Wednesday, December 14, 2005


That's correct: 13 pounds gone in the days since Thanksgiving. And I am thankful for the loss, too. My pants are beginning to fit again, not quite as comfortably as they should, but at least they are OK to wear.

How hard has it been? Not as hard as the first time I began on the Atkins road. The most difficult part this time is that I am in a new office and there are far more parties and snacks brought in for the holidays than where I used to work before. However, it feels great to say: "No thanks, I am on a diet and cannot eat that." It gives me a great sense of control over my health and life.

I have begun an interesting exercise program. Every two hours I climb three flights of stairs and then come back to my office. I will increase the number of floors climbed as my endurance increases.

I am feeling better, looking a little slimmer, and enjoying the sense of added control.

190 -- I am still looking at you and I am a lot closer now!

Saturday, December 03, 2005


As you can see, the weight is coming off! Six pounds in one week is a very considerable weight loss, especially since my physical activity has not gone up all that much.

The secret is fairly simple: no sweets (cookies, chocolates, etc.), no starches (potatoes, etc.), almost no coffee, and drink lots of water ... and I do mean lots! I have been drinking in excess of 100 oz of water each day. To a suspicious mind it may appear that I am up to no good with all the trips to the bathroom! But I am certainly getting rid of a lot of toxins by drinking this much water.

Some people dislike the taste of water by itself -- I rather have some flavor with mine. So we buy the Wal-Mart brand of the small flavor crystals. In our area they are $1.76 for a box of 10. If you buy the Wal-Mart bottled water at $3.60 for 24 (20 oz), that adds up to a healthy soft drink for about 33 cents. Not bad, especially if you consider that there are no sugars, no calories, no sodium (for the most part) -- nothing but flavored water!

Aldi's has the Fit & Active drink bottles (33.8 oz) for 59 cents -- the drinks are pretty good, and the bottle can be reused a few times with the Wal-Mart flavor powders and plain water. Nothing wrong with saving money, getting even more for your buck from each envelope of flavoring, and still enjoying the benefits of lots of water.

I hope this helps anyone that also trying to lose some weight.

Friday, November 25, 2005


I hope everyone had a very safe Thanksgiving!

Experts say that the best way to achieve a difficult goal is to share it with family and friends that will support you. So I am sharing my number one goal with all of you: I am going to lose weight. The title of this blog is my current weight. My target goal is 200 pounds; my ideal goal is 180 pounds.

Two years ago, the day after Thanksgiving marked the first day of our adoption of the Atkins diet. Within days I had lost 20 pounds without exercising much; after a few weeks I had lost almost 50 pounds. I was also exercising regularly and liked what I saw in the mirror.

So what happened to reverse that great progress? I can summarize it as weakness and temptation: I started eating high-carb foods here and there, and my weight did not go up -- so I got over confident. Then I stopped exercising but kept eating the high-carb foods. Needless to say, here I am, at my heaviest ever.

Today I am restarting my Atkins plan. It is very difficult at times, especially during the induction period (first two to four weeks), but the results are worth the sacrifices. Coach Lou Holtz always reminds us that anything that is worthy of our efforts will require some sacrifice.

190 -- I am still coming!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Dieting and loosing weight

I looked in the mirror a few days ago and I did not like what I saw. My mid section is growing -- and that is bad! For weeks I have known that my clothes were getting tighter; pants no longer fit (even the bigger sizes left over from when I was at my heaviest two years ago). I had to go to the store and buy five XL shirts because all my L are now too tight.

So I decided that on November 1 I would begin changing my eating habits and do something about exercising. We all know that in order to lose weight we have to control our diet and also increase our exercise. The plan will take time to implement -- I have successfully lost this much weight before, so I know I can do it.

Yesterday was bad for dieiting -- I was not as strong as I should be with candy brought in after Halloween. I have done a lot better so far although the amount of candy available was increased ten-fold (someone brought a ton of it in the office).

I am fortunate that I will be off from work for the next few days because that will give me a chance to put together an exercise plan and begin working out.

190 -- her I come!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Disaster averted

Last night, after the kids went to bed, Tracey wanted to look at the pictures we had taken at the zoo. When she connected the camera to her computer she received an error message indicating that the drive was not accessible. I tried it on my computer with the same result. I replaced the batteries - same error.

