Main > Joel's January 2007 News
.:Picture of the Day:.


Sunday, January 28th 2007

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Little Sophia's arrival home

That weekend went faster than I possibly could have imagined. We just did a whirlwhind trip to Richmond VA and back in just over 24 hours. When you have a new niece, you do all sorts of crazy things. The good news is that mommy, daddy, and baby are looking splendid. More pictures later, but for now, a quick taste.

It's snowing tonight. Egads, I wish I had brought my laptop home this weekend. Then I wouldn't feel bad about calling out sick tomorrow. *COUGH* *COUGH*. Who am I kidding? I'll be dressed up for work, sitting in traffic on the way to work, just like every other schlub out there tomorrow morning.

We're discussing painting the dining room next weekend. Hey, why not?


Thursday, January 25th 2007

First off, I'm an uncle! Please welcome Sophia Chacko to the big world. She was born Thursday, January 25th, around 4am..... so I heard. I also heard 6 pounds, something-ounces, but I don't think I got all the details. The important news is that mother and daughter are doing swell. I heard new dad Sunny is still passed out on the floor. :)

So, eventful week. Long story short, I think I had a dirty hot dog from the hot dog cart in NYC on Tuesday afternoon for a quick lunch, as I was queasy on the bus ride home that night. Another hint? I was vomiting Wednesday morning. Although I had meetings scheduled all day, I wisely called out sick, which was a good decision, as I continued to vomit the rest of the morning.

Pleasant, eh?

Thank goodness for laptops, VPN, and conference calls, because that's the only way I got my work done. I called in for all of my meetings via conference call, I worked from my bed, and well, I stayed cozy-yet-shivering in my bed. I'm better now, mostly. I'm keeping it light for now.


Sunday, January 21st 2007

Did you ever ask yourself what a little Ipe in a tuxedo would look like? I'll help you answer the question. Check out the PBJ wedding photos from our recent trip to Michigan.

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"Little guy in a big coat. Little guy in a big coat...."

Friday, January 19th 2007

So, uh, big news to share. After waiting two years, including barely surviving one tough 2006, I have been officially promoted to Audit Manager. I'm equivalent to a Vice President in any area of my company, but we go by different titles in the world of audit. Yeah, that's right. Audit Manager. Not just an Audit Manager, but also a Vice President.

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Most prescient fortune cookie ever

Oh baby, let the good times roll. In a stunning confirmation by the Universe, check out the fortune from my Chinese fortune cookie tonight. I kid you not, this was my fortune. All signs point to 2007 being "The Year of the Ipes."

Today, I was in NYC for meetings, and I'll likely be in Manhattan for meetings for most of next week. I do enjoy the energy and excitement of the city, but that commute on the bus (2 hours) is too long for mortal men and Audit Managers.

Did I mention that I got promoted to Audit Manager? And that I'm friggin' ecstatic?


Thursday, January 18th 2007

After work, I drove up to Clifton to have dinner with my buddy Doug. We opted for the fine dining experience at Applebee's. I think I prefer the food at Chili's, but I suppose Applebee's will do in a pinch. Doug really wanted to see a movie, as we haven't done that in a long time. He did that whole puppy dog face that just melts my heart, and I caved. Oh that Doug. We saw The Good Shepherd starring Matt Damon. Interesting movie, great acting, and great direction (Robert De Niro), but lengthy at 3 hours. We didn't get out until 12 midnight, and we each had long drives home.

