May 2002 Archives

The hotel we’re staying at for the AG has a business center that includes a computer with Internet access. I’ll be able to blog the conference, both here and on OKMensa. It won’t be real-time, but it will be way ahead of most people.

Hopefully we can get word out about this, because I think OKMensa will get a huge increase in hits if people know we’ll have the scoop on the awards ceremony.

I’m playing around with News Goat, trying to fix the Netscape 4.7x problems. Should have it looking decent again real soon. For now, I’ve settled for making it usable rather than pretty.

This Memorial weekend was a good one. Friday we drove down to Dallas to see Patty Griffin at the Gypsy Tea Room. It was a great show, despite the bouncy guy who kept trying to back into me. :-)

The next day we went to visit Angela’s parents. While there, we got to do some fishing. Both of us caught too much sun and not enough fish.

I also got to see just how broken News Goat is in Netscape 4.7x. That’s the next thing I need to fix. And, I had an idea for Smart Goat. I want to add a comments section to the portfolio. It would be a way of getting more feedback from current and potential customers. Current customers could make their section private, so only they and us could see it while it was in development. Not that we have any current customers, but, hey, ya gotta think ahead.

Horn tooting time: Mensa gives awards each year in various categories for both newsletters and websites. This year, the newsletter received 6 nominations, and the website received three. Not bad for our first year to enter, huh? We won’t know if we’ve won anything until the AG in July.

Also, another bit of good news: Angela has a new job. Same company, but new job. Starting June 3, she will be an Internet developer. Same department as me, just on a different team. I think she’ll enjoy it much more than QA, and I know she’ll do great. And, it’ll be nice to finally have a programmer in the family. :-)

I just posted a story about installing our grill. This is the first real “story” I’ve done, so I hope you enjoy.

You may notice one of the pictures doesn’t seem to fit with the others. I picked that up at iStockPhoto, a great site for finding royalty-free images really cheap. I don’t want this to sound like an infomercial or something, I just like the concept — anyone can upload pictures, then receive a small payment whenever someone downloads it. And, you can do whatever you want with the pictures you download. There’s not enough companies like that, these days.

Ok, that’s as deep as I’m going to get into social commentary tonight — it’s getting late. :-) Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, everyone.

We’ve got the gas grill in place — I’ll post a story about it after I get the pictures uploaded. I can’t wait to use it.

It’s not connected to the gas line, yet, and here’s why: It clearly says in the user manual to call your natural gas company and have them connect it. Although I’m eager to start grilling, this seemed like a good idea. They’re the experts, and the connection probably hasn’t been used in ten years. That, and my natural fear of flammable gases. So, I called the natural gas company. After explaining what I needed, the nice lady told me that they don’t do that anymore, for “liability” reasons.

I almost said, “But, YOU’RE THE GAS COMPANY.” Anything that involves connecting gas appliances should be part of their job. Personally, I think this makes them more liable, since they’re leaving the job up to a moron like me, rather than send someone who knows what they’re doing. Now I’m worried that, if I ever smell a gas leak, I’ll call and they’ll tell me, “Whoa, that sounds dangerous, we’re not coming anywhere near there!”

I setup the easy URLs for stories. Story URLs look like this: Coincidentally, that’s the only story so far. :-) And now, if you enter a URL in the right format but with a story name that doesn’t exist, instead of an empty shell of a web page you get actual content. Same with entries. And, we pass the savings on to you… :-)

Angela & I have a new project: hacking a grill. :-) We went out last night looking for an outdoor grill. Our house has a place for a built-in, natural gas grill, but the ones we had looked at were prohibitively expensive. So we decided to get a propane grill, and look into converting it later. We had about decided on one from Wal-Mart, but wanted to see what Lowe’s had first. What we found was a grill that, at first glance, appeared to be the same one Wal-Mart had, at the same price. Upon closer inspection, however, it turned out to be a natural gas grill. So, we took some measurements, went home, took more measurements, scratched our heads, measured some more, talked it over, and finally decided that, yes, we could make it work.

So now we have a pile of grill parts in our sun room and a vague idea of how to squeeze them all into the bricked-in area next to our pool. I’ll post pictures later on, so I don’t want to give away the plan right now. I will say that it involves cutting metal and buying cookies…

Believe it or not, I am qualified to own a house… :-)

If you move your magic mouse pointer around this page, you might notice something different. I’ve implemented (for lack of a better term) “Easy URLs.” For example, the permanent link to this entry is now instead of Both still work, but the new way is a little bit shorter, a little bit simpler to understand, and, from what I’ve read, it encourages search engines to index your entire site. And, it makes browsing previous posts even easier. Want all the entries for a particular day? Month? Year? I like it — and it was frighteningly easy.

