Date Night

Today was date night for Jenn and I. Actually, it was more like date day. I had spent all of this past week in Warsaw, working on the startup of one of our projects. I'm going to be back up there for the majority of this next week as well. In fact, I can't remember the last week that I didn't have to make at least one trip to Warsaw or Lafayette for work. I'm also gone every Monday evening for class, so Jenn and I haven't been able to spend a lot of quality time together lately. So we set aside Saturday as our date day. We slept in late, which was really nice. Then we headed downtown to St. Elmo's Steak House. We had heard that they had really good steaks and shrimp cocktail. We had reservations for 4pm. We didn't realize that 4pm was when they opened, so we didn't really need the reservations. We only saw four other tables full while we were there. We went to town on the food. We had salads, steaks, baked / mashed potato, bean soup, tomato juice, sauteed mushrooms, and shrimp cocktail. The shrimp cocktail was awesome. They make the sauce for it with fresh horseradish. It was really hot! I had a little bit of shrimp with a lot of sauce on it, and decided to risk the big bite. WOW! I thought my entire face was going to explode. My eyes immediately welled up, and my nose was about ready to empty out. Needless to say, I didn't have any sinus problems for the rest of the night. The salads were really good. I didn't care for the sauteed mushrooms, but Jenn seemed to like them. The steak was very good, but for the price, I expected it to be a little bit more. To be honest, it wasn't much different from a steak at Outback. It was really good though. I did have the opportunity to enjoy a couple of Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout beers, which are very good. I highly recommend trying one if you ever have the chance.

After dinner, we were hoping to talk a walk along the canal. There had been a big labor day parade earlier that day, and people were starting to gather for some fireworks. It was really crowded, and we were more interested in taking a nice walk together than fighting crowds to see fireworks. So we headed north to the St. Vincent's Hospital where Jenn's park department is putting on a race on monday. We were going to setup some tables, but the tent walls weren't up yet, and we didn't feel safe leaving the tables there. We probably took the most indirect route from downtown to the hospital possible. We got on Lafayette Rd, and just kept heading North. We didn't realize how far North we had gone until we saw the Wrecks Inc. sign. U-turn time!

After the hospital, it was time for some coffee at Barnes & Nobles. Jenn had a carmel frappuccino, and I had a caffe mocha. We walked down to Best Buy to browse and work off some of the food. I was very well behaved... I was surrounded by electronics and managed to keep my wallet in my pocket! When we got home, I ran to the neighbors to give them their Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring movie back. They loaned me the Two Towers movie. I was very impressed that Jenn was able to stay up past 11 to finish watching the movie. It must have been the coffee!

[Listening to: Fatboy Slim - Better Living Through Chemistry - Punk to Funk]


Is there any better drink than a hot cup of strong coffee? I've been drinking coffee for what seems like forever. I started drinking when I was in High School.... maybe even Jr. High! My habit didn't hit the full stride until college however. There is nothing like an all-night study induced coffee binge to really lower your standards for coffee flavor. I remember some nights, nearing 4 or 5am, thousands of lines of code on the screen, and a sliver of coffe in the pot that had been burning there since midnight. I knew it was nasty. I knew it probably wouldn't "pour" in the traditional sense of the word. Instead, that last cup of joe was going to be an agry fight. First, there is the horrible pre-drink stare down. You know you are going to drink that coffee, but you also have a fairly good idea of just how nasty it is going to taste. Then there is that first bitter taste. The putrid taste whips your head back, cracking your neck. You're fully awake at this point, but also very close to making a run for the toilet to hurl. Then there are the next couple of swallows, in which you are convincing yourself that, yes, in fact, you can make it to the bottom of this pot. Resume studying. At this point, you have fully convinced yourself that the taste of a sweatsock filled with the scrapings of an ashtray really isn't all that bad. At least, that's as close as I can come to describing how the coffee tastes at that point.

Having survived that terrible episode, and many others, I've now come to truly respect a good cup of coffee. Surprisingly, I'm not a big fan of Starbucks coffees. I have had plenty of them, but they are not at the top of my list, at least when we speaking strictly of coffee. I really enjoy their specialty drinks. It is really hard to pass up a cafe mocha, or a carmel frappuccino. When it comes to regular coffee, however, I stay away for Starbucks. I am a die hard Maxwell House Rich French Roast drinker. Maxwell House messed with me a little while back and changed the labeling on the can. It now reads simply "French Roast". I'm not sure if this was influenced by a little backlash of all things French or what. They changed the color of the can from teh easy to find purple to a well camouflaged blue as well. Those tricky bastards. I wasn't fooled though. I spent the good part of a half hour at Marsh, carefully pouring through each layer of the shelf searching for what I knew had to be there. The coveted can of French Roast coffee. I eventually found it, albeit in its newly adopted clothes. The Rich French Roast is my staple coffee. It is what I have prior to long road trips, or in the morning when I have to get ready in a hurry.

