Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Macy Shows Off Her Cup Stacking Skills

I had no idea Macy could do this until she unveiled her talent at Christmas.  Apparently they teach this sort of thing in gym class nowadays.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Macy's Veteran's Memorial Presentation

Macy got a chance to present her Veteran's Memorial project to her 4th Grade class last week and she did an awesome job.

Christmas Images

A few quick pics from the Georgia trip.  Our Christmases are not always traditional.  First of all, my nephew Cody, who is a great kid, has broken more bones in the last two years than the rest of my family has combined -- ever.  This presented an opportunity to give him a gift that he could truly use: bubble wrap.

Make sure your mother applies liberally before you go outside.

Macy was showing off her cup stacking skills, something she apparently picked up during gym (?!) recently.  After a while, it naturally occurred to see if we could touch the ceiling.

Nobody breathe.

And what would Christmas in Georgia be without the annual Cataula Poker Challenge.  Who won, you ask?  Here's a clue:

The first two-time winner.

For more pictures, check out the online photo album here.

Friday, December 24, 2010

New at Say Anything: First-Person Flier: An Account of Air Travel in 2010 (Part 1)

I’m traveling for Christmas this year and with all the buzz around searches and groping and whatnot, I thought it might be interesting to document my experience with TSA on both legs of the journey. My point of departure was Fargo, North Dakota, which will never make a top ten list of busiest airports. As such, it lags behind in implementing new technologies (if not new procedures). In other words, there aren’t going to be any full-body scanners. Would this mean full pat downs for all?

Thankfully no. My printer being out of ink, I had to print off boarding passes at the self-service kiosks. These were not working however, which meant I couldn’t bypass the ticket agent and go straight to the security line. The agent was friendly, but I noticed that he didn’t ask for ID before handing me the passes; my name (and the names of those traveling with me) were enough to get them. That seemed odd at first — that certainly has never been my experiece in the past — but it made sense when I realized the TSA agent at the security checkpoint would check the boarding pass against my ID anyway. I made my way to the security checkpoint.

Click here to read the rest of this post at Say Anything.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

How Kids Become Small Government Advocates

We were packing for a trip to visit my family for Christmas when my daughter asked me why she couldn't bring a bottle of water with her on the plane. I explained to her that, because the bottle carried more than three ounces of liquid, it couldn't be carried on the plane. She asked why, and I told her that it was because someone once tried to blow up an airplane. She didn't quite understand where the three ounce rule came in. I couldn't help her with that one since I don't know either. Three ounces of a liquid explosive could put a nice hole in an airplane. She announced that the rule keeping her from bringing water on the plane was "stupid". I agreed.

It just so happened that soon after this conversation I read this post, in which it was revealed that the Department of Homeland Security was protecting us "24/7, 364 days a year".  I showed my daughter this mistake.  She rolled her eyes and made a remark about this person being silly.  Then I pointed out to her that the person who said this was the person responsible for that "stupid" rule that keeps her from bringing a water bottle on an airplane.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

New At Say Anything: Reid Pulls Spending Bill After Republicans Remember They Are Being Watched

That didn't take long. After word got out about all the earmarks in the omnibus spending bill with R's attached to them, Senate Republicans announced they would no longer vote for it, causing Senator Harry Reid to pull the measure.
Senate Democrats abruptly pulled down an omnibus spending bill after senior Republicans – caught with their hands in the cookie jar — deserted the measure in an effort to square themselves with tea party activists and conservatives in the party.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the announcement and signaled he would substitute a short-term spending resolution for the much more detailed year-long $1.1 trillion plus measure which many in the GOP had been quietly rooting for just weeks ago.

Continue reading this post at Say Anything...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Michael Vick: A New Dog Could Help My Rehabilitation

Aww, isn't that cute.  He's so -- RUN

So, Michael Vick, quarterback, secret agent, sportsman, smuggler, financial genius, and ladies man, says in an interview with something called "The" that getting a new dog would be something he could get behind.  Because, you know, when someone treats something like crap, the best way to rehab is to get more of it.

