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More PHP Madness
There's something very addictive about tweaking the code for this blog. I think it's because every time I see a feature on another blog that I want on mine, I start to wonder if I should switch which software I'm running. But invariably it's missing something that phpblogger has, and I think to myself 'Heck, phpblogger is pretty easy to modify, maybe I could just add that feature.'

So you'll note that I now have a nifty calendar doo-dad that links to daily archives of my posts. More importantly though, my blog now stores its data in daily archives! I was a bit concerned that all my posts were being dropped into a single flat file. Reading that whole thing into memory every time someone visits my site could eventually do bad things to my poor little server.

Sigh. It's late now. I really need to go to bed.
July 21st, 2005 - 11:26 pm | Comments (3) | PERMALINK

Our Trip to New York
Continuing the slow sift through old photos on my hard drive, I give you our New York vacation from 2002:

The summer after we were married funds were a little short, but we still wanted to go on vacation. We decided to spend a week in New York and see the sights. Sure, it's where I grew up, but neither of us had spent much time in the city going to the real tourist spots any time recently, so it seemed like it would be fun. As it turned out, my mom was away so we had free run of her house without having to really 'stay with the folks' during our vacation.

We went to a bunch of the museums, the Bronx Zoo (sorry, no pictures from that one for some reason), and hung out with my dad whenever he was available. We had some nice meals in the city with dad, and hit a couple diners for lunch or late night snacks (it's a Long Island thing -- they're everywhere down there.)

Towards the end of these photos you'll see some shots of a big old mansion on the island (sorry, Long Island) that belonged to Teddy Roosevelt. I don't recall what it's name was. Sadly, they wouldn't let me take any photos of the inside, which was even cooler than the outside.
July 20th, 2005 - 01:39 pm | Comments (0) | PERMALINK

Life Insurance
After leaving my last a job a few months ago, I had to pay for my own insurance for a couple of months. COBRA is pretty easy to deal with, but for my life insurance I let our insurance agent talk me into automatic withdrawals from my checking account. I looked at old paystubs and I had about $15/month withheld for life insurance, so I figured it wouldn't be too bad.

Well, the next thing I know there's a withdrawal of $140.97 showing up on my bank statement. I thought the price might go up a bit since it wasn't going through the company any more, but this was rediculous. Also, my new employer was in the process of setting up benefits which would include life insurance. It was clear this had to stop.

I tried contacting the insurance agent by phone -- but all I got was voice mail. I tried email. Three weeks went by, and not a word from the guy. Next thing I know, there's another charge of $140.97. I was starting to worry. I left the agent one last angry message, and then called my bank to put a stop payment on the transfers.

While doing this, the bank asked if I wanted the contact info they had on file for the transfer. Sure, why not? It was an 800 number, and I assumed it went directly to the insurance company. So, I gave them a call.

After a lot of holding, transfering, and dealing with stupid automated systems (I hate the new voice controlled ones!) I finally got to talk to a real person. She tells me she'll send me the paperwork to close the account. A few minutes later, she calls me back asking what amount have I been charged for my insurance. When I tell her she says 'Oh, I think we have a problem.' No doubt.

It turns out I've been paying for the entire company's life insurance for the past two months. Morons. 'We'll be sending you a refund,' the woman says. Damn straight you will. If nothing else, at least when I got through to the insurance company the woman was very helpful. As for the original insurance agent -- the guy actually wanted me to recommend him to my new company when they were setting up their benefits. I'm so glad I didn't do that.
July 20th, 2005 - 07:06 am | Comments (3) | PERMALINK

Airport Sign
On a recent trip to CA, I saw this awesome sign in Logan and just had to take a picture. OK, I could see that somebody might not be thinking and accidentally bring their pocket knife or maybe even a pair of scissors with them on the plane. But it must take a really special person to accidentally pack their revolver.

