Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas in Sacramento

In a feet of awesomeness Kim's parents paid for Kim, my three girls and myself to fly out to Sacramento for Christmas. They also bought tickets for Katie and Annmarie to fly out as well. Technically Arianna was free because she just sat in our lap.
Our plane left at 6am out of Jacksonville last Sunday morning. We drove out to Jacksonville the night before and staid at a hotel.
We got to sleep at midnight and woke up at 3:00am. We also scheduled a wake-up call at 3:10 that we never got. Katie and Annmarie where great about getting up on time, which is something that I was worried about. The only hiccup in the morning was Athena who threw a big fit.
We where at the airport around 4am. The only thing that was open that early in the airport was Starbucks. Everyone got bagels and coffee (or some variation thereof.) Athena and I held out to see what was offered past the security check.
I was worried about going through security as we had some baby food and other questionable items but we got through without a problem.
On the other side of security was nothing but a snack shop that charged 3X+ the real value of the items they where selling. I settled for a sausage and cheese biscuit for ~$3.50 and Athena got an Apple (it's what she asked for.) We also split a sports drink. In all I paid around eight dollars. The biscuit was of lower quality than McDonalds and would have cost less than a dollar there.
The plan came forty minutes late but all of the kids where good about waiting around. On the plain the trip was very good. All of the girls where well behaved and I got a window seat.
Once we landed we heard on the loud speaker that our next flight was departing. We originally had some time between the lay over, but with the late flight we were pressed to make our connecting flight.
We rushed to our next terminal and made it on the plane in time.
This plan ride was not so pleasant. The girls where great again, but there was a lot of turbulence. It just so happens that I am not a fan of turbulence.
The first bout came from a big gust of wind that really pushed the plan around. Everyone on the plane made sounds of discontent except the girls who both said, "'Whee!"
I was holding Arianna and was really scared by the movement of the plane. You could feel it being lifted up and then down beyond the will of the plane and its pilots. I started having problems breathing and had to hand Arianna to Kim. This big gusts was followed by much more mild turbulence. I was unable to sit peacefully until all of the turbulence was gone.
We had about fifteen minutes of time with no turbulence and we where allowed to get up when the turbulence picked back up.
This was no good as I had to use the restroom since the time I got off of the previous flight. After a flight laden with turbulence it settled down again for a while and I jetted for the rest room. I wasn't back for long when the turbulence picked back up.
When we finally landed you could tell by the look on everyone's face that all was happy to be land lubbin' again.
At the airport two of our items never came out of the luggage pickup. Apparently because of the short amount of time between our connecting flights two of our items never made the connection.
Unfortunately one of these items was Arianna's car seat. The airliner happened to have a longer on hand. That afternoon our missing bag was personally delivered to our door. The next day the car seat was delivered.
Boo for missing luggage. Yay for the airliner doing everything it could to correct the mistake.
None of us had eaten since about five am Eastern time. Once at Chris and Steve's we raided the refrigerator. We where also running not only jet lagged but also on three hours of sleep.
I think everyone but Kim took a long nap. Fortunately even after our nap, at around nine at night everyone was ready for bed. Jet lag was solved that quickly for all of us.
Monday we went to a vineyard and an apple orchard that sold all sorts of apple goods.
The vineyard was nice and had wine tasting, as vineyards apparently tend to do. For $10 you could do premium wine tasting that included more expensive wines and also includes a glass. Kim and Katie took up the premium wine tasting. I did a few of the free ones, but once I felt the wine starting to hit me (which didn't take long) I gave up. I'm not a wine person anyhow.
The vineyard was beautiful. Grape season is long gone, but some old dried-up grapes still sat on some of the vines.
The apple orchard there was a store. The inside of the store was very old-timey lookingl. They sold all sorts of apple goods like apple pies, apple dumplings, apple butter, etc. They also had a line of different fudges.
Today for Christmas we started by opening presents of course. Then we headed out for a sledding park. Two types of snow sledding where available. Snow tubing was for adults and kids with guts for fast paced snow action. The other was sledding for kids.
The sleds where little plastic circles that look like over sized garbage can lids.
Tubes could be hooked together, so we started off with hitching the kids to our tubes and going down the big slope. Aurora was scared and ended the trip with crying. Athena loved it and wanted to go again.
I took Aurora to the kid sledding and she really enjoyed that. After showing her how to push herself off and how to get off once done and get out of the way, I watched her try her hand at all sorts of sledding tricks. She would make herself spin around or go down backwards.
Then I had Chris and Steve watch her go down the kids sled and I got back in line to go tubing. As I was getting back in line everyone was just going down their second bout of the tubes. Apparently Annmarie and Athena got stuck and when Kim went down she hit Athena's tube and flipped her over. She was now sufficiently scared of tubing so she joined her grandpeeps at kid sledding, which she enjoyed.
Tubing was a lot of fun and as time past the line got shorter and shorter, which allowed for more tubing.
Afterwards we went home and had lasagna for dinner.

