Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care

It’s amazing how much nicer the world looks after a good night’s sleep. Even if IBM’s earnings report didn’t make Wall Street happy.

The conference continues apace; I am sneaking away to update this page (which is probably a tacky thing for the co-chair to do, now that I think of it). It’s very fulfilling to see people deeply engaged in energized conversations which, if we follow the pattern in previous years, will result in one or two actual projects coming to fruition.

More anon.

Useless Information Department

Federal Standard 1037C formally defines
“RJ” (as in RJ-11 and RJ-45) as “Registered Jack”. Just in case you needed to know.

3 o'clock, 4 o'clock, 5 o'clock….

Despite not having slept much on the plane over, I stayed up and mostly functional all day, and joined some of my friends for a wonderful dinner at the Wykeham Arms. I was feeling a bit tired during dinner (one guy kept waiting for me to fall down into my food!), so I thought I’d sleep well.

I turned on the television in time to watch the last half-hour of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” — this, of course, is the original version. The US version is extremely faithful to the original, except, of course, that pounds became dollars in the transition.

The host here, Chris Tarrant, seems a bit crueler to the contestants (and the audience) than Regis — I tuned in as a contestant used all three lifelines on one question (asking which of four US states did not border on the Gulf of Mexico — I’ve never seen any questions on the US edition asking about UK matters). After she agonized over the question and eventually gave her final answer, they broke for a series of commercials before revealing that she was right. Similarly, after the 125,000 pound question, which she also agonized over for a long time, he said, “You no longer have 64,000 pounds.” And then a long pause before telling her she had gotten the question right.

After that, I fell asleep quickly, only to wake up at 2:30am. It’s now 5:30, and I haven’t been able to get back to sleep, so I decided I may as well start the day officially by flipping my page.

The conference starts in a few hours; I hope to stay awake for it!

If it's October, this must be Hursley

Almost every October, IBM has an internal conference at our Hursley, England facility; I’m the permanent co-chair of the conference (it’s had different names, and there’s always a new crew from Hursley — they’re the people who actually do the work!). It’s October, it’s time for the WebAhead conference, and here I am.

Unfortunately, I left my Token Ring card in my hotel, so I’ve had to borrow a machine and I can’t show the picture I took (yet, anyway), so you’ll have to believe me when I say this is a very distinctive facility — the conference is in Hursley House, an old stately home which IBM took over in 1958 (it had previously been used by Vickers Aircraft).

More later if I can stay awake and if I can get connected from my hotel.

The Secret of the Red Carpet Club

This rather short entry comes to you from the domestic Red Carpet Club at SFO. For some reason, United decided to operate their London flight from the domestic terminal today, and so I’m here instead of the international club in the basement.

The place is crowded with disappointed 49ers fans, and I thought all of the data-capable phones were in use. So I went to the bar to drown my sorrow in a sparkling water (at the lack of phones, not the Niners’ loss), but the bartender said sparkling water was at the dispenser, not the bar (what can I say? I usually fly American, and they make me get the stuff at the bar) and took me there. While filling my glass, I looked around, and found a dozen unoccupied phones, so I was able to log on and flip my page after all.

Don’t tell anyone about these phones — let’s keep it our secret, ok?

Do the Locomotion!

Time to sample some of the chocolate we acquired at the Silent Auction at the Walkathon, and then I guess I should consider packing for my trip tomorrow. I acquired a loaner suitcase and yet more clothing this afternoon, so I should be all set.

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).