Walkathon 2000

Every October, Jeffrey’s school holds a Walkathon as a fundraiser.  Even though the goal is to make money for the school (it’s their single biggest income generator), they do a good job of making sure that everyone, especially the kids, has fun in the process.

This year is Jeffrey’s last year at Alta Vista, and so this was his (and our!) last Walkathon.  He woke up before 7am this morning, so we were more than ready to be at school in time for the 9am start. 

It’s just a few minutes before 9, and you can see all of the children ready to go. The arch of balloons is the start/finish line.

The starting gun has sounded (well, it was actually an announcement by the DJ), and they’re off!

Even though it’s a Walkathon, most kids start out running, including Jeffrey.

Jeffrey’s finished the first lap and is having his lap card punched. Every few laps, the kids get a treat or a ribbon.

The theme of the Walkathon this year was “Locomotion”, and so train gear was plentiful. After six laps, the kids got a small train whistle.

Here is Jeffrey with two of his friends (the boys, of course!). They stuck together throughout the Walkathon, just as they have since kindergarten. It’s just after lunch — they’re still going strong.

At the end of the day, the Walkathon chairs carry the start/finish line of balloons around the course for the last lap. All of the kids try to get ahead of it to get one last punch on their cards.

It’s the home stretch of the last lap, just about 3pm. Jeffrey’s still ready to go, I think!

Jeffrey has just finished the last lap (his 47th, for a distance of about 15 miles — I took my GPS out to measure a lap to be sure!).

A well-used lap card. Jeffrey had done 46 laps a few years ago, so I’m glad he was able to finish his Walkathon career with a personal best.

The party’s over…and what else can you do with a few dozen helium balloons but let them go?

Frantic preparation

I leave for Europe on Sunday, and tomorrow is Jeffrey’s Walkathon (school fundraiser), so time is beginning to feel compressed. 

But I just talked with a friend who was just diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and who will be starting a six-month course of chemo and radiation treatment next week — that’s a far less gentle way of having your priorities reordered than just needing to prepare for a trip!

Dress Casual

For most of my trip, my daily casual attire is going to be quite adequate (assuming I pack for the dead of winter — it’s going to be twenty degrees cooler there than it is here!), but we are having a dinner at the Mercedes-Benz Museum, for which a jacket is required.  The only jackets I have are part of a suit, and I didn’t really want to drag along suit pants which I wouldn’t wear the rest of the time, so yesterday, Diane and I zipped over to the local branch of the Men’s Wearhouse to buy a blazer.

That was easy and painless — they showed me four, I liked one, and I was done.  Then they asked what shirt I was going to wear with it, and I said “this one” (pointing to my trusty LL Bean buttondown).  They said that I could, of course, wear anything I liked, but suggested that my choice was less-than-optimal and wouldn’t I like to take a look at shirts which might be more consistent with the blazer?

Thirty minutes later, I walked out of the store with two mock turtlenecks, one tie, one shirt to go with the tie, and a receipt for two pairs of slacks and the blazer, to be picked up Saturday after they’d been altered.

I guess I’ll bring a bigger suitcase.

Technology — a fruitful source of new ways for things to go wrong

My Saab 9-5 has a sophisticated anti-theft system built-in, which extends to the special key and the remote opener.  One of our remotes developed a problem, and we were unable to use it to lock the car (the other functions worked fine, so I suspect it was a loose microswitch on the remote), so today, when I brought the car to the dealer, I brought the bad remote, too, and asked them to fix it.

I picked up the car a few hours later and the remote worked fine, so I gave it back to Diane.  Then when we were ready to go to services, I used my key and — the car wouldn’t start.  Instead, there was a message on the display:  “Key not recognized”.  I tried again, with the same result.  And I discovered that my remote was completely ignored, too.  But Diane’s remote and key work fine.  So I guess when the dealer replaced the remote, they also reprogrammed the car and Diane’s key to match the new remote, thereby disenfranchising my key, at least till I get back to the dealer to get it all fixed.