In other news:
  • Charles Manson is thinking about adopting some hippies
  • Marion Barry was spotted Christmas shopping at a crack pipe superstore
  • Jesse James is eyeing a Gestapo uniform on eBay
  • David Hasselhoff could sure go for a burger and a bourbon
  • Nikki Sixx is reading up on that new heroin diet he's been hearing so much about
  • Kenny Rogers figures one more visit to the plastic surgeon couldn't hurt
  • Lindsay Lohan thinks that 2-for-1's at the Crown Bar are the perfect way to relax while she reads scripts

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Macy's Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Tribute

Macy had to choose a famous monument for a class project.  Naturally she thought of her veteran dad and chose the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington, D.C.  I helped out with the overall design and some of the painting.  Macy picked out the materials (with some help from Donna) and etched the "names" into the wall.

The finished product.
Macy used this photo as her inspiration.

Friday, December 10, 2010

New At Say Anything: Rights vs. "Rights": One Of These Can Be Taken Away When The Money Runs Out

The student riots in London demonstrate the consequences of turning every desire into a right. The British government promised everyone a cheap college education using the only tool with which it could deliver -- tax money. In doing so it bestowed a "right" that it could never afford to maintain. Now, with the British Parliament voting to triple the price of college (and let's me honest, what they really did was reset a price control), the effect is that Britain's youth sees a right bestowed upon them by the government being taken away.

Click here to continue reading at Say Anything

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New At Say Anything: Canada Has A Goal For How Long Emergency Room Waits Should Be

And I'm betting that the number is a lot higher than you would think. Take a minute and think about your longest wait for emergency room care. Let's assume that the number of hours you have in mind is ridiculously long. Long enough that you got pissed, that you're still pissed just thinking about it.

Now think about what it would be like if you found out that hospitals across the country were shooting for that number as an actual goal, rather than denouncing it as an aberration. I can tell you what it would be like: it would be like living in Canada where the healthcare is "free".

Want to see how your number compares to the reality of Canadian healthcare targets? It's just a click away.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Blogging In The Key Of Nerd: Intellisense Doesn't Work For WPF Projects In Visual Studio 2008

As part of a project I am working on, I need to design a form that mimics the Communicator contact UI that we use in Dynamics GP.  You've seen it before: it looks like a list of names with a bunch of stoplight-inspired orbs floating in front of it. Yesterday I open up Visual Studio 2008 SP1, create a new WPF Application and am greeted with this:

This is less... colorful... than I'd hoped.
 Okay, so, no Intellisense.  This is bad.  I've never worked with a WPF project before, so I am not in a position to whip out this form without everyone's favorite coding crutch.  I play around with it for awhile, to no avail.  I attempt to View Code on the form, only to be told this:

I keep telling you this is a blog.  I don't need an editor.

So the problem is that I don't have an editor capable of handling .xaml files.  Seems like something that should be there already, since I can select a project that uses these files and Visual Studio will, you know, generate code automatically in a .xaml file that it created.  Mildly irritated, I start Binging.  My first hit looks promising; it says there's a problem with a couple of KB-related updates.  I need to manually remove those, add a couple from the .NET 3.5 install and everything should be rainbows and unicorns again.  I do this (with mandatory restarts after each uninstall and each install).  No dice.  That's okay.  The next paragraph in the nicely detailed post I'm currently cursing has an alternate remedy:  reinstall .NET 3.5.  If that doesn't work, simply reinstall Visual Studio.  Easy!

--- 3.5 hours later ---

Still no Intellisense.  I ask around to see if anyone else has encountered this.  No one has.  It appears I have stumbled into another of those famous quandaries: Things That Only Happen To Me.  Sweet.  I get a suggestion that installing Microsoft Expression might do the trick.  The good news is that this didn't take nearly as long as reinstalling VS.  The bad news is that it didn't actually work.

Next up, I get a suggestion that it's the version of VS 2008 I am using (Professional).  What they hey, I can kick off another install before I leave and it will be ready when I get to work the next day.  I uninstall and path out to a local install location for Visual Studio Team System.

--- The next morning ---

No good.  Visual Studio has turned against me even though I never did anything to it.  What's that, Visual Studio?  That's not true.  You are lying, I never hit you. You are tearing me apart, Visual Studio!  I go back to Bing.  This time I find a thread that has a very different explanation for my issue.  It's all some nefarious plot by my registry to keep me from providing added value to Microsoft.  It appears that by some quirk of fate, installing the .NET SDK after installing VS 2008 can sometimes, under certain conditions and if the wind is coming from the northwest, cause a registry entry to become corrupted, thus letting the terrorists win causing Intellisense to stop working.  Eagerly I open regedit and find that my registry looks absolutely fine.  Sigh.  My hand moves the mouse to close IE... but wait!  What's this a little further down the list of responses?
thing was that xml editor does not support intellisense...
I set the default to source code editor which does support intellisense
Clearly this was written by a person of learned grace. I read further and found that whatever this person was talking about, it had helped others. If only I spoke gibberish. I checked Babelfish -- French to English, Spanish to English, Greek to English -- damn! No Gibberish to English. I tried another tack, searching for a way to set the text editor in VS 2008.