So, being the geek that I am, I searched the Net for a recovery utility. I quickly landed on one of my favorite freeware/shareware sites: SnapFiles. The program that saved the day is called Zero Assumption Digital Image Recovery; not only is it free, but it recovered all the important pictures on the disk. The publisher is Zero Assumption Recovery Software. We cannot thank them enough for offering this free product that helped us so much last night!

And that is why I believe in free software — it is about helping others and making life better for another person.

Fun at the Zoo

We took the kids to the zoo for Halloween. This is the second year we have done this (last year I was not able to be with them because I was working afternoon shifts). We had a great time and the kids enjoyed the experience a lot. It is a safe way to spend Halloween. The most remarkable part of the experience, however, was seeing Noah dance. The zoo had set a kids disco area with a live DJ, disco ball, etc. Kids were having an absolute blast. Noah quickly joined in and did the Cha Cha with the group and he could have gone on dancing for a long time! I am so proud of him!

For some reason, MacK shyed (sp?) away from dancing — probably because it was getting late and she was tired.

When we got home and the kids went to bed, we got some bad news from our camera — more on that in my next post.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Tour of USC

Today was a great, fun day! It started a bit rushed, but it is ending like a great day. I took the kids bowling this morning and, because of Halloween, it ended being a nice "party" with cosmic bowling (with the dark lights on) and the adults bowling free. I got some house shoes and a house ball and joined in — it was a lot of fun! I was fortunate that I helped the grandfather of one of the other kids get some confidence in his game (he had not bowled in over 20 years).

After lunch, Kayla and I headed to the University of South Carolina (USC) for an open house. Although we arrived there a little late, we actually received a lot of useful information. USC did a great job of putting this open house together! I was thoroughly impressed by the whole organization of the event, the way everyone treated you, and the absolutely wonderful performance by all students involved in running the event. Great job everyone!

We started by getting an orientation package and signing up for a campus tour. We then headed to get information on Kayla's target school. The staff member was extremely accurate and honest, almost sounding as if she was discouraging Kayla from attending USC, but actually being thorough and up front concerning Kayla's choices. I liked that type of attitude.

From there we attended an orientation session on admission requirements, followed by the tour of campus. Our guides were very knowledgable and helpful and did a fantastic job. The campus is beautiful, it has great technological advantages, and it is very safe. The various programs offered will blow your mind. I was particularly impressed by the main library (one of many) — it is huge! It has two floors above ground and five below ground! Compared to the library at my Alma Matter (the Rochester Institute of Technology) when I was there (back in 1982), the USC facility is fantastic! Mind you, I have not visited RIT since 1985, so I am sure things have changed a lot there. Nevertheless, being in the USC library made me want to go back to college! Maybe after the kids go through college and I retire I will go back and get a new degree — just for the heck of it!

After the tour we briefly visited the bookstore (the majority of which was consumed by souvenirs and not books) and headed back home.

I am thoroughly excited by the possibility of Kayla attending USC — I think I now know how my Dad felt as he and I walked through RIT in 1979. It is also very scary to think that somehow we will need to pay for this college experience. It has arrived so very quickly and yet it has been years in the making. I am sure we will find a solution to this situation as we do for anything else we face.

While we are trying to figure Kayla's college education, I guess we better begin saving for Noah's and MacKenzie's! :-)

Friday, October 28, 2005

Exercise recommendations

Here is a great page with fabulous recommendations on exercises we can do while we sit at the computer! Even a little is better than nothing!

Light is the basic element

Are you interested in photography? If you are, then you know that light is one of the key elements in taking great shots. Too much or too little light and the shot is not all that it could be.

Need some help with your shots? Then this article from PCMag will definitely help you get a much better understanding of how to use existing light and your equipment to produce the best photographs possible!


Thursday, October 27, 2005


If you are into photography and would like a neat product that will allow you to quickly find and view photos and do some near manipulations, I strongly recommend that you try Picasa. I think you will like it.


If you are into photography and would like a neat product that will allow you to quickly find and view photos and do some near manipulations, I strongly recommend that you try Picasa. I think you will like it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Software AND Customer Service done right

I wanted to mention a software product and the person that publishes it. But first you need to know that I have been the secretary/treasurer of my bowling league for the last three years. I have done, all in all, a decent job. It is a difficult task and it takes a great deal of organization to keep on top of things. But it is also fun and it pays a decent amount of money at the end of the season; the money I have received from my secreatry's duties have gone to pay for Kayla's tuition or for bills.

