Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wow, three! You're getting your money's worth!

Especially since you're not paying anything!

Anyway, just found this wikiHow article:

how to remove dog saliva from car windows

I like some of their advice:

  • To prevent dog saliva problems in the future, remove dog from car.
  • Boiling water can scald. Be careful
(there's no punctuation after "be careful" in the wikiHow article - it's not a typo on my part)

I just thought, "I should make a wikiHow on 'how to catch an alien.'" Then checked to see if they had one by entering "catch an alien" in the wikiHow search box. Take a look at the results if you want to see a very strange "collection" (I say "collection" in quotes because, other than having the words "catch" and "alien" in them, they're not very collective about any particular subject).

And now I will leave you alone (for at least a couple of minutes). Until next time... nah, it's getting old now.

Wow, back to back posts! Aka, what I learned about Google...

I was looking through Google's Webmaster Tools about my [Lapse... brain dead] blog, and I learned a new way to search. Consider this:
"Lexus * retractor"
That will match "lexus <anything> retractor" - such as "lexus ls400 seatbelt retractor" - and my blog hits #1 billing on that particular search page! In fact, if you click the "show with the similar links" (or whatever the text is) at the bottom of the search page, my blog runs away with the hits on that particular search. But the main point is the search capability - I hadn't been aware of the "wildcard" search capability of Google, until now. This will open a whole new way of searching things - I often use Google to help find out how to do things I'm having trouble with in my job (software development; and I must say that the DataGridView of Microsoft Visual Studio is quite an infuriating beast! I'm sure that with experience it will turn out to be wonderful, and it definitely has some really cool features, but some of its idiosyncracies are really irksome at times, such as "how to change the focus of a cell during the "CellEndEdit" event - you can't call "<dataGridViewObject>.CurrentCell = <newCell>;" - that throws an exception at runtime due to "infinite recursion into the SetCurrentCellCore() (or similarly named) function" and stops you dead in the water. I suppose I could check it later, such as in the "on cell enter" function (if I've set something in the "EndEdit" to flag that I need to change my cell focus) or in the "dataGridView loses focus" event (if the user changed to a completely different control instead of to another cell in the data grid view object, although I'm not sure I could completely stop the change in focus outside the dataGridView). Sorry, getting way off on a tangent here...).

Where was I? Oh, yeah, Google search. I'll have to go back and re-educate myself about all the possible ways to search using Google. Could be some useful stuff I'm missing! Maybe I'll write you all a "Google User's HowTo" to help explain some of the more useful features I'm bound to uncover.

Till then, a topato!

Went to the doc...

about my ankle... they shot me.

Guess it was worse than I thought, eh?

Heh, it was just a steroid shot to help speed medicine to counteract the swelling in the ankle. You know where they shot me, of course, and that made walking (and sitting and pretty much existing) even more difficult over the next hour or so than the ankle had been.

They also gave me a prescription for an anti-inflammatory, which has been making my stomach upset for the last 24 hours or so (despite my having taken it with food as recommended). Actually, the first dose didn't, but the next few have (tonight's wasn't at first, but is starting to, I think). But at least the ankle's not broken (at least it didn't appear that way on the X-ray image).

So, I've been working on some new music (not anything newer on my music page, yet, though), and have also been thinking about how great some music is with good horn parts. (I play sax, among other things, mind you, so I like good horn parts!) For instance:

That's Stevie Wonder with the song "Superstition" performed on Sesame Street. Pretty cool. I may have to post links to some of the Alice Cooper on the Muppet Show videos from YouTube next article. Anyway, maybe I should put some good horn parts in my music! If you care, here are a few things I'm working on (that will hopefully be making their way onto the music page before too long):
  • My Baby's Smile (yes, written to my lovely wife, who happens to be the only girl I've ever really kissed (you know, a romantic-type kiss), and my first girlfriend, whose smile makes the world a better place regardless of whatever else might be going on in life)
  • Robot Penguins from Mars
  • a rewrite/parody of a fairly recent song that could be considered controversial... but when I sing it it will be perfectly fine
Wow, I tried to insert my headphones into the jack on the side of my computer (because my daughter was complaining the music was too loud in her room - yep, I'm listening to Stevie on YouTube) - ok, I was only trying to put the plug of the headphones in the jack, not the entire headphones, Dean - and apparently I missed the headphone jack and hit the USB port, 'cause suddenly my computer rebooted itself (and I lost half of this blog post that I'm now rewriting).

