Craig Maas
Notes 2005

New Years Eve: Odds and Ends

Paul Steffes has been calling me asking for advice on a new computer. He may actually get one as Roger has approved the purchase. It may even work out for me as I provide him with a Panorama License and convert his files. ATLnetworks must be having problems. I was having problems email out starting late Friday morning. Even now (1/1) three of my web sites are down. At one point I couldn't get ATLNetworks.com to come up.
Dad got the snow thrower in time for a little snowstorm. Scheels fixed the machine a week early so this was good news. It does sound like the gas line was plugged. But also the carburetor needed some adjustment so there is little chance I could have fixed it myself. The snow fell straight down for a change. Mom has Friday off, so there were no vehicle tracks on the driveway, and the van was in the garage for the first time this year. It was a joy to move that snow.
Friday night, the snow plow had dropped a wall of hard snow on the driveway approach. This morning I got outside. I used a shovel, but only to break up the hardened snow so I could move it with the snow thrower. It's warm enough so the snow is melting on the roof, but it's dripping on the driveway and freezing. It's like an ice rink out there. I'm quickly using up the ice melt I bought.
Victor called about lunch. He was working at Dey this morning. He also had a part to deliver to Moorhead. Victor also told me the printer isn't working and he can't get online. We decided I would drive to his house and look at his computer while he made his delivery. Arlene was home; we had a nice chat. I told her about my Amazon ASIN project and reading in general. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with the printer but turning AppleTalk off and then back on again worked. There was a space in Victor's login in name. Once I removed the space there was no problem getting online.
Vic and I went downtown to Subway. We ordered the sandwich. Victor had three dollars. I had a dollar in dimes, but no wallet. I had it yesterday when I paid for McDonalds in nickels and at the theater when I paid in quarters. (I'm clearing out my box of change.) We had to make a quick run to Dey for cash. My wallet had fallen out of my pants when I hung them up. Another reason to just throw your pants on the floor.

December 31, 2005


Suzanne Gets A Break

Suzanne asked me yesterday if I wanted to go to lunch with her. "Always," I replied. We went to Olive Garden for our favorite soup. I think it's interesting how we always talk about politics and religion. The two deadly subjects but it never slows us down. Even when Suzanne is sharing gossip the problems get couched in terms of political or moral solutions.
Suzanne was in a good mode, because she was able to get a lot accomplished. Paul took Sean and Tim to Iowa to see his parents. Suzanne was also able to relax, read, work in peace. I thought about asking her out to diner and movie, but then I thought, "She probably would like to maximize her alone time." Then Suzanne called and told me she had plans with Jennifer, which fell through. I suggested see "King Kong" at the matinee and eating at Paradiso afterwards. The movie was fun; very entertaining, but it didn't seem to stay very long with me. Paradiso was packed. It was getting late. Paul was already driving home with the boys. I was willing to wait 20 minutes but didn't want to. We decided to pick up a pizza. After supper we watch "Jersey Girl" on cable. I read Time's "Man of The Year" article on Bono. Paul and the boys arrived at 10 PM. The roads were in bad condition in South Dakota, so it took him 7 hours to get home. Sean was still awake and kept sneaking back into the living room. Tim was owly and needed to get to bed right away.

December 30, 2005


Spider On The Wall

Last night I converted my Spider "Between The Lines" LP to a CD. I brought down the turntable and pre-amp early to let it warm to room temperature. When I listened to it, all I could think was the LP was not very good. There is a pre-Tina Turner version of "You Better Be Good To Me", which Holly Knight (of Spider) wrote, but other than that not much to recommend it. Still, it was my inability to find the LP, which give it its lasting value. I had the same reaction to Rob Grill's "Uprooted" CD. There was one good song, which John McVie produced and Lindsey played on. But with these two albums crossed off my list there really isn't anything left to hunt down.
When I put the turntable back in the attic today, I grabbed Spider's first LP, Sue Saad's LP, and The Grassroot's Greatest Hits LP (Rob Grill's band.) I had cull these LPs a couple dozen more from my vast collection, just for nostalgia and their cover art. Suzanne gave me four frames designed for LP. I mounted the four LPs and replaced the sheet music frames in the bonus room. There were five frames so I kept the "Blowing In The Wind" as that was the least lame. I got yelled at for doing this but I had earphones on at the time and I could barely make out what she was saying!

