Archive for January, 2006

Sometimes our personalities come through our choices in strange ways.
For example, my wife is an English Literature major and an avid Jane Austen reader.  Jane Austen’s first book was:
        Sense and Sensibility
I am a computer geek and science fan.  I am fascniated by fractals (the Mandelbrot curve in particular).  One of my favorite books to date — and the first book I purchased in Florida – is:
        CHAOS: Making a New Science 
        by James Gleick
Such is life in our household.  Any questions?
btw… This is my first attempt at using the Amazon Associates program.  PLEEEEAAAAASE don’t feel any pressure to buy the above books, but if you do, and do so through this page, I get a little percentage. Kudos to Brenda for leading me to this functionality!  :)
We went to Fort Lauderdale to see King Tut this weekend.  The journey started out feeling a little cursed.  Note the following:
  • I was approached late on Thursday with the apparent news that I’d need to work the weekend.  I’m in right now, but leaving as soon as my program finishes (yes, at 10:30pm on Sunday night).  While I was away on bereavement, the project I’m working right now apparently got a bit intense.
  • Thursday night found Michelle with a 3-day migraine (which, as I type, is going into its fourth day).
  • I came home late on Friday, and we got turned around at 7pm to start our 3.5 hour drive.  We drove through Wendy’s, and before she could take a sip, a highway entry ramp’s turn launched Michelle’s Biggie iced tea out of the cup-holder, toward me.  It fell short, landing upside down INSIDE HER PURSE!  You may remember when a remote control survived a dip in iced tea.  Well, a Blackberry is a bit more sensitive.
  • When we got near the hotel, we had to drive down very dark streets, past a "Covenant House", to find it.  I was very concerned.  People were dismantling a car in the back parking lot.

Curse dispelled:

  • My boss worked with those making the demands to give me the weekend free-and-clear.  It was my choice to come in tonight and get things "cleaned-up" in time for start of business tomorrow.
  • Michelle’s migraine caused her much pain, but she’s a serious trooper.  I offered to take the boys and leave her at home, but she really wanted to see Tut.  She relaxed by the pool while the boys and I swam.  She said it was better than sitting at home in pain.
  • OK, well, the Blackberry’s still apparently a goner.  But the van is pretty-much unscathed.  There are no stains that we could find.  Michelle’s ID and other stuff from the purse appears to have dried pretty well.  32 ounces of iced tea could have REALLY made things unpleasant had the purse not sacrificed itself.  Speaking of the purse, it looked alright to me, but I haven’t really looked it over.  That has yet to be determined.
  • The hotel area looked entirely different in the daylight.  It was lacking in streetlights, but it was all aging little hotels, with character, from the 40′s through the 60′s by my guess.  The car that was being dissected the night before was there in the morning, and people were trying to FIX it.  It had apparently been tough to start the night before.
I found the exhibit very interesting, but others in our group were disappointed.  There were many items from Tutankhamen’s entire family, and some of them made early Egyptian culture seem quite warm considering the harsh nature in which it is normally portrayed.  Some of the statues were smiling (a comfortable smile, not humorous).  They had children’s chairs and model ships.  Granted, they were still quite serious.  Much of the art depicted their enemies literally underfoot.
The standard painted gold face you see associated with Tut was there, but in miniature.  There was a sarcophagus used to store his liver which looked exactly like the full size one.  But the main one for his body was represented in video only (a full size image on a table which showed the many layers of sarcophagi in which he was enshrouded).  This was the source of Drew’s disapointment.
By the way, according to the exhibit, Tut was not murdered.  He appears to have died from an infection started by a broken leg.  The "wounds" to his head were administered after his death, probably by the team exhuming his body.
I don’t get it… the whole new thing is pretty cool looking, but it seems awfully beta.
I like the requests and the pictures on the comments, but shouldn’t we be able to leave comments?  Neat isn’t so neat if it doesn’t work at all.  And they put a little "|false|" tag at the top that threw off the alignment on my graphic.  Looks like a "Debug.Print" slipped through.
I hope they work these out soon.  I have random things I need to say!
We packed Dad’s van and headed south
Said a final good-bye to my father’s house
The end of an era was now at hand
There’d be no more Ben and his big red van.
In the passenger seat I found myself struck
By the memory of his Bell System truck.
Against company rules, he would take us for rides.
With each turn all the tools would slam side to side.
Every day back then he walked to work through a slum,
Though riddled with crime, he encountered not one.
And I think it was his nature, the look on his face
Was warm enough that he stayed safe, even in that place.
He was at home on the beach, by the waves, in the sand
With his family or dog, or his camera in hand.
And the Rockaways stayed beautiful, though the town fell apart.
With his pictures he proved it, those images came from his heart.
I reflected on the past few days,
All the lives he touched in so many ways,
At his wake we gathered, eight hours in all
And at any given time, people stood wall to wall.
The union guys showed from CWA1106 and 1104,
Members of his recent choir and from St. Mary’s before,
The staff of the diner where he ate every day,
And friends I barely remembered from Far Rockaway.
He organized reunions for his Seminary Bretheren
Bringing some separated by years back together again.
Recent years found him in Arizona and New Mexico
Helping his Brothers build homes for some poor Navaho
It was as if my dad had been everywhere
And the people he knew made sure they were there.
They all had their stories to tell of this man
Who was always there to help in his big red van.
We know that he’s now back together with Mom,
And his grandson and brother and others who’ve gone.
But he’s really still with us in everyone who knew the man
And I’ll think of him daily every time I see his van.

