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"Murphy was an optimist!"

Rally 4 Sanity – Thursday October 29, 2010 9:54 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, Family, Holiday, Of Being Dad
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aka National Lampoon’s The Doug’s Take Washington

Side note: Please Don’t Rob Me

n.b. Before I get started, allow me to counter the paranoid reaction of those who have bought into the media hype of sites like Please Rob Me.

  1. We computer geeks all recognized the potential for sharing sites like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Yelp and similar sites to reveal too much information and present opportunities for people to rob you long before Please Rob Me was ever created
  2. Using these sites is too much work for a professional thief. A friend’s brother is a professional thief and he says he never robs on weekends (that’s when people are home) and that he simply calls the house and if no one answer he busts the door down.
  3. Most people leave for work by 7:30 in the morning. Professional thieves don’t need to Twitter and Facebook to know this. Yards without toys are more likely to have no one home during the day plus they tend to have nicer things.
  4. A drive through a neighborhood on trash day reveals who has purchased an HDTV, game system, or computer with less work than social media sites. Remember, to get the information, the thief would have to sift through tons of data.
  5. The people in the news using Facebook to rob others are almost always related to the victim in someway or another. Even prior to social media, vacation theft is often done by teen friends of the children.

All that said, many people also don’t realize that a simple call to the non-emergency number of the sheriff can initiate a property watch while on vacation. The sheriff asks for the types of cars that will be at the house and if any cars not on the list are there during one of the drive-bys they get questioned. I had to list the cars, make and model, of the house sitters that are staying at our house and watching over our dogs. That’s another one of those things that Please Rob Me fails to mention; social media announcements that someone is out of town does not mean that someone is not at their house.

I’m also fortunate to have good neighbors watching over the house and very lucky to have a right-wing conspiracy theory, Drudge Report reading, Obama is ruining the nation, revolution is just around the corner, gun nut neighbor who has 24/7 video cameras all around his house which capture everything entering or leaving the street. Last time some teenagers took a neighbors car joy riding, he just showed the police the video.

Enough said.


We are heading to the Rally for Sanity! Thursday started at midnight with me still on the computer trying to meet client expectations. Coffee is brewed and I’m ready to program through the night and sleep on the plane. Instead, Comcast turns off the Internet and the television for "scheduled maintenance" for fiber maintenance. Funny, I never had an announcement or warning about that. I call reveals that it will go on through the night but should be up at 6am. 9 hours later, almost to the second, the Internet returns and I’m at wits end. My attention turns to packing for me while Cathy finishes packing for 4 people and cleaning and making notes for the house sitters and for the grandparents and generally we are both frantic.

The Airport

Eventually, our crew is gathered and we head to the airport with Cathy twitching because we are half an hour behind schedule and still need to get gas. I try to check in electronically and am confused when Delta wants to charge us $23 a bag because I thought I read that 1 bag was included. I decide to check in at the airport and they clear up that 1 bag is not included and it is now $25 a bag. Lesson learned-ship your luggage with UPS. At the airport, I use the self-checkin kiosk to get checked in because it looks like self-checkin is now the only option. The printer prints our passes and we drop our luggage at the x-ray machine and head to the gate. As we approach security, I can only find boarding passes for Cathy and I. Maybe children are someone barcoded into ours but I have two and Cathy has one. A quick jaunt down to the Delta counter and a discussion with an employee reveals that I walked away from the kiosk without grabbing all the boarding passes. Apparently it paused in printing and I thought it was done.


This will be Amy and Evan’s first airplane flight and they are beyond themselves with glee. We explain security to the children then proceed through. Of the five of us, the only one who gets hassled is the 5 year old. They did run my Scottevest twice which contacted an Energizer portable battery, a monocular, power cord for an iPhone, the iPhone itself, SkullCandy earbuds coiled in a bag, car keys, a bluetooth headset, a wallet and a change purse with coins but I think it was less about the items and more of a double-take. The TSA agent had this look on his face like "how many pockets?!"

The Launch

After a short wait at the gate, we board. The plane taxis and Amy and Evan watch out the windows with anticipation. As the plane accelerates, smiles widen and when it leaves the grown, the grins are ear to ear with eyes bugged out. The littlest are thrilled. The teen seemed anxious. And the mother was putting dents into the armrest with her fingers.

