A True Dream Job—Becoming a Master Builder at LegoLand, California

Co-worker Ted Trela sent me this droolworthy, Lego-related link from Wired news. [Editor’s note: December 15, 2005—It appears the link earlier in this paragraph is not working, try this related story this link instead.]

Of course, I don’t get to build with Lego as a profession, but building software is almost as much fun, so my job is just about as close to being a LegoLand, Californi as the winners of Lego’s nationwide search.

Where’s my Snow?

I woke up before my alarm this morning, looked out the window and saw no new snow. Overnight, the weather forecast, which had disappointingly dropped from “snow, heavy at times,” to “3 to 8 inches of total accumulation,” had changed to, “snow showers, possible accumulation of 1 inch.”

Last year Nashua got mountains of snow. This year it’s just unusually cold. But the winter is not over yet.

A Little Humor (I)—Temperature Conversion Chart

  • 60°F – Southern Californians shiver uncontrollably. People in New England sunbathe.
  • 50°F – New Yorkers try to turn on the heat. People in New England plant gardens.
  • 40°F – Italian & English cars won’t start. People in New England drive with the windows down.
  • 32°F – Distilled water freezes. Maine's Moose Head Lake’s water gets thicker.
  • 20°F – Floridians don coats, thermal underwear, gloves, wool hats. People in New England throw on a flannel shirt.
  • 15°F – New York landlords finally turn up the heat. People in New England have the last cookout before it gets cold.
  • 0°F – All the people in Miami die. New Englanders close the windows.
  • –10°F – Californians fly away to Mexico. The Girl Scouts in New England are selling cookies door to door.
  • –25°F – Hollywood disintegrates. People in New England get out their winter coats.
  • –40°F – Washington DC runs out of hot air. People in New England let the dogs sleep indoors.

Fun Fact: –40°F and –40°C are the same temperature

A Little Humor (II)—If Operating Systems were Airlines

DOS Air: All the passengers go out onto the runway, grab hold of the plane, push it until it gets in the air, hop on, and jump off when it hits the ground again. Then they grab the plane again, push it back into the air, hop on, etcetera.

Windows Airlines: The terminal is very neat and clean, the attendants are all very attractive and the pilots very capable. The fleet is immense. Your jet takes off without a hitch, pushing above the clouds, and at 20,000 feet it explodes without warning.

Mac Airways: Tickets are expensive. The cashiers, flight attendants, and pilots all look the same, feel the same and act the same. When asked questions about the flight they reply that you don't want to know, don't need to know, and would you please return to your seat and watch the movie.

Linux Express: Each passenger brings a piece of the airplane and a box of tools to the airport. They gather on the tarmac, arguing constantly about what kind of plane they want to build and how to put it together. Eventually, they build several different aircraft, but give them all the same name. Some passengers actually reach their destinations. All passengers believe they got there.

Moving Day Details

Many of you have asked how our move went, and we’ve been too busy to post any details.

Stress. In many respects, this was the most stressful day I can remember in a very, very long time. We were just beginning to recover from the “this deal isn’t going to go through” incident on Wednesday. In addition to juggling two closings, one in Brockton and one in Nashua, Nichelle became very sick on Thursday with a virus, and we got seriously behind schedule on our packing. (One more day would have helped, but it was too late at the time to reschedule for Saturday.)

Great Movers. The movers, Kilroy Brothers, arrived around 8:00 a.m., as promised. I think they were shocked by the level of disarray, but they were absolutely wonderful. They joked with us, gave us boxes (some free), and handled a huge job without complaint. In addition, the price was under $2,000, and that included two trucks. They worked tirelessly and professionally, despite our stress and the size of the task, and their attitudes and good humor made us feel much better.

Closings. We had to take off for the first closing while the movers were still working. The buyers were late, and some documents were missing. The 1/2-hour we were promised turned into 2 hours. The kids were hungry, Nichelle was still sick, and we were wiped. out.

We got back to the house to keep working. My sister Joyce went out to get food for the kids, and get our treasurer’s check for the movers. When it came time to leave for the second closing, just about everything important was on the trucks, and we authorized the movers to work packing anything that looked valuable, and we took off for the second closing. The bank wouldn’t give Joyce was a bank check for us, so I had to stop by Rockland Trust on the way to get the check. When we left, the house was a disaster, but we promised to come back the next day and clean everything out, and we knew the buyers were having deleading done and not moving in right away.

The closing in Nashua went much more smoothly, and took only 38 minutes.

Freezing. It was bitterly cold on Friday, at or below zero, and the upstairs in our new house got down to 38 degrees, while the downstairs dropped low enough for ice to form in the toilet. That added to the fun of moving.

Help from Our Family in Christ. The secretary of our new church (Tabernacle Baptist Church in nearby Litchfield, N.H.) brought us dinner and snacks, and shuttled our family to her house a few minutes away. Because Nichelle was sick and the house was so cold, we accepted their offer to stay overnight at their house. Nichelle and the rest of the family left, while I stayed to finish directing the unloading.

