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Monday, October 31, 2005

Jennifer and I have started some winter-time projects inside the house. We recently toured a few open-houses and got some good ideas to apply to our own home. Right now we're busy converting the former guest bedroom, in which very few guests have stayed, into the media room. I got some new home-theater recliners with built in cup holders to go with the new paint scheme my lovely wife has picked out. Following that she's going to do some serious design work on both the living room and the office/library. I plan on replacing the paneling in the living room with dry wall and Jennifer is checking out some smaller scaled furniture for the living room.

I've decided what makes even a modestly sized house feel bigger is multiple areas for people to congregate. Having the media room seperate from the living room will allow Jennifer to read a book on the couch while I watch a movie in the meida room, etc. I'll post pictures soon.

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Springfield News-Leader will be publishing a version of my Iraq War rant in tomorrow's Ozark Voices section of the paper.

Today I attended the St. Louis Stellent User Group Meeting. We learned some good stuff, met some good contacts, and I think I got us volunteered to host the next meeting.

[Update:] Here's the link to my Iraq War opinion article in the news leader. And here's the text:

I believed President Bush when the sales pitch for going to war in Iraq was weapons of mass destruction. I still believe the United Nations would have never put any teeth behind its resolutions.

However, it is obvious that the WMD pitch was misleading; whether the president was also misled or did the misleading is another debate. Either way, a good leader takes the blame when there's blame to be taken. The president should have simply come out and said something like "sorry, we were mistaken, now here's what we're going to do to fix it."

The reality of it is, we are now in Iraq, we have created a power vacuum, and we have to stabilize this area before we can leave.

American politics aside, both sides want the troops to come home. Timing is the issue that is really up for debate.

If you believe the president intentionally misled the world (and I'm not arguing that he did or didn't) then so be it. But does that mean that a hasty withdrawal is the correct answer?

Even if one hates this administration you have to see the tactical and strategic mistake that would be (in terms of the greater "war on terror," not the upcoming 2008 election). We can't simply apologize and start packing up the security forces. We have a responsibility to help restore order.

We can do just that. It worked in Germany and Japan. It can work in the Middle East. It seems those who are demanding an immediate pullout of our troops are only seeking vengeance against the current administration, a political point to be counted in 2008. I don't see how it could possibly benefit the United States or the world if we simply packed it up and went home.

And while I would love to see a timetable, it's silly to presume that one is possible. What would one expect to see on this, realistically?

Many are comparing the war in Iraq to the war in Vietnam, which is actually appropriate in some ways. We did lose the battles for Vietnam, but we ended up winning the greater war that was the Cold War. Vietnam was a "proxy" war. The war was fought in Vietnam but was part of the larger conflict of democracy against communism.

It is in this light that I believe the comparison is valid. Iraq is also a proxy war. The battles are taking place in Iraq, but this is about the bigger war of American ideals and way of life against the ideals and way of life of Islamic extremism.

Let me sum up by saying that I'm not "pro-war," as the "pro-peace" crowd would label me. I'm pro-victory.


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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I met up with another guy who commutes by bicycle for the ride home. He lives in my neighborhood and works at our offices down the street. We took it slowly, but took a more direct route than I had previously considered. Maybe it was the more direct route, less stops signs, or maybe it was the friendly chatting that made the afternoon commute seem to go by quickly. I was looking forward to the ride home and I'm especially glad I decided to make the journey.

There is a thread about why people choose to commute on bicycle (or not) on bikeforums.net where the poster asks the following:

1) Why do you bike commute?

2) What do you think are the common barriers that keep people who might do so from commuting via bike?


My personal answers:

For question 1 "Why do you bike commute?":
a) exercise - I spend 8 hours a day at a desk. The human body isn't designed for this. I definitely have the "Keys family gene" which predisposes me to becoming a pretty large fellow (horizontally-speaking). I got home maybe 20 mins later than I normally would have this evening, and I've already got my work-out in for the day.

b) stress relief - Again, 8 hours behind a desk will do it to you, and I've found that my first real day of bike commuting was great fun. It was like adding a little injection of adventure where I'm normally just another sheep being herded around by traffic lights.

c) environment - I'm by no means what I would call a tree-hugger but it feels good to park the V8 and get somewhere on my own power.

d) politics - during World War II the everyday citizen sacrificed many things for the "war effort." We don't see much of that today. I feel parking one vehicle every once-in-a-while and using the bike is a small token of effort towards the modern day war effort.

e) challenge - it was definitely getting out of my comfort zone to even try this, and I enjoy that sense of accomplishment.


As for question 2 "What do you think are the common barriers that keep people who might do so from commuting via bike?"

a) fear - It's outside the normal everyday comfort zone and it appears unsafe
b) ignorance - I mean this literally not as an insult; I too was ignorant before I researched and saw that it is possible and safe.
c) laziness - It's easy to get in the car and burn some petrol. And bike commuting does force a bit of planning.


I was mentioning to someone this morning that I rode my bike in when someone else asked "why'd you do that?" I didn't have a good answer at the time (it's actually a funny question the more I think about it). I think I muttered something about wanting to just give it a try for the exercise. But after thinking about it some I know I've got quite a few reasons. :)

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I commuted to work by bike this morning. Yay! It's a good feeling of accomplishment and I'm looking forward to the ride home (with some daylight). It took me about an hour. I dressed appropriately and only my face got cold. Only thing that went wrong is I forgot my lunch, but I can get that in the building.

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

I finally made a practice commute to work. I ran into a friend and talked for a few minutes on the way to work, total travel time was about 30 mins. It took me a little over 45 mins on the way back, I wasn't riding as hard and I made a wrong turn and had to back track a little bit. I did feel a little safer on the way back, I didn't spend as much time on "major" secondary streets. On the way up I chose to go up Barnes from Bennett to Catalpa. It's pretty narrow there and it's difficult for a driver to see over the train tracks so I think I'll pass on that route from now on.