So far this trip has been amazing and I really look forward to the days to come.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Political discussions

Political discussions

One thing I always enjoy in a debate is two people with intelligent opinions on the subject. One thing I hate in a debate is two people with unintelligent opinions on the subject.We all have unintelligent opinions on things. For example, I would like to see an increase in biomass electrical plants. While I have read a little on the subject, and it all seems well and good to me, I don't really understand the dynamics of our electrical demands, the different methods of how electricity is produced, or how much money these things cost. I really just don't have a good understanding of the subject. It's just a matter of making more biomass plants sounds very sensible to me. I would not go out and try and make an argument on the subject in a public forum because I'm not well equipped to defend my position against someone who does understand the dynamics of meeting electrical demands in a reasonable fashion.The problem with most political discussions, both public and private, is that the person representing their position is usually uninformed and has no real appreciation for the subject they are trying to tackle. This is why when abortion comes up it is always killing babys vs. woman rights. These arguments are tired, usually hateful, and do not really address their opponents concerns. Even the terms Pro-Life (or right to life) and Pro-Choice are designed to paint the other side as somehow inherently bad. Who wants to be against life, or against choice? Who wants to appear as being misogynistic or murdering babies? Nobody does, that's why each side frames the debate in these lights. The point isn't to defend their side but to offend the other.These problems trickle in to all sorts of hot topics, welfare, immigration, gay marriage, class issues, etc. Nobody is interested in sitting down and trying to understanding where we are coming from in our points of view. Once we can educate each other on our beliefs like mature adults we can start to build the foundation for finding a compromise. Even if a compromise is not reachable (like with abortion or the death penalty) we can at least carry on a dialog and fight our fights in the legal system without pretending like the other side is monstrous collection of undesirables that need to be ridiculed and chastised.So I say be wary of any pundit that tries to paint any issue with a broad brush. If a rebuttal to an argument begins with personal attacks against the opposing groups simply turn that person off and look for an intelligent debate. Life is too short to just sit around and hate people and groups based on political lines.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Why you do not have a constitutional right to vote in the primaries.

There is a lot of clamor going on here in Florida right now about the primaries. Florida has moved it's primary elections up to Jan 29th, which is in violation of the Democrats rules on when we are allowed to hold our primaries. To punish Florida the Democrats have decided that they won't count Democratic primary votes in Florida. Even more they are not allowing any Democratic hopefuls to campaign or do money raising events in Florida.This is sparking action by the Florida government to have a court rule that the Democratic party cannot punish Florida for moving up it's primaries. The argument is that the people have a constitutional right to vote.The problem with that argument is that we don't have a constitutional right to vote. There are some things laid out in the constitution that we have a legal right to decide. However political parties are private organizations. They are bound by certain special laws to prevent fraud and create open disclosure, but they are still private organizations. We have no legal right to make any decisions about these organizations, including who they pick for their nomination for the president of our federal government. In fact, we do not have a constitutional right to even vote for our president. For a long time citizens did not vote for president. Even today we still do not get to directly vote for our president. We vote for our state, which is in turn handed over to an electoral college who really gets to pick. Historically they have always voted in line with the voters.Article 2, section 1 of the constitution sets out how election of the president is held. The twelfth amendment was passed June 15, 1804 and replaced a little under half of the wording. Amendments twenty and twenty-five where passed January 23, 1993, and February 10, 1967 respectively. The last two amendments deal with succession and term limits of the president, not with election.The constitution sets up what we now call the electoral college to vote for the president. Each state gets the number of votes as it gets delegates in congress. These electorates may be voted in by the people, or chosen by any other means as dictated by the states constitution.The point here is that the electoral college gets to vote for president, and who they vote for could be chosen by many different means, and not necessarily by the citizens of the state. So we therefore do not have a constitutional right to vote for our president. It's strictly a matter of local laws that have been passed in all fifty states that allow us to vote for the president.So back to voting in primaries. Given that we do not have a constitutional right to vote for our president, and that the constitution does not even mention primaries, it is either a matter of ignorance or intentional malice on the part of politicians and pundits to claim that we have a legal right to have a say in who a private organization nominates for president.
If for any reason the history of the constitutional congress interests you at all I suggest you read a very informative write-up on the subject at

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Password Confusion!