December 28, 2005


Inventory

Dad and I have lots to do at the beginning of the year. First and foremost, we need to take an inventory to close off the year. I bundled up with a printout and a pencil. It wasn't very cold out, but standing around in the garage did freeze up my fingers, even with insulated gloves. There isn't all that much to count, but I took my time and sort some products out as I went along. I called our SLi rep and got a 735 lamps put on our quote, then I placed the order. I called Randy Moselle, our Sylvania rep and got return permission for the AR70 lamps I ran across when I did inventory. I also called Boomer, who was surprised that PD's even had a web site. He said he'd get back to me.
I picked up Bob at NDSU. We ate at Taco Bell. He had a good Christmas. Bob got some DVDs and a surprise windfall from his aunt. Victor called, he took the day off, so I stopped by on the way back. I thought I might catch Beth, Noah, Myron and Sara. In fact this was one reason Victor took the day off, but it was just Arlene and Victor. Victor headed up a BBQ for me, which I washed down with an orange soda. Victor and Arlene had happy news: Beth and Noah are expecting in July- Victor is going to be a grandfather. Beth and Noah had already left for home; Sara and Myron were in Carrington visiting Myron's family.

December 27, 2005


Christmas Day

Karon and David brought Grandma Bertha to our house. I didn't even know they had arrived as I had my new Sennheiser PX100 headphones on. I talked with Karon and Bertha in the piano room until the Dobbins arrived. Tim wanted to play a game on my Dell. I tried to load the software but ran into problem. (I wasn't very keen on the idea of loading kid games on my computer- they tend to pollute the system with crap.) It was time to eat. Mom made Prime Rib. Everything was good. Mom brought out cookie trays contains samples of the 21 types of treats she baked this year, plus some other treats she subcontracted out to a guy in her office who loves to bake. The boys brought along the "Sky High" DVD, which we watched until it was time to exchange gifts. (The movie was pretty good) I took some photos and watched mom, Karon, and Bertha exchange gifts. Afterwards Tim and I went upstairs to watch rest of the movie. I turned on the game. (The Bears beat the Packers) Tim and I were coloring- I in the Spiderman coloring book, and Tim creating his own images on a blank pad. We had a quick snack of leftovers and then it was time for Karon, David and Grandma to leave for Jamestown.

This is the first year that I remember where we didn't open stocking Christmas morning. Suzanne forgot their stocking at home, so we debated whether Suzanne would return home and get them or we would go to their house. So we loaded up the car and headed to their house. I surprised the boys in a yellow ski mask and walked like a monster when they answered the door. Everyone got lots of fun silly gifts in their stockings. We loaded up and went back home. I remembered to bring my new ski jacket.

December 25, 2005


Christmas Eve

I had some time to kill and I didn't want to go out Christmas shopping so I spent the morning scanning all of Suzanne's Christmas photos. Mostly of Christmases wit the Orr Family from 1978 to 1993. The other photos in the stack I had already copied. At the same time I was doing this I was listening to a bootleg of Bruce Springsteen's 2001 concert at Asbury Park "Jingle Bell Rock". It was a 'Christmas Show' with guests and lots of performances of early songs- probably a tie-in to his "Tracks" box set. It was an audience recording so the sound wasn't great but the performances were fun.
The concert was 3.6 hours long. I'll have to cull it down.

We loaded up the car and headed over to Suzanne's. The boys were excited. Paul served pecan honey ham and appetizers. It took a long time to open all the gifts. The floor was full of paper, boxes and toy parts. I carried some of Tim's larger gifts into his room so I could see him. Everyone seemed happy with their gifts. I got almost everything on my list. http://craigmaas.pbwiki.com/ChristmasList. Suzanne got me a ski jacket, shirt, and some LP Album Frames. Sean got me an Apache Helicopter model for us to assemble. I got Sean model glue and paint; "You will have to give it to your parents for safe keeping." Tim was drawing in the drawing pad I gave him. This morning, I spent a hour drawing a little cartoon and story on the cover page. Paul gave "Road To Dune" to Suzanne and I. It was for Suzanne, but he knew I would probably read it first. I gave Paul an INXS tape for his van. We ate some more, mom and dad watched "Elf", while Sean, Tim and I attempted to play Risk. (I had to simplify the rules- for myself as much as for the boys.) It was bedtime for the boys. They were happy to go to bed early so Santa wouldn't miss their house. We loaded up the car and headed home. I forgot my new ski jacket at their house.
Christmas Photos

