Reliable Technology

”When using reliable technology, troubleshoot the simple and physical stuff first."
- Jim Melcher (Hey, that's me!)

Technology I Love

I was sitting at my computer when I saw a voicemail pop into my inbox! I immediately thought, “Why?” I was here the whole time, why did the telephone not ring? I then slipped into troubleshooting mode. This is a hazard of being currently employed as a support analyst and a lifelong geek.

I love new technology. I love proven, reliable technology much more. Fellow geeks and other Windows users will note my first thought was “Why?” and not "Damn, I don't have time to reboot!" This initial thought comes from my broad experience with alternate technologies. Technologies that usually work, for months, without restarts, without unexplained halts.

The particular technology that had me puzzled was my telephone. I admire the telephone network. My father was a long time employee of Bell of Pennsylvania and then Verizon in the end. I even put in a few years at the "pho-en cump'ny1" before it became Verizon. Fellow geeks, consider a technology service that is deployed to millions of users with high uptime, small learning curve and variable hardware implementations.

Your kids can use a telephone, your parents can use a telephone. People in cities and people with barns were able to use the early telephones. The system is usually up. Except in extreme circumstances of weather or physical damage people rely on the telephone. It is a reliable system. It is this kind of technology that I expect and assume in most of my experiences.

Fast Forward

After several upgrades to the telephone system (touch tone, fax service, data service, *69) including the successful interlink with parallel technologies (cellular, Internet), I find myself at my heavily used iMac2 receiving an electronic mail message from my telephone voice mail system. This indicates a missed a call and someone left a message. I was right here when the telephone call was placed, but my telephone set did not ring. "Huh?"

I am working with Windows clients at work. I must admit a lapse in troubleshooting judgment. I went to the router to check it out first.

Router? Sorry, forgot to mention I am a Vonage person. I would be happy to refer you. After this article you may want to switch for the low prices and national long distance included in your monthly rate (which I love!).

Given the complicated implementation of my telephone service, I panicked. I pulled a Windows move and restarted the router.

I don't know why.

I was receiving email on my iMac at the time of the outage. That means the internet traffic from my computer was successfully traveling over the same router and internet connection as the telephone service data. This was my first clue. I ignored it and rebooted.

That little reboot restored my service for a minute. Even reliable technologies will respond to drastic, brutish methods. I was a short lived victory. Before I could look at the number of the caller in the emailed voice mail, my service went high and dry again. This was my second clue. I ignored it and prepared to reboot something else.

This time I had the number programmed into my telephone handset's dial buffer. No delay this time! I decided to restart the Network Interface (often called the cable modem). This brutal solution also restored my service. So, I dialed. Unfortunately, I seem to have a problem with my biological dial buffer. I transposed some of the digits of the telephone number and received an invalid number message from the telephone network.

Blame Cox

Service was restored, and I get to the blame the cable company. Blaming a big company pleases the inner "technology should be free to everyone" streak in me. Too bad the nice big expensive networks that I need can only be produced by big companies seeking big profits. Many people hate the local cable company. I have little trouble with the service. I think they resent the price, and frequent price hikes.

I digress. I hang up and go to the iMac screen to get the number. I pick up the phone again, but the invalid number message is still playing! "Huh?" This was my third and final clue. In a reliable system it is always the simple (often physical) stuff that causes the problem.

It Wasn’t the Router

I had no problem with my heat beleaguered router. My Cox cable service was even reliable! The problem was me. I had answered the telephone late last night with the old style phone in the other room. The one with the physical switch to hang up. The switch that is activated (opened) by placing the full weight of the handset on it.

I failed to properly hung up my telephone. This whole technological odyssey was caused by a simple physical failure of the full weight of the handset to come to rest on the switch. The telephone network did it's job and cut my service until I properly hung up.

1 This is not misspelled, that was the proper "dumb dutch" name of the company that provided telephone service in Berks County. It was four syllables: Foe En Cump Nee.
2 This footnote is a required apology to my Windows using friends. Many of you believe me to be a Windows user. I am at work, but not out of preference. I own a Mac. I use it whenever I can. This bLog is composed and published on an iMac. Sorry if I deceived you by seeming normal.

Holiday Event

We had the second opportunity to attend the ASU, W. P. Carey, Annual, Holiday, Charity Event. I probably forgot some adjectives, but it was a fine semi formal event.

The charity benefits from a faux casino. You get chips with your admission. You gamble away said chips. If you are Karen you actually double your chips and have enough to buy raffle tickets with the accumulated chips. Then there is a much announced drawing for prizes donated to the charity event.

Karen won 4 Diamondbacks tickets for the 2007 season. We went to a few games already it will be fun.

She's Having A Baby - UPDATE

Brian finally got to take a breath and started calling everyone with the much anticipated details.

