance tax on the portion of the house that the deceased partner paid.)

On the other hand, if we stayed in NC, we don’t have to pay state income tax on our retirement benefits where we would in most other states. Also, our former employer pays our medical insurance if we stay here. They would pay if we move, but we’d face 40% co-pay for treatments, which would get prohibitive very quickly.

Speaking of health care, we have excellent health care here in NC in this region. Duke University and UNC Hospitals are nearby with excellent cancer care. Also Wake Medical Center has excellent cardiac care.

But again, we need to be in a location where we have rights. We’ve read about couples that have medical power of attorney and the hospital not honoring the power of attorney. It’s some crazy things happening in this country toward gay couples. If the amendment passes, it is worded in such a way that we may not have rights even with the Power of Attorney.

When we look at the list of states where we can marry, those tend to have pretty high cost of living. It will be pretty tough to get the pension to stretch far enough for us to live comfortably.

So many things to weigh in making this decision; I just don’t know what to do.

On the face of it, you would think this would be such a simple question, “When do you think you’ll retire?”

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Moose and the IRS

Dear, Gussy! I think I'm going to have a stroke.

Came home to a big envelope from the IRS. Thought to myself, "well this can't be good."

Opened it to see they felt I owed about $2K from 2009. Said my Mortgage interest didn't match what they received from the bank.

Well in 2009, we refinanced. They picked up the lesser of 2 statements from that year and billed me for their incompetence.

Well they don't know how meticulous I am with record keeping when it comes to tax stuff. I went to my file, pulled the 1098 form; (both of them); copied them and checked the block "I disagree".

Just got back from post office where I dropped this bombshell in the mail.

That still doesn't mean the incident is over. Maybe that's why my heart is still pounding.

Can they send me some money for adding stress to my life? I'm sure they took off at least 10 years.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Brand New Thing

After a million years evolution;
A billion trips around the sun;
I sit here with pen in hand;
To write a brand new thing.

A thought, a wish, or something cleaver;
Anything my muse reveals;
My only goal, let it be told;
To write a brand new thing.

Alas my thoughts escape me;
Not a twinge of prose from my muse;
I curse this day! This day set aside
To write a brand new thing.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Absence explained

I haven't put anything on the blog lately.

Sorry about that.

Lots of stuff has been going on. Where do I start?

Let's see. We went to Nashville to see Les Miserable. It was the new production; restaged in London. It was a Christmas from my Hubby.

Obviously the plans were made months ago. We were to fly Southwest directly to Nashville on a Friday; see the play that night & have a relaxing weekend until a flight early Sunday.

Well I woke up that Friday feeling a bit quezy. Didn't think much about it. Figured it was just nerves. I'm not the best flier.

We flew to Nashville; checked into the hotel, the Hutton, and did a bit of shopping during the afternoon. Let me say this about the hotel. The Hutton was fabulous. Flowers in the lobby; lovely, big room. I'd live there if I had the money.

We went to the hotel restaurant for a light lunch. Decor modern; seating comfortable; new American cuisine. The only issue was that I had no appetite. Since I didn't eat breakfast, I decided to order a little something anyway.

When the food arrived, it looked great but the smell almost made me hurl. I pushed the plate away uneaten. Hubby wasn't happy since the lunch cost big bucks.

After lunch, we went shopping and sightseeing in town. Now hubby grew up near Nashville and if truth be told I think spent many of his wild younger days in the city. He lived there for a couple of years after college in which he admits to drunken debauchery.

Friday afternoon he showed me some of his old haunts. Places where he met a number of now famous musicians, but back then they were all struggling 20 somethings trying to find their way in the world.

The tour was a lot of fun. We filled the afternoon until it was time to head back to the hotel to dress for the theatre. After dressing, we took the limo to a small restaurant near the theatre.

Again, I wasn't hungry. Well, more than that. Food repulsed me. I ordered chicken soup ; took one bite and thought I'd throw up. Now homemade chicken noodle soup is usually a winner with me, but not that night. Hubby tried a spoonful and said it was delicious. Not to me!

We saw the play and it was delightful. I'd recommend it to anyone. This was the revised version from London. Gone is the turntable that spun props on and off stage. They simplified the sets and that allowed the audience to focus on the important parts of the scenery. Good production.

We went back to the hotel; got a good nights sleep.

We went out the next morning. Hubby wanted to take me to a place for breakfast that he went to as a kid. At the restaurant, I ordered a sausage biscuit; took one bite and couldn't eat any more. Could hardly swallow that one bite.

