February 28, 2008

Adam's Most Non-Excellent Adventure, Day 3

Monday, February 18

Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light. Right. That's bad. Okay. All right. -- Ghostbusters

5:03 PM The pediatrician calls me, sounding relieved that he found me. It vaguely occurs to me that this might not be a good sign. He says that the hole in Adam's heart is indeed microscopic, and nothing to worry about at all. That sounds good... Oh, and Adam has something called Pulmonary Stenosis. I have no clue what this means. "Basically, the valve between the heart and lungs is too small." That sounds less good. The doctor goes on to say that he talked to the cardiologist at the children's hospital in Portland who wanted to see Adam right away, so could we please go to Portland right now? "I'm still in Grants Pass. Portland is almost four hours away." "Oh, I thought you were already north. Umm ... four hours might be too long. Let me try to figure something else out and I'll call you back. Keep this line open."

Four hours is too long? Now I know this can't be good. I later decide that this likely ranks as the scariest phone call I've ever received.

I send Meredith a text so as to not tie up my phone and tell her that we need to go now. She comes out to see what's going on, then runs back in to grab Adam. We drive to the interstate and park just off the on ramp waiting to hear what direction we need to be going in.

5:20 PM He calls back. Please go back to Medford into the NICU. They'll stabilize him and arrange ambulance transport. Got it. I start driving, somewhat more rapidly than before.

We get back to Medford, run in and find the NICU. The head doctor comes out, snatches Adam up and points us towards the wash basins. We frantically wash up and go in. Adam is already hooked up to interesting machines. The doctor says something about how Portland is flying down to pick Adam up. Flying? I ask, "When you say fly, do you mean 'fly', literally?"


Now we're terrified. I'm pretty sure that we aren't inaccessible to an ambulance with, say, wheels, which leaves the 'your kid may die soon' checkbox as the only remaining possibility for why you'd need air transport.

We have long enough to ask if one of us can go on the air ambulance with Adam before one of the other doctors shoos Nathan and me out after noticing that Nathan has a runny nose. Oh right. OK, so taking him into a NICU in his state was retarded. I wasn't thinking very clearly at that exact moment.

Meredith and I decide that since I'm a better driver at night than she is, she'll fly up with Adam and Nathan and I will drive up the four hours to Portland. Nathan, who at this point has eaten pretty much nothing all day, has finally decided that he is starving, and is Not Happy At All about the notion of being separated from Meredith. Not to mention that he's managed to pick up on the Sheer Terror radiating off of us.

I call Meredith's best friend, Christina, explain what's going on and beg for her help taking care of Nathan, since otherwise Meredith and I can't be with Adam at the same time. She says she'll meet us at the hospital. Yay for best friends.

Nathan and I head to the car. He's decided that he wants a quesadilla, and Meredith points out that we can get him a cheese quesadilla at Taco Bell. Great idea! We go through the drive through, I get something for me, I get a cheese quesadilla for Nathan, he takes a big bite of it, and -- *wailing cry* "IT SPICY!" *sob*. Great. So then we run into a Starbucks where I try to get a cookie, anything, JUST SOME CALORIES, DAMNIT, but he won't try another bite.

It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses. Hit it. -- The Blues Brothers

So we start driving, Nathan and I. The 3 hours of sleep over the last 36 hours seem bad, but I am running on pure adrenaline. I make a few phone calls on the way, trying to choke back tears as I explain to various people what's happening. Nathan wails for a bit more then finally conks out. By now it's slightly after 7 PM. Meredith calls a couple of times to let me know what's going on.

Nathan and I stop once, about half an hour out from Portland, after he wakes up and says he wants milk. This sounds like a source of calories for me, so we pull over, run into the store to grab him some milk, and run out. Nathan says, "This taste ... different." "Does it taste better than what you tried before?" "No ... it taste sour." Sure that he's just being recalcitrant, I grab it and take a swig. And almost choke. Sour is right. I'll spend the next few days reassuring him each time we get milk in that same contained that THIS milk isn't sour like the milk we got that night.

Despite the hustle and bustle of needing air transport, said air ambulance (which turns out to be a plane, not a helicopter as I'd imagined) doesn't get down to Medford for a while, so Meredith & Adam don't even take off from there until about 9. In the end, they arrive at Legacy Emanuel Children's Hospital at about 11 PM -- roughly ten minutes before I do. Somewhere in the back of my head I start to wonder why on earth we needed an air ambulance.

For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat, there is nothing wrong with your television set. -- The Outer Limits

The emergency entrance is the only one open, and the person at the desk has never heard of my child, but eventually tells us to go on up anyway and opens the door for me. This is my favorite kind of security -- the rigid, 'you must show ID to prove you need to be here, unless of course you can just sound like you're going to keep pestering me forever, in which case go right on through' kind of security. The person at the front desk in the NICU knows exactly who Adam is and gives me my ID bracelet and, understandably, has exactly zero interest in allowing runny-nosed Nathan more than another six inches down the hall. She promises to tell Meredith we're here, and Nathan and I go downstairs in search of the 24/7 cafe where we get me some coffee and Nathan some milk ('no, THIS milk isn't sour').

Nathan's fever starts to come back. Of course it does.

Christina shows up, and she, Meredith, and Nathan go off to a hotel. I go upstairs to see Adam, sound asleep and plugged into enough machines to monitor a small space launch, and go to sleep myself at about 1:30 in a room off the NICU.

It is the end of Adam's third day.

Posted by Mike at 09:49 PM | Comments (2)

February 27, 2008

Adam Jordan -- in the beginning

We have a new baby -- Adam Jordan Dodd, born February 16, 2008. His story is quite the adventure, and he's only eleven days old. I need to write more of the story, but here's at least the first part of it.

Our adventure so far...

January 2007

Meredith and I start talking to Open Adoption and Family Services about adopting kid #2, learning about their process and talking with each other about timing.

Summer 2007

We start the homestudy process in earnest.

November 2007

We are done with the entire process, and we're 'in the pool'.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

As we sit in San Jose airport, waiting to come back from Tom's memorial service, one of OAFS's social workers calls Meredith to say that we've been picked by a birthmother and to ask if we're interested. Her due date is the following Wednesday. We talk it over on the flight and later at home.

Monday, February 11

We call back to say yes. The social worker says she'll send all the medical files up so we can look them over.

Tuesday, February 12

We get all the files. Meredith reads over them and calls me at work to talk them over. Nothing too disturbing, although there is something about a small hole they noticed in the heart. No one expects this to be a big deal. (Cue ominous music...)

We call back and say yeah, we're still fine. Due date is tomorrow.

Thursday, February 14

For Valentines Day, Nathan comes down with a fever. Meredith and I spend a romantic night together force-feeding our three-year-old Tylenol.

Saturday, February 16

2:00 AM Meredith's phone rings. J, the birthmother, has gone into labor. We were already sort of awake because Nathan had just woken up from his fever. We force-feed Nathan more Tylenol and load up the car

3:15 AM We're on the road. Meredith and I are running on about 3 1/2 hours of sleep -- perfect for a 7-8 hour drive. Traffic on I-405 is lighter than I've ever seen.

6:00 AM We pull over into a McDonalds to get some breakfast and force yet more Tylenol into our screaming toddler. This trip might be the meanest thing we've ever done to Nathan. If you ever have the opportunity to drive for eight hours on 3 1/2 hours of sleep with a 3-year-old who was a 102 degree fever, my advice is: pass if at all possible.

9:00 AM Susan, the social worker calls. Last she heard from J, she was still in labor and was being transferred from the hospital in Grants Pass to Medford. The doctors wanted the baby to be born in Medford since the heart issue makes it a high-risk pregnancy.

10:30 AM We get near Medford and call Susan to see where we should meet. Oh, and stop at a drug store to try Ibuprofen on Nathan's fever. Susan calls back after discovering that J actually never left got to Medford, and the baby had just been born (at 10:37). He's 19 1/2 inches long and 8 pounds, 7 ounces. We drive back north towards Three Rivers Community Hospital in Grants Pass. Meredith's GPS evidently has a 25 character limit, so announces that we've arrived at Three Rivers Community Ho. This is pretty hysterical on three hours of sleep.

Adam awake12:00 PM We meet Susan in the hospital cafeteria, where we are eating lunch and trying to feed Nathan, then we all go up to meet the new baby and J. This is the first time we've even talked to J. We all agree on the name Adam Jordan. Adam is very cute :)

Mid-afternoon The three of us go over to the Gretchen's parents' house where we're staying here in Grants Pass where we'll be staying, leaving Adam to have some quality time with J and family. Gretchen is one of Meredith's classmates from Seattle U, and her parents have recently moved away from Grants Pass but haven't sold their house yet. So we get to stay in a mostly empty, except for two twin beds, house. Nathan thinks that running laps around the house is fun. The ibuprofen is clearly working better than the acetaminophen was.

Later, we go back to the hospital. J wants some time to rest, and the hospital, as is evidently the new trend, doesn't have a nursery in the maternity ward, instead saying that babies stay with their mothers. Fortunately, they aren't full, so set us up in a separate room where we can sleep with Adam. The nurses figure out how to get Meredith a meal ticket to order some food. Nathan eats a few bites, then stops. He's basically not eating. We hang around for a while, then Nathan and I go back to Gretchen's house to sleep while Meredith spends the night with Adam.

Sunday, February 17

Adam Jordan DoddI got about nine hours of sleep, minus the part where Nathan woke me up at 1 AM when my subconscious decided that Nathan might be on fire. 'On fire' turns out to mean 102.8 degrees. This is good, in a perverse way, since it means that Nathan is too weak to seriously fight the medicine. Always finding the silver lining, that's me...

We get up and head over to the hospital. Meredith reports that Adam finally decided to be awake, for a couple of hours in the middle of the night. And he eats all the time. And if that didn't wake her, then the nurses coming in every two hours to check on Adam certainly did.

The pediatrician came by and we got to talk to him. He let us listen to Adam's heart murmur on the stethoscope. You sure can't miss it. He says it's probably caused by a VSD -- basically, a small hole between two chambers -- but we can't know for sure without an echocardiogram. And if it is a VSD, then it might or might not be a big deal, depending on how big it is. But, he points out, the fact that it's so loud is usually a good indicator that it's a very small hole, likening it to the sound water makes through a very constricted hose. It will turn out that he is entirely correct about the very constricted part.

Meredith holding Adam

Mike & Adam

We take Adam over to J's room so they can have some more time together. Nathan and I run out to the store to pick up a few things (like, say, diapers for Adam). Susan comes over shortly after lunch, takes consent from J, has Meredith and me sign a ton of papers, then we have a small entrustment ceremony in J's room.

Nathan and I go out and get dinner at Abby's Legendary Pizza. I explain to Nathan that Legendary means very, very yummy, but by the time we get back to the room, he is having none of it. The hunger strike continues. Perhaps he heard that whole "Feed a cold, starve a fever" thing and is taking it to heart. Or is it the other way around? At any rate, he's not eating. His temperature goes from 99 to 101.5 in about 20 minutes in our room. Ibuprofen for the win.

Meredith and Nathan go back to Gretchen's to sleep. I get the somewhat unique experience of being a man spending the night alone with the baby in the maternity ward.

Monday, February 18

Nathan holding AdamAdam wakes occasionally for feeding, then decides to keep me up from 3 - 5 AM because he wants to talk. Or something. He finally gets back to sleep at 5, then I do, then the nurse comes in to check on him at 5:30. Meredith and Nathan come in at about 7:30. I got three hours of sleep total. Sleep is so over-rated anyway.

Yet Adam's third pediatrician comes by, checks him out, and says he's good for discharge. We can't go home anyway yet because of waiting for the ICPC, the paperwork that has to be filed between states before you can leave the state after an adoption. We said we were probably going to head north to Salem, where my Uncle Steve & Aunt Sue live, to visit with them and since that would get us about half way to Seattle. The doctor suggests that as long as we're stuck in the area, we could go ahead down to Medford to get an echocardiogram of Adam's heart to check out the murmur. We could always do it at Children's in Seattle, but as long as we were here, "information isn't a bad thing". Fair enough.

The nurse comes back in to say that they've made a 10:45 appointment in Medford. It's about a half hour drive. It's 9:55. We haven't started to pack out the room yet.

We rush around like crazy, get everything packed, finish the discharge paperwork, and I demonstrate to the nurse that I know how to put Adam in his infant seat. We take off, and I try to find some snack food in the car to munch on. In the hectic morning, I managed to not eat and not drink. Not even coffee.

We arrive at Rouge Valley hospital in Medford. No one at the registration desk has heard of us. So much for our appointment. Despite the two hospitals being run by the exact same company, they evidently have no ability to share any registration details, so they've never heard of Adam either. Meredith registers Adam while I wait with the two boys. 50 minutes later, I go check to see if maybe Meredith had been, I don't know, teleported to another dimension or something. No, she's still registering. She seems to have a vein visibly throbbing in her head from irritation, but maybe that's just my imagination. No matter, but I need to go back out to our car to get a diaper for Adam.

I come back, and Meredith has finally finished registration. Yay! She explains that she had to do things like provide Adam's home phone number and address. Then hers. Then mine. Doesn't your two-day-old live on his own yet? I try to find a place to change Adam's diaper. Oregon reminds me, as it has so far on this trip and will largely continue to, that changing diapers is women's work. It must be, because if men were meant to change diapers, it would be possible for me to actually find a changing table in a men's room. The helpful person at the desk where we're waiting tells me that the women's room has a changing table, so I tell my woman to go change him. (grr...)

Since somehow no word of Adam's existence made it over, we don't actually have an appointment. What the 10:45 time referred to is beyond me. Maybe they just wanted us out. Nathan is acting absolutely horribly by this point, and I'm being brutally reminded that chasing Nathan down when he runs off is an order of magnitude more difficult with a newborn. Thanks, Nathan, lesson learned. Now sit the hell down. At one point I found myself holding Adam in my arms while pinning Nathan between my legs. This is not a good beginning.

Eventually someone comes out. We go back to ultrasound young Adam. Happily for us, he sleeps through the entire process, where by 'entire' I mean, 'over an hour long'. Some ultrasound techs in my experience are somewhat chatty and will say something about what they are seeing. Not this one. And all I see on ultrasounds are a bunch of gray blurs.

We finally get out at about 1 PM, eat lunch, consider and discard the idea of chaining Nathan (who isn't eating anyway) to his seat, and get back on the road. Off to Gretchen's to pack up there. It's so late now we're trying to decide if we still want to get up to Salem, since we probably won't make it by dinner, but we decide we can at least start going up. After packing at Gretchen's, we go pick up some pictures we printed at Walgreens, then go over to J's house to give her the prints. Meredith runs in with the pictures and Adam, and Nathan and I wait in the car.


And then the story gets interesting. And that will have to wait for the next update.

Posted by Mike at 11:02 PM | Comments (2)

February 06, 2008

Tom Dowdy

Tom Grilling 

We'll miss you. Rest in peace.


Posted by Mike at 09:39 PM

May 04, 2007

Pink Eye

My entire childhood, I avoided pink eye.

Not yet 2 1/2 years as a parent, though, and my kid gives it to me.

Posted by Mike at 10:47 AM

March 18, 2007

Utah visit

We're about to head home from Salt Lake City, where we spent the weekend visiting Nathan's birthmother and her family. Some of the pictures are up on Flickr (more are coming!), although to protect her privacy, pictures with her are marked private. If you're friend or family and want to see those pictures, create a Flickr account and send me a note with your flickr account name and I'll add you to the list.

Posted by Mike at 09:42 PM

December 17, 2006

Cold inside, cold outside.

"Cold inside. Cold outside." (pointing to the open shed) "Warm other house?"

That was what Nathan said rather sadly yesterday morning, about 36 hours after we lost power in the giant wind storm. The storm had gusts of over 60 MPH, toppling trees around the region, often into power lines. At its peak, about 1.5 million people in western Washington and Oregon had lost power. About 380,000 customers in King County had lost power.