So, anyway... how's everything going out there? I haven't had many comments recently... guess you quite reading when I quit posting. Sorry about that. I'll try to be more frequent... maybe I'll even resurrect my other blog (Not-tional Geographic), even though no one ever read that one. :)

Until next time... a topato!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ahoy, there!

Been a while, I guess.  Quick update on the ankle: after two weeks most of the swelling has subsided, I'm still wearing a (cloth) brace during the day, still some pain when I do things like twist on it (I know: "don't do that!" - it's always unintentional) but mobility is fairly improved, and no visit to the doctor.

And the TV I was unloading that caused the mis-step and sprain doesn't work.

I have more thoughts, but it's late and I'm tired, so you're going to have to do without them for now.  Sorry about that.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

That's Gotta Hurt

While watching a bit of a show called "That's Gotta Hurt" (on TLC), one of the clips was about a cat that tried to jump from a barn into the owner's bedroom window, but the window was shut, cat bounced off and (Dean, shut your eyes) impaled itself on an iron spikey fence between the barn and the house.  They taped the cat to the fence (to imobilize it to keep it from further injuring itself) and called the cops, who called the fire department, who eventually cut the fence using the jaws of life so they owners could take the cat to the veterinary clinic.  The cat was fine - the fence had merely impaled the excess skin on the cat and hadn't hit any vital organs or anything.  I mused, "I wonder if any humans died that day in that town because of lack of emergency response because the fire engine and firefighters were busy removing a piece of fence with a cat on it."

Guess that's how I think.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

ATM on Windows?

I had to stop at the ATM this morning to get some cash for the kids' school enrollment fees. The screen was stuck on "processing this transaction".. Then it rebooted. The picture is of the computer running its POST diagnostic test. Shortly after I heard a horrifying sound: the Windows startup sound. Yes, people are running your ATM transaction software on Windows. Now don't you feel secure about your ATM transactions?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Tale of Two Cities...

Well, actually they are unincorporated areas, not part of the cities (Madison and Daphne). And really this tale primarily focuses on travel between the two, although part will occur at the second.

We moved.

We moved from Madison, AL (which is here - if you go to street view, you can take a peek at the 1967 Mustang GT that my uncle bought brand new off the showroom floor in November of 1966, and gave to me on my 30th birthday on December 20, 2001; note: the Mustang's no longer at that address, so don't bother trying to steal it; in fact, very little is there, so don't bother with any of that, either; and there probably isn't enough wiring to make it worthwhile to attempt to steal it for scrap copper, and we'll be in and out periodically until the house sells) to Daphne, AL (near mobile; here, to be exact, and this is where all our stuff is currently located, mostly in boxes; this is where we're located now, too).

