Ten Years of MZ Online!

Practical Advice

Extraordinary Ideas

No-Nonsense Solutions

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Cooler Saturday


Fidgety
She was working her entire body around to get
that book once it fell out of her reach.
Today started out pretty cool. It was nice to have the windows open overnight again. I'm not feeling particularly verbose tonight, so this is likely to be fairly short and to the point (going against my normal mantra).

I managed to get quite a few things done today, and that was a Good Thing. Most of those things were related to my normal weekend-like activities (like garbage handling and some cleaning), but I did manage to get the new sprinkler set up and running. It's one of those 'tractor' types where it's self-propelled by water pressure and follows the hose around wherever you want it to go. The idea simply being that perhaps I can get some grass to come back to life around the house (especially where we walk and whatnot, where it can be at risk of dying completely).

I didn't manage to get much done on the website today, although I did work on it just a little bit. I got a little sidetracked while working on it and ended up going through some of my non-posted del.icio.us bookmarks instead.

Anyway, I'm quite tired right now and think I'm heading for bed a little earlier than I've been to bed all week. So until next time...
Thou shalt not follow the NULL pointer, for chaos and madness await thee at its end. (Henry Spencer)

--MZ

Friday, July 27, 2007

It's...Friday!


I'm Ready!
She's just a doll most of the time. Yeah, I said
most of the time. :)
Indeed, another day has come to a close this week. And it was good. Beth and I made a trip this afternoon to Alex (without Kirstin, who was left with the neighbors for a few hours) with my pickup. This ended up being a multi-faceted trip. Of all things, I ended up getting a new pair of black dress shoes (which was about time as my old pair had been getting quite nasty).

Anyway, after a few stops, we [I] loaded up about 650 pounds of gravel for the sump basin hole. As it turns out, I'm still about three-and-a-half cubic feet short of a full hole (that's not a euphemism for anything, either). So I'll have to go get more, but that's alright. The basin cannot move anymore, and there's only about 10 inches left to fill in the hole before the concrete patching will take place.

So that's nice to have done. It was also nice to spend some time with Beth sans Kirstin. Don't get me wrong, I love the little creature, but it was different to be back to just the two of us. Refreshing for a little bit.

During our trip, I paid cash for our late lunch (no big deal). We were thinking Arby's -- that's right. :) Anyway, our bill came to something like $12, and I handed the clerk (a middle-aged gal) $25 in cash. She was quite stumped at this (usually this doesn't happen to people over the age of, oh, 22), looked at it, paused, looked at it again, paused, then looked at me and started handing me the $5. She made a comment like 'you can have this back...' which I interrupted (relatively politely) and informed her that I wanted a $10 bill for change (a practice I use frequently -- paying in strange amounts so as to not get handed a wad full of $1 bills)

It was at this point in time the light went on in her head, but she was very much caught off guard. In fact, it was obvious that even though I'd explained it to her (and her till informed her the correct amount in change to return), she wasn't sure if what she was doing was correct.

I don't think that it's odd for me to do something like that, although I will note that (from my days working at Subway) what I generally do is in the minority. But you can tell she had to think on her feet, and that immediately placed her outside of her comfort zone. That's unfortunate and wasn't my goal (or intention), but it does illustrate another abstract point -- we all get very accustomed to 'the norm' in any occupation in which we hold (particularly for the routine tasks) and breaking that norm can really throw someone off. When I say it like that, I immediately think of those Visa commercials where someone pays cash or writes a check (as opposed to doing the 'speedy thing' of using his/her Visa check card).

We also made a stop at Wal-Mart. The first business at Wal-Mart was a visit to the restroom. When I walked in, there was a dude at one of the urinals who was 'one-handing' it. While that's not necessarily unusual, his posture and pose were. His free arm was laid out on the divider with hand by his temple, and he was leaning against said divider.

Now, perhaps that guy has a 'problem'...I didn't ask (although I have to admit I was tempted). But I don't see why it was necessary to pose as though he was spending a lot of time at the urinal. I'm an 'in and out' sort of dude, so to me that sort of action is nothing but wasted time and effort. After all, the entire process rarely takes longer than a minute. So I fail to see the need to 'rest' in that position.

Perhaps someone can fill me in? The only logical things I can think of off hand are 1) he was just plain lazy, or 2) he was feeling the need to 'show off' in a sense.

