Main > Joel's July 2006 News

.:Picture of the Day:.


Monday, July 31st 2006

The master bedroom came out great, with nary a disaster (i.e., paint on our furniture.) A few drops of paint ended up on the carpet, but a resounding success overall. Half way through painting the room Saturday night, I'm surveying the quickly-turning-green room, starting to doubt. However, after it dried, and we put the furniture back, and hung up a new picture, it all started to make sense. Yeah, baby!

Next up? The guestroom. What are we going to do? We don't know.

I'm so mad at Floyd Landis. I've been withholding judgement for a few days now, but if they have truly found synthetic testosterone in his blood test, I'm gonna be really, really, mad. This would be the first time in the history of the Tour of France that the winner has been disqualified for doping. Really, really, mad.

My hard drive has shipped -- FEDEX website says it'll be here by Aug 2nd. "Pure steak sauce."

I updated my Friendster profile today. I'm not exactly sure why.


Friday, July 28th 2006

I can't sleep. It's 3:42am Saturday morning, and I can sleep. I don't know why. I had a teeny-tiny cup of Diet Coke at dinner around 8pm. Could that be it? I stopped having caffeinated soda in the evenings. I chatted with my wife until she fell asleep (more or less), played with Missy, watched two hours of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis, websurfed, bought a hard drive, and now I'm blogging. I think I'll go wash the car next.

This evening, we went to Home Depot to pick up primer and paint to for our weekend project: painting the master bedroom. We've decided on Behr's Cucumber Crush, which appears to be a very nice light green. I'll let you all know in 24 hours if our choice was right, or horribly, horribly wrong. If you want to see it, check out the link to the Behr site, and it's number 440C-2, and just under the word "Premium" on the color chart.

I finally bought the backup hard drive -- Seagate Barracuda 250 Gb for about $85 at I recently received a "10% off" coupon, and I don't mind saving $10. I hope it's here by next weekend.

We've recently been experiencing a few blackouts and brownouts, due to the recent thunderstorms. I'm inclined to buy a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), which is basically a big ol' battery for your PC. During a blackout, it'll give you 2-7 minutes to power your hardware down safely. It's not the blackouts I'm worried about --- it's the brownouts. That can't be good for a computer. I think this APC product might fit the bill.

"Oh honey, can you come here? I want to show you something....."


Thursday, July 27th 2006

The Richmond Trip gallery is up, sans text descriptions, but I'm assuming you all can deal with it temporarily.

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A very restful vacation

Lots of links to share:

  • Fortune magazine is reporting on a new website called ExpertFlyer. You don't buy airline tickets on the site. Instead, it helps you decide what fares to pay, where to sit on the plane, and how best to use and maximize your frequent flyer miles and elite upgrades. How? You find out exactly how many seats are available at specific prices and classes. Very cool. I might want to subscribe.
  • A New York City teacher who was charged with raping a 16-year-old student has been cleared after the girl admitted that the sex never happened. What does he get for his troubles? His life has crumbled. Over the past two years, while the case was being prosecuted, George Zanetis, 44, of Roslyn, lost his job, his wife and his two children. This kind of story really makes me angry.
  • As a relatively-still-new homeowner, I'm learning how to make my own home repairs. Here's a Money magazine article on how to deal with repairs, and maybe save some money by being diligent.
  • On a related note, I may want to upgrade the appliances in our kitchen in the next few years. If you've got the same goal, here's an MSNBC article with tips on kitchen remodeling. I think hiring a contractor, and putting all your faith in them, scares the beejezus out of me.
  • Thieves may not be smart, but they're always thinking. Instead of going through all the trouble of stealing your car, now they're saving time by breaking in, and stealing the electronic gadgets in your car, like your GPS unit. Sigh.
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Raj and I at our dept's team-building bowling activity
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Can you feel the team building?

I was playing around with the bullets in CSS. Hope you like them. The great advantage about CSS is that if you make a change once to the stylesheet, it's reflected on every page where the style is used. I edited the <li> tag, and it's been changed on every page since 2002. Just. Like. That.

I got a traffic ticket last Thursday on the way home from work. Route 22 was all closed, because of a major accident. I was diverted all over the place, and after 20 mins of trying to find my way back to a familiar road, I found one. I was so happy, I got to the red light, and made a right turn. Two thoughts were running through my head as I made the turn.

1. "I wonder if it's a "No Turn on Red" here?

2. "Huh. Is that a Crown Victoria?"

