Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Some thoughts influenced by other Blogs I follow

Maybe we are a computer simulation created by some earlier civilization: From Dilbert:  

and also here:

There’s a good chance that in a few short decades science will develop three separate paths for human immortality:
  1. Science will “cure” aging. (See Google’s announcement.)
  2. Humans will be able to transfer their minds to robots.
  3. Humans will be able to transfer their minds to software-only virtual worlds.

But what about Reincarnation?  I know that atoms and molecules combine to make things and once those things get destroyed, the atoms become something else.  A tree gets cut and becomes a piece of furniture.  Perhaps that furniture gets burned in a house fire.  That wood becomes charred carbon, with some atoms being released into the atmosphere.  Do these atoms ever become a tree again? 

I find it rather wasteful that we don't reincarnate in some way.  Not just our bodies but whatever this spirit or soul thing is.  I mean does that mean a pyramid builder from whatever year BC doesn't somehow get recycled as a plumber in 1932?  Or a programmer in 2012?  It just kinda seems sad that our life experience doesn't get reused or that we only get some slight sliver of time that doesn't even register on the Cosmic Scale.

One of Dilbert theories is that we are or eventually will become moist robots with our personalities and memories downloaded into these android like machines.  In various science fiction this crops up from time to time and I always wonder: in a world where you could do that, wouldn't everyone design a body that is attractive, in good shape and young?  And would that cancel out so that people would create models that weren't so attractive just to be unique? Or is it like the Cylons in the Battlestar Galactica reboot where they evolved and reproduced?

Stole the next two sentences from Scalzi's blog:  Because I've been thinking about this topic a lot recently, but it's not resolved itself into a coherent narrative. So to hell with the narrative, let me just toss out some thoughts I've been having on the subject, in no particular order.

When I drive to and from work, I often think about the past.  It might be my time at NMSU or it might be my first job as a Paralegal_JR at BigName Law Firm 1.0 or my time at the No-Name Software Company, or any of a million other interactions between me and other humans. 

I really want to turn it off, like the vampires turn off their humanity in The Vampire Diaries.  Unfortunately,  I cannot.  Some of it is guilt and remorse because I realize in a lot of those situations I didn't act in the best form.  Sometimes it was immaturity, sometimes it was anger.

Sometimes it's just the fact that I often fell flat on my face in situations most other people navigate with automatic grace and poise.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

Somewhere in Portage Park

Since I couldn't get these to play nicely in a previous post, I'm putting them here stand alone.

The Scene Seen on my Morning Run

In Portage Park the trees may not speak, but they do smile
So most of my runner friends ran their 20 miler yesterday.  If you are training for the Chicago Marathon, or any fall marathon, this past weekend was when all the Hal Higdon Training Schedules call for a first/final 20 mile run followed by a 3 week taper before Race Day.  In honor of that, I ran 8 miles of my own and wrote a little something about it here.

Before they came up with this concept, we would just do our 20 mile run at whatever CARA site we were training out of.  I don't know the details of how this idea came about -- whether CARA approached a sponsor or vice versa -- but it is one of the more positive innovations that CARA has come up with over the years.to Run 20 Miler.

Granted, the event had some hiccups the first couple of years but they seem to have worked them out.  All in all, I think it is a great way to prepare for a marathon because you get a practice run that mimics marathon conditions, complete with the hydration and gels available on the course at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and a party at the end.

I have to admit that I have been a little envious of all my friends posting their LR results every weekend on Facebook.  During the bulk of my marathon/racing years I didn't have FB and had to brag the old fashioned way: sending out an annoying email to my friends like a Caveman!

At a party on Saturday, I was asked by someone (who clearly isn't reading this blog or my FB page) how my running is doing.  Nightingale and I brought her up to speed on my knee and what little mileage I do these days.  I get asked if I would run another marathon and I usually respond that my doctor strongly suggested I not.  Though run/walking Detroit last year shows how well I listen to doctors.

Sometimes I add that I probably have one or two more marathons in me so I want to pick them judiciously.  The fact is, I don't need another 4+ hour marathon under my belt.  So I would probably only do another one under the following conditions:

1)  if I were certain I could run fast enough that I have a shot at a BQ (which will be a 3:25 when I turn 45 next year).  Since my best marathon time is a 3:29 and that was 7 years ago, it's rather unlikely that I'll regain the speed and endurance that I had before the knee scope.

2)  if Nightingale says honey I want to go [some location outside of US soil] and there happens to be a marathon the same time we are going and  have 16-18 weeks prior to said vacation trip to train beforehand of course.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

This should have posted Monday

Unfortunately, I didn't get around to completing this until today.  So there.

