Fun Weekend

Like I said before, the week was pretty stressful. Fortunately, Jenn and I had a fun, stress free weekend planned. Corbin was going to spend the night at his grandparents' house while Jenn and I had a night to ourselves. Saturday, we met with Jenn's folks and dropped Corbin off, then headed down to have lunch / dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. Normally we don't go there, as there is usually a two to three hour wait. The food is sooooo good though. It was 2:30 in the afternoon, and we figured we might have a good shot of getting in quick since we would be between the lunch and dinner crowds. We were right on, and got in after just a fifteen minute wait. I had some outstanding meatloaf, and Jenn had the tenderloin. And, of course, we brought home some delicious cheesecake (me: Boston Creme, jenn: White Chocolate Rasberry Truffle).

We stopped at Blockbuster on the way home to grab some movies: Mystic River and The Day After Tomorrow. Mystic River was pretty good, but my parents had absolutely raved about the movie. We didn't think it was quite rave worthy (we figured it out in the first 20 minutes), but it was still pretty good. The Day After Tomorrow wasn't all that great. Some of the special effects were impressive, but there just wasn't a story there. It was like Deep Impact, in that it dealt with the end of the world. However, Deep Impact was much better in that it focused on how we deal with death. How we come to terms with our lives, and what we would do if we knew our own end was near. TDAT wasn't like that at all. In TDAT, it was just an action flick about cheating death. Much less entertaining.

As we were watching the movies, Jenn and I indulged in something we haven't been able to in a while: alcohol. We don't feel that it would be appropriate to drink around Corbin, so we haven't had hard drinks in a while. So with Corbin away for the night, we decided to go for it. Jenn got together with her old friend The Captain, and I enjoyed some vodka and tonic. It was nice to be two adults for night rather than two parents.

This morning, we realized just how much Corbin brings to our lives. The house was quiet... too quiet. We really didn't have a whole lot to do either. Corbin fills our days. Sometimes it is hard, but he brings so much joy for the two of us that we are ready to go pick him up and get back to being parents again.


Work life has gotten pretty hectic for me lately. I've made it known that I'd like to have more responsibility at work. I'd like to move into more of a leadership role. I got what I asked for, and then some. I currently have eight different customers that I am working for. That means I get to spend about one hour a day focusing on each customer. The schedules for each of these projects are extremely tight too. Due to the number of projects and their schedule, I've been working some pretty long hours (53 hours last week, 15 on Friday alone). It is like a dance trying to give all of these folks (the customers) the impression that I am 100% dedicated to them, when in reality I hardly have time to do anything for them.

One good thing, though, is that all of these projects are interesting. One project is to upgrade a visual basic application that connects to an OS390 mainframe computer. Another is to upgrade an application from an InTouch 7.0 HMI to a .NET Client written in C#. Another project is to install better vision system cameras for reading a 2-D barcode on a part. Project numbers four and five are technical support for manufacturing lines that we have already put into production. Project six is to perform subtle upgrades on one of the first, and most successful projects I have done at Flexware. Project seven involves XML Web Services communicating to handheld Windows devices embedded in a barcode scanner. And finally I have some fun sales stuff to do for potential customers. I really wish that I could take the time to pick one, or maybe two of these and just focus on it, but I know that I am doing a more for our company by spreading myself around. The more jobs I can work on, the more money that we make. Plus, this is giving me the experience I need to be a leader within the company.

So, yeah, I'm a little stressed right now. This kind of stress is sort of good in that it shows how much business we are doing. My only fear is that it will take away from my being able to spend time with my family. I'll have to keep a close eye on my hours, and I know that Jenn will give me a gentle reminder if I ever start spending too much time with work, and not enough time with her and Corbin. My family comes first in my life, work can wait.

Craziness at Jimmy Johns

Today was a very busy day. I was all over the place at work. By the end of the day, I was over on the West side of Indy for a meeting with a client. I was hustling to get back to class. Tonight was our last meeting for Marketing class, and we had a final presentation to do. I needed some food to get me through, so I stopped at Jimmy Johns on the way.

When I stopped in the JJ, I gave the lady at the counter my order for a sandwich. The conversation went like this:

JJ LADY: Where do you work?

