April 27, 2006

A break

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brian @ 9:08 pm

I’m taking a break from the blog for a little while.

Maybe a week, maybe more – I don’t know for sure.

April 25, 2006

A Few Corrections

Filed under: pedantry — Brian @ 7:35 pm

Hindsight is not 20/20. A person with “20/20 vision” can see, at 20 feet, what a “normal person” can see at 20 feet. “20/20 vision” is normal, not perfect. Hindsight is closer to 20/1, but that sounds like “21,” so maybe “hindsight is 20/10.” Or how about “gosh, it’s obvious, now that it’s already happened.”

When you “turn a blind eye (or a deaf ear) towards” something, you do not simply ignore it. You give the impression of paying attention without doing so. You’re looking at it but with an eye that cannot see. This is different from just plain ignoring it. You can ignore out of ignorance or inattention, but “turning a blind eye” requires some degree of trickery.

Just about everything that can be done is, I propose, “easier said than done.” See tautology.

Don’t say, “Eastern Standard Time” unless you mean it. And you probably don’t mean it, except by chance during winter. If you tell me the meeting is on April 25 at 11AM Eastern Standard Time, and you show up when the clock says 11:00, don’t be surprised if I’m not there.
Summer is “daylight time” in the Eastern time zone. (Now a valid blanket statement, since Indiana has finally relented)
Just say, “11:00.” Or, if the time zone is at all in question, say, “11:00 Eastern.” Leave it at that, and you’ll be understood at any time of the year. If you live in Arizona, be sure to explain the independent will of your legislators when scheduling meetings. If you live in Hawaii, please translate for your invitees. Nobody knows how far away you are out there.

“Decision” is a noun. “To decide” is the verb. Do not say, “we have to decision this request,” say, “we have to decide on this request.” (This is a new one on me, and I assure you I’m not making it up. It’s related by more than the rhyme to “provide” and “provisioning.” They use “provisioning” to mean “delivering to the mobile device the software it needs in order to access the service” — that is, “provisioning” is used where “providing” is meant. Like “use” and “utilize,” only much worse.) I can’t concentrate for a good long time after hearing one of these two.

Unless you’re reading a contract out loud, don’t ever say, “includes, but is not limited to,” or, “includes, without limitation…”. That’s what “include” means! If you want to say, “includes these and only these,” then the word you want is, “comprise.”

That is all.

For now.

April 23, 2006

Austrumi. Gesundheit.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brian @ 7:43 pm

Or, Resetting Your Windows Administrator Account Password.

The Austrumi Linux Boot CD works. At least on my XP machine – I haven’t tried Dave’s. Yet.

These steps, wherein you use only the XP install CD, do not work. At least not on Dave’s computer. Maybe it’s because the XP CD has the original XP on it, and not with all the service packs that are on the hard drive by now.

Everything seemed fine until I got to the Users and Groups control panel, and checked the “remove the password” checkbox. After this point, the system just sat there.

It told me it would be done in 34 minutes. An hour later, it said it’d be done in 34 minutes. The next day, after the power had gone out and Dave’s dad rebooted, it said it would take 39 minutes. I think it got down to 35 minutes, but never lower. This was after I’d returned home.

Another friend gave it a shot today and was able to use other tools to see the disk and get a few things off it. I’m hoping the Astrumi CD does the trick the next time I go out there.

I should have known to go that way up front…

April 21, 2006

Your Computer and Your Untimely Demise

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brian @ 7:26 pm

A lesson to share, from recent experience:

Write your passwords down. I know everyone tells you never to do that, but do it. Put the sheet of paper where someone you love will find it if you go belly-up without warning. Better yet, tell them where to find it ahead of time. Mail them a letter to open upon your death. All it needs to say is, “look inside the pair of green socks in my dresser,” and put a list of your usernames and passwords there. That way you can keep it updated without bothering anyone.

We’re having trouble getting into Dave’s computer. The workaround I found to erase the password appears not to be working. And if it does, it will also erase any saved website passwords – not an issue with Dave, who wouldn’t have used such a feature – but maybe you do.

If the people you leave behind can access your account and banking records through your web browser, they can pay bills and cancel services quickly and easily, under the authority of your username. If they have to call someone or write a letter, they either have to risk fraud charges by lying about who they are, or jump through legal hoops – or wait for the courts to get involved – before they can start cleaning up your finances.