Kim dies. I had been concerned about our reptiles because of the cold, but Isaac’s crested gecko seemed fine, and his cage has a light in it for warmth. When the movers left, and I was waiting for a ride to Lee Ann’s house, I found Nichelle’s iguana Jesse barely reactive, despite being next to the heater. He returned to normal after a few minutes near the pellet stove, and I stuck him inside my jacket.

Then I went to check on Kim. I was horrified to see him stuck to the side of his cage, head hanging over. he was completely unresponsive—no breathing, no reaction to touch. Nothing. I was heartbroken. I called Isaac to break the bad news to him (his response, although he was sad, was, “So, can I get a tarantula?” and afterward sat down in front of the pellet stove with Kim in my outstretched hand, hoping that he was just in deep hibernation, but being certain that was not the case. After about 10 minutes of hopelessness, I thought I saw his leg move. Sure enough, although it took a while, Kim revived, and is doing well. There are a few advantages of being cold-blooded.

Cold and anxious. When we all returned to the house the next morning, it was only 50 degrees, despite leaving the heat on all night (although I did not leave the pellet stove on). It turns out that when a house gets that cold, the walls absorb much of the heat, and it takes a long time to bring it up to temperature. With the stress of moving, my anxiety disorder surfaced, and there are still days when I wake up feeling uneasy. I know this will pass in time.

We love the new house. The new house is wonderful, and has a great open layout. Every day, as we put more things away, it gets a little better.

I still need to tell about Saturday’s adventures, but will have to add that later.

In Yesterday’s Episode, Doug Learned to Make Sure the Ashes in the Pellet Stove Have Truly Cooled Off Before Vacuuming Them

[doug]We have a pellet stove, which is a nifty, attractive, low-mess way to heat/supplement the heat in our new house. In fact, Nichelle is getting spoiled by it, as it is easy to bring the house up to about 75 degrees, so when it gets down to our usual 68 degress, she complains about it being too cold.

Last night, it was time to clean out the ashes, before restarting the stove, as they were starting to interfere with combustion. So, I put my hand over the ashes, found out they were cool, even stuck my hand in to make sure.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t careful enough. Nichelle yelled and I turned around to see smoke pouring from the back of the vacuum cleaner, quickly filling up the house.

I’d sucked up one ember that just hot enough to, under the increased air flow, set fire to the vacuum cleaner bag and its contents.

The vacuum and house are unharmed (except for a slight smell of smoke), but I’m very embarrassed.

In MegaTokyo, This Would Be a “Dead Piro Day”

Okay, that’s a bit of an “in” joke. MegaTokyo is an online comic I read. Every now and then the artist gets behind schedule or is overwhelmed with other things, and posts a sketch instead of a comic strip. We’re wiped out from moving (but things are great!), but I need to get something up on the BLOG.


How Big Is a Billion?
The next time you hear a politician use the words “billion” casually, think about whether you want that politician spending your tax money.

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into perspective in one of its releases:

  • A billion seconds ago, it was 1959.
  • A billion minutes ago, Jesus was alive.
  • A billion hours ago, our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.
  • A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate Washington spends it.

How Long Is Too Long?
People are complaining on how long the war is taking but consider this:

  • It took less time to take Iraq than it took Janet Reno to take the Branch Davidian compound. That was a 51-day operation.
  • It took less time to find Saddam's sons in Iraq than it took Hillary Clinton to find the Rose Law Firm billing records.
  • It took less time for the 3rd Infantry Division and the Marines to destroy the Medina Republican Guard than it took Teddy Kennedy to call the police after his Oldsmobile sunk at Chappaquiddick.
  • It took less time to take Iraq than it took to count the votes in Florida!!!!!!

One of Those Days

I was on my way to Nashua to drop off the check for our insurance binder (only $368), when Nichelle called.

She explained that there was a problem, and that I should call our agent

So, I spoke with our agent, and it seems that, despite being given a commitment letter, Fleet is demanding $7,000 more from our buyers, due to, among other things, their insurance costing more than they expected.

They want us to come up with $3,000 of that. And I’m fresh out of $1,000s.

Further details as I have them.

Happy New Year and Moving Madness

Here, Naomi shows off one of her Christmas presents, and her destiny (Nichelle is too busy getting ready for our move to read this), with a “Geek in Training” t-shirt from ThinkGeek.com. She also received the TCP/IP creeper, but won’t fit into it for several months.

Back at the Wilcox family, we are moving in one week, and packing in earnest. Thanks to Nichelle’s extremely hard work and planning, it looks like everything is going to go smoothly.

Our new address as of January 9 will be:

329 Nowell Street
Nashua, NH 03060-4453

Phone: 603-886-5225

I should also mention that my friend Mark Sohmer has finally taken my advice and started a BLOG of his own at http://blog.sohmer.net/. Of course, since he is using Bryan Harrington’s code, later modified by me, guess who gets pestered with questions?

I’d like to BLOG some reflections on the past year, but am too busy at the moment.

In more recent events, Christmas was excellent, and despite being sad, Dad’s funeral was really wonderful. I will defiitely write more about that later.