Reliable Technology

”When using reliable technology, troubleshoot the simple and physical stuff first."
- Jim Melcher (Hey, that's me!)

Technology I Love

I was sitting at my computer when I saw a voicemail pop into my inbox! I immediately thought, “Why?” I was here the whole time, why did the telephone not ring? I then slipped into troubleshooting mode. This is a hazard of being currently employed as a support analyst and a lifelong geek.

I love new technology. I love proven, reliable technology much more. Fellow geeks and other Windows users will note my first thought was “Why?” and not "Damn, I don't have time to reboot!" This initial thought comes from my broad experience with alternate technologies. Technologies that usually work, for months, without restarts, without unexplained halts.

The particular technology that had me puzzled was my telephone. I admire the telephone network. My father was a long time employee of Bell of Pennsylvania and then Verizon in the end. I even put in a few years at the "pho-en cump'ny1" before it became Verizon. Fellow geeks, consider a technology service that is deployed to millions of users with high uptime, small learning curve and variable hardware implementations.

Your kids can use a telephone, your parents can use a telephone. People in cities and people with barns were able to use the early telephones. The system is usually up. Except in extreme circumstances of weather or physical damage people rely on the telephone. It is a reliable system. It is this kind of technology that I expect and assume in most of my experiences.

Fast Forward

After several upgrades to the telephone system (touch tone, fax service, data service, *69) including the successful interlink with parallel technologies (cellular, Internet), I find myself at my heavily used iMac2 receiving an electronic mail message from my telephone voice mail system. This indicates a missed a call and someone left a message. I was right here when the telephone call was placed, but my telephone set did not ring. "Huh?"

I am working with Windows clients at work. I must admit a lapse in troubleshooting judgment. I went to the router to check it out first.

Router? Sorry, forgot to mention I am a Vonage person. I would be happy to refer you. After this article you may want to switch for the low prices and national long distance included in your monthly rate (which I love!).

Given the complicated implementation of my telephone service, I panicked. I pulled a Windows move and restarted the router.

I don't know why.

I was receiving email on my iMac at the time of the outage. That means the internet traffic from my computer was successfully traveling over the same router and internet connection as the telephone service data. This was my first clue. I ignored it and rebooted.

That little reboot restored my service for a minute. Even reliable technologies will respond to drastic, brutish methods. I was a short lived victory. Before I could look at the number of the caller in the emailed voice mail, my service went high and dry again. This was my second clue. I ignored it and prepared to reboot something else.

This time I had the number programmed into my telephone handset's dial buffer. No delay this time! I decided to restart the Network Interface (often called the cable modem). This brutal solution also restored my service. So, I dialed. Unfortunately, I seem to have a problem with my biological dial buffer. I transposed some of the digits of the telephone number and received an invalid number message from the telephone network.

Blame Cox

Service was restored, and I get to the blame the cable company. Blaming a big company pleases the inner "technology should be free to everyone" streak in me. Too bad the nice big expensive networks that I need can only be produced by big companies seeking big profits. Many people hate the local cable company. I have little trouble with the service. I think they resent the price, and frequent price hikes.

I digress. I hang up and go to the iMac screen to get the number. I pick up the phone again, but the invalid number message is still playing! "Huh?" This was my third and final clue. In a reliable system it is always the simple (often physical) stuff that causes the problem.

It Wasn’t the Router

I had no problem with my heat beleaguered router. My Cox cable service was even reliable! The problem was me. I had answered the telephone late last night with the old style phone in the other room. The one with the physical switch to hang up. The switch that is activated (opened) by placing the full weight of the handset on it.

I failed to properly hung up my telephone. This whole technological odyssey was caused by a simple physical failure of the full weight of the handset to come to rest on the switch. The telephone network did it's job and cut my service until I properly hung up.

1 This is not misspelled, that was the proper "dumb dutch" name of the company that provided telephone service in Berks County. It was four syllables: Foe En Cump Nee.
2 This footnote is a required apology to my Windows using friends. Many of you believe me to be a Windows user. I am at work, but not out of preference. I own a Mac. I use it whenever I can. This bLog is composed and published on an iMac. Sorry if I deceived you by seeming normal.

More Katie Media

Katie does Commercials!