December 24, 2005


Amazon AWS

This is how these things happen. I was simply updating my reading record database; knowing I would post the results with links to Amazon at the beginning of the year. Then, like last year, I wanted to go back another year and add Amazon's ASIN number so I could link to each book and display an image. I wrote an algorithm to facilitate this. I create a search string embedded in a URL; copied onto the clipboard. I paste the URL into my browser, Amazon looks up the book, I narrow down the edition and then cut out the ASIN in the URL and paste it into the ASIN field of my database. This is fine for a couple books or even a years worth of books, but I started thinking about going all the way back. I would have to do this for well over one thousand books.
I went to the library and checked out "Amazon Hacks" again. I got some better ideas. I was able to improve my algorithm but it didn't speed up the process all that much. In the back of the book they talk about Amazon Web Services. (AWS) This looked interesting. I had visions of exporting a long list of books: authors and titles encoded with all the 'Power Search' coding, having AWS return the results as XML formatted by a custom XSL stylesheet, which I loaded into Excel and over to Panorama, with all the ASIN numbers matching up in a matter of minutes after a couple hours of coding. Unfortunately, it didn't work that way at all. I signed up for a developers ID, but it didn't show up. (It showed up about a week later.) In the meantime I started working backwards finishing 2000-2002. Then I started the remainder alphabetically. I noticed that no matter how narrow the search it would always return multiple editions. This means I would not be able to automatically cull the ASIN from a search, but it also meant I could pick the cover photo I wanted from various editions. (I found there weren't many older editions with cover photos.) When I got my developer ID I was able to do many of the easy 'hacks' in "Amazon Hacks". There was some problem with the XSL style-sheets. I chalked it up to the browser. I didn't proceed further as I could see I would be working through the list manually no matter how much coding I did. I did use my new knowledge to further fine-tune my search algorithm. Although it's time consuming it's sort of interesting. Like browsing through your books in a virtual private library.
I finished looking up all the missing ASIN numbers on Thursday (12/29) Then I hand-coded how I wanted the HTML pages to appear. The database generated the code for each book, so all I had to do was paste it into each year's sheet. I also split up the data in my Reading Record Database. I found the way I handled multiple authors to be something of a Kluge. So I created another field for other authors. I also split out the sub-titles into it's own field. Some of those Sub-Titles get very long, which gets in the way of how I have the Title formatted.
I invite you to browse my virtual private library early January 2006.

December 26, 2005


Christmas Shopping

I was going Christmas shopping last night. Victor was talking about going out with me. I knew I wouldn't have time Saturday and it usually takes me two days and/ or two trips. Then Suzanne calls and invites me over for pizza and a movie. "The boys really want you to come over and watch 'Sandlot 2' with them." I haven't spent any quality time with the boys in a while so I agreed to come over. I left right away and took a detour to K-mart. I remembered their last flyer had a Sylvania DVD/VHS combo unit for $80. They had a stack of them so I picked one up. Now, I didn't feel so bad. (Victor called later asking where I went to. I told him, "K-mart had Memorex DVD players for $34." Victor went over later but they were sold out. There was quite a stack when I was there. "They substituted Sylvania DVD players for $40." So he picked one up. It matches his television.)
Paul ordered two Papa John's pizzas. There were plenty of leftovers for Sean. The movies didn't live up to Suzanne's billing. Tim didn't stick around to watch it. I asked for Christmas ideas but didn't get any answers.
When I got home, I checked the cookie jar auction. It went for $47 plus freight. It was over my limit even before I bid. I did see another jar go up for auction, but the computer upgrade components from OWC had already arrived. So, Paul was done shopping for Suzanne.
When I got back from American Federal Friday, I saw Bob had called twice. He has a new cell phone the employees at NDSU bought his boss. (The boss already had a cell phone so they give it to Bob. Bob told me he had to figure out how to set up the voice mail to receive calls, but I guessed he had figured it out by now. I looked up the Caller ID. When he answered he didn't know who was calling. He didn't sound like Bob either, but it was. I picked him up a The Image Place. He wanted to end up at Scheels All Sport, so we ate at Taco Johns by my house. Looking out the window I thought about doing all my Christmas shopping at Checkers Auto Parts. After dropping Bob off, I decided to get it over with.
I was in the wrong lane as I approached Hobby Lobby. I turned into Media Play instead and checked out their going out of business sale. I had a stack of unused gift cards so I decided I better use up the Media Play card. I couldn't find anything I really wanted. Everything was picked over. They had new items and they had junk but nothing in between- the kind of things, which interest me. I made a purchase based on a strategy. The place was crowded and I was growing uncomfortable. They wouldn't give me change on the gift card. I may make another trip back later when the discounts are deeper. Or I may kiss off the buck fifty.
It was much quieter at Hobby Lobby. They didn't have a big sale on models like they did last year- I'm glad I stocked up. I pretty much knew what I wanted so it didn't take long. I detoured around the traffic and found myself on 9th avenue, which now runs under the Interstate and I had traffic free driving most of the way home.

December 23, 2005


Home Repair

Dad asked me to come upstairs right away. I was busy working on my book database. The faucet handle had broken and water was filling the sink. I unloaded the kitchen cabinet and turned off the water. The faucet has been loose the last couple days so I wasn't surprised. I told dad we should pick up a handle. Dad thought this would be impossible to find. No, this is why we got a Moen faucet instead of one of those no-name faucets mom is always picking up. Every distributor in town stocks Moen. Dad was about to call Craig Ivers, our plumber. I grabbed a screwdriver and had the remainder of the handle off in no time. I called Victor who confirmed Ferguson still handles Moen. Larry and Swede still work there. I told him we should get it for 10 percent over cost as former employees. I laughed, "You should get it for 10 under cost as a former manager." Dad came back with the parts to fix the faucet, "I bet you can't guess what I paid within $25 dollars." I guessed zero and was correct. (The $25 spread was the give away.) I don't know if it was warranty or they just had a collection of parts in a bucket. The hinge was now brass instead of pot metal. It didn't take me long to reassemble the handle.
Last Saturday, dad cleaned and reassembled the flush valve in our low profile Kohler toilet. Monday (12/26) I reattached the handle to our new stove as it fell off the oven. I was thinking of taking apart our snow thrower and blowing out the fuel line. Dad took it into Scheels. There is a three-week backlog. At least he got it out of the garage, and there is no guarantee that I could fix it.

