Friday, June 27, 2008

More from California

Oh, one more thing about my trip to California. The other developer in my old company is retiring, so I get the privilege of taking over his code. He developed applications using Visual Basic 6.0. In case you didn't know, VB 6 was released about 10 years ago. 10 years ago! And he wrote everything procedurally. No design patterns, no object oriented anything. Direct, low level database calls. You can't use SQL in his apps. He didn't even use source control! So one thing I did when I was down in California was to get a knowledge transfer from him about all the stuff that he was working on. I also got to try my hand at making some changes in his applications. Want to know what it feels like to work on his code? Something kinda like this:

Back from California

I had to go down to California this week for work. I left Monday and came back Thursday. Here are several things about my trip:

  • I work at home, so I haven't had to go to a meeting for a long time. Turns out they're still boring.
  • My hotel was pretty nice. I actually had the best hotel sleep I think I've ever had.
  • One thing that I liked about my hotel stay was that I could pretty much take as many showers as I wanted. There was unlimited hot water, and I didn't have to wait for it to heat up. I checked in at the hotel at 5pm on Monday and checked out at 8am on Wednesday, so about 39 hours total. In that time, I took 5 showers.
  • If I was single and had no kids, I think I would be in pretty good shape. I didn't have a lot to do when I wasn't working, so I ended up swimming and lifting weights. I think I may have done more weight training in those 39 hours at the hotel than I have in the last month.
  • My rental car was a not-so-new black Mercury Grand Marquis. It was very much an old man car. I felt like I needed a big cigar, a set of golf clubs in the back, and some black dress socks with my tennis shoes.
  • I got to stop by our old church briefly. We really miss our old church. Right when I walked in the doors, I felt very comfortable. It's a much different feeling than I get at our current church, even though we've been going there for 5 years now. I saw the pastor and got to talk to him for about 15 minutes. It was great seeing him again. They had just finished their first day of Vacation Bible School, which is always an adventure. He showed me some of the changes that they'd made to the building and updated me on some of the new things that were going on. Even though it was only for a little while, I was glad I was able to visit.
  • I found out on the phone that LilKat1 got his first loose tooth. I was a little sad that I wasn't there when he first discovered it.
  • It sounds like LilKat1 missed me the most of everyone. Mrs. BigKat said he whimpered himself to sleep on Wednesday. That made me sad too.
  • Mrs. BigKat says that my cat Darrel missed me as well. Sometime Wednesday, he just started wandering around the house crying.
  • I got a 'Continental Breakfast' on both Tuesday and Wednesday morning at the hotel. Turns out that they cheated me out of some food on Tuesday. I got whole wheat toast (it was supposed to be a croissant, but I had them switch it), a muffin (it was supposed to be a scone, but I like muffins, so it's fine), a bowl of fruit, a bowl of plain yogurt (I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do with this. Do people really eat just plain yogurt? Well, that's what I did...), and orange juice. I found out on Wednesday that I was also supposed to get a bowl of Special K! They cheated me out of my Special K!
  • I got to visit a friend on Tuesday evening. She gave me the directions to her place, but told me not to go in the front door. There's a basement living unit under the house, which she rents out, and the entrance is in the back. I found her street pretty easily and looked for the house number, 145. I parked at the house and got out. There was a car in the garage, but it wasn't hers, so it looked like she wasn't home yet. I started to head up the walk to the front door and saw the little path that went to the back. I followed it around the house, but couldn't see any basement units. There was a back door, but that looked like it went to the main floor. Then I saw a little tiny house in the back. I figured that must be it, so I went over to check it out. I looked through the window and saw a Weber grill and some other supplies. It was clearly a shed. Now, I was confused. My spider-sense was going off a bit, so I went out to the front yard and called my friend on the phone. She answered and said that she was about 15 seconds away from her street and she'd be right there. I saw her pull up the street. She waved at me as she drove by. She then proceeded to pass me up and pull into the driveway on the other side of the street. At house number 1-5-4! Oops! So yeah, basically I went into some strange people's backyard while they were home and just started looking in windows and snooping around.
  • I had brought a pack of Rolo's with me on my trip. I thought I would eat them while I was on the plane but I didn't. Tuesday evening, when I saw my friend, I noticed that I had left them in the car. I picked them up and the whole roll was very squishy. When I got back to my hotel, I left them on the table in hopes that they would firm up by themselves again. It worked! But the next day, I had to drive out to Sacramento and they got squishy again. I visited some other friends after my meeting in Sacramento and left the Rolo's on the table to firm up yet again. I was going to open them the next day sometime, but my friend that I was visiting made me open them right there. Rolo's are his favorite candy, and he was having a hard time looking at the package of hard-soft-hard-soft-hard Rolo's on his kitchen table without being able to eat any. I carefully took off the foil and inside was a giant Rolo log. It broke apart pretty easily at the joints where the individual Rolo's met. So I got half and he got half and everyone was happy. But it was the strangest Rolo I've ever eaten.
  • However, that experience led me to the conclusion that if they ever decided to produce a Rolo bar, I'd buy it.
  • My friends in Sacramento that I visited live at the end of a street. Past the end of the street is just a big field of nothing. Just some tall brown grassy plants. I asked my friend if he'd ever just stood on his lawn and whacked golf balls into the field. He stared at me for a second and said 'That's the best idea I've ever heard! Let's go!' So we got his clubs out and whacked a few. Pretty fun! He's got his own personal driving range!
  • It was nice being able to catch up with my friends again. We miss being able to talk with them. Although we'd be able to talk with them more if they answered their phones! (Yeah, you guys! I see you reading this! You know who I'm talking about! Answer your phones!)
  • LilKat2 accidentally let Darrel (the cat that missed me) out of the house. Mrs. BigKat and the boys were all planting stuff in the backyard. LilKat2 went out through the garage door and left it open. Darrel escaped and they couldn't find him for a while. Mrs. BigKat eventually found him in our neighbor's yard. My mom came over for dinner that night and LilKat2 HAD to tell her what happened. He looked her straight in the eyes and started talking in his I'm-really-serious voice. It went something like this:
Grandma...I have something IMPORTANT to tell you...Something REALLY BAD happened..REALLY BAD...This is very IMPORTANT...


