Monday, October 31, 2011


Today I biked into work in full ninja regalia.  There were a few honks, a few shouts--presumably of fear, or perhaps in surprise at seeing a bike travel by itself--and an "Avast, ye scurvy dog!" emanating from a pirate sword being waved out a car window.

At a stop light, a "pro" biker pulled up beside me wearing spandex tights, black/lime-green socks, and a neon-yellow logo-covered shirt.  "Nice costume!" he said.  "Likewise," I answered.  He seemed a little huffy as he left me in the dust, but I'm not sure why.

Arriving at the back door of work, my ninja-invisibility came in handy as I made a less-than-graceful dismount from my bicycle, thanks to the baggy ninja pants.  Walking to the front of the building to assassinate my boss and assume his position, I saw three visitors from another company approaching the front door, so I opened it for them.  They stopped, looking a little confused--probably terrified--checked the company name on the window, glanced at each other, then finally approached.  I took pity on them and lowered my mask, calming their fears.  They didn't offer to shake my hand though.  Probably afraid of being shurikened.

This afternoon, we're having a barbecue with them using a new grill the company just bought.  I'll probably demonstrate how I can hold fire in my hand without getting burned.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

War Update, Plus Work Productivity Note

After the last three public executions, the mice decided to lie low for a while.  We didn't hear a peep from them until last night, when a scout foolishly ventured into the garage while we were paper mâché-ing jack-o-lanterns for Webelos.  He was quickly apprehended and incarcerated, then met a swift end at dawn at the hands of our chickens.

On a different note, my productivity at work has soared since I blocked a few websites in my /etc/hosts file.  I realized I had gotten in the habit of working, then every time I hit a complicated spot, I'd almost instinctively switch to a browser to read a quick Slashdot article or CNN report.  The waste of time was adding up quickly, so I decided to block a handful of sites for myself at work.

It's worked surprisingly well over the past couple weeks.  Even though I could unblock them in a few seconds, the very fact that I'd have to jump through a hoop reminds me that I'm supposed to be focusing on work.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Camping Trip

Friday and Saturday was our Elder's Quorum camping trip.

My wife blogged about it from her end and was fairly accurate in her description of the event being presented as a way to work off some testosterone poisoning. There were promises of guns, fires, possibly explosions, and definitely no kids.

There was a hairy road to get to our remote wilderness campsite, but we all made it alive.  There were seven of us, four of who were auto mechanics, so the campfire conversation was distinctly auto-oriented.  The moon was nearly full that night and it was surprisingly bright, which led directly to The Incident.

About 11 p.m, as we sat around the campfire, the manager of the property (who was also camping with us) told us that the narrow, rutted dirt road we had come up continued on to the top of a nearby peak.  One of the mechanics had brought an old BMW that he had fixed up Baja-style, and he promptly jumped up.  "It's bright enough out here," he said.  "I'm going to go check it out.  Who wants to come?"

Another guy took him up on his offer and a moment later, the two of them were roaring up the dirt track towards the top of the mountain.  The property manager watched them go, then said, "They're going to get stuck.  There's no room to turn around on the road."

There was silence for a moment.  "You probably should have told them that before they left," someone finally suggested.

The property manager shrugged.  "They said they wanted an adventure."

They apparently had one, because an hour later they came hiking on foot back down the mountain.  As they later explained, they had reached the end of the road, where there was a small dirt patch.  It was just large enough that with their small car, they probably could have done a hundred-point turn and ended up facing back down the hill.  Being 20 year old guys, the thought of doing it that way didn't even enter their minds and the driver decided to try to gun his engine, spin out on the dirt, and swing the car in a circle.

All he succeeded in doing was going off the road and nearly rolling down the mountain, fortunately stopped from doing so by the brush on the side of the road.  The car was holding on precariously with two tires, necessitating cautious climbing out through the driver side door for both of them.

"We'll get it in the morning," said the property manager, unperturbed.

The next morning, we started up the mountain in a pickup truck.  The goal was to somehow use the pickup truck to rescue the car, but true to the form of all ill-fated rescue missions, we only succeeded in nearly getting the pickup truck stuck.  It was only "nearly" and not "completely" because we ended up physically lifting up the rear end of the pickup truck and swinging it around. 

Fortunately, that led to the realization that if seven guys could lift up the tail end of a pickup truck, surely we could heft a small Baja-style BMW.  We finished the hike up the mountain on foot and finally arrived at the car.

It was dangling pretty solidly over the edge of the hill, but it was nothing we couldn't handle.  The Elder's Quorum president gave a stirring speech based on Elder Utchdorf's talk, "Lift Where You Stand," and we manually hefted it out.

Unfortunately the first video section was fairly large and was rejected by Blogger.  This second section I videotaped is just as good though, because it's shorter and still demonstrates the prowess of our biceps.