This sort of thing never happened when I owned a Pinto.

Locks, no bagels

I bought some new locks to match the new door handles we put in a few weeks ago (all antique brass looks much better than an antique brass handle and a scratched-up old brass lock).  I want all the locks to be keyed alike (as they are now), and I thought the easiest thing would be to rekey the new locks to match the ones we already have.

So I bought a rekeying kit at Home Depot, on the assurance of the salesguy that I’d be able to use it to match my old locks.  I should have known better. 

The kit is easy to use, even for a mechanically-challenged individual, but they only supply pins of the lengths necessary to match the key in the kit — and our existing lock happened to have some pins which didn’t appear in the kit.  So I couldn’t do what I wanted, and the kit goes back to Home Depot on my next trip.  No wonder their earnings disappointed Wall Street!

Painted into a corner

The painters were busy today — except for a little touch-up, they’re done.  I was shocked when I got home and saw it — the vanity looks bigger with solid-colored walls.

On the other hand, I’m not sure that the existing yellow tiles in the shower really go with the blue paint we chose — but that may just be the shock of the new.  Time will tell.  And I suspect that replacing the shower tiles may be more hassle and expense than painting…and might lead to the desire to do more than just a cosmetic update to the bathroom.  This way lies madness.  Maybe  I should upgrade a computer instead….

SiteMeter’s having some problems with their reporting programs — I keep getting “script timed out” messages when I go to look at the reports for this site.  I feel like I’m missing critical information about how people are finding me, which is interesting, since I didn’t have that information until yesterday.  I think I miss the Merc less than I do SiteMeter!

Painters si, Merky Nooz no

We got off to an early start this morning so that we could do the last bit of cleanup before the painters were scheduled to arrive.  We failed — the painters arrived at 8am (promptly on time, which I hope is a good sign) and I still had about 30 years of Analog to move out of the living room.  But since they were neatly piled up, it didn’t take long to move them — and Jeffrey seems to be very interested in them now that they’re visible.

When I left the house, there were painters working on at least three rooms, and I could hear wallpaper being ripped off the bathroom walls.  I wonder what it’s going to look like when I get home?

Our Merky Nooz carrier is still protesting, so we didn’t get the paper this morning.  Given what else we had to do, that was probably good, but I’m getting tired of not having a paper.

Scratching an itch

The really observant among you will note the Site Meter graphic on the left side of the page — James Vornov‘s discussion encouraged me to install it.  Now that I’ve had it running for a few hours and can see some of the results, I’m intrigued — most of my vistors have come from a Userland page (Scripting News, the Updates page, or Weblogs), but one person was looking for pictures of tulips and I’m 18th on the Yahoo/Google list of results for that query (interestingly enough, if you do the same query on Google itself, I’m the 36th result).

I still don’t know what good knowing all this will do, and as Al puts it, “I’m just awfully glad for your company”. 

And here’s my privacy policy:  I collect personally-identifiable data if you choose to join the site.  I do not distribute this information to third parties (however, the site member list may be publically viewable).  Other information, such as that gotten from Site Meter, is looked at for interesting nuggets, and it’s quite possible that I’ll post unusual referrer entries, but I will not post a correlation of such entries to visitors.  Site Meter may, however, do so; it is not under my control.

Wine of the Day

Today’s wine is Bonny Doon Winery’s Pacific Rim Dry Riesling, and it is a repeat — we had it in Chicago and enjoyed it, so we decided to try it at home, closer to the winery.  Tonight’s bottle is a 1998, and went very well with spaghetti.

Baby, It’s Cold Inside!

The painters made good progress today; they did the living room, our bedroom, and the patches of new drywall in Jeffrey’s room and the office (we got rid of the remains of the non-functional intercom system), as well as at least two ceilings.  The bathroom is still very much a work in progress (I suspect they’re going to be back with a steamer to attack the wallpaper more seriously).