Darrell got OUT!...I left the garage door open and Darrel got OUT!...Isn't that so BAD?
  • So I think LilKat2's not going to need the take-responsibility-for-your-actions talk for a while. He seems to have it down pretty good on his own.
  • It takes about $16 in gas to drive my truck from my house to the airport and back.
  • I really don't like traveling. Everyone in my family is much happier that I'm home now. I hope I don't have to do this again for a while.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


For Mother's Day this year, I got Mrs. BigKat a new coffee maker. I had read about it on It's called the Aeropress by Aerobie.

Now I know what you're thinking. Aerobie? Isn't that a frisbee thing? Yep! If you go to the Aerobie website, they have 11 products. 9 of them are things that you can throw in the air, 1 is a yo-yo, and 1 is a coffee maker.

So why would anyone want to buy a coffee maker from a frisbee company? Well, because it makes really good coffee, that's why! It's a very simple machine. First you put the whole thing on top of your coffee cup. You put in a little filter, add ground coffee and hot water. Then you press this plunger on the top and it presses your coffee drink into your cup. You can drink it as is for an espresso-like beverage or add water for a more coffee-like drink. Cleanup is quite easy, you just rinse the thing off. And the coffee it makes is quite good! I couldn't taste any burnt, bitterness, or yuckiness that I normally associate with coffee.

I got Mrs. BigKat's from along with some extra filters (although the Aeropress itself comes with a few hundred filters already). She still uses her espresso machine and press pot. But if she wants to make a quick single cup of coffee, it's a good option for her. She's also been using it for her iced coffee drinks.

Friday, June 20, 2008

How to Shoot a Basketball

The other day, I saw this video clip about how to shoot a basketball. The coach says that when you're shooting, you pretty much just use your thumb, index finger, and middle finger of your shooting hand. That's it. You leave out your ring finger and pinkie.

I've been playing basketball for something like 20 years now. I even own a couple of instructional movies that teach you how to shoot a basketball.

So here's my question...

How come no one has told me this until now?!?!?!?!?

I went out and tried out this technique and it's way better than what I've been doing. It makes a lot of sense because those are the fingers that you use when you throw a football too. I've always had to fight with my shot to keep it from veering off to the right. My thumb, index finger, and middle finger naturally want to be in charge of the shot, so they push the ball that way when I try to get my other fingers involved. When I shoot like the guy says, it makes it 500% easier to get the ball to go straight.

I'm actually very mad that I didn't find this out until now...

Ok, not really mad. I just wish I knew this 10 years ago before I got old and slow.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Did you catch Kevin Garnett's interview after the Celtics won the NBA Championship last night? It went something like this...

