the tail end

Entering the chat room this morning:

(8:56:00 AM) entered the room.
(8:56:01 AM) darklady: It’s still caffeinated
(8:56:08 AM) darklady: And doesn’t require pants.

temperature shift

Chicago is a very cold place in the winter, more than I’m used to dealing with even living in Utah. The thing that really strikes me when I come here though is how warm it is kept indoors. Most public places are kept at a temperature that must be near 80 degrees (Fahrenheit).

This strikes me as a very bad idea. Studies have shown that large sudden temperature swings are a major cause of illness. With the temperature outside being so low, a more comfortable temperature would be in the neighborhood of 70 degrees.

Last night when I arrived, I forgot to turn on the heater in my room. I was comfortable all night, until I woke up and the room was freezing. At that point I turned on the heater, and also turned it down quite a bit from the setting it was on. After my morning routine, I came out of the bathroom to sweltering heat, so I turned the heater down again, this time to the point midway between hot and cold. As I write this, it is still too warm, so it’s now inched into the blue.

Thankfully I will be spending most of my time in an air-conditioned data center. I’m sure the locals start shivering anytime they go inside it, but to me it’s wonderful.

cordless tool recommendation

We have a Porter Cable 19.2V cordless drill that I have really liked using. Lately it has had some issues, the biggest of which is a horrible electrical almost-burning smell.

I would like to replace it so I have a drill to take with me on my business trip to a data center, and was thinking I would stick with the Porter Cable 19.2V, thinking that their other cordless tools in the same line would be also very good tools … but I just learned that they have discontinued that line, and are now only making 18V products.

What brand and line would all of you recommend that I invest in now? I would like to find a balance between Tim-Toolman-Taylor perfection and price.

fortune cookie

From the usual, Smith’s Chinese near downtown SLC.

  • You will never need to worry about a steady income.

Ominous. This is the second time I’ve seen this particular fortune.

i dream of electric legroom

In just under three weeks, I will be on a Delta flight to Chicagoland. It’s a 6 night business trip to Lisle, where I will install a bunch of new hardware. This is all in preparation for the project to move everything from Lisle to Salt Lake City in a couple of months.

My ticket ended up in first class (2D) for the trip there. How this happened is a mystery, I definitely didn’t book a first class ticket. On the way back, it’ll be an exit row (26D). Both airplanes are the MD90 model.

I’ve done this trip before. It promises to be full of cold weather and workdays that last at least 12 hours. The fact that I can eat wonderful meals on someone else’s dime almost makes up for it. I do hate to be away from my wife for so long, I wish she could come with me.

ah, to be taken seriously!

My wife and I visited another doctor today. He is an immunodermatologist with a very limited practice. We had an official referral from her regular doctor, but we had to get past a very protective personal secretary before we could even get an appointment. He’s apparently a serious big-wig in his field. This guy was our Obi-Wan Kenobi – if we couldn’t get him to take us seriously, we didn’t hold out much hope that anyone else would either.

We went prepared with a personally written history and pictures of the visible problems, and made sure they were added to the file the doctor would read before seeing us. It was close to an hour after going into the room before we saw any action.

When he came in, he was followed by a younger female doctor and a nurse, who both stayed in the room. At this point, I was cautiously optimistic, but still unsure what to expect. The first thing the doctor did was to go over his understanding of the problems based on all the written information and have us fill in the blanks. Then he did something unheard of in the medical profession – he asked her what she thought was wrong with her. We continued our “playing stupid” game, but said that the last doctor had mentioned Beh

seasonal affective disorder

It’s January. A lot of people I know are having problems right now. My wife feels it very strongly. I’ve been reading and hearing things from many friends that cover everything from feeling a little down to severe medical issues. I would normally exclude myself from this, but you just have to look back one post from this one to see that I’m affacted to.

Can we just go to sleep on New Years Day and not wake up for a while? People in good relationships could wake up for Valentine’s Day, then go back to sleep until that green Irish day, or maybe the egg-laying bunny day. Others could just sleep through Single Awareness Day.


It’s late afternoon, I’ve only been awake for about three hours, and feel a serious case of the blahs. I have no particular desire to do the cleaning and laundry that needs doing, or to fight with the kids in the eternal struggle to have them take responsibility for themselves.

My wife, who has some kind of energy-sapping and pain-causing autoimmune disorder, is still sleeping upstairs. My blahs are worse when she is recovering from doing too much when she’s awake.

Despite years of trying, we still have not gotten a doctor to take my wife seriously so we can get her diagnosed and treated. We are pretty sure we know which disorder she’s got, but today’s medical climate requires that we play stupid and pretend we don’t know how much information is available on the Internet. In the best of circumstances, medical doctors (the highly specialized in particular) have little humility. When the patient tries to figure out what’s wrong with them on their own, their natural arrogance and pride, which are unfortunately required to be exceptional at medicine, take over completely. This reality has us stroking their egos and filling their wallets in an attempt to find one that will listen to her and either disprove or confirm what we’ve already learned. Thankfully, health insurance handles most of the wallet-filling.

We’ve learned something interesting. There’s evidence to suggest that modern medicine’s efforts at wiping out parasites is the reason for the incredible rise of autoimmune disorders, which includes allergies, asthma, type I diabetes, MS, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and many others. It’s thought that the type of immune response that evolved to fight parasites is what’s responsible for autoimmune problems. In order to survive, the parasites reduces that immune response. We’ve evolved to live in relative harmony with parasites for thousands of years, and now the balance has been upset.