When I'm not so pressed for time, I whip out the gourmet stuff. Now, I haven't had any true gourmet coffee in quite some time. The last I can remember was some awesome Kona Coffee that my parents brought back from Hawaii. Outstanding stuff. I'm pretty sure I could have used it as fuel for my car as well. It was powerful stuff. I've also read about some extraordinarily expensive coffee that is only found in the droppings of some obscure cat. That's right: cat shit coffee. I don't understand rich people. Anyway, back to my train of thought. Gourmet coffee. To me, gourmet coffee is the stuff that I drink on the weekends. I get the flavored beans from the marsh next door. Sometimes a friend or relative will get me some as a gift. In fact, that reminds me... Jenn's mom got me some coffee while she was on vacation in St. Martin. It was really good stuff, and fairly strong too. Anyway, the gourmet that I have on the weekends is usually the marsh beans. I get out the grinder and make some fresh French Vanilla or Hazelnut coffee. Those are probably my favorite flavored coffees. I've also got a can of Decaf French Roast sitting on the counter for those emergency situations where I need a coffee fix, but don't want to be up until three in the morning.

I was a little surprised on my last trip to Marsh. I saw that Maxwell House now has a cans of Vanilla and Hazelnut flavored grounds for sale. As I mentioned before, these are my favorites, so I had to give them a try. I haven't opened the hazelnut yet, but I can pronounce the Vanilla a definitive success. Good stuff. The first few pots have tasted just as good as the beans that I usually get. The only drawback I have noticed so far is that the smell isn't quite as strong while brewing as with the beans. At half the price of the beans, I'll definitely be getting it again though.

So if you ever spot me, and I'm drinking a coffee, you can be sure that I'm in my happy place.

[Listening to: Faith No More - Easy - Das Schutzenfest]


I have the worst sinuses in the world. I can predict a storm coming better than the weatherman. Anytime the weather gets just a little bad, and there is a change in the barometer, my nose starts flowing like a faucet. Usually I can take something that will help ebb the flow, but it usually means four doses throughout the day, and my head hurts from all of the sinus pressure. I'll blow my nose so often that my nose gets chapped. I'm generally miserable all day, and Jenn can attest to what a joy I am to be around. I should have known a storm was coming today when my nose decided to let loose. The antihistamine is starting to kick in now. Yeah! Unfortunately, I didn't have any of the non-drowsy formula. I'm predicting that I will begin typing very slowly any t i...m...e......n........o.........w.....
[Listening to: Marilyn Manson - Antichrist Superstar - Wormboy]

New Laptop

Drool, drool, drool. I've been playing with my new machine for almost 24 hours now. This thing is incredible. 2.2GHz Pentium 4 M processor, 512 MB of Memory, 40GB of hard drive space, and an amazing LCD screen that runs a native resolution of 1920x1200!! I've noticed a couple of quirks that put me off so far. I haven't had much luck with configuring the wireless LAN card to access any access points, at home or in the office. Also, the keyboard doesn't have quite the same "feel" as the old laptop. I'm sure that once I get used to it, I'll like this one too. I felt the same way about the keyboard on the Fujitsu notebook I received for class. I'm used to that one now, and actually think that it's keys feel pretty nice. Maybe I just need to dirty this one up some like the others :-)

The day has been pretty much lost so far. I've spent the entire morning getting all of my development software reinstalled. I'm almost finished now, just a couple more components and I'm ready to resume hacking. Tomorrow I'll be bringing this hot rod up to Zimmer for a field test. I think I might pack my old machine as well, just in case I forgot something.

New Laptop

Ooooh, the anticipation is killing me!!!! My company ordered a new laptop for me a couple of weeks ago. It shipped on the 14th, with an expected arrival date of today. I checked the FedEx site today, and the shipment tracker indicated that it was loaded on the truck at 7:32am. It's now 2:33pm and the anticipation is killing me!! I'm so excited to get this new laptop. I've been using a Dell Inspiron 7500 since I started work here in 2000. It has worked well, but it is reaching the end of its life. The LCD screen is starting to break off from the base, the screen has some faded spots, the new hard drive I put in it a few months ago melted down last week. The old 10GB drive is completely full now. I'm getting a new Inspiron 8500 with the ultra-wide screen. The processing power of the laptop is going to quadruple over the one I'm using now. This is going to help a lot with the .NET development I've been doing lately, as it requires a pretty peppy machine to do any type of debugging. C'mon FedEx man, I'm waiting!