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And now for random links

  • Did you hear about how Pennsylvania was trying to sell NYC-based firms on moving their disaster recovery sites to Northeastern Pennsylvania. I believe it was a big push by the current Penn. governor. One of those, "If you build it, they will come." deals. In November 2006, they flew all these execs to check it out. Yeah, the executives weren't sold on the idea. Dear Pennsylvania, nice try.
  • I'm a big Bud Abbott & Lou Costello fan. I grew up watching their movies as a kid. Here's the official Abbott & Costello page, sanctioned by their families.
  • It's a new year. Finances are on our brains, so here are BusinessWeek's Seven Steps to a More Prosperous 2007.
  • Here's a rather frightening case of a fellow in Wis. who was the victim of someone hacking into his 401(k) retirement account, and wiped him out of his $179,000. Can you imagine that? Even worse, there is no legal protection for retirement accounts as there would be for a regular savings account. You save up all that money over years, and then POOF! gone.
  • Netflix customers will have another option for watching movies. Netflix is rolling out the option of streaming movies directly to your PC. Why even wait for the DVD in the mail?
  • At one time or another, we're gonna be on hold with customer service, listening to music, hoping to reach a live person. Here is an MSNBC article by Bob Sullivan on how to Win Customer Service Phone Battles.
  • Getting a new cellphone, and wondering if you should get cell phone insurance? I did it for my first Verizon Wireless phone, and I found it rather unsatisfactory when I needed to replace my won't-charge-anymore phone. Batteries weren't covered! Well, ConsumerMan Herb Weisbaum discusses the big question of whether to get cell phone insurance or not. I don't think it's what it's cracked up to be.
  • I suppose the option of men being able to change their last name when they get married is about equality between the sexes, but I don't know. This fellow in California tried to adopt his fiance's last name, and it's been fairly difficult. Call me a traditionalist, but I don't know too many guys who would do that. Alright, ladies. Commence throwing eggs at me.

And now, for a great Daily Show clip about "Faux Klingons" and idiotic politicians in the U.S. Congress.


Monday, January 15th 2007

A few hours ago, we returned from our trip to Deeeeee-troit. Paul & Biji's wedding was a big 'ol success, but there are way too many photos to sort, edit, and publish right now. I was a groomsmen, Joshua was a ringbearer, and even Num got in as she had to walk a tired ringbearer down the aisle.

Our flight was delayed for 4 hours, and instead of arriving in Newark 4:55pm, we arrived sometime after 8pm. It's amazing how they can shave off an hour off the flight by putting pedal to the metal.

Well, back to work for me tomorrow, and I doubt I'm looking forward to being back at work. Do I ever? However, look on the bright side -- it's only a 4-day work week.


Thursday, January 11th 2007

Our Christmas tree is still up. It's turning into the Martin Luther King, Jr. Tree.

Below is a video of what happens when you toss boiling water in -45 degree weather in Fairbanks, Alaska. Seriously, they should probably move. [If you don't immediately see the video, just click on it, and it should work.]


Tuesday, January 9th 2007

My group got re-orged today. New bosses, new audit entities, the whole she-bang. I obviously can't discuss it, but life sure is interesting.

After much speculation, Apple Inc. unveiled the stupendous iPhone. I'm not switching to Cingular, but I have to tell you, it's a mighty nice phone. The inherent technology that Apple has incorporated within this little device is just astounding. I'm hoping the "And one more thing...." that usually follows Jobs' presentation of new products will be a new iPod based on some of the iPhone technology. That is when I will walk into an Apple store, and plunk down my money.

In other tech news that was long awaited but nearly forgotten, Comcast and Tivo have finally unveiled the results of their partnership: a cable box that runs Tivo DVR software. Now I can get Comcast Digital Service.

And now, the 25 winners of The Great Ipe iTunes Contest. They are in no particular order, and were selected by myself and my wife. We tried for various genres and eras - Alternative, Pop, R&B Soul, 90's Freestyle, and Classic Rock.