Video: Commercial

Man Rules: Color Spectrum

1. Men see in 16 colors. Pumpkin is a fruit, not a color!

Peach is a fruit, not a color!
Periwinkle is plant with blue flowers, not a color!
We have no idea what mauve is.
Chartreuse sound like a French curse word.

Holiday Event

We had the second opportunity to attend the ASU, W. P. Carey, Annual, Holiday, Charity Event. I probably forgot some adjectives, but it was a fine semi formal event.

The charity benefits from a faux casino. You get chips with your admission. You gamble away said chips. If you are Karen you actually double your chips and have enough to buy raffle tickets with the accumulated chips. Then there is a much announced drawing for prizes donated to the charity event.

Karen won 4 Diamondbacks tickets for the 2007 season. We went to a few games already it will be fun.


We had a "just us" Turkey Day this year. I think this officially make Sharon Drive home. Karen's family is addicted to food events and has the need to share photographs of the big meals. This is not any weirder than my need to show off Wet Dry Vacs, but it just as weird.

Photo Album: Thanksgiving

Wedding Album, Hip and Now

I am a slow learner. I do not usually like songs until years after their release. I have to admit I like this one. It is catchy pop and doesn't pretend to be more. I think the theme is great for a wedding album. I don't understand why it "doesn't do anything" for Pete.

Here it is, the Danger Mouse collaboration... Gnarls Barkley with Crazy.

Man Rules: Toilet Seat

1. You are a big girl, learn to work the toilet seat!

Women's Rights

We need it up sometimes, you need it down. Why do I get the "honor" of lifting it AND dropping it? You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down. It is not a woman's right to have the toilet seat up. Do you need a statistical analysis with a computer simulation model based on the labor consumed trying to meet your demands to explain it? Our man Anand Venkataraman can provide that for you.

Second Plea

Stop me if you heard this one. "If you ever sat on the toilet without the seat down and fell in, you would never leave it up again."

Ladies, think! I do sit down on the toilet.

It happens.

Have even done this after too much beer? Yes.

Have I done this in the middle of the night without turning the light on? Yes.

Guess what happened?

I know of what you speak. Strangely after a very few encounters, I LEARNED TO LOOK! Do you all reach the bathroom door, turn around and find the porcelain convenience ASS first? Check it! it is not that hard to look at it. Lift the lid if it needs lifting. Drop the seat if it needs dropping.

Men: for a great gag that will only cost about a week of sleeping on the couch, put the seat down. Then place a strip of toilet paper across it like the old "Sanitized for Your Protection" banner you saw in those really classy motels you stayed in as a kid! It is worth every scream, tear, slap or whatever she doles out just to catch that look of surprise and confusion on her face.

Photo courtesy sparky05's Flickr posting from the Ramada Inn.

The Lid

Then we get to the unsightly argument. The girl logic goes something like: a toilet is ugly and looks slightly better with the seat down. I agree. The toilet is not the most attractive appliance in the house. Maybe that is why we keep them in tiny rooms in hidden corners of the house? If you really want to improve the look of the toilet, put the lid down.

This is the point where the argument becomes transparent as a Women's Rights issue. For aesthetic reasons the lid should also be put down. It prevents dogs from drinking and toddlers from playing. The seat and lid should be down.

Women never argue for this. Women have confessed to sitting without looking and pissed on the lid and themselves. It is not about aesthetics. It is not about fair labor. It is about women demanding a right to a more convenient toilet.

She's Having A Baby - UPDATE

Brian finally got to take a breath and started calling everyone with the much anticipated details.

Marcus Aaron James Braden Basic facts: 7 lbs. 14 ozs. 21" Born 11/10/2006 17:37

Jennifer (Momma) is fine. After 37.5 weeks, probably relieved. She was released on Sunday.

Brian is the happiest parent I have heard in a long time.

Man Rules:Crying

1. Crying is Blackmail.

Use it as you would black mail. Do not over use it. Realize you are using it, even when you don't think you are using it.

"Tears of Joy" is an oxymoron. Crying is an appropriate response to pain. Serious Pain, like when someone close to you dies, a limb is severed or you got shot. Pain.

Anything else is a plot to make those around you feel guilty to get what you want.