This weekend Jenn and I attended her 10 year class reunion. She was a member of the class of 93 at Lafayette Jefferson High School. I've always thought it was a little funny that their mascot was the Broncho. Having a horse as your mascot isn't necessarily funny, I had just never seen it spelled that way. Anyway, it was a fairly low turn out for the event. We met Friday night at The Neon Cactus for drinks. Jenn wasn't drinking much, but I was enjoying the college lifestyle again. My jaw totally dropped when I heard that my usual Vodka Tonic was only $0.75!!! I ran back to Jenn so that she could share the joy with me. She didn't seem as excited about it for some reason. Five bucks was all I would need that night to get nice and toasty. One highlight of the night was a sighting of Melissa Etheridge. Evidently, one of Jenn's classmates is making it in Hollywood as a TV and movie actress. She is dating Melissa Etheridge, and they made the trip back for the reunion. I never saw her, but several people mentioned seeing her, and that she appeared totally non-plussed at being in Lafayette, IN. Famous people, feh. We spent the night in Jenn's parent's house that night. Their house is being remodeled, and the living room has almost doubled in size. The remodeling has opened a hole in the ceiling to the attic, so even with the air conditioning on full blast, it was a little uncomfortable in there.

The next day, Jenn's dad took Jeff (Jenn's brother) and I out for golf at the Purdue South course. I had one of my best rounds ever, as far as consistency. I shot a 105, but I felt like I was having a great day on the course. I was getting my tee shots off pretty well, and my second shots were pretty good too. My downfall was on the par 3's. Not sure what happened on those, I just couldn't find the green.

That night we went to another reunion function, this time at The Trails. The dinner was pretty good, and we saw a lot of the same people as we saw at the bar the night before. The turnout was a little low. Jenn graduated with over 400 people, but only 70 came to the reunion, along with 30 or so spouses. I actually recognized one person. One of Jenn's classmates was a cheerleader at Purdue, and married one of the guys on the cheer squad. I attended a lot of Purdue sports, and recognized her from cheering at the games. Jenn spoke with a few people there, including her arch nemesis from high school: Whitney. Whitney seemed really nice, but I had been told by several people that she puts on a false face to everyone. Jenn was at odds with Whitney due to an altercation in swimming. Jenn was a fantastic swimmer, in high school and in college. In high school, she absolutely dominated her events. Whitney was a total suck-up to the coach though, and tended to get a lot of favors. At the end of the year, Jenn was passed up for the team MVP award, even though she accounted for more points in all the meets than any other swimmer on the squad. Instead, the award went to Whitney, who had not contributed nearly as much to the team as Jenn. I guess Jenn was in tears that night at the award ceremony. She had worked so hard for four years, only to be snubbed. She hasn't forgotten it, and still has a hard time when thinking about her old coach and teammate.

So no big surprises at the reunion. Some people were married, some had kids, but they were all the same people that Jenn knew growing up. She was secretly hoping that one of the popular girls might show up with an extra 200 pounds, but it didn't happen. Oh well, there is always the 20 year reunion!


My dad gave me a call today. He was looking for some consultation from a computer engineer. That was pretty flattering, considering my father is an electrical engineer. He was looking to put something into his entertainment center that would allow him to do slideshows of all of his digital pictures for friends when they came by. He figured he could probably throw a PC in there. He wanted something that would lay flat, like a rack unit. He wanted to look into 802.11 wireless connectivity so that he could get to media on other PCs in the house. He was also interested in some type of wireless keyboard and mouse so that he wouldn't have wires running all over the place. I knew that Microsoft had released the Windows XP Media Center Edition, which was meant to do exactly what he was talking about, but I wasn't very familiar with it. I had also seen a unit by the now defunct SonicBlue that would do all of these things. Unfortunately, SonicBlue is now out of business. For a PC, I figured the Dell Optiplex small form factor would be a good choice. It was very small, and it could be mounted in a variety of orientations. For a keyboard and mouse, I immediately though of Logitech. I love my Logitech Dual Optical mouse, and I knew they had several types of wireless optical mice and keyboards. I've had a good experience with my Netgear wireless equipment to this point, so I figured that would do well for him.I told my dad that I would look into it and get back to him.

