Not a promising start to the day

I logged on this morning and only found three e-mails in my work inbox, none of them from the Internet. It looks like we’re having mail delivery problems — what will I do without my daily dose of spam?

But I cheered up on my drive in, since I was playing a Dr. Demento CD, full of absurd songs, including Tom Lehrer. And now I’m off to try to save lives.

I’m back (with a “Proud American Donor” bear to show for it), but our Internet e-mail isn’t. Oh, well…I’ve got lots of other stuff to do today.

Sometimes, I'm an easy mark

Today was one of those times. I wanted to check the weather, so I went to my bookmark for the local weather on First, they gave me an interstitial ad, then a pop-up, then a jump-up, and then something on the window made noises — but eventually, I got the weather.

Later on, I wanted to check it again, so I decided to try the Weather Underground. They had an ad or two on the page, too, but one of the ads offered to sell me a year’s ad-free membership on the site for $5. That was a no-brainer — I’ve been using the Weather Underground for years, going back to when it was a Gopher site at the University of Michigan, and so I was glad to give them $5.

Buying Radio Userland should have been a no-brainer, too, but I didn’t get around to doing so until I was writing this posting. I tried using it right after 8.0 was released, but didn’t make a habit of it, so it expired. But now I’ve got it and will begin playing with it again, as though I needed something else to do with my time!

But I don’t plan to donate a buck to Adam Curry, even though I enjoy his site a lot. First, because if I did donate to him, where would I stop (there are a lot of people whose sites I enjoy over in the left margin)? And, I guess his being a multi-millionaire might have something to do with it, too (though a buck wouldn’t break me, either)…but I’ll happily donate egoboo instead.

Starting over

I think I’ve cleared out all the debris at the Radio site, and I invite you to join me there to see just how badly a weblog can begin.

Technology is not always your friend

Jeffrey’s Hebrew class is learning Torah cantillation, which will help prepare them for their B’nai Mitzvot (less than a year away!).  The book that they’re using comes with an accompanying CD, with several tracks per trope, to make it easy to find the right track to match the lesson.  All in all, there are 83 tracks.

Unfortunately, the CD player he’s using is an old cheap boombox, and it only displays track numbers up to 39 — we didn’t discover this until today, when he wanted to play track 40 and couldn’t find it!

So I’m in the process of copying tracks 40-79 onto a new CD so that they’ll be accessible.  Easy CD Creator came with my CD burner, so I thought I’d use it.  That was probably a mistake.  Even though I have a 24x burner, the defaults in the software have slowed it down to a crawl — it stopped between tracks when it was copying the audio, and now it’s stopping between every track as it’s burning the new disc.  So what I thought would be a five-minute process is turning into a half-hour exercise — and then I’ll have to figure out how to finalize the disc so it can be used in the CD player. 

Oh, well; it’s cheaper than buying another boombox.

And it worked!

Laughing so hard I nearly hurt myself

Having all twelve shows on DVD is much more convenient than having them scattered about several videotapes (especially when going back to favorite shows or moments), and the extras on the DVD are worth seeing, too (at least once). I haven’t gotten around to playing any of the episodes with director’s commentary yet, but I probably will someday, when I run out of other things to watch.

Not that that’s very likely. While we were on vacation last week, we’d almost emptied our TiVo — at one point, all that it had was the figure skating gala from the Olympics — but now that we’re back at work and school, TiVo is filling itself up steadily, far faster than we can watch it. And we still haven’t seen the figure skating gala. Or any of the pile of DVDs in the backlog. And let’s not talk about books…..

At least I’ve finally gotten through reading my e-mail backlog at work, even if I haven’t quite answered everything yet. Or even everything I plan to answer.

Tomorrow, I’m hoping Verizon will finally get my DSL line completely functional. It works fine if I only want to use it for data, but there’s still some crosstalk if I try to use the line for voice calls, and Verizon tech support tells me that there’s a “cross-ring”. So they’re sending out a tech tomorrow morning, forcing me to work from home — darn.

Your house is being fumigated…where are you going to go?

No, not Disneyland — we were just there two months ago.

Instead, we went to Universal Studios Hollywood, where we had a pleasant two days. The weather was good, the crowds weren’t too large, the lines for Jurassic Park: The Ride were non-existent, the jokes on the Studio Tour were ok, and the food at Citywalk was pretty good.

We even got a decent price on our hotel, by following a procedure recommended in a recent Murky Nooz article: first, check prices on Expedia or Travelocity (yikes: $150/night for the nearby Sheraton or Hilton, and that’s at a “special rate”). Second, try Hotwire — hmmm, $60/night for an unknown hotel in the Burbank/Universal City area…sounds better. Third, bid less than the Hotwire price on priceline — I tried $50, but priceline said that that price would be “unlikely to be accepted” and that the average bid was about $130. So I tried $52, and a few minutes later, was told that the Sheraton Universal City had accepted the bid. Not bad, since that was the same hotel Expedia wanted $150 for…and at $52, I was willing to buy two rooms. So we did, making the time at the hotel more pleasant for everyone (though I wish we’d gotten connecting rooms, not just adjoining rooms).

Today, we drove home rather quickly, arriving a full hour before PG&E was due to turn the gas back on. The fumigation had been completed and the house was in good order. And then PG&E surprised us by showing up early — in two trucks, one of which was hauling a big yellow piece of construction equipment. It seems that the valve on our gas meter had broken off when they turned off the gas, and they wanted to be ready in case of problems. But we (and they) got lucky — they were able to install a new valve without digging up the gas line, the street, or any trees — and they even turned the gas back on and lit the pilot on the water heater, instead of making us wait for the previously-scheduled service visit.

