April 2009

Album Cover: Abbey Road

"She's killer-diller when she's dressed to the hilt."
The Beatles / Polythene Pam

How to Get the Height of a Hidden Div

April 29, 2009 1:51 PM

While working on a web design recently, I realized that I needed to be able to dynamically retrieve the height of a div. My initial design involved some JavaScript, and actually stored the div in its entirety as a JavaScript variable. When I hovered over a certain page element, I would dynamically replace the contents of another page element with that div using the innerHTML property.

What I very quickly discovered is that there was no way for me to dynamically retrieve the height (or width) of the div because it didn't actually exist as a page element when the page was initially rendered. My first attempt at a solution to the problem was to no longer store the div in a JavaScript variable and instead make it a hidden element in the actual rendered page. To do so, I relied on relative positioning and the style display: none to keep the div out of view.

What I found was that, for whatever reason, once I had converted the div to an actual page element, I was still unable to retrieve its height dynamically, once the page had been fully rendered. When I attempted to report the element's height using JavaScript's alert() function, the height was always returned as 0. In a sense, it made sense because the element really didn't have a height yet, at least as far as its visual display on the page was concerned. Being the web designer, though, I knew the div was there, and just hidden, so I still expected there to be a height associated with it.

Some Google searching eventually led me to a post at WebDeveloper.com that said the following:

You can measure an element whose style visibility is hidden, if the display is not set to none.
You can make it act like display=none by giving it an absolute position while it is hidden, and remove the position property when you make it visible.

A little tinkering with my design and JavaScript proved the post insightful. Instead of relying on relative positioning initially, I changed the div to be absolutely positioned on the page. I converted the display styling to the block style and set visibility to "hidden." By doing so, the div was actually rendered with a real height (and width) and I could access it via JavaScript calls as I had originally hoped. As covered in the aforementioned forum post, the other trick was that I needed to remove the absolute positioning on the div when it came time to actually display it on the page, so that just came down to setting the position property to "relative" at the same time I set the visibility property to "visible."

In doing so, I had essentially the same page behavior from the end user's perspective, but was able to dynamically access the height of the div without any trouble. Hopefully next time around, I'll remember this trick so I don't end up having to refactor my HTML and JavaScript to support it.

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Creed Comeback

April 29, 2009 12:34 PM

Wow. Creed is making a comeback.

I'm speechless.

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Ultimate Tulip Festival Fail

April 26, 2009 11:24 PM

As I mentioned two weeks ago, I've been meaning to head up to Mt. Vernon with my wife and daughter to partake in this year's Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. We finally got our chance today. We got off to a late start, but that was okay since it gave me a chance to catch up on some of the goings-on with the Seahawks and the draft before we left.

We ended up leaving our place around 1:30pm, and after a brief stop at the store we were heading north and enjoying the fact that the sun was shining. Traffic was decent until we got up around Mt. Vernon. At that point, things pretty much slowed to a crawl. Unfortunately, that was around the same point Heidi grew tired of being confined to her car seat. After deciding to bypass the northbound exit to the city center, we came back down from the north and had a little more luck actually getting off the freeway. At that point, though, Heidi was at wit's end (which means her parents were, too), so we pulled into a parking lot and carried her around for a bit. It just so happened we were in the shadow of that big smokestack that has the tulips painted on it (an image that has been with me since childhood).

Once we had calmed Heidi down a bit, we got back in our car and made our way toward the tulip fields. Unfortunately, I accidentally took a wrong turn at a fork in the road and ended up on a highway heading back east toward I-5. Since it was about 5 o'clock at that point, all eastbound roads were a mess, since a whole lot of people had already gotten their fair share of tulips and were heading back toward the freeway to go home.

Eventually I was able to turn off and then head back in the other direction. When we got close to the tulip field I had originally missed, traffic yet again slowed to a crawl. When we finally reached the field, there was a cop standing at the entrance of the parking area, telling passers by to continue on. According to him, the parking lot was full. I tried to park on the side of the road, and he came over and knocked on my window, motioning to me that I couldn't park there. As I drove further away from the parking lot entrance, I noticed several open spots. Needless to say I was frustrated. Heidi was still crying in the backseat, and if it wasn't for her sunglasses, I probably would have seen a tear or two welling up in my wife's eyes as well.