After doing some research, I wasn't very happy with what I had seen from the Windows XP Media Center Edition. It looks as though it would work well, but it would be the most expensive option. Microsoft only licenses the OS, which is a specialized version of Windows XP Professional, on particularly certified hardware. HP and Gateway both had models available, but both were well in excess of $1000, which my father had stated was his absolute price limit.

So next I checked into SonicBlue. Of course, they were out of business, and the remaining fragments of that business were only offering audio receivers, no picture or video support. So then I went to ThinkGeek, which is where I first learned about the SonicBlue equipment. They had a link to the PRISMIQ. It was another set-top-box (STB) that had support for audio, video, pictures, and streaming internet radio. It included a web browsing feature, and had a card slot on the back to allow for a wireless network card. It came with a TV style remote control, but they offered an optional wireless keyboard. Software running on another PC on your network would catalog the media content on your network, and provide that information to the device. What really blew me away was the price: $250!!!! I couldn't believe it! The Windows hardware and software combination was going to cost five times that amount.

I had not heard of PRISMIQ before, so I decided to go ahead and checkout what Dell could offer. The Optiplex was lower cost than the Media Center PCs, but it was still going to run at least $550, and that is without adding wireless networking equipment and peripherals. I figured that, after adding those items, the total cost was going to run at least $800, and it wouldn't be very easy to use.

Finally, I thought to check CNET to see if they had any other options. While they had several MP3 streaming devices, the PRISMIQ was the only one listed with video and picture features. Several DVD players could read those content from a burned DVD or CD, but that wasn't the point. The idea was to have a link to the content on the PC, not on some burned media. The review on CNET of the PRISMIQ was nothing short of glowing. Even the user reviews ranked over 70%, which is rare for any device on CNET. This pretty well solidified the device as my choice for a recommendation. Even after adding wireless networking equipment and a wireless keyboard, the entire system would cost no more than $450.


I have the best in-laws in the world! Jenn's family has gone out of their way to make me feel accepted. They call almost once a week, and I sometimes spend more time talking to her dad on the phone than she will. I feel so lucky to have them in our family.

My sister-in-law I haven't figured out yet. I really like my brother's wife, Kate, and she has always been pleasant with us. But it doesn't seem as though she likes to be around us. I'm not sure whether she just feels uncomfortable, or if she has a hard time showing that she cares, or what the issue is. For Christmas in 2001, we all went to my grandparent's on my dad's side for a family get together. She brought along one of her friends from Chicago and spent very little time trying to get to know our family. She spent most of her time with her friend, going through catalogs. It was really strange. I couldn't understand why she wouldn't want to get to know my grandparents. They are the most loving couple I know. My grandparents have weathered a lot of different situations in our family, from the very early pregnancy of one of my cousins, to the marriages and divorces of uncles, and so on. They would certainly be very accepting of Kate. But for some reason it feels like she is always holding back when she is around us. A couple of weekends ago, she and Travis came down to visit with their new baby Nadia. They were down for the 4th of July weekend, and had planned to visit with all of us. They spent several days with her mom, a day with her cousin Rachel, and a day at our place. They never went to my parent's house. My mom was really hurt that they didn't take them time to stop by. She and my father had put a lot of effort into getting the nursery ready, and my mom has been anxiously waiting for a grandchild ever since Travis and I left the house. I don't know if my brother didn't see the hurt, or if he just ignored it because he wasn't willing to tell Kate what he wanted to do.

I don't feel that it is my place to bring this up either. I feel like, if I say anything to Travis, it will either create a fight between he and I, or it will create a fight between Travis and Kate. I don't want either of those things. I just want to know where Kate stands as far as how she feels about us. If she truly doesn't care to be around us, I'd be disappointed, but at least I would know how she felt. But if she does like us, I would want to know why she feels the need to hold back. We really aren't scary people. We want her to know that she is a part of the family, and that we will love her without any reservations.

