Tron Guy

I just saw something that possibly topped the Star Wars Kid phenomenon. It's the Tron Guy. This adventurous gentleman decided to enter himself into a costume contest at a Linux / Sci Fi convention. He built himself his very own Tron suit. Unfortunately, he failed to recognize that a skin tight suit on an aging, balding, overweight fellow is, shall we say, less than flattering. Enjoy.

Bone Fish Grill

Jenn and I headed out to the Bone Fish grill to celebrate our anniversary. There was a little wait when arrived, so we sat at the bar and had a couple of drinks. Neither of us had had anything to drink in a long time, so Jenn's wine and my Vodka Tonic were blowing us away. When our seats were ready we staggered over and fell in. Well, I'm exaggerating a bit. Anyway, the food was really good. Jenn had tilapia, which was a very light, white fish. I had the pan asian mixed grill, which was ribs, shrimp, and scallops. The shrimp were some of the best grilled shrim I have ever had.

After dinner, we headed to the AT&T store to get Jenn hooked up on my plan. The salesman, Doug, gave me some grief about how he couldn't move Jenn's existing number without chargin us some exhobitant amount. I was about to launch into the guy when Jenn made a saving move. She decided it would be okay to just get a new number. I'm glad Jenn has such a level head, because that saved the evening from getting ugly. :-P In any case, we left the store with the plan I had hoped for, and Jenn had the flip phone she wanted. It is one of the smallest and lightest phones I've ever seen. It doesn't have a lot of whizbang features, but it covers making phone calls really well, which is what Jenn was looking for.

When we got home, Jenn's mom had Corbin well in hand. It was a really great, relaxing night.


Today is the third anniversary of our wedding. It seems like three years could not have gone by yet, and at the same time it seems like it must have been more than three years ago. We have done so much together! We've gone to Alaska, we've bought a house, we've bought a car, we've had a baby, we've had a Vegas vacation, we've had a South Carolina vacation.... we've done so much!! Jenn and I have been seeing each other since September of 1998, so we've really been together for a lot longer than just three years.

I'm so glad that I have Jenn in my life. I need her and love her for so many reasons. She is so supportive of me and everything that I am involved in. There is no way I could do all of this (MBA, Microsoft Certifications, User Groups, Volleyball, etc.) without her full support. And now we have Corbin! I am so amazed at what Jenn is capable of. She has the patience to stay home with a baby that requires her constant attention all day, and yet when I get home she is still happy to see me, and she doesn't just unload Corbin on me. That's not to say that I don't try to help out, but Jenn definitely takes care of the lion's share of our baby's needs. She is so wonderful to me! I hope that I make Jenn feel as loved as she makes me feel.

It has been an incredible three years. This is just the start though. I'm looking forward to many, many more years with wonderful wife!

New Maple Tree

Jenn has had a landscaping plan for our yard for a little over a year now. She worked with one of her coworkers at the Parks Department to draw up a landscaping layout, and decide on what to plant. Our neighbor, Rick, has had some major landscaping done to his home since we moved in. We spoke to him last year about possibly putting in a tree between our two homes. The space between our homes is small, and we wanted to make sure that he would be okay with it. He brought out his plans, and he had a tree in the same location, so it looked like it was going to work out great for both of us.

We sort of let the ball drop on the tree until this past weekend. Rick dropped by with an updated plan for his backyard. In it, he had a maple tree where we had talked. Jenn pulled out her plans, and there was a Maple tree in the same spot! This was great! Rick was going to put in the tree we were interested in getting. The only issue that came up is that we aren't really sure where the properly line is. My only trepidation on this is that we make sure the tree is fully on one side of the line or the other. I'd hate to have one of us move, and then end up in a property dispute when the buyer wants to remove the tree. I can't see that happening, but you never know. Rick has been a great neighbor to have too, and I wouldn't want to do anything to cause him trouble. So I called him today to let him know that I would be willing to cover the cost of a site survey just to be sure that the tree doesn't straddle the property line. Rick said that he had a customer that did surveying, and he might be able to get me a preferential price on the survey. This is great!!

