Oh yeah, I found a 500GB hard drive…

Um, so, right after re-doing the Home Computing Master Plan, I found this 500 GB hard drive lying around.  Okay, so it wasn’t “lying around,” exactly.  It was hidden inside a $25 SATA drive case.  I’d put it there when I got the bare drive from DriveSavers (along with my $2,000 flashlight) with all my Precious Data on it.  I’d transferred all of that to my (then) new NAS, and apparently dropped the now redundant drive off the edge of my memory’s cliff.

So I found it the other day when I was cleaning up.  I promptly popped it out of the drive case and popped it into the NAS.  Eight hours (or so, I went to sleep) later, We now have just shy of 1 TB of redundant storage in our NAS.

I believe that is step one of the new Plan completed. Cost: $0.  Well, amortized over the last year.  If you go back to last January, the cost was: one $2,000 flashlight.

Securing virtual territory for the kids

I was looking over all the domain names I have registered over the years, and remembered that I had registered full name domains for each of my children.  Someday, the logic went, they will want their own web sites, and they will be grateful that I had the foresight to grab these while I still could.

A sound idea.  But what about securing their username rights for web pages, web apps, and web services.  Should I grab AIM accounts for all of them?  Should I go ahead and register a Flickr name (i.e., Yahoo!) for each of the boys?  Gmail?

What do you think?

I’m Back!

One new job later, I’m back.  It is clear that I won’t be posting at the same (torrid?) pace that I was when I was at home eight hours a day.  I’m not even clear if I’ll be posting from work at all (maybe just Tweets), which leaves me between two and three hours at home each night to: fold laundry, wash dishes, pay bills, canoodle with the wife, watch Tv, post something meaningful to the family blog, post something to this blog, and work on any number of “other” projects.

This past week and a half “watch Tv” has risen pretty high on the list, given how exhausted I am after a full day of working.  Plus, I was sick.  So there.

In any case, I had something to say, so I’m back.  Less frequently than before.

Why I’m waiting on a new computer

Got a new job, got an old iMac (800 MHz G4!), gonna get a new computer!  Right?  After spending two solid days re-mastering the Home Computing Master Plan, I think I can safely say, maybe.

The first thing that has to happen is item number one in the Master Plan.  We need a new disk for the backup system.  We’re starting to get full, and they are cheap ($135) so there’s no real reason to avoid it.

The second thing that needs to happen is that I need to get a paycheck.  We need to see exactly how much I’m bringing in after taxes, compare it to exactly how much we hemorrhage each month, and figure out if we can buy a new computer, and whether that is before or after we plug the leak in the basement, or clothe our children, etc.

And so, I wait.  Slowly.  Just today I have had two encounters with the Dreaded Beachball on my Mac.  The first took twelve minutes to resolve itself.  The second one was finally ended with a Forced Quit after twenty minutes.

Wrapping up the sports season of a lifetime

Now that college basketball is over, I can mark the end of the most amazing sporting season I am likely to ever enjoy.

First the Red Sox win the World Series (again).  Then KU’s woeful college football program pulls the most amazing performance ever out of its collective bum, ends the season 12-1 with a victory in a BCS Bowl… probably the best KU football season ever.  Then the Patriots make it all the way to the Superbowl (where they lost, sure, but it was a fun season to watch).  And finally, the KU men’s basketball team goes all the way, winning the National Championship, and possibly completing the best season ever for KU’s storied basketball program.

It has been a lot of fun.  It’ll never happen again.  (Possibly because I’m trading my baseball fandom for a return to soccer…. baseball has lost me with all the scandals.)

Riding the rails from Lawrence

When I was a wee boy, growing up in Argentina, we used to take the train all the time.  We’d walk to the station, wait for the train, get on, and go places.  I don’t remember where we’d go, and frankly, I don’t think that was too important at the time.  I was on a train.

Years later, in Madrid and New York, I’d take the subway all sorts of places.  When I came out to the Midwest, I met people who had never been on a train, much less commuted on one.  It was foreign to me.  And to them, I guess.