Marcus Aaron James Braden Basic facts: 7 lbs. 14 ozs. 21" Born 11/10/2006 17:37

Jennifer (Momma) is fine. After 37.5 weeks, probably relieved. She was released on Sunday.

Brian is the happiest parent I have heard in a long time.

She's Having A Baby

Brian Called He met Jennifer at the hospital at 4:10 PM.

Water broke, this is really happening.


Chuck got stuck managing an implementation of QumasDoc (now DocCompliance) at Purdue. Despite this introduction we got along just fine. Chuck likes cars. Old cars, new cars anything he can tweak a little more horsepower from, pretty much makes him happy.

Chuck is also the source of some of the best "list humor" I keep. He find lists that last. They are fun, but they don't wear out after the first reading. The latest gem is a list of definitions. Simple definitions of the function of tools. You know, stuff guys should know.

Tool Terms

DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, splattering it against that freshly painted airplane part you were drying.

WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprint whorls and hard-earned guitar calluses in about the time it takes you to say, "Ouch...."

ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age.

PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. Or snap off shower necks. I broke one off and needed to get the tile removed, replace the "receiver" and retile. Ooops!

HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

VISE-GRIPS: Used to round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub you want the bearing race out of.

WHITWORTH SOCKETS: Once used for working on older British cars and motorcycles, they are now used mainly for impersonating that 9/16 or 1/2 socket you've been searching for the last 15 minutes.

HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have installed your new disk brake pads, trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.

EIGHT-FOOT LONG DOUGLAS FIR 2X4: Used for levering an automobile upward off a hydraulic jack handle.

TWEEZERS: A tool for removing wood splinters.

PHONE: Tool for calling your neighbors to see if he has another hydraulic floor jack.

GASKET SCRAPER: Theoretically useful as a sandwich tool for spreading mayonnaise; used mainly for getting dog shit off your boot.

E-Z OUT BOLT AND STUD EXTRACTOR: A tool ten times harder than any known drill bit that snaps off in bolt holes you couldn't use anyway.

TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST: A tool for testing the tensile strength on everything you forgot to disconnect.

CRAFTSMAN 1/2 x 16 INCH SCREWDRIVER: A large pry bar that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end opposite the handle.


TROUBLE LIGHT: The home mechanic's own tanning booth. Sometimes called a drop light, it is a good source of vitamin D, "the sunshine vitamin," which is not otherwise found under cars at night. Health benefits aside, it's main purpose is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at about the same rate that 105-mm howitzer shells might be used during, say, the first few hours of the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light, its name is somewhat misleading.

PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the lids of old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splash oil on your shirt; but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.

AIR COMPRESSOR: A machine that takes energy produced in a coal-burning power plant 200 miles away and transforms it into compressed air that travels by hose to a Chicago Pneumatic impact wrench that grips rusty bolts last over tightened 58 years ago by someone at ERCO, and neatly rounds off their heads.

PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50¢ part.

HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to cut hoses too short.

HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts not far from the object we are trying to hit.

MECHANIC'S KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts.

DAMMIT TOOL: Any handy tool that you grab and throw across the garage while yelling "DAMMIT" at the top of your lungs. It is also the next tool that you will need.

EXPLETIVE: A balm, usually applied verbally in hindsight, which somehow eases those pains and indignities following our every deficiency in foresight.

Democratic Control

This just in...

The United States returns to its senses and give control of the House and Senate back to the Democratic Party after 12 years of short cutting due process, closing hearings and bending over backward to please the President.

Thank you.

You may soon be forgiven for letting that Texas moron in control, twice!

Sleepy Dog

Larry asked, "what does your dog do all day while you are at work?"

Simple answer: Sleep!

I told him I can get home early some days and the dog will not even hear me come into the house. He loves his nap time.

Larry asked, can you catch him sleeping? I did:

He didn't even open his eyes until the red eye reducing preflash was going.

Yes, the bedding is probably Fleinhardt1 approved.

1 CBS has cancelled and removed Numb3rs from their site. Dr. Fleinhardt had an obsession with all things white.

Halloween Party

We hosted another small gathering in the wake of the successful 36th birthday party. We pulled in some members of her executive MBA class and had a few of my co-workers return.

We actually used Club Melcher this time. There was arcade game play, billiards happened, martinis and mojitos were flowing. Pete brought some music to set the mood. I got to tend bar behind my favorite piece of furniture. I was handing out stories and tequila shots! We even had a group use the main room to < gasp > talk!

Really had a great time. Good to see and meet all who came out to our place.

Arcade Site Recovery

My arcade habit has all but died here in the desert. I did get a nice William Multigame. It is still working great. I also snagged a Frogger, but I have not gotten it running.

I had to shut down the Cedar Rock Arcade because my supplier stopped making shrouds.