The answers to both questions were "Yes." I'm planning to argue my ticket in a court appearance, hoping to somehow get it reduced to avoid having any points on my license. I don't think I've ever had points on my license, and I don't want to start now.

I went to the gym yesterday. First time since May. It felt good to go running again.

We got out of the office today at 3pm for a departmental team-building exercise -- bowling! It was fun, but my highest score was a pitiful 87. I'm really out of practice.


Monday, July 24th 2006

I had White Castle for lunch today. 6 White Castle burgers/sliders/whatever, "Crave-sized" the combo (which only made the soda bigger), all for $5.92. What a deal.

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Toyota's new FJ Cruiser

I saw a new vehicle on the NJ Turnpike today on the way to the office -- the Toyota FJ Cruiser. It's a 2-door crossover SUV. I thought it was pretty neat. I'd get one, but since the two doors would make it difficult getting a infant car seat in and out, my wife would never go for it.

Have heard there are now female bouncers? I'd find it interesting, except they're all probably burly with broad shoulders.

I hope my HMO never requires me to travel to another country for medical care, just to save them a buck. However, I wouldn't put it past them. What a bunch of crooks.

If this guys is for real, he's friggin' cool. He's the man with a real Killer Move.

Funny - nothing really exciting happened today. I spoke to a few friends today, just to catch up, which was cool. We're having a department bowling event Thursday afternoon/evening, starting at 3pm. I don't know how fun this will be, but hey, I'm in. White Castle for lunch.....

Nope, fairly unexciting day. Well, nobody is perfect. I'll try again tomorrow.


Sunday, July 23rd 2006

I'm catching up on the photos. Here we go:

  • June and July Family photos are now online in the Family gallery. I really had nothing for June, as it was so hectic.
  • I published pictures from my business trip last month to Toronto. For lack of a better spot, I posted them in the June 10th 2006 entry.
  • Richmond photos will get their own trip gallery, but that'll have to wait until later this week.

Floyd Landis won the Tour de France this year. I'm happy, but I only watched one stage this year. I haven't done much cycling myself this season, and that hasn't helped me to pump up my interest for the race. Oh well.

My boss is at training this whole week. You know what that means. Pyjamas in the office..... all. week. long.


Saturday, July 22nd 2006

I want you all to know that I'm filled with guilt for not publishing any pictures since May 2006, and now it's mid-July. Seriously, it's just been so busy for me, publishing photos has really fallen down to the bottom of the priority list. I could stay up late to work on them, but I'm so tired these days, the minute I put my head on the pillow, I'm asleep. Yeah, that tired. There's always next week.

The rest of the past week has naturally been busy. Yesterday, I was at the office in meetings until 7pm. Egads, and on a Friday, no less. I've got only 2 weeks before I leave for Toronto. That's when I really have to "Put or shut up." to earn a promotion. Two weeks, and then the pain begins.

It's been some wacky weather this past week. Harsh, loud, strong storms. Didn't a tornado touch down in Westchester last week? And it's been awfully hot and humid -- the kind of humidity where the air actually feels thick. Blech.

Lots of links and things for you folks, then sleepy time for Joel.

  • Tina Fey has announced she's leaving SNL. Argh.
  • Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) has no clue about what the Internet is. Here's Jon Stewart [The Daily Show] mocking it unrelentingly. Thank goodness for YouTube.
  • So, they're making an all-CGI TMNT movie. That's right, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back. Here's the teaser trailer.
  • Found an online typing speed test. I rated about 70 wpm.
  • Old clip of when Mr. Fred Rogers testified in Congress in 1969. One senator mocked the value of children's programming, and tried to pick a fight with Mr. Rogers. Didn't work, and he eventually converted. Check it out if you still miss Mr. Rogers.
  • I love mocking Hollywood executives. Kevin Smith had once written a script for a "Superman Returns"-type movie. Here's lengthy clip of Kevin Smith explaining his experience of working with the movie executives at the time (mid-90's), and how idiotic they are. Funny, and it's Kevin Smith, so sit through it.
  • Believe it or not, but Yakoff Smirnoff is still performing. I hope he's still not making Russia jokes. The USSR disintegrated in 1991. The website displays an address in Branson, Missouri. What's Yakov doing in Missouri?

Tuesday, July 18th 2006

You know, next month marks four years of this damn website? Yeesh. What was I thinking?

Weird day today.

1. I made my bus with no running involved this morning. Can you believe that?
2. No copious amounts of sweat to drench my clothes.
3. I didn't get any food on my good shirt and tie.
4. Good lunch.
5. Surprise cakes to celebrate some birthdays. I even scored some cake slices to take home, which I did.