But now that I’ve lived here for more than a decade, I realize that I’ve been on trains… well, I can count the times on one hand.  More importantly, my children have been on two trains in their lives, neither of which really count.  One was fake Thomas at Thomas the Tank Engine Days in Baldwin, KS.  The other was the light rail in Denver, CO.

Last night I found out the Lawrence has a working Amtrak Station.  It gets visited by the Southwest Chief (video) twice a day, once on its way to Los Angeles, and once on its way back to Chicago.  Even better, it stops in Newton, KS, which is a half hour from Wichita, where Grandma lives.

Unfortunately, a trip to Newton would have to start at 12:32 am, arriving at 3:25 am.  And the return trip picks up at 3:01 am, arriving back home at 5:49 am.

Not exactly the trip to take a five-year-old on.

Other stops on the way include Chicago and KC in one direction, and Las Vegas, Flagstaff, and Los Angeles in the other direction.  It might be a fun trip to make when the boys are older, and we can budget for a vacation (the trip to Grandma’s would cost $162!).

Or, I could wish really hard for Amtrak to start another train on a 12 hour offset from the first.  That’s right, Congress, double Amtrak’s budget!  Please?

Flickr now does long photos (aka video)

I’m sure you’ve seen this already, but it is cool.  They call them “long photos” which is pretty cute.  They adhere to all the same access standards as photos, as far as privacy feeds, searching, etc.  The length is short (90 seconds) and the size is small (150 MB) but I think most of my videos fall within those constraints.  Or would if I could use iMovie on my ancient Mac.

Thoughts I had while watching Kansas win

Watching the game last night, there were a lot of non-game related things I wanted to touch on.  This might be of more interest to those of you who haven’t been following KU basketball all season.

  • God.  In all the player interviews before the game, during all the plays of the game, during all the celebration afterwards, in all the articles about the game, and even in what I saw of the post-game pressers, God was mentioned three times.  Just three times.  I find that surprisingly low.
  1. Mario Chalmers pointed to the sky a little while after his game-tying three point shot.  This is the classic, “Thank you, God” gesture used in sports all over.  Or maybe he was pointing to the Jumbotron.
  2. Ronnie Chalmers, Mario’s Dad, carried a little bit of scripture in his pocket ((Source: Luke Winn’s ESPN Tourney Blog, about halfway down the article)), and read it to himself quietly towards the end of regulation.
  3. Calipari, the head coach of Memphis, told a reporter right afterwards that he told God, during Derrick Rose’s one-of-two final free throw appearance, that if they both went in, it was meant to be, and if they didn’t, it was not meant to be.
  • Ed Hightower was the Referee for the game.  I remember him well from our seven years in Iowa City.  His main stomping grounds is the Big Ten, though he’s doing more games in the Big 12 (where we are now) lately.  Incidentally, he was also the Ref for the last time KU won the Big Dance, in 1988.
  • When they set out the ladders for the net snipping, the ladder was rather modestly emblazoned with the company’s name, Werner.  They did get a Greg Gumbel announcement as the Official Ladder of the NCAA Tournament, but really, I would have made sure the cheap seats knew who made the ladder.  And nobody fell off.
  • Related question: who makes the scissors that are used?  Those things are sharp.
  • Another related question: Do the ladder/scissor companies cheat?  Like how burgers in commercials are faked up to look better than they are in reality.  Are the steps gummed up to ensure nobody slips?  Are the scissors ground extra-sharp, to a level no homeowner would be allowed to have?
  • Bill Self, the KU coach, is reportedly going to be offered the Oklahoma State coaching job (his alma mater) for something like $3.5 million a year with a $6 million signing bonus.  That’s $10 million for showing up for a year.  Most people seem to believe he will stay at Kansas, but get a nice salary bump from his current $1.4 million annually.
  • How classy is Roy Williams (coach of Carolina, former 15-year coach of KU)?  He stuck around for this game, and even allowed a Jayhawk sticker be stuck to his black sweater.  He even wore it during a halftime CBS interview.  I think any animosity Lawrence had for him is gone now.
  • It took a little while for articles about the game to get published, but several were out within hours of the end of the game.  Which means these sportswriters must have notes, ideas, even partial articles written before the game even begins, right?  A collection of these “What if” drafts could be fascinating for a sports fan to read.
  • There’s only one Luther Vandross song I can stand ((Official CBS crappy controller with commercial, or Unofficial YouTube sure to be pulled edition)).
  • We will probably pick up some sort of Championship DVD Commemorative Video Package Season Thing when they come out.  I never did understand that.  But having watched these kids for two years, having watched every game this season, knowing their stories and watching them play last night, I think I’d like to watch it again in five, ten, fifteen years.