On Friday night I drove up to Madison; on Saturday morning I picked up a 26' U-Haul truck (note that it's really equivalent to a 24' truck, since the main cargo portion is 23' 5"). Saturday we loaded it - but didn't finish; stayed in a hotel Saturday night (since our beds were no longer in the house); and finished loading Sunday. Didn't get started down until around 3:00 (I'd hoped to leave bright and early Sunday morning, but obviously underestimated the loading process). About 9:45, somewhere around mile marker 40 or 41 on I-65 south (it's about where the image changes color in the Google maps satellite photo, or at least it was when I last looked), there was a "BANG" and suddenly the truck started driving funny - yep, a blowout. Pulled to the side of the interstate, got out, verified the flat. Called the U-Haul 1-800 number, explained I'd had a flat ("blow out or flat?" "blow out") on the interstate, and was promply put on hold. A little while later a lady came on the phone...
u-haul lady: "What's the trouble?"
me: "Had a blowout on the left rear."
u-haul lady: "Ok... is that on the front or the back?"
me: "uh... the back rear" (ok, I just said, "the back")
u-haul lady: "Ok... that's the passenger side?"
me: "are you really asking that? do you not know what left rear means?" "it's the driver's side"
u-haul lady: "Ok... where are you located?"
me: "I'm on I-65 south in Alabama, around mile marker 40."
u-haul lady: "No, I mean what city and state?"
me: "you mean a mile marker isn't specific enough?" "I don't have any idea, I'm moving! I know where I came from, I know where I'm going, but I don't know where I am!" "I don't know - I'm in Alabama, on I-65 south near mile marker 40; don't know what city; can you not look it up based on the mile marker?"
u-haul lady: "I really need to know what city so I'll know where to send the mechanic; what city did you last pass?"
... I spent the next 5-10 minutes with her looking over her Mapquest to try to pinpoint my position, as she was unable to find specific roads I knew were nearby...
u-haul lady: "Ok... I'm going to call the mechanic and they will call you back."
About a half hour later the "mechanic" calls - I think this was someone in a corporate office somewhere (the "wingfoot" place)...
mechanic rep lady: "I'm going to send a guy to change your tire, he's coming from Mobile, so it will take him a couple of hours to get there; if he's not there in two hours, give us a call back or call the U-Haul hotline again, but the wingfoot man is usually Johnny on the spot."
... I'm near mile marker 40; that means it's no more than 40 miles from Mobile - according to Google Maps, about 39 minutes away. Why two hours? And I have my two youngest boys with me, and there are no seats in the other two vans caravaning with us since we have them loaded with stuff as well. Eventually my wife makes it to our new place, unloads enough cargo & passengers, and returns to pick up the boys, since it's really late and we're sitting on the side of the interstate and it's only 30-45 minutes away...
Two hours and five minutes later I call them back, since the repair guy hasn't shown up. She says, "Let me call him and I'll call you back." Ten minutes later she calls and says, "I can't get hold of him, but I left a message - I'll call you back as soon as he returns my call."

Great, thanks.

A while later she calls and says she has the repair manager on the line... he says, "The truck I'd dispatched to you broke down on the way to the shop... I have another truck en route that will arrive in 30 minutes."

Wait, on the way to the shop? Shouldn't this have been taken care of earlier, and shouldn't you have let me know?

Almost an hour later the repair guy arrives... with one tire. (This was about 1:40 am, or 4 hours after I'd called to report the blowout.) Both, of course, are flat... but they never asked me to check that, and I couldn't very well see it in the dark on the side of the interstate anyway. During the interim, waiting on the guy, I'd looked through the U-Haul emergency procedures, which said to assemble and properly place the warning triangles, directios are on the passenger visor. Um, no triangles, no directions there, nothing. And apparently the guy was supposed to have given me a tour of the truck's features before I left with it, discussing this sort of thing... what I got was, here's your key, there's the truck. (Incidentally, the truck was not nearly as difficult to drive as I'd imagined it would be, and the lower loading deck height of the U-Haul was certainly a plus; but it did not manage the 7 MPG it was supposed to get - I'm estimating it was more like 4 MPG.) But back to the tire(s) - both were flat, he brought one replacement. You'd figure they would send two knowing that it was a back tire that was blown out, and the likelihood of damage to the second tire on that side; if they didn't need the second tire, return it to inventory.