December 22, 2005


First Day Of Winter

It was chilly day. I had to dig out some lamps to deliver, so I took some extra time to dress warm and spent a hour in the garage moving the fixtures out of the way and cleaning up the mess on the south side of the garage. When I was done we just about had room to get the van in. Dad would finish that project.
Sara asked to register three domain names. I set them up under GoDaddy.com and had them forward to her personal web site. At first I thought I put down the ATL name servers and then modify the DNS records but this was wrong and the name servers blocked the forwarding. GoDaddy was pretty quick at setting me straight. It's the first time in a long time that I've used their customer service.

December 21, 2005


St Joseph Christmas Show

I called Paul Dobbins today, "When is the boys' Christmas show?" I thought we had missed it somehow, but it was today. Bob didn't call, so I told dad to attend the lunch show with Suzanne. When mom came home, we went together for the evening show. It was relatively warm out. Paul was waiting in the lobby. He joined us once the teachers unlocked the classroom doors. I talked with Paul about the remodeling in the gym since I was there last: Metal Halide fixtures, new bleachers, and a new paint job. The show kicked off with a recital by the new St Joseph band. They are making good progress but they still played painfully bad. Thankfully each of the dozen songs they played were very short. When they finished the applause was loud and enthusiastic. I don't know if was due to proud parents or an audience thankful it was over. The Christmas Play [title] looked pretty good but I couldn't follow it- the sound was muddled. Sean was one of only two boys in a coat and tie. (His choice) Tim stood around through most of the play with his hands in his pocket. They both sang with a lot of enthusiasm. We left right away and I didn't have much luck photographing them onstage.
I jokingly asked Victor if we were going caroling this year. He said, "Yes. Come over Wednesday and you can join the Good Shepherd Choir when we carol over at Eventide."
I said, "Sure, give me a call and remind me."
By Wednesday I had given up on my plans to enjoy Christmas.
Arlene called, "Are you going to join us caroling?"
I told her, "I'll pass."
Victor called later that evening, "You're lucky you passed. They canceled the caroling."

December 20, 2005


Tarzan To Tonto

When I was half awake this morning I had a thought about my old Mac 7500 (Tarzan*). A couple months ago I was trying to get it restarted. I thought all the components were good, and I had an unused 10gb SCSI hard drive. I set it up in the garage because I wasn't sure where I would put the machine once I got it running. But I could not get it to start. I got a black screen. I tried three different monitors but no luck. Weeks ago I upgraded Victor's 7500 (Tonto*) with all the components found in Tarzan. I had one problem two sticks of VRAM were bad and I couldn't get a screen until I replaced them. This morning I realized it was that very VRAM that forced me to abandon Tarzan in the first place.
I called for Victor and we decided to do lunch today. I put Tarzan in the van.
Tarzan Tonto Frankenstein Paul Dobbins arrived. Due to the Cookie Jar failure, he wants to buy upgrade components for Suzanne's computer Quicksilver733 (Quicksilver is Apple's in-house name for that model; 733 is the mhz.) I looked up all the parts on OWC's web site so it was just a matter of asking Paul how much memory he wanted and the type of DVD burner.
When I got to Victor's house he was cleaning out the basement. I offered to drive as there was more room in the back of my van than in the snow-covered bed of his pick up truck. After using the dumpster at Dey, we had Chipotle: grilled stuffed burritos. Even though I was stuffed I still had a couple Krispy Kreme donuts offered up at his house. I opened up Victor's computer, took out two good VRAM chips and put them in my 7500 (Tarzan) and fired it up. It started. This proved my theory. I proceeded to move everything back into Tarzan: memory, VRAM, G3 Processor Upgrade, and Hard Drive. When I restarted it couldn't find the hard drive. I restarted again and went to tell Victor the bad news. We were watching the Patriots beat the Buccaneers. I peeked back in and Tarzan was booting up! Everything worked find. I set up the modem and it was dialing fine. It made it all the way to the server before crapping out.
Arlene came home, Victor dug out the photo from Thursday's paper of their family at the Fargo Marathon under the caption of "Story of the Year." Arlene thought we were making this all up until she saw the paper herself.
I called Fastermac.net. All this work and the problem was very simple- Victor's credit card had expired. I put Victor on the phone and soon he was back on the Internet. I know at least one port was weak on Tonto, so it wasn't a total waste of time, but I still spent a lot of time tracking down a non-existent problem. I took the donuts home with me.
* There was a Saturday Night Live skit were Tarzan, Tonto, and Frankenstein sing Christmas Carols. When Bob bought his 7500 on Ebay it had been cobbled together, and when he added even more parts we called it Frankenstein. This worked out as the various hard drives got named Young Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. When Victor bought a 7500 on Ebay I remembered the SNL skit and called his Tonto as I was the Tarzan fan and Victor has always been Tonto to my Lone Ranger. Ha ha.