Man I'm so hyped right now...

anything's possible...




This for everybody in 'sota...

This for everybody in Chicago...







So kind of like Pentecost...but the opposite. He was saying something, but I don't know if anyone understood him. Although if his head had caught on fire, I would not have been surprised. He was just that excited.

See for yourself here...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

When LilKat1 was only a few months old, the pastor at our church asked me to do a special presentation to the congregation. He wanted me to write a letter to my son, telling him about how it felt to be his dad that I would read to the congregation on Father's Day. It turned out pretty well. Everyone seemed to like it. Anyhow, here's what I came up with...

Dear LilKat1

Today is my first Father’s Day, so I wanted to share with you a little bit about what being your dad has meant to me. I haven’t been doing this for very long. You’ve only been on the outside of your mom for a little over 3 months now. It’s strange how I can think back and remember events that happened around the time of your birth and they don’t seem like they happened very long ago, but at the same time, it is growing more and more difficult to remember what it was like not being your dad.
It amazes me how quickly you’ve been changing and growing. We saw a week old baby at church the other day who was 7 ½ pounds when she was born. I couldn’t believe that just a little while ago you were even smaller than that tiny baby. Now you’re HUGE! You’re busting out of your old shirts and socks. Your big baggy shorts that used to look like pants on you actually look like shorts. And you’ve got a couple more chins than you started out with.
And you’re also doing a lot of things that you didn’t used to do. You used to be pretty much limited to crying, eating, and sleeping. Now you’re smiling, laughing, grabbing stuff, chattering, and drooling too. I can’t tell you how much fun it is to see you develop all these new skills and mannerisms. The first time you smiled at me made me so happy inside. And the first time you laughed…that was such a fun and amazing moment. I’m excited to experience the other new firsts that are coming up for you. Your first words, your first steps, the first time you hug me back.
But at the same time, it’s hard for me to keep up with you. You’re changing so fast that it’s difficult for me to savor moments that are quickly coming and going. I told a friend that I was going to start feeding you coffee and cigarettes to stunt your growth so that you’d stay my little boy. It makes me realize how valuable the time that we spend together is, and it’s a constant reminder to me to make our relationship a top priority.
We have a great relationship, you and me. When we’re together, I feel like I can tell you things that I can’t say to anyone else, not even your mother. If I were to tell your mom “Glaaaaaaaaah” or “OoooowAAAA-aaahhh”, she’d think I was dumb. But I can say these things to you and you understand me.
But seriously, you have an effect on me that not many others have. As you well know, your dad likes to be a tough guy. I like to grill meat over fire, I don’t put lotion on my hands, and I don’t watch figure skating. But sometimes when I’m holding you, I can feel pretty inadequate. You make me realize how much I don’t know about what I’m doing and how dependent I have to be on God (and your mom) in order to be a good dad to you.
LilKat1, I love being your dad. I can’t express to you how excited and scared I am to watch you grow up. But I know that if God will clothe the lilies of the field, then He will surely take care of us too. You are one of the greatest blessings in my life, and I’m incredibly grateful that God has given me the privilege of being your father.

Love always from you dad,


Friday, June 13, 2008

One Man Band

When you watch this...

Is this...

the first thing you think of?

Me too!


The following post does not contain an clever or funny story. But it was a significant moment for me, so I decided that it should be added to the weblog...

Yesterday, LilKat1 graduated from kindergarten. It was only a half day of school and they had a little in-class party at the end. I wasn't planning on going since it was before lunchtime, but at the last minute, I changed my mind and went.

Wow...good call by me! It turned out that the class had their own little graduation ceremony. I got the whole thing (about 5 minutes long) on video. It was small, but special...probably more special for the parents than the kids. All the moms were getting teary eyed when it was their kid's turn to go up to get their certificate.

I must admit, it was a bit strange to see LilKat1 'graduate'. I can still remember that first day of school when I took him to the bus stop and watched him drive off ALL BY HIMSELF (with a busload of kids). It really doesn't seem like that long ago. The year just seemed to fly by, and I think that makes me a tiny bit sad. But at the same time, it was much a 'proud dad' moment for me.

One thing that we were very grateful for this year is LilKat1's teacher. His teacher (we'll just call her Mrs. Fluffernutter) is absolutely fantastic! The kids all love her. She's very nice, doesn't yell too much, and she plays the ukulele. How cool is that? She even made a great slide show movie with pictures of the kids throughout the year. We got to watch the movie after the graduation, and then each kid received their own copy on DVD to watch at home.