A View of the Tulips from the Street #1 I turned around again, snapped a photo from my window (seen here), and then took a turn down a different eastbound road that I hoped would lead us to another tulip field. Sure enough, it did. As we got closer to the field, I could tell that it actually had more colors to offer. I also noticed a bunch of cars parked in a field, probably illegally, but parked nonetheless. My gut told me to keep driving (if you could call the speed at which we were moving driving) and to just park in the "official" $4 parking lot. To my indescribable dismay, as I finally reached the entrance to the official lot, a man stood in the center of the path with a sign reading "Parking Lot Full."

I seriously could not believe my eyes. A quick tweet was not enough to subdue my frustration. I managed to take one more photo of the tulips from my car window before driving back toward the freeway. All the while, I couldn't help but feel angry that a city with such an obvious interest in bringing in tourists could fail so mightily in satisfying said tourists. Really? You're going to let me drive for hours, devoting at least half my day to visiting your city and your admittedly beautiful tulip fields, and then absolutely fail in providing a place for me to park my vehicle so I can actually get out and see the fields up close? Really!?

I sincerely hope that we were only one family in a minority that didn't get to actually park, get out and enjoy the tulips. Having been able to get out and walk around in the past, I can attest to what we missed out on today, and I really hope people who hadn't yet gotten to experience them didn't get turned away similarly. However, based on everything I could tell, even at what I would assume is an off-peak hour in the late afternoon, many people were being turned away. Worse yet, they were being turned away after having sat in unbearable traffic through a city that is not designed to support the sheer number of people they are bringing in each year.

I could go on and on, but I won't (for the reader's sake). Needless to say, I won't be going back up to the Tulip Festival again anytime soon. Hopefully when Heidi is still short enough to wade in the tulips but old enough to run through them, we'll give it another shot. I just hope something changes between now and then. If not, the next time could be the last. Though, if you asked my wife, she'd say this time was the last. And I probably don't have to tell you who calls the shots in this family. ;)

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Another Reason to Like Imogen Heap

April 25, 2009 8:27 AM

Another reason to like Imogen Heap:

After two years of touring, and somewhat daunted by the process of writing a new album, Imogen went to Google Earth, spun it around a few times and zoomed in on the area it selected. It wound up being Hawaii. She then went to Google and typed in "Hawaii luxury accommodation grand piano" and found a place on the rainy side of Maui. She packed up her laptop and stationed herself on the tropical island for three months to complete the album.

From omg! (via @imogenheap).

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Predicting the 4th Overall Pick

April 24, 2009 11:30 PM

My hometown Seattle Seahawks have the 4th overall pick in the NFL Draft tomorrow. I've been following the draft speculation from day one. First, and for quite a long time, it was practically a foregone conclusion that Michael Crabtree would be the Seahawks' pick. Then it was revealed that he had a stress fracture in his foot and he wasn't able to participate in the scouting combine. His draft stock dropped quite a bit after that.

Then Julian Peterson was traded to the Detroit Lions, and suddenly a hole opened up in our linebacking corps. Shortly thereafter, there was a whole lot of talk about this year's draft's safest pick, linebacker Aaron Curry. Soon after that, there was all kinds of talk about USC quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Like a few others, I think the whole Mark Sanchez thing was just a bluff to try and gain interest for our 4th pick, since everybody knows the top of the draft is broken. I do think that drafting a Aaron Curry makes a whole lot of sense given the hole that Julian Peterson leaves behind, and he's my backup prediction for the Seattle Seahawks pick tomorrow.

Having said that, after learning last fall that Mike Leach was a candidate for the then vacant University of Washington Huskies Football head coach position, I started paying very close attention to the Texas Tech Red Raiders. In doing so, I got to see a lot of Michael Crabtree. He was a huge part of that team's electric offense, and made some unbelievable plays in the clutch. And I mean serious clutch. Having seen what he can do, there is no doubt in my mind that he can be a high-impact player for the Seattle Seahawks. He's the kind of player that could almost make me forget about losing my favorite receiver this offseason (I said almost).