1 Like a Rolling Stone Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisted Rock
2 Baby Boy Beyonce & Sean Paul Dangerously in Love R&B/Soul
3 SOS Rihanna A Girl Like Me R&B/Soul
4 Let the Music Play Shannon Club Epic - a Collection of Classic Dance Mixes: Vol 4 Dance
5 Free Fallin' Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Greatest Hits Rock
6 I'm Coming Out Diana Ross The No. 1's R&B/Soul
7 I Wanna Be the One Stevie B Stevie B: The Greatest Hits Dance
8 Silent Morning Noel Pure 80's Dance Dance
9 Point of No Return Expose Greatest Hits Dance
10 Take Me in Your Arms Lil Suzy Love Can't Wait Dance
11 Hold the Line Toto The Essential Toto Pop
12 Africa Toto The Essential Toto Pop
13 The Best Tina Turner Simply the Best Pop
14 Private Dancer Tina Turner All the Best: The Hits Pop
15 Cover Me Bruce Springsteen Born in the U.S.A. Rock
16 SexyBack Justin Timberlake FutureSex / LoveSounds Pop
17 Sister Golden Hair America History: America's Greatest Hits Rock
18 Mad World Michael Andrews & Gary Jules Donnie Darko (Music from the Original Motion Picture Score) Soundtrack
19 Glory Days Bruce Springsteen Born in the U.S.A. Rock
20 I Like the Way Bodyrockers Bodyrockers Dance
21 Suddenly I See KT Tunstall Eye to the Telescope Pop
22 Black Horse and the Cherry Tree KT Tunstall Eye to the Telescope Pop
23 Come to Me Diddy featuring Nicole Scherzinger Press Play Hip-Hop/Rap
24 Say It Right Nelly Furtado Loose Pop
25 Right Where It Belongs Nine Inch Nails With Teeth Alternative

Sunday, January 7th 2007

Every year I write up my reflections for the past year, I always forget something or another off the list. This year, I wrote it all done, and was all proud of myself. Then, my wife reminded me of all the other stuff I forgot, and called me an idiot. Well, she didn't call me an idiot to my face, but I think she muttered it under her breath. :) Check out the updated, beefier, sexier reflections of 2006. It's sure to make you want me more, yet respect me less in the morning.

Busy weekend, as usual. On Saturday, I took Joshua all the way to Somerset county for a haircut, then to visit my parents for some quality time (and lunch.) After we got home, Num noticed I had a flat tire. I changed it in 13 minutes (that's a new record for me -- how cool am I? Very.) I had to hurry, as we were dropping Junior to his grandparents, so me and the missus could attend her company holiday party at Harvest Moon Brewery in New Brunswick. Even some bar hopping with her coworkers occurred. I enjoyed being my wife's eye candy for the evening. I asked Num to introduce me as her astronaut husband Capt. Oveur, but no one seemed to believe me.

It was nice to get out of "parent mode" for one evening. Also, I love open bar.

This afternoon, I got a new tire for the car. While waiting, I walked to a nearby mall, got a haircut, and basically window-shopped aimlessly.

Remember The Great Ipe iTunes Contest in November? As of tonight, we have finally selected all 25 songs with those song credits I had. When I get the email from Apple listing all the songs, I'll post them tomorrow night. It's a mix of your suggested songs (those available in iTunes anyway), plus our favorites. Thanks to everyone for helping me out!


Thursday, January 4th 2007

Another uneventful day at the office. Obviously, eating at Taco Bell, and licking the kitchen floor weren't effective. Time to lick a stray dog. The only eventful... er, event, was a bunch of us went to a chinese buffet. Pretty decent, and I had three plates, including sushi. I didn't stuff myself, as I just took a little sample here, a little sample there. I think this confirms that I'm all about the appetizer. I don't want a big meal. I just want to taste everything!

Do you remember that evil vending machine in my office building, which I mentioned back in February? The exact quote was "Evil is dispensed $1.25 at a time."

Well, I was thirsty this afternoon (must have been all the california rolls and soy sauce), pulled out $1.25, put it into the vending machine, and punched B6 for a Diet Pepsi. Nothing. They raised the price to $1.50 for a bottle of soda. I had to borrow 25 cents from someone. Apparently, the price of dispensing Evil can also suffer the effects of economic inflation. This was never covered in my college macroeconomics class.

Somebody in my office was under the impression that I was 38 or 39 years old. How depressing. Has my job really made me look that much older? It might be all the grey hair and the baggy eyes.


Wednesday, January 3rd 2007

My first day back in the office was not exciting. Furthermore, the 2007 schedule hasn't been published yet, so most of us don't know what we're supposed to be doing, or where we're supposed to be. This week obviously isn't a critical week. Rumor has it that actual work begins next Monday. If you'll please excuse me, I'm going to lick the kitchen floor so I can get sick, and call out the rest of the week. :)

Late last month, I found two desks that might fit the bill for the perfect desk I'm longing for. Either could work, as they're both 60" wide, and lots of leg and desk real estate.