So if everything goes well, hopefully we will have a new, beautiful maple tree in our yard very soon.

Photo Albums

I'm using the photo album service on Yahoo for the time being to host the bulk of our pictures. I can't reference them from this site, but you can browse to them if you like. I'll keep a permanent link on the front page so you can get to them easily. As we take pictures, I'll try to be dilligent about uploading them to the site.

Wireless (yet again)

My taudry relationship with AT&T Wireless took another turn today, although today it took a turn for the better. After the first three frustrating months of dealing with billing issues, we seem to have worked out an arrangement where my bill is acceptable. My biggest gripe at this point was reception. When I am at home, or any other place for that matter, I seem to pick up on the Cingular towers more often than the AT&T towers. When AT&T sent me a new phone, I hoped that my reception would improve, but it didn't. So today I called to find out when my contract expired to determine when I could move to a Cingular account. To my surprise, the operator said that my contract would run through September 6th!! This was a surprise, as my first payments to AT&T were in May of last year. I had assumed that my contract would have started then, but due to the fiasco of the One Year Contract, it didn't actually start until September of last year when I payed my activation fee. This got me frustrated at first, but the operator didn't leave there. She asked why I wanted to switch (she mentioned that there would be a $175 fee to switch regardless of how many months were left in the contract), and I told her about the troubles I was having with reception. "Good news!" Rosalinda (the operator) exclaims. As of April 18th, AT&T no longer charges for roaming for customers with a national plan. I have a national plan, so this means that anywhere that I pick up Cingular towers, I can make calls without fear of incurring the 70 cent per minute charges I was racking up before. This is extra great news, because AT&T is also the only wireless provider with a decent family plan. So it looks like AT&T is making the right moves to keep me as a customer after all. I have a new phone, and a agreeable roaming arrangement. Now I'll just have to see what it will take to add Jenn to my plan!

My Man Mitch

A couple of weeks ago, Mitch Daniels, the republican candidate for Indiana governor, dropped by our office. He was here to talk with our president, Scott Whitlock, and representatives from manufacturing throughout the state. I got a chance to say hello and shake hands with him while he was here. He was not what I expected out of a politician. I thought he would be here on the hard sell tour. Instead, he was very laid back, spoke intelligently on topics that were relevant to us. I sent an e-mail to the Mitch Daniels campaign to see how he stood on a couple of issues that I thought were relevant. First, I asked about his policy on stem cell research. I think that we are too restrictive on our research efforts with stem cells. The methods of culturing and using stem cells is currently very limited. Countries like China have gone the other way, and opened the doors for extensive stem cell research. I think that we should do the same. This is an opportunity to learn a great deal about our bodies, and possibly develop new treatments. Mitch stands by the republican party line, though, which is for strict guidelines on the use of stem cells.

Another hot topic in politics lately is the subject of gay marriage. I feel that there is no good reason why our government should not recognize any marriage, and that includes gay marriage. I've never truly understood why our government recognizes any marriage. To me, marriage is a religious affair. Two people commit themselves to join as one in the eyes of the Lord. Our government's only stake in recognizing a marriage is to determine how to tax us. If two folks want the government to recognize them as one for the purposes of taxation, I don't understand why there is a problem if both people are of the same sex. If it is a gross out factor, then the government should have denied the Liza Minelli and David Gest wedding as well (talk about icky).

Mitch once again stood the party line on this one, and indicated that if the federal government ever recognized gay marriage that he would propose a change to our constitution to deny that union. Mitch making this decision doesn't bother me as much as knowing that this is how the majority of Americans feel. After all, our government is elected by the people, and so our government is only making decisions that the popular majority would agree with right? So from this I have to assume that the majority of Americans feel that gays have no rights in our society. After all, the laws against descrimination prohibit against using gender, race, or religion, but make no mention of sexual preference. I don't like the idea of allowing descrimination against any person, for any reason. This is supposed to be a free country where folks can live as they please.

