DirecTV Take 1. Take 2. Take …

As I mentioned elsewhere,
my 11 year old big screen TV decided it was tired, and wasn’t going work
any more. That, of course, accelerated my HDTV education and upgrade

My replacement HDTV is on

But as I mentioned to Kathy, this is a slippery slope. Programming.
Audio. Recording. Etc.

And so I found myself on the phone to DirecTV to upgrade our programming
to their HDTV package with their HDTV DVR. No problem, they said. They’d
be happy to take more of my money. No surprise really.

We scheduled an appointment for the upgrade, which includes a new
(bigger) dish and the DVR. I made note to the representative to make sure
to mention that a 30 foot ladder was going to be required, as the
existing dish was at the peak of one end of our house. No problem, they

And here the enumeration begins by visit and technician contact… (you
know it’s bad when a numbered list is the right approach)

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Geek Wars – Home Wiring Division

Inspired by a post by a former
colleague of mine I decided to grab the Canon (camera that is) and throw my
volley into the “show us your geek” competition.

This is what’s tacked up on a wall in a room in my basement:

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Empty Office & Clean Desk

We’re having all of the woodwork in our home re-varnished. The time came
for my office, which from the following picure you can see is mostly woodwork.
We took advantage of having to empry the walls and bookshelves to go one step
further and empty the office and move the carpet to a different room so it could
be cleaned as well.

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Finished: Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 is one of those books I thought I’d read. I’m a Sci-Fi fan,
and ate up a lot of the “masters” of Sci-Fi years ago. I started with Arthur C.
Clarke (Childhood’s End was
my first Sci-Fi read, what a way to start!), and quickly ran through most of
the works of Heinlein, Asimov, and others, including, I thought, Ray

Apparently not.

My only thought is that perhaps I got sidetracked by the weirdness that is
Something Wicked
This Way Comes, and set Mr. Bradbury aside.

Fast forward some [mumble] years, and I find a reference to
451 in the always popular and thought provoking This Is True weekly email.

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On War

The typeface was smaller than I expected.

But then it would have to be.

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Getting Older

Today’s my birthday.

No big deal, really. Life’s actually too busy to pay much attention to it. It’s not
one of the “milestone” birthdays or anything – that’s next year. And for the most part, most of the time
“on the inside” I feel about half my age.

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Selling Dolls

I’ve tried to explain this enough times that I decided just to write it up
once and (literally) for all.

We opened my wife’s doll shop in 1994. This month marks the completion of
our 12th year.

This month also marks the end of our current lease. That’s a decision point
– knowing this, last year we started asking ourselves: stay, move, go
internet-only or close down completely? The internet has changed the landscape
of doll selling fairly dramatically in recent years, and the expenses
associated with running an actual retail store don’t quite make sense in
comparison to the revenue generated by in-store sales. Internet sales were
“carrying” the business.

If we were going to be profitable , we needed to reduce expenses. Next to
inventory, which is kinda necessary, rent and payroll were tops on the list.
The status quo wasn’t going to cut it.

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Too many hats

I wear too many hats and carry too many business cards. One possible solution: I guess you could call it my “disambiguation page”.


I keep having to apologise to people for taking to long, going dark, and
just generally being so over committed that everything is suffering.

I decided to enumerate all the “things” that are, and have been, going on in life lately – not as an excuse,
more as explanation:

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When your conference room has only 6 power outlets for over 35 laptops, the power octopus or “powerpus” is born: That’s only the most obvious part of the electrical mayhem. Among other things, we had a squid hanging from the wall too. Why two of the power outlets were 8′ off the ground is beyond … Read more

Public Key

Really geeky, but for those that might be interested in same, and to the degree that I understand its usage, here’s my GnuPG public key. Using GPG it can be used to validate messages or data that I “sign”, or encrypt messages such that only I can decrypt them.

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Finished: The World is Flat

I have mixed feelings after reading TWiF. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s
an excellent book, and as you’ll see in a moment, I believe it’s an important

The problem, if that’s what you want to call it, is that it didn’t really
challenge me. I pretty much agree with everything that the author is saying. I
found myself thinking, “yep, yer right” over and over again.

The premise of the book is simply that due to our advancements in technology
– most notably the internet – the world is getting effectively “flatter”. More
people in more diverse regions of the planet are being empowered to
collaborate, and compete, in the global market.

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Expedia just lost me as a customer.

And it really hurts me to walk away. Unlike most customers, who’d probably have walked away long ago, I have an emotional attachment.

I worked on Expedia. When it first went live, I was the guy who installed the “final bits” in the MSN datacenter where it was housed at the time. My account is one of the first on Expedia. Somewhere within the bowels of Expedia, it’s quite possible that some of my code remains.

And yet, no matter how hard I try, Expedia refuses to take my money.

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My Father Turned 90 Today

February 16, 1916. That’s 90 years ago, and the day my dad arrived on planet
earth. Actually, to be more specific, a small farmhouse in The Netherlands.

90 years and many miles later, he’s living comfortably in a nursing home
about 20 miles and 30 minutes from my home. He’s a long time victim of
Alzheimer’s disease. We joke that he has the “good kind” of dementia, because
he’s content, even happy at times, and still has a positive outlook. “We keep
on trying” is something he’s said for many years, and told me once again

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I’m on the board of a local non-profit agency, Hopelink. There’s a surprising amount of poverty and families in crisis in what most assume is a very affluent community. Just because you don’t always see it doesn’t mean it isn’t here.

So, what is Hopelink? The one-sentence version:

Hopelink helps homeless and low-income families get out of crisis and become self-sufficient.

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Finished: Language in Thought and Action

Language in Thought and Action

In recent months I’ve come to believe, strongly, that it is communication, or rather the lack there of, that is the real cause of 80% if the world’s conflict. Time and time again it seems like the inability to communicate an idea clearly, or the inability to truly hear and understand what’s being said, leads to problems. Be it between family members or nations, in my opinion it’s failed communication of ideas, more than ideological differences, that lead to conflict.

Communication is difficult.

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Finished: Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion

Influence - The Psychology of Persuasion

I originally picked this up on the strong recommendation of several entrepreneurs that I work with. The original goal was to learn more about marketing techniques. I ended up walking away with a lot more.

What’s interesting about reading this book is how often I found myself saying “oh, that’s why!” – it explains a lot about human behavior and why we do the things we do. It explains a lot about not only how we are influenced, but why … and why it makes sense that it might be so. And of course, what you might do once you recognize it.

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Finished: Callahan’s Con

Light, fun. I never go into Spider Robinson’s “Callahan’s” series with high plot expectations. Rather, much like the folks in the story itself, it’s good enough simply to rejoin characters that I’ve enjoyed in previous books. The story’s light and enjoyable, and a fine summer read.

Finished: Crossroads of Twilight (Wheel of Time, Book 10)

The Amazon reviews are scathing. I can understand. I started the series when I expected only 10 installments. There’s going to be more? Yikes. But I do think I need to see how the story ends. Sigh. Finishing 10 implies that I finished this one earlier: (Aside: rather than try to keep this previous post … Read more