The cab

We had a brief layover in Cincinnati and another flight to DC. Once in DC, we hailed a cab and gave the directions that AAA had printed on the trip tik. As we approach the Lincoln Memorial, the driver accepts a call and has a conversation in Arabic. For some reason, this convinces Cathy that he is asking for directions but I am certain that he is taking us to the right place because it matches the directions on the trip tik. Turns out, AAA misprinted the address 3325 instead of 3525 and we get dropped off 3 blocks too early cementing in Cathy’s mind that my directions to the cabbie were bad which I suppose they were. Eventually our host was able to find us and later we walked from his house back to where the cabbie left us to accentuate how close we were.


Our drive from the airport to the house shows Washington DC in beauty and diversity. We pass Watergate, the Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial, Georgetown, Chinatown, and a place we are warned has racial conflict and lots of police. The architecture is varied from old to new but all of it beautiful. The shops look intriguing and I could spend months trying them all. I expect this will be a fantastic and sane trip!

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Movibf Targets October 28, 2010 12:25 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, Health, Mental, Of Being Dad
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One of those things that pushes me toward the brink of insanity is “shit that magically moves.” For instance, the two youngest have forms due on November 1. I prefer to do my accounting on Thursdays and was too busy the day I received the forms so I set them in an out of the way place where I’d be able to finish them this morning while the kids readied themselves for school. Of course, the forms are gone so I’m now faced with squeezing a trip into the elementary school today to go to the office with two checks ($9 and $18) and saying, “I have no idea who to endorse these to nor what they are for but they are due Monday.”

This is not an OCD thing. This is a “constantly off balance” thing. It’s one of the benefits that cone with marriage and children. Never again will you be able to find anything, particularly your tools. Supposedly this teaches you to take things in stride. The way my heart feels right now, I think it’s going to teach me how to self-administer an AED.

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CRS disease related to 20-30 years of stress October 22, 2010 1:02 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Health, Mental, Of Interest, Science, Technology
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Stress hurts memory. And my memory is undeniably in a less than adequate state. The memories are there. The recollection is poor. After feeding me a few clues, the memories surface. Clues can be reminding me of your name or where we last bumped into each other etc.

An experimental drug developed by researchers at the University of Edinburgh reverses age-related memory decline in mice, returning their brains to a more youthful state of cognitive function. The compound is designed to dampen the production of glucocorticoids, stress hormones that are thought to damage the brain’s learning and memory centers over time. [Source, Technology Review, Experimental Drug Preserves Memory in Rodents]

"What’s most surprising is that even short-term inhibition was able to reverse memory loss in old mice. I don’t think people had realized this was so reversible. It takes [the animals] back to being relatively young." Sign me up! I hereby declare my readiness to be a human subject in this testing of this drug!

h/t Kurzweilai.net

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Waist Fluctuations October 21, 2010 8:59 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, Exercise, Food, Health
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Since I’ve become hyperaware of my blood pressure and have the strong desire to live, I’ve begun eating healthier. I once thought I’d go by John Derek’s words of "live fast, die young and leave a beautiful corpse" (n.b. written by Willard Motely in 1947 for the book "Knock on Any Door", turned into a screen play in 1949 and spoken by John Derek playing the character of Romano, and often incorrectly attributed to James Dean.) However, since I lived past 35 and have a wonderful family, I’m quite motivated to extend my years as long as possible so I’ve begun eating more organic foods, reduced my red meat intake dramatically, and have begun leaning toward more vegetarian meals. I also am taking smaller portions and I stop eating when I’m full rather than when the plate is empty. The result is that of the 5 notches on my belt (roughly an inch apart), I’ve moved from the 3rd to the 4th. Last week I was actually on the 5th. This week the 4th is a little too loose and the 5th is too tight. Now what would happen if I actually started exercising?

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State of Me October 20, 2010 9:25 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, Health, Mental
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So stressed my vision is blurry.

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Of Grasshoppers October 16, 2010 1:21 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Of Grasshoppers, Philosophy
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Student: I have never lived.
Master: Begin today!

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The Glowing Body – Breath and Meditation Class (sign up today) October 11, 2010 2:57 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Health, Mental, Philosophy
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This month’s class is short on participants. If you have ever wanted an intro to breathing and meditation practices, today, Monday, now, is the time to sign up!