Well, I spent a larger portion of my weekend attempting to troubleshoot the hard-wired portion of my home network.  In order to deliver a more stable signal to the devices that we stream movies (Roku today and a Smart TV someday) and also to increase signal strength to the devices that extend our wireless, I bought a Netgear FVS318 Cable/DSL ProSafe VPN Firewall with 8-Port Switch.  It was used and I bought off Amazon with gift certificate so I got it really cheap.  The good news is that it worked as soon as I plugged it in.  The bad news is I accidentally reset it when I was trying to configure it to do more than just move the internet from one end of the house to another.
My new tech thinks it s the cable modem

The problem was that the support page and everything I read said that the default IP of the device was when in fact it is This lead me to believe there was no way I could gain access.  Apparently, the newer models have switched to the first address while older ones still have that second address, which is also what many Cable/DSL modems also default.  So I foolishly reset the device and let the webpage come up automatically.  It's possible I did something else to mess things up...after a few days, the memory becomes blurry.   I'm going to tell myself that this would have become a problem eventually.

So at the moment we have limited wireless as I took every Wi-Fi extender and streamer offline to troubleshoot.  Getting all that set back up will only take 10 minutes of my time.  I can always roll back to life before the FVS318 came into our home.  I just have visions of locking things down in such a way that when my BIL comes to visit, he cannot watch Golf in any way, shape, or form.

  • Update1:  Last night, I got the wired internet working!
  • Update2:  This morning it stopped working!  
  • Update3:  I have to reboot the router every morning.  So far it seems to be occur after we watch something on the Roku.  

The rest of the weekend was spent doing other things.  After hemming and hawing for almost an hour, I did make it out of the house Saturday morning to join the CARA group for a chilly morning run.  My group was doing 14 miles which would be just too much mileage for me given my current out-of-shape state.  I figured I could handle 8 but actually managed 10.  The knee held out for the most part.  There was a moment when it seemed to be a little tweaky.  I switched to walking for a bit.  Had a little heart-to-heart with my knee.  Turns out the old fellow just wanted some attention.  So once the knee felt validated, I was able to finish the run.

Instead of going all the way back to the CARA base, I waited for my group. There was no point going back there and waiting for everyone by myself when I could sit in the sunshine closer to the lakefront.  This afforded me the opportunity to snap some photos of random runners for use in future blog posts.  Speaking of blog posts, you should really read this one.  

One sour note of the day:  The new manager at Universal Sole gave me the wrong parking validation so instead of paying $4 for parking, I had to pay $16.
Downtown CARA marathon training group

On Sunday we had people over.  Originally it was supposed to be a cookout but the weather didn't cooperate.  I was going to babble about how it was looking like they weren't going to show at all but I'm out of breath.  Besides, they arrived during the final few minutes of the Bears game and waited in their car until the Bears scored the winning touchdown.

For Posterity:  So it's far too soon to be thinking Denver-Chicago in the Superbowl, but the Bears did pull out another come-from-behind victory that they had no business pulling off.  I've seen them win games like this before.  Usually, it's borrowing against a sure victory later in the season.  There was something different about this one though.  It was confidence in Cutler that I haven't seen in a Chicago QB since Kramer.  I'd still be happier if they could simply be up by two scores at the two-minute warning.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

In the Land of Milk and Blueberries

This weekend I got a lot of little things accomplished at home, which keeps me from playing in traffic but doesn't allow me to check anything major items off my TO-DO List.  I took the first step toward wiring the house for Internet by dropping a CAT-5 cable from the modem to the office.  Which means I had to drill a small hole in the Jack-and-Jill closet ceiling (surprise Nightingale!)  This means I can now shift/relocate some of the devices I use to carry the wireless signal throughout the house.  The only reason I'm holding off on doing any more drilling is because I'm not sure were the cable modem is going to live.

My ideal solution is to build a LAN closet in the basement laundry room.  However this requires a little bit of money and more certainly of what direction Life is taking us.  If a mini-Icarus arrives, the office becomes the kid's room and the modem likely either stays in the attic or gets moved to the basement or even first floor.  This will probably depend on what we do with cable.  At the moment we have cable for the Internet and the most basic package that comes with it.  I'm not sure it is even possible to unbundle the two and I think we are forced to keep the receiver because Comcast decided to scramble even their basic channels. 

I'm also just about ready to finish up the pantry project.  We have this empty ledge on the wall that leads down to the basement and it would be the perfect place to install some shelves for extra storage.  Unfortunately, the right side of said ledge is hard to get to because of the stairs and I'm not willing to invest in a special type of ladder for a one time use.

I had this idea to install some type of shelving using galvanized pipes which is all the rage on various DIY and home improvement blogs I follow.  The problem again is not being able to work easily in that space.  And the pipes themselves are bit hard to manage.  At first I tried going with various sizes and I thought I could build it and redesign the shelf height on the fly.  Finally I decided to just get two pipes cut to a reasonable size and I will use brackets to hold the shelves in place with the pipes being more for looks than support.  [Note: they will provide some support as I will describe in an actual post about the installation.]