In other news, I think I've finally worked out the last kinks in the navigation system for the new MZ Online site. With the exception of handling the footer content and doing a little header tweaking, it's to the point now where I think I can focus on creating the master template and actually start creating real pages. With content.

So that's progressing nicely. I still really enjoy the look. I've been doing a lot of random stumbling lately, and while I periodically see things that are similar in design, I have yet to see anything that's really close to what I've got going on (short of the site from which I originally obtained the principal design ideas). At this rate, there should be no problem getting things ready to go by August 5/6.

But, all that said, it's now quite late again (nearly 12:30). I'm going to have to back-post this to Friday (since it's technically Saturday now) so it shows up correctly in the archive. Ah well, until next time...
"Every day I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I'm not there, I go to work."
- Robert Orben

--MZ

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Still Humid, But Better...


Open Wide!
Here comes some food! She's getting used to the
difference and actually eats pretty well for
being four-and-a-half months old.
It's getting better in the weather department, although it's a slow progression and I'm afraid it will only be a temporary bit of relief (so says the weatherman tonight). But it wasn't insta-sweat when stepping outside today, so that's good. A step in the right direction, you could say.

I got to play with a pretty cool camera system for a while this afternoon. It's a remote-controlled camera used (in this case) for recording church services. We're upgrading some equipment and I needed to do some troubleshooting on the DVD burner, so I 'had' to play around with the camera and record some video. Let me tell you, it's pretty neat. No comparison to the old VHS camcorder and tripod on a stand business. Permanently mounted camera that can be remote controlled = cool. That and the transition to DVD recording is nice, too.

When I came home today, I worked in the basement some. Mostly in the 'I'm starting to clean' phase. I started in the cistern and swept out the cobwebs in the ceiling and in the corners. By the time I stopped, I had about half of the basement cleared of cobwebs. They were incredibly obvious to the eye after all the concrete dust from the last few weeks, so the job was actually quite easy. I'm still hoping sometime in the next week or so to get some time to work on cleaning the cistern walls and floor. Then I can use the area for temporary storage while I work in the rest of the basement (currently holding all the crap) and eventually get everything back in order in a place. This, as opposed to its current situation of 'wherever it fits...'

I came across an incredible find tonight during my quest, though. I noticed a can of something stuck on top of the block wall in the corner of the cistern (not in the cistern). I knocked it down with the cobweb getter-outer thing and looked at it.

A steel Miller High Life can, pretty much in pristine condition. There's a small amount of rust at the seam, but it's not dented or anything. Very intriguing. My first instinctual question is how the can got there in the first place. It was obviously hidden...so I'm thinking some mischievous children... I'll have to call up Bernice and ask her if she knows anything about it. But it's a fairly old can, because it was before the zip tops and still made of steel. I'll have to get a picture of it once I dust it off...because it's quite unique.

It's definitely the most unique thing I've found in and around this house.

Aside from that, I worked a bit more on the MZ Online site overhaul again. I need to do some tinkering with the secondary navigation menu drop-downs and also adding footer content, but once that's done and tested out, I think it'll be time to start creating the master template. I'm still working in a one-page environment, so I've not yet broken down the sections for creating templates. That won't take too long, but I want to get the single 'home page' looking and working exactly as I intend before I get too wild in cutting it all apart.

So progress is being made, and that's a Good Thing. So seeing as how it's now pretty late, I'm calling it a night. Until next time...
"The cynics are right nine times out of ten."
- Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

--MZ

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Another Hot One!


Always A Cutie
She's got that cute thing down to a science I'd
say, but then again I'm a little biased.
Eesh, this is starting to get a bit old. But, the report tonight shows some promise for this trend to calm down a bit, which would be a Good Thing.

I spent some more time this evening tweaking the look of the forthcoming mzonline.com site. It's going to be a pretty major overhaul, and that's a Good Thing. I've decided that this major overhaul will be a consolidation of sorts. I'm going to merge my personal site with the 'services' site which will provide a bit more coherent purpose to the domain. It's almost a difficult process to comprehend and manage, though, because they have been two very independent sites for ten years. It's hard for me to think outside the box in ways, because it's always been like the way it currently is. But, it will be a good change and I'm looking forward to it.

Once I get the design down and get closer to launch date, I would like to see about modifying the blog template here to match the look of the new site. It shouldn't be that difficult in many respects, because there are several similarities between what this blog currently looks like and what the new design looks like.