December 17, 2005


Pop

I'd heard about the Sudoku crazy, but didn't give it much thought until the Fargo Forum added it to their daily paper. I showed the first one to dad thinking he might enjoy this sort of puzzle. He solved it without too much trouble. The next day the difficulty was raised from one to four. This kept his busy- too busy, he finally gave up on it, but not before grabbing a large sheet of grid paper and remapping the problem.
Mom was working on a Christmas postcard. I assemble the text to looked like a Christmas Tree, from a sample she gave me. She went to get copies of a photo made. I could have told her they won't copy a studio photo. I offered to shoot one in the basement. Mom was dressed up and dad looked okay, but she didn't bite. Mom was preparing for a little Christmas coffee party with her friend Bev Rogness and Bev's mom, Barb Rawlings. I went outside and shoveled some more. I still can't get the snow thrower to start. It's not snowing much but it hasn't stopped since Monday.
Bob didn't call about lunch, but I went out anyway. I had a Flamethrower Burger at DQ then spent rest of my lunch hour at the Southpointe branch of the Fargo Public Library reading "Never Call Retreat" by Newt Gingrich. Bob sent an email, he finally picked up a 120gb Seagate hard drive. He's scanning his family photos for Christmas. He over scans them and doesn't compress them, so I know he's running out of room. Ha ha.
When I got back dad told me DESCO in Grand Forks wants some bridges. Five inch bridges, dad was going to have shipped direct until I told him, "We have quite a few in stock, which we should sell first." I assembled the center bridges and counted up the end bridges, which we were short.
Dad and mom went to some holiday function. I enjoyed a diner of: popcorn, popovers, soda pop, and popperoni pizza.

December 16, 2005


On The Margin

Dad's cousin Gene Maas was emailing questions regarding photos again this week. Rather than answer the last question via email, like we had been doing, I gave him a call. Gene is finishing up his mother's autobiography. Gene told me Lydia (my Godmother) has been working on it for some time. Norma, Gene's wife, was typing up a biography her aunt wrote. Lydia started reading it as the pages came off the printer. Lydia used this biography as a template. Her kids read the page, asked questions and offered direction. Gene decided he wanted this project done before Christmas so he put a lot of time into editing and laying the book out. I asked, "How are you printing it." He told me Kinko's. Gene asked if I had any thoughts on this. I told him, "I've been involved with four books: two were printed in house, one by Kinko's, and one which isn't ready yet- may be printed by Lulu.com." I thought Kinko's was a good choice. We chatted about other problems he has run into. One is setting the binding margin, also known as the gutter. Gene is using Word Perfect and the settings don't work as advertised, and the help menu doesn't explain how the settings work in combination. At this point I couldn't offer much more than my sympathy, "I've never worked with Word Perfect." I started thinking about the problem. Gene had described to me in general terms how he wanted the margins set. I actually have a copy of Word Perfect 12, which came with my Dell 6000, however when I tried to install it, it wanted 159 mb at a minimum to install. I cancelled the installation, for I had another thought. I could 'reverse engineer' the problem. I created a simple three-page document in Word. I set the margins and gutter like Gene wanted. I wrote on each page how it was to appear and settings I used. I saved it as a RTF file, and sent it to Gene with directions. In the meantime Gene had sent me the setting he was using in Word Perfect. I couldn't follow it, let alone comment on them. Gene gave me a call that evening. The file opened in Word Perfect and the margins appeared- as they should. I explained, "by looking at the Page Set Up tabs, you can see the correct combination of settings." The next day Gene emailed the settings worked except for the first page, but he would leave that for Kinko's to deal with. He was happy the book was done.

