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"Murphy was an optimist!"

Vacation means sleeping in December 22, 2014 6:17 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Christmas, Daily Life, Holiday
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I went on Christmas vacation at 1pm this past Friday. Since it is my vacation, I’ve slept in each day until 6am!

Vacation accomplishments/activities? Shopping, programming, cleaning, some crafting, finally gained some competency on Sketchup, daughter (who just graduated from college) came home for the week, and had a chemical spill in the house (Mineral spirits).

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Happy Father’s Day! June 16, 2013 12:58 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, Family, Holiday, Of Being Dad
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I tried writing some sappy Father’s Day post and it sounded so forced and fake. I love my father! He’s my hero. As I’ve gained wisdom in life, I’ve both apologized to my father (for my shenanigans) and thanked him for allowing me to live (how he restrained from selling me to the gypsies is beyond me). Thank you Dad for everything!

So, in lieu of sappy, I give you video!

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Happy Mother’s Day! May 12, 2013 9:21 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Cathy, Daily Life, Holiday, Mother's Day
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In particular, I want to thank the love of my life, Cathy, for being such an awesome mother to our children! Additionally, I am so lucky to have been raised by a great, caring mother who made me a priority. I am fortunate to have a fantastic mother-in-law in our children lives. And I have a wonder grandmother who never misses a birthday. There have been so many other mother figures and mothers in my life and my children’s lives that I would have to type all day simply to recognize them all.

Happy Mother’s Day! This goes out to all. Mothers come in all forms, with or without child, regardless of gender, you are there for us!

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It’s the end of the vacation as we know it. January 6, 2013 10:50 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Christmas, Daily Life, Health, Holiday, Mental
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I’ve come to the end of a genuine two week vacation. I’m very relaxed (except a dog is whining at me trying to shake my calm). It would be easy to slip into a state of anxiety because the list of things I didn’t accomplish that I wanted to over the break is very large. Depressingly so. But the list of things that I did accomplish, including days committed to sleeping in and chillin’, is substantial. This break included the Christmas holiday of course so time was committed to preparing for the day including shopping, wrapping and cleaning. This break included playing games with the children (albeit not enough..2013 shall include more play time with the children) and visiting relatives. This break included an overnight camping trip that started at 32°F and dropped to 22°F then rose to 42°F. It was cold and a sore knee had me concerned that the hike out would be too difficult but the trip was probably the best thing for the knee (2013 shall include more exercise).

For my final Sunday of my vacation, I plan only one thing. Anything else is bonus. The one thing I will accomplish today is to plan a cub scout meeting.

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Why does Apple make this so confusing? December 25, 2012 10:04 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Amy, Christmas, Daily Life, Evan, Family, Gadgets, Holiday, Of Being Dad, Technology
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We have one Macbook Air in the house. My wife syncs her iPhone with iTunes on this Macbook Air. For Christmas, the 7 year old and 10 year old received iPods. Yes, I understand DRM. Rovio Entertainment would much prefer I buy Angry Birds 3 times instead of one. I have no problem with that although I do feel like the model for DRM for music fails when compared to the physical world of records and CDs.

Possible solutions

As best I can tell, there are four ways to manage multiple devices with iTunes.

  1. Individual User Accounts
  2. Multiple iTunes Libraries
  3. Management Screen
  4. Playlists

Each of these has their respective pros and cons.

Individual User Accounts

Since each user account is its own space, that means each user has their own iTunes library and sync settings for their iOS device. Easy to understand, (relatively) easy to set up, and easy to maintain–it’s a good approach!

[Source, About.com, 4 Ways to Use Multiple iPods on One Computer]

The problem with this approach is Apple doesn’t allow children under 13 to have an AppleID. So you are faced with lying and apparently Apple permanently associates the age first entered with the email address. Sharing of apps and music is difficult or impossible (DRM…and I’m okay with that).

Multiple iTunes Libraries

With this method, each person who uses the computer has their own iTunes library and sync settings. This way, you won’t get music, apps, or movies mixed across iTunes libraries (unless you want to) and won’t end up with someone else’s content on your iPod by mistake.

The downsides of this approach are that parental controls on content apply to all iTunes libraries (with user accounts, they’re different for each account) and that each user’s space is not as cleanly separate. Still, this is a good option that’s easy to set up.

[Source, About.com, 4 Ways to Use Multiple iPods on One Computer]

Although promising, this approach seems burdensome and ripe for making errors since iTunes launches the last used library by default.

Management Screen

With this approach, you choose what content from each of the tabs in the management screen you want on your device. Other people using the computer do the same thing.

