Sunday, December 28, 2008

Must be cattle nearby....

Or not. Sometimes if something looks a little out of place you may just want to stop right where you are before what you smell becomes what you wear. There are OPSEC indicators all around and you don't need to be military to pick up on them. I went mountain biking today on a new trail with a new friend. Mountain biking is a term used very loosely here since there are no mountains nearby. We went to the Harwoods Mill Reservoir park in Newport News.

Since the temperatures jumped into the 70s here today and the sun was out it seemed like an ideal plan. Both of us were a bit impaired having been at different parties the night before so we had an excuse. The trail system there is actually a lot of fun and fairly easy. The problem was that we were trying to follow the signs from one trail to another. We stopped to talk for a moment and try to figure out where we needed to go. I tend to meet ALL of my problems head on. This has gotten me into trouble more than a couple of times.

It was obvious that horses frequented the area. OPSEC indicator number 1...piles of manure. It looked like a lot of horses frequented the area. OPSEC indicator number 2...lots of piles of manure. In fact, the smell was almost overwhelming. OPSEC indicator number 3....the obvious smell of a large quantity of farm animals without any being actually present. Since neither one of us were exactly sound in the digestive department from the night before, we hastened to get past the smell. The path before us looked a little like dried mud and so we proceeded. I noticed that it appeared someone had been throwing manure at the signs and trees. I found this very odd, but I was little more concerned about getting past the smell. OPSEC indicator number 4...people or animals almost never throw manure anywhere.

It was about then that Chris made the connection I did not want to. We were riding through a very thick swath of manure. Our nobby mountain biking tires were sinking into this crap, molding to it, clinging to the tires until it couldn't anymore and came flinging up on our legs. Knee deep in horse shit. Not just the trail, someone somehow managed to coat the trees. My best guess is a manure spreader of some kind...but I would almost swear it looked like it had come from the sky. I could see this kind of thing out in a field...but a service road? We made it through and had a much more enjoyable ride once the manure had all finally flung off the tires. Makes for kind of a shitty end to the year though. :-)

I suppose it could have been worse. I could have led us through poison ivy or poison oak and ended up like Rachel.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


A little odd...maybe even is part of the name for my blog. You cannot say you did not have some warning.

When faced with the prospect of being without my son for a few hours, or days, or weeks I get a bit of mania. I feel driven. I am up late (like 2am), up early (6am), and try to fill each moment. That happened the last two days. Even at 9pm when my eyes were dried out, I did not feel like I could stay awake another moment, something catches my attention, and I am off again. I cannot really concentrate, so I just move from thing to thing not really getting anything done. Seems like there is so much to do. I know it cannot all be done. I prioritize, but that gets re-arranged constantly.

A catnap for 10-15mins just restarts me. At midnight I'm trying to read Brave New World and the words just swim around the page, my eyes burn, but for some reason I am driven. I woke up at 5am and just start again. I have to clean my house and get several things done today. Tomorrow I am going to head to Richmond to spend some time with my friends there. Friday is snowboarding and maybe more time in Richmond. Saturday is bike riding, and Saturday night is a friend's birthday party....rockstar style. Sunday may be bike riding and rock climbing.

In the back of my mind is work. Security metrics. Problem sets. Processes that need to be fixed, or created (Sheesh, there are lots of both). The endless procurement circus. That list only grows from there.

Next week is more of the same. Two days of work, snowboarding, New Years, business trip to Maryland on Friday, snowboarding Saturday maybe, back Sunday for my son to come home.

In a word...Mania.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas.... :-)

Brandon and I celebrated Christmas Saturday morning. He leaves Sunday to go to his mom's for two weeks. He's been complaining for a while that his computer is slow. He wanted a laptop. That is not going to happen. However, Santa had a brilliant idea and I agreed. Santa brought him all the PARTS he needed to build a new computer (in his old case). Santa also brought him a Lego Mindstorm NXT robot and some books and a few other things.

I wasn't sure how well the project would go. Brandon has been saying for a while he wanted to learn more about computers...