As depressing as this all is, I am reorganizing the arcade section of after the crash that caused version 3.0 to be here. It will be a bit cleaner than the old version. I am trying to tie in better with for the common stuff. I had blurbs on each game as a concept, not the actual machines I restored. I would like to find and recover those.

Well, it is fun reliving my arcade restoration career at the very least.

Dr. Chuck Intervention

Dr. Chuck is a friend, bLogger and countryman. See his new badge link1 on the home page. Dr. Chuck cares for music and radio much like Pete at ickmusic. They have very different areas of special interest, but the same depth of interest.

Dr. chuck is suffering from techno lag.

We need to help Dr. Chuck.

This is a shameless plea for comments, but it is time for an intervention. Dr. Chuck, sit down and listen up!


Rip them into iTunes. You can organize and reorganize there using playlists, categories and genre. Store your polymer and aluminum is a nice comfortable scratch-free case library. You can even go retro and get the cases that look like books and put them on the shelf like your very own encyclopedia set.

1 Dr. Chuck is now blogging at wordpress


Finally Finished the Master Bath and moved back in the downstairs bedroom.

Tile and Finish

The walls were up, electricity run, plumbing places and now the tile work was dragging on and on.

Photo Album: Tile

Moving Fast Now!

The plumbing and lighting is nearly complete. The motor for the Jacuzzi is getting wired in tomorrow. It is really looking great now.

We should be in the bathroom by Saturday. Check it out: Almost Done!

Tiling Is Done

The master bath project has hit a great milestone. The tile work is done. We should be in the bathroom by Saturday. Check it out: Tile!

Early Shift Is Frightening

My new job as an application support analyst requires that someone be at the office from 5 a. m. to 6 p. m. during Daylight time. It will shift to 6 - 7 when the rest of the nation reverts to normal time. This week it is my task to show up at 5 a. m. I am not and never have been a morning person. Waking up before 4 a. m. so that I can shower, shave and slide down the highway is not something I thought I was capable of doing.

This is the second day of the shift and I am discovering I am not able to do it. I was so very tired at work today that I could feel myself pausing to contemplate the answers to simple dialog box questions I normally click through in a nearly precognitive fashion. I wanted nothing more than to drive myself home before falling asleep behind the wheel and hitting the sack!

I did that. After a few hours discussing the finer points of tile installation with the bathroom tile installer. Then his family's health. Then their relative poverty. Then I literally had to walk away to get him to drop the subject, all subjects and go home.

I finally got up to the bedroom and fell asleep. This lead to my worse nightmare in recent decades. I scared the dog too as I woke screaming out loud! I think I need to consider what the early shift is costing me.

Birthday Party

I threw myself a birthday party last night. I invited some friends over, mostly from Countrywide and we had a good time. The scale was small, about 15 people made it out to Club Melcher. The arcade got some action. The billiards table caught a few games. Karen and I got in the pool for a time. Mariyah joined us.

Tequila and I are apparently friends again. I started with a Tres Generaciones shot and keep it up at a pretty good pace. I was not wretchedly hung over this morning as I usually am after tequila.

Did some grilling and had the tartlets for late sweets. Thanks to my guests, we also had an excellent shrimp tray, good rums and side salads for the main meat. I whipped up pretty good guacamole for the first round of drinks, too.

Karen managed to stay sober. Her personal trainer told her to quit drinking. She had a good time, just went alcohol free. In fact she got up at 6:00 a. m. to go on a 7 mile hike. Understand we went to bed at 2:30 a. m. She is just nutty about this stuff!


The Master Bath Project was in full build mode. Living at home was such a drag. Spending our lives upstairs without being back in the East was weird.

Photo Album: Build Up

Taking Shape

The master bath project is passing the destruction phase and entering the taking shape phase. The demolition is done. The new circuit for the tub motor is in. The plumbing is nearly complete. Some drywall has gone up and repairs to the rest of the house (to damage done running the circuit) is getting fixed.

I am particularly happy with the new openess of the space. It is a narrow room and much of the space was wasted in dead zones. The new layout has a wider look and utilizes open space for passage while cramming feature into the bath.

The body jets in the shower are set. The tub fill is cut into the ceiling. We are getting the skeleton done.

Yes, I said tub fill and ceiling. Take a look.

Monsoon Strikes Again

Wind, rain, flying umbrella, overturned chair, that is Arizona in July. Nice!

Living At Home Is Such A Drag

We are in full swing on the Master bath project. There are holes in the wall and ceilings. The electrician needed to run a circuit for the Jacuzzi tub motor. As with every utility in this house the connection (electric box) is on the opposite side of the house from the appliance! They fished and snaked and finally got the power to the bath room.

Everything is covered with plastic to avoid getting dusty.


I managed to meet a few party people in Scottsdale. Well, no, actually they all lived in Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, anywhere but Scottsdale. Didn’t stop me from inviting them to Scottsdale for my birthday bash.