The downsides of this technique include that it only allows one setting for parental control of content and it can be imprecise (for instance, you might only want some music from an artist, but if someone else adds more of that artist’s music, it could end up on your iPod).

So, even though it’s messy, this is a very easy way to manage multiple iPods.

[Source, About.com, 4 Ways to Use Multiple iPods on One Computer]

I believe this is how my wife has been managing multiple devices in the past. It does allow for sharing of certain apps and music but if a child starts syncing with a different iTunes library, your personal device will start prompting you for their password in addition to yours in certain circumstances. I am also not sure that this approach will allow the children to use Facetime, iCloud, and iMessage the way we want. Instead the 5GB of space on iCloud may end up being shared between all the devices while the iMessages intended only for my wife (nudge nudge) could inadvertently be seen by the children.


Downsides of this approach include that everything each person adds to the iTunes library is mixed together, the same content restrictions for all users, and the possibility that your playlist could be accidentally deleted and you’d have to re-create it.

[Source, About.com, 4 Ways to Use Multiple iPods on One Computer]

I am afraid this will also have the problem noted above with Facetime, iCloud, and iMessage.


Apple has made this unnecessarily confusing. It’s as if Apple is adult techie centric and in no way thinking about the way a family might use their devices. For instance, the iPad does not support multiple logins or even a level of control that would allow your child to safely use the device. Cathy is constantly having to rename folders and put applications back in the correct spot because she cannot hand the iPod to the child in a locked down mode. A simple second password with attached restrictions such as "cannot view certain applications" or "cannot rename folders." With such an approach Apple could allow unlimited screen lock passwords that would allow settings for the adult, the teen, the child, or even the toddler (and yes, toddlers use iPads).

So, how do you manage multiple iDevices in your house? And with children under 13?


Saturday night / Sunday morning December 16, 2012 7:48 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Cathy, Christmas, Daily Life, Family, Holiday
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For Medical Malady Saturday, I tried slicing off the tip of my finger at William Sonoma (last night). Did not have a drop of alcohol, medication, pain pill, or other intoxicant. Woke up this morning feeling hung over.

As for William Sonoma, Cathy and I were looking for a shrimp fork and I stumbled onto their shaved ice machine. The store had fake ice in the bin. Someone had dropped a single plastic ice cube into the chute on the top where you would feed the ice. I thought I would fish the plastic ice cube out never thinking my fingers would make contact with the blade. I received a severe gash that took 20 minutes to stop the bleeding and seriously considered going to an after hours clinic to see a doctor.

The scary thing is that, unlike other machines I have seen which only activate when the lid is closed over the blades, this machine has a toggle on/off switch meaning I (or a child) could have stupidly reached the blades while the machine was in operation.

I bet the quality of shaved ice produced by this machine is excellent. Despite the plastic, it is a nice looking appliance.

So, the second I felt my finger contact the blade I yanked my hand out of the machine and shoved it into the palm of my other hand applying a lot of pressure. I knew it was bad. I told Cathy, "I did something stupid." She wanted to see but I was afraid I’d spray blood across the store so I walked to an employee and quietly and calmly said, "I cut myself on one of your appliances. I need to use your bathroom." She replied, "We cannot let you in our bathroom but there are bathrooms in the food court." I explained that I was bleeding badly and asked if she could kindly bring me a paper towel. She returned a moment later to invite me into their special kitchen in the employee only space (by the way, it’s like Santa’s workshop back there) but they would not allow my wife to come with me. I ran my hand under cold water. The staff were very kind and attentive yet seemed flustered. medical malady saturdayI suspect this store could use a little more emergency preparedness training. They couldn’t find paper towels. They brought a spray antiseptic asking if I wanted that. They didn’t seem to know where their first aid kit was. They offered a variety of "maybe" suggestions. Maybe this will help. Maybe that will help. I was calm and jovial the entire time. Several times I explained it was my own stupidity and "no big deal." Finally I said, "It’s okay. I’m trained in first aid." The person with me visibly breathed a sigh of relief. I asked for a dry paper towel noting a bandaid would not stick on a wet hand. We put the bandaid on tightly and added a second for good measure. They handed me a bandaid for the road. I filled out some paperwork. Thanked them. And promptly left the store. I’d taken the happiness out of our shopping for the evening.