December 15, 2005


The Cookie Jar Is Empty

Grandma Bertha's Cookie JarPaul Dobbins and I reviewed all the Cookie Jars on Ebay and decided the 'knock-off' looked the most like grandma Bertha's "Cow Jumped Over The Moon" cookie jar, which Suzanne lost in her move to England in 1990. This jar was based the on famous McCoy design, but in the photos I have of Grandma's jar, I find the knock-off to look closer.
I called Paul a couple hours before the auction closed. I told him there were already bids on the jar, but it had not cleared the unlisted Reserve price yet. I told him I thought we should not go any higher than $35. Paul talked about some reproductions, which by coincidence were also $35. This made me feel more comfortable about my price.
As the auction was about to close I put in a bid of $35. It wasn't high enough, an earlier bid went to $36, but as the auction closed no one had a bid high enough to cover the reserve. I would have liked to get this jar- nicks and all. The reproduction is about 2 inches smaller than this 'knock-off'.
I took Suzanne and Paul out for pizza Thursday noon (12/15) at Godfathers. As Suzanne went back to the buffet line, I told Paul we didn't get the cookie jar. I checked back later and the cookie jar went back on auction this time without a reserve price. It closed a week later for $47. I called Paul and asked if he wanted me to bid on it. I waited until the last day; by then it was already more than my limit. (12/21) Another 'generic' cookie jar went on auction. This one had no reserve and no chips. As it was closing after Christmas I had high hopes about being able to win the auction with a low bid. It closed a week later at $81 plus $20 freight. The reproductions are looking better.

December 14, 2005


Wiki

PBwiki logoI've been working with a personal wiki on craigmaas.pbwiki.com and I like it a lot. I set up another one, which I've made private. So no matter where I am if I have a computer hooked to the Internet I can access and update my wiki. Another personal wiki is the TiddyWiki.com, which is interesting as a single file all-purpose web page that can be posted on the web or left on you computer to hold anything you want. I haven't figured out what I could use it for but it seems very flexible; I'm sure I'll come up with something so I downloaded a copy for myself. Finally, there is pmwiki.com, which is a .PHP technology you can put on your server and run a wiki on your web site. This is want I would like to do next year. I don't think I'll use it for a blog but it would be perfect for my 'Music Project', where I review all the music I love. I installed the program. It wasn't too hard. I always have trouble with these technologies but in the end I figure them out and this was no exception. I had trouble the permissions and the config.php file.

December 14, 2005


Happy 49th Anniversary to Ray and Char

Mom came in the office and asked us what day today was. I had no idea. Neither did dad. Mom kept pushing. Dad racked his brain, but came up with it. December 13th was the day Ray proposed to Char. 49 years ago dad asked mom to marry him. Dad said he proposed at the ROTC dance at NDSU.

December 13, 2005


Modem Headache

Sunday (12/11) I started out thinking I would work on two Spiderman Comic Book pages. Namely I want to try Color Pastels and watercolors. I flip through the pages but can't get excited about the project so I just let it go. Bob called. He's home so I can arrange a trip to see Victor. I bring along the modem. Victor's entertaining guests: Jerry and his wife. I say hello and try out the modem. I'm trying everything but nothing is working. I can get the modem to dial but not much further and it seems to sort of work and then not work at all- the kind of intermittent problem that drives you crazy. I'm thinking the other port on the 7500 (Tonto) is failing. Jerry talks with me a while. He has some computer experience so we swap tales. I leave having accomplished nothing. I see the door open as I arrive, I don't knock, I just walk in. I talk with Dorothy Nelson, as Bob gets ready. I learn more about Doug in two minutes than I have from Bob for months. He's slowly getting better but getting him to eat is difficult. Doug has trouble with his throat so everything has to be soft. All the driving around wasn't so bad. We ate at Godfathers and rented "Fantastic Four" on DVD. (I give it a C, which isn't saying much.) I had a headache but it was still early, so we watched SNL from 1995 and The Clash from my tape (SNL appearance).