Nathan had a terrible time going to sleep Thursday with all the wind. He and I finally wound up going to sleep together in his bed, where I was then trapped when I woke up and realized that with no power, we had no baby monitor.

We woke up Friday morning with our house at about 62°F. We have a gas furnace, but no electricity to run the blowers. We have a gas hot water heater, but the thermostat for that is electronic -- so no hot water, either. Puget Sound Energy was warning that outages for some might last a week or more, so we went out to the grocery store and waited in a line of about 30 people buying canned goods and other food that could last without refrigeration. (Nathan was singularly unimpressed by the results of powdered milk.) In a sign of where we live, the hand-written sign on QFC's door read: "We are open. Sorry, no coffee."

For dinner, we grilled the chicken that was in the refrigerator (hot food!), then all got to bed around 9.

Saturday morning, the temperature inside had dropped to 52, prompting Nathan's comment about it being cold everywhere. Melissa called around to various places for us and figured out that Bellevue Square was open with power, so we went there to hang out for a while. We tried to watch Happy Feet, but Nathan was too scared by the dark, big screen, and loud noises.

We spent the afternoon at Patrik, Linda, and Markus's house, who never lost power. Their neighbor two houses down had a tree go through their dining room, though. For dinner, we went up to Shoreline and spent the night with Christina and her son Ashland, who had lost power for a while on Friday but had it back by that night.

Finally, today, power to our house (in the Highlands neighborhood of Kirkland) was back. A neighbor told us it came back on at 11 PM last night, meaning that we were out for about 47 hours. The thermometer in our bedroom recorded the low as 47°F. Lots of areas are still without power, though. The power crews are doing an amazing job in horrible conditions. They really deserve our thanks.

But Nathan, who turns two today, at least gets the gift of electricity and heat.

Posted by Mike at 05:10 PM | Comments (2)

December 10, 2006

Henry (Hank) Michael Leach

Henry Michael LeachHenry Michael Leach

My sister Erin and her husband Mike have a new baby, Henry Michael Leach. He'll be called Hank, after his great-grandfather (my maternal grandfather).

Hank was born 12/9/06 by caesarean section after the doctors gave up on the 20-hour induced labor. Poor Erin.

Welcome to Nathan's first cousin!

Posted by Mike at 09:47 PM

November 27, 2006

Driving in the snow - not so fun

Driving home in the snow

Weird snowstorm today. I left work about 6:15. By 7:30, I had driven 0.9 miles. At that point, I gave up and turned into Redmond Town Center and had dinner.

An hour later, I left for home, and it still took me over 20 minutes to get home from there. There were dozens of cars that had just given up and were parked on the side of the road. I'm not sure what they did. Walked?

I'm hoping that tomorrow is better.

Posted by Mike at 10:37 PM | Comments (1)

November 26, 2006

Let it snow

Nathan & Meredith in the snowIt snowed today in Kirkland. It's the first time it's snowed on us here. (It certainly never snowed on us living in the Bay Area in California.)

We'll see if any of it is still sticking by tomorrow. The picture to the left is Nathan checking out the snow with Meredith right after waking up from his nap.

Posted by Mike at 10:12 PM

October 25, 2006

Still alive

I'm still alive, despite not having written in here in forever.

Work has been crazy busy, although it's starting to slow down. The released product is definitely coming soon ... or something like that.

Nathan's back on a crazy sleep (where 'crazy' ~= 'little') pattern, waking lots of times in the night. He usually chooses to maul Meredith in the night, demonstrating that the most comfortable place in the world for him to sleep is with his torso across her neck. Well, perhaps it's not so much that that's the most comfortable place as it is that any other position is like being boiled in hot lava, since he doesn't actually seem all that comfortable there, but any attempt to move him provokes screams of protest.

I occasionally hear other parents talk about the long three-hour naps their young children take, and how well they sleep through the night. I wonder what that must be like.

Aside from the sleep thing, he's doing great. He's learning new words to speak every day, and is forming simple sentences. He's started to say please. He knows that on Thursdays, it's Pizza night, and on Pizza night, he gets to see Cassie, his favorite waitress in the world, at Coyote Creek Pizza. It helps that she brings him milk. AND pizza. Nathan is in love with Cassie, we think.

Meredith is loving school. She reads me sentences out of her books that make my head hurt trying to parse them, but she loves it. She's taking three classes - Hebrew Scriptures, Pastoral Care, and Christian Anthropology.

Microsoft's vacation policy in Washington state is different than in California, a difference mandated by the different state labor laws, I think. At any rate, the way it works in Washington is that, come January 1, you can only roll over so many hours of vacation. The number that depends on your years of employment, but is 120 (3 weeks) for me. Anything over that, you lose. I had a lot of vacation time in California when I moved up here, plus what I've earned since moving, so if I didn't take any vacation, I'd lose about 3 1/2 weeks. Thus, I'm taking December off. Meredith's quarter ends the first week or so in December, so we'll all be around and free. I have no idea what we're doing yet, but I'm really looking forward to taking the time off. If nothing else, I hope to play a lot of Gears of War, which will be a bit of a switch from the LEGO Star Wars II that I've been playing. (Who'd have thought that a game involving LEGO Star Wars characters could be so much fun?)

Posted by Mike at 11:10 AM

September 15, 2006

Work / Life Balance

At lunch today:

"Got any big weekend plans? Like, say, working?"

Oh yeah.

Posted by Mike at 10:25 PM | Comments (1)

September 13, 2006

Amoxicillin in the house

Saturday morning, we finished Nathan's 10-day course of Amoxicillin, because of his ear infection.

Monday night, we started Pippin's 10-day course of Amoxicillin, also because of an ear infection. Only in Pippin's case, the ear infection was the result of having one ear get completely torn up. The vet said it looks like another cat bit it.

Meredith and I are hoping to avoid having our ears infected. Or bitten by angry animals. (Hopefully our resident dinosaur doesn't bite.)

Posted by Mike at 04:48 PM

July 30, 2006

Time for a new name

The blog has a new name.

Posted by Mike at 07:42 PM | Comments (3)

July 23, 2006

Microsoft Company Picnic 2006

Picture 043

Picture 013

Pictures from our trip to the Microsoft company picnic are uploaded to flickr.

It really is amazing to be at the picnic. The organizers did a really good job setting it up. Lots of food (and food that didn't suck, too), drinks, ice water everywhere, lots of tents set up for shade. And the kids areas, both for toddlers and for bigger kids, were just incredible. Meredith's comment was that it was like going to a county fair.

Posted by Mike at 11:57 AM

July 22, 2006


Today was the Microsoft Company Picnic. We went with Patrik, Linda, and Markus. The event is HUGE. It takes place over two days (today and tomorrow), since not everyone can fit on one day.

We had a really good time, but it was HOT. I think the high was somewhere between 95 and 100°F. They had an entire area set up for toddlers, which for Nathan was like walking into heaven. He was SO excited.

We took pictures that I'll try to get uploaded in the next day or two.

Posted by Mike at 10:04 PM

July 10, 2006

First haircut



Nathan got his first haircut on Saturday. Here are pre- and post- haircut pictures (click on the pictures to get bigger images).

He did surprisingly well, although he wanted to sit on my lap for it.

No pictures of the hair cutting itself, unfortunately.

Posted by Mike at 08:52 PM | Comments (1)


Happy Anniversary, Meredith!

Posted by Mike at 08:43 PM

July 04, 2006

Surprise rain

After grilling outside last night, I didn’t get around to putting the grill and charcoal up.

Then this morning, I awoke to the surprising sound of rain.


The chicken was good, though.

Posted by Mike at 08:24 AM | Comments (1)

June 30, 2006


Our house in California closed today! Finally, we’re back to owning just one house.

Posted by Mike at 08:28 PM

June 28, 2006

Five years at Microsoft

Today at work there was a small celebration (read: mid-afternoon beer) marking my five years at Microsoft. (OK, it’s actually now been five years and two months, but the award had been sent to California then had to get re-forwarded to here.) I tried to take a picture of the award, but it’s all shiny glass, and my camera just picked up all the reflections.

I’m glad I’m here.

Posted by Mike at 09:56 PM

June 22, 2006

flickr pictures

Nathan's hats with Pippin
Nathan's hats with Pippin,
originally uploaded by mdodd.

I’ve started uploading pictures to flickr. You can see our pictures here, or subscribe to the RSS feed for the photos here.

Posted by Mike at 08:42 PM

April 11, 2006

More ways to spend money

Last Thursday, Meredith’s car started flashing ‘STOP! Brake Failure!’ at her. The dealer suggested that it might be low on brake fluid. I tried to pour more in, only to discover that I had misread its fullness and it was now over-full. Which also meant that the brake failure meant something less easily solved.

Friday morning, she had it towed to the VW dealer in Bellevue. They finally got around to it today, and discovered the good news that her brakes are fine. The bad news: the instrument panel is whacked and needs to be replaced. They’re ordering the part (the entire panel?), and it might be fixed by the end of this week, or maybe early next week depending on when it comes in. All of this is projected to cost a little over $800.

Yay. Because, you know, we weren’t spending enough on the new house, or on getting the old house ready to sell. 

Posted by Mike at 10:42 PM

March 22, 2006

Not so good

We are, in fact, very happy with the house. That said, there were a few unpleasant surprises.

  • Total smoke detectors on the first floor: zero.
  • Total smoke detectors on the second floor: three. Number with batteries: one.
  • Number of smoke detectors with batteries and NOT placed in the corner of the ceiling where it won't really work: zero.
  • That wet feeling as water came pouring out onto my feet. From the cabinet under the kitchen sink.
  • The plumber saying, "Hey, I'm going to take this pipe assembly back to the supply store to show the guys there. They'll get a real kick out of seeing this." I'm pretty sure that isn't a good thing.
  • Meredith asking, "does it smell like sewage in here?"

But it is starting to feel like home. Meredith managed to get the bedrooms and the kitchen completely unpacked. The gas line got run to the dryer today, so we can do laundry again.

Posted by Mike at 09:16 PM

March 11, 2006

Our new house

We closed on our new house! The movers show up on Wednesday to unload our stuff.

We now, for a hopefully very brief period of time, own two homes. Scary.

Email me if you want our new mailing address.

Posted by Mike at 09:08 AM

March 04, 2006

We're here

We’re in Redmond. We flew up Thursday, and are now more or less settled into our temporary housing. The temp housing is a furnished apartment (three stories with very long staircases – just what every parent of a 14–month-old would want). We’re hoping to move into our new house in another week or two. Closing is scheduled for next Friday, although we want to paint a couple of rooms first.

The weather here has been beautiful – sunny, clear skies.

It’s good to be here.

Posted by Mike at 11:38 AM

February 25, 2006

Five days to go

The movers show up Monday morning to start packing. By now, I’ve got the computers disconnected, all the TV/stereo equipment disconnected, and someone showed up this morning to take the old computer desk off our hands.

Left to do, in no particular order:

  • Go to BevMo and get boxes to ship my wine up north, which the movers won’t take. Nor will they take the liquor (e.g., JD, Scotch) that I have. This is a pain.
  • Find all the old property inspections and such that we had done when we bought this house to give to our realtor here, so they can become part of our disclosure package.
  • Finish filling out the disclosure forms, which ask everything. (My favorite so far: “Has an electrical fuse or circuit breaker ever blown while you’ve owned the house.” Who, in six years, has NEVER tripped a circuit breaker? Please.)
  • Set aside all the stuff we want the movers to delivery to temporary housing. Mostly we think this will be some more clothes and some of Nathan’s toys. And his diaper pail, because our experience in the hotel room in Redmond when we were on our house hunting trip reminded us just how much diapers stink if you have to just throw them in the trash. Eww.
  • Set aside all the stuff we don’t want them to pack at all.
  • Take everything out of our cars that we aren’t going to take with us on the plane so that it gets packed. The car shippers want the cars completely empty of everything that didn’t come with it.
  • Call PacBell SBC AT&T to cancel our phone and DSL service.
  • Find Meredith’s cell phone so that she has a phone at all for a while.
  • Call DirecTV to cancel our satellite TV service.
  • Go fill out a change of address form with the post office.

In other developments:

  • Alaska Airlines says that sure, we can take our cats in the cabin with us. All we have to do is find a pet carrier no taller than seven inches that the cats can fully stand up and turn around in. 7 inches? OK, if I were traveling with, say, a pet snake, this would work. Or maybe a six-week old kitten. Maybe. But they don’t make cat carriers that are less than seven inches tall. We looked online and even found pet carriers that say “designed for in-cabin flight use” – but then read a bunch of comments about how they work great, but don’t actually fit under the seat, so you have to hide them under your legs and a blanket. Good grief. So we bought another rigid carrier, and Jake and Pippin will ride underneath the plane. Sorry, cats.
  • The financing contingency for our Kirkland house was cleared in time. Whew. The sellers also agreed to fix all the stuff we asked them to from the property inspection, so it seems like we’re in good shape. Closing is March 10.
  • We’ve got all of our travel arrangements made. We’re picking up a rental car here on Tuesday, because the car shippers show up Wednesday to load our cars for the trip. We fly up Thursday.


Posted by Mike at 12:43 PM

February 18, 2006

Weekend update

We did make it east, although never to Connecticut. We flew out on Sunday to JFK, since Nathan’s fever broke Saturday morning. Of course, Sunday was the end of the giant blizzard that dumped almost 27 inches of snow on NY. Because of that, our flight was about 2 1/2 hours late leaving, then we had to circle JFK for a while before landing, then we had to wait on the runway for a while because snowplows were in our way… In the end, we got to Melissa’s place at about 2 AM Eastern time, or about 12 1/2 hours after we had left our house that morning.

The visit with Melissa was great. Although Nathan was not the least bit interested in the snow. He didn’t wan to touch it, and he sure didn’t want to be put down in it. He needs a few more years, I guess. Melissa and Casey babysat for Nathan on Tuesday night, while Meredith and I got to go enjoy our Christmas present from Melissa: tickets to Avenue Q. We even survived our maniac bus driver who drove us into NY. (Best parts: the guy shoveling snow who dove out of the way of the bus speeding towards him, and our driver’s angry astonishment and finding buses in the street in front of him in his way. At the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Imagine.)

The flight back was also late because of weather: the jetstream was so strong, we had to stop in Denver to tank up on gas.

The good news is that Nathan is starting to get back to a normal schedule. The bad news is that I woke up sick yesterday morning, and it looks like Nathan may be coming down with something again. Ugh.

In the mean time, we’re trying to finish getting everything set for the house we’re buying in Kirkland (next: get the financing commitment), and trying to keep up with the stuff we need to do to get this house ready to sell (next: fill out the seemingly hundreds of pages of mandatory California disclosures).

And in less than two weeks, we’ll be in WA.

Posted by Mike at 08:30 PM

February 11, 2006

Whirlwind of moving activity



The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity trying to get ready for our move. The next few weeks should be more of the same.

We went up to the Seattle area last weekend (Friday through Monday) for a four-day house hunting trip, interrupted only by the Super Bowl that absolutely everyone in Seattle stopped to watch (well, maybe not quite everyone – but for sure our realtor). I lost track of how many houses we looked at – somewhere between 20 and 30, I think.

The good news is that we found a house (see the pictures to the right). We’re in escrow right now, and home inspections are scheduled for Monday. So, if all goes well, we’ll close in a month.

So in between talking to the realtor and other people up north, we’ve picked a realtor down here to sell our house, and are starting to fill out the disclosures and get things ready to put this house on the market.

And in just three more weeks, we’ll be in Washington state.

Posted by Mike at 09:10 AM | Comments (3)

February 10, 2006

Change of plans

We were supposed to be in Connecticut by now, but when I got home last night, Nathan had suddenly developed a 104°F fever out of nowhere. Rather than hope that he would OK for a six hour flight from here to JFK, we’ve postponed our trip by a couple of days.

Then tonight, both Meredith and I started to feel a bit sick.