So just as I predicted on the NFC West Blog, my gut tells me the Seattle Seahawks will select Michael Crabtree as the 4th overall pick in the draft tomorrow. Now we just have to wait and see...

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Sincerely, L. Cohen

April 24, 2009 12:51 AM

Leonard Cohen @ The Paramount Theater in Oakland A couple months back when I bought my tickets to see Leonard Cohen, I tweeted quite confidently that the high price would be worth every penny. Boy, was I right.

I took my wife with me tonight to see Leonard Cohen perform at the WaMu Theater (soon to be Chase Theater?). I've been a Leonard Cohen fan since the very first time I heard his distinct voice on the Natural Born Killers soundtrack. Shortly thereafter, I got acquainted with some of his older material, and eventually stumbled upon his poetry. I was profoundly impressed by every single lyric, poem and song I came across. At one point, my friend Brian and I actually sent a manuscript of our own poetry to Leonard Cohen, not really knowing what to expect. Weeks later, we received a typed letter from Leonard himself, which was, to put it bluntly, pretty darn cool. The fact that he was so humble in his response made the experience all the more memorable.

So needless to say, when I learned that Leonard Cohen would be playing a show in my neck of the woods, I jumped at the chance to see him. Whether the return to touring was due to past misfortunes, a simple desire to tour and perform again, or a mixture of both, I didn't question it. It was a chance to see one of the artists (true artists, mind you) I have great respect for perform his art in person.

As advertised, the show started promptly at around eight o'clock. The stage setup was rather simple, with nothing more than a large backdrop against which varying colors of light were aimed throughout the night. The music more than made up for the unsophisticated stage, though. Leonard performed with a band of about nine other musicians, three of which were backup singers (Sharon Robinson and The Webb Sisters were superb). Similarly to some jazz performances, several songs featured prolonged sections in which the various musicians would take turns soloing. It was obvious that all of the musicians were very skilled in their craft, but no one came close to the level of mastery of Leonard Cohen. After all, he was born with the gift of a golden voice.

The first set was chock-full of the "hits" you'd hope to hear at a Leonard Cohen concert. I say "hits" because, despite the length of his career, Leonard Cohen still seems like a well-kept secret in the music world. "The Future," "Waiting for the Miracle," "Everybody Knows" and "Dance Me to the End of Love," if I recall, were all a part of the first set. There was then an intermission, followed by a second set, which featured songs like "Hallelujah," "Suzanne," "Tower of Song" and "I'm Your Man," all of which got resounding reactions from the audience.

After the second set and another of a series of standing ovations that occurred over the course of the concert, the musicians and Leonard returned to the stage to perform songs like "Democracy," "Sisters of Mercy" and "If It Be Your Will," the last of which featured the aforementioned Webb Sisters performing a vocally stunning rendition. After the final set/encore, Leonard addressed the audience and humbly thanked everyone for sharing the evening with him and his fellow musicians.

For some reason, I came to the concert thinking I might only get to see Leonard Cohen going through the motions on songs he had been performing for many, many years. That in itself would have been good enough. However, I was very pleased to find that he added the type of energy to the performance that I wouldn't expect a musician in his or her twenties to bring, and we're talking about a guy who will be turning 75 later this year! To further demonstrate the point, Leonard's very first appearance on stage came as he ran from stage right to his microphone at the center of the stage. Every subsequent exit and entrance from that point forward featured him either running or dancing to his destination.

Another preconception I had when attending tonight's concert was that I might not get a chance to see Leonard Cohen perform again. However, his spryness and quick wit tonight has me thinking otherwise, and I couldn't be happier at the thought. Leonard Cohen is truly a gifted musician with a knack for lyrics that the rest of us could only dream of. I thoroughly enjoyed myself tonight and can't wait 'til the next time Leonard rolls into town and decides to entertain once again those of us who are "in on the secret."

