A fun morning in the snow

While continuing the relaxing break from work on this last day of 2014, we woke up to a dusting of snow at the house. Around town was much the same with up to 8-10″. Oh yeah, we live in Southern California at about 1,000 ft. elevation; Rare, indeed. It last snowed about 10 years ago but melted just about as soon as it hit the ground. This time, it closed down roads and even the freeway.

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Don’t worry, I’m still married

Whenever I need to remember something for a short period of time, I’ll move my wedding ring from my left hand to my right one. Since it feels so strange, it encourages me act on whatever it is as soon as possible. As a result, I have a few ‘rules’ that I utilize:

  • Use it for only one thing at a time (no overloading)
  • Either do it or capture it (in OmniFocus) soon
  • Reassure my wife that I still love her

So, when you see me move my ring from one hand to the other, you don’t have to wonder.

So it was ten weeks

Back in July, I shared how the MINI I was looking to get may have to be ordered. Well it was, and after a total of ten weeks of building, shipping, transporting, and prepping, I was able to pick it up this afternoon:

MINI Cooper

Lookin’ pretty nice in the driveway

I’m getting accustomed to driving a manual transmission and how it drives. Tomorrow, I’ll have to run a whole bunch of errands. I’m not sure what, but I’ll come up with something; far away. Now off to read the owner’s manual to figure out all the bits and knobs.

It could be two days or eight weeks

I’m a reasonable man. No shock for anyone that knows me, but I like to think through most any situation so I can determine the best option. Sure, sometimes I intuit things with only a fraction of data, but the more information I have, the better I feel.

This situation of late is related to cars. Like most every Southern California family, we have two cars; one for me and one for my wife/family. Technically, both are for the family since mine is a very practical four-door Civic, but with my commute, it’s the secondary car for the family. My daughter, however, turned 16 this past Spring and while she is only moderately interested in driving, we started the analysis of adding a third car to the mix.

With my commute, my car accumulates miles quite quickly. I log roughly 500 miles each week and while my car is holding up quite well at 180k miles, the longer I drive, the shorter its usable life becomes. With that in mind, the search began. Consumer Reports was my first stop looking at the top rated and best value cars. On a lark (isn’t that how these things always start?), I took a test drive of a MINI Cooper Hardtop. The rest of the list became irrelevant. After some continued discussion (e.g. my daughter doesn’t even have her learner’s permit yet), we sealed the deal yesterday.

Here’s where it gets interesting. They found the model I decided on at the docks near LA destined for Seattle. They made the request to trade it but it’s (on paper, at least) on the truck already. They’ll find out tomorrow if it can be successfully re-routed. If they can, I’ll be good-to-go Tuesday or Wednesday. If not, they’ll probably have to order one which will take two months.

We’ll find out tomorrow. I’ve mentally ‘moved-in’, already, so I’m on pins and needles.

Wanna see it?

Tee Hee

Tee Hee

UPDATE: It turns out that the car was already loaded on a truck and in-transit when they called on it Monday morning. They tried to re-route it as well as looking for a similar replacement. No luck. This Wednesday, they’ll place the order for my CTO MINI which will arrive in about eight weeks. Fortunately, the website has a way to track the  status of the order (i.e. in production, on ship, in dock) so I can generally know how it’s going rather than just waiting for a phone call. It reminds me of ordering something from the back of a comic book. The waiting is going to be tough.

Validation of being me

As can be easily learned as you look through my blog, I am a productivity-minded geek. I have been ‘doing’ geek for nearly my entire life and have become increasingly interested in productivity over the last 5-or-so years. That combination worked out perfectly this past weekend.

As a IT professional, I know that backups are important. If you don’t have any (or recent) backups of your data, can you really say that it’s important to you? As a serious GTD‘er, I don’t trust my memory and create repeating tasks in OmniFocus to help remember what I need to do when I need to do it.

Those two things came together to my advantage on Saturday. Friday night, OmniFocus reminded me that it’s been six weeks since I had backed up my PlayStation 3. No problem, hook up a spare USB drive, kick off a backup, and go to bed. Saturday afternoon the system died. The dreaded flashing red LED which indicates there’s a hardware component problem. Bummer. No worries, though. At work, one of the perks is being able to get a dead console repaired or exchanged for free. In about a week’s time, I should have a replacement restored and back up and running.

