2004-12-24

Scrabble

We were over at friend's house for a Christmas Eve party.

The adults play Trivial pursuit. Not many questions were being answered correctly, even with teams. So after a while we switched to Scrabble.

It seems to me that since you can't play names, that basically all the words you can make have to be all lower case letters. So it seems to me that the Scrabble letters should really be all lower case printed on them instead of all upper case. And the blank should have a little zero printed in the corner.

Just another on of those things I'm told I think too much about. :)

2004-12-21

Quick Update

Between getting up early for the new job and being sick, I haven't had a lot of energy for much.

The new job is okay. The people are nice. The guys training us are a bit rapid fire, but don't expect that I will get everything the first time. But I am picking up things rather quickly. Which is nice that I can get up to speed quickly. But it also gives me a feel for how un-creative this job is likely to be.

My boys started 'winter' break as of this afternoon. I get off Friday (no pay). But I will not lose another paid day around New Year's. Which is mostly good news.

2004-12-19

Florida Pictures: Fort Myers Beach

My youngest son kept asking to go to the beach while we were in FLorida. It was cool and windy for Florida on Saturday, but we went to the beach anyhow. I took some pictures along the same stretch of beach as the last few times I'd been down there.

2004-12-11 Sun going down on Fort Myers Beach

Bird flying

Birds in flight

Birds along the shore

Wind blowing interesting patterns with the sand

Windy, cool day on Florida beach

Beach - Gentle waves on Fort Myers Beach

2004-12-11 Fort Myers Beach Pier

2004-12-13

Back From Florida

I'm back from Florida. We all went down for a long weekend for my father's service. It wasn't as emotional as I expected.

I got to see a bunch of relatives I don't see much, including a cousin I hadn't seen for about 9 years.

The kids had a lot of fun in the hotel pool quite a few times over the weekend. The time just flew by. We got in late, and I drove down from Denver while the rest slept. I managed to catch a nap this afternoon which helped a lot.

I wanted to thank all my blog friends for all their great support during this time. All your comments meant so much to me! Thank you all!

2004-12-07

Death in the Family

My father passed away on Sunday afternoon.

He had Alzheimers for a number of years.

I keep explaining to everyone who expects me to be devastated that I've already done a bunch of mourning. I know the service on Friday will be sad and emotional, but so far I haven't cried. I last saw him this past summer. I am sure he recognized me, but he was already showing that he didn't know who I was. So in my mind, I started to say goodbye then. When I went to my uncle's funeral a few months ago, and saw much cousins speaking about their father, I realized that I would be in that same spot in not too long.

Sometimes with Alzheimers, the person's body stay much longer after their mind has gone. My dad was just at that point of slipping both complete beyond who he was and beyond the point of living comfortably. He was no longer happy. So it was a very good time for him to have his final rest.

I was glad my sister was able to be with him to the end. His lung started to fill with fluid, and his time came pretty quickly and pretty calmly.

We had some tough time, as most children and parents do. Eventually we were able to overcome this issues and be friends. I had him as my best man at my wedding. I got a lot of my joy of computers and photography from him. We could talk about computer stuff for hours. I knew that time passed many years ago when he had trouble finding the '@' key for sending an email. Another legacy is my Swiss army knife. He gave me my first one when I was 12. I remember camping and bike riding and flying kites. I remember him taking me on photo shoots and motorcycle rides and boating trips. We went to Mohonk and hiking on Bear Mountain.

I will miss him.

2004-12-05

Water Heater

The other day I got a call from home: there was no hot water.

As the house and hot water heater was less than 4 years old, I was hopeful it was something simple - like maybe the kids played with a controls or that the pilot light somehow went out. I had trouble with the pilot light going out about 3 times back in New Jersey.

When I got home, I hadn't remembered that the hot water heater was out. I remembered when I went to wash my hands with hot water. After I had just formed a bunch of hamburgers. Bad time to remember there was no hot water. I cleaned my hands as best as I could, and started warming some water on the stove.

After dinner I went down to check the water heater. As I opened the door, I could tell it wasn't a simple problem. I heard a hissing noise. I saw water on the floor. As I got closer, I heard water spraying on top, going up the vent. And there appeared to be no heat in the system.

I turned off the water and took off the top. At first I didn't see anything. I turned back on the water. The problem became pretty clear. There was a spray of water in the center of the water heater. Being near the top, I thought I might be able to solder the hole closed.

But before I started mucking around, I decided to check the warranty. I got my computer and went online. It had me put in the serial number. The web site said it was covered until sometime 2006! So I put the vent back on. I then tried to see if I could get some hot water with the water drained below the pinhole. But as I tried to light it, water kept dripping onto the flame. My guess is that there was another hole in the seem further down. So I drained the tank some more. I used a couple of plastic bottles to route the water directly to the drain.

We got it replaced the next day. It seems they don't make the same model anymore. I'm not surprised, with the weld going bad. But it cost $80 to upgrade. And up to $200 labor. And $35 for a town permit for the work. I guess that isn't as bad as having to buy a new one. The thing that bothers me the most is we went from a unit with middle efficiency to a model with worse efficiency.

Water Heater Pinhole in the Weld

2004-12-01

Job Situation

From the interview I had Monday, I was told to expect a call from the section head on the East coast yesterday or today. I did not get the call yesterday.

At work Yesterday I got an email that today they had a team-building outing planned. A number of the groups were going to see the movie National Treasure. I had just see the movie this past weekend. Also I wasn't sure of the value of going on a team-building outing with only 3 days left on the job.

I was still undecided as the day went on. It was getting close to time to decide when the phone rang. It was the section head from the interview. He talked to me for about 10 minutes. Overall I thought it went well.