According to the Wikipedia:

In many cultures, crying is associated with babies and children. Some cultures consider crying to be undignified and infantile, casting aspersion on those who cry publicly. In most cultures, it is more socially acceptable for women to cry in public than men.An insincere display of grief or dishonest remorse is called crocodile tears, from the ancient anecdote that crocodiles would pretend to weep while luring or devouring their prey.

Try as you might tears will never be really understood as anything else. You might get tolerance, possibly sympathy. Anything beyond that, the black mail worked. Claim your prize and stop crying.


It has been said (by women) that crying is equally socially unacceptable as cursing, slamming doors or throwing things in anger (see Dammit Tool). The social grievance might be equal, but the verbal and physical violence to inanimate things is an admission of guilt. It does not demand things of others. Crying creates guilt in others or thrust it upon them. Therefore is black mail, not simply a release of emotion.

She's Having A Baby

Brian Called He met Jennifer at the hospital at 4:10 PM.

Water broke, this is really happening.

Man Rules: Mind Reading

Miller has "Man Laws," Chuck provides "Guy's Rules," I interpret, embellish and publish them as "Man Rules."

1. Men are not Mind readers. Ask for what you want. To clarify: • Subtle hints do not work! • Strong hints do not work! • Obvious hints do not work!Just say it!

This is the first Rule so let's talk about the format. All Man Rules are number 1. They are all important. It is good to be number 1. So they are.

The Rules are intended for women. Men already know these rules, this is a repository of simple explanations you can give to women that are not aware of the rules.

Body Nazi: Sign 7

So, apparently working out is not enough. There is all the "extra cardio" that is required to lose weight. Working out causes mostly weight gain as the muscle mass increases. There is plenty of walking and running involved in extra cardio. Yes, it is a little disturbing to the sedentary folks like me. It is not shake in aisle as the spirit moves you, disturbing, but it is the same vector.

So, extra cardio is weird. More amazing is the warmup. I always heard about warming up before a work out. I can understand stretching to avoid pulling a muscle and doing damage. Apparently warming up also get you in a cardio range. So there is a treadmill and several minutes of "walking" on the habittrail. I am reaching the limits of understanding why you work out before you work out. Then she said, "yesterday, during my warm up walk. I burst into a run for the last 3 minutes. It felt great! I think I am going to do it again."

No, the trainer did not "encourage her."

No, a thief brandishing a weapons did not enter the studio and threaten them.

She just did it because it might feel good.

I am beyond my ability to comprehend.


Chuck got stuck managing an implementation of QumasDoc (now DocCompliance) at Purdue. Despite this introduction we got along just fine. Chuck likes cars. Old cars, new cars anything he can tweak a little more horsepower from, pretty much makes him happy.

Chuck is also the source of some of the best "list humor" I keep. He find lists that last. They are fun, but they don't wear out after the first reading. The latest gem is a list of definitions. Simple definitions of the function of tools. You know, stuff guys should know.

Tool Terms

DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, splattering it against that freshly painted airplane part you were drying.

WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprint whorls and hard-earned guitar calluses in about the time it takes you to say, "Ouch...."

ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age.

PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. Or snap off shower necks. I broke one off and needed to get the tile removed, replace the "receiver" and retile. Ooops!

HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

VISE-GRIPS: Used to round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub you want the bearing race out of.

WHITWORTH SOCKETS: Once used for working on older British cars and motorcycles, they are now used mainly for impersonating that 9/16 or 1/2 socket you've been searching for the last 15 minutes.

HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have installed your new disk brake pads, trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.

EIGHT-FOOT LONG DOUGLAS FIR 2X4: Used for levering an automobile upward off a hydraulic jack handle.

TWEEZERS: A tool for removing wood splinters.

PHONE: Tool for calling your neighbors to see if he has another hydraulic floor jack.

GASKET SCRAPER: Theoretically useful as a sandwich tool for spreading mayonnaise; used mainly for getting dog shit off your boot.

E-Z OUT BOLT AND STUD EXTRACTOR: A tool ten times harder than any known drill bit that snaps off in bolt holes you couldn't use anyway.

TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST: A tool for testing the tensile strength on everything you forgot to disconnect.

CRAFTSMAN 1/2 x 16 INCH SCREWDRIVER: A large pry bar that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end opposite the handle.