Oh, and there’s a blizzard or something headed towards NY, I hear.

I’m sure it will all work out.

Posted by Mike at 09:46 PM | Comments (2)

January 25, 2006

Redmond, here we come

We’re moving.

Today, I officially accepted a job with DMD (Digital Media Division) in Microsoft up in Redmond, WA. This means that sometime in the next couple of months, Meredith, Nathan and I will be packing up and moving ~850 miles north. (It also means we have to learn how to sell a house.)

I’ve lived here full time for 10 1/2 years; Meredith for longer than that. It’s kind of strange to imagine moving, but it’s the right thing for us now. I’m excited about my new job, and think that I’ll have a lot of fun. But we’ll definitely miss all of our friends here.

Time for a new adventure…

Posted by Mike at 09:45 PM | Comments (2)

January 24, 2006

Sick Meredith

Meredith woke up yesterday with a 102.5°F fever, so I stayed home to watch Nathan while she mostly stayed in bed.

This morning, she woke up with a fever of 102.9°F, which isn’t really the hoped-for direction, so I'm home again today.

Posted by Mike at 09:16 AM | Comments (2)

January 07, 2006


I got back home Thursday night, and woke up yesterday morning sick. And I'm still sick. Bleah.

I knew I was doomed last week when Nathan would curl up on my shoulder to sleep and sneeze on my face from half an inch away.

Posted by Mike at 11:43 AM

December 28, 2005

Xbox 360 -- Not

The order that said it would ship on Monday is now listed as back-ordered. Bah. So I called and canceled the order today. I'll try again somewhere else.

Posted by Mike at 04:14 PM

December 25, 2005

Xbox 360

For Christmas, Meredith gave me a couple of Xbox 360 games. But, sadly, I had no Xbox 360.

Then tonight, I found a web site that had it in stock :) So hopefully I’ll get it this week, in time for the upcoming long weekend.

Posted by Mike at 10:28 PM


We’re home from Christmas with Meredith’s family in LA.

I-5 is truly a boring drive. Not so many trucks on Christmas Day, though.

Posted by Mike at 08:52 PM

December 13, 2005

Keeping the cat out

One of this weekend's chores was to replace the doorknob on our bedroom door. More specifically, to replace the lever-style doorknob with an actual circular door knob, so that Pippin can't open our bedroom door anymore. Now we can keep Pippin out without having to lock the door.

This cat is too smart...

Posted by Mike at 11:01 PM

Tied House

A conversation tonight at Tied House:

Me: “I want to pay using points because I have almost 3400 now.”

Meredith: “OK. [pause] Wait, is that one point per dollar?”

Me: “Well, umm … yes.”

Meredith: gasping noises

So I’ve been there a lot.

Posted by Mike at 09:43 PM

November 27, 2005


Meredith was up most of the night sick with some horrid stomach thing, so I spent all day taking care of Nathan and trying to let Meredith sleep.

I am really hoping at this point that she just had food poisoning or something and not something contagious. Although there’s almost nothing she’s eaten in the last 72 hours that I didn’t also have, so …

Posted by Mike at 09:26 PM

November 23, 2005

Happiness is a hot tub

For years, I’ve said I wanted a hot tub, but it never seemed like the right time to get it. Since adoption expenses are unbounded, we didn’t want to drop that much money during that process, so we eventually decided to get one to celebrate once Nathan’s finalization was complete.

And so, yesterday, at long last, our new spa was delivered.


Posted by Mike at 08:20 PM

September 25, 2005

No good can come of this

When Pippin is driving us crazy (say, trying to eat our dinner off our plates, or leaping, claws extended, onto my back for no reason), we sometimes lock him up in the pantry.

Pippin has learned how to open the pantry door from the inside. He did it three times today.

This can’t be good.

Posted by Mike at 07:33 PM | Comments (1)

September 18, 2005

Still alive

We’re all still alive, but it’s been a hectic few weeks.

Work has been crazy, but is starting to calm back down. Monday I worked at home to get a new feature implemented (sometimes it’s good to go back and actually write code), I just finished getting all the reviews done, and that’s on top of all the other normal insanity at work.

Meredith got sick starting Monday night. I thought I might be able to stay healthy, as I’ve sometimes done in the past, but hadn’t counted on what would happen once Nathan got sick. I might have been able to keep from getting germs from her, but Nathan wiping his runny nose off on my face probably doomed me. By Friday night, I had it too, and I’m still sick now. Blah.

Nathan turned nine months yesterday. His latest trick is that he’s trying to stand up on his own. He’s been pulling himself up for a while now, but now he’s trying to stand without holding onto anything. He hasn’t succeeded yet, but he’s sure making the attempt.

Posted by Mike at 07:04 PM

August 29, 2005

Off to bed

It's been a long time since I've been at work at 3:30 AM.

I remember why it's been a long time.

Posted by Mike at 03:34 AM

August 22, 2005

My dreams have an engineering defect

It used to be that I never remembered my dreams, and only supposed that I dreamed due to the fact that, well, pretty much everyone does. Thanks to Nathan, I now know for sure that I dream. All that I needed to remember them was to be woken in mid-dream, an event that now happens with far more regularity than I would care to admit.

I still don’t always remember them, but over the last eight months, I’ve noticed a strange pattern in my dreams: in my dreamworld, cars have truly awful brakes. Last night, for example, I dreamt that I was in a car that went backwards over a cliff because the damned brakes sucked so bad.

If cars had brakes like they do in my dreams, we’d have a national speed limit of 12 MPH. My dreamworld needs better automotive engineers.

Posted by Mike at 10:04 PM

May 01, 2005

Trail of destruction

Pippin is very appropriately named.

In the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Pippin is the Hobbit who knocks things over a lot. He wakes armies of orcs.

In our house, Pippin is the cat who knocks things over. All the time. In the last few weeks he’s managed to destroy:

  • A giant Brita water tank. It was completely full, and he managed to shove it off the counter. Twice. The first time didn’t actually destroy it (although it did dump over a gallon of water on the floor), so it did it again a couple of days later. Mission accomplished (gallon of water plus complete destruction of the tank). .
  • A sugar bowl. Well, not completely destroyed – he just broke part of it off. He’ll have to try again.
  • A china salt shaker.
  • More glasses than I care to recall. In fact, as I type this, I’m wearing a band-aid on one finger from the laceration I got picking up the pieces of the most recent destroyed glass.

All of this happens, of course, while we’re home. What’s the point of destroying things if there’s no one to show your powers off to?

Posted by Mike at 11:43 PM

February 11, 2005

Not a good tech week

Earlier this week, my desktop PC at home died when one of the boot files got corrupted on my hard drive. I was going to try to burn a recovery disk at work so I could fix it, but between meetings, had a total of something like 20 minutes in my office over the last two days, so didn't get to it.

Then this morning, my DSL modem wasn't connecting. And still wasn't when I got home tonight. After half an hour on the phone with customer service ("are you using a firewall?"), someone decided that they would need to come out and look at my line, which probably won't happen until Monday. So I'm posting this via a (*ahem*) borrowed wireless connection.


Posted by Mike at 11:42 PM | Comments (1)

January 25, 2005

The problem with very small devices

We took lots of pictures this weekend at the baby shower the church threw for Nathan. And I’d even post them – if only we could find our damned camera. It is very small, which is very nice, except right now, when it is lost. We know it made it home, but haven’t seen it since Sunday night. The infuriating thing is that it’s probably within about ten feet of me as I type this.

Argh. Back to the search…

Posted by Mike at 09:02 PM | Comments (1)

January 14, 2005

Just different enough to make your head hurt

Throughout my career, that have been certain video clips that were used for debugging and testing at work that I’ve seen several times. And by ‘several’, I mean in the thousands. From the video to Michael Penn’s “Seen the Doctor” back in the very early days of QuickTime, to the BMW Film clips that we used in demos for IPTV, there have been a number of them.

But for sheer number of viewings, none can top the music video to Sarah McLachlan’s “Building A Mystery”.  We used this for several different versions of QuickTime, testing lots of different things. Different codecs, streaming, you name it. For all I know, they may still use that video in QT testing. I’ve probably seen at least part of that video tens of thousands of time. When I hear it on the radio, I can see each frame of the video in my head. Complete with video artifacts from the Sorenson video codec.

So, when we were in Salt Lake City, and the radio station there started playing a live version of Building A Mystery … my head almost exploded. So close, and yet the timing was different enough that the automatic playback of the video in my head couldn’t work.

Very disconcerting.

Posted by Mike at 09:59 AM | Comments (1)

January 09, 2005

New Nathan blog

Update: we decided to just post Nathan updates here. No more separate blog.

Meredith and I started a new Nathan blog. We’ll post updates and pictures of Nathan there.

Back to our completely random schedule here…

Posted by Mike at 06:22 PM

January 05, 2005

Now I'm sick

Melissa, Meredith's sister, came out for several days to help us out with Nathan, and went home last night.

So, of course, I started to get sick yesterday afternoon. This would have been better timed several days ago, when Melissa was still here to help. Alas.

I hate sore throats more than almost anything.

Nathan's doing fine. He had a really bad rash (maybe just baby acne) on his face for a couple of days, but it started to clear up yesterday, and looks much better today. He is asleep on my chest as I write this, while Meredith, who did all of the night feedings last night, runs around the house doing chores.

Posted by Mike at 11:53 AM | Comments (1)

December 31, 2004

End of year

I copied this end-of-year meme from Dawn at This Woman's Work.

1. What did you do in 2004 that you'd never done before?
-- Adopted a baby

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
-- I've never really done new years resolutions. My family always did, but I could never get into it.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
-- My college roommate's wife, a friend from church, and Nathan's birthmother.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
-- There were people I knew who died, but no one that I was very close to.

5. What countries did you visit?
-- Does Utah count as a foreign country? OK, probably not. So I guess none.

6. What would you like to have in 2005 that you lacked in 2004?
-- Some stability. With one failed adoption in 2004, then the paranoia of whether or not Nathan's would work out, 2004 just felt like a living hell most of the year. People keep telling us that 'now that [we] have a baby, the hard part really begins!' While I realize that in the typical case, the first 12 months of a baby's life are not considered the most stable period of time for the parents, I really believe (or at least fervently hope) that it can't be worse than 2004.

7. What date from 2004 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
-- 12/17 when Nathan was born.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
-- Hmmm ... I don't think that having Nathan counts as an achievement. So I don't know.

9. What was your biggest failure?
-- Well, the failed adoption comes to mind. Except that, really, that wasn't a personal failure -- it's not like we caused it to fail; the birthparents just changed their mind. So I guess I'd have to see that my biggest failure was at work. And I can't talk about that here.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
-- I had the flu that knocked me out for two weeks, which is the most sick I've been as an adult. But, really, even that wasn't so serious.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
-- My Tablet PC -- I love it. Except that I didn't buy it; Microsoft did. In terms of things I bought, nothing really stands out.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
-- My management at Microsoft has been incredibly supportive of the weird schedule that the adoption saga has created (trips out of town, time off when the first one failed, time off waiting for Nathan to be born). I've really appreciated that. I am lucky to work where I do.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
-- Three way tie:

  • John Kerry. He had so many opportunities to score points in the presidential campaign, but just floundered. You really have to be a chump to make W look well spoken.
  • The Bush campaign. At some level, I admire the thoroughness with which they pursued every possible avenue for victory, without letting trifles like ethics or morality get in the way. But, ethics and morality are, in fact, good things.
  • The anti-gay rights forces. I can't really tell sometimes if the people leading the charge against gay rights are really this opposed to homosexuality, or just cleverly exploiting prejudice to score points with voters. Nor can I decide which of those two is more depressing.

14. Where did most of your money go?
-- The mortgage for our house. Followed by adoption expenses.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
-- Nathan!

16. What song will always remind you of 2004?
-- Beats me. I doubt I could name any songs that came out this year.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder?
-- Happier
ii. thinner or fatter?
-- Same, I think.
iii. richer or poorer?
-- About the same

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
-- Spend time with friends. (pokes meriko...)

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
-- Been stressed by work.

20. How will you be spending New Year's?
-- Melissa (my sister-in-law) is flying in New Years Eve to meet her new nephew, so we'll all be spending New Years Eve at home together.

22. Did you fall in love in 2004?
-- Did I mention Nathan?

23. How many one-night stands?
-- ahahahahahahaha. That would be zero.

24. What was your favorite TV program?
-- Nothing really comes to mind. The Daily Show was probably the most consistently entertaining.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
-- Nope.

26. What was the best book you read?
-- I read some interesting books, but no one book completely stands out. Most of the books I read this year were pretty technical.

27. What was your greatest musical (re)discovery?
-- Beats me.

28. What did you want and get?
-- Nathan (sounding like a broken record yet?)

29. What did you want and not get?
-- The first adoption to work. Don't get me wrong; I'm thrilled that we got Nathan. But I could have done without the pain of the first one falling through.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
-- Hero. I loved that movie.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
-- I turned 32 in February. I spent it in Reno visiting the birthparents we were matched to for the first half of the year.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
-- Right now, I'm feeling pretty good about how it ended. I can't help but think that parts of it could have gone much better, but it all worked out in the end.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2004?
-- "Hey, this seems to fit. And is clean."

34. What kept you sane?
-- Friends. And Halo 2 for stress relief ;)

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
-- uhhh ...

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
-- Gay marriage. It's scary to me how fervent people got in their opposition to this. I was sad when my denomination (the United Methodist Church) continued to take a stand against it at General Conference this year, but was encouraged by how many voices spoke in favor of equal rights for gays (including my local church). And I was sickened by how gays were used as a wedge issue in the elections. What's so disgusting about the notion that gays are human beings, and deserve human rights?

37. Who did you miss?
-- I'm sorry that my mom isn't around to meet Nathan.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
-- Did I mention that Nathan is very cute :)

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2004:
-- I feel like I've learned this before, but 2004 seemed determined to drill into me some more the lesson that no matter what choices you make, sometimes you just have no control. You can choose the path, but not what happens on that path.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
-- Most of this year I felt like we spent waiting. So:

"And you run, and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death."

"Time" -- Pink Floyd

Posted by Mike at 06:26 PM

December 28, 2004

Updated pictures of Nathan

In the hospital

In Salt Lake City


(some of these were posted earlier, but these versions are hopefully cleaned up a bit.)

Posted by Mike at 02:58 PM | Comments (1)

December 22, 2004

More Nathan pictures

Click for pictures from Nathan's first few days.

Posted by Mike at 08:47 PM

December 19, 2004

It's a Boy!

Welcome to Nathan Michael Dodd.

Born December 17, 2004 at 8:49 AM.

7 lb, 1 oz and 19 1/2 inches.

We are still in Utah. The birthmother signed the adoption papers yesterday, and we got to bring him home from the hospital today. We are staying out here another week-ish to spend more time with the birthmother before we return home -- hopefully on Christmas Eve.


(Click on the thumbnails for bigger pictures.)

Posted by Mike at 09:38 PM | Comments (5)

December 11, 2004

No news

We're still in Utah, waiting for the baby to be born. The birth that seemed so immenent a week ago when we flew out here now seems somewhat less so, although it could still happen any day. Or in another week. Or so.

Meanwhile, we are poking around Salt Lake City, trying to find things to do while waiting. The weather's been cold until yesterday, so we tried to drive out to the Salt Lake today. Unfortunately, the smog was horrific -- we couldn't see anything. We think maybe the giant smokestack on the other side of the freeway might have had something to do with the smog, but, hey, you never know.

Things we have found:

  • Ruth's Diner -- a little outside of town, with a delicious brunch. Yummy :)
  • Cocoa Cafe, which, according to the hippie magazine Meredith found, has the best hot chocolate in Salt Lake City. Meredith concurs.
  • Squatters brew pub. Good beer, good food. Also, Utah has the strangest alcohol laws of any place I have ever been. You can't buy normal beer in grocery stores -- only alcohol-reduced beer. As I recall when I tried this years ago on a previous trip, it tastes like what you might get if you took normal beer, boiled it to reduce the alcohol, then refrigerated it again. Yecch.
  • The Christmas lights at the Mormon temple downtown.