I'm exicted I made it this far. One more step closer to becomming a real bike commuter. My ears did get a little cold though and it's not that cold today (high of 61 degrees). I'll need to wear something over my ears as the temps get cooler. I also still need to get a few more things, namely a good bike pump, some patch kits, and a pannier (or two) to carry it all in (along with my laptop and clothes).

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Friday, October 21, 2005

Continuing coverage of the downtown brawl/riot by Ron Davis can be found at CHATTER: RACIAL, OR RACIST? He's got links also to the Springfield News-Leader's sound-off board. Quite a hot topic it seems.

Ron asks me in my previous post:

What do you predict as the end result of this mess?


It seems a lot to take in. We've got people playing the race card, of course. As Ron points out, an issue can be racial without racism. Unfortunately, I don't have a well-formed/thought-out solution or commentary. I'm still taking it all in. I know we've got a few idiots ruining the "fun" for everyone. I as one person posted on the news leader blog, perhaps "riot" was not the appropriate term for an event that resulted in the arrests of 4 people. I understand investigations may be pending, so maybe there will be more arrests...

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

The best coverage I've seen so far on last weekend's downtown brawl can be found at Ron Davis's blog and is summarized in the entry CHATTER: TRAFFIC TALK

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Well, I'm sorry to say, despite heroic efforts by Jennifer, she couldn't save my stir fry tonight. It was too far gone, and no amount of other spices could make it taste good.

On another note I bought a bike rack from Cycles Unlimited but I didn't have the bike there to test fit it. I was pretty frustrated the first day because I couldn't figure out how to mount it. Of course I bought my bike off eBay so the local bike shops would probably help, for a fee. But after some advice on how to mount the pannier rack on cyclingforums.com and a quick look at other bikes on the commuting forum of bikeforums.net I convinced myself to do a custom modification. The results are below:



Because of the comfort bike geometry and the fact that it's a relatively small frame the mounting points are really low, too low to make this rack work without serious fabrication. So since I didn't know how to do the serious fabrication, I did some easy fabrication. I used metal strapping (plumbers tape I've heard it called) to attach it to my seat post. Under the strapping I placed a sliver of old inner tube to keep it from scratching and secured it all together with some nuts and bolts. It should work for what I'm needing to do.

Here's a couple closeups:




Also, I was able to reuse the rear reflector by attaching it (using an extra mounting bracket that I didn't need for the rack) to the rear of the rack.

Some might ask, "why are you blogging about this?" Well first, it's my blog, so go somewhere else if you don't like it! ;) But I'm hoping it might help someone out someday, as a google search on how to install a pannier rack leads to a site where someone performing the same search is lead back to their own blog entry! So I don't feel so bad for not knowing.

I also picked up a universal bike tool, so the only things left on the list are panniers and a pump. Panniers are freaking expensive, even on eBay. I'm considering some do-it-yourself panniers.

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

I'm slowly chipping away at my excuses for not biking to work. I purchased on ebay a used Raleigh SC30 comfort bike. After a bit of tweaking it rides like a dream (compared to my old wal-mart bike). Here's the stock photo of it, and really it's pretty close to new condition.



Left on the excuse list:
I need a way to carry my lunch, laptop, clothes, etc. A rear rack and pannier system is in order and I'm doing a bit of research.
I need a few other necessaties, water bottle, bike pump, basic tools.

So my goal is to start riding my bike at least once a week to work. Completely do-able I believe.


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I'm blogging from the Woodhaven Suite at Home Suite Home in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. As Jennifer put it, "everywhere you look is perfection."

The suites are just perfect. That's the most fitting description. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a weekend getaway or longer, like Billy Bob Thorton did not to long ago when he rented the entire place for a month. All the amenities are well thought out and nothing but the finest materials surround you. Plus there's free wireless!

On a related note I met some good friends of Jennifer's for the first time in person. It's great to meet genuinely nice people. Coincidentally one of them is an architect for Sun on one of the Java related projects. Of course I immediately began geeking out while Jennifer immersed herself in girl-talk!

We had a very relaxing and fun-filled weekend and I'm very much looking forward to spending time here again and getting to know our new found friends.

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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Sushi


Sushi
Originally uploaded by duanekeys.
Here's Sushi, one of our foster dogs, also taking it easy in the kitchen.


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Gelleon


Gelleon
Originally uploaded by duanekeys.
Here's a picture of Gelleon, napping on the kitchen floor. He's one of our foster dogs I previously mentioned.


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Friday, October 07, 2005

Got a few minutes to waste, try out Planarity.net. Neat little brain-teaser game thingy. It might help to make a quick stop at wikipedia's entry on planar graphs.

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There's an informational meeting scheduled for October 13, 205 at the Clarion on South Glenstone convering the Fair Tax plan. The event starts at 6:30 with a "dynamic" speaker at 7:00. I plan to attend and encourage everyone to at least read about it with an open mind.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Help a brother out by bidding on your very own eBay: XBox, 4 Controllers, Headset, HDTV Pack + Games! (item 8223659825 end time Oct-08-05 18:57:16 PDT)


Monday, October 03, 2005

I submitted the following lifehack to LifeHacker.com:

Staying ahead in business often comes down to getting timely information. Using Google News Alerts that are set up to look for your own company's name, the competition, and industry keywords can give you the competitive advantage.

Now instead of hearing about it at the water cooler you'll know when Google News gets wind of your competition's CFO resigning or when your business is flamed in a news report.


Green, you must live


Green, you must live
Originally uploaded by duanekeys.
Floyd on a support call during our Midwest Auto Parts system conversion.