On my first year as secretary I wanted to buy an appropriate software package that would do what I needed to do. I looked into what was available then and I was not happy with what I found. The closest match was a program called Bowl101. Randy Stowe is the owner and programmer that came up with Bowl101. When you have a problem or question you get him. That is pretty neat. I wrote to Randy with some questions back then and he was honest about the programs abilities. He told me that a future version of the program would work they way I needed it.

I developed a decent system of controlling the league finances via an Excel spreadsheet. I sued and refined that system for two years. It worked well. However, it was missing an important part: keeping track of scores and, especially, awards earned by bowlers!

This year I tried Bowl101 again (and I looked at other packages too). Randy allows you five full weeks of unrestricted use of the Bowl101 program — including support for any questions or problems. When I ran into a snag, he called me (surprised me!) and we worked on the problem together — as a team! After four weeks of use I sent Randy some money and he sent me the registration information needed to continue using Bowl101. It was very easy to do and he personally wrote to thank me for the comments I submitted.

Although I am an avid supporter of Open Source and freeware, I certainly understand that not everything in life is free. Randy definitely ensures that you are making an informed decision with his product. And the software works as perfectly as any program ever does!

So cheers to Randy and Bowl101 for a great job and a great product!

Thanks to Randy's program I am doing a much better job in my roles as secretary/treasurer and having a lot more fun at it!

More on copyrights

Tracey and I talked a lot about the copyright issue. So I have adopted one of Creative Commons for my Blog.

I opted for what is called "Attribution-ShareAlike" license. I think this is as close to public domain while still getting credit for the work and making a statement in support of my previous post.

Blogging Coincidence

Last night I remembered that many years ago someone came upon my old personal website and she suggested that I should really consider the new blogging format. For one reason or another (apathy? procrastination?) I never followed up on that suggestion — who would have known that I would be blogging several years later! :-) It goes to show that we need to listen to those coincidences in life!

Speaking of coincidences, the subject is covered wonderfully in a book by James Redfield called "The Celestine Prophecy." Tracey got it from the library(in audio format) one day and we loved it! It may not be for everyone, but we definitely enjoyed the concepts developed there.

Coincidences and concepts are also key subjects when you look at Jose Silva's "UltraMind System." The free course is called "The Unlimited You." There is also a Yahoo! Group dedicated to the Silva Method.

Looking for a little pick-me-up? No, I don't mean coffee or meds! Mike Brescia will gladly give you a morale or spiritual boost — and sometimes the occasional kick on the rear end! His main website is Think Right Now where he offers some excellent products that can literally change your life. Another of his sites is Instant Inner Power. Would you like a free product from Mike? Then visit Today Is Your Day to Win and sign up to receive Mike's complete book via email (no spam ever!).

I hope these ideas can help you!

Dvorak on Software Design

John Dvorak of PCMag has a great editorial/comment on complicated vs. easy software — it is worth the one minute of your time to check it out!


The biggest waste of all

Copyright -- what a waste of time and effort! I generally do not copyright any work I do for free. I do not believe in that type of system. The work I do for many organizations is given freely so that anyone can use it.

I understand that some people have taken advantage of the knowledge base assembled by others and have made money from it. In the grand scheme of things I say "good for them!" They found a way to provide a service that perhaps others could not.

Knowledge and information cannot be contained by the jail bars of obsolete laws; this is especially true in our digital world in which we are surrounded by technological marvels that allow us to capture and duplicate and transform and improve nearly any type of information. DMR protection? It is bypassed, trampled on, and laughed at by hackers the world over! We simply cannot incarcerate knowledge, be it a movie, a song, a document, a presentation, a website or a program.