Waiting sucks.

Posted by Mike at 04:24 PM

December 08, 2004

Sweet nothings ... or something

My wife suddenly said tonight, "You look like Dick Cheney."

I am pretty sure that there is no good way to take this. I think I will go to bed now.

Posted by Mike at 12:21 AM

December 03, 2004

We're off

It looks like the baby is coming soon. We're flying off to Utah tomorrow. Wish us luck!

Posted by Mike at 10:21 PM

November 26, 2004

Once more into the breach

We're trying again with the adoption.

Earlier this year, we had been matched with a couple for five months, planning to adopt their baby through an open adoption. The day before the birth, they called to say they had changed their mind.

In mid-September, we met another birthmother, this one in Salt Lake City, UT, and matched with her. We've been out there to visit twice, and talk to her once a week. She's due on December 31 -- five weeks from today.

So, with any luck at all, in another month or so, we'll have a baby. We really hope so. Wish us luck.

Posted by Mike at 11:35 PM | Comments (2)

November 15, 2004

Halo 2

I finished the Halo 2 single player campaign. Good fun. I've read lots of complaints on the web about the ending. The ending wasn't nearly as definite as the ending of Halo, but it didn't bother me that much. It clearly sets up a Halo 3 at some future date, which doesn't seem like a bad thing.

The AI is definitely better, for both enemies and allies. The Covenant will leap over obstacles to get to you, they will flank you, they will regroup. The Marines you fight with now live more than 3 seconds. Also, they can drive now. In Halo 1, you could drive vehicles, the Covenant aliens could drive, but Marines would never drive. Now you can hop on the gunner turret of the Warthog and let the Marines drive you around while you shoot things up.

Multiplayer is clearly where Halo 2 will get its staying power. Being able to play online on Xbox Live is great. The matchmaking system they have for joining a game is really nice. Basically, you can pick what kind of game you want to play, and it finds one. As you play more, your level goes up, and the system tries to match you against people that are close to your level. It's that simple. Almost every other online game I've ever played has had some kind of server browser, where you scroll through a list of available games and pick one. That system works, but NOT having to do that is great. After all, you're trying to play a game, not search for one.

Posted by Mike at 09:27 AM

November 09, 2004

Got it

My copy of Halo 2 showed up this morning. Yay :)

My Xbox Live gamertag is DonovanM. I'm sure I'll be online with Halo 2 from time to time ;)

Posted by Mike at 11:34 PM | Comments (1)

November 08, 2004

Just a few more hours...

The Microsoft company store usually sells MS software titles, including Microsoft Game Studios Xbox titles, to employees. But usually after a two week -- at least -- delay from the commercial launch.

With this in mind, a couple of months ago I pre-ordered Halo 2 from EBGames. After all, two weeks was obviously far too long to wait to get Halo 2.

Then today, two things happened: the company store at work announced that they'll have copies of Halo 2 starting tomorrow morning, the first day of its release -- and EBGames sent me an email saying that they had shipped my order.

It would still seem like a simple choice (wait for the pre-order to arrive), save for one alarming detail: when I click on the 'order status' link, the UPS.com site tells me that the tracking number provided by EBGames.com isn't actually valid. This doesn't seem good. Maybe I'll just buy it tomorrow at the company store, just in case.

Can you tell that I am excited about this game?

Posted by Mike at 07:40 PM

October 24, 2004


Meredith, Patrik (one of the PMs at work) and I went to see "Team America: World Police" yesterday. It's definitely worth seeing -- I think it might be the funniest movie I've seen since the South Park movie, which makes a certain amount of sense, since it was made by the creators of South Park. I especially appreciated that the voice of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il was essentially the voice of Cartman with a bad accent. Very fitting.

Stupidest looking movie trailer: "Flight of the Phoenix", which is evidently about a plane that crashes in the middle of a desert. The survivors do what anyone would logically do, which is decide to make a new airplane out of the parts of the one that just crashed. I can deal with marionettes prancing around talking about WMDs, but I'm afraid I can't suspend my disbelief enough to deal with the notion of a bunch of people rebuilding an airplane out of the parts of one that just plowed into the desert.

Posted by Mike at 03:36 PM | Comments (4)

October 22, 2004


I recently finished playing Fable. Well, twice, actually. Fable is a recently-released RPG for Xbox. You start out as a young boy in a village shortly before bandits come in and raze your town to the ground. You're saved at the last minute and go off to Hero school. You can be good to people ... or less good. The first time through, I was evil incarnate. I would rack up experience by killing traveling traders. Then I played it through again as a good guy. When you're good, butterflies fly around you. Freaky.

The game is a lot of fun, but it wasn't quite as great as I had expected it to be from all the rave reviews. For one thing, the choice between good and evil didn't actually change that much -- some of the dialogue changed, but overall, the path of the game was exactly the same. Also, it took me about 15 hours to get through the game. Fun, but not really that long.

It's hard not to compare it with Knights of the Old Republic, the other RPG I played on Xbox. Some of the appeal of KOTOR is undeniably that playing in the Star Wars universe is pretty damned cool, but I really think that it was a much more complex game. Good vs. evil made much more of a difference to the story line and abilities, and my first time through took about 45 hours to play.

Still -- it was definitely worth getting Fable. Even if Meredith eventually learned to hate the sound of magic lightning (think: Force lightning) that my character was so fond of.

Posted by Mike at 11:12 PM

September 28, 2004

TV as relaxation

Many people, when they come home from a long day at work, sit down in front of the TV to unwind. It is, for example, what my wife is doing right now.

I came home today from a long day at work where I spent several hours staring intently at a TV, turning aside only occasionally to make some adjustment or other to various video settings. The thought of coming home and sitting in front of a TV isn't all that appealing at this very moment.

This happens a lot with test content, too. There are some video clips that I've seen so many times that I can practically see them in my sleep. Years ago, I worked on the QuickTime team at Apple, where I saw the music video to Sarah McLachlan's "Building A Mystery" innumerable times. Even now, when I hear that song on the radio, I can see each frame of the video in my head -- including the compression artifacts of the video codec we were using at the time.

Posted by Mike at 09:33 PM

September 22, 2004

Alpha Cat

Pippin is clearly going to be the Alpha Cat. Despite Jake being bigger and older, Pippin is going to rule the house.

He proved this yesterday when he came trotting up to me as I sat on the couch, holding in his mouth his latest trophy: Jake's collar, which Pippin had ripped from Jake's neck.

Oh, yeah...

Posted by Mike at 10:58 PM | Comments (2)

September 21, 2004

Ballmer visits SVC

Steve Ballmer was in the area today and spoke to Microsoft employees at SVC (Silicon Valley Campus) for about an hour this afternoon.

It really is amazing seeing and hearing Ballmer in person. People make fun of him for his 'fake enthusiasm' -- but it isn't fake. He really believes in this company. It's cool to see.

Posted by Mike at 11:24 PM | Comments (1)

Hurricane vs. small little resort town

We're not going to make it to Erin's wedding.

Erin & Mike decided on Thursday to keep the wedding in Gulf Shores because the initial damage reports were something like "it's not as bad as we thought". On Friday, the damage reports started rolling in, revealing that "not as bad" still leave a lot of room for "bad". By Saturday, it was clear that there wasn't really a Gulf Shores left anymore. The town is a disaster area, there is no electricity or running water, the Pensacola airport that we were to fly into is still closed, and Chucky, a 12-foot, 1100-pound alligator is roaming free in the town because the floodwaters rose above the walls of his zoo enclosure. Just what every wedding needs.

The wedding is moved to Nashville, but too late for us to change our tickets to anything reasonably priced. They are planning to have a beach party / reception next spring in Gulf Shores, by which time, presumably, Chucky will be caught, and we'll go to that.

Posted by Mike at 07:45 PM | Comments (3)

September 15, 2004

Hurricane vs. Wedding, part 2

Hurricane IvanI talked to Erin today. They're still trying to figure out what to do with the wedding. At the risk of being a pessimist, this picture seems to make the outlook for Gulf Shores fairly clear.

Delta will change our flight without a change penalty, as long as we finish travel by the end of March and book the new tickets by the end of September. But, what that really means is that they will credit us the price we paid for our tickets. The Delta tickets to get to Nashville (if Erin & Mike move the wedding there) are already 2x what the tickets to FL originally cost, because the flight is now just eight days away.

She's going to call tomorrow with their decision about what to do (keep it in Gulf Shores, move to TN, or something else entirely).

Incredibly, Tropical Storm Jeanne looks like it could become a hurricane and could hit Florida. I don't know how Florida can withstand another hurricane this year. Scary.

Posted by Mike at 11:32 PM | Comments (1)

September 14, 2004

Hurricane vs. Wedding

In a week and a half, my sister Erin is supposed to get married in a house on the beach in Gulf Shores, AL.

Yes, that Gulf Shores -- the one that is right in the projected path of Hurricane Ivan. A couple of days ago, it was just mostly in the path. As of today, though, it looks like Gulf Shores is dead-center for Ivan. It's projected to hit by sometime Thursday morning or afternoon.

This doesn't seem good. Hopefully it won't really hit, but that's looking less and less likely. At this point, I'm just hoping that the Pensacola airport that Meredith and I are supposed to fly into is still standing by then.

This sucks. Sorry, Erin. :(

Posted by Mike at 09:12 PM

September 05, 2004

It's Football time in Tennessee

VolsToday I got to watch the season opener for the Vols, as UNLV came to Knoxville as the annual season-opener sacrifice. UNLV actually scored first, with a field goal off of a UT fumble, then UT scored 21 points in a row. The final score was 42-17.

Interesting (or sad) statistic of the night: there were 108,625 fans at Neyland Stadium for the game. UNLV had a mere 700 of those tickets.

Posted by Mike at 10:36 PM | Comments (1)

August 28, 2004

Finally getting healthy

Today marks two weeks since I first got sick, and I am just now finally starting to get healthy again. I went back to the doctor again this week, who gave me some antibiotics. Thank God for modern drugs. The antibiotic killed the fever, which had been spiking every day, within about 24 hours.

Monday I get to go back to work and start catching up.

Posted by Mike at 07:31 PM

August 21, 2004

New kitten

We have a new kitten. He's about two months old now, we've had him for just over a week, and his name is Pippin.

Jake was less than thrilled with the new addition to the household. For the first few days, there was lots of hissing. Curiously, though, despite being about 8x Pippin's size, Jake was unable to cow little Pippin, who mostly stood his ground and batted back at Jake. Now, Jake has decided to mostly tolerate Pippin's presence, but Pippin's favorite activity now is to practice pouncing on and biting anything that moves (hands, feet, faces, or Jake). Jake even tolerates this for a minute before he starts biting back, which seems like it could have really bad results, so we're keeping them separated for now.

At least they seem past the worst of the biting-each-other phase. The worst was when they appeared to be trying to bite at the other's crotch. Very strange. (Note: search Google for 'crotch biting kitten', and you get some really interesting results. People are strange.)

I'd post a picture, but Meredith has the camera with her on a river rafting trip this weekend. So, pics will have to wait until next week. It's amazing how much he's grown even in the nine days we've had him.

Posted by Mike at 05:10 PM

August 17, 2004


Last night I dreamed that I was in a Bug Council (Microsoft-ese, equivalent Apple-ese is -- or at least was -- Bug Review Board) with a bunch of people from my current team at Microsoft and a bunch of people from the QuickTime team when I worked there at Apple. We were all earnestly discussing what to do with some bug. Very weird.

Did I mention that my temperature last night when I went to bed was 102 degrees (F)?

I went to the doctor this morning, who said it looked like a simple virus and that it should be better soon. And, indeed, tonight is the best I've felt since Friday.

I love this doctor. This is the third doctor I've had since I moved here nine years ago, and by far the best. The first doctor I had was insane. Any little symptom I had of anything was obviously something dire and possibly fatal. Dizzy one day? Probably a heart condition. A stye on my eyelid? That'll need surgery. Heartburn? Major ulcer (could lead to cancer, you know). Oh, and I was probably an alcoholic. From all the binge drinking that I did in college. (I say I didn't? Denial.) And, for all this, I got to wait a minimum of 75 minutes for each appointment. Often more. Yay.

My second doctor was nice, and not, seemingly, insane, but was happy to prescribe drugs for anything. Acne? Go on antibiotics. Forever. Umm ... The wait was still long (45 minutes - an hour on average), and that was once you could get in at all. I called one time with a fever I had had for several days and they were able to fit me in four or five days later, by which point I assumed I would either be healthy or dead. As an added bonus, the rest of the staff in the office clearly communicated just how pissed off they were by you imposing on them anytime you had to interact with them. Finally, I decided to take the hint and not impose anymore.

My current doctor works out of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. In my three appointments there so far, my longest wait has been fifteen minutes. The other two were closer to five. My doctor pays attention to me, does what she needs to, prescribes medicine only if it makes sense, and then I'm done. This morning, Meredith called to make an appointment for me. They fit me in 40 minutes after the phone call. I was in and out in ten minutes, feeling great about the experience.

This is how health care should work. Why is it so unusual?

Posted by Mike at 08:59 PM | Comments (1)

August 14, 2004

Work crisis mostly over

The worst of it is over at work -- there's still some big things we need to get done in the next few days, but I think the 16 hour days are past.

Which works out well, since I have a 100 deg fever today, no doubt because of working quite so many hours. Ugh.

Posted by Mike at 01:00 PM

August 11, 2004


This is the thrd week in a row that I've been driving all out at work. Tonight I came home around 11 PM when I could no longer figure out what a 20-line C# function actually did. It's really great stuff that we're working on, but I need some sleep soon. Ugh.

Posted by Mike at 12:49 AM

July 18, 2004

Back from Vancouver

After hiking the Grouse Grind

We made it back from Vancouver last night. We flew up last Monday morning and spent five days there. We had a really good time. The weather was beautiful.

I'll try to post more pictures later.

Posted by Mike at 05:19 PM | Comments (1)

July 05, 2004

Lakes and the Skin o' the Irish

Today I went out on Stephen's boat on Lake Barryessa. It was me, Stephen, Karen, and Mimi. I promised Meredith that I would think of her, toiling away in the hot desert sun with 50 teenagers, while I was rocking gently on the water. And I did (for all seven minutes or so that Stephen let the boat do anything that an adverb like 'gentle' would remotely apply to).

I had a great time, although my general ineptness at new-things-physical manifested itself when I tried to learn to water-ski. After four attempts, and losing the skis on each and every attempt, I called it quits. Stephen said I was leaning forward, which is the absolute wrong thing to do when water skiing. Ironically, when I first learned to snow ski, my biggest problem was that I kept trying to lean back. Later, Mimi and I took turns being towed on top of a big inflatable tube. No real skill involved; just lots of holding on. That was good fun, even though you inhale a ton of water when you fall off something going 20 MPH.

But now, as I sit at home, I am thinking about how tired I am of being sunburned. My legs are burned. My arms are burned. The tops of my feet are burned. This despite applying sunscreen lotion twice during the five hours we were out on the lake. This always happens to me. Damn Irish skin...

Also, I am exhausted because, in order to meet them at the lake at 8 AM, I had to wake up at 5:30 AM. It's going to be an early bedtime for me tonight.

Posted by Mike at 08:06 PM | Comments (1)

July 04, 2004

Weekend update

Random things...

This morning, I went to church for the first time in 5 1/2 years as someone without a single responsibility in the church. June 30 marked my last day as chair (and member) of SPRC (Staff-Parish Relations Committee -- also called PPRC, or Pastor-Parish Relations Committee, in many Methodist churches). And it felt GREAT! I am now officially A Lump in a Pew.