We had about 20 people. The crowd included Mexican, Africans, Minnesotans and other odd ethnicities. The neighbors gossiped for months. It was awesome!

Photo Album: Birthday Bash
Monkey Archive: 2btheman


The Melchers cleared out and demolition began in earnest! We are on our way to a new spa style bath.

Master Bath

Since we seem to be settling in to Sharon Drive it was time to update one important room. It was still the builder stock bathroom and had the "cultured marble" to prove it. We gutted the master bath and completely changed it to be more like the spa and Sandals bathrooms we love.

Photo Album: Inexpensive Horror

Captive of GM Ingenuity

Honda Repair

Today my Honda needed a new condenser. Apparently I created a large hole in my old one, probably running over a tumbleweed on the way to the Canyon. Since the daily high is reaching the 102 mark here, I decided not to delay the repair of this primary component of the air conditioning system.

In the modern two car family dynamic, simple things like getting a car to the shop can be a tactical nightmare. This is one of those stories.


Since the day we bought it this car has maintained a dislike for me. The 2005 Chevrolet Corvette has a keyless entry, starting and driver preference system. There is no key! Just the black plastic thing like the one that forms the top of your key. It is called a fob.

There is no lock. It does not even have a door handle in the traditional sense. Much like the power switch on your PC there is a button where the door handle should be. This button purports to open the door. It is really only a suggestion, though. When you press the button a series of logical tests are conducted across the vehicle sensor array. It scans the immediate electromagnetic field for a particular signature. A signature created by one of 2 fobs. If the signature is found in close proximity, the door is opened by actuating a small electric motor that pulls the latch. My fob never really works.

Dead Sexy

Not to complain. There is very little cooler than walking up to your car during a casual conversation, pressing the button / door handle and having the car already unlocked for you. It is smooth, effortless and dead sexy. When it works. Mine never does. Dead sexy quickly becomes another fine work of profanity while I fumble for the fob and use the button there to unlock the car like a traditional car alarm.

Two Car Shuffle

So, we get up early. We both drive to the dealer. I explain that the air conditioner doesn't and turn over the keys (Yes, the Honda has keys, locks and real door handles). I hop in the Corvette and she drives us to work. We get to JDA and we hop out. Quick morning kiss, discuss contingencies for various repair completion times and head our separate ways. She walks into her office, I drive away.

Interface Design

I used to write applications for companies. I had to lead teams of developers. This gave me the wonderful opportunity to consider the User Interface. Take it from me, if your application has a user dialog that includes the words "No Fob Detected" now would be the time to display them.

You see where this tale is headed.

Driving the Driving Machine

I blissfully pull away and hit the highway in a 400 horsepower driving machine. I tune my tunes in on the MP3 reader and cruise to work in style and speed. I am having a fine morning drive.

Soon I arrive at my destination 25 miles from the fob which my wife carried with her into her office. It was in her purse where it always stays safely tucked in a ridiculously small zippered compartment that could have no other purpose. The beauty of this spectrum scanning, signature finding, security system is just that. She never needs to take it out and do the 80's click for the Woot-woot from the alarm.

I park the car and reach for the fob in the center console. It must be there. I just drove 25 miles without a warning about the fob not detected. I will just grab it and take it in with me.

It is not there. I don't have to search for it because the car is indicating its absence on the Driver Information Panel. This device is designed and named for when you do something that makes you feel like a DIP. The message is "No Fob Detected. Continue or Turn Off?"

I did not actually look this up in the driver's manual. I am sure it would say something to the effect of:

You have asked to turn off the engine and engage the security system. Since you either lost or forgot your fob during the last 25 miles of your journey I will ask you to keep running before I shutdown, engage the security system and begin to pretend I don't know you.

So there you are. Do you let the car run for 9 or so hours while you go to work? Hoping all the while no other fob-less individual drives it away. OR do you turn it off and get locked out of a car with no locks?

The humiliation and scorn from your wife is now inevitable. You will be ridiculed for one of the following reasons:
  • You ran the car all day. Well, most of the day. I am not sure of the conversion rate, but a car that gets 17 mpg is going to run out of fuel at some point and I am betting it is less then 9 hours at under half a tank. So you wasted half a tank AND had to have it towed.
  • Someone else discovered the hole in GM's excellent security plan and hops in for a day of joyriding. You lost the car!
  • You turn it off and have to call her and explain you never even considered bringing your fob. Why would that be needed?

The latter seemed the least expensive, though I did consider my options carefully.

No Ladies, It Never Crossed My Mind

I can hear the female readers of this bLog asking two questions now. I will pause to answer them.

No. At no point in the tactical planning of the car shuffle did I consider needing my fob. Hers would be used to start the car and would stay in the center console where I always put mine. There would be no problem here.