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    Keyboard drawer and CPU stand for Desk #1
    I prefer desk #1 over desk #2, but feel free to throw your opinion into the ring. I haven't decided if I want to purchase the extra keyboard drawer and CPU stand, but I'm considering it. FYI, although the manufacturer MSRP is $349, K-Mart sells it for just $219 .
  • For desk #2, it comes with that stupid file folder drawer, but I checked, and I could easily not install that, resulting in a normal desk. However, no keyboard drawer. Again, do I want a drawer for my keyboard? Undecided, I am.
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    Desk 1
    Desk 2

I know this sounds like the beginning of a joke, but did you about the Japanese man who survived 3 weeks without food or water in chilly weather by falling into a state of hibernation? It happened last October. I think it's incredible.

I think there's nothing better than a good story about high school cheerleaders running amok.

I ate lunch at Taco Bell. One Chalupa Supreme, one Chalupa Baja, and those tasty Cinnamon Twists. This guinea pig feels fine, so you naysayers are probably safe to eat there now. See? Just like that, I did some public service for the greater good.

Now, buy me a desk.


Tuesday, January 2nd 2007

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Joel and his beard

After spending 11 days on vacation (and a total of 13 days away from the office), I prepare myself to return to the office tomorrow. To celebrate my manly vacation, I've refused to shave since Christmas. To see the fruits of my non-labor, please see the picture to your right. Of course, to enjoy the aforementioned fruit, you had to be my unlucky wife, who has been forced to look at my Paul Bunyon face. I'm really surprised to see how far the grey hairs sprawl across my cheeks and under my chin. I'm getting old.

FYI, I've posted photos from Leena and Alisha's visit last week. Get 'em while they're fresh.

For 2007, there will be a few minor changes to the website. I've restarted a new "Joel's Wishlist" on the right. The last wishlist was a grand success, and there are many items out there that have caught Joel's coveting eye. I'll be starting new Friends and Family pages.

I belatedly remembered today to purchase Delta Skymiles to keep my Skymiles account active, and to prevent my 41,000+ miles from expiring. They expired Dec 26th, but still show up in the system. Same thing happened to my Hilton points, but the HHonors phone representative was very nice, and I was able to buy miles after the fact. Delta? Not so much. First off, contacting their Skymiles dept (Skymiles page lists the telephone number 404-773-1945) is a no go. The number is wrong. I contacted the headquarters, got transferred, and then the employee told me it was too late.

Last year, I lost United miles that expired, and I was so mad about that. Skymiles? It doesn't really bother me. You'd think I'd be more torn up about it. I don't fly Delta anymore, so I figure, no big loss.

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Final battle with Darth Sion
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Final battle with my mentor - turned Sith Lord - Darth Traya

Yesterday, I beat Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords. You know something? After such an involving story, the ending really stank. You have this final confrontation, and then the game just ends. From what I'm reading, the game developer ran out of time and money (didn't that happen to Monty Python and the Holy Grail?), so they cut a lot of content out, abbreviated the ending, and pushed it out for the Christmas 2004 holiday shopping season. No goodbyes or resolution with any of my team members, no satisfying conclusion. Beat the final boss, and then you watch your escape via your ship away. End credits! I am really disappointed. Argh.

On a related note, I found a video on YouTube someone created of their game. It's slightly different from my experience, as I was Light Side and a male, and they were Dark Side and female. It's to the tune of Linkin Park's "Faint", so check it out, and see the scenes from the game that I've been enjoying these past few months.

Gosh, I am going to miss fighting with a lightsaber and using those Force powers. I truly enjoyed the double-bladed lightsaber. For another example, see what I consider some of the best dueling scenes out of the entire Star Wars trilogy -- Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi's battle with Darth Maul in Star Wars Episode 1.

Considering getting a hybrid? Check out this MSNBC article "Are hybrid vehicles losing their appeal?". They did the math, and the sticker price premium may not really add up.

Tomorrow, the beard comes off, and I return to the office, and a brand new start to my work life.


New brown shoes