August was a bit of a busy month for travel and family.  A few weeks ago, we were in New Buffalo, Michigan for the weekend to visit the Little Monkeys nephews.  Being in a small Americana town like New Buffalo reminds me of Kirksville, Missouri, the college town where I went to NMSU (now Truman University) a lifetime ago.  You see the same main street in the downtown with the clock tower and the city hall.  There's usually a nearby train station and a few other familiar landmarks.  And cornfields.

Some people pay a fortune for a view like this
A good portion of the trip was watching the Little Monkeys with their iPad app.  Apparently they have one that "talks" and naturally they learned rather quickly to make it say "poop head."  Who can deny that children are the hope for the world.

We did spend what added up to almost 10 minutes trying to figure out the holidays and what to do about nightingale parents’ upcoming 40th anniversary.  The Adamas* have some ideas, none of which really appeal to me.  It's also fairly apparent that an agenda is already being pushed.  They want to do something big like a trip but it has to be somewhere kid friendly and safe, which rules out a lot of the cool destination locations around the globe.  And I'm certainly not advocating we go somewhere where they rape and kill tourists.  I just think some places are being thrown out more over exaggerated reputation than actual facts.

The only trip my family ever planned was coming over here from Europe after World War II.  I understand it too didn't go quite as planned and as such they never went on a family trip again.  So I suppose it's just that way with all extended family events.

The weekend after that the Adamas spent the weekend at our place.  Then for Labor Day we went to Gross Point because Nightingale's parents (Cartwrights*) were going to visit various family members while staying with the Adamas. 

I lobbied for Thanksgiving knowing full well that has only a 10% chance of happening and even if it does, the Adamas won't come down from Michigan.  We will likely go up there for Christmas and that leaves Easter/Spring Break for Nashville as Little_Monkey#1 is off school for spring break.

*  the new pseudonym for this set of in-laws will be Adamas. The new alias for my in-laws will be Cartwrights. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Tried to resist but fell in love with a Roku

So we've had our Roku 3 for a little over a week and I have to say, I love it.  I am of course reserving complete judgement until enough time and usage has accumulated such that I can comfortably say that I am not experiencing any of the issues that many of the Amazon reviewers have sited.

Background:  while we always knew in the back of our minds, Nightingale and I recently realized that we can watch a lot of movies and television shows On-Demand through her Amazon Prime account.  We configured it on the Wii in our basement and were enjoying catching up on many of the movies we missed when they were out in the theater.

The drawbacks are 1) the Wii was designed as a gaming system first and a Streaming device as an afterthought and 2) the wireless in the basement is good but not great.  We could watch a movie fine but it certainly wasn't HD or at least not 1080 HD and rewinding or pausing often interrupted the streaming such that you sometimes had to start the movie all over again.

Hooked up to an Apple Express, Oh the Horror!
Whenever it comes to a piece of new technology (iPad, phone, dishwasher, etc) my MO is to wait until the first couple of iterations for the bugs to get worked out, then I buy the best available that I can afford and I make it last as long as possible.  So I was a little hesitant to get the Roku 3 because of the aforementioned issues.  However, since I was able to buy it using points on Amazon, it was essentially free (Amazon even refunded me the $8 price difference when it dropped the price the other day though I did have to contact them to get the ball rolling).  I figured if it worked out great, if it didn't, I plan to buy a Smart TV at some point in the future (probably once I finish paying for the Flood).

I suspect that enough people complained about the Roku issues that Roku found a way to fix it through the automatic updates that the device downloads and also probably by quietly modifying the devices in the factory or lab or farm or wherever these puppies are built.

The quality of the picture on the Roku as well as the menu interface is far superior to that of the Wii.  Again I suspect it has to do with a more update device (our Wii is 4-5 years old?) and we use it on the upstairs TV which is physically closer to the wireless router.  Eventually I will run some hardwired connections throughout the house but for now, we can get Internet in every room we need it and also on the front porch, the back deck and even in the garage in case I want to watch a YouTube video on how to fix a lawn mower.

UpdateLast night we did experience our first glitch.  While watching a show, our connectivity was apparently too unstable for streaming even though all our other i-devices worked fine.  I believe this was the internet connection and not anything to do with the Roku per se.   We were able to watch the rest of our show on the iPad and I will work on getting a stronger internet connection to the Roku.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

More excuses

So i haven't been writing as much here or here.  I started off August good at ChicagoNow but then lost steam.  Part of the problem is I don't have a good place to write at home.  When I get home I usually have my afterwork chores and then once those are finished, I just want to sit outside and drink wine on the deck with my wife.  Also, my iPad isn't conducive to blogging what with the awkward keyboard and user unfriendly software. 

And even though I do, I would like to not blog from my work laptop.  So until I can set up a less cluttered version of my BIL office, I will have to make do.