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Archive for the 'General' Category


Posted by pete on 15th November 2009

Haven’t posted much here lately, but I have a few updates.

Gracie and I have moved up to Leesburg. Contact me if you need the new address.

I have the same 703.942 phone number as before, but if you want another simple way to call me, try that “Call Me” widget on the left. Click on it and enter your name and phone number. Google Voice will call you and me and connect us. FWIW, Google Voice is a good service. If you want an invite, let me know. I have a few invites left.

Finally, speaking of “things on the left,” please notice the “Support” section. There’s a Google link there. If you use this one (it’s tied to my Google Associates account) to make a purchase, I’ll get a small cut of the sale. Using this link would be much appreciated.


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Posted by pete on 9th March 2009

Today, Brig, Owen, Gracie, and I became dog owners. Meet Jenny. She’s a very sweet, calm shepherd / hound mix and about a year old.Hello, Jenny! Rub Here She's FierceThere are more pictures here, on Brigid’s Flickr page.   


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Posted by pete on 3rd December 2008

I saw this ad the other day while watching some live TV (Oh, how the TiVo was missed…). The music in the background sounded familiar, so I looked through my collection and finally found the track. It’s called, “Such Great Heights,” by The Postal Service.
Well, I got a chuckle.

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Two Reasons Why This American Life is so Good

Posted by pete on 7th October 2008

These two episodes are so very good at explaining some of the complexities of the current economic problems.

The Giant Pool of Money

Another Frightening Show About the Economy

I love This American Life.

The two reporters who did these episodes are doing a new podcast called Planet Money. Give it a listen.

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Stupendously Ugly

Posted by pete on 15th July 2007

Sitting here watching the Yankees play the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Tropicana Field. Wow! With all the beautiful, new stadiums in baseball today, this place stands out and blows a raspberry at them all. It’s stupendously ugly, from the bouncy bouncy outfield to the blotchy, poorly laid artificial grass. I can’t think of a more ugly baseball stadium, can you?

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Gee, That Was Quick

Posted by pete on 26th May 2007

Last Wednesday, I finally got around to getting time for a ride. I got home fairly early and started getting ready right away. As I was getting into some riding clothes, G found out I as leaving shortly and started crying. After talking with Lis a bit, we all decided to head to Wakefield, where G will play while Lis watches her and I’ll ride. Now, time was running short, so we hurriedly gathered our stuff and headed out to Wakefield.

We slowly made our way through traffic and I tried to get into a good state of mind for riding. I’m always nervous before my first few rides of the year, but I was eager to ride. When we got there, Lis and G headed straight for the nearby playground. I went around to the back of the truck, got my bike down, then started putting on my shoes. Left foot… front strap… done… middle strap… done… top strap… snap! Crap! What the heck? The clip that holds the strap to the other side of the shoe broke. Hmmm… Well, the other two straps are holding pretty well. I guess I can just fold the strap back and left it flap loose.

OK…. Next…. Helmet…. Helmet? Awwww, crap. Forgot the helmet.

Well, game over. I can ride with a broken shoe, but not without a helmet. Turns out I also forgot my gloves and a wipe-down towel for after the ride.

G played for a few more minutes at the playground, then we wandered around “exploring” for a while, then headed home.

Maybe I can get my first ride in sometime soon. Just gotta see about getting some new shoes first.

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What’s An Extra $25 Here Or There?

Posted by pete on 26th April 2007

Kiva - loans that change lives It turns out that it can be quite a lot when aggregated with $25 for other people. It can also mean quite a lot when loaned to businesses in developing countries.
I just finished watching a Frontline/World report on microfinance. I was sitting here at my laptop, watching this report on our TiVo and I saw how much a few hundred dollars loaned to a small business in a developing country can mean. Best of all, this was all done via the Internet and around banks. (I have a deep distrust and dislike of banks and most financial institutions.) It’s so simple to go to a site like Kiva and drop a few $25 loans. I figure that, with the repayment rates they’re seeing (currently, 100%, but normally greater than 96%), I’ll probably get the money back, then re-invest in some other business that needs it. If I don’t get it back, oh well, it’s only $25.

It’s nice to know that an amount that means so relatively little to me can make a big difference to someone else.