We watched KU win the National Championship

We watched the game at home, live (not delayed via TiVo), as it tipped late enough that we were done with all parenting duties.  Our boys were tucked safely in their beds, dreams of Jayhawks dancing through their heads.  They both wore their new KU shirts to school, and the littlest one (he’s 22 months old) insisted on showing everyone his “J Awk,” even if that meant taking his hoodie off repeatedly.

We were hoping to watch in HD and listen to the local guys on the radio, but when we started the game, the video was behind the audio by almost five seconds.  That means the “shot was good!” before the play had even been set up on screen.  Something happened at half time though, and it was all synced up, so we got local color for the second half and the overtime.  The local announcers are so delightfully biased (and I still believe Packer and Nance were entranced by the idea of Memphis) that it makes up for their being further from the floor/booth stats.

Watching this game was awesome.  It was just the two of us, Sweetie and I, but we were up and down, nervous, groaning, I know I cursed at the screen repeatedly, Sweetie was tense, literally on the edge of her seat.  We could hardly believe it when Chalmers’ shot went in, and when it was all over we rushed outside to hear the screaming and honking and fireworks from downtown.

Then we watched it over again (thanks to TiVo) with the TV audio, just to see it once more.

Here are my thoughts on the game.  Please note, you may have to know something about basketball, college basketball, and/or KU basketball to grok much of this.  Sorry.

  • Here in Lawrence they are calling it “Mario and the Miracle,” a reference to KU’s last championship team, dubbed “Danny and the Miracles” after Danny Manning (now a KU assistant coach).  But I much prefer the simpler, more apt, “Super Mario.”  In my two paltry years in Lawrence, I’ve seen Mario Chalmers take a clutch shot like that a number of times.  And not one article before the game, not a single one from the National Media, singled him out as anything other than part of a guard foursome.
  • All season, Hell, all of his two years, Darrell Arthur has been hailed as this great, athletic, wonder boy.  All of his two years I have failed to see it.  Some games he has been good, even great.  Most games he lets balls slip through his fingers, he fouls a lot, he contributes a few points.  But this game he was excellent.  20 points and 10 rebounds, and a cool hand from start to finish.  His potential is so high that he’ll probably jump to the NBA, but this was an excellent parting performance.
  • Sherron Collins, instrumental in the game, is a player I love and hate.  I cussed him up and down the floor both in this game and the Carolina game on Saturday.  He is maddeningly bullheaded, but mad-skilled, and for every time he drives the lane against four guys and loses the ball, or passes to nobody, or dribbles it off a teammate’s foot, there are those times he strips the ball, weaves the trees for a score, or drains a  three at the crucial time.  One more year in school and he will be something to see.
  • How important was the review of that three-pointer?  If the officials didn’t have the ability to go back and examine that play, KU loses and the game gets a huge asterisk (at least, here in Lawrence).
  • Only one analyst gave KU the nod before the game.  Jay Bilas, of ESPN, has been picking KU since October.  Every time he was asked about it during the tournament, he reaffirmed his pick.  Right before the game, he said it again, though he hedged his bet a little.  Hats off to him.
  • They are calling this team the best team KU has ever produced, and they are calling KU “Basketball’s most storied program.”  That makes this the best team ever from basketball’s most storied program, in case you were wondering.

This may have been the most fun I have ever had watching sports, right up there with Argentina’s win in the World Cup Final in 1986.