April 02, 2003

Mixed day

Posted by Scott at 09:16 PM

Today was such a mixed day. I guess every day has highlights and lowlights but today just seemed to have more of a swing. I realize the past three entries have been a bit on the humorous side so I guess now it's time to talk about domestic events. This is a bit long and rambles in many different directions.

Claire and I went to J. Beaners this morning before dropping her off at school. This time we tried a drink with espresso, steamed milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. We drank it while reading two more chapters of Tuck Everlasting in front of their working fireplace. It helped start Claire off on the right foot. Tuck Everlasting really is a good story! Alyssa, you might consider it for TJ or Cassidy.

After dropping Claire off from school, I noticed how sunny and clear it appeared. I felt like taking one more minor detour before parking myself at a desk for the rest of the day. I went to Milford's ToadStool Bookshop. I hadn't been there in several weeks and was hoping to get a decent book on the Perl programming/scripting language. I used to be pretty decent at Perl but haven't had to do anything serious with it in years. Part of it is due to the fact that I tend to be more into engineering debugging than development.

[Warning: 2 paragraphs of geek speak ahead...] But my opportunity to tinker in Perl is back because MovableType, the software that manages this web site, is built on a huge extensible infrastructure of Perl. Some extensions, such as the "Recent Comments" sidebar can be built without touching the Perl behind the software. Other customizations can only happen by developing what's known as a MovableType "Plug-in", which is an extension to the core functionality of MovableType. I was happy to find that this recent article on developing plug-ins was put online. Between a source like that and some good Perl refresher books, I should be "dangerous". One of my goals is to develop a plug-in for the sidebar that tells you how many days are left until your next major birthday/anniversary/etc. This is supposed to be about family after all.

Another part of the motivation for such development work is that my higher education sought to strike a balance between hardware and software design & debug. Much of my normal work for the past several years has focused more on the hardware side and less on the software side. This silly bit of tinkering with things like Perl is one of the ways I make sure that the other half of my education doesn't atrophy. OK, enough engineering talk....

While heading into work today I realized that this month I'll be fully vested on my original VAutomation shares (which are now ARC shares). Hopefully some day they'll be worth more than a Ford Focus. They used to be worth a house. Perhaps someday... Well, I can wish, can't I?

I stopped by our credit union this afternoon and setup an account for Timothy. Now all five children have their own savings accounts. While I was there the account manager who entered the data also had a few minutes to see this website and see the pictures of the kids for whom she had setup so many accounts.

On my drive home tonight, I was thinking about the more generic "war on terror" -- not specifically our current effort in Iraq. I was thinking of those who, like me, are concerned that many constitutional rights are being etched away in the name of the "war on terror". I was wondering if any of those same folks expressed the same concerns when constitutional rights get etched away by United Nations councils on things such as population control, women, children, global warming.

As I continued driving I heard for the second time on the radio that our destruction of a civilian-carrying bus at a checkpoint two days ago may have actually been initiated by Iraq. Current word is that the Iraqi's abducted the husbands/fathers of those civilians and forced the women and children to get on that bus. They ordered the bus to drive fast and without stopping into the checkpoint, knowing that such an action would draw fire and give them an opportunity to propagandize the US forces as needlessly killing civilians. I'm having trouble confirming this. If true, it goes beyond "human shields".

When I got home tonight I held Timothy for a while -- both during and after dinner. There was a brief time there for about ten seconds when he really smiled at me. Not gas, not a muscle spasm of the cheeks. No, a real honest to goodness smile with full eye contact the whole time. It was a first for me with him and it was wonderful! So often he is in my arms either crying or sleeping. It was nice to feel like he was actually happy to be there. Michelle saw it and rushed to get a camera, but by then it was too late.

We are all very excited because of the upcoming visitors for Timothy's Baptism. My mom flies out tomorrow morning and I'll pick her up at the airport during my lunch break. Chris and Katie arrive in Nashua on Friday night. I hope the weather is fair this weekend, since it's Chris' first time in NH. I was a bit sad when I realized that their already brief visit will be an hour shorter due to daylight savings time this weekend. However, I must admit that I wholeheartedly welcome the time shift. The kids are waking up way too early due to the sun blasting into their rooms at 5:30AM. Daylight savings time should push that back an hour.

I'll close on a very sad note. My cousin Mary Ann has asked that she be taken off of life support this evening. It's doubtful she'll last very long once that occurs. While she is conscious, it's the machines that are sustaining her. Mary Ann had leukemia and was successfully treated for it. Unfortunately her body did not handle the after effects of the treatment. She'll leave behind her husband and two sons, 5 & 7 years old. Thoughts and memories of her will weigh heavily on my mind tonight. Please pray for Mary Ann.