To reduce the fume level, we’ve got the windows open; of course, tonight is also the first chilly, rainy night of fall (61 degrees Fahrenheit, dropping to around 50), and so it’s getting a bit nippy inside.  We’ll have to close up at bedtime and put up with the fumes, I think.

The painters all the furniture in the bedroom, and in the process, they reunited us with some long-lost possessions.  I now have my missing Gore-Tex glove — unfortunately, I gave up on finding it about two years ago and threw away its mate.  More usefully, they unearthed some photos which must have slipped behind furniture, including this one of Jeffrey at about 18 months, enjoying one of his favorite foods (and one he still enjoys, though his eating technique has improved over the years).

Post-fast, pre-painters

That pretty much sums up today and tomorrow — Yom Kippur is over (thanks to the Rileys for the splendid break-the-fast), and the painters are supposed to arrive tomorrow morning.  We are not ready, despite Diane’s best efforts (my efforts so far don’t qualify as “best”, I’m afraid), and so this must be a very short posting so I can help.

The Merc ‘fesses up

Apparently yesterday’s “severe production problems” were actually due to a protest from the carriers about the price of gasoline and an increased workload.  The protest continued today, at least for my carrier.  I wonder if we’ll get a paper tomorrow.

Why didn’t I try that 16 years ago?

Ever since we moved into this house, we’ve been annoyed by the nails the previous owners had left in the living room wall.  Since they painted the house just before selling it, I assumed that the nails were well and truly imbedded in something and would be hard to take out, and so we put art on the wall in spots picked to cover the nails as best as we could.

But with the painters coming tomorrow, I decided it was worth trying to get the nails out so that, perhaps, we could have a nice-looking wall at the end of the process.  So I dug out my pliers and discovered that the nails were firmly imbedded in not much of anything — they came out with almost no effort.  If I’d only realized how easy it was, I’d’ve done it years ago!

Thoughts on Erev Yom Kippur

It’s almost time to start thinking about dinner so that we can finish before Yom Kippur begins and we head off to Kol Nidre services — by this time tomorrow, after fasting for a day, it will be all too easy to think about dinner!  In theory, fasting is supposed to help you concentrate on the meaning of the day, but I find that, at least late in the day, it distracts me; my body is very interested in letting me know that it hasn’t been fed or watered and wants my attention.

I just looked at the online edition of the Jerusalem Post and read that the chaplain of the Israel Defense Forces has given permission to break the fast to all soldiers involved in fighting on Yom Kippur.  May no one have to use this permission.

The search for color

We spent part of the afternoon looking at houses our painter had done, in hopes of finding one with a color we’d like.  We found two that are reasonable shades of blue, but neither of them was The One.  I guess it’s back to the sample books.

Severe Production Difficulties

I got up this morning, went outside, and there was no paper on the driveway.  I looked at the neighbors’ houses, and, as far as I could tell without my glasses, they didn’t have papers either.  And when I got through to the Merc’s customer service number, the recording told me that they’d had “severe production difficulties” last night and that they were not going to be able to deliver papers to those who had been missed — I guess that they decided it was more profitable to fill the news vending machines.

Fortunately, the most important section of the Sunday paper is delivered on Saturday, so we already had the comics.  And Dave Barry’s column is available online, and Dan Gillmor’s is usually covered by his weblog, so I’m set there, too.  But it is interesting to see that the Merc’s website doesn’t mention today’s problems at all.

Deciding … Better

I can empathize with Hal’s decision to put blivet on hiatus until he can get his thesis done.  I know I find weblogs, newsgroups, and web pages to be exceptionally attractive as distractions — as if I needed any more distractions in my life!

As the gates begin to close…

Back tomorrow night, most likely, after break-the-fast.  May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.

Are they clueless, or do they think I am?