I know a lot of you won't agree with me on this one, and that is okay. Part of living in a free country is having the freedom to disagree with each other. I wish I could vote against Mitch Daniels based on the reasons above. Neither of those questions have any direct effect on me, so perhaps they aren't the right questions for me to be asking to base my vote decision on. I do think they give an insight into the types of decisions the candidate would make in other situations though. I'm still uncertain of who will get my vote this year. Hopefully I'll find the right question between now and November to help me make that decision.

Sirius Presentation

Sirius LogoTonight, my MBA group and I will be giving a presentation on the Sirius Satellite Radio company. We are taking an advanced managerial finance class, and we were assigned to review a company and identify the red flags that indicated the business was about to encounter trouble. We were allowed to pick the company to review, and our group chose Sirius.

Sirius was incorporated in 1990 for the purpose of distributing musical content view satellite broadcast. In 1997 they received their FCC license to broadcast, and they completed the installation of their three satellite constellation in 2000. After a couple of years of testing, Sirius started generating revenues in 2002. Although the company has never been profitable, they hope to be soon. They currently have over 250,000 subscribers, which is far behind XM, their US rival, who has over 1.5 million subscribers. I am a Sirius subscriber, and I really enjoy the service, but it seems that no one knows who they are, or that they even exist. XM has done an excellent job of marketing themselves, and that is where Sirius has failed.

I've been stressing all weekend over this presentation. Our instructor was out sick for two of our class periods, and since we only have 8 class meetings for the course, that is a pretty big deal. Our grade is based off of two quizes, the presentation, and our final. That means that we need to do well on this presentation so I can maintain my 4.0. Our group has been a little stressed because we can't seem to find any smoking guns that would explain why Sirius is having trouble. They aren't profitable, but all of the financial indicators we learned in class show that they have a solid business fundamentally. If they ever get enough subscribers (maybe by 2005) they should be a very profitable and successful company. We were hoping to find a lot of information that would explain why, in the 14 years since they started, that they have never shown a profit. That info just wasn't there. The fact that Sirius has only been generating revenues for two years didn't help either, as there was very little information to research.

On Sunday our group got together to finalize our presentation. I was pretty relieved after the meeting. It looks like we all came up with some good information that we can use. We each focused on different areas of the company. I focused on subscriber rates and the revenues / expense per subscriber. It was really interesting to learn how much information is freely available on public companies. If you have never tried, go check out the SEC website and search the EDGAR reports for the company you work for, or if your company is private, a company that you invest in. You can find all of their annual and quarterly reports, changes in ownership, stock sales, bond issues, and a treasure trove of other information.

Now that we are nearly done with this project, I'm very tempted to buy 100 shares in Sirius. They currently trade for under $4, and if they ever get enough subscribers, I can see their stock price really taking off. Still, it is a big risk. They have defaulted on one of their loan payments already, and if they don't get enough subscribers soon, they won't be able to make their interest payments. I think that Q4 2005 will be the turning point for Sirius. After 2005, they will either be bankrupt, or have enough subscribers to be successful.

New Phone

Of course, the new phone would arrive the same day that I start to wonder where it is. My new T226 arrived today, and all of the bad press on the phone was warranted. The T226 is not a bad phone. It just doesn't measure up to the phone that I already had. The phone has an event reminder system, address book, polyphonic ringtones, and three games. I was hoping that this phone would have better reception than my old one. While at home, my old phone will not receive the AT&T signal. Instead, I am roaming on the Cingular network. I tried the new phone, and to my dismay found that I was still roaming on the Cingular network. Cingular and AT&T are attempting to work out a merger, so I'm thinking that this would be a good time to go ahead and switch to Cingular, get (another) new phone, and finally be able to make calls from our house.