It also helps that the first entrepreneur they talked with was named Grace. :)

So, if you’ve got it (and if you’re reading this, you probably do), check out sites like Kiva or some other Internet-based microfinance site and see what you can do to help make a difference in somebody’s life. (And, yes, in this case, I am the boss of you.)

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Server Work

Posted by pete on 21st February 2007

Our server will be down on Sunday, Feb 25th, from 10am EST to around 6pm. It might be up earlier. How early depends on how you define “up.”

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The Situation Room

Posted by pete on 20th December 2006

Here’s the situation. It’s an hour before your 5:30AM alarm when you wake with your bladder going, “Hello! Remember me?!?” It’s cold out, but nice and warm under the covers. The floors creak, making lots of noise between the bedroom and the bathroom.

Do you A) lie in bed, trying to convince yourself that you can fall back asleep, despite the pressure or do you B) get up, shocking your system a bit with the cold, make a quite a bit of noise, possibly waking the other members of your family, relieve the pressure, then try to get back to sleep for those precious few minutes left in your night?

Myself? I chose B. I’ve tried A so many time that I’ve learned that I can never convince my bladder to shut up and that it’s not that too bad. It just keeps whining and whining until I finally get up and go after wasting half the time I have left to sleep.

What I really should do is just get up, turn off the alarm, and start my day an hour earlier than planned, but those last, dear minutes are too enticing to ignore and just toss away.

Let’s see Wolf Blitzer discuss that.

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Posted by pete on 19th October 2006

How is it that grease stains on your clothes always manage to hide until you’re out in public and can’t do anything about it? *sigh*

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Photographic Evidence

Posted by pete on 3rd September 2006

Here’s photographic proof that trees do attack.

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Game Over

Posted by pete on 26th August 2006

Once again, Bruce Schneier says things much better than I could. The gist of it is that, with our histrionics, The Terrorists have won and as long as we continue to respond the way we do, they will continue to win, regardless of whether or not a single person is really hurt. The point of their actions is to induce terror in the population. It’s not the number of bodies produced by their actions, but the reactions of the survivors and the attention drawn to their cause that’s the ultimate goal. Until we learn how to sensibly respond to terrorist plots, we will continue to be victims and not victors.

Anyway, go read his article. In this case, I am the boss of you, so go do it.

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Karma’s a Bitch

Posted by pete on 9th June 2006

Remember me gloating about getting tickets to the Yankee game against the Nats for Father’s day? Well, Karma came along and backhanded me. Karen was not able to get the tickets. It’d have been nice if she told us when she found out, but, oh well, what are you going to do? At least I’ll get to spend more time with G that day.


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Posted by pete on 3rd June 2006

Well, they’re home now and I feel better. I think that I probably would have enjoyed myself more had I actually had the time to do anything, but I’m in the middle of a high-priority project with a rather aggressive deadline. I’ve worked every day since May 21st and will probably be working every day until the 10th and that’s only if we actually do hit our targets.

Oh well, at least my family is back.

[tags]sappy, overworked, deadlines[/tag]

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What Good is Freedom if You Can’t Enjoy It?

Posted by pete on 28th May 2006

This morning Lis and G headed down south for their annual family trip to the OBX. I bid them goodbye last night. I’ve always been various degrees of miserable while there, but this year is the first since 1999 that I haven’t gone. I like to say that it’s because of the new job and not having accrued enough time off yet, but, truth be told, I think that even if I had, I’d still be staying here.

I’ve been looking forward to my week of bachelorhood. In the preceding couple weeks, I’ve been thinking of things I can do either by myself or to reconnect with some “long lost” friends. Now that it’s here, though, I can only see that my family’s not here and that I miss them terribly.
Hopefully, as the week goes on, I’ll enjoy things more. As I was telling Gracie yesterday, “You can miss someone and still have fun.” I guess I’ve gotta starting taking some of my own advice.

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Early Father’s Day

Posted by pete on 26th May 2006

Karen, my oh-so-wonderful sister-in-law, has access to tickets to the Yankees-Nationals game
on Father’s day. I had forgotten to check if my Yankees are playing in D.C. this year and by the time I found out, I assumed that they were sold out. Now, it turns out, I’ll be going to the game on Father’s Day. Woot! (To show what a good son I am, I’ll think about my Yankee-loving father while I’m at the game. It’s only right, you know.  Maybe I’ll send him a snapshot.)