I’ll do something similar for stories, soon. I also need to fix the problem where, if you try to go to an entry that doesn’t match anything, it displays a blank screen. But, for now, I’m just basking in the glory of easy URLs… :-)

 [Bernie] To complete our series of animals that currently live with us, here’s Bernie. Right now, Bernie is across the hall, trying his best not to take a bath. Sometimes I think he is going to be the oldest puppy ever. So far, he and Abby seem to be getting along pretty well, although there is some fighting for our attention. In time they’ll sort it out.

We took both dogs to training class last night. Bernie has been through it before, but he could use a refresher. And we thought it might be good for Abby. Problem was, Abby wasn’t the least bit interested. When it came time to practice sitting, she completely ignored us. We would have to force her to sit, and then she wouldn’t take the treat. I can’t understand anybody not motivated by food. :-) I don’t know if it was the other dogs, other people, or just the fact that she’s not familiar enough with us yet. Of course, the cage full of cats behind us didn’t help. At one point, as we were practicing walking on a leash, she completely slipped out of her collar. Discovering her new found freedom, she made a run for it. There are few things more useless than calling to a dog that doesn’t know its name yet. We tried to catch her, while at the same time keeping her exits blocked. She ran around to the other side of the building and back again before finding what she was looking for — the cage full of cats.

I know, I know, I said I was going to start posting more often. The problem is, when one has more to post, one generally has less time to post. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to quit my job and devote all my time to writing about the stuff I’m doing. Yeah, that’ll generate the hits… :-)

 [Abby] The biggest news is also the latest news — meet Abby, the newest member of our family. We met Abby on Saturday, while we were having a garage sale. Since she didn’t find anything in our sale that she liked, I brought her some ham, and Angela brought her some dog food. She immediately made herself at home, walking into our garage and plopping down in the middle of it. We discussed what to do with her — keep her, take her to a shelter, or let her continue on her way. She didn’t have a collar, so it was doubtful she had a home. Before we could decide, though, she left. We left out some food in case she decided to come back.

The next day, while we were working outside, she came around again. We gave her more food and water, and we decided we would keep her. But, without knowing anything about her, we decided we couldn’t put her in the backyard with Bernie until she had been checked out by a vet. So, we kept her in the garage. She apparently wasn’t quite ready to be rescued, though. When we took her out to use the bathroom, she took off. We kept an eye out for her all night, but she didn’t come back.

Then, this morning, when Angela went running, she saw Abby again. She was able to coax the dog back home. Angela took her to the vet this afternoon, and Abby checked out fine. To celebrate, we took both Abby and Bernie to the dog park for their formal introduction. They loved it, and so far everyone is getting along well. These are two very different dogs — Abby is older, and more calm than Bernie. Abby is quite comfortable with strangers, and loves the water, while Bernie is the exact opposite. Hopefully, Bernie will learn a thing or two from Abby. And hopefully Abby will like her new home. We took a few more pictures, as you can see.

We’ve been pretty busy outdoors this past week. Last weekend, we built a path around the side of our house. We used concrete moulds for making stepping stones. For those who are not aware, concrete, in any form, is heavy. Thirteen 80lb. bags of concrete, however, go beyond heavy — that gets close to altering-the-rotation-of-the-Earth heavy. :-)

To aid us in this project, we bought a concrete-mixing bucket. This is a bucket with internal fins and a lid that seals, so you can roll it on the ground to mix the concrete. Easy, right? No, I’m afraid you’re horribly, horribly wrong. Putting it in a bucket does not change the fact that concrete, in any form, is heavy. Actually, I probably would have been very satisfied with the bucket, if my first experience with it had not gone so badly. After putting in all the ingredients, following (or so I thought) the directions for rolling the bucket, I couldn’t open the thing. And what does one do with a bucket full of concrete that can’t be opened? You can’t take it back to the store (well, maybe to Wal-Mart). You can’t wait and try again tomorrow. We spent about 15 minutes trying to get the thing open. What finally worked was tapping it with a hammer and screwdriver. Needless to say, some other concrete-mixing method will need to be found before our next concrete project

And this weekend we cut down a tree. The tree was a big polluter of our pool, and its roots were starting to push up on our fence. Now, here’s another interesting fact — trees, cut into any number of parts, are heavy. Trees are also hard to cut up. It took borrowing 3 chainsaws from our neiborhood (and also borrowing the neighbor) to get the job done.

Perhaps we can get a couple of more dogs and train them to be a sled team for pulling some of this heavy stuff around… :-)