I believe our world society spends too much time, money, and effort trying to protect that which cannot be protected; information is meant to be shared not locked away. We should help each other grow by freely sharing our knowledge. Let knowledge be free and be owned by everyone and by no one at all.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Schools are disease farms

The kids are back to school after missing more than a week of classes. My mother in law thinks it is OK for them to be exposed to illnesses to build their immune system. Maybe so, maybe not. On the other hand the rest of us are also exposed to the same crap and we do not need any more of that stuff! And them being exposed to viruses and such has a detrimental ripple effect: I get sick, I take it to work, they get sick, their kids get sick, other school kids get sick, etc. The terrorist group that taps into this type of community germ-sharing for an evil cause will do some serious damage to the world. This is further complicated by the fact that our state government tells schools that they should make sick kids go to school! Bronchitis or pneumonia? Go to school! The list of diseases that are "allowable" in the schools include:

* Bronchitis
* Common colds (mild)
* Croup
* Ear infection
* Fifth Disease (what happened to diseases First to Fourth? Are there more than five?)
* Pinworms
* Pneumonia
* Rash w/o fever
* Ringworm
* Red eye (without yellow or green discharge, fever or matting)
* Warts

Although these illnesses in themselves may not be seriously contagious, what about a kid that is struggling with pneumonia that then gets exposed to something else? Yikes! You could kill someone that way!

Home schooling anyone? Let's see: better education and less disease and more individual caring. That sounds like a winning formula to me!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Cheaper on ebay? NOT!

Tracey and I have been talking about the new digital SLR camera that we want. Tracey had read great reviews on the Canon EOS Rebel. PCMag has a new Editor's Choice in the new Nikon D50. It is not only substantially less expensive than the Canon, but the features and quality are also better.

So I went to look at PCMag's recommended vendor list and we could get (if we had that kind of money) one of those for about $660 (including a 18-55mm lens) for Price on eBay? Over $700 without a lens! Shop and compare — some people get great deals on eBay, but that is not necessarily always the case!

Where does time go?

I have a problem with time — it usually slips away from me and at the end of the day I have not accomplished what I should have. I accomplish some things, but not what I should have accomplished. I get easily distracted and go on tangents, never coming back to the original point. That is nice for exploration but not for efficient time use.

Virginia Tech offers a nice resource for students to manage time, especially the test called Where Does Time Go?. I have seen other similar tests on the web, but this one I just came across.

According to this test, I should have about 40 free hours per week to do what I need to do, give or take a few hours.


On my way to dropping off MacKenzie at scool (Noah is still home sick), I listened to the radio as the DJs were talking about ants — I came in the middle of the commentary, but it seemed they were making fun of people's problems with ants. One of the DJs had ants in his house and they had crawled onto a yellow shirt (on his bed?). The other DJ was making fun of the whole situation as if he had never heard of an ant problem in South Carolina — are you kidding me? Ants OWN South Carolina, especially fire ants! We have been lucky that ants have not been a problem inside our house; but outside it is a different story! Fire ant mounds are everywhere! Forget about killing them — those suckers are tough! Every time it rains, dozens of mounds pop everywhere!

I don't know about other states in the US, but in South Carolina, fire ants own the place!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Global Communities

Tracey recently introduced me to MySpace — a fantastically unique global community that reminded me of the early days of the internet (or what we called cyberspace).

I was also made aware of other communities:

* is a different type of global community that you just have to experience for yourself.

* Ning is a new global community

* Of course, one of my favorite communities is Digg — a technology global community that rocks!


Sad Chairs

I recently came upon a great series of pictures called 50 Sad Chairs on Flcikr.

The original 50 Sad Chairs exhibit!

Awesome work by this talented photographer from St. Louis.

More photography stuff

Here is another worthy link for photos onthe web:

Photosharing: a nice website for photography aficionados

Do you need your pictures printed at an economical price? The go over to WinkFlash and you can get prints for as little as 12 cents with a flat $0.99 shipping per order.

My hidden talent

Your Hidden Talent

You are a great communicator. You have a real way with words.
You're never at a loss to explain what you mean or how you feel.
People find it easy to empathize with you, no matter what your situation.
When you're up, you make everyone happy. But when you're down, everyone suffers.

Hmmm ... pretty darn accurate!

My Karma

So here is my Karma according to Blogthings:

You are a kind, sensitive, and giving person.
And all your good deeds will pay off - if they haven't already.
But you're not so concerned with what you get in return anyway.
You have an innate caring nature - and nothing can change that!

Ah! What a nice ego-stroking! And there is nothing wrong with that (as long as it is done in moderation!).

My name

It seems adding the code from Blogthings broke the Blog -- so I have had to take it out. Here is what Blogthings said about my name:

V is for Visionary
I is for Irresistible
C is for Courageous
T is for Temperamental
O is for Optimistic
R is for Responsible

:) Fun, eh?