The project went amazingly well. He was brilliant. He never complained and stuck with it until the end. He didn't even complain about my 20 minute introduction to computers whiteboard session:
We went through a lot.

Then we got started with the project. He had to first disconnect the existing system and open the case. Then he had to remove the existing PCI cards, power connectors, and pull out the hard drive and DVD drive. Then he removed the motherboard and the power supply.

He turned every screw and performed every action. I just gave him verbal guidance and took pictures. We re-iterated what the component's functions were along the way. Once the case was cleaned out, we blew it out with the air compressor. We were ready for phase two.

He put in the new power supply first. I had him read through parts of the motherboard manual and tell me what all the component on the motherboard were and where they were. Then he put in the supports for the new motherboard and installed the motherboard. Next he installed the new memory. Then we put in the new processor, explaining about thermal paste, heat sinks, and heat transfer surface area as we went. He connected the motherboard power leads and then put in the hard drive and DVD drive. He also connected the front panel leads too. I had him refer back to the manual for as much as possible.

It took between two and three hours, but the moment had come. It was time to turn it on. I explained that we usually miss something along the way and so it may not work the the first time we turn it on. However, it did work the first time. It has blue LEDs in the power supply. :-)

We got started installing Vista (64 bit since he knows a little about the difference between 8, 16, 32, and 64 bit now). His friends came over and wanted to play so I finished the OS and other software installs. Had to go buy a Netgear WN311B Wireless adapter since it has 64bit drivers and the Linksys does not. It took forever to get all the Vista updates too.

I had to get a tackle / tool box for the Mindstorm. At least with that he won't lose all the pieces at once....

See what I mean?

I hope your Christmas / Holiday goes as well as ours did!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I crossed a huge milestone today...

I got the 50th state quarter for our quarter map! I'm not even kidding. Hawaii. The search is over!! Now Brandon wants to frame the map. I agree...I don't want him trying to spend the quarters. He tried that once. He also pulled them out, mixed them up, and then put them in backwards too. I don't even begin to know why.

So, what's different. Hmmm. Nothing really. It wasn't a bad day today. Thank you all for the happy My God you're getting ancient Birthday Wishes. I really do appreciate that!

What has been happening is that I'm making a concentrated effort to eat a bit better. I recently collected a number of vegetarian and Asian cookbooks. I'm not moving towards vegetarianism, but I do like the food. My son loves Asian as much as I do. I'm looking to cook things like casseroles and stuff that I can throw in a crock pot too. I don't want to spend two hours in the kitchen every night.

Like I said yesterday, I got on a coed indoor soccer team...that will keep my Sunday mornings busy until at least March. :-)

My Christmas shopping for my son is done. :-)

I have a round trip plane ticket to go anywhere (that costs less than $400) . I have to use it before March. Salt Lake City for snowboarding is my logical choice at this time. We'll see. Marla says the snow is better in New Mexico though. I am dreaming snowboarding in Chile, New Zealand, or Australia one summer too. Also going to Alaska.

I got a few very unexpected and very special gifts today for which I am very thankful. :-)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A realization struck me today...

I got a phone call about playing indoor coed soccer! Woo hoo! We'll be playing at the Jewish Community Center here. I am very excited. The team organizer said that we have a good mix, but not everyone can make it to a lot of the games. They need more women too. He then went on to say that he was in his late thirties and described the mix of the other players.

That was when the realization struck. I am only in my late thirties for the next few hours. At midnight I am in my early forties. super hero power is procrastination! I would work on a way to put off my early forties, but I can do that later.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

All I really want for Christmas....

Since I've been reading through XKCD...I'm through 200 of them. This is #201.

I have the GPS...Just need to find the woman that thinks like this...

And if you are into math, language, science, and should seriously think about spending some time at Each one will either have you laughing hysterically or put you into thoughtful contemplation.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I really have a lot to say...

But I don't feel like writing it all out right now. :-(

Instead, I've been reading through all of I'm at 140. It takes a while. I am paralyzed with paroxysms of laughter at each one.

Here are two I read that is a poignant reminder of what it is to become very close to someone and see them go.