Like I said, the T226 is not a bad phone, just a let down compared to the T68i. The ability to play polyphonic ringtones is nice, but all of the standard ringtones are pretty grating. You can download new ones from the mMode service, but there is a charge. My old phone had equally bad, monophonic ringtones, so this area is sort of a wash. The new phone has half the storage capacity of my old phone for addresses. Sow I am at 80% full rather than 40% full. Additionally, my old phone allowed me to associate images, ringtones, and voice-dialing with my contacts. My new phone does not seem to provide any of those features. My old phone had ten simple games, including 6 solitaire type card games, a marble puzzle game, othello, battleship, and another arcade type game. The new phone has only three games: blackjack, abyss (platform arcade game), and Go. Go is sort of like chess, and I may eventually like playing that one. I can also download more games from mMode, but this would again be at a fee. The new games take a lot longer to load up too. The games on my old phone were simple, but loaded quickly, and were fun for a 10 minute break. I don't think I'll be getting that out of the new phone.

As far as physical features go, I am happy about the new handsfree earbud / microphone. My old one was difficult to use, and people complained of not being able to hear me. The new one has a boom microphone, so I hope it will be better able to pick up my voice. I did notice that the right arrow button on the joypad of the t226 is difficult to use. The button clicks, but you have to push it a little past the click to actuate it. This is frustrating when trying to navigate the menus. I do like the new up and down buttons on the side better than the slider on my old phone. The slider on the t68i never worked very well. The up/down buttons work much better.

I think that AT&T had a couple of motives behind this upgrade. Number one would be to update all of the customer phones to transmit on the frequencies used by the AT&T towers. The t68i was missing one of the frequencies that the t226 provides, at the expense of giving up the world phone frequencies. The second motive was to get more folks using the mMode service. My old phone could access mMode for web surfing, but I couldn't download new games, ringtones, music, backgrounds, or anything else. The t226 is setup with downloading in mind. Also, a lot of the feature areas, such as games, pictures, ringtones, etc., seemed stripped down so that I would be enticed to get online and download new features. AT&T charges a few cents for each kilobyte transmitted, and that can add up pretty quickly while using the mMode service. With my old phone, I could simply aim the infrared port of the t68i at my pc and download pictures, ringtones, and themes.... for free! I don't think that this new phone will convince me to stay with AT&T. I want better coverage, and this new phone isn't giving me better coverage.

Sony Ericsson Upgrade (cont.)

I called the rebate center for AT&T Wireless / Sony Ericsson about my phone upgrade today. It has been four weeks since I received the notice that I would be getting a new phone, and I was curious why I had not seen it yet. The mailing indicated that I would receive the phone in 2 to 4 weeks. The rep said that the phone was picked up by UPS on Tuesday, and I should receive it by Wednesday of next week. I also asked it I was required to return my old phone. She said that I would not be required to do that, and that I could keep the postage paid envelope in case I have any trouble with either phone. That doesn't give me a real good feeling about the quality of the new phone, but at least it is free, and I can keep the old one. I also noticed on the AT&T website that they offer a free phone when you re-up your subscription for another year or two. I'm going to use the new phone for a month to see if I have better reception on the cell towers. If I stop getting on the Cingular network all the time, I might re-up for another year. If not, I'm definitely going to switch to Cingular.

I'd really like to find a way to get Jenn and I on the same plan, but I don't think we can do it without spending more money. Jenn is currently on a $20 / month plan with Verizon that gives her 100 minutes each month. I'm on the $30 / month plan with AT&T Wireless that gives me 300 minutes per month. I haven't been able to find any family plan for less than $60 though. In order for it to be worth our time, the plan would have to run $50 or less, and give us at least 300 minutes, if not more. The big service providers: Verizon, AT&T Wireless, and Cingular, offer a family plan that starts at $40 and costs $20 for each additional line. So with two phones you are already at $60 / month. Add to that the fact that AT&T is the only provider to still offer a $20 / month plan at all (Verizon's plan is now $25). The best price possible is to stick with AT&T, who is offering to add a line for $10. That would be great, if I had not already had so many problems with AT&T service. We'll see how this new phone goes. If they can change my mind, maybe they will get some extra business.