ME: Flexware. It's a software development company.

JJ LADY: Are you going to work or coming from work?

ME: Coming from work, but going to class

JJ LADY: That's cool. Want a party platter?

ME: Umm... no.

JJ LADY: It's free

I didn't know what to say. I looked at the guy doing the dishes, and he was just nodding his head, that yes, it was free, no strings attached. So I got to be the hero by bringing 35 free Jimmy Johns subs to class.

Turns out, they screwed up the scheduled at JJ. They made the party planner, but the order wasn't due for another week. They either had to get rid of the food, or throw it out, and I was the only person in the store at the time. What a windfall!


On our trip to the zoo, we also went to the White River Gardens. They were holding an exhibit of banzai and ikebana. It was really interesting. It was also a nice, quiet change of pace from the zoo. Corbin was asleep, and hardly anyone was in the gardens. The zoo was a mad house of kids running around in their costumes. The zoo was dressed up for Haunted Zoo Weekend, and the kids were there for the first day of trick or treating. It was neat to see so many excited kids running around in their costumes, but by the end of the day, we were ready for a break. The gardens were just what we needed.

The banzai and ikebana display was really neat. I had always thought that banzai was a shrub trimming hobby. I never realized that these were full size trees growing in pots! One that caught my eye had very tiny flowers. I tried to take a picture of it, but the detail of the flowers didn't come through in the picture. Once outside, the tranquility of the gardens was very relaxing. Corbin woke up when we were about half way through our stroll. It was a nice way to wind down before the drive home. Hopefully we can make a return trip to the gardens in the spring, and catch all of the plants as they bloom.

How the electoral college system works, and a little bit of history.


Looks like Bill O'Reilly is about to get knocked down a peg. I know several folks that enjoy listening to this right leaning topics commentator. It seems that Bill has a dark side that doesn't come through on "The Factor". The Smoking Gun has the full documentation of the complaint against him by a Fox News producer. Read on for some interesting gossip.

Political Opinion

How can you not be involved in some political discussion lately? With the election just weeks away, the political arguments are at a fevered pitch everywhere you turn. Invariably the subject of lunchtime chatter at work turns to the candidates at the various levels of government. Jenn and I even have a little back and forth while we are at home. Jenn and I disagree about who we are going to vote for, but I'm really proud of Jenn for the amount of thought she has put into her vote. I get frustrated with folks that blindly vote for a particular party. I have a lot more respect for someone that has taken the time to familiarize themselves with the platforms and topics, and who has a definitive reason for voting for a particular candidate.

Lately, I have heard a lot of rumbling at various places to the effect of, "If you are a good Christian, you must vote for George Bush." I disagree (I used different words the first time I typed this up, but I'm trying not to be inflamatory). I believe promoting my personal, religious beliefs is a burden that I must personally bear, not one that my government should enforce on the population. The beauty of our system of government in America is that we have the right to disagree with one another. It is the variety of cultures, beliefs, values, and morals that makes our country so great. If we promote a government that attempts to restrict those freedoms, then we are tearing apart what makes our country the envy of the world. To say that any one religious group has a duty to vote for a particular candidate seems ludicrous to me. The only case where I can see that being a viable argument were if a candidate was making an attempt to outlaw a form of religion.

George Bush is running on a platform that harmonizes with many of the beliefs of the Christian Right. If you feel that those beliefs should be enacted and enforced as law, then by all means vote for Bush. But don't feel that you are any greater or lesser of a Christian based on who you vote for. God loves all of his children equally, regardless of political affiliation.