Clearly the best item pictured though, is the bomb. The classic black sphere with a big old wick protruding is just awesome. Does such a thing even really exist? I could just see the guy that gets caught trying to get one of those through airport security:

'Vhat? Iz just bomb. Iz for moose and squirrel.'
July 18th, 2005 - 07:24 am | Comments (2) | PERMALINK

San Francisco
Since I'll be gone all weekend and unable to post any more random photos, I figured I'd better put up a set now. These are some shots from our trip to San Francisco last summer for my brother's wedding. We spent a day just roaming the town to see what we could find. Here's what we found.
July 16th, 2005 - 09:04 am | Comments (0) | PERMALINK

So, it seems I can achieve flow with sewing as well as coding. 'Flow' is a term I picked up from an NPR report I heard once that helped me explain my decision to focus on programming rather than writing. Basically, flow is when you become so engaged in an activity you completely lose all sense of time and find hours slip by like minutes. I've heard writers describe experiencing flow while writing before, but it's never happened to me, though I do experience flow while coding all the time.

Anyway, last night after dinner I started working on Roly's newest 18th century shirt and the next thing I know it's super late. I feel really bad, as it left Roly with nothing to do all night on a Friday night no less. Sorry Roly!

I got my comeuppance though. I made possibly the largest mistake I've ever made on a sewing project. I usually make some kind of mistake on each project, and as such have become quite handy with the old seam ripper, but this one was a doozy. I sewed one of the sleaves on inside out -- the shoulder seam looked great until I noticed the sleave seam was on the outside instead of the inside! Doesn't sound so terrible, but not only was the seam a gathered seam (needing some extra care to set-up and pin), but I didn't notice the error until after going back and zig-zagging the edge of the seam to really seal it closed.

Oi vay! Not an irrevocable error, but it pains me to sit there and spend all that time undoing so much work. What a waste!
July 16th, 2005 - 08:31 am | Comments (1) | PERMALINK

Saratoga's 225th
Jenn and I went to the 225th anniversary of the battle of Saratoga. It was truly awesome. I've never been to a reenactment quite that large before.

Sadly, my photography skills were severly lacking on this trip. On the first day the battle was so far away from the visitor location you could barely see it. On the second day, it was so close they had to push the ropes back (along with the surging crowd) to make room for the troops.

For some reason, I don't have any pictures from the second day. I don't recall what happened to them, but I expect they came out all blurry and/or dark as I ran about the sidelines trying to get a shot.

It's really a shame I don't have better photos. Some of the more memorable sites are crystal clear in my mind, and I wish I could share them with you.

EDIT: The internet is a wonderful thing. Check out this movie someone made of the event. Fantastic -- just as I remember it.
July 15th, 2005 - 09:21 pm | Comments (0) | PERMALINK

Ph34r my L33t Skillz
Oh yeah, I hacked the blog code into allowing me to make pictureless posts! I pwn PHP!
July 15th, 2005 - 01:32 pm | Comments (2) | PERMALINK

I've gone and hacked an RSS 2.0 feed into my blog. It actually wasn't that tough. The code in phpblogger is pretty clean, and RSS is well documented.

EDIT: You can find the link in the top right corner of the main page.
July 15th, 2005 - 12:07 pm | Comments (1) | PERMALINK

Fife Rehearsal
So every Thursday I go into Stow for fife rehearsal, and it's starting to tick me off that my skill drops significantly when I'm there. I understand that some amount of nerves will factor into that, and that playing with a group is always different or more difficult than playing by yourself, but I don't think that explains just how much worse I seem to be at these things.

The worst part is, I've been really good about practicing the fife. I've always thought of myself as a sort of musical dilettante. I know how to play a ton of instruments pretty poorly -- I've never stuck with one long enough to really master it. I always figured this was because I was just too lazy to stick with a regular practice schedule. But with the fife, I've been practicing almost every day. I'm almost at the point where I can pretty handily sight-read a piece of music, something I've only been able to do with voice in the past (and maybe recorder, but not since highschool).

My theory at this point is that perhaps by the time I get to rehearsal I'm already too tired. See, my home practice time is between 4-5 PM, right after work but before dinner. Rehearsal is on Thursdays at 6:00 PM. Maybe I should skip home practice on Thursdays. Perhaps by 6:00 my embouchure is already shot from practicing just a short time before.

Anyway, I hope that's it. That's something I can easily change. As it is, I keep claiming I can play all sorts of things and then proving myself wrong with my horrible playing. It's really quite annoying.
July 15th, 2005 - 07:24 am | Comments (2) | PERMALINK

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