If you’re going to have something fail, see if you can have a recent backup of it, first.

Peter Hinssen – The New Normal

I was able to attend the Trace3 EBC a few weeks ago in Las Vegas. I can honestly say it was well worth the few days in being away from the office. One of the best speakers was Peter Hinssen whose presentation was like a long TED talk. I re-watched it with my family a week ago and they enjoyed it which confirms it’s not just me being overly geeky. If you watch it, comment below with how many slide you think make up the presentation. I might have a surprise for you.

Trace3 EBC 2013 Peter Hinssen from Trace3 on Vimeo.

This is good to think about as the world in certainly changing and you’d be best to think how so that it doesn’t take you by surprise.

A Troubling Mystery

I had an unexpected event occur yesterday and, honestly, it’s got me a bit concerned. Yesterday, while making breakfast, one of the outlets by the range started smoking. Nothing was plugged into it and nothing splashed onto it, but a trickle of smoke was there, nonetheless. After quickly throwing the breaker and allowing it to cool down I removed the faceplate and found this:



With no specific electrical experience, I wasn’t sure where to turn. I decided to stop by the local fire department to see if they had any thoughts. They didn’t have any specific comments, but did recommend talking to the local building and safety department which should provide some good perspective. If there’s some defect or age-related problem, I certainly want to know so I can take the necessary steps to remediate it.

What’s got me concerned is the unclear cause. Honestly, it’s a blessing that I was standing right next to it. If we weren’t home, there’s a chance there wouldn’t be a home to be sitting in right now to write this. Without knowing the root cause, it’s a bit hard to sleep comfortably at night.

I called building and safety today, but with the holiday, I wasn’t surprised to only get voicemail. I’ll be staying home tomorrow to see if I can learn something useful. I won’t be comfortable until I do.

 Update (02/19/13):

I visited my local city hall and spoke with a gentleman from building and safety. He was quite helpful partially due to the fact he was a professional electrician before becoming a building inspector. He mentioned that about 90% of all house fires are due to situations like this. What likely happened was that a downstream outlet was pulling some significant current that ended up arcing through the neutral screw terminal. While it was 12 gauge wire, if they aren’t screwed down tightly or completely, it can end up arcing.

At this point, I’m satisfied that the replacement outlet or any other ones won’t just spontaneously ignite (like when we’re not home), but will certainly entertain evaluating all of the kitchen outlets for proper condition. On the plus side, I now have a bonus fourth day to my three-day weekend.

Mystery solved, but eewwwwww!

My preferred method

So, our house has a detached garage in our backyard. The reason I mention that will make sense in a moment. In that garage, I keep a rat trap placed in the corner as we’ve seen evidence of rats about. No biggie. I check on it every few days and once or twice a year, I dispose of anything that falls victim to it.

About five weeks ago, the rat trap (show left) was missing. Since it’s near some cabinets, I suspected that a trapped rat dragged it behind one of the pedestal. Nope. Under the shelves? No. Next to some bags? Uh uh. It was just gone. Very strange, indeed.

This past weekend I was working on the pond and I saw something at the bottom. I believed that one of the fish had died. Unfortunate, but it happens. When I went to scoop it out, something didn’t look right. I first noticed the nose and whiskers and then quickly saw the trap hanging off the right shoulder. The body was a bit bloated, but that’s to be expected.

I’m glad the mystery is finally solved, but, man, what a way to go.

Schoolin’ online

With my two kids at 15 and 12, we’ve been discussing and evaluating the options in higher education. There’s no question that things have changed considerably since I attended university. As a hiring manager, I can attest that while a degree is important, a brick-and-mortar degree isn’t all that necessary. It’s about what you’ve done rather than where you did it.

We’re investigating online options which will be an adventure. Meanwhile, here’s an interesting infographic from The 5 Biggest Myths About Online Learning:

Thanks, Patrick

Patrick (2002-2012)

I’m thankful that I was able to spend the last ten years with such a loving dog; Even if he was a big, dumb, dork-dog (a family reference).

I’m not sure how we’ll know when UPS is here. We’ll have to find a way, I guess.