We've been subscribing to the HDTV service from Insight in our area for over a year now, and while we haven't had any technical problems, I feel that the content still has a long way to go. There are currently a handful of HD stations available:

  • HBO-HD
  • NBC-HD
  • ABC-HD
  • CBS-HD
  • Discovery HD Theater
  • Bravo-HD
  • PBS-HD
  • HD-NET
  • HD-Movies

And the pricing is a little crazy too. It's $13 a month to rent the HD Digital set top box with DVR (Motorola). When you rent the HD box, you get NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, and Bravo in HD. For an extra $10 / month you can add HD-NET, HD-Movies, ESPN-HD, and Discovery HD Theater. That's $2.50 a channel. HBO-HD will run you another $10 (you get the standard set of digital HBO's as well), and SHO-HD is $13. Essentially, if you wanted to subscribe to every feature available in my area, and rent only one box, your total cable and internet bill would run in excess of $180 / month. Mine currently sits at $117 (digital box, digital subscription, HBO, Starz, internet). If all you were interested in getting were the 11 HD stations, you would be paying:

  • $40 Digital Subscription
  • $13 HD Receiver rental
  • $10 HBO
  • $13 Showtime
  • $10 HD-NET, HD-Movies, ESPN-HD, Discovery HD Theater
  • TOTAL: $86 / month + tax!

That's nearly $8 per channel! Even more discouraging is that there is very little network programming that is broadcast in HD. What you end up with are standard resolution programs that have been upconverted to HD resolution. This looks terrible, as you end up with all sorts of distortion, tracing, jaggies, and artifacts. America's Funniest Home Videos is notoriously bad, as they are upconverting the already poor video from home cameras.

I say all this bad stuff, yet we're still paying for the service. Why? The content that does come in HD is amazing! The difference in picture quality between the standard def CSI and HD CSI is amazing (we love CSI). I'm hoping that we get FOX soon, as I know that they are broadcasting over the air HD, as are UPN and WB. I guess it is all just a matter of time.

Howard Stern on Sirius Radio

I like my Sirius radio. I listen to it throughout the day while I am at work, and have it on the road in my car. Today, the announcement came out that in January of 2006, Howard Stern will switch to broadcasting on Sirius. Well, that's great for folks that listen to him, and I'm sure it will do wonders for Sirius stock price and subscription rates, but I don't listen to Howard. I got to hear all about the big news all morning, though, as the music was interrupted every half hour to announce that Stern is coming to Sirius. This was really irritating. Every station was running the announcement, and it ran every half hour. I couldn't get away from it. What's more, all of the stations staggered the announcement, so I would hear it on one station, flip to another, and hear it again! Just as a reminder, his show won't start for more than a year. Why do I need this constant reminder right now?

Political Ads

I've been sort of sitting the fence on the race for Governor this year. Mitch Daniels came into our office, and I wasn't really impressed with him. Kernan seemed like a pretty good guy, and I generally agree with the Democratic party platform, but I really didn't have strong feelings towards either candidate. If anything, I was leaning towards Kernan. Then, the latest round of negative ads came out from the Kernan camp bashing Daniels on the IPALCO stock matter. Negative ads don't motivate me to vote for either candidate. In fact, they usually make me dislike the candidate that sponsored the ad. So this knocked Kernan down a peg in my mind. Then, Daniels came out with the ads explaining the IPALCO situation, and then saying that he would not run any negative ads in the campaign. He ends the ad by saying something to the effect of, "Let's show em' we can win without the negative ads." That really struck a chord with me. I really dislike negative ad campaigning. I don't think it does anything to help the election, and I really wish all politicians would stop using them. Tell me why I should vote for you, not why I should not vote for your opponent. So after this round of negative ads, I'm leaning a little further towards Daniels, if for no other reason than to send a message that I'm tired of negative ad campaigns.

Debate Spoof

The two candidates for US president recently had a debate on the subject of foreign policy and defense. Jenn and I watched the first hour, then got bored and switched off to something else. We had even less tolerance for the Vice Presidential debates. I saw this clip on the web the other day, and it cracked me up. The guy spoofing Bush has the voice down. If you couldn't see him, you would swear it is our commander in chief.

Favorite Magazine

My favorite magazine is WIRED. I can't get enough of it. It contains a variety of current events and opinion stories, usually with a technology bias. I look forward to getting each month so that I can check out all of the latest drool-worthy gadgets and the latest in technology trends. It's almost like a fashion magazine for geeks. I managed to get my dad hooked on it too, and I've been using some of the articles as references form my MBA course. I highly recommend that anyone who enjoys technology, the internet, or computing pick up a copy and read through it. You just might like it.

Jade Mason