Renewed passion

Recently, I have found myself with a renewed interest in an old passion: photography. I used to love taking photographs and experimenting. At one point I had a decent camera and several lenses, plus filters, etc. I sold those because of financial difficulties many years ago, but I still kept taking pictures even with modest cameras I have had. Lately, Tracey has really gotten into high-quality digital photography and is very interested in getting a Canon Rebel XT (you know, the $1200 model). Obviously, that will have to wait a while! :) We do have a nice 4 MP Gateway camera that does OK -- not great, but OK. We borrowed a Rebel from a friend and did some side-by-side comparisons of similar shots. By far, the Canon rocks in low-light photos! Today we are going to drive a bit and take some outdoor photos. I am still going to do the side by side comparison and see what happens. I suspect the Canon will still win!

In the meanwhile, here are some awesome links for those interested in photography:

* DeviantArt is the best source for artistic inspiration! In addition to fantastic photographs, they have poems, drawings, etc. Please respect the artists' rights!

* Flickr is a great source for looking at people's photos! There are some fantastic exhibitions and very talented photographers have joined this community. This is part of Yahoo! and has great technical support and features. Please respect the artists' rights!

* Fotolog is an interesting worldwide photo community. Here you see more "amateur, spontaneous photography, and there are a lot of participants from other countries. Very worthy website to visit and explore! Please respect people's rights!

In my cyber-travels I came across Blogthings is a fun site to generate interesting materials that you can add to you blog or website. Do you know what your name means? Do you have good Karma? Go to Blogthings and find out!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

MacK's First Day at School

MacKenzie did extremely well on her first day at school -- she was well mannered, respectful, and friendly to everyone! True to her nature she came home with a scrape on her knee from falling.

Noah also had a fantastic second day in school — he even won an award for good behavior.

I am very proud of both Noah and MacKenzie for doing so well in school!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Noah's First Day of School

So, the day finally arrived for Noah to go to school. MacKenzie will be starting tomorrow (they staggered the start day for her class).

Noah did pretty well, overall. He did seem a bit confused at first — the concept of cafeteria and lines is totally new to him. The first thing we were asked to do is to got to the cafeteria for breakfast; the menu was much less than we expected, and we will be giving them breakfast at home from now on. After breakfast it was to the gym for assembly; all the staff was introduced, etc., etc. Noah was bored and wanted to get to class! Notably, we were the only white family in the whole school — but Noah seems totally unaware of the race issue, and that is great! He already made friends with an older (1st grader) girl. I think he will be the better for experiencing being the minority — and it will be up to Tracey and I to make sure that he understands about cultural differences and learns from those — but, most importantly, that he also looks for the common ground; there is much more that we have in common than what makes us different!

We then proceeded to his classroom where his teacher explained rules and rewards, etc. We then left and he did not seem bothered by that at all! He was more eager to play and learn than anything else. That's my boy!

[I will write more about this later]

Weekend Plumbing / Mowing Projects

Friday night we ended the evening with our hot water pipe busting open again under the kitchen floor. On Saturday morning I crawled under the house and fixed it — or so I thought. By that evening at 8 P.M. it had come apart again. That night, before we went to bed, Tracey stated that maybe the compression fittings were not being installed properly. I almost took that personally — however, I looked at the instructions (again) and realized that she was right and I was doing something wrong. For the record, I was not pushing the cone part 1/2" past the end of the pipe. Sunday morning I crawled under the house again and I hope I have done the job properly this time. I have some reservations on what I saw while the water was running, so I may have to go under the house again and replace all the parts one more time to make sure that it will be done for good! Lesson: listen to your significant other and do not take things personally; they may have a point and you need to be open to the possibility that they may be right!

Now to the mowing part: on Friday I took the weed trimmer down to a repair shop that is on the way to my office. The guys were super adn they replaced the primer bulb for a mere $5 -- awesome! Saturday morning and used the weeder to knock down everything that needed attention — until the trimmer began to stall repeatedly. I figured out that it was the air filter; when Kayla helped me to wash it the thing fell apart (it was several years old!). Fortunately I was pretty much done with that task. I proceeded to mow the backyard and the mower worked fantastically!

On Sunday, after the plumbing adventure, I mowed the front and side lawn areas. Just as I finished, I release the choke handle (that keeps the mower running) and it broke off — so now the mower cannot be started until I get that replaced! I suspect I can get a replacement part at the place where I got the weeder fixed! Maybe they will also have an air filter for my weeder.