It would be nice if we can get involved in some kind of clinical trial that explores this idea. The alternative is to go to Africa and walk around in open latrines, but that involves risks we’d rather not take.

entering the bronze age

Today is my 8th wedding anniversary, and also precisely one week after my birthday. I love my wife as much as I did then, perhaps more.

Marriage has been much better the second time around. It’s given me 8 good years, three great stepchildren, and a royal seven year old terror that I wouldn’t trade in.

the blizzard of christmas ’08

Those of you who follow me on twitter will already know what I’m writing about, but I thought it needed a little expansion.

I’m not sure why it was even turned on, but this morning at 8 AM, the alarm clock woke me up. We had put a sign on our door telling the kids to wait until at least 7 AM before going downstairs or waking us up, because ordinarily they are up at the crack of 4 AM wanting to get Christmas underway. This morning, I got downstairs and I was the only one awake in the whole house, including my in-laws who stayed the night with us.

When I got downstairs, I raised the blinds to look out, because I knew those silly meteorologists had cooked up a snowstorm for us, and I wanted to see where the clouds were. It turns out that the snowstorm was well underway, blowing sideways and already accumulating quickly.

Christmas went well, the kids got some awesome stuff this year that they’ll actually truly enjoy. I got my first ever MP3 player, a 4GB Sansa e260 that I bought in triplicate from The other two went to one of the boys and Kathy.

Four hours after waking up, I took a picture of the blizzard, which you’ll find linked to the thumbnail below:


That picture was taken about noon, it’s about 12:30 as I write this. I’ve been told by people insane enough to go outside that there’s over 2 feet of snow drifted up next to the house. The storm doesn’t look like it’s going to let up anytime soon, either.

We’ve got Christmas dinner planned with much of the family. I hope they can all make it.

are you pondering what i’m pondering?

Traffic was pretty bad this morning, and I kept getting blinded by other cars lights, which prompted me into an amusing colorful thought. I should apologize in advance to anyone that might get offended by this, especially my mother!

How many mechanics would be able to hold a straight face if a woman were to come in and say that she needed her headlights re-aimed? It would get worse if she were to then go on and try and describe it any further. “This one is pointing a little left, and that one’s going almost straight up.”

And, although I have no evidence for or against, I’m sure Rule 34 applies to this thought.

call mcflono mcfloonyloo

New TV series in the repertoire – The Big Bang Theory. Rented season 1 from Netflix on a recommendation, LOVED IT. I’m irritated at CBS, who is not putting season 2 episodes on their website. It seems natural that the show’s target audience would be networked geeks who would very much want to view it on the web, so I am wondering if this exclusion is intentional to create a large revenue bolus from DVD sales and rentals when it is finally available.

motherboard fun

My main computer at home has been having some unusual trouble until recently. It would occasionally either lock up or just spontaneously reset and reboot, usually when I was clicking on something with the mouse. This was particularly frustrating because every time it would lock up or reset, after reboot the mirrored hard drives would engage in verification and repair, to ensure they were completely in sync. This takes a good two hours and makes the system run VERY SLOWLY until it’s done.

My motherboard (ABIT AWD9-MAX) is one of the enthusiast motherboards geared towards extreme overclocking. I didn’t buy it for this purpose, I bought it because it has a gaggle* of SATA2 drive ports driven by three RAID controllers.

There’s a little program and hardware driver called

gourmet sandwiches

Today, in an effort to save money and eat better, I went to the store and bought the bits for sandwiches. Gourmet sandwiches that I would never be able to get my kids to touch, even if they happened to have a thirty-nine and a half foot pole handy.


  • Grandma’s multi-grain bread with visible seeds: $2.00
  • Kroger brand crunchy peanut butter: $1.74 x 2
  • Smucker’s strawberry jam: $3.59

It would have to be white bread, creamy peanut butter, and grape jam for the kids to even consider eating it.

CAD software?

Does anyone know of any free or open source CAD software? I am in a situation where I need to investigate the possibility of building an addition to my house, so we need to be able to draw up some plans. Visio would do the job, and I can use it at work, but it’s not free and I do not own a copy for any of my personal computers.

I’d prefer a Windows program, but I can deal with it being on Linux if that’s the only reasonable way to get the job done.

alarm clocks

This is another post about my sleeping patterns, so if you don’t want to read about it, you can move on to the next thing in your reader now.

I’ve always had an internal alarm clock that lets me wake up right before the electronic version goes off. I’ve even on occasion been able to look at the clock just before going to sleep, think about when I wanted to wake up, and “set” my internal alarm clock for the next day.

The last few years this internal clock has been broken because of my sleep apnea. In the few instances it would wake me up, I was so tired that I’d go right back to sleep, waking up later and finding that the real alarm clock had been beeping for 20 minutes straight.

Since the CPAP came into my life, this nifty feature of my brain has been working again. I don’t know if I’ll still be able to calibrate it, but I’ll take what I can get.

epr fail

Well, my night with the EPR setting on the CPAP transpired with a complete lack of success. I woke up several times during the night, with the mask giving me next to nothing in the way of pressure. I was still a little tired when I woke up.

Currently the machine is set for a minimum pressure of 5cm and a maximum pressure of 15. The EPR was set to reduce the pressure by 2, so it seems that 3cm is not enough to keep my airway open. I am hereby admitting that the doctor has more experience with these things than I do, and that EPR was probably left off for a good reason.

Down the road after I’ve really gotten used to the machine, I might experiment again with EPR, but set the minimum pressure to at least 7 so that the true minimum won’t go below what it is now.