TROUBLE LIGHT: The home mechanic's own tanning booth. Sometimes called a drop light, it is a good source of vitamin D, "the sunshine vitamin," which is not otherwise found under cars at night. Health benefits aside, it's main purpose is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at about the same rate that 105-mm howitzer shells might be used during, say, the first few hours of the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light, its name is somewhat misleading.

PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the lids of old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splash oil on your shirt; but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.

AIR COMPRESSOR: A machine that takes energy produced in a coal-burning power plant 200 miles away and transforms it into compressed air that travels by hose to a Chicago Pneumatic impact wrench that grips rusty bolts last over tightened 58 years ago by someone at ERCO, and neatly rounds off their heads.

PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50¢ part.

HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to cut hoses too short.

HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts not far from the object we are trying to hit.

MECHANIC'S KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts.

DAMMIT TOOL: Any handy tool that you grab and throw across the garage while yelling "DAMMIT" at the top of your lungs. It is also the next tool that you will need.

EXPLETIVE: A balm, usually applied verbally in hindsight, which somehow eases those pains and indignities following our every deficiency in foresight.

Democratic Control

This just in...

The United States returns to its senses and give control of the House and Senate back to the Democratic Party after 12 years of short cutting due process, closing hearings and bending over backward to please the President.

Thank you.

You may soon be forgiven for letting that Texas moron in control, twice!

Wedding Album, Lovey Dovey Songs

No wedding soundtrack would be complete without some adoring, saccharine songs. This proves a few things. Vicky is getting lucky this time. In every way Mike just interpreted that line! Last time around was not such a good move. There was way too much pressure to do as God intended and live with it. Not enough thought was spent on how to make the best of things. I expect this time she will be happier.

Mike gets it. He hides it well, but he does know what is happening. The next few postings of his more humorous choices will not overshadow the fact that he is in love.

Cue the sap:
You and Me (Wedding Version)
100 Years
UPDATE: I was so taken away while blathering on about my hopes for the new couple I forgot to mention the Track vitals! Track 4 "You and Me" is a song by Lifehouse. This track and "Hanging By A Moment" should be playing on your radio about now. "100 Years" is a great track by "Five for Fighting" who also called "Superman" that you also heard on the radio or the Smallville sound track. Hopefully all this information is in the MP3 metadata for your reference.

Wedding Album, Wedding Singer Track

One back story on this track is William Broad wrote it in protest of his little sister getting married to a man which Billy did not like. I hope that is not why this track made it to the album. It's been said before, but I like Mike.

My sister did not have the best start on life, but pulled herself through way more shit than I will ever be able to pull through. Mike is like an antidote for that. He can make light of any situation without missing the real gravity of it. It is a great thing for a woman who forgets to laugh and is anticipating the worst.

I really don't know what she is freaking out about. She has it down. Husband, family, house and new Honda CR-V. What else does she want? She has "made it." Did you scan that, Vic? Take a chill! Enjoy a little.

Hopefully this track is on the disc for its popular ties to the Wedding Singer movie. Maybe it is another reason, Mike? Care to clarify?

Track: White Wedding

Sleepy Dog

Larry asked, "what does your dog do all day while you are at work?"

Simple answer: Sleep!

I told him I can get home early some days and the dog will not even hear me come into the house. He loves his nap time.

Larry asked, can you catch him sleeping? I did:

He didn't even open his eyes until the red eye reducing preflash was going.

Yes, the bedding is probably Fleinhardt1 approved.

1 CBS has cancelled and removed Numb3rs from their site. Dr. Fleinhardt had an obsession with all things white.

Wedding Album, Track 2

Mike has long followed the output of a boy named E. It seemed improbable that at least one eels track would not make it on the album. E is all over the charts in style and tone, but always manages to speak some truth in the oddest possible way.

For much more information, free tracks and a directory for another slice of the music world check out the main EELS page.

Anyway on to the track: Hey Man (Now You're Really Living)

Halloween Party

We hosted another small gathering in the wake of the successful 36th birthday party. We pulled in some members of her executive MBA class and had a few of my co-workers return.

We actually used Club Melcher this time. There was arcade game play, billiards happened, martinis and mojitos were flowing. Pete brought some music to set the mood. I got to tend bar behind my favorite piece of furniture. I was handing out stories and tequila shots! We even had a group use the main room to < gasp > talk!