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Posted by pete on 7th April 2006

Ugh! Isn’t it bad enough that I still have to work with Grumpy? Now I’d even have to spend time with him in some silly quiz-based alterna-life.


You Belong in Dublin
Friendly and down to earth, you want to enjoy Europe without snobbery or pretensions.
You’re the perfect person to go wild on a pub crawl… or enjoy a quiet bike ride through the old part of town.

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Wordpress 2.0

Posted by pete on 31st December 2005

Since I like doing command line tasks over a choppy wireless connection, I decided to upgrade my web log to WordPress 2.0 today. So far, so good. The FlickrRSS plugin and the theme (Devenir en gris) I was using with WordPress 1.5 seem to also work with it, so there’s probably not much different from a user’s point of view. If you do see a problem, please let me know.

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“Rhymes with Citi”-Bank

Posted by pete on 29th October 2005

I gave in over the weekend and bought the evilness known as Quicken. Quicken 2006 Premire, to be exact. Since the cost of the download version was the same as the plastic-disc-snail-mailed-to-you version and there was no indication of the two versions being any different, I went with the immediate gratification of the download. Turns out that the download is only about 41M and is missing a lot of the support files that come on the CD version. I hope there’s a way I can get the CD version without having to spend any extra.

On top of it all, I’ve been having problems trying to configure Quicken to work with Citibank. Quicken offers two types of connections to financial institutions: web connect and direct connect. Direct connect is pretty much what is says. Quicken directly connects to your configured financial institutions and sends and receives transactions. Web connect, though, is a different bird. The standard Citibank/Quicken connectivity is this web connect. What happens is, I go to one of the Citibank accounts I have, then click on the register tab, then click on the “download transactions” button on the bottom left. It opens a browser window within Quicken that goes to Citibank Online, where I log in as usual. I go to the part of the site where I can download my transactions, then get a QFX file. Quicken intercepts this file and imports the data into my accounts.

This is kludgy and awkward to say the least. It requires me to do two updates to cover all my accounts (and these are not the good kind of updates). I might, might, have accepted this state of affairs if it wasn’t for the fact that I remember having direct access to my Citibank accounts via Quicken when I last regularly used it many years ago, even though they charged $9.95/mo.

I tried calling Intuit’s supprt people. No luck. They only have support people available during west coast business hours. (Which makes sense. It’s not like they have a lot of home users who might try to get their financial books in order when they’re home after work or on the weekends.)

Next, I called Citibank. The woman I spoke with said that they do offer a direct connection between Citibank and Quicken, but I need to fill out some form and the cost is $9.95/mo. *sigh* What’s the URL for the form? Oh, there is none. They’ll (snail) mail it to me. I need sign it, then mail it back to them. I should recieve the form in seven to ten business days. No, there is no PDF or other format of the form available online. No, they cannot fax it to me. No, my previous activation doesn’t count; I need to re-authorize. No, I cannot get the form at one of their many (read: “two”) branches around here. There is nothing I can do to expidite the process. No, I cannot fax back the signed form.

This is frustrating, especially for someone so into immediate gratification, but the real kicker to me is that they are still charging $9.95 a month. I currently have nine different financial institutions listed in Quicken: Citibank and eight others. Of those eight, two don’t offer any Quicken compatibility. In other words, I can use neither web connect nor direct connect to communicate with them from within Quicken and their web sites offer nothing about downloading transactions, either as a QIF or even a CSV or XLS file. (Incidentally, one of those sites is run by Citibank.) The remaining six all over free, direct connections. One of those six: CitiMortgage.

Sure, a company is supposed to profit. Most people don’t go into business to only make life good for others and banks are — surprisingly — not an exception, but when your competition is offering for free what you are charging for, maybe it’d be a good idea to show your customers that you care more about keeping them (at least) than you do about squeezing every single dollar you can out of them before they leave. Or, if you’re going to make your customers jump through hoops and charge nearly $120/year for service that’s free elsewhere, at least they should make it worth $120/yr.

*Sigh* Just another reason to make it my business to find another bank.

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Welcome To Zeke

Posted by pete on 24th September 2005

We’re on zeke, now.

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