So all the people and vehicles survived, but one casualty of the event was my sock, forgotten by the campfire as it dried out from the previous night's dew.  It's the tragedies in life that make us stronger, though, so it was probably a good character-building experience.  And a reminder to bring a spare pair of socks next time.

We finished the morning on a lighter note, shooting large amounts of ammunition from a wide variety of weapons.  The cows in the nearby field cautiously moved to the far side of their enclosure, but the wives would be pleased to know that we were extremely safe and that the only casualties during this portion of our event were about 250 clay pigeons and a variety of soda pop cans and assorted campfire detrius.

 We even cleaned up when we were done.

Defense News Feature

We're in the news!  Our partner, DRS, demoed our joint product at a conference in Washington, D.C.  where Defense News did a feature on it.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The War is On

This morning, I woke to find that a mouse had brazenly eaten the cheese from the mousetrap with the unmitigated audacity to not die in it.  Even more offensive, he left a taunting note to the effect of "Sucker!" behind.

Okay, he may not have left a note, per se, but I could tell he had thought of it.  I reset the trap with the cheese embedded deeper than a CNN journalist in Iraq and placed it back under the sink.

An hour later, a spider the size of the hamburgers in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs was discovered in the hallway to much shrieking and violent jumping about.  My wife was also a little startled by it.  I quickly vacuumed it up, then extracted the plastic vacuum container to empty it out.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered two mice saboteurs inside, a little wide-eyed and windswept but very much alive.

Caught red-handed, their protests of innocence did them no good and I delivered them to the gallows.  Our chicken executioners made short work of one, but let the other escape to warn his comrades. 

The stakes have been raised.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

No honor among mice

For the past week I've been hearing mysterious rustlings in the walls and under cupboards.  We've had a wet week too, which led me to suspect that a gang of mice had been  driven inside.  On my near-daily meander through the hardware store today, I spotted mice traps and got a package.  When I got home, dinner was ready so I placed a mouse trap under the sink and sat down to eat.

By cleanup time, we had our first victim.  Interestingly, the cheese I had placed on the trap was gone, so either he had gobbled it down then went back to lick the grease off the trap trigger, or another mouse had crawled over the first one's dead body to get to it.  Either way, it doesn't speak much to the intelligence of the mice, although I guess they don't make particular claims along those lines.

On the plus side, the chickens loved the mouse.  As my wife pointed out, one of the downsides of belonging to a vegetarian is that the chickens don't see much food "on the hoof," so to speak.

Yard Saling

Another good find obtained today at a yard sale: an A-frame ladder for $3. 

I felt like Patrick McManus explaining to his wife why he needed so many different types of guns.  "Well, I need an extension ladder for getting on the roof or climbing trees, then a smaller section of ladder for...well, small trees.  Then an A-frame ladder for high light bulbs and killing spiders on the ceiling, plus a step-ladder for..."

We also signed up to clean the church building this morning.  There were another handful of people there helping as well, and I overheard one mother say to her eight-year-old son, "My, you're grumpy this morning."  Personally, I couldn't really blame the kid.  Instead of watching Saturday-morning cartoons, he was cleaning bathrooms at 8 o'clock in the morning.

Moving on to yard work: over the past couple days I've been pulling weeds from our old, falling-apart asphalt driveway.  I got a tube of asphalt repair goo, but I think I grossly underestimated how much I would need.  Pulling the weeds left ravines the size of irrigation canals behind, some of which were quite possibly harboring wildlife.  A amazingly wide variety of bugs for sure.  Anyway, I'm hoping the goo will hold together the pieces of our driveway at least for another year or two.  We still have a garage door, fence, yard, painting, and a million smaller things on our list to do before we can afford that.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Beginning of the End

I finally took the plunge.  I downloaded a password manager.

Until now, I've either remembered my passwords, used some algorithm to determine them on a per-website basis, or tracked them in my emails.  All of those had shortcomings, so I decided to try a password manager.

Using no particular criteria, I devided to try Revelation.  Simple, to the point, and for the handful of days I've used it, it's gotten the job done.  Using a password manager has its own shortcomings, but having to look up a password in a single application beats trying to find passwords in my email or guess until my account is locked.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Ice Shaver

The best $1 I ever spent:

Not the pumpkins: those were $3.33 each.  The ice shaver was $1 from a garage sale.  To make a delicious ice shavee, you will need the following ingredients:
  1. Ice
  2. Jello powder
Step 1: Grind up the ice

Step 2: Liberally dust it with jello powder to taste.  If you're gourmet, add a teaspoon of lemonade powder for an extra kick.

Step 3: Mix it all together.

Step 4: Hop your kid up on sugar and red dye 40 an hour before bed.  Which may explain last night's experience...


It's never too late to make a new resolution, so I'm going to attempt to start posting with renewed vigor.  Perhaps even daily. 

First post of the new resolution: WHY IN THE WORLD IS MY DAUGHTER STILL AWAKE at 3 AM?!?!