At the helpdesk we experience users with all sorts of skill sets, or lack thereof. One thing that counfounds me is how many people seem to be completely confused about passwords. It seems simple enough, your username is your identity, your password is your key. You can only have on password at any given time. What follows is a frequent call:
User: I have forgotten my password.(Verifies identity)Me: Your password has been reset to 'abc123'User: So do I put in my old password now, because I don't remember what it is?Me: No, your password has been reset to 'abc123' so that is what you will need to enter.User: That didn't work.Me: Did you put 'abc123'?User: No I put in my old password.Me: Ok, I have set your password to 'abc123' Please type that in to your password field.Me: Did that work?User: Oh, you want me to do it now?Me: Yes, please put in 'abc123' in the password field, and then press the enter key.User: That didn't work either.Me: What error message did you get?User: "Your passowrd has expired. Please enter a new password in both fields."Me: Ok great. Now put your new password in the "New Password" and "Confirm Password" fields. The password must be at least six characters long.User: It wants my old password. I don't know my old password.Me: Your old password is abc123 and should already be typed in.User: Oh no, it had something in there but I removed it.Me: Ok, in old password type in 'abc123' and then put in your new password in the "New Password" and "Confirm Password" fields.User: It says that my password is invalid.Me: Did you put 'abc123' for your old password.User: No, I put in my old password.Me: If you do not put in 'abc123' for your old password it will not work. Please put 'abc123' for your old password, and type your new password in the "New Password" and "Confirm Password" fields.User: It says the passwords do not match.Me: Did you type your new password in the "New Password" and "Confirm Password" fields?User: Oh no, should I do that.Me: Yes.User: Ok, it works now.
Keep in mind that through all of this it is our responsibility to remain pleasant. There are some things that are inherently confusing If passwords confuse you, think of the password as a key. If you loose all of your keys you will need to have the locked change. Once you change your locks your old keys don't matter any more, only your new keys will work. If you find your old keys don't try them in your new lock. They won't work.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Bikes on Parade, Christmas roaches, and new daycare.

Saturday was the Festival of Lights parade in Tallahassee. Like last year, a space was reserved for Bicyclist to ride their bikes and show their support for alternative transportation. This year we had a electric-van that looked like the VW bus, only about 1/4 of it's size, with a big banner that read, "The International Order or Cyclepaths." We rode our bikes around it counter-clockwise. Not to be too boring we had people riding double-decker bikes (a bike welded on top of another bike), unicycles, and various other crazy frankencycles that I am sure gave the crowd a good laugh. Athena road on the child seat on the back.We met up at the shit shack which is off Gaines near the stadium. No I don't know where the name came from. From there we biked to Georgia St. & Monroe where our exhibit was set to wait.About half way through the parade I got a flat on my rear tire and had to walk the bike alongside the van. I found out today a coworker was riding his bike in the parade as well. I think there had to be about 80 bicyclists all together. Very cool stuff.
Yesterday we went to put up our fake Christmas tree and found that roaches had made a nest in it. Kim refuses to let the thing in the house now. I told her I'll boil it, but I can't really think of a good means of doing that. Maybe I'll treat it to high levels of radiation (though I'm not sure if the roaches will care or not.) Maybe I'll end up with Hulk Roaches. I'm not sure if that would be cool or not. ...
I just spoke to Rachel who is taking care of the kids for the first time today and things are going well. Athena is being a big help. I can only imagine having all four of those kids has to be complete insanity. She is very brave indeed.
As part of not having to drop Aurora off at school, Kim and I are starting to carpool where we can. I think on Monday and Wednesday we will go to work together. At 4:30 I'll pick her up from work, we'll grab Aurora from afterschool and then go home. Tuesday and Thursday I have school at 5:30 and that would be calling it too close. Friday Kim likes to stay late and catch up on work so she'll drive so that she can leave whenever she wants without us having to make a second trip back in town (nullifying the benefit of carpooling.) I am excited about the gas we will save.