And NO. I did not consider driving back to JDA or home to get the fob. I would then have to call my boss and attempt to explain why I was late. I could not understand that myself, how could I explain it to him?

Yes this would have been the second best plan to ACTUALLY remembering to bring my fob. It is also a plan that can only be concocted by someone with a strong social network. An individual who feels no shame in asking for help.


Well, it is done. The engine is off and I head to work listening to the security system engage. Time to make some calls. I must call my wife to explain the situation and take my ridicule like, well, a man who failed to plan.

This was not done before consulting with the other men at work on a plan to avoid detection of my error. "OnStar, dude, call OnStar!" Genius!

I place a pre-emptory call to OnStar to see if I have enough vital personal information to convince them I am the rightful owner of the expensive sports car I am about to beg entry to. It works! They will unlock it for me. Now I just hope that means the fob detector thingy accepts the unlock signal as permission to start the car. I will call them back when I am close to the car.

Now I call my wife with a lower impact failure to plan. I get a little ridicule and the vital OnStar account number.

OK, do a little work and take a "smoke break" at the car. Well, now that we are testing the technical facets of OnStar and the somewhat tenuous theory that this will disengage the fob detector I have to have an audience of men who want to see the action. We travel to the car. I make the call and get through the security questions and account number giving. They send the signal and...

Well the signal takes up to 10 minutes. My excited crowd of technophiles dwindles. I wait in the garage for the lights to blink and allow me access. I wait alone, for what seems like more than 20 minutes. Then the lights blink and I am in!

Start Up?

Under normal conditions the car cannot be started with making a few safety checks using the advanced vehicle sensors. Purely for safety reasons, please understand. You must have your foot pressed on the brake. The car door must also be closed. In case I decide to also press the accelerator and launch forward at speeds up to 60 miles per hour in the first 3 seconds after I start the car.

Knowing this, and not wanting to blow what I am sure is my single chance to start this thing, I close the door and press the brake pedal. I press the Start button and I am politely informed "No Fob Detected" by the DIP. Then the car automatically locks itself and engages the security system.


I am locked inside my wife's Corvette.

There is no key to unlock the lock that doesn't exist. There is no pull knob to spring me out of my fiberglass and steel cage. There are buttons to suggest the door be unlocked. They all trigger the "No Fob Detected" message. I feel like a DIP, again.

I do have my phone (fearing even the beloved OnStar is disabled when No Fob Detected). I call them back and explain my predicament. They don't laugh. They begin to ask all the questions I have already asked. Can't you use your key? Can't you pull the lock knob? Can you roll down the window? Aren't you in Arizona?

Yes, I am in Arizona. So, please let's not wait until the ambient temperature rises over 100 before trying to get me some fresh air! OnStar is not equipped to handle conscious customers inside the vehicle without calling some other agency. If they are unconscious, dying or have sustained life threatening injuries they quickly call the fire department. The fire department can't help me. So they call GM Customer Care. Surely the manufacturer knows how to get someone out of the vehicle. After that idiot triggers the anti theft devices.

GM Customer Care

GM has a broad array of products. The representative was very polite and helpful. She made several suggestions about how to exit a GM vehicle. She has never driven a Corvette or Cadillac with a driver preference system, keyless entry and push button starting. You guessed it: the same list of remedies involving physical access to the lock.

I interrupted and suggested she read the 2005 Corvette owner's manual on her screen. She takes a moment. Then replies, "Oh, wait you are in Arizona. Is it hot there yet?"

Fortunately OnStar has gambled on a second unlock signal. It has just come through and I quickly exit the luxury leather interior of the 400 horsepower coffin. "I'm out!" I announced. The OnStar representative and the Customer Care representative actually applauded. Then I just had to answer a few customer satisfaction questions before I hung up and went back to work.

I am home now. The Honda is here and the air is frosty inside. The Corvette is here too. I think it may be some time before I am allow to drive it again. Much longer before she stops asking, "did you bring your fob?"

Other Stuff I Forgot To Say While I Was Lying In Bed Sick and Thinking

More Shadowrun this weekend. Everyone but Kurt is coming out for the Scottsdale campaign this Sunday. I still have to get the Shadowrun section in shape.

Ridgeline A/C sucks! It has been around 100 degrees this week and the Ridgeline A/C has failed I am taking it to them tomorrow to get it fixed. Maybe that is why I lost 3 pounds this week!

Got a new HDTV with a minty new wide display? Get a PlayStation 2 to play your games again. It is the coolest! Seriously I have a buncha friends who are re buying the PS2 now that it is down to $129 so they can get a rerun on their games in 1080. I thought it was a super geeky thing only I wanted to do, but I am not alone. You know your old one is shot, buy anew one with a net card and get online. What? Are you waiting for that fad to pass? Right! That's going to happen.