In other news, the A/C at work was fixed this morning. It took a while for things to get caught up again. There's not always a great amount of circulation in our neighborhood in the building (hallway and offices), so that more stale and humid air was circulating, but took the better part of the day to really get as comfortable as it'd been when things were working properly.

I came home at the 'normal' time today and replaced a duct register in the kitchen. I'd been meaning to do it for some time and had one on hand (I'd bought two when I wasn't sure which airflow type I wanted in the bathroom during that renovation project) that was the right size. It required some tin snips and a bit of hammering, but it fits fairly well. Not perfect, but it works much better than the old one...and looks better to boot. There aren't six coats of paint preventing it from opening and closing fully. :)

Anyway, I need to yet read today's paper and it's past 11:30, so I'm calling it a night. Until next time...
"And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him."
- Revelations 6:8

--MZ

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I'm Waving With My Foot!


I'm Waving With My Foot!
Note the spread apart toes. :) She recently really
discovered her feet.
I took the afternoon off today to watch Kirstin while Beth went for an interview. The process of watching Kirstin isn't that big of a deal, and I'd rather do it at home than at the office (which was the other option). Mostly because I can just let her cry for a while if necessary and not disturb anyone but myself.

That was my official excuse for not being at work this afternoon. Reason number two (equally as valid if you ask me) was that the air conditioner was still not in operation today after yesterday's power outage at the office. It wasn't so bad in the morning, but by the time I left there at 1PM today, it was getting warm (not hot) and very stagnant. It was my understanding that an electrician was to check it out this afternoon, so hopefully it'll be fixed tomorrow.

It wasn't quite so hot today as it was yesterday. That's a good thing, I guess. It was still awfully warm and humid though. I spent a little bit of time outside today (mostly in feeding the dogs, taking out garbage, and grilling supper) and it was still an unpleasant time. The way I understand it we'll be warm(er) again tomorrow. At least that's the way it looks right now. Ah well. It is July, after all.

Since I was at home and 'stuck' inside, I finally really started working on the overhaul of the main MZ Online site. I've made a fair bit of progress, too. The bulk of the layout is complete (at least the stuff that's to become the template)...and most of that time was spent working in Photoshop on pixel adjustments. Tedious stuff, but it looks really good (if you ask me) right now. There's still a good bit of work to be done (mostly in content management), but that will go pretty well once the layout is complete (which is getting close). I finally settled on a color scheme. It's got a lot of that "Web 2.0" feel to it (which is what I was shooting for), but doesn't get quite as trendy (with bright colors) as some things I've seen lately.

So I'm happy with it. Selecting a color scheme allowed me to really make some significant progress. So that's how I spent most of my afternoon/evening. If all goes well, it could potentially be live by sometime next week. Ideally, I'd like it to go live no later than August 5/6, in honor of the ten year celebration of the domain.

In other random news, the first day of SPAMALOT at the Ordway Center was today. I'm curious as to the Minnesota response. In checking ticket status today, I noticed now three performances in the first week have sold out (at least I believe it was three performances). So that's cool. I'm still stoked to go see it -- I can't wait. :) But I have to. Just for 16 days, though.

Anyway, it's on the order of midnight, so I'm heading for bed. Until next time...
"It is now possible for a flight attendant to get a pilot pregnant."
- Richard J. Ferris, president of United Airlines

--MZ

Monday, July 23, 2007

Seek Immediate Medical Attention If You Experience An Erection Lasting


Chew, Chew, Chew -- It Is The Thing To Do
I couldn't get a good picture of her sitting still
while she chewed on this teething ring, but you get
the idea. She was an animal with this thing today.
This title has absolutely nothing to do with the picture, and come to think of it, it's quite perverse in that nature. Just plain wrong.

Anyway, the whole purpose of the title tonight is to illustrate how retarded this obsession of treating ED has become. I was calmly watching the 10PM news tonight when I was inundated with what was quite possibly the single most retarded commercial for Viagra -- ever. A group of guys are in this band of sorts, singing 'Viva Viagra'?!?!

Sorry advertising guru, but that's not even a relatively clever idea, let alone good idea for a commercial. Elvis I'm sure is rolling around in his grave (or pacing about furiously in his mansion at Graceland if you're in to that whole 'Elvis lives' theory). I quite frankly felt appalled at the fact this garbage was broadcast to me.

Ah well, I'll discontinue that rant to focus on something worthwhile of spending my time writing about...