Here's the best (and probably weirdest and most unexpected) part of the day's activities. So, around the end of the day-long meeting, the Directors start talking about recognizing great employees in the department. They pull up two names of employees from the 1st quarter on the Powerpoint presentation. Then they ask all the Program Directors (basically our bosses) to cite an exemplary member of their team for Q2 2007.

My boss is the 3rd person to speak, and he cites..... me. My eyebrows have shot up way into my forehead at this point. So, in front of the entire department, he says what a great job I've done this year to "step up to the plate", all the things I've done, all the extra work I've taken on, the "very effective" planning work I did last month in Canada, etc. My Director (my boss's boss) then chimed in, saying he wanted to mention that two levels of senior management in Canada (who I am working with there for the audit) had nothing but glowing praises for me.

Everyone clapped, and I just sat there, extremely befuddled.

So, it's true that something interesting appears to happen to me on a daily basis. Today, more than usual. :)

You know, nobody writes me email anymore. I realized this recently -- it's all just junk mail, notices from my utilities, or newsletters. I was wondering why, but I guess since the advent of instant messaging, cell phones, and text messaging, email is not that big a deal. I used to personally live off of email, but if I want to ask how my friend is these days, I just call her on my cell phone. I have a million minutes.


Monday, July 17th 2006

Except for some traffic this morning, today was a good day. I just thought I'd share it with everyone. :)

It's damn hot here in NY/NJ. It's so humid and hot, you can feel how thick the air is. Tomorrow, I'm in NYC for meetings all day, I'm wearing a tie, and it's going to be as hot as Hell. I'm looking forward to it.

Additional meaningless MOBLOG photos added. Stay cool, folks.


Sunday, July 16th 2006

Hi there, my fellow neighborinos. My fellow Netizens. Lots of news, but little time to share it all. I'll do my best, as I want to sleep in 24 minutes.


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Senator Grassley
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The Duggar Family

Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa wants to tax pimps and prostitutes. Good luck, Mr. Senator.

I was watching a special on Discovery Health with my wife on the Duggar family. Heard of them? They have 16 children, and live in Arkansas. Enough said. What's funny is that while watching the show, something seemed familiar. With a little research, I realized that I had read last year about the 16th child born last October. This was the same family!

I've been watching all this footage of the current Mideast crisis recently. It's basically open war over there. Very frightening, and I have no idea how it's going to end.

We took my mother-in-law out for dinner Saturday night, as it was her birthday Sunday. We went to this Indian restaurant called Masti. Food was good, and Joshua ate his weight in Chicken Tikka. I have no idea how he did it. We gave him a piece, it disappeared in his mouth. We gave him another piece, it also disappeared. This went on for a while. We also gave him rice and eggplant, so I guess the kid takes after his old man.

We did a lot of cleaning this weekend, and also bought some picture frames from Bed Bath & Beyond. I found a place nearby to replace the broken glass in my Ansel Adams portrait, and had it fixed for a nominal fee. We hung up two pictures (including the fixed one), and also my undergraduate diploma, and my CISA certification. There's also room for my future CISSP certification, and my MBA, but those won't be for a while.

We also emptied out more boxes, and threw a whole bunch of stuff into the attic. I didn't really have to tell you that part, because it's not that exciting.

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Officer, I've got a good reason for speeding....

Among other things, my sister gave me a ton of candy for my birthday this year. Like everthing else, it's been sitting in my home untouched all these months, much like the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Anyhow, I found it last weekend, and I brought it to the office. Little did I know that I would suddenly become the center of attention. Gummy Worms, popcorn, Junior Mints, Hershey Kisses, etc. Even my boss came over to steal some fresh and hot popcorn one afternoon. I like it. I should write a book on influencing your coworkers through candy.

Speaking of my sister, she sent me this funny picture, so I thought I'd share. Basically, you attach these inflatable ballons (designed to look like missiles) to your car. When you drive, it looks like you're trying to outrun three missiles. Come on, that's pure funny.

There's always something interesting happening to me. On Thursday, after having multiple discussions with management over in Toronto regarding our schedule for fieldwork, and after my team booked their travel for August, I got a call from my management contact person. Our first day of fieldwork falls on a holiday -- "Civic Day" or something. Everyone is on vacation that day. Can you believe that? After discussion with some members of my team, my boss, the hotel, and management in Toronto, I decided we'll just work in the empty office building. It would cost $100 to change each airplane ticket, and $600 to rent a meeting room in the hotel (and have internet access). It'll cost the auditee $650 to turn the air conditioning on for us that day, but I don't care. I figure that as long as that money is coming out of their budget, and not mine, I can sleep without worrying.