Expanding the Documentum core of knowledge has been fun. I am practicing the high level stuff that I was preaching at Purdue and never got to use. Now I am diagnosing unexpected behavior and really getting to see the gears turn. I have more training next month (after Jamaica).

Speaking of after Jamaica, I may be full time at Countrywide in my post island posts. If all works as planned.

I completely blew it for Mom's Day. I was passed out for most of it. Still I completely skipped it. (Bad Seed Points +25) My sisters showed up to make Mommy Brunch. Brown nosers!

Bad Seed Points: 829,546 (Family Record: 2,385,367,678)

Jamaica Warning

Friday the 26th through June 4th there will be no updates. I am in Jamaica. Don't call! Don't write! I will be incoherent and drunk and in the pool.

Readers may recall we bought the Internet access package last time and I updated anyway.

Sick Again

Sorry for not posting. I got really sick again. Karen was at the JDA User Conference in Las Vegas. She brought a bug home with her. She was wiped out most of the weekend and I was wiped out the rest of it. Didn't get to work until Tuesday.

Lost 3 pounds for my agony.


iPod (belated)

Finally bought an iPod nano. Went a little cheap at the 2GB limit but I am "moving up" from a 128 MB player, this is huge. It is impossibly small. I forget to take it out of my pocket sometimes because I forget it is there.

Slowly Recovers

Well, after much copying pasting reformatting and other string tricks is back to a maintainable level.


Big Oops!

I exported the fictional Melcher Munitions Catalog site over the RW root. I quickly removed the bad export and corrected the problem. I also deleted by RW project files. I will be rebuilding the site for the next few weeks. Please pardon our dust!

Most of the content is still here, but the index is gone and I will need to recreate it page by page.

Subway 500

Karen did make it for the Subway 500. She had way more fun that I expected. Doesn’t hurt when “her boy” wins.

Basha's 200

Jason Jones set us on the NASCAR trail a few years ago. Living near the Phoenix International Raceway made it easy to finally see a race. The tickets cover the whole weekend. Karen could not make the 200 because of class. I went alone.

Photo Album: Basha’s 200

Cook the Router!

Don't cook the router!

I lost my Vonage phone service today. Well, sort of...

I started getting calls on my cell phone this morning that were forwarded from my home (Vonage) number. I thought that was odd, so I checked the settings at Vonage. I found that the forwarding feature was not active. I was reminded that Vonage offers a network fail over feature. IF they detect the phone is not attached to the network, they will forward the incoming call to a number of your choosing. I chose the cell phone and that is my I was getting the calls this morning.

That's odd, thought I, did my cable company fail, did my power company fail?

No, no James it was you who failed.

We bought this house, um, used. For whatever reason the first occupant had connected the cable to the front room of the house. This is the first room guests see and is therefore a show piece. I cannot have my router and repeaters and amplifier and associated wiring just lying about without risking divorce. I neatly stacked all my cables, network appliances, stereo components and printer in a cabinet. A cabinet with door to hide my "mess" you see.

Well, desert living has its advantages. We spent an extended Easter Weekend with my nieces. The weather was wonderful and the doors were open and the pool was the central point of their stay. It was lovely really.

With all the indoor / outdoor living going on here the Air conditioning was turned off. So let's add this up...

7 components that generate heat
1 enclosed space
Remove ventilation, remove air conditioning place in 97 degree ambient temperature

Equals one thrashing router. I came home to find the little bugger flashing its little activity lights but providing no service to any port. I promptly removed it from atop the amplifier and over to the vented corner of the cabinet.

Vonage discovered my telephone quickly and I have service again. The iMac saw the Internet so you get this story and a recipe for baking Linksys products.


I hope this is the first entry for the new host. Welcome to on iPowerWeb.


Kevin is done and the heat pump is raising the pool temperature.

Well, it excited me!

Electrician Is Here

Kevin the electrician is here working on powering the heat pump. He is nearly done so we should have warm water today.

It appears the neighbors are getting some work done on the pool. There are guys with jackhammers and a dust cloud from the pulverized concrete. It is very noisy. Hey! They just backed a truck up in their driveway. I guess to haul away the concrete chunks?


More Power!

The heat pump is here and hooked up to the pool, but there is no power to run the unit. We called the electrician and have not received a response yet. Hope he can get here soon. I would really like to get warm water.


Heat Pump

The installers from Leslie's should be here any moment to install the heat pump so we can use the pool again. The pool season is long here, but from October to April the pool is just chilly. The water is still under 60 Fahrenheit. It was 42 in January. Last July it was 80.

Growing up in Pennsylvania these numbers seem high, but the air temp differential is much higher. I have not considered why it feels so cold, but I am sure there is a good solid explanation.


I Got Fooled

Half my players called and cancelled today. No Shadowrun for me.