Universal Studios was offering a special deal — pay full-price for a one-day ticket and get a full year pass (minus some blackout dates) for free. If we lived closer to LA, that probably would be a good deal, but for us, a two-day ticket through our hotel for slightly less than the normal one-day price was a better choice. We got to see everything we wanted to see, which we couldn’t have done in one day, and I don’t feel obligated to drive back down later in the year because it would be “free”!

A nice way to end Shabbat

It wasn’t the most serious concert of cantorial music I’ve ever been to — sure, he did “Shalom Rav” and “Oseh Shalom”, as well as “Open Up Our Eyes“, but he also indulged himself in what Diane later called “Jewish filking”, doing takeoffs on Bob Dylan, Creedence Clearwater, and the Beatles.

And it was all good, and good fun. And we bought both CDs on our way out, which was, of course, the idea!

Off the air again…or am I?

I got a call from Verizon this afternoon telling me that the wonders of bureaucracy had struck again and that I was DSL-less, but that they’d try to get it fixed.

And then, as I was typing this note, the phone rang, and they say I’m supposed to be back on the air.

I can’t tell — I’m sitting in my office at work, and pings don’t get through my firewall — but if I have service when I get home, I’ll be amazed and pleased.

And if I don’t, I can do other things with my life than be on the Web, and that’s OK, too!

Shabbat Shalom!

I am a very lucky guy

This is the 25th Valentine’s Day of my married life, and each one has been better than the previous year’s.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Diane!

If it ain’t one thing, it’s another….

Earlier this afternoon, I was writing a posting about trying to get back into the Weblog habit. I’d gotten to the point at which I was ready to post, so I hit the button…and nothing happened.

I wasn’t actually surprised about this, because I was at home waiting for Verizon to come and look at my DSL line. I’d finally gotten around to calling them yesterday to complain because, even with multiple microfilters in place, I couldn’t use the phone and data parts of the line simultaneously, and I knew that wasn’t right.

So, when I lost connectivity around 1:30, I figured they were testing the line. And sure enough, Verizon called a few minutes later and said they’d tested the line and would be out to look and listen at it. But they were surprised that I had lost service and that it still wasn’t back up.

The service guy came out, saw that I had a spare jack in the office, and went out to the demark box to install a splitter. That solved the noise problem, as I expected…but I still didn’t have service. Three green lights on the modem, but no service.

So the service guy brought in his laptop to make sure it wasn’t a problem in my network; it wasn’t. Then he called home base, and we waited a while. Eventually, he got a call back telling him to go on to the next customer, since the physical layer was all OK, but he assured me that I’d be called back soon with an update.

And I was. The guy from Verizon said he’d talked with my ISP, and that somehow Verizon had issued a disconnect order for my service! But he was going to try to get it fixed.

I had my doubts, and I dialed up on the other line to get a little work done. The phone rang again. It was Verizon. He’d traced the order; it was supposed to have only been a “records update”, but somehow it turned into a disconnect. So he was going to try to send in a reversal and hoped it would work.

So I kept using the dialup connection. And the phone rang again. Yup, Verizon. He asked me to see if I had connectivity again via DSL…and I did! He said he’d never been able to get this kind of screwup fixed so quickly (I’m not sure whether to be happy about this or upset because they have problems fairly often!), but then said that it might not all be over — because the records update still has to be done.

So we’ll see what tomorrow brings (probably at least one more call from Verizon!), but I’m back on the air now. I hope.

Not on Google? Surely you jest!

Scriptin’ Dave writes:

Hey I had lunch with Doc on his way back to Southern California. I promised that by the time he got home I would have the name of the founder of Creative Computing magazine. I looked on Google, but the data is not there. Help me please. I don’t want to provoke the Wrath of Doc.

Not on Google? Let’s see…how about a search on:

“Creative Computing” magazine

and the ninth hit sez:

… People I’ve Worked with, Known, or Just Met. David Ahl — The man who started Creative
Computing Magazine. He was the first person who ever gave me a job. The …

To verify, search on:

“Creative Computing” “David Ahl”

and get lots of hits with confirming text.

It’s all in the wrist!

It's alive!

Lately, it seems that every time I try to flip my page, ETP is down. I guess it really is time to install Radio Userland and start blogging that way.

Let’s see, what’s happened since 2/2? I’ve been to the East Coast again, this time for my ex-boss’s e-tirement party and my team’s annual kickoff meeting; we’ve filled the tank in the Prius once (it gets great mileage, but a 11-gallon tank will take you only so long); Jeffrey got the Student of the Month award(along with two dozen other kids); and undoubtedly many other things worth noting.

But I’m going to post this update now while the posting’s good.

See you later.

Early Retirement – not today

I meant to invest $5 in the California Early Retirement Program today, but I forgot. Oh, well — I enjoy what I’m doing at work anyway.

I tried….

I tried to flip my page yesterday evening after Jeffrey’s birthday party, but ETP wasn’t cooperating and I gave up.

The party went well, I think — especially since I hardly had to do anything! Nor did Diane, I hasten to add. Instead, the nice folks at SCORE hosted the party, decorating the center and running a murder mystery for the guests. The kids enjoyed it, and some of them really got into their characters, too.

Next year, it’s the Bar Mitzvah. Oy!

Eat my voltage: Diane’s new car is fun to drive — it’s not as peppy as my Saab, but it is a very weird experience to sit in nearly complete silence at a stop sign, since the engine turns itself off when it’s not necessary.

We drove her car downtown today to see The Mandrake Root at San Jose Rep. The play was very good and the cast was excellent. The audience gave a standing ovation, but it didn’t start until Lynn Redgrave came out for her curtain call, and I thought that was unfair to the actress who played Sally; I thought she actually carried the play (though Ms. Redgrave was awfully good!).