Anyway, he set it up with a single tire and an empty wheel (I was impressed by the ability of the guy to literally change a tire on the side of the road - that is, remove the old one from the rim and put a new one on), had me drive to the next exit (37, which I was planning to take to go to my new home anyway, he wanted to get me off the interstate to make it a little safer to change the second tire), and wait at an ex-gas station that had been levelled and was now a concrete slab across from a BP. Which was closed... so I couldn't use the restroom inside or get something to drink. So I sat, alone, with my U-Haul in a dark, empty lot at 2 o'clock in the morning. A policeman pulled by, circled around the BP a couple of times, stopped with his headlights shining on me (as I was sitting on the front bumper of the truck), and then slowly drove away. A while later he returned and pulled in to ask what was going on (I figure the first time he was giving me a chance to move on in case I was simply loitering), and (after I told him) said to give them a call if I needed anything. A while later a (different, I think) cop drove by, shined his bright spotlight on me for a while, then pulled into the BP, stopped with his headlights aimed in my direction, and then went on. He returned after the repair guy finally got back and was changing the second tire, stopped to ask what was going on, and then left. So, four visits from cops during the two hours I was off on that ex-gas station slab.

The mechanic returned around 3:40, and I was on the road again around 3:55. Now it's been about 21 hours since I got up, after having spent the whole previous day loading the truck and half of the current day, and I have to drive the remaining 30-40 minutes to my new place. And not just drive, but drive a 26' U-Haul truck. Alone.

Yes, I eventually made it home, and even managed to back it in the driveway (on my third attempt, which was from a different direction than the first two attempts). I got a drink (had been thirsty all this time) and went to bed around 5 AM (about 2 hours short of 24 hours since I'd gotten up). Over 6 hours from the time I called U-Haul's hotline for help until I was back on the road; the last half hour of the trip taking nearly 7 hours altogether.

Slept for about 5 hours (till around 10 AM), then woke and got up to help unload the U-Haul. My dad had come to help, and he, my wife, and my kids were unloading things. I jumped in to start helping and promptly turned my ankle really badly while taking a 35" CRT television down the U-Haul ramp (no, I didn't spill the TV, which was on a dolly). Continued to help unload things despite my injury until my wife made me sit so she could take a look. This was the ankle I'd broken in half in 9th grade (jumping down a flight of stairs at church: my friend and I were having a contest to see who could jump down the most steps - at 11, the entire flight, I won, yet lost as well, breaking my ankle in the process; I'd just successfully made it from the 10th step; I ended up spending six weeks - during school - with a plaster cast from my toes to halfway up my thigh - what fun). Anyway, it was swollen about an inch or so... she made me stop and put on her old air cast (sort of a splint kind of thing). I still helped unload until my dad basically refused to let me help anymore (despite his own frequent back problems). It's still swollen and sore, maybe not as much, though. Maybe I should go to the doctor... nah...

Anyway, there you go - a tale of two cities (or, more accurately, a tale of a move between and unloading at one of two incorporated areas outside two city limits). Sorry, but it's late - I'm not going to proof-read this one before publishing... feel free to comment on my grammatical and typographical mistakes.

Still no comments (like which one you like better) on my recent music, eh? Later, all...

Thursday, October 9, 2008


In case you haven't already checked it out, I have a second version of "Not me - Him!" on my music site.  Let me know which you like better (or neither, if that is the case, of course... you won't hurt my feelings... sniff-sniff).  In a comment is fine - I don't feel like setting up a poll for it right now.  Later...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What - why am I not sleeping?!

Cause I'm doing this for your listening pleasure!  (or not)  There's a new song out there: "Not me - Him!"  Needs some work, but it's been too long coming, so I figured I'd go ahead with my (seriously) flawed version.  The lyrics... well, they basically came from a sermon I heard, and pretty much wrote themselves (with a little tweaking from my wife to make sure things weren't misunderstood, and a review by my friend Dean who could probably have done this whole thing much better than I).

Speaking of Dean, when I start typing "deanlu" (of "") in Google Chrome's web browser address/search bar, it suggests "" as my intended target.  Cool, Dean!  Way to go!  You got into Google's mechanism somehow! :)  Also I notice Google's Chrome doesn't seem to play well with Google's Blogger "compose" window - the keyboard shortcut for creating a link doesn't work.  You'd think those two, both being from Google, would get along better.  Oh well.  Bedtime, I think.