Really had a great time. Good to see and meet all who came out to our place.

The Wedding Album

My sister got married again. She married Mike. Mike has great taste in music and passion for collecting songs and band information. He doesn't have music bLog like Pete, but he could not resist the publication opportunity provided by a wedding with lots of guests. He compiled some songs relating to the event, love and the modern definitions of it. He then burned a disc for each guest.

Mike also has an odd sense of humor so most of the songs has a double meaning. Either to him or someone in the families. I ripped them all in to iTunes and started the search for humor and meaning in each track.

Mike gets along famously with my niece Caily. There were even jokes in the toast about being the same mental age. So the first featured track from "The Dugan Wedding Album” is a short little tune form the Bouncing Souls called, "I Like Your Mom"

Website: Bouncing Souls

Sixth Sign

Wow, that is a religious experience, but,

”Oh, the calories!" "I can only eat half!"

The woman I married would never consider wasting any food. It is just not possible for her to only eat half of an absolute delicacy! I have discovered comfort foods from around the valley and I get " That's great, but the calories! I can only eat half!"

I believe I could give her $3 in coins and stand her before a vending machine and she would stare for a moment before saying, "There is nothing GOOD in here!"

I brought a salad (with dressing and bacon on it) to her. She ate some of it and pushed it away! "Mmm, that was good, but... the Calories!" It is a salad! It isn't food! It is what food eats!

NASCAR Done Rotted My Brain!

My employer launched a new product line today. Those crazy mortgage folks decided maybe with the downturn in the housing market that there might be "gold" in car insurance. They launched automobile insurance in a quicky, kitschy, silly way today.

One of the many features of this launch was decorating the cafeteria. Lots of logos and checkered flags and race cars. All things we should be associating with safe and responsible driving among our future insured!

Wait, that is not the funny part, that is just corporate life.

The funny part was inside my brain. As I was walking out of the cafeteria with my morning caffeine I passed under a piñata of a racecar. It had a number 29 on it.

So. What was the next "word" to enter my conscious thoughts?


NASCAR done rotted my brain!

Next thought?

Them colors is all wrong, someone has to update that paint!

Curse you, Jason Jones!

Arcade Site Recovery

My arcade habit has all but died here in the desert. I did get a nice William Multigame. It is still working great. I also snagged a Frogger, but I have not gotten it running.

I had to shut down the Cedar Rock Arcade because my supplier stopped making shrouds.

As depressing as this all is, I am reorganizing the arcade section of after the crash that caused version 3.0 to be here. It will be a bit cleaner than the old version. I am trying to tie in better with for the common stuff. I had blurbs on each game as a concept, not the actual machines I restored. I would like to find and recover those.

Well, it is fun reliving my arcade restoration career at the very least.

Dr. Chuck Intervention

Dr. Chuck is a friend, bLogger and countryman. See his new badge link1 on the home page. Dr. Chuck cares for music and radio much like Pete at ickmusic. They have very different areas of special interest, but the same depth of interest.

Dr. chuck is suffering from techno lag.

We need to help Dr. Chuck.

This is a shameless plea for comments, but it is time for an intervention. Dr. Chuck, sit down and listen up!


Rip them into iTunes. You can organize and reorganize there using playlists, categories and genre. Store your polymer and aluminum is a nice comfortable scratch-free case library. You can even go retro and get the cases that look like books and put them on the shelf like your very own encyclopedia set.

1 Dr. Chuck is now blogging at wordpress


Finally Finished the Master Bath and moved back in the downstairs bedroom.

Fifth Sign

Sign #5

There is nothing a little exercise can't cure!

She really did utter that phrase. I am now living with a crazy woman! She was apparently feeling a little blue a few evenings ago and decided WE needed to go for a walk.

WE walked for half an hour. About 8 minutes in she announces, "Wow, I am feeling better." "I had a really rotten day and was just not happy." "Now I am up and moving and it feels great!"

"You know, there is nothing a little exercise can't cure!"

Without thinking a muttered something like, "Cancer!" "I bet exercise doesn't do a damn thing to cure cancer!" Then I thought, "Paralysis, hell I bet you can't even exercise, how could it cure it?"

Wow, I am a pessimist.