If they have to break into your computer, it’s harder than if they don’t.

Dave’s got another friend – well, several – local to him and his parents, and they’ll be trying more things this weekend. I’m sure it’ll work out fine with his stuff. But not everyone has multiple computer expert friends all itching to help out.

Write down your passwords. Make sure someone knows where to find them and has authority to go there to get them.

April 19, 2006

After the funeral

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brian @ 7:11 pm

I’m back from Chicago, back from the wake and the funeral. It was good to be of use to Dave’s parents. They are two incredibly strong people.

I met quite a few of Dave’s friends that I’d heard of, but never met. I was surprised at how many people showed up – but I expected to be surprised about that. The wake was from 3 to 9 on monday (his 33rd birthday) and the line of people never broke. It slacked off a few times, but there was always at least a few people waiting in line.

Dave was into the Renaissance Faire circuit, and helped out a couple singing groups. Two of them came as their groups to the wake, and sang some of his favorite songs at his side. Maggie, from Bounding Main sang solo at the end of the funeral service, in an absolutely beautiful voice, as we walked Dave out of the sanctuary. I don’t recall the words of the song, but it was wonderful to hear. (I then proceeded to give her bad directions to the after-burial gathering, but she made it despite me. One of Dave’s many good friend I was fortunate to meet these past days.)

I’ll have more to say about Dave, here, but for now I want to spend some time with Jennifer. My job was to be there for Dave’s parents. Jennifer’s was to make that possible, so in some ways she’s had the larger burden these past couple days, being away from the ceremony and formality.

I feel like I am as much at peace with this as I will be for the near future. I know Dave’s OK, and I just miss him. But I have some things I can do on his behalf – specifically for his parents, but also for myself and for my family.

I’ve never lost someone so close before. But I think I’m figuring out how to handle it.

I’m Back. Maybe the recent posts will be, too…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brian @ 6:54 pm

The folks had quite the system failure on Easter. If you tried to stop by then, that’s what was happening. Looks like everything’s ok, but a few posts are missing. I’ve asked if they can retrieve them.

April 13, 2006

My Friend Dave

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brian @ 8:22 pm

My friend Dave – college pal and roommate, and good friend since then – was killed yesterday evening in a motorcycle accident.

We got a message on our answering machine from Dave’s mom, who said she had “bad news” about Dave. In the time it took to get a hold of them to find out what had happened, we found an article at the Chicago Tribune’s website (below).

A friend of his had recently bought a new motorcycle, and Dave – who’d taken the motorcycle classes and got his license and all a while ago – was interested in buying his old one. It sounds like he was test-driving it when he crashed into a tree in a residential area. It’s not clear at this point what caused the accident.

His friend found Dave’s cellphone, and called his parents. His parents arrived at the hospital about 45 minutes after he was pronounced dead.

His parents had kind of adopted us over the years, and we them. Apart from my own, I know two phone numbers by heart: my mom’s and Dave’s parents’. Probably because I called Dave there so many times in the days before your phone remembered the numbers for you, but still.

Dave got into stunt kites with me in college. We divided our summer free time among flying, messing around with our cars, and hanging out at a local restaurant, eating greasy (and delicious) hamburgers, drinking fru-fru ice cream drinks, and trying to make friends with the bartenders.

We helped each other move from our burned-down house to sublet my sister’s place for the summer after college. Then I helped him move back home, and he helped me pack for my next place. He helped us move back north from South Carolina, and visited us a few times a year in Ohio. All the while, he’s lived in Illinois. Plenty far enough away to not bother with such things. You know how all your friends are suddenly busy when it comes time for you to move? Yeah – not Dave. He goes hundreds of miles out of his way to help.

We’d always stop by his place for an afternoon or evening when in Illinois for other purposes. He’d mail me a frozen stuffed pizza from Carmen’s (my favorite little pizza place in Chicago) for my birthday most years. On the other years, he’d send me a Portillo’s gift pack of Chicago-style hot dogs with all the stuff. I’m big on the food, and he took care of me.

In my 100 things about a blogger post, where I said I don’t have many friends — maybe it would have been more truthful to say, “I have Dave.”

Dave’s birthday is this coming monday.

I can’t believe it. Not yet.