New Host and Registrar

I am switching to iPowerWeb for hosting and domain registrar. I hope the transition is smooth and you won't notice. On the outside chance I am embarking on a disastrous adventure, I thought I should warn you.

209 <== Is this possible?

A guy at work runs a really nice bLog called ickmusic. His name is Pete Icke and the topic is music so, ickmusic it is. Check it out , post a message and tell him Jim sent you!

Shadowrun is ON for April 1. It is looking like 4 players so far and should be an all day kind of thing. Still room for more players! We are just starting out, so the other characters will not be so far out in front that you will feel like the schoolyard weakling.


142 Days Without Rain

We finally got rain. After 142 days with nothing we got a good solid rain. I think it rain more than 24 hours. My yard is just starting to dry up after being 4" under water in spots.

This is not a monsoon rain, though. Monsoon rains flood the pool and the whole yard!

King George Has His Challenge!

Looks like South Dakota is going to serve up the Roe v. Wade challenge for King George Bush's nice new court!

I would like to be optimistic about this one and believe the country is not already sold to Fundamentalists and Oil Barons, but I am having extreme doubts!


I was ready to hate this concert. I really only heard "Photograph" before last night. Many years ago we decided we were "too old" to go to rock concerts. Karen heard that Nickelback was coming to Glendale Arena and bought the tickets. She has the last album on the iPod.

I was prepared for a night of "chick music" but I did not get it! Apparently they started as a cover band and moved to the hard end of pop rock similar to Creed. It was a loud rock show complete with Pantera style pyrotechnics! The lead singer (Chad Kroeger) is a real showman. He would address the audience between each song and talk about the influences or inspiration of each tune. He threw in references to this week's hockey victory, a few local bars and the 135 days without rain.

The showmanship continues with a break to shoot free shirts into the audience with a pneumatic cannon. He must have thanked the audience 50 times for coming out, knowing the lyrics and making the show fun.

I am not sure were the showman ends and the truth begins, but the band seemed genuinely happy to be playing the concert. It was not some album deal obligation to them. They seemed pleased the audience knew the word to the songs, even older songs from the "Curb" and "The State" albums. I am not sure if this was also showmanship or if they were as shocked as I was that anyone was listening "back then."

It was a great night out. We may even start going to concerts again. Karen did not feel we were "too old" to fit in the crowd.


The stage was basic, an area for the lead singer, guitarist and bassist with the drummer on a platform behind them. A row of speakers on the stage provide the primary sound. They added a "catwalk" that stretched 30 feet into the audience so they could get up close and personal with the fans.

A flat panel style jumbotron was hung lengthwise above the drummer center stage. The cameras featured Chad's "talks" between songs on this screen and the 4 way screen on the scoreboard (normally this arena is for hockey games). Even the cheap seats got a good close up. During "Photograph" they showed video of photographs falling to a floor and featured some shots of the band having fun.

They added light arrays on either side of the jumbo screen. They were roughly twice the size of the jumbo. The array featured full color and resembled a very low resolution monitor. Each displayed a computer visualizer type screen as though iTunes were running on them. The overall visual was quite nice.


The speaker banks on stage were topped with the propane fire blasters like you feel at most new thrill rides. They would shoot 20 foot flames that definitely warmed us on the floor and greatly contributed to the drummer's sweat! They had several sparkle shooters both up (fountain style) and down. Combined with at least 20 bang caps the fireworks alone were worth the ticket price.

Maybe I Am Too Old

My ears are still not recovered. I still have a heavy ringing in both ears 22 hours after the concert started. We got very dehydrated and had to make an emergency McDonald's run after the show!

Much of the crowd was 30 ish. Some of the floor dwellers were teen girls but they had a Mom in tow. Surprisingly large portions of the floor crew was 40+ (actually ++). I don't know if that was the band's crowd (remembering they knew the words to the old stuff, too) or if the thrill of the floor is lost on the newer crop of concert goers.

Old School Hip Hop

I picked up some old school tracks from a guy at work. He is my age and enjoyed some of the 80's Hip Hop and rap bands. In fact he is encyclopedic in his knowledge. I liked a few tracks from Run-D.M.C., Fresh Prince Will Smith and L.L. Cool J. This guy has it all and remembers who was in each instance of the group when the song was released.



I have not looked at the newsgroup in 4 months. I have to check it out more often, I missed a chance to sell some of my rare items.


Another Weekend Interruption

I was only back up on call this weekend and still the pager went off and the string of disappointing the boss began. I think I need to consider the value of this paycheck compared with the number of weekends I seem to be working.

BTW Subtext Is Back

I upset someone close to me with a posting. I evaluated the content and pulled some entries, but the web log is back. Hopefully I can continue without hurting someone else.

Quiet Time

Apparently, despite the warnings, someone took offensive to my comments. We are in quite mode now.