Sure enough, this can be done through the Tools menu. Under Tools >> Options >> Text Editor >> File Extension. I added an entry for .xaml files and set the text editor to Web Form Editor with Encoding.

They've got a window for everything.

I reloaded the .xaml file and...

Ted Turner couldn't have done a better colorizing job.

 I have since played around some more and found that setting the text editor to Web Service Editor with Encoding also worked.  I also discovered that no other developer I could find needed to do this to get it to work, so maybe this entire post is unnecessary.  Well, at least it was cathartic.

Update (12/9): It appears this didn't solve all my Xaml problems: the editor still didn't recognize all the .xaml tags, and so my code would not compile. However, upon the advice of another anonymous internet poster, I re-installed VS 2008 SP1 (just the SP, not the entire thing) without removing my previous SP1 install. Yep, just right over the top of that sucker. Now everything works as the universe intended.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

High Speed Rail Illustrates Broken Relationship Between Feds, States (Excerpt)

The news that California is forging ahead with plans to build the first leg of a high speed rail system might seem puzzling considering their budget woes. That confusion clears up once you get to the real reason for the urgency.

The California High Speed Rail Authority is committed to breaking ground on a leg of the train that will serve passengers between the unincorporated town of Borden and the half-incarcerated town of Corcoran.

Whether you call it the train from nowhere or the train to nowhere, nobody will be riding it even when it’s done. That’s not libertarian cant: The actual plan for the $4.15 billion leg is that upon completion it will sit idle until other sections of track are completed.

The CHSRA needs to break ground by September 2012 or lose $2.25 billion in federal funds.
(Emphasis mine.)

(Read the rest of this article on Say Anything Blog)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Theories Of The Walking Dead

Donna and I have been avid followers of AMC's new zombie show The Walking Dead.  It's been pretty entertaining so far, with a good mix of drama and eww -- zombies(!) moments.  One of my hopes for the series is that the cause of the zombie fever is never revealed.  Hints, maybe.  Wild guesses that are never confirmed or denied, sure.  But once the mystery is solved, I think something will be lost from the series that it can't get back.  However, this is television, and clever writers won't be able to resist the temptation to try and come up with their own clever rationale for how clever they can be.  Clever.

With that in mind, I thought I'd explore some of the possible theories for patient zero and try and determine their likelihood.

Theory 1: A Comet Did It

This, as you probably already know, would be a direct rip off of Night of the Living Dead. I doubt that a show that has shown such originality early in its run would resort to this.  [Odds: 100 - 1]

Theory 2: Scientists Did It

This is almost as tired a cliche as the idea of zombies roaming the earth itself.  Either evil scientists working for some shadowy conspiracy to take over blah blah blah or good scientists working on a cure for yada yada yada have their good works appropriated by the government to turn into a weapon capable of *snore*.  Sadly, this one probably has legs.  [Odds: 4-1]

Theory 3: God Did It

It's Judgment Day: do you know where your kids are?  Well, they should be in school unless they're dead, in which case they should be clawing their way out of their graves right about... now.  This would take the show in bold new directions, as religion hasn't been a focus of the scripts so far.  But if this is the direction they go, they'd better go all the way, by which I mean apocalyptic lunacy, souls being ripped from bodies, and Jesus and Satan going mano a mano for the title.  Somehow I just don't see the series going in that direction.  [Odds: 50-1]

Theory 4: Bush Did It

He's responsible for everything else that's wrong in the world, might as well throw "zombie apocalypse" on the pile.  There haven't been any CGI-enhanced flashbacks of press conferences where President Obama alludes to inheriting a zombie disaster from the previous administration -- yet.  [Odds: 15-1]

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Wishes

Had to share this -- Macy's Christmas list for this year.  I absolutely love the coy questioning if she's old enough for a cell phone.

(click to enlarge)