My cell phone is dying. I've had a Sanyo SCP 6200 phone from Sprint for over two years and I've loved it. It's tall, but incredibly thin, making it great to fit into pockets. But about a month ago, the display started to go out. Randomly, it will now either turn a bunch of extra pixels on or a bunch off. Or vertically shift part of the display. Or every other column. Every day, it is harder to read the display. So it's time for a new phone -- but Sprint doesn't really have anything I want. There are some phones coming out in the next couple of months that look very cool, but I'm not sure that this phone will be usable for that long.

Work has been nuts the last couple of weeks. All in all, though, it was a good couple of weeks. My team got a LOT done -- it was definitely one of the better months for the A/V team.

Today, the child we thought we were going to get to adopt turns one month old. It's still sad for us.

Meredith is gone all this week. She, with four other adults from Half Moon Bay, is leading a group of 20 teenagers down to So. Cal for a week-long service project through Sierra Service Project. She left this morning at 6 AM, and gets back on Saturday.

I left my coffee mug in a meeting in Building 1 on Thursday. By the time I realized I had left it, an hour later, it was already gone. I've had that mug since my days at Apple. It was great. So today I bought the exact same model again.

Posted by Mike at 05:01 PM

June 15, 2004

Moving On

We decided yesterday that it was time for us to move on with the adoption. So, we'll pick up and start over, and try to find another match.

Meredith tried to call the birthmother Sunday night just to hear from her, but she was still refusing to talk to Meredith. It's so sad...

We're still committed to an open adoption. We still think it's the best thing for the child. I guess it's fairly common for people to move to a closed or international adoption after a failed open adoption, but we're going to stick with it. Although I certainly have a new appreciation for why people decide to go with international adoption.

I swear, the next time I hear someone say something along the lines of "why don't you just adopt?", I will come unglued.

Posted by Mike at 11:11 PM | Comments (3)

June 06, 2004

Failed Adoption

Thursday, the birthparents we were matched to called to say that they had changed their mind and would be keeping the baby after all. The baby was born on Friday.

We had been matched with them for five months. They had always seemed so committed to the adoption -- it was a huge shock to get the phone call.

We are very sad.

Posted by Mike at 01:27 PM | Comments (3)

May 26, 2004

Back to happy news

OK, the news that the announcement that all of the tribes had cleared that adoption wasn't quite right, wasn't right.

In other words, really, truly, all the tribes have cleared it.

("Those responsible for sacking the people who have just been sacked, have been sacked.")

Still no baby, but the guess is within a couple of weeks or so. Soon!

Posted by Mike at 11:42 PM

May 22, 2004

OK, so mostly happy news

In the 'nothing can ever be simple' department: the voice mail we got last Tuesday said that "all the tribes" had cleared the adoption, but it now appears that "all" means "all but one that we're still waiting to hear from."

While this is a little disconcerting, everyone continues to assure us that there's nothing to worry about and everyone expects this tribe to clear it soon.

This whole waiting part sucks.

Posted by Mike at 11:08 PM

May 18, 2004

Happy adoption news

Our adoption agency called today with the wonderful news that both Indian tribes have written to clear the adoption. This means that they aren't claiming any interest in the child under ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act), and aren't going to block the adoption.

We are thrilled and relieved.

Now we just have to wait for the baby itself.


Posted by Mike at 10:29 PM | Comments (2)

May 12, 2004

Good book on Open Adoption

Meredith found a book called "The Open Adoption Experience," and we both think it's a really good look at issues around open adoption. It talks a lot about the experience of both the adoptive and birth parents, and looks at issues that can arise before the placement, at the birth, and at different stages in the child's life. It's really well done, and well balanced. Great book -- we highly recommend it.

Posted by Mike at 09:48 PM

May 09, 2004

Open Adoption

If all goes well, Meredith and I will be adopting a baby soon.

There are, it seems, three major routes to go through for adopting: international, domestic closed, and domestic open.

International is where you sign up for a baby from Russia, China, or wherever. You pay the money, get in line, and when you get to the front of the line, you fly to the country and pick up the child. One problem with this, from our perspective, is that you don't ever get an infant this way. The minimum age depends on the country, but it's never any younger than six months, and can be a year or 18 months.

Domestic adoption has traditionally been closed: you get an infant, but don't know the birthparents, and the birthparents don't know you. The kid can sometimes get the records unsealed after turning 18. For most of the last century, this was the norm for adoptions in this country.

In open adoption, though, everyone knows everyone. The birthmother looks over profiles of adoptive parents and picks the ones that she'd like to talk to and meet. After meeting, if both parties agree, it's a match. After the birth, you might (depending on what the birthmother wants) continue to have contact, in the form of photos, phone calls, or visits. There's a growing body of research that suggests that this is much better for the child, because there's no mystery. It's never "where did I came from", it's "I came from her".

Last January, we met a couple from Nevada who are expecting a baby. We talked on the phone for an hour before meeting, then they drove out here and had dinner with us so we could all meet and make sure that it seemed like a good match. And it was!

Since then, we've been out to visit them several times, and they've been out here once more. The baby (it's a boy) is due in early June, which, realistically, means it could come anytime between now and mid-June. The birthmother is so ready for this baby to be born ;) It's really been a great match with them -- all four of us get along well.

One possible complication is that both birthparents have some Indian heritage, which means that the Indian Child Welfare Act (aka ICWA) applies. Basically, ICWA says that if a child is elegible for membership in an Indian tribe, said tribe can intervene in an adoption and insist that the child be placed with Indian parents. The procedure is that we have to notify the tribes of the planned adoption, and they answer and tell us whether or not they have an interest in the child. We've done the notification; now we're just waiting to hear back from them. Hopefully soon. We don't think this will be a problem, but, well, you never know.

The second major thing that could change this, obviously, is that the birthparents could change their mind about the adoption. After the birth, they have a minimum of 72 hours before they can sign the relenquishment. They can take longer to decide; they cannot take less time, which makes sense. It's a huge decision to have to make.

So, we're waiting. At least we don't have much longer to wait! But it could still be a long month (or more).

Posted by Mike at 05:44 PM | Comments (2)

April 25, 2004

Baked out of house and home

I'm at the office right now because it was too hot to live at our house. Microsoft has air conditioning; our house does not. It was so hot, Jake, our cat, spent the entire day sprawled out on the tile floor of the shower stall, presumably because it was the coolest surface in the entire house for him to lie on. Meredith is at Great America today with kids from the youth group at Half Moon Bay. I can't even imagine being there all day. It's so hot that it's almost too hot to drive with the top down in my car.


Posted by Mike at 06:44 PM | Comments (1)

April 24, 2004

Going to Redmond ... again ...

Next week, I leave Monday afternoon to fly to Redmond, and come back on Tuesday. I was originally flying up and back on Tuesday for an all-day design meeting, but had to fly out earlier so that I can, ironically enough, meet with someone Monday evening who sits 50 feet from my office. But he's going to be in Redmond all day Monday, and we need to both meet before our meeting on Tuesday to prepare for it.

I think I have something like 13000 frequent flyer miles on Alaska now, and I didn't start flying on Alaska until last fall. All of those miles were earned between here and Seattle. Amazing.

Posted by Mike at 09:01 PM

March 30, 2004

I love the Lady Vols

From the Seattle airport Tuesday night, I logged into AIM from my cell phone. Right after I did, Al sent me an IM with the latest score -- then just a few seconds later, sent the happy news that Tennessee's Lady Vols had once again defeated Stanford. So Tennessee goes now to the Final Four.

Posted by Mike at 11:09 PM

March 27, 2004

Volunteering to be a lump

Last week, I announced to the Staff-Parish Relations Committee that I chair at church that I was going to be stepping down at the end of June, both as chair (which I always said I would do then) and as a committee member at all (which I wasn't supposed to do until June 2005).

There are a lot of reasons for it. One is that by June, I'll have been on SPRC for 5 1/2 years. That's longer than I've been married. I've only lived out here for nine years. So, basically: I'm burned out.

A friend at church asked me what I was going to do next. I replied that I intended to be a lump in a pew. He assures me that I won't like it -- that I'll need to be doing something. I'm willing to take that risk ;)

Posted by Mike at 06:49 PM | Comments (1)

My Tablet PC is back

The LCD latch for my broken Tablet PC finally came in yesterday. An hour and a half later, the tech brought my good-as-new laptop back to my office. Yay!

Posted by Mike at 12:20 PM

March 21, 2004

That cat...

Jake loves to climb behind the blinds and rest on the window sill of our bedroom window. This afternoon, while I was back in the bedroom, Jake started meowing and sticking his head out from behind the blinds looking at me.

When I pulled the blinds out to investigate, I found that his front two paws were caught in the window screen, which he had torn out of the frame, and his back paws were dangling in space. He couldn't pull himself up, and couldn't get his paws out of the window screen.

He was very happy to get out, although I am less happy about having to buy a replacement window screen.

Posted by Mike at 04:49 PM

March 15, 2004


So, Saturday morning, just 36 hours after stabbing myself in the finger, I managed to hit the power cord that was going to my laptop on the end table by the couch.

Note to self: the tablet PC screen doesn't do so well in a two feet fall.

I tried to stay away from anything sharp or valuable on Sunday.


Posted by Mike at 10:38 AM

March 12, 2004


Last night, while doing dishes, I somehow lost my grip in the soapy water and ended up stabbing the tip of my right index finger with the very sharp tip of one of our steak knives.

Much bleeding later, it now has a nasty looking scab on it, with some nice swelling and bruising to go along with it.

No typing on this finger for a while.


Posted by Mike at 08:09 AM

March 03, 2004

Things you don't want to hear on an airplane

I'm on a flight back from Seattle. While we were at the gate, waiting for the boarding process to hear, I heard a computer voice from the cockpit announcing: "Pull up! Terrain! Terrain! Pull up!"

I've played more than enough flight simulators to know that this is the helpful warning that the computer gives you when you are about to plow into the ground. Obviously, while parked at the gate, we weren't about to plow into anything. So that wasn't what made me nervous. It was that the computer was so confused about the state of the plane that it thought we were.

It just doesn't seem like a good sign.

Posted by Mike at 09:06 PM | Comments (2)

February 26, 2004

How to know you're getting email from a virus

Today I got an email purporting to be from a pastor at a nearby Methodist church (not mine). It had a zip file attached, and the message read "you are sexy in this doc!"

I'm thinking that he probably didn't send that ;)

Posted by Mike at 09:33 PM

February 13, 2004

Meredith is on her way ... I hope ...

Meredith is off to Atlanta today to visit college friends. I would have gone, but couldn't get off work, unfortunately.

Or, at least, I hope she's off: I mis-set the alarm last night, so we wound up waking up just over an hour before her flight was supposed to leave from SFO. Oops. We made it there half-an-hour before her flight, though, so it was probably OK.

Posted by Mike at 08:50 AM

February 08, 2004

Old-school video games

Meredith and I picked up the Atari 10-in-1 game this weekend. It's a joystick, modeled after the original Atari 2600 joystick, that has 10 of the old 2600 games built into it (including Missile Command, Centipede, Asteroids, Pong). I just played Asteroids long enough to roll the score over. I had forgotten that you could even do that on the old games.

Totally fun. :)

Posted by Mike at 08:41 PM

February 05, 2004

Tablet PC

I had a five hour offsite today to do a design session around the system we're building. I took notes using OneNote by handwriting on my Tablet PC.

And it was just great. I can write and draw diagrams as easily as doing it on paper, except that at the end of the day, I can convert all of my handwritten text to actual text, and then email the notes around for everyone else to see. It's really a qualitatively different experience working this way.


Posted by Mike at 09:59 PM

January 30, 2004

Long week

This has been a very long week. l am so glad it's finally over. on Wednesday, one of the PMs in my group told me that l looked exhausted, and that was only half way through the week.

But l do have a new toy. I'm writing this on a new Tablet PC. I finally decided it was time to get a new laptop that was faster. The Tablet part seemed like a nice bonus.

Time to go get dinner. And a beer.

Posted by Mike at 09:02 PM

January 24, 2004


I've just spent the last couple of hours playing EA's Return Of The King game on my Xbox. It's a lot of fun to play.

The best part: that I know one of the engineers who worked on it. It's very cool getting to play his game. Seeing his name in the credits is very nice.

Thanks, Russell!

Posted by Mike at 11:15 PM | Comments (1)

January 23, 2004

Post this sign, no matter what

The restaurant / bar I just ate at has a notice posted on the outside informing people that, according to Washington state law, persons carrying firearms into an establishment that serves liquor, whether or not they have a concealed weapons permit, is illegal unless that person is a law-enforcement officer. Violators will be arrested and prosecuted ... blah, blah, blah ...

What's funny about this?

The bar in question was in the Seattle airport. In the secure zone.

Posted by Mike at 07:50 PM

January 20, 2004


Tonight I fly up to Redmond (just outside of Seattle) for a three-day class on the internals of the Windows kernel. It should be really interesting -- it's certainly the first training I can remember looking forward to in a very long time.

As it seems to always work out, such events, which seem so well-timed when planned months in advance, now appear to be at the worst possible time. We're in the middle of a huge crunch at work, and my team is responsible for a lot of the stuff that needs to be done.

But I'm still going.

Posted by Mike at 09:00 AM

January 09, 2004


I went to a memorial for Elaine Ung today down in Cupertino. Elaine died suddenly late last month. She had worked as a tester for Apple for a number of years, and on the QuickTime team for last several years. During my time on QuickTime, I got to work with Elaine a lot. She was probably the best tester I've ever worked with, at Apple or at Microsoft. Her bugs had an amazing level of detail to them. And they were not ever wrong. The fastest way to silence an engineer protesting that a bug couldn't possibly be real was to point out that Elaine had written it.

Elaine was the only tester I've ever worked with that, if she had written in a bug that it happened "only between 1 and 3 AM during a full moon", you would just decide to come in at 1 AM during the next full moon so that you could reproduce and fix the bug.

Posted by Mike at 08:56 PM | Comments (2)

January 05, 2004

Cat v. Candle

Lately, we've often been lighting candles on the dinner table. Our cat, Jake, almost always sits on the table while we eat dinner. He doesn't eat our food; he just sits there. A lot of times, he'll reach a paw out towards one of the candles, then pulling back as he realizes that candles are, in fact, hot.

Not this time, though. While we were both watching him, he struck at the base of the flame with his paw and immediately pulled his paw back -- after snuffing out the flame. I would never have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself.

I guess he doesn't like candles as much as we do.

Posted by Mike at 10:09 PM | Comments (1)

December 21, 2003

Christmas tree

Meredith and I are running a little behind this year. So behind, in fact, that we didn't even get around to getting a Christmas tree until yesterday.

The tree, though late in arriving, is beautiful.

Unfortunately, Jake thinks so, too. Knocking ornaments off the bottom of the tree has been great fun for him. The most startling sight so far, though, was when I looked over to find Jake knocking an ornament off the top of the tree. He was able to accomplish this because he was, at the time, sitting in the very top of the tree, where he had evidently climbed.

It's like a giant play set for the cat.

Posted by Mike at 10:07 PM

December 20, 2003

New server ... again

Time for yet another server move for mohea.com. The hosting provider we use recently switched platforms from Red Hat to Debian, necessitating a move to a new virtual server. One more time for me to set up web services, email, and mailing list software. One more time for me to remember how much I despise setting up Linux software. The greatest failing of most open source software has to be the masochistic view that good software should require umpteen different configuration files with a million arcane options, and as little documentation as possible, and that if you can't figure it out from the brief man pages or the source code itself, you don't deserve to use it.

At any rate -- I think most things are working again. Hopefully the web site at least will work.

Posted by Mike at 08:30 PM

December 17, 2003

Trilogy Tuesday

Tuesday I spent all day at the San Francisco Metreon theater, watching all three Lord of the Rings movies back to back. For one day only, select theaters (and only one screen per theater) showed the extended version of The Fellowship of the Rings, the extended version of The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. We arrived at 9:30 AM and the line was already out the door. The first movie started at 1 PM, and the last movie started at 10. We got back home a little after 2:30 AM.

And it was great! Seeing the extended versions of the first two movies on the big screen was great. And the Return of the King was amazing. Wow. It was everything I had hoped for, and then some.