Besides, it's their fault anyway. What am I supposed to do with seven people with no place to go at the last second? Honestly, it's just not right.


Wednesday, July 12th 2006

Sometimes, I feel like I have so much going on in my life, I wonder how I function like a normal human being. My closest friends Doug & Paul often ask how I'm doing, and they often remind me to breathe. They always say that to me -- remember to breathe.

I bet half of you are asking yourself, "How busy could he be? We're all busy." I'm mentally drained.

I bet the other half of you are asking, "I didn't get the impression that you were tired." I try to keep a happy face. And when someone reminds me to breathe every once in a while, I do that. It helps.

I should feel overwhelmed, but I'm not. I don't know why I haven't felt overwhelmed yet. I keep going, but I wonder will everything catch up to me? You remember how I used to stay up late so often, but starting last year, being a father and my new job slowed me down dramatically. The nights I stay up late are very far and few between. Ensuring ends meet at home (1st time homeowner), and gunning for a promotion at work like a madman can stress you out.

I'm not overwhelmed or stressed out yet, and I feel weird that I'm not. All the worries, pressures, concerns, and emotions are swirling like water. I think I feel the water under my chin. It's there, and I'm okay right now. I wonder though.... is it going to get higher? Over my chin? My mouth? My nose?

Am I scared? Is fear chasing me? Probably, but I don't want to look. I don't want to think about fear. Because I know that if the fear catches me, I'm gone. I don't dare be afraid. I have a plan. Stick to the plan, Joel. Believe and remember that God is watching over you. God will get you through everything, and He won't lead you astray. I'm a religious/spiritual person, and I get my strength from my faith in God. Always have, always will. I may have gotten that from my Dad.

On my drive home today, I figured that the only explanation of why I'm still here is purely divine intervention. I pray all the time for the wisdom and fortitude to make it in life. Work is work, and it's going well. I've got a plan for my home life. I've got friends and family to support me.

I think God is listening, because I'm still here.


Sunday, July 9th 2006

I was going to log in and do work this week, but I forgot my password. How stupid is that? I recently changed my password before I left on vacation, and naturally, it's totally out of my head. Ah well. I'll have it reset tomorrow. Unfortunately, I don't feel too upset about not being able to work during my vacation.

The basement is looking much better. After cleaning up the house, we took out 9 bags of trash and easily 20-30 flattened cardboard boxes. Yeehaw. After church today, we went to Home Depot and grocery shopping. At Home Depot, among other things, we checked out possible color choices to paint the master bedroom and bathroom. After painting the guestroom wall, I realized that actually painting a room isn't so difficult. We're hoping to choose a color and start painting both rooms at the end of this month, or early August.

Desk Search 2006 update: I may have found a desk at Staples, but it's $300, so I'm gonna hold off. Yes, I've checked IKEA. I realized that all I want is a table/desk that is 60" wide and at least 30" deep. Maybe a simple table would suffice. I'll keep the 1.7 people who actually care about my desk situation posted.

In an act of sheer defiance of basic common sense, I stayed up until 5am last night playing Warcraft III. Why? It's been so long since I played a computer game, and I just wasn't tired. I'm a bit tired today, but heck, Warcraft III is fun.


Saturday, July 8th 2006

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Star Trek TV & movie props for auction

If I had money, I'd buy Star Trek props. Check this out -- Paramount has apparently decided to part with many props, costumes, and set pieces collecting dust in warehouses -- some since the end of the original series in the 1960s. Christie's boasts this will be the largest collection of Star Trek memorabilia ever sold at auction (4,000 items), ranging all 40 years of the franchise's history. Items to be in the October 5, 6, and 7 Christie's auction include William Shatner 's Admiral's uniform from The Motion Picture, the Enterprise-A model used in shooting The Undiscovered Country , several Borg and TOS costumes, and even entire TNG-era console set pieces. Scripts and weapons props will also be included. According to Christie's, some items will go for as little as $200 or as much as $25,000. Here's the original NY Times article, and an interactive presentation covering some of the highlights. I just want the starship models.

Since Thursday, we've been busy little bees around here. Shopping, cleaning, organizing. Yesterday, Joshy and I were out and about shopping at the wholesale club for groceries, and we picked up a Dyson DC07 vacuum cleaner. The Dyson vacuum cleaners are pretty expensive, but the reviews are generally outstanding. BTW, Teena, it has two HEPA filters, and a backup is included for when you're cleaning the removeable HEPA filter, and really need to vacuum.