© 2006 – EricAtRandom


I'm back…

Well, I’m back again.  I don’t have anything to post at this point, but I’ll fill you in on where I’ve been.


On December 21st, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer.  The outlook was positive and we were hopeful for recovery and praying for remission.  He entered the hospital soon after the New Year.  Two days before he passed, a plan was established for radiation treatments and chemotherapy. 


I decided to wait for a release date and go to New York to help him when he came home.  Then, overnight on January 10th, he was taken to the ICU for high CO2 levels in his bloodstream and put on a BiPAP to help him build up oxygen.  Things were looking good in the morning, but his heart stopped midday on the 11th.  During the resuscitation effort, it is suspected he suffered a stroke, as he never regained consciousness.  The BiPAP was not enough, and he was put on full assisted breathing.  I flew up on the 12th and spent the night with him and my sisters.  He passed away just before 9am the following morning.  It was just him, my sisters and I at that time, and his passing was peaceful and apparently without duress on his part.  We are thankful that he did not suffer through all the cancer treatments if this was to be the end result, but we never expected to lose him so soon. 


When I am up to it, I will share with you what a wonderful and influential person we lost that day.

Due to a recent death in the family, I may not be posting for a week or two.  Thank you for understanding.

I got my license plate in July of 2004.  I’d heard about the new Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie coming out and was afraid other aficionados would jump on themed plates as the news spread.  The plate “ANSWR 42” was taken, so I settled on “ANSR 42”.  In that time, I have been approached just once by someone who recognized it (other than through me).  He’s a British fellow who works in my building.  At traffic lights, I watched in the rear view mirror for someone to see it and smile, and I never saw a glimmer of recognition.


Well, today, it finally caught a stranger’s eye.  I was at a traffic light, and a woman pulled up behind me.  She laughed outright, causing me to hit every memory button on my radio to find what was so funny – to no avail.  Then, she pulled out a cell phone with a camera and carefully aimed it at the back of my car.  She pushed a button, examined the screen for a moment, laughed again, and put the phone away.



I want everyone to know that, while I enjoyed the film, I don’t feel it captured the essence of the radio show (the original medium in which it was presented).  I have followed this story from its inception in 1979 through today… radio series, book, BBC TV miniseries, Infocom video game, and film (sorry, I missed the stage play and graphic novel).  This is why you see referrals back to the story.  In the final novel, we meet the main character’s daughter, and her name is Random just like my blog. 


I apologize to my wife and my co-workers, who had to live with me during the making of the film and the revival of the radio series to cover the remaining novels.  I was only slightly more obsessive during that time.