Today I've been playing with VML, or Vector Markup Language. VML is a specification for drawing vector graphics on a web page. I think Internet Explorer is the only browser to support it right now, but the W3C is considering it as a standard. If you are having trouble imagining what vector graphics look like, think of the old Tempest video game. That used vector graphics. Essentially, vector graphics are drawn using basic lines, shapes, and colors.

My task right now is to get a graph to display in a web page to chart production at a plant. The network at the customer is pretty locked down, so we aren't allowed to download custom controls to render the graph. After consulting with my buddy, VML was the way to go. I've been having fun all day working on the graph. It is looking pretty good so far. Maybe, when I get some spare time, I'll put some VML doodles on this site.


Jenn mentioned something to me a while ago, and I've been thinking about it off and on ever since. We were in a discussion about how we see different couples treating each other. Some couples take each other totally for granted, and are at times abusive to each other. Some couples are adoring of each other. In some cases, one person is overbearing while the other is placating. (If you think I'm talking about you, I'm not. I'm just generalizing). In any case, Jenn said that she felt that we had a very good, loving, lasting relationship, and she thought she knew why. She said it has to do with getting burned.

Jenn and I had both been in pretty serious relationships in our past. These were relationships that lasted for a long time, involved serious feelings, and resulted in each of us getting heart broken. Mine was a high school relationship that lasted a little over a year. Hers was a college romance that was off and again for a couple of years. In both cases, we got pretty burned. Jenn's theory is that, since we both got burned, we both know how much hurt we can inflict on each other, and we both know how bad it feels. Since we've been there, we both know we don't want to go there again. So rather than being overly critical of each other, or careless in the way we treat each other, we have a bit of patience.

The more I thought about what she said, the more I thought she may be right. When I got burned, I was pretty depressed. It hurt, bad, and it is something I never want to go through again. It is also something I never want Jenn to feel. And I especially don't want her to hurt like that from something that I do. So I always try to consider what I'm going to say and how she may take it. Sure, there are things that Jenn does that irritate me. I'm sure that there are a lot of things that I do that irritate her. However, before I pick on her for it, or make a big deal out of it, I try to consider if it is really that big of an issue. If I do bring it up, I try not to be mean about it. I just let her know what I think without being harsh. We don't boss each other around, or say hurtful things when we aren't getting along. We just try to talk about what is bothering us, and eventually we work things out.

I think Jenn and I have a great relationship. I love her more than I ever thought I could love a person. Everyday I look forward to coming home to her and Corbin. I don't know what I would ever do without her. If going through the hurt of a bad relationship earlier is the penance I had to pay to enjoy the wonderful relationship I have now, I would do over again in a heartbeat.

Big League Barbers

I dropped my parents off at the airport this morning for their flight to Florida. On my way back home, I decided to get a much needed haircut. A Big League Barbers had just opened in the strip mall adjoined to our subdivision. One of my coworkers had said that it was a good place to get a trim, so I decided to give it a try. I'm usually a Great Clips customer, but if this price is right and it is more convenient, I might as well give it a shot, right?

Big League Barbers is awesome!!! You walk in and the entire place is filled with sports memorabilia, televisions tuned to ESPN, ESPN2, the Golf Channel, and any other sports broadcast you can think of. I'm not much of a sports fan, but this definitely felt more "manly" than a Great Clips location. After a short wait, I was seated by Suni, who take care of my trim. As she was trimming my hair, she explained the services at BLB. A haircut was $13 (same as Great Clips), but it also included a hairwash, shampoo, conditioner, and a back and neck massage! Great Clips was done after the haircut, unless of course the hair dresser had a nic-fit mid trim and had to run out for a quick smoke. Then you would get to enjoy the aroma of the Great Clips ash hands running through your hair. So once Suni finished up with my trim, we headed over for a quick wash. Back at her station, she pulled out the Hitachi Dual-Head massager. I got a quick back and neck massage, and then I was on my way. This was great!! Big League Barbers offers so much more over Great Clips for the same cost that I can't think of any reason not to go back to BLB. Not only that, but their shop is in our front yard, so I can walk there on a nice day.