It was good, don't get me wrong. I just felt like I couldn't eat. We took a limo back downtown for some serious shopping. Hubby wanted boots and maybe a jacket. You know the type. Stuff that looks like one just finished herding cattle to a stockyard.

He found a jacket; worn, soft leather that was just what he wanted. No sale after seeing the price. There are small countries that operate all year for less than the price of that jacket. But it was beautiful.

After shopping he was feeling a bit hungry. We went to a chain restaurant to grab a burger. He ate. I ordered and threw the food away.

He was getting concerned at this point saying I had to eat. Last meal was Thursday night and it was Saturday. Still couldn't force food down.

After lunch, We walked along the street with lots of bars and clubs. The street was Broadway. We stopped into old record stores, junk shops and bars.

We found one bar with no cover and live music. The band played covers of 80's rock and a bit of country. They were good, the lead singer was pretty, it just felt right to spend the afternoon listening to them.

I ordered a diet Coke and was perfectly content. After a couple of hours though I noticed that it was really cool in there. I had to step outside to warm up in the 90 degree Nashville afternoon heat.

But still, we had a really good time listening to the band. We stayed until the band finished; called the limo and headed back to the hotel. Hubby went to the bar; I went to the room for a few minutes. I needed some warmer clothes.

I met him in the bar shortly thereafter. He had a nice glass of Cabernet poured. We met some lovely people and struck up a conversation. I was getting colder by the minute so I excused myself and headed back to the room.

Hubby found me a hour or so later bundled up under all the covers I could find in the room. I was burning up with fever but was shivering.

It was a rough night; kept waking alternating between hot and cold. But I was determined to beat whatever was wrong with me. I was going home in the morning and I knew I could wait it out.

In the morning I felt much better. Fever was way down; chills gone. I packed then we headed to the airport. Hubby ate breakfast at the airport before the flight. Me, nothing.

Flew back home and was doing fine until I tried to stand to get out of my seat. I doubled over in pain. I asked hubby to get me to the emergency room. We went right there. They took some blood; pressed my lower abdomen. More pain.

A surgeon came to me and told me the bad news. Appendicitis. But the good news was it was routine surgery and would be over in an hour.

I think he regretted saying those words. The surgery took three hours. The appendix had ruptured. When I woke up, He said it was really nasty and wanted to show me pictures. I couldn't handle that and declined.

So anyway that was my lovely Christmas present. Hubby was well meaning and I enjoyed the trip and the play. But the fates were plotting against me. I hope to get back to Nashville soon. It's a lovely city.

So if you have it in your heart, please forgive my neglecting the blog for a bit. It's been a busy spring.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Server; Finally seeing the large drive

Got Win 7 in today. Loaded Win XP again. Then installed the Win 7 upgrade.

Now I see the drive array. Formatting it now and then will share it.

Finally good news w/ this  project.

Server build update

Feeling totally defeated by the Unix installation.

I ordered a copy of Windows 7 Professional. I'm waiting for it to come in.

I feel really good about the hardware build. The equipment has been running for a couple of weeks with the only down time happening when we had a power failure when the tornadoes move through our area a week ago.

As soon as I get the Windows license in, I'll pop that on the computer and will give another update.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Home server continued

Got the FreeNAS installed on the computer.

The OS is building the drive array. Had been running for 2 hours and reports that it's completed 14.48%.

Kill me now!

Windows limitation

So I ran into a Windows XP limitation when I tried to get the OS to see the drive array. XP Pro supports Raid, but has a drive limit of 2 TB according to the array controller manufacturer.

I deleted Windows and installed FreeNAS on the boot drive. I'm in the middle of configuring it now.

Wish me luck. I'm going to need it because I'm not used to Unix.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Building a home server

I have been wanting to build a home server to house all my media files that have accumulated over the years.

I have an old PC that I no longer use that had plenty of drive bays. Well, how hard could it be? Right?


Here is the old pc. 

 Lots of wires in this thing. The power supply isn't very old, but I decided to replace the hard drive that will house the OS. 

The chassis is one of the no screws needed models. Should make for quick work.


 My SATA Raid 5 controller. I'm going to hang 4, 2 TB drives off this.


 Bought bare drives so had to buy SATA cables. Since the chassis is old, I also had to get power converter cables.


 5 Seagate Green drives. OS is 500 GB and the rest are 2 TB.

 Drives installed in the chassis. 


 SATA & Power Cables connected to drives. 

 A cold beverage for the technician.

 I had Windows XP Pro from the previous build. Pro supports Raid, so why not use it. 


 The Raid setup screen. 


Windows installed and there is a utility to format the drives. 

This was pretty easy.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011