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Why must they fight? December 15, 2012 12:59 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Christmas, Daily Life, Family, Holiday, Of Being Dad
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Nothing makes me feel like a failure of a father more than listening to my children fight. I could understand an occasional fight but my seven and ten year old seem to make a sport out of squabbling and it pushes me over the edge. After the 99th attempt at calmly trying to discuss their conflict with them, I lost it and with a voice that I’m sure Santa could hear at the North Pole, I threw the "I’m cancelling Christmas" card and stormed off to the kitchen where I both chastised myself and snickered at myself. Really? Canceling Christmas? Dad fail.

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Happy Holidays December 12, 2012 11:23 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Christmas, Daily Life, Family, Holiday
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I love this time of year.

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Happy Holidays December 12, 2012 11:22 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Christmas, Daily Life, Family, Holiday
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I hate this time of year.

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Shelf Elf is watching you poop December 2, 2012 10:43 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Christmas, Daily Life, Holiday, Humor, Philosophy
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Forget about Jeff Goldblum! (See also)

Shelf Elf is watching you poop

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Happy Veterans Day! November 11, 2012 9:07 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Holiday, Veterans Day
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United States Flag

Photo by JackAZ Photography.

To our soldiers, I thank you for your service!

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Happy Independence Day! July 4, 2012 11:17 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Holiday, Independence Day, Politics, Touchy Subjects, United States
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American FlagToday is July 4th. In the United States, this day commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence which declared America’s independence from Great Britain. Today is supposed to be a patriotic holiday celebrating our country. People will celebrate by taking to the lakes for boating and swimming, and having cookouts and family gatherings.

As I ponder the meaning of this day, my thoughts drift to SOPA, ACTA, and CISPA, to AT&T and Comcast, to our youth who seem to be the most fearful generation, to our politicians who seem to have forgotten their role is to represent the people, and to the corporations who have usurped power from the people. Each of these threaten our liberties as we know them. September 11, 2001 terrorists attacked this country. Terrorism is a violent means to bring about change. We said we would not allow the terrorist to change us but they won. I have not known independence like I grew up with since September 11, 2001. Now, instead of being confident in our individual independence and freedoms allotted to the people, I feel we struggle each day to maintain those certain unalienable Rights referenced in the Declaration of Independence. And although I am at political odds with the Tea Party and the GOP, as I re-read the Declaration of Independence, I wonder if our government has not lost its way.

when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism

[Source, Archives.gov, The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription]

This brings to mind the Bush tax cuts, the corporate hold on Congress, and the one percenters. As the middle class is beat down, more power falls into few hands and we move more toward a Despotic nation. I feel my voice falls on deaf ears when I communicate with my elected officials. Wwhen your voice is not heard, and votes in legislation fall contrary to what the resounding public appear to favor, how can one feel the words of the Declaration of Independence reflect today’s society?

Today is a patriotic day. It is a day to be celebrated. It should also be a day of reflection. Re-read (or read for the first time), the Declaration of Independence. It won’t take long to read. Read it and reflect upon your life and your government. (And if you don’t want to do that, here are some pictures of women in American flag swimsuits.)

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Happy Memorial Day May 28, 2012 10:01 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, Holiday, Memorial Day
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In case you are unclear, Memorial Day is the holiday we remember the fallen soldiers. Veterans Day is when we honor the living soldiers. Memorial Day has its origins from the Civil War in a practice called Decoration Day when people would place flowers on graves of the soldiers. May 30th was Memorial Day. In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act to increase the number of three day weekends for federal employees. Memorial Day officially moved to the last Monday of May in 1971.

Please be safe this weekend. The weather is beautiful! Relax some and be sure to take a moment to remember those soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice.

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Memorial Day Weekend May 26, 2012 1:11 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, Holiday, Memorial Day
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This is Memorial Day Weekend. To comply with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968, in 1971 Memorial Day was moved from May 30th to the last Monday of May thus creating a beloved three day weekend. Some people want to return the holiday to May 30th as they feel people have forgotten the roots of Decoration Day, a day of observance to mourn the dead of the Civil War, and that respect for our fallen solders has been overshadowed by vacations to the beach.

This Memorial Day weekend, I celebrate two of my children’s birthdays, I plan to spend 30-40 hours on a client’s project, dig through a decade’s worth of statements and receipts, and I will remember our fallen solders.

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Easter Weekend April 9, 2012 11:26 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, Easter, Family, Holiday
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Had a phenomenal Easter weekend. My daughter came home from college in New York so the entire family was together. Her siblings really miss her. The weather was perfect! I have grass on the lawn for the first time since…well…since I bought the house in 1997. And we had a great Easter egg hunt although I believe the Easter bunny needs to be a little tougher on hiding eggs next year.

As for Monday, I need a pick me up. Must have spent all my happiness this weekend.

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