I forgot to mention in last night's post that I did some calculations related to our power usage in the last two months or so. Namely related to the fact that once May rolls around, it's air conditioner season here. So I was looking at usage and approximating how much our power bill changes during the late spring and summer months. Obviously I don't have data for July and August yet, but May and June were interesting months.

We really only had one good and hot week in May (that I recall off hand), so we didn't have to run the air conditioner that much during the time. The total cost of operation (estimated) in May was less than $10 for the month.

We used it off and on during the month of June as necessary. Total estimated cost of operation was on the order of $17.50 for the month. Not bad, considering that we were never afraid to have it running in the effort to remain comfortable and we pay an extra $0.01 per kilowatt-hour during June, July, and August..

The month of July and likely August as well will be higher than that, but it shouldn't be that bad. I write this off on three accounts. One is that if the weather permits (outside air temperature doesn't get much higher than 82 or so for an extended period of time, depending upon the humidity factor), we shut it all down and open up the windows. This activity is usually trend-based, so in other words (short of opening up things for the night as an example) this sort of thing only generally takes place when the weather pattern holds like that for a day or two. A good example was the week I took off from work to deal with various things around here. That week was warm (it got up into the mid-80's most of the week), but the dewpoint was quite low. It made the mid-afternoon high temperature easy to bear for a few hours. So the house stayed open to the outside most of that week.

Number two is the fact that we don't have the thermostat set at 70 degrees all the time. There are days when the magic number of 78 is a bit on the high order, but on days like today (see below for more info on that), a house at 78 is a significant improvement over 95.

Finally, number three is the programmable thermostat factor. That is an amazing tool in keeping things comfortable and relatively automated. I don't operate the thermostat like they suggest (for cooling), though. The house pretty much stays at 78 throughout the day. This is mostly because especially on the hot afternoons when the power company cycles (due to our voluntary participation) the air conditioner in fifteen minute intervals, the whole system has to work longer and harder to catch up. So if I had it set to return to 78 from 82 or something at 4pm and they were cycling the compressor, it would take several hours longer for that to happen because the thermal exchange cycle is broken. However, it has no problem keeping a temperature once it's been reached when it's being cycled, so that backs up the reasoning.

Given the fact that Beth's at home most of the time during the summer, it also doesn't make sense to adjust the temperature higher than 78 during the day. So it gets left there. Instead, what I do is have the program set to bring the temperature down (in increments) throughout the night from 78 during the day and evening hours to 77 at 10PM, 76 at 2:30AM, and 75 at 7:30AM (held until 9AM, at which point the temperature setpoint is back at 78 until the next 10PM). This seems a bit counter-intuitive, but it's done for a reason. Since the thermostat is on the main level and we sleep upstairs, it is warmer there during the night. Especially when we cannot open up the house overnight, it tends to get a little stuffy and warm upstairs without some air movement.

The moral of the story is that if we kept the thermostat set at 78 throughout the night, it would probably run until midnight or so, then maybe once or twice through the night until 10AM when the house starts to warm up again. In the meantime, it's stuffy and warm upstairs. The incremental (one-degree) changes that I've programmed in help to keep air circulating (and keep pumping colder air upstairs) periodically throughout the night, without freezing out the main level in the morning.

So far it's worked well (as well as can be expected). In any case, I would highly recommend the small premium to be paid for the programmable thermostat -- they're wonderful pieces of equipment. There are many skeptics out there, and I'll admit that there are instances where they're not appropriate, but once you find your own 'groove' with them, you'll never want to live without it. That goes for both the heating and cooling seasons.

So enough of that. It's been damn hot outside today. The air temperature reached a high somewhere between 95 and 100 today. It was incredible. Just being outside made one sweat. You didn't have to do anything. I need to move my remote sensor for my little wireless thermometer so it doesn't get into the mid-afternoon sun, but that bad boy read a high temperature of 113.5 at 4:55 this afternoon. And that's about what it felt like, honestly. It was good and uncomfortable.

I spent some quality time around 5PM picking sweet corn from a neighbor's patch, which we later had for supper. It was amazing stuff -- it's so nice to have that first taste. In many ways it's like asparagus. It's really nice to have when it's in season, but by the time the season's over, you've had the fill for another year. :) Being out in the field picking corn wasn't too bad in the heat, though. The corn is for the most part tall enough to provide some amount of shade...so it was worse husking what we were going to eat tonight than it was picking it.