Fourth Sign

Sign #4

My health food is too fattening.

My trainer recommends < insert brand here > , it has less sugar and fat than the healthy, crunchy nearly indigestible stuff I have asked you to join me in eating. It is very similar, but not as sweet.

If I am chewing and grinding up cereal that resembles the stuff I formerly considered to be the shell, not the nut then DO NOT take away the sweet reward!

Tile and Finish

The walls were up, electricity run, plumbing places and now the tile work was dragging on and on.

Photo Album: Tile

Katie and WWE

Katie caught a gig on WWE's Smackdown. She was "arm candy" to Super Agent M. V. P. and watched Vito make an (and show his) ass to everyone by wearing a dress and not much underneath to wrestle. Given that Charles is such a fan I consulted with him and found the evidence1 of her involvement with Professional Wrestling.

1 WWE Site updates have removed the evidence

Moving Fast Now!

The plumbing and lighting is nearly complete. The motor for the Jacuzzi is getting wired in tomorrow. It is really looking great now.

We should be in the bathroom by Saturday. Check it out: Almost Done!

Tiling Is Done

The master bath project has hit a great milestone. The tile work is done. We should be in the bathroom by Saturday. Check it out: Tile!

Early Shift Is Frightening

My new job as an application support analyst requires that someone be at the office from 5 a. m. to 6 p. m. during Daylight time. It will shift to 6 - 7 when the rest of the nation reverts to normal time. This week it is my task to show up at 5 a. m. I am not and never have been a morning person. Waking up before 4 a. m. so that I can shower, shave and slide down the highway is not something I thought I was capable of doing.

This is the second day of the shift and I am discovering I am not able to do it. I was so very tired at work today that I could feel myself pausing to contemplate the answers to simple dialog box questions I normally click through in a nearly precognitive fashion. I wanted nothing more than to drive myself home before falling asleep behind the wheel and hitting the sack!

I did that. After a few hours discussing the finer points of tile installation with the bathroom tile installer. Then his family's health. Then their relative poverty. Then I literally had to walk away to get him to drop the subject, all subjects and go home.

I finally got up to the bedroom and fell asleep. This lead to my worse nightmare in recent decades. I scared the dog too as I woke screaming out loud! I think I need to consider what the early shift is costing me.

Birthday Party

I threw myself a birthday party last night. I invited some friends over, mostly from Countrywide and we had a good time. The scale was small, about 15 people made it out to Club Melcher. The arcade got some action. The billiards table caught a few games. Karen and I got in the pool for a time. Mariyah joined us.

Tequila and I are apparently friends again. I started with a Tres Generaciones shot and keep it up at a pretty good pace. I was not wretchedly hung over this morning as I usually am after tequila.

Did some grilling and had the tartlets for late sweets. Thanks to my guests, we also had an excellent shrimp tray, good rums and side salads for the main meat. I whipped up pretty good guacamole for the first round of drinks, too.

Karen managed to stay sober. Her personal trainer told her to quit drinking. She had a good time, just went alcohol free. In fact she got up at 6:00 a. m. to go on a 7 mile hike. Understand we went to bed at 2:30 a. m. She is just nutty about this stuff!


The Master Bath Project was in full build mode. Living at home was such a drag. Spending our lives upstairs without being back in the East was weird.

Photo Album: Build Up

Taking Shape

The master bath project is passing the destruction phase and entering the taking shape phase. The demolition is done. The new circuit for the tub motor is in. The plumbing is nearly complete. Some drywall has gone up and repairs to the rest of the house (to damage done running the circuit) is getting fixed.

I am particularly happy with the new openess of the space. It is a narrow room and much of the space was wasted in dead zones. The new layout has a wider look and utilizes open space for passage while cramming feature into the bath.

The body jets in the shower are set. The tub fill is cut into the ceiling. We are getting the skeleton done.

Yes, I said tub fill and ceiling. Take a look.

I Was Joking...

Many of you have read the posts or heard me refer to my neighbor as the "Home Owner's Association Nazi" for some of the authoritarian steps he has taken to ensure the property values go up.

I am joking.

As a non Jewish, American, under the age of 70. I am able to joke. I was not "over there" in the 30's and 40's. My government does not outlaw certain symbols, articles and types of political speech. I know no one who was in a concentration camp, guarding or working to death.