Tracey said that I am hard on my mowing and yard equipment — maybe she is right! :-)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Linux User Group President

Last night I became President of the Columbia Linux User's Group (or ColaLUG). Tracey wonders why I have committed to yet another activity; however, I believe in the concept of open source and the imminent need for choice in our computing society. We cannot continue under the dominance of one operating system anymore than we would accept a dictatorship as a form of government.

The ColaLUG was formed on August 5th, 1997, to support the growing need for help with Linux installations. We have had many fun meetings in the past and I am committed to making the organization a stronger force in our community.

Health Screening

On August 2, I participated in a health screening at work. They do everything from looking at your choilesterol (all three values) to your hip-to-waist ratio. Some of my numbers are borderline so it is time to start exercising! Fortunately, that is the only thing I need to do right now to bring things back in control. If the numbers are not better in 3-6 months then I will need to consider medication to control my cholesterol. My choice is exercise!

Saturday, July 30, 2005

What happened to "Be Prepared"?

In the last week I have read two articles about deaths in Boy Scout activities that make me wonder what has happened to their philosophy of being prepared. I was a Boy Scout for several years in my early teens, and I know we were always taught to look for what could go wrong and be ready for that and more!

The first incident happened at the Jamboree in VA. Four adult Scout leaders got killed when the pole they were using to erect a tent touched a power line and electrocuted them. CNN Report

This happened a day after another Scout died from an apparent heart attack at that same event.

The day after the electrocutions, hundreds of Scouts became ill from heat exhaustion and some had to be hospitalized. CNN Report

In today's news we learn that a Boy Scout and a Scout leader were killed by lightining in CA, with seven others injured by the storm. USA Today report

The Scouts have been plagued by scandal in the last few years; this week has been a tremendous blow to the Scout organization. I cannot excuse the deaths of seven people associated with the Scouts movement.

It is time for the Scouts organization to take another hard look at what they do and how they do it — what they are doing right now is killing people and that is unacceptable!

Outing with the family

Yesterday the whole family went out to dinner and movies to celebrate my 45th birthday (or the 20th anniversary of my 25th birthday). We enjoyed a great meal at Chicago Uno and then went to see the "Fantastic Four." I had a great time and the kids were awesome! The movie was "fantastic" and I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

High-speed Satellite!

Yesterday I finally ordered DirecWay for the house. They have a pretty good deal that is worth checking out if you cannot get DSL or cable where you live.

The person that took my order told me that it would take approximately 3-5 business day for the equipment to arrive and then another week to get the installatino scheduled and done. This morning, however, I get a call on my cell phone as I am driving to work; the installation company has the equipment and they ask if we could possibly allow them to install it today because they had a cancellation and they can do our order this morning. Bonus!

Unfortunately, things did not go so well during the day. Tracey calls me to tell me that the installer is going to charge $125 to install a pole for the dish and another $50 to run the cable under the house (tight crawl space). I get on the phone with the guy and I negotiate the price down to $150.

An hour later Tracey calls me and tells me the guy cannot get a good signal because there is one pine tree in the way. We go back and forth and I agre to leave work to cut the tree down so that he can get the dish calibrated. When I get home, I look at this pine tree and realize that there is no way I can get it cut safely by myself or with the available help I have. So ... I go back and forth with Carlos and we convince him to move the pole and try a different angle. He agrees if I pay for $10 of the cement and extra work. Fine — just get it done!

Within minutes he gives up and tells me that he cannot get a signal there either — game over, cannot get high-speed internet. :-(

So I call the company to cancel the service — when I ask how long it will take to get my deposit money back (which they promptly took ouot of my checking account) the guy tells me 6-8 weeks! Something tells me this was not meant to be and that I will have more headaches in the future with this company.

I have now set up a plan to call and write to Verizon every month until they deliver DSL service to our area. We should not be punished for living only 10 miles outside of town (where DSL is available).

Mom's health

Mom had an appointment on Tuesday to have a CT Scan of her chest. Last week I took her to see a specialist to deal with her breathing problems. The doctor ordered a chest X-Ray in anticipation of a full respiratory test to be done on August 23. The day after the X-Ray was taken, the doctor's office called her to advise her that she had been scheduled for a CT Scan because they found something abnormal in the X-Ray. Could this be cancer? The mere thought scares me. I know what Tracey went through with her cancer struggle -- I cannot imagine what my Mom would have to go through if it is diagnosed as cancer.