The Ideal
  • The kids get their homework done. 
  • Between homework and 8:30pm, they play video games (in direct violation of the "no games on school nights" rule as incentive to finish quickly). 
  • They calm down to bedtime snacks between 8:30 and 9pm. 
  • They go to bed — lights out by 9:15.
The Compromise
  • The kids get their homework done, too slowly for gaming.
  • Calm down with bedtime snacks between 8:30 and 9pm.
  • They go to bed — lights out by 9:15.


  • The kids get their homework done… sometime.
  • They go to bed… eventually.


  • The kids start homework at 7pm (older two only — youngest is in PreK)
  • Youngest demands Superman movie.  I think… OK, I’m free to help with homework.
  • Youngest runs around the house, yelling joyfully and demanding that I watch Superman with him.
  • Oldest and middle children both jabbering for help with homework at the same time.  I can’t hear myself think, but the youngest has raised both the volume and velocity of his yelling/running.
  • Help middle child with spelling sentences.  Oldest yells along with youngest, distracting middle one all along.
  • Help oldest with math homework.  He wants to discuss philosophies about what’s really better… spending less per ounce of cereal for the 24oz box or not ending up with four extra ounces at a lower overall price when you didn’t need the extra four ounces to begin with.
    "Is it really cheaper, Dad?  You spend more per ounce on the 20oz box, but you still spend more money on the 24oz box."
    "The question asked, ‘Which is the better buy?’, not ‘Which is cheaper overall?’."
    "Well, if you ask me, the better buy is NOT wasting money on four ounces you’ll never use."
    "Who said you’d never use it?"
    "Well, if you needed more than 20oz, why would that box even be there?  You wouldn’t buy a 20oz box if you needed 22 or 24 ounces!"
  • Youngest is silent and absent.  Panic ensues.  Panic justified… the "Cadoo" games given to them in their Burger King meals are scattered ALL over the living room (yeah, I took ‘em to Burger King — mistake number 1!).
  • We get math done… "But Dad, I have vocabulary prompt!"  Dad takes the Lord’s name in vain — on the inside.  "Vocabulary prompt" is writing a story based on a new vocabulary word and takes him FOR-EVER!  This kid is RANK and needs a shower desperately before bed!
  • It’s now 9:30, and no homework is completely finished.  I get out the video camera and make the video in the Media Player.  It was to be a heartfelt video.  The kids spontaneously come up with their own surprise ending.
  • Homework done, showers taken, snacks administered, and the kids are in bed… 10:15pm.  Morning wake-up call is going to be fun!

Hope you enjoy the movie, Dear.  And everyone else, too.  No, no, Hon… I don’t mean for you to enjoy everyone else.  I want them to enjoy the movie too.  What’s this?  Oh yeah… Joe’s (my neighbor) bottle opener is still hanging off my keychain from the last time he house-sat.  I think I can find a use for this.

Edit:  Sorry… you missed the movie.  It was a limited engagement.  Some new Media Player entertainment will appear shortly, I’m certain.

Here’s an e-mail from Michelle.  It came with 8 pictures, which are in the photo album.  Sounds like she’s having a good time out there!
Hi everyone,
Here are some pictures I took at Hong Kong Disneyland today.  It was cloudy and cool so I want to take some more on a sunnier day, but it gives you a good idea of what the park looks like (very much like Disneyland in California).
We had a fun time today and it felt good to walk around after the long flight.  We are really busy tomorrow with meetings at Disneyland and in downtown Hong Kong, so we took the chance to go today.
It is very nice here and we have to keep reminding ourselves that we are in China (not in California).


Stephen got a digital camera for Christmas, and he’ll be taking an art class focusing on digital picture manipulation (at his age, I think they let us switch from finger-painting to brushes!).  So, I asked him, "Do you want a website like mine to put your pictures on?"  The answer was a resounding "YEAH!"
It took a little while, but here it is!  The only problem I have is that his pictures are better than mine.  Perhaps I should crouch down to his height when taking pictures. :)