Please people, if you are easily offended STOP READING My BLOG! There are billions of pages out there.


Master Bath Project Begins

We contacted Expo and made an appointment with their designer to update the master bath.



Here is a thought for February

Sleeping with the Windows Open

The heat hasn't kicked in for a week, must be time to open the windows! That's right last night we slept with the windows open. In February! Don't tell my mother, she will claim I was heating the neighborhood!

Super Bowl Party

Someone else threw the Super Bowl Party this year. No mess to clean up. No leftover drunks to send to work. No double size recycling bins! It was fun to just enjoy and not worry about costs and clean up.

Unfortunately the food was really good. I got fat again.


Greg and Carol

Greg and Carol were here for dinner last night. We ate well and had a great time. We even managed to keep "worried mother" Carol out to almost midnight.

We started with martinis and appetizers. Olives, cheese plate, garlic mushrooms and an onion tart. The olives were a huge hit with Greg. We all loved the mushrooms. The onion tart was tasty, but definitely needs to be warm when served. The first few bite were very good, but it lost something as it cooled.

Dinner was Swordfish Siracusa and Prosciutto Asparagus with a Mark West Pinot Noir. Normally she make the Siracusa sauce with chicken for me. It was very good with the swordfish and the guests loved it.

Karen tried her hand at baking again. Blueberry Butter cake is somewhere between blueberry cobbler and cheesecake. It was great, I had two pieces. Well, off to clean up...

204 (How do you eat like that and lose weight?) (Damned beeper went off 3 times during dinner for stuff I could do nothing about!)


I don't have to face a Monday this week! Of course, it is a holiday without pay because I am a lowly consultant. Job hopping has downsides.

Time to get tons done around the house. Mostly hanging art. I have some X10 installs to do. The Nautica room is online, but the library is an outlet short of that goal. I am planning to get the front (porch) lights online and working with the Lounge light to welcome use home.


Note: This is only slightly political in that Arizona was “late” to adopt the holiday


I am making tons of progress on my next adventure. I did some geography research and found my little town in Salish. By my estimate it is probably in Makah Territory which fits with my anti-anglo theme just fine.

I had to change the timelines a bit. The hike is a lot longer and harder than I hoped. The rides are much shorter than I need them to be. I am planning to slow that down with and Electro motor up Rocky Mountains. Mostly the plot line remains in tact, just some details to correct.

I also had an opportunity to bring the Sixth World pages in line with the site style. If you did not read these yet, it is time. They look much more consistent with the rest of the site.

Short Days

The short days are really getting me down. I am driving to work in the dark and I get home to less than 30 minutes of daylight. I just can't get anything done during the week! I have been working with my landscape lighting. I replaced the old wires that were wrapped up in the roots of the plants and trees. I needed to move the lights because the plants they were originally placed to light have grown over them.

I got some Home Depot Gift Cards this year so I am having a ball spending them.


January Flowers

I was fascinated by the flowers in the desert. I had the Saharan ideal in my mind and was floored to see plants and flowers everywhere. The long growing season here makes monsters out of species I used to consider house plants.

We added more photos from our yard at Sharon Drive. I even have some sarcastic shots of my flowers in January!

Photo Album: January

Zoran's Strongbad Index

I finally got the opportunity to check out Zoran's index of the StrongBad Emails*. He put the email episode on a Denny's menu and include hints and easter eggs with every episode synopsis. Puts a new light on some old fun.

*Zoran has apparently dropped his site.


Karen is in Mexico. I dropped her off on Wednesday and get to pick her up tomorrow. The Cell is supposed to work there, but I can't get through. She called me to say she was still fighting the cold that gave me pneumonia. She did get upgraded, but she has a room mate this trip. Can't wait to hear about that facet of the trip!


Christmas Shopping

I went out to spend the Gift Cards today. I got my Wet Dry Vacuum I have been wanting for some time now. I got the hose hookups so I can suck the saw dust out of the Table saw and not coat the floor in a fine dust! I also bought some landscape lighting stuff to correct some problems with the current lighting.

I was out with the DHL friends last night. We hit the Devil's Martini early and had a great time. That place completely changes after 11:00!



I have a flu before Christmas. I travelled to Pennsylvania to visit the families and "powered through it" for their sake. I started to feel better before the flight home. I even went to work last Tuesday.

On the drive home from work on Tuesday I got so dizzy and nauseated I had to pull over 3 times. I decided maybe it was time to call a doctor. The doctor's office was booked! I got an appointment on Thursday afternoon, from another (not my normal) doctor. It took about 5 minutes of listening (and subsequent blood and sputum tests) to confirm pneumonia.

Heavy duty antibiotics with some prednisone for good measure. I am starting to come out of it now. I am expected back at work on Thursday. I will lets you know how that goes.

Side Effect: my niece and nephew also got infected. Poor kids.