She has already said that she will not have surgery — she has had enough of those in her life, and I certainly cannot blame her for not wanting to go through it again. Will she do chemo or radiation? In her current state of mind I doubt that she will.

I am scared of what the future may bring for my Mom -- will she be in pain, and die a horrible, painful, death? She is having a terrible time breathing as it is, the effects of smoking have caught up with her and now she is struggling with each breath.

I am glad I quit smoking seven years ago — I definitely need to get back into physical activities again so that I can lose weight and regain physical fitness. I have a plan to get me started and I will begin implementing it ASAP.

The day that smoking is no longer a part of human habits cannot come too soon!

Kids Heading to School

Tracey called me yesterday to let me know that the kids are now enrolled in school -- sort of. There may be an overcrowding problem at the school closer to our house. However, we may have preference because we live in this community. We have an open house coming up on August 4 and then they start school on August 8.

It is strange thinking that my little babies are now going to start school -- but they are so ready for it! They are definitely excited to go to school and make friends and do all the things that they see on TV.

By the way, I got them this "game" form that helps them from pre-Kindergarten through First Grade. Both of my kids are doing great with letters and numbers -- I am so proud of them!

I think having a computer for the last year has really helped them advance in their learning. Their current PC is loaded with Windows XP but I am about to put together a different system for them that will have a version of Linux in it. I will probably make it a dual-boot system so that they can explore both "worlds" and decide which one they are more comofortable with.

I can still clearly remember the first day we brought Noah home and he and I crashed on the couch! Now, all he wants to do is have fist fights / karate fights with me — he is such a boy!

MacKenzie is just as advance in computer skills as Noah is — she is a good learner and in some ways she has surpassed her teacher (Noah). MacK is very good with strategy games and only gives a response when she actually knows the answer (whereas Noah will guess and try again a lot).

It will be interesting to see how they do in school, especially in the first few days as they integrate into a completely new world to them. Stay tuned!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

A government out of control

I have been witnessing what I consider a government out of control, like a locomotive without brakes that heads straight into a busy train station. I can only speculate that the end result could be tragic.

The U.S. Senate has passed a bill that will make it mandatory for all U. S. citizens and aliens to carry a digital ID card that is machine-readable. I have two major problems with this law:

1. The House version was passed, as was the case of the Patriot 2 Act, as an attachment to a spending bill. This is a sneaky way to legislate, passing laws under the pretense of something else. It denies due process to anyone that may have objected to the law. It is obvious that Congress is not working to serve the people -- not when they have to hide legislation inside a spending bill so that it can go through the process with a minimum of attention. That is a cowardly way to act. What are they hiding from us? Why are they not upfront about the issues and why this law is important and has merit?

2. Stories of data mismanagement -- huge data thefts, losses and misuses -- come out almost daily. What will happen to your personal data (including photograph, SSN, etc.) in the hands of one centralized government agency (Homeland Security)? How will this data be safe from hackers and from internal misuse? It is a fact that government agencies have sold personal data to commercial entities -- and the amount of information that will be collected by these ID cards and the readers is astronomical! These cards can track you down, gather information on what you do and buy, etc. The potential for abuse is scary.

For more information, please see these websites: Charles Cooper's blog

Story in Real ID story in ComputerWorld

Does the Real ID act contain a Constitution-busting Trojan horse?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

A little bragging

OK, so I am going to do a little bragging here -- if that is not your cup of tea, just feel free to skip over this post -- I won't take it personally! ;)

I recently set a pretty ambitious short-term goal to support one of my Toastmasters' clubs -- to make a long story short, I am to deliver ten speeches between now and June 30 so that my club can earn the highest possible recognition that Toastmasters awards. Since I am working with others to achieve all the goals, we are all shooting for June 15 as our deadline to achieve these.

I had asked the Vice-President of Education of the other club I belong to (Columbia Toastmasters) to put me on the schedule for three different sessions, but he could only assure me of two for future weeks. John did ask me I wanted to speak tonight -- I told him was not ready. This morning I received an email from him with tonight's agenda -- and there was an open spot for a speaker. So, at 2 PM, I wrote a speech, polished it, read it several times (while I was working on several projects), and then played it in my mind as I envisioned it to be delivered. At 5 PM I walked to the meeting place (a 25 minute walk) and arrived there with enough time to chit-chat, read the speech three more times, and get ready for the meeting. Not only was I placed in the third speaker slot, but I also performed two other roles during the meeting.