I also managed to get the grill gas cylinder (20LB) filled on my way home from work today. Not the greatest idea at 4PM, but until I went to pick corn, I was intending to grill something tonight. Regardless, the cylinder has been filled now and should be good to go for another nine months or so. Just over $15 for a season of grilling. Not bad.

Speaking of leaving early, due to the heat we had a power issue at work today. Actually the entire town was out for some time. It was good and frustrating for about 20 minutes. After power was restored, it pretty much killed my trust in having a steady stream of electricity for the remainder of the afternoon, so I decided to call it an early day after rebooting the server once I was convinced the power wouldn't be interrupted for too long (so the UPS would not run out of power) after that. Besides, it was a good excuse to leave for the day...

Anyway, it's supposed to be pretty warm for the next few days...so my activities are likely to be somewhat quelled during that time. I spent some time this evening working on more web redesign ideas. I'm pretty sure I've got a layout in mind. I just need to work on the color scheme and go from there. It's progressing...I guess I can say that. :)

So that's about all I've got for tonight. Until next time...stay cool!
"I never miss a chance to have sex or appear on television."
- Gore Vidal

--MZ

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Simply Hot And Humid


Clean Baby
I was dancing to something (I believe it was
Istanbul as performed by They Might Be
Giants) after her bath while Beth swapped the
towel for her clothes. She decided it necessary
to get a picture of her.
Simply put, I didn't spend much time outside today. And there's a reason for that. The same one that will probably mean I don't spend much time outside for the next few days. It's stinkin' humid outside. The dew point spent most of its day in the 70's here today. It was just nappy.

After we got home from church and had the obligatory after dinner nap, I worked on several miscellaneous projects at my desk. For one, I cleaned up a bunch of stuff. I went through the clutter. That was necessary -- it'd been bugging me for some time now, but I always had other projects (the physical labor type) that prevented me from completing those. So I got that done.

I also went through and did the quarterly organizing of paperwork. The bit of consolidating things and getting rid of extra envelopes, unnecessary papers, and the like. The file cabinet closes properly again. :) I also typed up meeting minutes from a few meetings (rather than doing it a few days before the next meeting as has been my tendency of late). I always take notes, but the process of transcribing them to print (basically typing and changing my shorthand to longhand) just takes a few minutes longer than I generally want to dedicate.

I also manged to fill out some various paperwork items that I'd been putting off for some time. Nothing incredibly important, but just stupid stuff that 'I'll do sometime...' You know how that goes. So while it doesn't really appear that I was all that productive, I managed to get a fair amount of things done.

Short of retrieving a pound of hamburger from the freezer, I steered clear of the basement today. And that's alright. I don't really want to do much work down there until I start physically cleaning up the cistern (bleach and scrubbing type of clean), because once it's dried out after said cleaning, I intend to start moving items into that area so I can work in other areas of the basement for organization, etc.

In random news, I've had the Flock of Seagulls' 'Space Age Love Song' in my head all day. It stems back to a video I saw online this morning as a mock video game trailer for 'Grand Theft Auto: Lego City'. It was on YouTube (although I watched it through an embedded link). It was actually pretty funny stuff, but they used that song in the trailer and it meant I've been listening to it periodically throughout the day.

So I've had the music on pretty much all afternoon, and that's cool. I've run across several things in the random playlist shuffle that have been cool to listen to (including 'Istanbul' which is the derivative for the picture above).

So tomorrow is back to the mill. We'll see what happens -- it should be a fairly quiet day. And since I don't really have much more enthralling stuff to write about, I'm calling it a night. Until next time...
"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying."
- Woody Allen (1935-)

--MZ

My Blog Profile

My Photo
Matt
Minnesota, United States
View my complete profile

Miscellaneous Bits

  • One Gorgeous Daughter (Kirstin)
  • An Incredible Wife (Beth)
  • Two Cats (George/Felix)
  • Two Dogs (Koshka/Kurva)
  • My birthday is at the 48851th place in Pi
  • Frank Oz and I share birthdays (Go Fozzie Bear)!
  • Mike Myers and I share birthdays (Party On, Wayne)!

MZ Online Blog: The Archive

Categories

Save to del.icio.us Save to del.icio.us W3C XHTML Valid W3C CSS Valid W3C Tableless! W3C WAI Double-A WCAG 1.0
Copyright 1997-2008 Matt Zaske. All Rights Reserved. | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Search | Site Map