Leonard Cohen @ The Paramount Theater in Oakland courtesy of Flickr user Paige Parsons.

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A Third Year of Last.fm

April 20, 2009 9:48 PM

Just like I did in 2007 and in 2008, since today marks the third anniversary of my joining Last.fm, I figured I'd post yet another overview of how my music listening habits changed (or didn't) over the past year. Following the same formula as before, here's a look at the artists I listened to the most in the past year:

  1. Death Cab for Cutie (565 listens)
  2. Coldplay (486 listens)
  3. Radiohead (270 listens)
  4. Beck (191 listens)
  5. Snow Patrol (183 listens)
  6. Supergrass (161 listens)
  7. Pearl Jam (159 listens)
  8. Kings of Leon (143 listens)
  9. The Killers (132 listens)
  10. Nine Inch Nails (128 listens)

Overall, the list doesn't surprise me much given the releases of Narrow Stairs and Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends last summer. The release of A Hundred Million Suns in the fall and my discovery of Only By The Night around that time likely boosted the plight of Snow Patrol and Kings of Leon, respectively, as well.

One interesting takeaway from the numbers is that the top ten artists I listened to in 2007 accounted for 4,351 total listens. In 2008, they accounted for 3,559 listens. This year, they only accounted for 2,418 listens. Since the amount of time I listen to music hasn't decreased, at least dramatically, I take that to mean I'm actually listening to a broader range of music now than I have in the past.

Another takeaway from this year's numbers is that I focused my attention on a lot more rock this year. Nine Inch Nails is the closest I came, at least in the top ten artists, to breaking out of that genre. In years past, artists like The Chemical Brothers and Snoop Dogg mixed things up a bit. I obviously haven't moved exclusively to rock, though, given that the next list of ten artists consists of names like Kanye West, Jay-Z, Nas, Ludacris and Moby.

The only artist that managed to get more than one album into my top ten listened to albums last year was Death Cab for Cutie, whose Narrow Stairs and Plans I had on heavy rotation.

As far as individual tracks are concerned, the top 20 tracks I listened to over the past year were all from either Death Cab for Cutie, Coldplay or Kings of Leon. Surprisingly, Coldplay's Violet Hill edged out Death Cab for Cutie's Cath... for most listens overall. I listened to the former 49 times and the latter 48.

Finally, I'd be remiss not to remind Zim that he should check his stats tomorrow. :)

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Losing Unread Items in Google Reader Again

April 19, 2009 10:37 AM

Unfortunately for me, if you look up Google Reader losing unread items on Google, the first couple of links take you to my site. Back at that time, I worried that unread items were being lost due to some kind of bug, but later found out that it was all by design.

Unfortunately for me again, it appears that I've lost perhaps hundreds of unread items over the past few days, but this time around it isn't because they're over a month old. In fact, as I've been catching up on feeds this weekend, I've watched the unread counts in several feeds go down dramatically. Upon checking those specific feeds, it looks like there is one consistent clue. All of the unread feed items now start at April 10th, leading me to believe that all unread items from before that date have been lost. If I'm not mistaken, it's April 19th today, so that means I only have about nine days of unread feed items left in Google Reader.

Unfortunately for me yet again, when I search Twitter and Google for others' reports of similar issues, I find nothing. That leads me to think it's perhaps an isolated incident, or maybe that I'm one of only a handful of people who actually leave unread feed items sitting around for a month. Or maybe I'm the only one who's anal enough to realize it. Nevertheless, I've posted something in the Google Reader Help group in the hopes that the Google Reader team will at least look into the issue and fix the bug if there is one.

As always, I'll post a follow-up if I learn or hear anything new.

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Paula Malcomson in Caprica

April 18, 2009 2:55 PM

While reading "Galactica spin-off Caprica looks promising," I couldn't help but notice the blonde in the photo. I looked up Caprica on IMDb and spotted Paula Malcomson in the list of actors and actresses associated with the show. Sure enough, her IMDb profile credits her with a role on Deadwood, which we all know is one of my favorite television shows of all time. She played Trixie, easily one of the show's best characters.