She really cares about the kids too. Here was a funny moment. At the start of the graduation ceremony, she started to say something about the kids. She said...

I had a great class this year...

(pause as she tries to keep herself from crying)

And that's all I'm going to say!

Then one of the kids shouted out 'GOODBYE MRS. FLUFFERNUTTER!' She flashed a smile and said 'Excuse me!' Then went to her desk to get some tissues. Kind of a nice touching moment for everyone.

So today is the first day of summer vacation. LilKat1 is a bit sad that school is over. He loves being able to see his friends every day. But Mrs. BigKat is going to try and make it so that he can see all of his school buddies over the summer. VBS is also coming up soon, which he loves. And then soccer will start in August. And then...First Grade!

Father's Day Craft

Here's a craft that I've done in Sunday School for the past couple of years. I have the kids make their Dads a tie.

The kids start with a big piece of colored cardstock. We have a tie template that they use to trace out their tie shape. Then they cut out the tie and decorate it with colors and stickers and things. We punch a couple of holes at the top that we put a string through. Then the kids tie the string around their dad's neck. It's pretty fun to see all of the dads walking around with their goofy ties after church.

So if you're a Sunday School teacher looking for a good Father's Day craft, or if you just have some small kids that want to make something for their dad this weekend, there you go!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

New Job

So last week, I started a new job. I had been working for my old company for a little over 6 years. It was a pretty good run. They let me work at home. I didn't have long hours. I always figured that at some point I'd have to get a 'real' job.

Well, looks like I may have been wrong! My old company was actually acquired. So now I'm pretty much doing the same stuff, but for a bigger company. It looks pretty good so far. I'm still working at home. I'm actually getting paid a bit more. And we have much better benefits (the BigKat's finally have dental plan! Woo Hoo!!!).

So we'll see how it goes. I get to go down and meet with all of the new people in a few weeks. If all goes well, I'll never have to get a real job ever again! Yay!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Paper Airplanes

Here's another good resource for having fun with your kids...

A couple of years ago, my stepmom got me a paper airplane calendar for Christmas. It's called the 'Paper Airplane Fold-A-Day Calendar'. Each day, you get to make an interesting paper airplane. The current day has the instructions. You use the instructions to fold up the previous day's page into the airplane. The pages are all colored so that your airplanes look extra cool when you're done.

I started out trying to do one a day, but quickly fell behind. So now, instead of using it as a calendar, I just take it out when me and the kids are looking for something fun to do. I'll fold 4 or 5 of them up and we'll have a whole brand new fleet of airplanes to play with.

I'm guessing that you can't get these calendars right now in the middle of the year, so you might have to wait a bit before you can find it. But they made a new one last year (my wife bought it for me), so hopefully they'll keep producing new ones each year.

One word of caution though...when I was searching for the calendar, I saw one called 365 Tiny Paper Airplanes Calendar. This one has the same group of paper airplanes repeated over and over again. Not as good. The one that I got has 365 different airplanes. Much more interesting!


This weekend, for the first time ever, I got to play a game of baseball with my boys. We played in the backyard on the sportcourt with an oversized plastic bat and a plastic ball. We had a pitcher (me), a batter, and an outfielder. At first, we started out with baserunning, but the boys really just wanted to hit and catch, so we changed it up a bit. We took out the baserunning and just gave each boy 4 hits. After they got their hits (fouls didn't count), they'd switch.

I was very impressed with how well the boys hit. LilKat2 was able to make good solid contact with the ball and was able to hit it pretty far. LilKat1 was hitting it really hard. I wonder if he's been playing baseball at school or something because he was doing quite well. We played for about and hour and had a great time.

Well, there was one moment that wasn't great...LilKat1 tagged me with a screaming line drive straight in my groin.

Wow, you wouldn't expect a plastic ball to be able to hurt so much. But I had to lie down on the ground for a good 2 minutes with the two little boys hovering over me asking 'Are you ok Daddy?' ('Yes, I'm fine. But I'm just going to lie down for a little bit...')

I'm sure the whole thing looked like a scene from America's Funniest Home Videos.

You know, that game of baseball was kind of strange. I guess I'm not used to the fact that my boys are old enough to play games with me like that. I remember playing baseball and basketball with the all the neighborhood kids when I was little. Next thing you know, we'll all be running kids off the court in 3-on-3 at the park!