I've been using a Hoover Dirt Devil that I purchased back in January 2003, and according to my first use, it was great. Well, let me tell you, it ain't so good after 3 years. No sucking power, and it just seems to be good at pushing dirt around on the carpet, not picking it up. So far, the Dyson has done a good job. I hope it's still good three years from now. I'll have to remember to look back in 2009.

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My Hoover Dirt Devil back when it was new and wonderful
Our new Dyson DC07

One of the unintended benefits of my blog -- I've got a documented history of my life..... since 2002 anyway.

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Red vs. Blue

We also cleaned up the basement and guestroom, which has been a sore point between my wife and me. We've both wanted to clean the basement and guestroom, but never found time. We made the time today, and I actually see the carpet in the basement now. We have more to go tomorrow, but we're definitely getting there. This evening, we went looking for pictures to hang up on the wall, and we got one. We have to get some frames, and maybe hang them up later this week.

BTW, how funny is this picture?

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Chappelle's Show is back.... for three episodes

Don't forget that new episodes of Chappelle's Show start airing Sunday night on Comedy Central. There was only enough material for three episodes, so don't miss them.

I think I've developed a new scheme: paper shredders installed in a bathroom. I may make it a new policy in my household. If I can find a way to market the idea, then I'll be filthy stinkin' rich. Check out the latest MOBLOG picture. :)

Joshua is officially 16 months old today, and a whole inch taller than last month. Soon, he'll be able to bite my kneecaps. He's a big kid now at 32 inches.


Friday, July 7th 2006

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The Headset Returns

I love going away on vacation, but I may love being home on vacation more. It's good to be home. Lots of rearranging to be done, things to sort, crap to throw out. I'm enjoying myself. What's even better? It's only Friday, and I still have the entire weekend to go. Sweet. One benefit of cleaning up -- you find stuff you thought you lost. We found the Motorola Bluetooth headset that has been missing for a very long time.

I've uploaded all the latest MOBLOG photos to Flickr. I'm like Michaelangelo or Picasso, no?


Wednesday, July 5th 2006

We're back. After a very hectic Friday morning, we left for Richmond, Virginia, to visit my favorite (and only) sister-in-law Anju and her husband Sunil. We stayed with them too for our entire 6-day trip. Lots of picnicking, relaxing, milkshakes, and even Superman Returns. Not to forget quality time in Virginia. Photos to come later this week, I hope. In the meantime, I'm adding a boatload of Moblog photos today and tomorrow.

Getting there wasn't too bad, but getting home was another matter. It took us about 10 hours. It should only take normal human beings 6 hours to get there, but with traffic, a cranky baby, and multiple accidents on I-95 in Virginia and Maryland, you can milk an additional 4 hours out of the trip. We left at 1pm, and didn't get home until 11pm. And that's with my wife doing 85 MPH when possible.

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Superman Returns

It's been exactly a year, but we finally saw a movie... in an actual movie theater. Yes, we saw Superman Returns. Anju and Sunny watched Joshy Sunday evening, and my wife & I went to an actual movie theater, bought soda and a big old bag of popcorn, and watched a movie. It was refreshing. Coincidently, the last movie we saw was Batman Begins in July 2005. And a July 4th weekend too.

We also got to catch up on this season's Entourage. Now that we no longer have HBO, I really miss Ari Gold.

I'm on a new mission in life. No, not losing weight. I think I'm looking forward to weighing 500 lbs., and wearing a muumuu. I'm on a mission to..... decorate. Wait, before the groans start, hear me out. I love my home, but my wife has been dying to start decorating it since we moved in last October. On our recent trip, I realized, "Hey, my wife is right. This place is so bare. We should really decorate." [Cue my wife slapping her forehead with her palm.]

So, I'm on board with the decorating. Like, you know, curtains, a new home office desk, furniture that fits our new roomier digs, and dare I say it? Pictures on the wall? Truly, we have lost our minds.

Speaking of desks, I've been on the hunt for a better desk for the better part of 4-5 years now. I've had my current desk since moving out in 2000. I got it from Staples or Office Depot or whatever, but the time has come for an upgrade. I'm calling for assistance here. Not any desk will do. I'm looking for a BIG desk, nice and roomy, with a spot for my PC that will let it get some air. If you know a website that offers lots of good desks, or where I can find what I'm looking for, please let me know.

Yes, I've tried Staples, OfficeMax, Office Depot, and Best Buy.