Learning that, and having read good things about the Caprica pilot, I'm very much looking forward to this new series.

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High-speed Rail

April 18, 2009 2:28 PM

From a speech recently given by President Obama:

In France, high-speed rail has pulled regions from isolation, ignited growth, remade quiet towns into thriving tourist destinations. In Spain, a high-speed line between Madrid and Seville is so successful that more people travel between those cities by rail than by car and airplane combined. China, where service began just two years ago, may have more miles of high-speed rail service than any other country just five years from now. And Japan, the nation that unveiled the first high-speed rail system, is already at work building the next: a line that will connect Tokyo with Osaka at speeds of over 300 miles per hour. So it's being done; it's just not being done here.

There's no reason why we can't do this. This is America. There's no reason why the future of travel should lie somewhere else beyond our borders. Building a new system of high-speed rail in America will be faster, cheaper and easier than building more freeways or adding to an already overburdened aviation system –- and everybody stands to benefit.

Via The White House Blog.

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Editing a Video by Generating and Using an EDL File on Windows

April 15, 2009 12:45 AM

Tonight, I had an HD video file from a DVR recording of which I wanted to edit out some commercials. To accomplish this on my new beast of a Windows machine, I first downloaded MPlayer for Windows (with the SMPlayer frontend) so I could generate an EDL file. Simply put, an EDL file is used as a set of instructions on how a video file should be edited.

Once MPlayer was installed, I ignored the fact that I now had a graphical frontend for the tool, since I wanted to use the core executable to create my EDL file. After a default install, the mplayer.exe file ends up being in a subfolder named mplayer underneath the root SMPlayer installation directory, so I ran the following command from within that subdirectory to start generating my EDL file:

mplayer.exe myvideo.avi -edlout myedlfile.edl

Once the video was playing in the core mplayer window, it was up to me to let the program know when the sections to trim out should start and stop. I used the right arrow key to skip ahead when necessary, and the left arrow key to skip back. Once I saw a section where I wanted to start trimming, I hit the "I" key. When I saw the end of the section I wanted to trim, I hit the "I" key yet again. More information on how this works is available in the MPlayer documentation.

Because I only had one commercial break I wanted to trim out, my myedlfile.edl ended up containing one instruction when I was finished (notice the preciseness):

391.307770 558.344910 0

Those first two floats describe the beginning and ending time of the section to trim out, and that last 0 is the instruction for trimming the section out. Now that I had a good EDL to work with, I needed to actually find a way to trim that section out of the video. To do this, I needed to find a version of MEncoder that would work on Windows. Thanks to all my experience with Lando, I already knew about a special windows build of MEncoder that would meet my needs. I unzipped that build to my "Program Files" directory and then ran the following command from that new folder:

mencoder.exe myvideo.avi -edl myedlfile.edl -ovc copy -oac copy -o myeditedvideo.avi

This is one of the most basic ways to "transcode" a video. The -ovc copy and -oac copy arguments essentially tell MEncoder to stick with the video and audio codecs already being used in the source video. The -edl myeditfile.edl argument is the most important of the bunch, since it tells MEncoder to use the instructions included in the EDL while performing the "transcoding."

When all was said and done, I ended up with a video of the same quality as the original, but with the commercials removed according to my generated EDL file. Luckily for me, my processor is on steroids, so the "transcoding" process only took a few seconds. On older computers, it might take a bit longer, but you should see the same end result regardless.

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21 on the 11th, Family on the 12th

April 12, 2009 9:26 PM

The Zimmermann family was planning on heading north to partake in the Tulip Festival this weekend, but the weather wasn't cooperative. It turns out it's likely a good thing we didn't go, but more on that later.

Saturday evening, while the weather certainly wasn't nice by any means, it was dry, so we decided to bundle Heidi up and walk over to a nearby park so I could break in a new basketball I bought last weekend. On the way to the park, we felt like neighborhood heroes as we rescued 1.5 dogs and returned a soccer ball to some neighborhood kids who had kicked it across the busy street. When we arrived at the park, it was a little windy, but there was no sign of rain, so I was able to shoot hoops for at least an hour.