It's certainly the first time I've spent 16 hours in a movie theater. Odds aren't bad that it will be last. I've discussed with several people the question of what other movie trilogy might exist that you would spend all day in a theater to see. The only other option that anyone can come up with is the original three Star Wars movies -- and even that I would have to think about a little. (If only there hadn't been Ewoks...) Any one else have any other suggestions? No one I've talked to can come up with anything else.

Another good part of the experience was the Metreon staff. They were really friendly and helpful the entire day. They made a big difference.

Sadly, Meredith didn't wind up getting to go. Maggie and Cliff couldn't find a babysitter, so Meredith wound up babysitting for Kyna in a marathon session of her own.

Posted by Mike at 09:49 PM | Comments (1)

December 14, 2003

Good Ol' Rocky Top!

We got to see the Lady Vols play Stanford today with a bunch of people from church. Stanford was leading by 14 points at one point in the second half, leading Meredith to start looking forward to what would have been Stanford's first victory over Tennessee since before we started dating, but it was not to be. Tennessee came back to force the game into overtime, then won 70-66.

Go Vols!

Posted by Mike at 04:39 PM

December 12, 2003


(My wife claims this story proves what a geek I am. I claim that it's proof of resourcefulness.)

As some of you know, I've been spending a lot of late nights at work lately. One of the problems with working late is that the heating system tends to turn off late at night. This is partially due to the configuration of thermostats. At Microsoft, like many office buildings, heating and air conditioning is controlled by a single thermostat for some number of offices. If that office is warm (computers left on, door shut), the heating system will decide that everything is warm enough and that it doesn't need to provide any more heat to other offices.

Last night, it was starting to get sufficiently cold that it was having a noticeable effect on my typing speed. Dustin, one of the engineers I work with, commented that he once wrote a program to keep his computer busy. Another person suggested trying to put something cold over the thermostat in the other office.

So, a few minutes later, a nice cold can of Talking Rain water (note to the reader: Talking Rain is canned fizzy water that I've never seen in my life outside of a Microsoft building. Perhaps they are actually very popular in the Seattle area.) was balanced on top of the thermostat in the office next to mine, and I had written heater.exe, a simple C# program (heater.cs) that starts up and creates one thread for each processor that does nothing but spin. The threads are set to low priority, so any real work I'm doing (e.g., compiling) takes precedence and isn't slowed down. But anytime my computer would have been idle, it runs this instead, so the CPUs are constantly at 100% processor utilization.

Fifteen minutes after that, my office was nice and warm.

(I'm sticking with resourceful.)

Posted by Mike at 11:12 PM | Comments (2)

December 11, 2003

I. Hate. Ants.

Tonight I came home to find a few thousand or so ants crawling all over the kitchen.

I hate ants. l really, really do. Unfortunately, this has been the case almost every other night for the last week or so. (The thousands of ants part, that is -- the hating thousands of ants pert has been true for some time now.)

An hour later, everything is cleaned up again. The "See Rock City" cookie jar, a gift from the Taylors years ago, is in bad shape, though. It (along with, oddly enough, the water pitcher) was one of the primary targets of the ants, and it seems that ant spray does horrible things to the paint. Oops.

It is definitely time to call an exterminator.

Posted by Mike at 11:29 PM | Comments (2)

November 30, 2003


I picked up Project Gotham Racing 2 right before Thanksgiving, and have already blown many hours playing it. There's something really fun about racing cars at insane speeds. The online play is great. I still suck at it, though. Even the single player modes have an online component: after each race, it shows you where you rank compared to other players for that race (my average ranking is somewhere around 14000th place... good thing I don't do this for a living).

Not everyone likes the game, though. One Australian official wants to see the game banned because the game is "actually glorifying speed and power." It's good to see that idiocy around video games isn't entirely confined to the USA. Well, for some value of 'good'.

Posted by Mike at 09:38 PM | Comments (1)

November 29, 2003


On our way back from Meredith's 10-year high school reunion, we stopped at Tower Records, mostly to pick up the extended version of The Two Towers. While we were there, we got Jonny Lang's the CD, "Long Time Coming", and the new "Let It Be... Naked" CD.

We listed to the Beatles album first. It's OK. Nothing very exciting. The whole idea is that it's a re-release of some of the old Beatles material with a bunch of the studio overdubs removed. It turns out that some of those overdubs and studio effects weren't all so bad.

The Jonny Lang CD is awful. It's like bad pop. We bought it because I loved his "Lie to Me" CD, but that was Blues, and this is ... not. I guess it's fine if you happen to like cheesy pop music.

Posted by Mike at 10:57 PM | Comments (1)

November 22, 2003


A little over four years ago, towards the end of a warm August month, we made an offer on our house, then closed on it during an also warm September.

Our house was built in the early part of the 20th century as a farmhouse in Mountain View when most of this area was orchards. We bought the house from someone who had just bought the house six months earlier and spent the time doing extensive remodeling to the house, including adding on the master bedroom suite. The front (original) part of the house had a lot of work done to it, although there are still plenty of signs of the original age of the house -- perhaps most notably in the continued existence of the original (ungrounded) electrical system (which occasionally proves a problem when trying to plug in a laptop).

Shortly after moving into the house, we began to wonder if the contractors that we bought the house from had spent a lot of time doing this sort of thing before. Most of the work was nice, but there were a few odd oversights, like the kitchen sink faucet handle that was put in backwards so that we couldn't actually get cold water, or the laundry room door that couldn't possibly be closed if anything -- say, a washer or dryer -- was placed in the laundry room.

Did I mention that we bought the house in a warm month? That fact probably wouldn't have mattered to experienced homebuyers, but this was our first house, and we were not.

We soon discovered the biggest oversight in the remodeling of our home. The living room has a large floor grating with a gas heater underneath it in the basement. This appears to have been put in 20 years or so ago, and provides ample heat to the living room and dining room. The second heater is a wall-mounted gas heater in the kitchen. Aside from the fact that we don't often need lots of extra heat in the kitchen, it doesn't work. And the third heater is another wall-mounted gas heater in the hallway leading back to the master bedroom.

You'll note that I have listed no sources of heat that are actually in a bedroom.

The living room heater is more than capable of heating the front guest bedroom, as long as the door is wide open, but guests often prefer to sleep in there with the door closed, for some odd reason. Or, they would, if it weren't for the fact that they would freeze if they tried. Our cat doesn't always have that option, though. He sometimes gets put in there at night when he has trouble with the idea that 5 AM isn't play time, and when he gets let out, he is often REALLY cold. We may have to stop doing that as it gets colder.

The hallway heater is carefully aimed so as to heat the laundry room, and so barely manages to heat the master bedroom -- but only if the master bedroom door is open, because they installed it on the kitchen side of the door.

After the first very cold winter, realizing the scope of this problem, we tried to get some estimates for installing central heat and air in the house. This led to another odd discovery: that when the 10' x 10' cellar underneath our house was dug out, they evidently tossed all of the excavated dirt over the retaining wall into what had been the crawl space. Thus, the crawl space isn't even high enough for duct work to be run through the house. So before we could install heating, we have to get someone to dig out about a foot of dirt throughout our entire crawl space.

In the meantime, we pile lots of blankets on the bed.

Posted by Mike at 01:46 PM

November 20, 2003

Not the flu

Last Monday, Meredith and I both decided to get the flu vaccine that was being offered through my work. I felt fine (other than waking up Tuesday morning with a very sore arm that lasted for a couple of days), but Meredith has had the 'flu-like symptoms' that they mention as a possible side effect since Monday evening.

At some point, the line between flu and 'flu-like symptoms that aren't really the flu' gets pretty blurry. If you have a slight fever, are sniffy, and feel sick -- how much does it really matter if it's actually the flu or not?

Posted by Mike at 02:17 PM

November 14, 2003

Not a good sign...

You know it's a bad sign when upper management arranges for dinner to be brought into the work place every night for the next few weeks.

"Yay! Free dinner ... hey, wait a minute... uh ...this sucks ..."

Posted by Mike at 06:59 PM

November 13, 2003

A Saint

On the evening of November 11 (as I was thinking about that day being the 11th anniversary of my mother's death), Bishop R. Marvin Stuart passed away. Bishop Stuart was senior pastor of my church, First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto, for 22 years, from 1942-1964, before being appointed to Bishop. After his retirement, he came back to First Palo Alto where he could be found almost every Sunday in the same pew.

One of the Saints has joined the heavenly choir.

Posted by Mike at 08:17 AM | Comments (1)

November 05, 2003

Spammers: die (part 2)

In the last 36 hours, a total of six new spam comments have been added to my blog and Meredith's blog.

Today I installed the excellent mt-blacklist plug-in written by Jay Allen. It was easy to install, and seems to do a good job of blocking comments that are really spam.

Posted by Mike at 02:21 PM

November 03, 2003


After an eight month break, I'm a manager again.

It's a small team -- I'll have only three direct reports, which is as small a number as I've ever had reporting to me. The small number means that I'll still be able to develop code, which is pretty important to me.

Posted by Mike at 03:49 PM | Comments (3)

November 01, 2003

Gone for three days, going on four months

On Tuesday, it was 90 degrees. I spent the day in shorts and a t-shirt thinking that it was too damned hot.

Wednesday, I got on a plane and went to Seattle and tried not to freeze.

Friday, I came home. Today it was about 60 degrees.

The 30 degree drop between the time I left and came back really made it feel like I was gone for way more than three days. Very weird...

Posted by Mike at 05:52 PM | Comments (1)

October 29, 2003

Free Bird

I'm up in Redmond for an MSTV launch party and the MS company meeting (tomorrow). Tonight was the launch party.

You know it's a party when you get to see your manager doing Free Bird karaoke.

Posted by Mike at 11:59 PM | Comments (1)

October 26, 2003


My sister, Amy, is living west of Los Angeles. You know, where all those fires are. She writes:

Just wanted to check in with everyone about the fires. They are very close but at this time our house is not in immediate danger. The fire line and evacuation is about 5 miles away. We're covered in ashes, but no flames so we're thankful.

Hope the fires are put out soon...

Posted by Mike at 06:18 PM | Comments (2)

October 19, 2003

Decision making

Last week, Peter Kaplan wrote to me about the infamous 8th inning of Game 6 of Marlins at Cubs:

"You know, it all happened in that moment when Dusty Baker failed to make a conscious decision to decide whether to take Mark Prior out when everyone could see that he didn't have the Stuff he had started with and that his breaking ball wasn't breaking. I mean, if Dusty had made the wrong decision, that would be OK. If he had not gotten to the point of making a decision but had at least committed to deciding, that would have been unfortunate timing, but respectable. But by all accounts, Dusty showed no sign of being in the process of deciding to make a decision... And the thing is, once the momentum shifts that way, it doesn't matter what else happens. The Cubs just aren't going to be the winners anymore at that point, and you know it in your gut. It was a sad moment for everyone who recognized it as such."

It's an profound observation. It's profound because it's so simple.

Many times in my career, entire business organizations have become paralyzed because of an inability, on the part of an individual or a team, to make a decision.

Imagine a race that starts out in Colorado. The destination is said to be somewhere in the northeast US -- but you won't know exactly where for a few days. One driver decides to wait until he knows exactly where he's going, so he can plan the fastest route possible. The other driver starts driving North-East right away.

Who do you think wins?

He wins because he didn't start driving towards California or Texas. He wins because he realized that some forward motion, in what was vaguely the right direction, got him closer to his goal. He wins even though he will certainly drive for more time and more miles than the first driver. He wins because he got enough of a head start that the extra time doesn't matter. And he wins because, when he does get the news of the final destination, he changes his course to start heading for it.

Of course, the reality is that you can never know all the information you need at the start. I once spent about a month and a half, along with several other senior engineers, basically sitting on our hands waiting for management to come up with the Perfect Plan for the next release of our product. We didn't start the race until management had decided on the exact destination -- but the destination changed before we got there anyway. We gave up a six week head start, and still had to make a course correction.

That was Dusty Baker's problem, in the end. He actually had a plan for getting to the World Series, but he couldn't see that he might need to change his course until it was too late.

I think it comes down to two distinct, albeit related, abilities. The first is the ability to make a decision in the first place -- to realize that going forward in something approximating the right direction is better than not moving at all until you have the exact direction. And the second is the ability to recognize when you have to change your course, because the first plan isn't going to work anymore.

Posted by Mike at 05:36 PM

October 11, 2003

Oh, the humanity!

The game this weekend between UT and Georgia -- in Knoxville, no less -- was just too horrific for words. Lately, the Tennessee football team seems to have at least one game a year where they utterly humiliate themselves. Last year, it was the game against Florida. I can only hope that this year, the peak will have been the game against Georgia. It was a good game for the first 29 minutes and 58 seconds. Then, with two seconds left on the clock in the first half, UT fumbled the ball as they were about to score, and Georgia ran it back 92 yards for a touchdown.

The second half just added to the misery. At one point, Georgia scored three touchdowns within 2:35 on the clock. UT turned the ball over four times. Tennessee used to dominate Georgia so much that it was barely considered a real game. Now, Georgia has beaten us four years in a row.

It's rare that you can say that a game with a final score of 41-14 wasn't as close as the score indicated.

Oh, the pain...

Posted by Mike at 11:00 PM | Comments (1)

October 09, 2003

September 30, 2003

Allison and John's wedding pictures

Pictures from Allison and John's wedding last weekend are posted here.

Posted by Mike at 09:48 PM

Wait For Green

More comments on the Philadelphia trip...

Philadelphia traffic is very strange. The first odd thing was these signs, seen on many traffic lights, that say "Wait For Green". Isn't that pretty much the definition of a traffic light? I think if you need a sign to remind people that you are supposed to wait for green, you have a problem that the sign isn't going to fix. And, after spending a couple of days driving around the area, I'm convinced that they have a problem that the signs are not fixing.

Traffic is also weird because it lurches. On Sunday, driving from where we were staying in Plymouth Meeting into Philadelphia, traffic on the freeway would just suddenly come to a stop. Then, just as suddenly, it would go back up to 50-60 MPH for a few minutes before lurching to a stop again. We never saw any wrecks (except the one rear-end collision right in front of us that was caused by this lurching) or anything else that would explain it. Tess, who grew up in the area, said that traffic was always like that.


Posted by Mike at 01:47 PM | Comments (2)

September 29, 2003

The terminal that time forgot ... and the airline that time should forget

A week ago, we went to Philadelphia for Allison and John's wedding (pictures to come soon...). For our flight out, we chose to burn up our miles on US Airways. We accumulated too many miles flying on the airline when Meredith's parents lived in Pittsburgh, and this seemed like a good way to use them up.

The terminal that US Air flies out of at SFO really demonstrates the decline in air travel over the last couple of years. The terminal was practically deserted. The (closed) newsstand had magazine covers from over a year ago. It was eery.

The trip was also an excellent reminder of why we haven't flown US Air since Meredith's parents moved away from Pittsburgh. It's safe to say that US Airways is my second least favorite airline (second only to Northwest). My favorite US Air story was from a few years ago, on one of our trips back home from Pittsburgh. The flight was supposed to be non-stop to San Francisco, but they explained to us, as we were boarding, that we would have to make an unscheduled stop in Kansas City. Well, they explained that after they begrudgingly found us some seats, as far apart as possible -- another favorite US Air trick with us. Later, on the plane, the flight attendant explained the reason for the stop: it turned out that they didn't have enough fuel to make it all the way to SFO. This was amazing for several reasons, not least of which was that we were, at the time, still on the ground in Pittsburgh -- where, presumably, they have jet fuel. And one wonders why the airline went bankrupt...

Posted by Mike at 11:52 PM

September 26, 2003

Spammers: can they be more irritating?

The latest delivery method for spam to me?

A comment left in one of my blog entries with links to purchase various products that I'm quite sure I don't need. At the end of the page-long list of URLs, it included the line "If you find this entry inappropriate please remove it from your database!".