The moment of truth: my turn to speak. I stood and delivered one of the best speeches I have since I joined Toastmasters! It felt great to be able to pull this off at the last minute which, unfortunately, seems to be a pattern in my daily life. I was pretty pleased with myself.

Friday, I have another speech to deliver -- and this is going to be interesting. I am supposed to have five subjects and the audience will pick one of them at random. The presentation must be spontaneous, with little preparation other than knowing the overall subject and my own personal experience. Coming up with five subjects can be such a challenge sometimes! :)

Work Stuff

I love my job! I am having such a blast! I helped one of my colleagues with an unexpected project -- and it turned out to be fun and exciting to solve the problem. Stephanie is a great analyst and super to work with. I am very lucky because everyone in my team is great to work with. I am very lucky, indeed!

Other Stuff

I am beginning to learn (and in some cases, relearn) some great self-help stuff. My newest interest: Yoga.

Here are some links I want to share with all of you:

Tap in to the near endless power of your mind: Silva Ultramind Systems


Good night!

Friday, April 29, 2005

Five years old!

This morning, Noah greeted me with a smile and a "I am five now!" WOW! It is SO hard to believe that my son is now five years old!

I can still remember getting the news that he would join us a few months later -- Tracey and I had wanted to have children and had a rough start. But a trip west took care of that! It was great fun talking to Noah as he developed inside Tracey. I can recall his birth as if it was yesterday -- I remember bringing him home, sleeping with him on the coach, giving him his first bath! It was fantastic seeing him grow, playing with toys, crawling, standing up, walking -- and then mastering computer and Nintendo! I am amazed at this young person I have known for five years -- and I look forward to enjoying everyday with him and his sister as they grow and learn and get ready for their own destiny!

I am very proud of them and love them with all my heart!

Happy Birthday Noah!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Scans all clean!

Yesterday, Tracey and I went to the Oncologist appointment and received really great news! The CT and bone scans showed she is cancer free. The radiation treatment is still needed to minimize the chance of recurrence in the chest wall.

We celebrated by having lunch at Atlanta Bread Co. -- very nice and personable service and the food was delicious!

Monday, January 10, 2005


I know - it has been an eternity since the last post. Life has been busy! :-)

Here are some of the news from the last few weeks:

Home Office
Tracey, Kayla and I have been working hard on getting our home office renovated. We feel this is critical to us having a great 2005 with better organization and efficiency. As par tof this project, we have torn walls, built walls, removed the ceiling and replaced insulation as needed, installed drywall on the ceiling, removed paneling from all walls, sheet-rocked all walls, painted the rooms, replaced teh floor with nice laminate hardwood, and built (from scraps, mostly) two nice workbenches for my computer repairs and for our printing jobs.

I achieved CTM status on 1/3/05 by completing all ten projects in the Basic manual of Toastmasters. Now I will start with more advanced manuals and also look forward to my Competent Leader path.

My tenth Toastmasters speech related to the Silva method of mental programming whcih I learned back in the 1970s. I have since re-discovered Silva and his teachings. I encourage all to check it out: Silva UltraMind System. Look for their free "The Unlimited You" ebook.

Tracey's Progress
Tracey developed myalgia over the last few months as a result of chemotherapy. This condition is manifested by chronic pain throughout the body. In Tracey's case, the pain is more severe in her lower extremities. In her own words: "I feel like I was 90 years old!". Dr. Madden's office has prescribed some medications that should help her; hopefully they will!

Work Stuff
I was promoted to a new position within SCANA. As of Janury 3, 2005, I began working as a Staging Analyst. I am still working most of the time in my old job as a Workstation Support Tech while a replacement is selected fro my position. I hope this process can be complete by the target date of February 1. My new job is really great and the team I am working with is fantastic!

Our little ones keep amazing us. Noah continues to love his Star Wars stuff, especially the Millenium Falcon that he got for Christmas from his Omi. He is also showing some real talent for music; he learned Twinkle Twinkle in about 30 minutes! MacK is our painter/drawing artist — with our house walls her favorite canvas!

I have been doing pretty good at bowling. Last week I scored a 218-234-181 series. Not bad for a once-a-week bowler using a ten year old ball!