Age Gauge

Boy the Bear's Age Gauge
Warning - it might make you feel old. I'm glad I'm less than 1/2 the age of the pope! :) And he is younger than Cronkite.

Hard Drive Wind Chimes

An interesting bit of hardware hacking from old hard drives. Sounds like somethings I would do! :)

Hard Drive Wind Chimes / Keychains @ wingie.org

The link came from my sister who thought of me when she saw it. I guess I have a reputation!



You Are 45% Left Brained, 55% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.

Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.

If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.

Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.

Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.

If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.

Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.


I created this blog one year ago yesterday. My sister noticed and reminded me.

But do I really count this an my blog anivsary? I only made one entry on 2/26 and then one on 3/9. I really started more seriously blogging on 5/10.


Work Change

Well - I'm supposed to change shifts at the end of the month. But my counterpart on support asked me to change early. He wanted a week on early shift in a month. So he suggested switching four days early.

I didn't realize until he came by later, is that he wanted to switch as of tomorrow!

Get off 6am shift early. Hm. I don't mind that a bit. I might mind it more when I have to work almost 5 weeks of 6am shift in a month. But right about now it sounds great!

Okay - I've felt more balanced with the workload on early shift. Hopefully it won't seem too bad with the workload on later shift. Heck - it might be better - I'll rarely have leftover work to get in the way of my 2.5 hours dev time.


Up a Wall Again

Up a Wall Again

We went to Estes Park for 2 nights this weekend. There was a rock climbing wall at one of the local sports shops. It was quite extensive. I went up 3 times. I did better this time. My arms didn't cramp up, and I made it up all 3 times. It was really fun. I could get into doing this. Other than the cost, of course. :)

Picture Theme Protective

Picture Theme Protective

A worker in a protective helmet and orange vest - behind a work screen taken through a chain link fence.

For Moody Monday


Work is Interesting

Today was an interesting day. Yesterday, the boss told us that starting today, we were going to split the support. This means that the morning person does support until 11:30, and does development type work in the afternoon. And the afternoon person had time in the morning, and would do support from 11:30 on.

I also had a big piece of programming to get done by this afternoon. I had come up with this idea for putting a wrapper around a 3rd party download program. This would allow us to automatically send emails after we do a file transfer. The big reason for the pressure is that we have over 900 jobs that do the type of file transfer we want to add emails. And we don't really have a budget to get it done. And my boss' boss really wants it done very quickly. So my boss promised his boss I would have a demo ready by this afternoon.

This would have been pretty tough in normal situations. But I had a number of things working against me. I had to do support for 5-1/2 hours. I had to come up with some brand new techniques. I had to make the solution that could be supported by others in the group. This was a tall order.

Yesterday I had successfully tested one solution. It wasn't the best for the group, but I think it was the best on short notice. To make sure we didn't have to make changes to 900 jobs, my wrapper program had to be able access files that were not pre-defined. This is not really possible in straight Cobol on the mainframe. I knew in theory it could be done with a relatively small assembler program, but I was not keen on that solution. It would mean coding in assembler, which I've done very little of on the mainframe. It would mean convincing others to accept my assembler code to move to production. It would mean selling the group on supporting the assembler code.

I wound up trying some C code. It seems there is a nice dynamic allocation function in C. It took a little searching to find the compiler. It took a few tries to get the code to work. But I managed to get a stand alone version working yesterday afternoon. So I was hopeful about being able to get a demo of some sort working today.

But I still had to test running the C sub-program from Cobol, calling the file-transfer program from Cobol and sending the email from Cobol. Not a short order in only part of a day. I managed to squeeze in getting the call of the C program to work correctly under Cobol during my morning work. And I managed to turn over a rather clean support slate. I think there was one ticket that came in about shift turnover - and no real emails.

Getting the C to work from Cobol turned out to be a little more challenging than I expected. I had some odd failures at first. I was afraid it wouldn't work for a little while. But I found the problem was related to passing parameters. Even though I wasn't passing any parameters, I had to code for parameters to keep it from blowing up. I had to code the standard C accept parameters instead of getting away with telling it to ignore them with void. And I had to pass an empty parameter list from Cobol to make it happy.

Calling the file-transfer program turned out to be pretty easy. I was hoping to call it by it's full path name, but I couldn't solve that in a short enough time. So instead I made a copy with a different name - and that worked fine!

Then I had to solve the email situation. I tried a few things, but wound up using a similar solution to what is already in place for a number of other jobs. It may not be very elegant, but it make it more supportable!

So I finally got it all to work. But I didn't feel like I could show it to my boss with some many things hard-coded and the Cobol program not looking very Cobol-ish with procedures. So I spent about 15 minutes making it nicer. Then I ran it through its paces. I printed it out. I hand-wrote some notes on the printouts to make it more understandable.

During this time, I overhear my boss a couple of cubes away talking about me. He is holding off his boss. You know you have a good boss when he takes the heat for you so you can get things done. About 5 minutes later I take my printout over to him to show off. But it seems he is leaving early. So he says we can look at it tomorrow. But then he asks me to write something up for his boss on it. But he immediately decided that writing isn;t good enough. It should be in flowcharts.

He asks me if I know Visio. I say that I do, as I've done a few things with Visio. He assumes I don't have it on my PC, and I agree that it isn't likely that it is on there [what with licensing costs]. So he brings up Visio on his PC and trusts me to work on his machine while he is gone. That makes me feel kinda good too!