Breath & Meditation Series with Kim – Tuesdays, 10/12-11/02/2010, 7:45-9:00pm

If you have ever wondered what it means to have a breathing or meditation practice, this course will provide your first insights into what these practices entail. The series will be structured in a progressive manner, and will be a safe atmosphere for asking questions, discussing experiences and exploring your own patterns. The weeks will be structured as follows:
1 – Body Preparation, Ways to Sit & Breath Awareness
2 – Guiding the Breath
3 – Meditation: Roots & Branches
4 – Development of Your Practice

Throughout the course, you will receive references to outside materials and descriptive handouts, and experiential assignments will be available relating to each week.

$50 for 4 weeks
(No drop-ins accepted!)
[Source, The Glowing Body, Workshops & Series]

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Weekend PRoject – Day 19 October 10, 2010 4:08 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Amy, Birthday, Daily Life, Family, Holiday, House, Of Being Dad
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Corner molding done. Step 14 of 27 complete on The Little Miss.

Weekend Project - Day 19

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Soldering iron or hot air rework station? October 7, 2010 10:16 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Hardware, Technology
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I need advice from my friends into building electronics. I have grown frustrated with years of using $8 soldering irons from Radio Shack and want to get into a Weller or Aoyue soldering station. My quandary is deciding between just a soldering station or a hotair rework station. My next two projects will be 1) replacing some bad caps on a circuit board and 2) resoldering some bad joints on another board.

I’m currently looking at the Aoyue 937+ Digital Soldering Station and the Aoyue 968 SMD Digital Hot Air Rework Station. Suggestions? Feedback?


From the mouths of babes October 7, 2010 8:02 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, Evan, Family, From the mouths of babes
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Evan, 5 years old: "Amy! You know that girl on the bus who sits by herself and never talks and stares at me? She…talked…to…me! She really did. She talked to me. Me!"


Weekend Project – Day 18 October 4, 2010 8:06 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Amy, Birthday, Daily Life, Evan, Family, Holiday, Noah, Of Being Dad
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The corner trim work has begun!

Weekend Project - Day 18

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Weekend Project – Day 17 October 3, 2010 10:15 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Amy, Birthday, Daily Life, Family, Holiday, Of Being Dad
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Table saws. Very dangerous. Very fun!

Weekend Project - Day 17

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Natural doesn’t mean waist high October 1, 2010 11:52 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, House, Of Being Dad
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In the Spring of my freshman and sophomore years in high school, I sold flowers at an Amish market in New Jersey. Had nothing to do with the Amish market itself, that’s just where I was stationed by the teacher who made ends meet by shipping flowers to New Jersey from South America and paying teenagers minimum wage to stand in front of stores pushing the flowers and plants. I enjoyed it because the flowers came wrapped in newspapers printed in Spanish so I’d practice my Spanish by reading the comics and news. I felt I was pretty knowledgeable about plants at the time. This proved to be wrong when I became a homeowner.

I bought my house in the Fall of 1997. The previous owner kept the yard immaculate. With each season surprises of color and fragrances would pop from the ground and vines on the trees. But I was running a business…rather my business was running me. And in an effort to keep the business alive, I neglected everything. By the time, the business died, so had the yard and its landscaping. Nature reclaimed it. Wild honeysuckle and privet sprung up everywhere and grew 8 feet or higher with thick, viney trunks. I had lots of animals. Birds. Raccoon. Possum. Snakes. Chipmunks. Hawks. And so much more. Keeping part of the yard "wild" for habitat was an attractive proposition. But wild does not mean unkempt and, unfortunately, that’s exactly what became of my yard.

In any other neighborhood, inspectors would have been called upon me for codes violations. Neighborhood associations would have fined me. Neighbors would have posted nasty notes on my door. Mine were forgiving to an extreme and I was a lousy neighbor.

This week Cathy had enough and demanded I pay someone to knock down our waist high weeds. Every lawn mower I bring on the property dies so doing it myself was not an option. I called a friend with a landscaping business. He must have worked his tail off! The yard looks better than it has since 1997! I feel I can use the yard, something I haven’t experienced in a decade. I am flabbergasted! My wife is thrilled! And my neighbors are ecstatic!

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