If you live near a BLB, and you need a trim, I highly recommend stopping in and giving them a try.


A lot has been said recently about Google's proposed e-mail system, GMail. According to the press release, GMail will offer users a lifetime, free e-mail account with 1GB (1000 MB), of storage. To give you an idea of the size difference, a free hotmail or yahoo account will give you 4 - 6 MB of free storage space. That makes GMail over 100 times bigger. Google also plans to allow you to search through your e-mails using their search tools, just like your e-mails were websites. I think this is awesome news, as I'm constantly running into storage headaches with my e-mail account, especially when I receive just a handful of pictures.

In response to this news, we've heard a lot of FUD from the privacy and competitive search / portal companies. These "experts" are concerned that your privacy may be at risk ask Google noodles through all of your e-mail text to deliver personalized advertisements to you. To me, this is nothing new. Yahoo has been handling my e-mail for years, and I have no doubt that they trawl through my e-mail in an attempt to gain some perspective on my likes and dislikes. They may not come right out and say it, and the ads that I receive may not reflect it, but I would almost expect them to do it. If they do, I'm afraid that my e-mail is not a very good source of information to learn about me. For starters, eighty to ninety percent of the e-mail I receive is spam. I get 15 - 20 messages a day filed into my bulk mail, and another 5 - 10 manage to find their way to my inbox. Next, the e-mails that I do send are rarely social. Most are to setup meetings with my classmates or to confirm a registration with a website. Even if the search engine is able to weed out the spam from the legit messages, there will be very little there to key in my buying habits.

I'm not really sure why everyone is all in a tizzy over Google offering GMail. I think it is a Good Thing. A free e-mail account that you can have for life and that allows you to store up to 1000 MB of information. Hey, if I don't want folks reading a message that I send to someone, I'll spend 37 cents on the stamp.

Movie Review: American Wedding

Tonight Jenn and I watched American Wedding, the third in the American Pie series of movies. The main character in the movies is Jim, who is perpetually unlucky in love. The first movie followed Jim and his pals through prom and high school graduation. The second film picked up on the groups first summer back from college. And this third film involves the wedding of Jim to his longtime girlfriend Michelle, the flute toting band-dork from the first movie ("this one time, at band camp!").

Let's hope this is the last film in this series. It was really difficult for Jenn and I to sit all the way through this one. When was it going to be over. One particular scene, the dancing scene in the gay bar, took entirely too long, and wasn't funny. Everything about the movie seemed forced. Obviously there wasn't enough left to make a full movie based on these characters again, so we got a rehash of the jokes from the first two films. I suppose to make up for lack of content, Stiffler upped his character from foul mouthed jerk to psychotic, twitchy, foul mouthed jerk. The shock value elements of the movie just were not funny anymore. Yes, we were all shocked when Jim had sex with the apple pie in the first film. But by this third film, we're expecting that sort of thing.

Several of the stars from the first and second films were noticeably absent. This was probably a wise choice on their part, as this film wasn't doing anything for anyone's career. MIA were Oz (Chris Klein) and Heather (Mena Suvari), Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth), Vickie (Tara Reid), Jessica (Natasha Lyone), and The Sherminator (Chris Owen). Jason Biggs and Alyson Flannigan did pretty well reprising their roles as the star couple, but this was still a total loser of a film. The first film was hilarious. Jenn and I nearly fell out of our seats laughing so hard. The same was true for the second one, but we could tell the well was starting to run dry. Going into the third, we had a pretty good idea of what to expect: Stiffler is going to drop the f-bomb continuously, Jim is going to have a Genitalia Malfunction, Stiffler is going to have a strange sexual encounter, Finch is going to have sex with Stiffler's mom, Stiffler is going to eat something disgusting, Michelle will be continuously horny and kinky, Jim's Dad will walk in on an awkward situation, Jim's Dad will have an awkward "pep talk" with Jim, etc. etc. YAWN! American Wedding was a horrible flick. Don't pay any amount of money to watch it, and if someone offers to let you watch it for free, run, because they are not your friend.

Jade Mason