December 11, 2005


Chipping Ice

I went outside and put some more brackets on our Christmas lights. Victor called. He wanted to do lunch. We always have a good time so I said, "Of course." Mom was asking about my Christmas list. She loved the one I posted online last year. I had links to everything, photos, descriptions, and most importantly it was posted before December. I was looking at my album list. There are not many CDs I want. There are a couple old LPs I still want. I was thinking of adding these to the list but it's hard to describe how you go about getting them. I looked up Rob Grill and Spider on MusicStack.com. There was a link on the Rob Grill search results to Ebay and his Uprooted CD on a Buy Now auction. I couldn't resist. I didn't think it was even available as a CD. (It probably wasn't, the details said it was purchased at a record convention; so it's probably a CD-R. I just saw Rob Grill fronting The Grass Roots on a PBS fundraiser special.) Spider's "Between The Lines" has been on my list for almost 30 years. I saw it when it first came out. I almost bought it, but then I never saw it again. There were a couple sellers with copies on MusicStack. I used a combination of price, shipping and ratings to pick a seller. I was able to use PayPal on both purchases. This would be a good use for my online Wiki. I dug through some clipping of things I was interested in and looked them up on Amazon and elsewhere. I posted the results on a new page "ChristmasList" I made on my Wiki. It was really easy. Victor showed up as I finished. I showed him how easy it is to use a Wiki.
I've been thinking about the Flameburger at DQ in context of the Famous Dave's $9 hamburger. Victor was game. He was driving all over the place- he asked about DQ on 32nd but then drove past the turn, same thing for the 13th Avenue DQ. We finally ended up at the 45th Street DQ. Victor bought for a change. The burger was good. The cbc doesn't like the $3.49 price but it's better than Famous Dave's $9 hamburger- no real comparison. Victor told me he fell down his mother's steps while shoveling/chipping ice yesterday. Luckily he didn't damage his hip or hit his head, but he did bruise his shoulder. Fleet Farm is out of steel shovels and ice choppers, but they do have 2-cycle oil and ice melt. (Vic buys a bag too.) Dad is shoveling the ice off the driveway- it's coming up in the warm sun. I sprinkle ice melt on the driveway approach, front steps and sidewalk. It doesn't work as good as I thought it would. Dad is more effective. Dad got most of the ice off in time for it to snow again tonight.
I had a headache, but I could tell Victor wanted me to come with him and fix his computer. At his house I try a number of things but I don't see where there are any settings screwed up. I did get the modem to dial, but the problem is intermittent and it never connected once it dialed. I believe the modem got fried again. (The third modem.) We turned on Sara's Gateway upstairs but didn't get too far as the telephone jack on the wall broke and fell apart.
When I got home I lay down. Feeling better I heated up dad's Pizza Patrol Canadian Bacon pizza and added garlic. I watch some TV but my head is hurting again. I blame the 6+ M&M I had a Suzanne's yesterday. (I started with just two but then couldn't stop- they tasted great.) I laid down again; have Ibuprofen and Aspirin. I heat up rest of the pizza in time for mom to return. By then I was feeling better. I work on updating Sara's site and carry down the table in the garage.

December 10, 2005


Too High Too Many

Paul Dobbins showed up this morning. He was asking if I had his Rosary Outline finished. Actually, I had! Yesterday I vetoed doing it in Freehand on the computer or using a compass on paper. Instead I got a sheet of dad's drawing paper, cut it to size, and taped it to the board. I drew out the pattern by hand. I folded it over and cut it out. It looked pretty good. No need to do any more than this. I traced the pattern to the board. Dad asked if Paul and I would go to Tires Plus and check out the light fixtures in the shop. I got the electronic tape measure. Paul had time to kill so we went over. Noah was in the office. He showed us around. Although they weren't as high as dad had guessed, they were still very high. The fixtures ranged from 15.6 feet to 16.3 feet. And there were fixtures all over the building not just four fixtures in the main shop. In addition they were not very accessible. Noah pointed out you couldn't get a lift into the shop as the truck lifts were in the way. I was more concerned about the fixture count- too many fixtures, too much traffic, and too much trouble.
Bob and I went to A&W for lunch. I wanted my grease fix of deep fried fish. Bob had a Chilli-dog. We stopped at Ben Franklin where I dropped of some lamps. Keith was on the phone (headset) mouthing 'Thank You.' I mouth 'You're Welcome,' and laugh.
Paul and Suzanne are going out for dinner with Father Mike this evening. I stop in at DQ to deliver some T10 lamps on the way. The traffic is backed up almost to PRACS so I wonder how I'll get out. I see an SUV pull around the building. I follow and we end up on 45th with a light and no traffic. At the Dobbins I almost fell off their front porch. The ice caused my feet to fly out from under me. If I was a couple years older I don't think I would have been able to catch myself.
Suzanne had heated up a deli pasta chicken dish. The boys didn't eat much; I can't blame them. Sean, Tim and I played for a while. Sean wanted to play Volleyball in his room. It was easy for me although my right arm still hurts. Suzanne asked that I have the boys pick up their rooms. I went in Tim's room. He was playing me music, trying to find some Rock 'n' Roll with guitars. I tried to get him to pick up his room, with little luck. Mostly I picked up his room- asking him where things went. "I think this goes in the garbage." Tim would protest. "Okay, put it away." He would place it in some random location. "I don't think it goes there. Put it where it goes. By then Sean had picked up his room- to some extent anyway. We played "Disney Memory" I did much better than I usually do. Part of it was luck, and part of it was cheating. I feel because I'm old and my memory isn't as fresh as theirs I could look at more cards. So when I noticed their attention was on "A Charlie Brown Christmas" I would turn a few extra cards. I don't think it helped much because within seconds I would forget where the characters were. The boys got into a fight. They were arguing. I tried to separate them by asking, "Sean, did you ask permission to be in Tim's room?" No. "Tim, can Sean come in your room?" NO! "Then Sean, 'GET OUT'." I thought they might find this funny, but it was confusing. They never enforced privacy in their rooms so the concept was foreign- particularly in Sean's room. Last time I was there Paul had removed his door. The animosity didn't last long. Tim read us a story about Lilo and Stitch. For Sean's bedtime, I made up a story about Blaine Houston and I. (Running wild during the Saturday Kid's Matinee's at the Fargo Theater, Wartman, getting my fingers caught in Houston's power windows, the DQ, and races to Northport.) When Suzanne and Paul got back we talked about St Joseph church, books, politics and morality until 11PM. When I got outside it was raining again. This is really weird weather. I thought by morning we would have 3/4 inch of inch on everything. (We already have 1/2 of ice from the last rainstorm.) But it didn't freeze. The van was mostly ice-free by morning.