It was easy to make the joke because:
The guy has and umlaut in his first name
He has 4 children that have blonde hair, blue eyes
He is teaching them all to speak German
He stands guard at play time with a stance befitting a good soldier

These things do not make him a member of a regime bent on world domination and extermination of religious sects. For crying out loud, I'm of German descent. Properly spelled, my mother's maiden name has an umlaut in it. My grandmother spoke a German dialect.

I do submit, for your consideration, his choice in reading material. Courtesy of another error from the worst postal carriers in the entire USPS:

Yes, I cropped it to protect his mailing address (and mine since I admitted being his neighbor). This is, however, a magazine called World War II published by that promises new revelations from a lost interview with Hermann himself.

I know it is about history. I can read the inside cover has advertisements for Avalon Hill Games miniatures for boys (like me) who never grew up. It does make jokes about my neighbor a bit more fun, though.


Monsoon Strikes Again

Wind, rain, flying umbrella, overturned chair, that is Arizona in July. Nice!

Record Heat, High Wind

Apparently after a record setting temperature day we are getting a super windy night.

Living At Home Is Such A Drag

We are in full swing on the Master bath project. There are holes in the wall and ceilings. The electrician needed to run a circuit for the Jacuzzi tub motor. As with every utility in this house the connection (electric box) is on the opposite side of the house from the appliance! They fished and snaked and finally got the power to the bath room.

Everything is covered with plastic to avoid getting dusty.


I managed to meet a few party people in Scottsdale. Well, no, actually they all lived in Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, anywhere but Scottsdale. Didn’t stop me from inviting them to Scottsdale for my birthday bash.

We had about 20 people. The crowd included Mexican, Africans, Minnesotans and other odd ethnicities. The neighbors gossiped for months. It was awesome!

Photo Album: Birthday Bash
Monkey Archive: 2btheman

System Admin Training

I completed the Documentum 5.3 System Administration I course today. Lots of supporting applications have changed since 4.2 and I think they are improvements. Need to rethink how some stuff is deployed in light of the new information.

Online classes are very nice on the travel budget, but not as nice to attend. I like the idea of working from home. In practice, it is a different matter. Especially now, with the bathroom project in full swing. Things here are noisy and dusty. Nothing fills the air like pulverized concrete. It gets everywhere and you can feel it when you breathe it. I am gaining an understanding of the 9/11 "ghost look" that covered everyone you could see in the coverage on CNN. This stuff sticks to everything.

#1 Worldwide, Bullocks

Plasticville has more aspects than plastic neighbors and draconian HOAs. It has realtors. Aggressive realtors who advertise without thinking. Aggressive realtors with really bad names.

Never Mind the Sex Pistols, It's Bob Bullock! He was the #3 Agent Companywide in 2003. He was the #2 Agent worldwide in 2001.

Never mind the market has slumped and Bob hasn't made the top ten is over 2 years...

He will sell your house for $562,00 - $725,000! On average that is only 75,000 less than you paid last year!

Third Sign, Technology Hook

My wife informs me,

”the heart rate monitor is an essential tool in maintaining an aerobic workout.”

Which I kind of understand. Aerobic workouts are entirely defined by maintaining your heart rate in a target zone for a period of time. This is stuff we have know since Jane Fonda sold VHS tapes.

I am expecting a wristwatch that takes your pulse. Maximum logic might include 2 beeps if your heart rate is too high, 1 for too low, not working hard enough. I seriously underestimated.

This is the most insidious sign so far. Cue the "Imperial March" for this one.

The Sensor

It comes with a sensor. A wireless data transmitting device. Say it with me, Sensor.

See, now I have the attention of all my technolusting, Gizmodo and Engadget reading IT brethren. Sensor? How does that work? Well, it gets strapped to your chest so it can sense heart beats and transmit an RF signal. It runs off a watch battery both to transmit and apparently to sense the heart. The Velcro® connector must be wetted for proper function, so they must be sending some current across the length of the strap.

The signal is picked up by the wrist watch receiver. Apparently, taking the pulse at the wrist doesn't work very well. Maybe there is something more to this, though. The signal is also picked up by the treadmill at the studio. So the sensor feeds a vast array of fitness related equipment.

