May 06, 2001

Back from Cambridge

Posted by Scott at 05:00 PM
      It's hard to believe it's only been two months since the big surprise snowstorm that shut down VAutomation for a day. 24 inches of snow in about the same number of hours. Today I took a picture of our house. The tree out front was covered in white stuff, but it wasn't snow. It was in full bloom, full of white blossoms. Last week saw several days that hit 90+ degrees, which is very unusual for New Hampshire, especially in May. Several temperature records were broken on many occasions last week. Luckily that heat wave is temporarily over. This last weekend was in the 70s and sunny and the first few days of this week should be pretty much the same.
      My trip to Cambridge went pretty smoothly. Going out the only hiccup was that the taxi was two hours late. I swear they only deployed him when we landed and called in to ask where he was! The flight back went more smoothly but was longer due to the headwind. I did see some good movies on the flights (The Sixth Day, The Family Man, and Bagger Vance). Of course, if you checked in last week you saw the pictures I took while there. The area's history was truly amazing, but I really didn't get to see it all that much. It rained almost the entire time we were there. On the morning of our last day there, the sun came out early in the morning and I darted out to get those pictures before breakfast with the other ARC Bluetooth trainees.
      Work was a bit chaotic when I returned. You can imagine the backlog of support questions that can build up. I'm barely ahead of them without a weeklong trip to England... but there were a few nice incidents at work. We did have an informal celebration of Cinco de Mayo, for instance. I did get to have lunch with Mr. Russell and find out how his job hunting is going.
      Back on the home front, what can I say. The boys are growing rapidly; becoming "chunky monkeys". Claire is making good progress on the reading and writing front. Abby turned three years old on the day I returned from the UK. Today Claire and I finished another of her abridged story books. This one was Oliver Twist. Boy! That story has too many characters to keep straight.
      On a different front... after taking a break for a few months I resurrected my work on the old laptop from work. It's part of the tinkering in me. It's a worthless old Pentium 133 with 32MB RAM and a 1.3GB hard drive (I think). Many months ago I got started into building it into a standalone Linux operating system laptop. Unlike Microsoft Windows, it's easy to fit Linux and give it just enough creeping featurism to fit your environment. Few people would put Windows 2000 on a machine like this. You can't trim it down for older hardware very well. But currently it's running Linux from Mandrake quite nicely. I can drop into using a very fancy GUI (graphical user interface) if I want, but I've been experimenting with the text based tools.
      I think that we've lost an appreciation for how much horsepower high end GUIs steal from the computer. But if you think back, you'll remember it took Microsoft years in software development and waiting for PC hardware to advance to compete reasonably well with the Apple Macintosh. It's funny to think that the "high end" workstations I used to buy at my first USAF job had 32MB of RAM and 360MB of hard disk. Now that's considered very low end (lower than this laptop!). If I stay away from graphic intense applications, this little ol' machine moves along quite nicely. Well, enough soapbox...
      Next weekend is Mothers Day. The weekend after that Grandma and Grandpa Gerrits come to visit. Peter G. will stay about a week. Donna G will stay on another 4 weeks. This should give us a big hand. Perhaps Michelle and I will get some chances to eat out together. During the second week in June my sister and her family will come out for a brief visit. Sometime after that Michelle's older sister, Gina, will come out for a visit. It will truly be a vacation for Gina because she won't be bringing her kids with her! Claire is a little sad about not seeing her cousins, but Michelle will certainly enjoy some time with Gina, kids or no kids.
      Before I go, I have to relate one funny story. We ran to the south end of town today so that we could pick up one of those small TV/VCR combo units for our bedroom. Our 11 year old VCR seemed to have bit the dust. As usual, I had the girls hit the bathroom before we left. A usual insurance policy for the experienced parent, no? We swung down to the mall area of Nashua. Abby had fallen asleep during the drive. This is the infamous "I don't need a nap" daughter. This happens so often I've lost count. So we pulled up in the parking lot at Circuit City and I took Claire in but left the rest of the family in the van. Michelle wanted to let Abby sleep and nurse the boys in relative privacy. Claire and I ran in, saw the unit we wanted right away, bought it and headed out. We came out to the van and saw Abby walking around naked inside the van. It turns out that a few minutes after Claire and I left, Abby woke up. A few minutes after that, Abby complained that she had to "go potty". At this point Michelle had a baby latched on and asked Abby to wait a minute, figuring Abby just went before the drive started about thirty minutes earlier. Before she knew it, Abby was crying because she couldn't hold it and had wet her pants. Thank goodness Abby's area is lined with towels! This was a precaution we had taken because of the winter weather. Michelle stripped Abby of her clothes. While doing so, one of the boys decided it was now time for his daily explosion. Michelle proceeded to change him. Michelle was so exasperated that at that point all she could do was laugh. I think if it had been me, I might have blown an internal circuit breaker in my head. ;-) You can tell God is giving her the patience only a mother can attain.