So I draw up a chart of the process. I try to remember it is going to a manager ;-) So I make nice boxes of the flow. Not quite a flow chart - more of a process diagram - with boxes in boxes - comparing the current set to my solution. I also include a bunch of bullet points around the diagrams. I hope this goes over well. This might be my first big buy in to becoming an employee.

I certainly felt well skilled today. I was writing in different languages - I managed to handle my work load and even get a little project work done during the normal work. I was able to help out with our Unix and FTP issues. And all the shortcuts I have and have added for myself help a bunch.

But I still have a bunch to learn about the system. I am picking things up rather quickly, but still there is a lot of complexities. And on support, we can get some really deep questions regularly. And we are expected to be able to answer the questions - or know when we can't. And sometimes it can take a long time just to try to find out if you can figure it out quickly or not.

I'm afraid the afternoon guy was not doing as well as I. It was pretty much a given thing, but I guess it had to be tried. He is picking things up, but he can easily spend way too much time on any one problem.

I wound up spending a few extra hours trying to work on my next critical project. And I helped the other guy a little with the support. My boss logged on remotely and actually helped take some workload off my plate by putting it back on the users. I was a bit surprised - but pleased.

I still come home all hyped up - but I'm not having as much trouble sleeping anymore. So I guess I'm starting to fall into the routine a bit. Still a stressful job - but at least I feel like I'm getting a handle on it.


Rash Getting Better

Well - it is no longer sore and burning. Just rough and a dash tender. Much better than before. Now if I only didn't feel like I'm getting a cold! Vitamin C and Eicinata for me!

Political Humor

This year, both Groundhog Day and the State of the Union Address fell on the
same day.

As Air America Radio pointed out [unverified], "It is an ironic juxtaposition: one
involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of little
intelligence for prognostication, and the other involves a groundhog."

Happy Valentines Day

Valentines Day seems to be a big day for bloggers. Here is a list of my blog buddies talking about Valentines Day:

  • Autowitch - Special Valentines Linkies
  • Trinity - H V D   Trin's Feb 14th   Discovery Channel Disses the Valentine's card   Value your wife? Value your life?!
  • Infinity Pie - "How do I see You?"
  • Glimpse of a Grrl - Happy Valentine's!
  • Simply Geeky - Chocolate Day
  • Anna Banana - Almost forgot - Happy Valentines Day!
  • What THHLN - Red
  • Oxymoronic Existence - Update
  • Woulda Coulda Shoulda - On Love
  • Aurorealis - Sweethearts
  • Average Jane - Average Jane's Valentine's Day
  • Black Daisies - Happy Heart Day
  • Dusting My Brain - Happy Valentine's Day
  • A Day In The Life - Happy Valentine's Day...
  • penn - Vday, Sleep, and more
  • Chris Pirillo - Valentine Flowers!
    Chaos Girl - Happy f'ing Valentine's Day.
  • My Favorite: Futuristicky - Robot valentine

    I know Valentine's Day can be a bit of an emotional land-mine - but I wish everyone a great day, romantic or not!
  • How Do I See You?

    Found on: infinitely pie

    1. Reply with your name and I will write something about you.

    2. I will then tell what song[s] remind me of you.

    3. Next, I will tell you who you remind me of, celebrity/animated or otherwise.

    4. Last, I will try to name a single word that best describes you.

    5. Put this in your own blog.


    Weird Rash

    I had an odd rash this evening. It felt like my shirt was rubbing me wrong. Along my sides on my upper back. Burning and sore into mhy muscles.

    Ang the odd thing is that I had a similar experience the day before last. It was a similar rash - but the worst spot was where my palm in my shirt pocket was pressing into my skin. It really hurt then too. Sore muscles.

    So I'm thinking maybe these two shirts got washed with my wife's power detergent she uses for her massage sheets. And I'm thinking I'm not washing any of my clothes in that detergent again.


    Took the boys to a playground this afternoon. Had a pretty good time.
    All for now.


    Wild, Unique Clocks

    klockwerks - Unique Timepieces

    Interesting Search Engine

    Aurorealis' entry about search engine strings that match on a blog made me want to check my search terms. I do this occasionally anyhow. But I found some interesting things. I'm #1 in yahoo for /phs wifi/. windowsformsparkingwindow is still popular. And since the Tsunami, I've had regular hits on strings /ocean pictures/

    But one interesting link to my blog was from a search engine I'd never heard of before: Mooter - Web Search
    It returns results in 'clusters' - with a starburst to keywords.
    It has an 'esc' boss hotkey (javascript).
    Shift-click did not work to open a new window :(
    But the results were interesting to say the least. Worth a look!

    Another Blogger Loses His Job

    Internet Daily: Blogger booted by Google

    It is really sad that some people are finding that they do not have free speech if their employer says otherwise. :(

    And to hear that Google has done this is even more saddning.


    Talking About The Weather

    This morning, instead of sun, it was very foggy. It was kinda cold. As I was driving to work just before 6am, I noticed the car was handling a little oddly. So I pressed on the breaks. Ice. Black ice. The road had a thin coating of ice, that you couldn't tell was ice, it just looked wet. So it was a slow, careful drive to work. I was glad that there aren't as many cars on the road at that time.

    When I got to work, I debated parking under, but I felt sure it would warm up and get sunny during the day. But I was wrong. It was foggy all day. And cold all day. So as I was driving home everything windward had a coating of ice on it. Here are a few pictures I took close to dusk.

    Japanese Maple Leaf with Ice - Flash

    Ice crystals

    Ice on the bush out front

    Foggy Ice on the tree out front

    icy Fog