Career Plans

Yesterday I had an interview with Ronda, our company's new H.R. person. She isn't titled as an H.R. person, but that seems to be the role she will be filling. We are a really small company, and to this point we haven't really had a Human Relations department. She is coming on to do employee relation, business development, and customer relations. Just more words to say H.R. Anyway, during this interview, she was trying to get to know me, and what I wanted out of my career. She used to be a head hunter for another company, so she was really prepared with the right questions to find out all of these things. I told her about how I was taking classes towards getting my MBA. I told her that I was fairly happy at Flexware, but that sometimes I felt bored. Like I wasn't learning. The biggest issue is that I felt that I had no control over my career. I felt that the position I hired in at would be my position for life at Flexware, and I wasn't happy about that. That's been the biggest issue for me for a while. That's the entire reason I started taking classes again. I felt that my career had hit a dead end, and I needed to do something to allow myself to move on. Hopefully, now Ronda will relay all of this to Scott and Randy, our Executives, and it will lead to my getting a bit more control over the projects that I work on. If not, when I receive my degree I'm afraid I'll have no choice but to move on. I love the people I work with. But I need to continue growing and learning with my career. If I can't do that, then I'll be really unhappy. So we'll see how things go over the next 24 months. I'll be pleasantly surprised if things change. If not, well, it was a lot of fun while it lasted, but it is time to move on.

Deer Creek

Last night, around 10:00, Jenn was getting ready for bed. We shut off the TV and she went upstairs. I started hearing a really low thumping. It wasn't really in any kind of rythm, so I thought maybe something was wrong with our air conditioner. But then it developed a regular rythm, and sounded like it was coming from outside. I figured it was our backyard neighbors again, having another wild party. I went outside, and no one was out there. The music was coming from Deer Creek (now Verizon Wireless Music Center)! It was so loud. I checked their website, and 3 Doors Down was scheduled to play. I never knew they were a band that played to the louder is better crowd. The music got progressively louder through the hour. I was on the laptop, playing, when one of my buddies in the neighborhood instant messaged me to find out what the noise was. He could hear from his house too! Promptly at 11:00, the music stopped. There is an ordinance that Verizon is not allowed to have a concert go past 11. Thank goodness for that. I'm sure plenty of our neighbors notified the police to complain though.

Tires (Finally!)

It's been a week since my new tires were put on, and I think it might finally be safe to say that the entire ordeal is now finally over. The low pressure light has not come back on yet. Yeah!

Mortgage Refinance

We're refinanced! This is a big relief to have that over with. Almost two months ago, we locked in a rate of 5.375% with the bank. The banks are swamped with refinance requests, and it took them forever to get around to processing ours. Our lock-in almost expired, and I'm not sure what would have happened if it did. I'm sure we would have been a little upset. It only took us 20 minutes to go througnh all of the closing papers with the closing and titleing agent. The mortgage agent from the bank didn't even bother to show up, which was a little disconcerting. At our first closing, we had our realtor, an agent of the lender, and agent of the titleing company, and an agent from Tucker Mortgage. This time it was just the titleing agent. It felt like we could have been getting scammed, but I'm trusting that this is just the way it is supposed to go. So now we'll be saving over $200 a month on our payments. This is a big relief, especially since Jenn is thinking about not going back to work once the baby arrives. It will be nice to have a lower payment so that we have money for other things. We must carry our PMI for at least one year before we can have it removed. If we only make the required payment, it will be six years before it comes off. We have to pay down our principle by over $17,000 dollars to reach their equity limit for removing the PMI. PMI sucks. I really don't understand why we need it. I feel a little guilty about having a car and home loan right now, because we just finished reading a book for class that advocates living a debt free life. It was written by a pastor and is based on passages from the bible. I know that owning the house is not an option, but getting a loan for the car sometimes makes me feel guilty. I know that we could have bought another car with cash and not had a loan. I am really happy with the Bravada, though, and I know we are going to get a lot of good use out of it. We'll just need to pay down our debts as fast as we can.

Baby Checkup

We went to the second checkup with Dr. Templeton yesterday. Jenn is at 11 weeks, and they pushed back her due date to when she originally thought it would be: February 18. Dr. Templeton was really nice. She was very friendly, and talked us through everything that was happening. Jenn had a lot of questions, and I had a few myself, and Dr. Templeton was very patient with us, answering all of our questions. It looks like Koby is safe. We don't have to worry about Jenn picking him up as long as he doesn't jump on her our stick his paws into her stomach (something he likes to do a lot!). We got to hear the heartbeat, which was really cool! It was beating at 158 bpm, which is right where it is supposed to be. Jenn had to give some blood and samples for testing, and we'll find out the results in a couple of weeks. The doc told us about a bear at the Build-A-Bear store where you can get a recorder and record the heartbeat, and then build it into the bear so that when you squeeze it, you hear the baby's heartbeat. We're definitely going to do that! So everything is looking good so far, which was a big relief.

Jade Mason