About halfway through, some teenage kids shooting on the court next to mine asked if I wanted to play "a game of 21 for fun." It was a little ironic, given the fact that I had only remembered that 21 existed a month before. However, I thought, what better way to relearn than to actually play, plus, even in the shape I'm in, I figured I could take a couple of teenage kids. Fortunately for my bruised ego, I did end up winning. I thought for sure I'd get to 20 and then watch my for-the-win three point shot clank off the rim. I was half right, since the shot clanked off the rim, straight up into the air about six feet, and then fell back down through the net.

After winning the game and thanking the kids for playing with an old man like me, I shot around a bit longer and then decided to close out the outing with some free throws. I ended the affair going 72.7% from the free throw line (I missed the tenth, and couldn't go out on a miss, so ended up 8-for-11). Better than I expected, but still a little underwhelming.

Later that night, we ate some delicious Mexican food and watched The Strangers, at the insistence of my wife. I had low hopes, so that probably helped a bit, but the movie wasn't half bad. It was good for a few frights, but ended kind of abruptly.

Today, it being Easter and all, we decided to pile into the car and head down to Parkland and Puyallup to visit family. We first stopped at my Oma's place. She was excited to see Heidi for the first time (she was at the hospital the night Heidi was born, but didn't end up getting to see her because of all the "excitement") and gave her lots of new dresses and clothes to wear.

After that, we stopped by my mom's place and I got to see what the house I lived in as a kid looks like these days. It's definitely changed quite a bit. My mom was very happy to see Heidi again and had a few gifts to bestow as well. My dad also came over to see Heidi, which was nice. While catching up on things, my mom and dad mentioned that it's been slow goings up in Skagit Valley, and we likely wouldn't have seen any tulips if we went up to the Tulip Festival this weekend anyway. So I guess things worked out okay in that regard.

After a short stay down there, we got back in the car and drove through a crazy Washington downpour back north. Now we're home and taking advantage of the last few hours this weekend has to offer before another work week gets underway.

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Some Bias, Perhaps?

April 11, 2009 2:35 PM

Tucker Carlson had some harsh things to say about Jon Stewart?

Hmm...I wonder why?

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A Religious Shift

April 08, 2009 7:50 AM

Based on findings in the American Religious Identification Survey (PDF):

The number of Americans who claim no religious affiliation has nearly doubled since 1990, rising from 8 to 15 percent...while the unaffiliated have historically been concentrated in the Pacific Northwest, the report said, "this pattern has now changed, and the Northeast emerged in 2008 as the new stronghold of the religiously unidentified."

From a Newsweek article titled The End of Christian America.

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NCAA Basketball Coaches in Guitar Hero Commercial

April 06, 2009 11:08 PM

While we're on the subject of college basketball, I ran across this commercial while watching the Final Four this past weekend and got a real kick out of it:

Roy Williams is one of my favorite college basketball coaches, for obvious reasons, but Bob Knight is my favorite, and I have a lot of respect for Rick Pitino and yes, even Coach K, so the commercial cracks me up, even if it does look like it was greenscreened.

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Back On Top Again

April 06, 2009 10:37 PM

Wow. I guess you could bet your 401k on it. It took 'em a few years, but the North Carolina Tar Heels are yet again national champions.

While the game didn't feature many slam dunks, the game was kind of a slam dunk in itself for the Tar Heels. It's been a lot of fun watching the likes of Ty Lawson, Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green and Wayne Ellington march toward this grand stage all year, and then close it out with a dominating win.

Though it will be sad to see Hansbrough leave, it's exciting to think that a new chapter in Tar Heels basketball is about to begin, with guys like Tyler Zeller and Ed Davis (the latter of whom is impressing me more and more the more I watch him play) ready to take the reigns.

Oh, and I'm happy to report I'm no longer the only member of the Zimmermann family who bleeds Carolina blue:

Little Tar Heel #2

Go Tar Heels!