The Receiver

The receivers can be programmed to emit the aforementioned beeps I suspected according to your personal workout profile. Using software on your PC (yes, PC only, us Mac guys get screwed again) you enter your height, weight, sex and desired fitness level. Then you get emails from 1000's of horny guys from around the globe. Oh, wait that is another kind of website.

The target heart rate and length of your workout get calculated and sent to the watch (or treadmill or whatever). Yes, calculated. It knows about warming up and cooling off periods. This little watch thingy packs more power than my old Zaurus. You can also send little block pixel "backgrounds" to your watch in case you miss your old Tamagotchi.

The data is not send with a cable. It does not employ Blue Tooth® or utilize any 802.x communication. No, not IR. It uses a Sonic Modem. A what?

The Sonic Modem

Here is a low tech, low speed, completely hackersmack way to transmit data. The watch has a microphone and a piezo electric speaker. The PC must have a speaker and a microphone. You guessed it, they screech at each other just like good old analog dial up. When computers were fun. When you were sure that if you listened well and trained your ears you could understand the computer's audible language.

After your work out the data recorded by the watch (treadmill) can be uploaded to the Polar website. Why I would ever want to post my poor performance to everyone on the planet I am not sure.

The Invitation

So the insidious part comes via invitation. Her personal trainer invited me to come in and see the equipment. I can check out all the sensors transmitting, fitness equipment recording, internet uploading and get a free Personal Fitness Report.

A what? Well, they have a machine that will measure my lean mass as a percentage of my overall mass combined with a short run on the treadmill with the sensor we can determine the exact amount of pure flab. Wow. I was still doing the "pinch test!" Boy, am I out of the loop. Of course with all this applied technology they can upload to the internet and all of you can know just how fat I have become. Given the new fame of my fatness I will probably be motivated to work it off at the studio. "Feel the power of the Dark Side!"


The Melchers cleared out and demolition began in earnest! We are on our way to a new spa style bath.

Second Sign

When you buy protein shakes.

You couldn't pay me to drink these things. They make a mess out of all the glasses and shakers and anything else she can find to mix in while scrambling out the door to make her work out appointment.

And forget the jokes about "I got yer protein shake right here!" That just gets you slugged. AND with all the working out, getting slugged hurts now.

Master Bath

Since we seem to be settling in to Sharon Drive it was time to update one important room. It was still the builder stock bathroom and had the "cultured marble" to prove it. We gutted the master bath and completely changed it to be more like the spa and Sandals bathrooms we love.

Photo Album: Inexpensive Horror

Independence Day

Independence Day Weekend is a big deal for the Melchers. Dad’s birthday on the 5th, Mom’s history interest, fascination with fireworks and summer’s irresistible call to be outside for any reason.

As previously mentioned my mother is a history buff with a particular interest in this nation. They were here July Fourth so we needed to take in some fireworks. We took them to the Rawhide 1860's Western Town for a day of storytelling and re-enactments with a side of Chuck Wagon cookouts and fireworks.

Photo Album: Rawhide Western Town, Wild Horse Pass, Ak Chin Reservation
Photo Album: Fireworks over Chandler, AZ

Melcher Canyon

The canyon is a fantastic sight that must be witnessed to be appreciated. Everyone that comes to Arizona wants to see "The Canyon" and none are disappointed.

Photo Album: Grand Canyon

Desert Inspired

Sedona inspired Caily to draw a picture for me. It has the Red Rock in the background. There are two kinds of palms from our yard. The big Mesquite tree crushing our wall. She even included two type of cactus form the drive.

Melcher Visit

My mother complained about our move to the desert as being just too far! This complaint fell on deaf ears when I learned that a trip to Las Vegas was planned for last year a few weeks after we moved. It seems Vegas is not "too far" but I was. This year my cousin planned to get married again. The wedding was in Colorado. This was also within her perplexing travel limits as Colorado is so much closer than Arizona?

Having toppled this myth we earned a visit from my parents. My niece Caily made the trek with them.

Sedona features the rusty rock formations that are alien and mystical. It has obvious evidence of ancient culture everywhere. My mother is a history fanatic, especially American History including the original inhabitants.

Caily seemed more impressed by the art village called Telaquepaque.

Photo Album: Sedona