I figured I had enough time to make it to the movie, and I decided that I was in the mood for popcorn. I also was losing concentration on the project I was trying to finish up, so I thought the movie would be a good break. I'd have to pay for the movie, but the company should pay for my time as if I worked.

I thought the movie was a little hokey the first time. But it was still pretty fun to watch the second time. The movie was about 3/4 done when my cell phone rang. I went outside and called back. It was the recruiter from the interview.

It seems she had tried to reach me since about 1/2 hour after the phone interview. She told me that the company offered me the job.

I was pretty happy. It was a big stress relief. Yeah, it isn't an exciting job. It is a cut in pay. It is odd hours. But it is close. There is no off-hours on-call. And it would be the shortest time out of work since I've moved to Colorado: 3 weeks.

Social Disease - Stop Signs

I have noticed that driving styles seem to change depending on the area of the country. I have noticed some trates in certain area. In New York, people are very likey to rush by in the right lane to cut you off at a squeeze - and this often backs up traffic. In New Jersey, many people like to run through stop signs. In Florida, they like to cut back very close in front of you after passing on the left - much closer than safe following distance, so you either have to slow down or wind up tailgating the person in front for more than few seconds. I hate driving in Florida.

When I moved to Colorado 4 years ago, I noticed differences in the average driving style. You will see people move out of a merge lane way ahead of the merge - even when there is bad traffic - this lets traffic keept moving at a better pace than places where people rush to cut in front, stalling the merge. I noticed here that people would almost always come to a full stop at a stop sign. People also seemed to tailgate more - especially at high speeds in the left lane on the highway. But the people here are very good about stopping for pedestrians. It took me a lot to get used to how polite drivers are to pedestrians when I was walking. But it was very easy for me to take on the other habits, except the tailgating. Oh, I know I'll talegate on rare occasions, but most of the time I try to keep plenty of distance to the car in front of me. But driving here in Colorado is much easier and more pleasurable than back East.

But I've noticed what I call a social disease. It seems to have infected the average drivers in Colorado and seems to be spreading. In the last year, I've noticed more and more people running through stop signs. Some of the worst are parents rushing their kids to school. Not only are they endangering their kids, and endangering other kids both walking and in other cars, but they are teaching their kids it is okay to break they law.

At first I noticed it was just people not quite stopping at stop signs. A 'rolling stop' I've heard it called. It was only teens I saw barely slowing down at stop signs. But in the last year, more and more people seem to need to roll through stop signs. I'm talking about people who slow down just enough to stop if they have to, but will drive right through without stopping if the way is clear enough. And enough seems to be by their own interpretations, not what I would call safe. If I have to slow down a lot because you rolled through a stop sign right in front of me, you cut me off - and that is seriously not safe. That is asking to be hit.

I see more and more people coming up to stop sign at a clip that looks like they will drive right through. This means there is no safty margin if there is an unusual situation. This used to be the average back in New Jersey. To protect myself, I adopted a drving habit of not trusting anyone who looks like they might roll through a stop sign. So if someone was approaching a stop sign quickly enough that made me think they might roll through and perhaps even hit me if they didn't stop at the last second, I would slow down. I try to slow down just enough that I would not let them into traffic.

This meant that instead of saving maybe 2 seconds on thier drive by running the stop sign, I would hold them up extra seconds. Because if they looked like they were planning to stop at the stop sign, I would be going normal speed, and they would be able to enter traffic sooner. So not only do I protect myself, but I also penalize the person for using up any safety factor at the stop sign. But considering how many accidents occur at stop signs, and how it is possible for a person to miss seeing a stop sign, what else can you do but make sure you can stop for them?

I've realized that I almost never had to be warey of people looking like they would run stop signs in Colorado. But in the last 6 months, I've caught myself having to do it more and more. I don't like it. It seems like an infection, a social disease, that is taking over the average driver here. I am very disappointed to see it happening so much.

What causes this kind of change in driving style, like an infection?
I know we get a lot of people moving to Colorado all the time. Between all the military and the high tech ebb and flow, we get a very high turnover. Being a native of Colorado puts you in a small minority - maybe 10%. Some people even consider living in Colorado more than 5 years making you a long-timer. But with all these people moving into Colorado, we get a bunch from areas of other driving habits. Most people seem to adapt quickly to their new area. But there are some who still drive like where they come from - like running stop signs.

So these people run stop signs. They get ahead of other people, and maybe even make the light you should have. So these other people feel both competitive - they want to be in front, and they see these people getting away with it - no traffic ticket. So more people try a rolling stop. Next thing you know, they are running stop signs too. And the more people see this, the habit seems to spread. That is my theory.

Why did people respect stop signs more in the past? Were the police very agressive in the past? Was the area just that much slower and pastoral that nobody was in a rush, so stopping was easy? Some combination? Is there some other factor or factors? Did we get a huge batch of mean bosses that are being really strict about getting to work on time?

I'm not positive about the causes, but you can see I have some ideas. But other than being safe, and penalizing non-stoppers by slowing down and forcing them to come to a full stop, I'm not sure what can be done about this spreading sickness.

Should I complain to the police? At best, that would mean lots of people getting tickets. And that is never fun. I wouldn't wish that on people, unless there was no other way to get them to be sfaer at stop signs. I doubt adding the word 'please' to the stop signs would help. Maybe I should send a note to the religious groups in town - give them some useful fodder for a sermon. :) Write a note to the newspaper? Start a rumor that the police are getting really nasty on running stop signs?

I think getting the police to crack down more on running stop signs is the only thing that might slow the spread a little. But I don't think it will reverse the spread.

How do you vaccinate society from a bad idea that is spreading?