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What's Been Going Down

April 06, 2009 12:28 AM

Aside from an unfortunate outcome in the car department, things have been going pretty well as of late. Last weekend, we packed up our things and drove down to Portland to visit my brother- and sister-in-law and my niece. The weather on the drive down was a bit dreary, but things actually cleared up a bit when we got down to Oregon. We spent some good quality time down there, and Heidi enjoyed getting to watch her niece in action.

Saturday night, my wife's brother introduced her and me to Wii Fit, which subsequently told me I'd probably only live a few more years. ;) Then on Sunday, my sister-in-law took a walk with us around the neighborhood. I had to cut that short, though, once I realized the Oklahoma/Carolina game was about to start.

However, my cutting short was to soon be outdone by my daughter, who in the middle of the afternoon decided that she didn't feel like being in a happy mood anymore, and we therefore had to pack things up earlier than anticipated and make the long drive back home. The drive home was pretty decent, and the only real item of note was the car with flames (real flames!) coming out of its hood as we got pretty close to home. I'm not sure I'll ever see anything like that again (or I should hope not, anyway).

It wasn't until that night that I got to actually watch my Tar Heels take care of the Sooners. That was, of course, fun to see.

Last week was a bit rough for me due to work- and family-related stuff, but I made it through to this weekend and got rewarded for it. Yesterday morning I got to spend a lot of time with my daughter, and I recorded the Final Four games in the afternoon while my wife, my daughter and I drove to Squak Mountain for a hike. The weather was great and there were lots of pictures taken, but a slightly cranky Heidi had her say yet again ;) and we ended up turning back at around the halfway point. When we got back home, I watched Michigan State take care of UConn and then fell asleep before the game I actually cared about.

After finally watching that game this morning, I got to spend even more quality time with my daughter. While I was archiving some video on my HTPC, I looked over to find that Heidi had rolled onto her stomach all by herself, which was a new first for her. She did it a few times, but of course stopped once I had my video camera in hand. It was still fun to witness given the fact that I had missed a few other firsts.

This afternoon, we did some cleaning around the house and I ran some errands. Since then, we've finally had some time to just relax and not do much, and it's been nice. I think pretty soon we're going to watch the latest episode of United States of Tara and then call it a night. I'll be very much looking forward to the big game tomorrow night.

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The Death of a Transmission

April 05, 2009 9:21 PM

I think it might have been Friday night, the 20th of March, when I impatiently slammed on the gas to bypass a truck that was getting on to 520 at the speed of a tranquilized snail. Per normal, my trusty Acura Integra revved its engine, but the gear-shifting didn't quite match the noise I was hearing from the engine. In fact, it felt like I was in neutral with the pedal to the floor. After that, though, things seemed to return back to normal and I had a pretty typical late night commute home.

The following Monday morning, as I made my way through my neighborhood, I noticed the car was still having trouble shifting from one gear into another. Immediately I started fearing that something was up with the transmission. I took the car to my mechanic and they told me that there seemed to be internal transmission problems that they did not specialize in fixing. They highly recommended a transmission shop down in Kent, so I drove the car down there next. Unfortunately, the guy who handles all the estimates at that shop had already gone home for the day, so it wasn't until the middle of Tuesday before I got a call from him. He told me that it indeed was something internal to the transmission and before he could even diagnose the problem, it was going to cost at least $700 in labor and require a $1,000 deposit. My guess is, once he found the problem, the price easily would have gone over $1,000 for all the repairs.

My wife and I talked about it, and we concluded that paying upwards of $1,000 to fix a car that was fifteen years old and had no guarantees something else wouldn't fall apart after we dealt with the transmission wasn't the way to go. I called the guy at the transmission shop and told him I'd be picking up the car the following morning. The drive back home showed even further decline in the state of the transmission, and the Integra now rests in our driveway. We still haven't decided exactly what's next for the car, but it's pretty certain I won't be driving it again anytime soon and even more certain my blog posts in 2033 won't be reporting what I had hoped to be reporting.

It's a real shame to put the car to rest, though. It's the car I first drove in with my wife, long before we were married, and it served both me and her very well over the past decade.

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April 4

April 04, 2009 1:32 PM

"Early morning, April 4, shot rings out in the Memphis sky..." - U2

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