Posted by Mike at 08:51 PM

September 16, 2003

Trapped at work

People talk all the time about being 'trapped in the office'.

As I write this, I am. Literally.

Once before, my door got stuck and I couldn't open it. But that time, I was outside the office, so it didn't bother me so much. This time, I'm inside, so it is bothering me a little bit more.

The facilities helpdesk has assured me that someone will be coming right over.

Posted by Mike at 04:48 PM | Comments (4)

September 14, 2003

The value of web-based solutions

Yesterday, I realized just how completely different the system is for updating the church web site really is.

I wrote earlier about the new web site and how we're using Movable Type for a content management system. Yesterday, while trying to escape the terrible heat of the day, I had retreated to our bedroom, the one air-conditioned room in the house. I checked my email on my Pocket PC and found a note from Al about a problem he had run into while trying to update something. The problem was caused by a bad template I had left on the site. So, I logged into the web site and deleted it -- all from the Pocket PC, using its built-in version of Internet Explorer.

This is the power of a web-based solution for authoring -- instead of needing to go to my computer and use some web authoring software, I can update the site from something as simple as a PDA.

Posted by Mike at 02:48 PM

September 11, 2003

Debugging email spam blocks

A lot of people in our church use AOL. Because of this, our pastor frequently emails a lot of people with aol.com email addresses.

Or he did, until his email started bouncing as spam. I would argue that sending a copy of the church bulletin to five people is hardly spam, but AOL's servers were insistent.

Al found the phone number for AOL's "postmaster hotline", where he talked to someone that insisted that the problem was that the IP address the church was using had been flagged as a source of spam, and we would need to talk to our ISP.

The problem with this explanation is that it made no sense at all. First of all, the church uses PacBell DSL with a dynamic IP address, so the IP address changes periodically anyway. And, I've never heard of blocking email because of the original source (which can be forged by any idiot anyway) -- you block mail relays instead. You block that because either the mail relay is deliberately sending spam, or because it was configured by an idiot that didn't realize that putting a mail relay on the internet that anyone can send mail through without a password is A Bad Thing.

But you don't block because of the supposed originating IP address. Al even tried, to no avail, to point out the absurdity of this to the AOL rep, asking if it was really their policy to just randomly block email originating from the heart of Silicon Valley because one address might have been used to send spam once.

So I called AOL yesterday. After 35 minutes on hold, I finally get to someone who tells me that no, of course it's not because of the DSL IP address, it must be because of the mail relay. I give him the IP address of the mail relay we use, which is provided by the church's hosting company -- the same one that hosts the web site (except when they do things like forget to start the Apache server, but that's another rant). He looks it up, comes back, and explains that it has no reverse DNS entry. Which I knew. But evidently, once a mail relay gets marked as 'bad' for whatever bizarre reason by AOL, it goes into their blocked list. And, once on that list, the first test that is done of the mail relay is to see if it has a reverse DNS. If not, it doesn't come off the list.

This still doesn't quite make sense to me. There must be some reason for it, I imagine. Perhaps a statistical study of spam has shown that servers without reverse DNS entries are more likely to be used to relay spam?

At any rate, the problem winds up being the one thing that I can't fix on my own. So now we have to wait for Westhost to add a reverse DNS entry. Unfortunately, Westhost is in the middle of screwing up migrating all of their accounts from one server setup to another, and in so doing, has basically managed to screw up every single one of them. When they migrated the church's web site, it took me about three hours to get it running again (starting Apache was the easy part, sadly). In other words, they aren't likely to get to this anytime soon. Meanwhile, my pastor can't reliably send email to a number of church members.

Every so often I read some apocalyptic treatise on how spam is going to result in the death of email. I usually dismiss these out of hands, but more and more, I catch myself wondering. Several months ago, I spent a while trying to convince the University of Michigan that my email relay wasn't sending spam. And, every so often, I notice that some piece of email that meriko sends through my mail relay gets blocked for no good reason. And now I'm fighting AOL over this. And herein lies the biggest problem with spam -- how do you block it, so your email isn't constantly filled with offers of bigger body parts, more money, etc., without causing such terrible headaches for people sending legitimate email?

We have a long way to go on this.

Posted by Mike at 09:13 AM | Comments (7)

September 06, 2003

The site is live

Today, we pushed the new web site for the church live.

Tim did an amazing job on the design and layout for the new site. Almost the entire site is driven by MovableType. Custom MovableType plug-ins automatically create the navigation bars at the top of each section and automatically link names of people to a mailto URL with that person's email, and room names to a web page with a map of that section of the church.

Al, Tim and I are getting together next week to celebrate. It's been a LOT of work.

Posted by Mike at 10:30 PM | Comments (1)

September 05, 2003

Not a good sign

You know it's bad when you try to set the coffee maker to brew a batch of coffee the next morning, and instead of turning it to the timer, you manage to just turn it on -- and then it's five minutes into the brewing cycle before you realize what you've done.

I need more sleep.

Posted by Mike at 07:49 AM | Comments (2)

September 03, 2003


A recent article on MSNBC.com discussed the growing trend of parents home schooling their children. The article focused on a family that started homeschooling after the oldest daughter kept having problems in school and was diagnosed as having ADD. Now the daughter is doing fine and is off Ritalin.

About once a year or so, I notice some major media outlet doing an article on homeschooling. The basic format is always the same: "Here are these kids that are home schooled and doing great. They have friends, they are excelling at school subjects -- life is great." And then, always, there is a quote from some supposed 'expert' on the dangers of homeschooling -- almost always something about how homeschoolers will suffer without "proper" socialization.

The MSNBC article includes this quote from Ted Feinberg, assistant executive director for the National Association of School Psychologists: "Unless you’re going to keep your children in a bubble for the rest of their lives, you have to expose them to a world that isn’t always sweet and nurturing."

The quote, fairly typical for such an article, implies that a home schooled child will grow up to be a vulnerable, scared, wisp of a person, unable to deal with the harsh realities of a cold world.

Like me?

At the age of 5, I entered kindergarten in Knoxville, TN. I have generally pleasant memories of the experience. I liked the kids, and I liked the teacher. School work was not a problem for me. Thanks to my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles all reading to me practically from the day of my birth, I could read before the first day I started school. Math was fun for me.

Over Christmas break, we moved to Mansfield, Ohio. School there was very different. I quickly learned that school could be a mean, uncaring place. The rules were rigid, and you did NOT want to break them. I turned six.

After a summer break, I went back to the same school for first grade. The teacher was new, but she was cut from the same mold as the teacher I had just left. I remember her explaining to mom that she had already been warned about one of the kids entering her class, and she was ready to deal with him. The kid was one of my best friends. She hadn’t even met him yet, and he already had no chance. She was very unimpressed with me for being friends with him.

This, I suppose, is what Feinberg believes is a helpful situation for children, one that will serve them well later in life.

My parents despaired at the changes coming over their son. I came home grumpy, snapping at my little sister for any infraction. Math was a thing to be hated. And, thanks to the emphasis the school placed on learning to read by phonics, I could no longer read at all. My mother frequently told the story of my reading the word “lotion”, a word I could have read successfully at age 5, as “lah-tee-on”.

Finally, my mother saw John Holt on the Phil Donahue talk show. Holt was an advocate for something called “homeschooling”. Mom was so taken with the idea that my parents decided to pull me out of the public school system over Christmas break.

The next time I enrolled in any kind of formal education was when I started college, twelve years later.

It took a while to undo some of the effects of my year in Mansfield’s schools. I was nine before I showed even the slightest interest in touching math again. Then, by the age of 11, I was asking my uncle to explain the ‘Integrate’ function on my calculator to me. I took a while to bounce back, but when I did, I came back in a hurry.

While my parents originally tried to make my experience close to "school at home", we soon settled into a method described as "unschooling". We didn't have a curriculum or set subjects that I needed to study. I studied the things that interested me, following the paths to diverse fields of knowledge. My interest in the solar system led to the math and phsyics of planetary orbits, and the history of Galileo's and Newton's discoveries. Reading about Galileo led to the history of the Catholic Church's influence on the sciences, and the repression of Galileo's discoveries.

We did, eventually, move to a city that had a much better school system. The original plan had been to put me back in school once that happened. But by then, homeschooling had proven to be so successful for me that my parents decided to keep doing it.

To this day, most of the time when someone finds out I was homeschooled, they invariable ask, “but did you have any friends?” I had lots of friends – of all ages. I was writing shareware computer software by the age of 14. That led to an introduction to someone living in Boston who would, a few years later, get me an internship with Apple Computer before I even started college. Closer to home, I was involved in the local community theater, doing tech work for plays that brought me in contact with people from age 5 – 50. I did volunteer work for the local public library and met people there. I met other homeschoolers my age across the country.

When I was being homeschooled, it was still very unusual. At the time, the laws in most states didn’t prohibit homeschooling, but nor did most of them allow it. Mom, ever cautious, decided that the best approach was to simply not tell most people we were homeschooled. People assumed I was in school, and we didn’t bother correcting them. Later, by the time my three younger siblings were school age, laws were being passed allowing homeschooling. At the same time, it was becoming much more popular. My younger siblings had numerous friends of their age, in the local community, that were also being homeschooled.

Was I not being socialized?

Feinberg and others, unable to point to real, concrete examples of problems with homeschooling, continue to draw on fear, uncertainty and doubt to make their case that there just must be something wrong with it – something dangerous and, conveniently, hard to quantify.

Homeschooling is clearly not for every family, and public schools are not always bad. My wife loved her time in the public school system – so much so that she became a teacher. For her, it was a wonderful experience.

But, just as homeschooling is not for everyone, nor is the public school system. Homeschooling worked miracles for me; the public school system was crushing me. It was through homeschooling that I learned to deal with the world – both the good and the bad in it. In the end, I think, I turned out OK.

Posted by Mike at 08:45 AM

September 02, 2003

The cat is levitating

Somehow, Jake managed to get on top of our dryer. Our dryer is stacked on top of the washer, which means that the top is ~6 ft. off the floor. But, somehow, he got up there anyway.

Getting down on his own proved more difficult.

Posted by Mike at 02:56 PM | Comments (1)

August 29, 2003

It is finished

I finally finished playing Knights of the Old Republic. Again.

I finished the game in one week (about ~45 hours of gameplay) as a good Jedi. Then I started all over, as a ... well, less good Jedi. I was pretty much Evil incarnate, actually.

It's a LOT of fun to use dark force powers. Being able to pursuade people to do what you want by using Force Choke (think: "I find your lack of faith disturbing") is very satisfying.

If you have an X-Box, you have to get this game.

Posted by Mike at 09:29 AM

August 27, 2003


The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
You belong in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. You
value freedom above all else. You would fight
and die for your family and your home.

Which Heinlein Book Should You Have Been A Character In?

Well, duh.

Posted by Mike at 11:36 AM

August 12, 2003

I understand the addiction now...

Sunday evening, I bought Knights of the Old Republic for X-Box.

I now completely understand the comment a couple of weeks ago on Penny-Arcade, when the author wrote of "...having summoned the strength to stop playing Knights Of The Old Republic." It is hard work indeed. Yesterday I didn't manage to pull away for any food at all until dinner. Today, it's now 2:15, and I've just now taken a break and realized that perhaps I should eat my third meal in the last 48 hours.


Posted by Mike at 02:25 PM | Comments (1)

August 10, 2003

Back from Glacier

We're back from Glacier, safe and sound. We had a really good time, despite the fact that the western half of the park was still on fire for our visit. Many more pictures will soon be coming just as soon as I have a chance to organize them.

The grizzly bear, by the way, was photographed just off the side of the road.

Posted by Mike at 10:49 PM | Comments (1)

August 02, 2003

tap, tap, tap, *pad*

Jake's claws are getting long. Really, really long. So long that every time he takes a step in our carpeted bedroom, he gets stuck to the carpet. So, this morning, I tried to trim his claws. He quietly allowed me to trim the claws on one foot. And that was all.

Now, everytime he walks on the floor, I hear 'tap, tap, tap, *pad*, tap, tap, tap, *pad*'. He sounds a little ridiculous.

Posted by Mike at 11:07 AM

July 27, 2003

Weekend update

I haven't written in here in forever. I've been really busy with work trying to get caught up on things. This week I spent some time learning the Direct3D (now known as DirectX Graphics) APIs. Pixel Shaders are amazing things. Ever since I came over to this group four months ago, I've been jumping around learning one new thing then another. I'm hard pressed to remember another four month period in my career where I've been trying to learn so many new things at once. It's really good, but sometimes a little overwhelming.

Of course, I've been adding to my computer workload myself by working on some software in my free time. I'm trying to write a program to take email messages with Word documents attached and convert them into PDF for posting to a mailing list and/or convert to HTML and automatically post on a blog. The idea is to make it a lot easier for people in our church to update the church web site. It's getting there...

Meredith started her new job two weeks ago, as the new Director of Youth Ministries at Community United Methodist Church in Half Moon Bay. She loves it, except when there's a really slow-moving truck trying to go over Highway 92 into Half Moon Bay.

Yesterday we went to the Microsoft company picnic, held at the San Francisco Zoo. Meredith enjoyed it much more than the company picnic last year at Great America.

We went to see Tomb Raider 2 last night. It was definitely an entertaining couple of hours. A high concept motion picture it wasn't, but it was good fun. Also, the movie theater is air conditioned. Although getting out of the movie theater at the same time a concert was letting out of Shoreline Ampitheatre was fun, especially when we discovered that MVPD had blocked off Shoreline, forcing us to go home via 101. Ah well.

I found blogshares.com in my referrer logs. I don't quite get the site -- it's like a fantasy stock market, only instead of trading shares of companies, you trade shares of ... blogs. It seems that my blog is not worth very much -- small surprise there. But, curiously enough (to me), there are people who have traded shares of 'Some Boring Words'. I'm sure there's something to this that I'm just not getting right now.

Posted by Mike at 11:05 PM | Comments (1)

July 01, 2003

Note to self...

I visited the dentist today to finish getting my crown put in.

In the future, I will try to remember that having a lot of coffee before needing anesthesia isn't really the best idea for me. The overall effect was that it took much, much longer for the drugs to kick in. Consequently, the dentist, trying hard to actually get me numb for the procedure, had to give me three separate shots. That worked -- and then, thirty minutes later, when they finally kicked in for real, half of the left side of my face was numb. My left nostril was numb. Even my left eye was tingling a bit. Yecch...

Posted by Mike at 08:53 PM | Comments (3)

June 29, 2003

New ring

About a year ago, I wrote about developing an allergy to my wedding ring. The allergy continued to get worse over time, and eventually reached the point where I could not wear the ring for even a couple of hours without my finger breaking out into a rash and swelling up.

For my birthday this year, Meredith gave me a card that promised a new wedding band. It took us a long time to get around to getting it, but we finally did, and picked it up earlier this week. The new ring is platinum, which shouldn't trigger any allergic reactions.

So this morning, in church, Pastor Maggie gave a blessing for the new ring. Maggie said that was a first for her ;)

It's good to be able to wear a wedding ring again.

Posted by Mike at 09:44 PM | Comments (216)

June 21, 2003

My new car

By popular demand (or at least Al's ... but, hey, Al is popular, right?), here at last is a picture of my new car.
Posted by Mike at 04:18 PM | Comments (3)

My wife, the Golden Snitch

Meredith was, as you can see, a little excited about last night's midnight run to the bookstore to buy Harry Potter book #5 ("The End of TreesOrder of the Phoenix"). The best part is that there was someone else at the bookstore also dressed as the Golden Snitch. I wonder if the rules for Quidditch cover the case of having two Golden Snitches in the same place.