December 9, 2005


Chuck Davis & Michael Benidt

I got a call from Chuck Davis of Energy Concepts Inc. It was good to hear from him. I always enjoy talking with him- he's full of energy and interesting stories- many of them about Paul Steffes and Ted Von Bank. Chuck called around 6 PM, hopefully not because we're the only ones still working at this hour. He wanted some fixture prices for the US Army Reserve Center job. He's still working on getting this job. It turns out the USARC is renting the space so he has to sell to the landlord. He needs cheaper fixtures. This late in the evening it was impossible to get a quote on fixtures. It's difficult to get a price from ESI even during business hours. I sent an email to the rep and directly to Jay at ESI asking for an updated quote with cheaper fixtures. (Chuck had the part number he needed.) Chuck called twice. And I called him back with a guess about TCP prices. (Chuck told me ESI is making the steel for TCP- who are using their own ballasts and lamps.) Friday (12/9) morning dad called Roger to confirm he got the email. He did but said a quote would be impossible until this afternoon. I didn't get it then either. We called Steve and he got us a price from TCP. I emailed Chuck with TCP's price and told him, "I'm waiting for ESI to get back with us." Chuck called dad that afternoon to confirm receipt of the TCP quote. ESI has a serious problem with quotations and pricing.]

Early this week I got an email from Michael Benidt of Golden Compass. This was a web hosting lead, which I received from Sara Schaffer. Michael had asked her who did her Presentlikeapro.com web site. She forwarded the information to Michael and CC it to me. I told him about the services I provide and left it at that. He has questions. We exchanged emails and I learn he likes his current provider, but they aren't as responsive as he'd like. Friday (12/11) Michael called and we had a good conversation. He shares many of the same web site philosophies as I do, so I would be a good fit. He realizes I have a 'real' job and I'm not actively looking for clients, so 'fit' is very important. I told him I enjoy working with Sara because we share similar philosophies and sense of humor. I follow up with an email. Michael asked for links to the web sites I'm hosting. I gave him lots to think about including getting access to his own web site and doing some of the work himself. Michael said he was leaning toward setting up a couple related web sites and possibly using my services there.

December 8, 2005


Moving Fixtures

Dad was talking with Keith Aakre at Solem Lutheran Church. He was interested in some light fixtures. At first dad got a price on some cloud fixtures. It was more than they wanted to spend, and it appears they need a fixture that's sealed. Dad mentioned the Vaportite fixtures we have. He came over. I got the sample out from under the trap and had it warmed up. He was very interested, not only for the church but for his barn. The vaportite fixtures would allow him to spray down the ceiling in his barn. Dad quoted a price, which I felt was a little too low, only because we have them quoted to the City of Fargo for three times the money. Still, it would be nice to get them out of here. Dad has done some calling about our two lamp troffers and we're finding 277 volt is a deal breaker. Paul Steffes is the only one with any interest, and even he is thinking about retrofitting them to 120 volt.
Kevin? Decided to take all the fixtures. [was this part of the bargin?) Two of the eight foot Vaportite fixtures are 277 volt. I took them inside the house and swapped out the ballasts.
Friday (12/9) the weather had finally warmed up with Tom Olson came by with a pickup truck to pick up the fixtures. I carried the fixtures from the back deck to the garage while dad waited for Tom to arrive. I left the tarp in place, swept out the loose snow and put down some cardboard on the floor. Then I carried fourteen 32T2/277 troffers from the garage to the back deck and wrapped them in the tarp. The stack we took out is about the same size. The best part is we're getting close to clearing enough space in the garage to get the van in.

Monday, January 2, 2006


Wishek Nursing Home

Gene Maas asked me if my great-grandfather John Meidinger stayed with Grandma Bertha after Katherina died. He wanted some information about the nursing home in the photos I gave him. Mom was gone, so I found the original 120 slide. Bertha had written on the slide- they were taken in Wishek. I looked it up on the Internet and found their web site. 'Wishek Home for the Aged' had photos and it appeared to match the general shape of the structure- after 40 years of remodeling and landscaping.
This little project was fun- it was like playing detective for an hour.
Monday (12/5) Gene followed up some questions about the Meidinger bible. I had scanned every handwritten page in the bible- both of them. "This is not a family bible," I told him, "It doesn't appear to have been used much." Like most of us he probably had a couple bibles.
Victor called. He wanted help finding an address- an address in Norway. I did a Google search and found two web pages with search engines in Norway. That is after I found directories for Norway, Maine and other US cities. One engine was available in English, which helped Victor find his relative.

Monday, January 2, 2006


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December 1, 2005


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