The mail brought the yearly upgrade offer for Quicken; normally, I rise to the bait (either by mail or in-store), but this year, from all that I’ve read, there’s not much new in the program, certainly not enough to warrent the upgrade price.

What is the price?  Well, that’s an interesting question.  If I were to accept Intuit’s “Preferred Customer” offer, I’d pay $59.95 plus $3.50 for shipping plus sales tax, minus a $20 Preferred Customer rebate (assuming I follow the simple instructions and they actually get the coupon).  On the other hand, I could go to Fry’s and pay $59.95 plus sales tax and take advantage of the advertised $20 rebate — hey, I come out $3.50 ahead that way!  And I think it’s even cheaper at Costco, though there’s always the danger of leaving there with an extra forty pounds of Cheerios or something like that.

So I wonder why Intuit feels the need to play these games — why isn’t the “Preferred Customer” price lower than the in-store price?  And why do they play the rebate game, especially for people buying directly from them?

Preparing for the Gala

Shir Hadash is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and the 10th year for our current Rabbi.  As part of the celebration, there’s going to be a black-tie optional gala next month.  So last week, Diane went up to San Francisco with two of her friends to buy gowns for the gala — they were there all day, had late lunch at the Cheesecake Factory (they did bring back dessert, and it was good) — all in all, it was a Major Shopping Event (and even then she had to take the gown to be shortened a little bit).  Today, I went to President Tuxedo next to the Japanese fast-food place, spent seven minutes picking out a tux, five minutes being measured, and we were on our way.  I think I like my end of the deal better.

Car Envy?

Diane Reese‘s family got their new Prius — it looks wonderful on the Web, and I look forward to seeing it (and probably not hearing it) next week. We’re beginning to think about replacing Diane’s car in the next year or so (it needs a ring job, at the very least), and the Prius seems like it might be a good car to consider.

Faster, but is it worth it?

I’ve spent basically all day today getting my new, improved, faster, whiter, brighter, and less-filling computer configured and set up.  Was that the most useful way to spend the day?  Almost certainly not, but I couldn’t resist the temptation!

Oh, I did manage to submit an expense account, so I guess I got something productive done despite myself.

Shabbat Shalom!

Cleaning out the bookshelves

We’re having our living room painted next week.  As part of the preparation, Diane decided that it would be a good idea to clear out some of the bookcases in there, so that the painters can move them without spilling the books all over the floor.

The first two bookcases were easy — everything went into boxes.  But then she got to the bookcase containing old textbooks, and decided that maybe we didn’t actually need to pack and unpack books we hadn’t looked at in 25 years.  It was easy to get rid of Mills’ Structured Programming and Kohavi’s Switching and Finite Automata Theory, and we decided we only needed one copy of Kernigan & Richie’s The C Programming Language instead of the four we had, but I couldn’t bring myself to discard Resnick and Halladay’s Physics because of the Pierce quote about Maxwell’s equations, and Diane decided to keep the Cress/Dirksen/Graham Fortran IV with WATFOR and WATFIV because of the picture of the punched cards on the cover.

Unfortunately, our recycling company won’t take hardback books, so I have to throw out these treasures.  *sigh*

Diane Reese has just pointed out that I might be able to sell these books on eBay rather than just dumping them out — it’s worth a try. Let’s see, now…”rare collectable treasures from the early days of computer science”…yeah, that’ll work!

Well, somebody is trying to sell the Watfiv book, but so far, without any success.  Perhaps I shouldn’t make this part of my retirement planning after all.

More chocolate ranting

I owe Nestle an apology; the Frigor Noir is 46% cocoa, not 44% as I stated yesterday.  I still think it’s artifically bitter.

Oh, I got a new computer…

But Tom Digby is right about its value in the cosmic scheme of things.  Despite that, I am certainly impressed with how quickly a 1GHz machine can boot up Windows 2000, and depressed about how often I had to do so today.  But maybe it’ll get better after I finish setting it up and put it to productive use.