I am pretty sure that I won't get to read the book until Meredith is done ;)

Posted by Mike at 03:54 PM | Comments (2)

June 16, 2003

On buying an Audi

My last entry horrified one reader of my blog with its (and I am paraphrasing here, but only a bit) 'mind-numbing boringness' -- so much so, that he felt the need to call me and berate me personally. Ah, ya gotta love marketing ;)

At any rate, lest I lose one of my handful of readers, I'll try to write about something less geeky. So I'll tell the tale of buying a car. It has villains (don't all car purchase stories?), dragons, and, in an unusual twist, that rare find for such tales: a hero in the form of a car salesman. (Well, OK, there aren't actually any dragons in the story. Unless you count Meredith wanting to breathe fire on some of the salesman we encountered.)

As I mentioned last week, I am now the proud owner of a brand-new Audi. I really do have it now -- we took delivery on Thursday. I have been enjoying riding around in it a great deal so far -- so much so, that I have the sunburn to prove it. Time to start keeping sunscreen lotion in the car.

The car buying experience was, shall we say, interesting. (A side note: can it really be described as 'interesting', with the obvious implications that this experience was somehow unique within the set of car buying experiences when, really, all car buying experiences are terrible? Or perhaps the comparison is not to other car purchases, but, rather, purchases in general. In that case, buying a car could honestly be described as a more 'interesting' process than, say, a copy of the latest X-Box game from Fry's. Well, maybe Fry's is a bad example. But I digress.)

After looking at and test-driving various cars, I decided on the Audi A4 cabriolet. After test-driving the 3.0L engine version of the A4 at Stephens Creek Audi, and the 1.8L version at Carlsen Audi (on Embarcadero Rd in Palo Alto), I decided on the 1.8L version. The 3.0L was definitely nicer, but not, I decided, $5000 nicer.

So, one Sunday, I went to the web site for Carlsen Audi and submitted a quote request for the car I wanted. I tried to do the same thing at Stephens Creek Audi, only their web site wasn't really working -- everytime I hit the 'submit' button on the web form, it reset. Not a good sign. Eventually I did it through edmunds.com.

The next day, Carlsen Audi called me and said they'd sell me one of the three cars they had on their lot for "$500 over invoice". I went by the day after that to look at the cars and ask how much, exactly, invoice was. Well, he couldn't really tell me the exact number, he explained -- he couldn't get to the invoice until I decided to buy the car. It's hard to decide whether or not to buy a car when you don't really know how much you're agreeing to. He finally gave me a 'pretty close estimate'.

Still no word from Stephens Creek Audi, either. I finally called, talked to the salesman I had met there before, and asked if they could match the price Carlsen was offering. "No problem!"

Meredith and I went down there, where we discovered that, well, it might actually be a little problem. But after much discussion (and several breaks for him to 'consult with' his manager), the salesman offered us a price. He explained that he was giving us a deal because it was just his second day on the job, so he was trying extra hard to get the sale. This statement seemed contradicted by the sign in his office with his name and the notation 'certified dealer since 2000'. Two days, three years, what's the difference? It's not a good sign when the lies are this bizarre and this transparent.

The next morning, I went back again to Carlsen Audi, where I was suddenly dealing with a new salesman -- Desmond Lovas. I explained that I needed to know the price they were really offering. "No problem," he says. Yeah, right, I think -- I've heard that before. But, ten minutes later, I'm holding a piece of paper in my hand with not only the price they are offering the car at, but also showing the DMV fees, random other CA fees, taxes -- everything. To the penny. This was a surprising twist. (Remember the promise of a hero in the story?)

If I had been smart, I would have just stopped here and gone with the guy giving me a straight answer on the price. But no. Stephens Creek called me 'to see what was going on'. The one thing they had going for them is that they were offerering a car with one feature that I wanted that the car at Carlsen didn't have -- the Bose audio system. After talking to him some more on the phone, he agreed to lower the price some more, to something that, while a little higher than I was hoping for, was something that I could live with, especially to get the Bose system. Finally, I was done. I called him back later to say I'd buy the car.

Can this be the end? Can the hero of our story have come and gone so quickly? Does the salesman from Stephens Creek on his second day (or is that third year?) get the sale?

Of course not.

The next day, I called to see where my car was. "Well, we found a dealer that's got it, and we're waiting to hear back from them, so we should have it soon. Oh, and it turns out I made a small mistake -- I didn't realize that you wanted the Bose system. So the price is actually going to be --" and named a price not only higher than we had agreed on the day before, but even higher than the first price offered when we were sitting in his office. I guess when he said, "this car has every option -- there's nothing it doesn't have", I must have missed the "except for the Bose system."

Back to Carlsen. I decided the Bose system certainly isn't worth the now almost $2000 difference between the two dealers. I went back in, signed the initial paperwork -- with a price identical, to the penny, to what he had stated before -- and arranged a time later that I could come in with Meredith and pick up the car. In the end, the car wasn't ready when expected, but Desmond arranged for an almost identical loaner car and came to my work personally to pick me up so I could get the loaner. Given the ease with which he could have just arranged for some crappy rental car -- or done nothing at all -- this got him major points.

When we did finally pick up the car, Desmond got even more points by giving Meredith with the same respect and attention he was giving me. Most car dealers, in our experience, have had a hard time acknowledging Meredith as an actual person, much less someone who might actually be influencing the decision. This was true even when we were shopping for her car, and telling all the salesmen that it was going to be her car. Most of them still talked mostly to me, as if they expected that the decision was solely mine to make. After all, why would the woman have anything to do with this? Not a smart attitude.

Now, finally, I have the car, and I couldn't be happier. If you're looking for an Audi in the South Bay, I highly recommend calling Desmond Lovas at Carlsen Audi. This is the fourth car I've purchased, and he's been by far the best salesman I've ever dealt with.

Posted by Mike at 08:30 AM | Comments (4)

June 14, 2003

You know it's bad when...

I saw my dentist yesterday. My dentist has, presumably, been practicing for many years. He probably sees several patients a day, four or five days a week. This is a LOT of patients that he's seen. So you know it's bad when even the dentist is surprised by the condition of my teeth. "Wow, you lost all the filling and part of the tooth -- half your tooth is just gone. What did you DO?" Sigh.

The office was closed (as it evidently is every other Friday), so, since he didn't have any one to assist, he couldn't do the entire procedure of fitting me with a crown (that's Monday), but he did grind the sharp edges off my broken tooth so that it didn't keep scratching the inside of my mouth (for which I am very grateful). After that, at least, it felt mostly normal (except for the sudden sensitivity to cold that I have).

Posted by Mike at 10:06 AM

June 12, 2003

Damn tooth...

After picking up my new car (yay!), Meredith and I walked down the street to eat. Half way through the meal, I bit down on something really, really hard. I took it out of my mouth and didn't pay much attention to it. Then, a few minutes later, I realized that it was, in fact, half of one of my back molars. Damnit.

So, off to see the dentist tomorrow...

Posted by Mike at 09:26 PM

June 10, 2003

New car... almost ...

Acura Integra GSR
After eight years of driving my Integra, I decided that I wanted a new car. My car was still doing well, and it's served me well for a long time. I bought it May 3, 1995, right before graduating from UT. Later that month, the moving company that moved my stuff out here from Tennessee loaded it into the moving truck along with all the rest of my belongings and brought it out to California. I can still remember how much fun I had driving it when I first got it.

But, after eight years, I wanted something new -- something to make it fun again. So, while it was a bit more expensive than we might have liked for a car, we are now the proud owners of a 2003 Audi A4 1.8T Cabriolet (the convertible).

Well, almost.

After protracted (and sometimes infuriating) negotiations with a couple of different local Audi dealers, I purchased the car from Carlsen Audi on Embarcadero in Palo Alto. The car was there on the lot, newly delivered to them -- they just had to take the wrapper off and clean it up. Only when they did that, they discovered a very small crack in the windshield. The first plan was that they would be able to replace the windshield by Friday evening. Then they discovered that they didn't have a windshield for the Cabriolet in stock, so they had to order one up from LA. So, it would be Monday before it was done.

Only then, on Monday, they called to explain that the glass company, when they came out to install the new windshield, balked at having to remove the trim all around the windshield, saying that they didn't know how. So now it's going to be further delayed while the dealer gets the parts to remove the windshield trim, then gets the glass company to replace the windshield, then they'll put it all back together.

In fairness to the dealer, when I explained yesterday that this was all fine and well, except for the fact that I had sold my car on Friday and thus no longer had a car at all, they came and picked me up at work and put me into a demo car that's almost identical to the car I'm going to buy. So, I have an Audi convertible, but it's not really mine. Soon, though ...

More pictures to come when my car is really here.

Posted by Mike at 04:09 PM | Comments (3)

June 03, 2003

Jiffy Lube sucks, part 2

Recently I've been annoyed by feeling like my car was performing poorly, despite the fact that it had only been about 2000 miles since my last oil change (it doesn't get driven that much).

This morning I decided to check the oil. Maybe if my car was somehow leaking oil, and I was now low on oil, that would explain the problems.


It has too MUCH oil.

Remember when I wrote about how much I hated my experience at Jiffy Lube? Yup, it was the fine folk at the local Jiffy Lube that overfilled my car with oil. When you overfill your engine with oil, it starts building up too much pressure against the seals, it can cause the oil to foam and cause engine damage -- all kinds of bad things.

Thanks, Jiffy Lube!

Posted by Mike at 09:21 AM | Comments (411)

June 01, 2003

Saying Goodbye...

It's always hard to say goodbye, and it's especially hard to say goodbye to the wonderful pastor you've had for so long. Bob is retiring after 40 years in the ministry, so he and Carol are moving to Placerville. Bob's been the senior pastor of our church for ten years -- and I've only been going to it for eight, so he's the only senior pastor I've had here. Today was Bob's last sermon; next Sunday is his last Sunday here with us. A few weeks after that, Doug Monroe shows up to become our new senior pastor.

My favorite memory of Bob is easy to come up with. It was four years ago, when Meredith and I got married. We were getting married in Tennessee, because my grandparents really couldn't travel. We were all set to be married in the Methodist church there that my mom had grown up in, and where my grandparents still attended, when the pastor there told us that he was going to be out of town the weekend of our wedding, so he'd try to find us another pastor who could marry us. We asked Bob if he and Carol would be willing to fly out all the way to Tennessee so he could marry us instead of us getting some random pastor we'd never met. To our surprised delight, Bob said yes! And so, 2500 miles from home, we were married by our own pastor. It was wonderful.

We'll miss Bob...

Posted by Mike at 04:27 PM

May 28, 2003

Too damned hot...

Anytime the inside temperature of the house gets over 85 deg F (as it did in our house today) before it's even June, it's clearly going to be a miserable summer. So, on arriving home (from my nice, air-conditioned office), I spent the next couple of hours figuring out how to put the air conditioner back into our bedroom window. We bought it two years ago, used it that summer, but never used it at all last summer. Consequently, a good part of that two hours was spent trying to remember how all the pieces went together. The fact that I had lost the instruction manual didn't help, either. Or maybe it did -- two years ago, I remember getting home with the A/C and realizing that we got the one with the all-Spanish instruction manual. Meredith is quite fluent in Spanish, but doesn't come across technical vocabulary so much, so even she had some problems with it.

But now, two hours later, the air conditioner is running in our bedroom. With luck, it will at least cool the room off so that we can actually sleep tonight.

Posted by Mike at 09:21 PM

May 26, 2003


It's been a pretty good weekend. Sunday morning we went to a wedding in Tilden Park in Berkeley. Nice park -- and the drive up into the hills through the morning fog was pretty nice, too.

Shortly after we got back, Peter, Meredith's friend from Yale, came over. He and his wife Laura had been looking for housing in Davis. She had to fly back to MI, but he got to come down to visit for a few days.

Then today was our first cookout of the year, with Peter and Erin.

Work is pretty intense right now, as we're pushing towards a mostly self-imposed deadline at the end of the month. We had a successful end-to-end test Friday, though, which was good. There's still a ton of work to go, though. But learning new things is good.

Posted by Mike at 07:26 PM

April 30, 2003

Two Years (the other one)

Today marks the two year anniversary of when, three months after leaving Appel, I started work at Microsoft.

I celebrated by spending all morning helping set up a demo for an all-hands meeting in the afternoon, then going to said (3 1/2 hour long) meeting. At least my code ran without a hitch -- pretty good considering that I just checked it in yesterday. All told, I think I spent about seven minutes in my actual office today.

Posted by Mike at 08:57 PM

April 28, 2003

Toasted video card?

Tonight, when I came home from work, I went into our office, turned on my PC, and came back out into the dining room. A few minutes later, I heard a beep from my PC, which seemed very odd. I got caught up in some other things, and didn't make it into the office until a bit later, when I discovered that the monitor wasn't showing any video. But the PC was on. Curiouser and curiouser, I thought. No matter -- reset the PC and move on.

Windows popped up some alert about the nVidia driver doing something bad. Again, didn't seem like that big a deal. Sometimes drivers screw up. Whatever. I played a game on the PC for a bit, then my video game froze. Fine, reboot it again.

Launch the game. Freeze. Completely.

Reboot. Curse nVidia. Launch IE, start to type the web address for nVidia's web site to get the latest drivers -- freeze while typing the URL. Note with increasing alarm the curious pixel glitches all over the screen.

Reboot long enough to uninstall the nVidia drivers. Reboot again. OK, it's getting worse -- now even the BIOS splash screen has vertical lines running across it.

Turn everything off, pull the video card out, reseat it. Nope, still lots of vertical lines.

It was just ten months ago that I bought the card... sigh.

I wonder how long the warranty on PNY's nVidia cards is for? Time to find out, I guess.

Posted by Mike at 09:54 PM | Comments (1)

April 14, 2003

Church volunteering

At our church, I chair the Staff-Parish Relations Committee. The SPRC committee has various duties, but is mostly the interface between the church body (the parish) and the staff and pastors that handles questions like how the church thinks the pastors are doing, problems the staff has, hiring people, setting salaries, etc. We are kind of like the Human Resources committee of the church. We also work with the District Superintendent, the Cabinet, and the Bishop when a pastoral change is going to happen.

It just so happens that Bob Olmstead, our senior pastor for ten years, is retiring at the end of June. So, for the last year or so, we've been busy. Especially in the last few months. About a month ago, we met with and accepted the appointment of Doug Monroe, the person who will be our next senior pastor.

And, of course, on top of helping to plan the transition, plan for Bob's retirement parties, we still have various other personnel issues that keep coming up.

I counted the number of emails I had exchanged (received or sent) since the beginning of the year on SPRC issues. In that 100 days or so, the total: 860 messages. Some days, it's hardly any; other days, it's ridiculous. And that doesn't count the phone calls and meetings. At times, it feels like a second job.

All this for a volunteer position. Whew...

I'm not sorry that I'm doing it -- it's something that I felt called to do, and I think this is where I should be right now. But at the same time, I really wish I could figure out how to make it just a little less demanding.

Posted by Mike at 10:54 PM

March 25, 2003

New job

I'm finally starting to feel like I'm, well, starting in my new job. I missed the first day entirely because of being sick, and then spent the rest of the week still not feeling healthy.

Then last week I spent most of my time trying to come up to speed and trying to get one simple (and very much stand-alone) software component written for a demo that's happening later this week.

Finally, today, I sat down with a couple of other engineers and talked for a while about the requirements for the system that I'm supposed to be writing. By the time we finished the conversation, I had learned that there's enough work for a small team to work on this problem for a year or so. Well, assuming that the technology can even be done -- most of it is entirely new problems that no one has ever tried to address before.

I'm looking forward to it...

Posted by Mike at 10:57 PM

March 21, 2003

One year...

It was one year ago that I wrote my first blog entry in here. How time flies...

Posted by Mike at 11:00 PM

March 09, 2003

I just couldn't hold out forever...

Meredith got sick a week ago last Friday (2/28). She finally got better by Wednesday morning, then, Wednesday night, came home with a 102 degree fever. While it hasn't stayed that high, she's been unable to shake the fever until last night.

This morning, I woke up with a 100.2 deg fever.


Update: it later hit 102 degrees. At 102, you can almost feel your brain cooking. Nasty...

Posted by Mike at 08:58 AM | Comments (1)