Here’s the text of the Tribune article:

A 33-year-old man was killed when his motorcycle struck a tree in southwest suburban Evergreen Park, police said this morning.

The accident occurred shortly before 4:30 p.m. Wednesday when the biker was making a right turn onto Washtenaw Avenue from 90th Street, an Evergreen Park police spokesman said.

The bike hit a tree on the west side of Washtenaw, throwing the biker.

The victim, David Zielinski, of the 800 block of Symphony Drive in Aurora, was pronounced dead at 5:17 p.m. Wednesday at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

The police spokesman did not know whether Zielinski was wearing a helmet or what caused the accident.

Dave would snicker at seeing himself described as “a biker.”

Here’s the article, if you’re registered at the Tribune’s site.

April 10, 2006

Soccer Updates

Filed under: kidwork, soccer — Brian @ 7:30 pm

Crazy week with the soccer, here. I mentioned that I missed the first game on Saturday for a work conflict. That game was an interesting one … we all learned that there are no referees.

The coaches are to ref the games. The paperwork I got said that the coaches would “help” ref the games – which I (and the assistant coach) took to mean, “explain the calls to the kids, and help them remember the rules.” Yeah, not so much. We’re all supposed to know what version of the simplified rules to play by. And the opposing coaches are supposed to take the same lenient approach in calling only the most egregious fouls on each other’s teams. All that talk about “be nice to the refs” at the coaches’ meeting at the beginning of the season? Yeah – that’s for the older kids.

So, it was a very busy hour for our assistant coach – refereeing the game and subbing kids in and out from the sidelines. We talked it over at practice tonight, and have a plan for tomorrow’s game (it’s our only weekday game). The assistant coach is absolutely wonderful. I am so thankful to have him helping.

We’re really starting to get some traction in practice. Probably helps that the weather was nice, but also having one game under our belts helps focus the practice on areas that need work.

And the kids wanted to know what our team name is. We don’t have a name – we just have a number. Apparently, we’re supposed to make up a name. So we took a poll for suggestions and voted. We’re the White Seahawks. From Ohio. We play soccer.

So, practice tonight, game tomorrow, game saturday.

April 8, 2006


Filed under: beanquest — Brian @ 8:26 pm

that’s “Things that turned me off to Christianity (before I gave it a fair chance)”

Number 27 of my as-yet-incomplete 100 things about a blogger is:

I was baptized into my church just this past winter. Almost 20 years to the day after I finished my confirmation class as a 12-year-old. I resisted the church for a long time, for reasons I now recognize as ignorance, pride and selfishness. And – stupidest among the bunch – terminology.

In the comments, I suggested I might do a few posts on Things That Turned Me Off to Christianity. This is the first of those.

Terminology in church always made me uncomfortable. People spoke there in ways they I didn’t hear elsewhere. Sometimes is was an inconsistent pattern: is He “Jesus Christ,” or “Christ Jesus”? Is He “The Son of God” or “The Son of Man”? What’s this “hosannah,” and why is it “in the highest”?

And there’s nothing like the word “virgin” to make a 13-year-old boy a little self-conscious. I’m supposed to sing, “round yon virgin” – about Mary (who is a girl, you know) – standing next to my mother? First, I’m not singing. Second, I’m not singing about sex (or the lack thereof) next to my mother. And, why are we talking about sex in church? I mean, I know why, but, um, can we not talk about it? My mom’s right here.

A simpler one – one that I’ve been thinking about lately, is “praise.” Here’s a word I thought I knew, until I looked it up. I’m a dog person. The way I’ve always used it, “praise” is what you do to teach a dog to obey commands. “Praise” is what you do to reinforce positive behavior in your children. “Praise,” then, is what you do to influence someone else’s behavior. Surely, that’s not what “praise God” means – we’re not trying to manipulate Him, right?

No, we’re not. Defintion #2 of “praise” is “to glorify (a god or saint) especially by the attribution of perfections”

Now, that’s a different word altogether. Now, that makes sense.

My first reaction was, “we oughta use a different word.”

Then I looked up “hosannah.”

Maybe “praise, definition #2” isn’t so bad after all.

Mmmm… Cookies….

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brian @ 5:19 pm

Jennifer says,

My only mistake was not having gotten a picture of the cookies before they got eaten!

You mean, these cookies?

A “dream day,” eh?


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