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## Such progress!

I made major strides on my coding project this morning.
After lunch the bureaucracy kicked in so it was into the car for a trip out west then a u-turn to go almost all the way downtown. The some phone calls to creditors to work things out.

The end result is maybe, just maybe, we will have some insurance for this delivery!

Now its time to set schedules with my clients and get back to programming

## Parting Words

So my final words to Sarah this morning were "bad choice of shoes."
To which she replied "I know!" as she ran through the puddles to the bus.

That sums it up quite well.

## Playmates

So yesterday Amy threw Molly's Kong Air Dog Tennis Yummy Donut and Molly picked it up and returned it to Amy who immediately laid hand on it and barked "mine!" Apparently Molly didn't agree and decided to place herself on the other side of the room (hardwood floors remember). Amy refused to let go and in a swift, almost unnatural, motion that couldn't have been put together better by a famous movie director Amy in her sleeper went to the floor with righthand still on the dog toy which was still in Molly's mouth and was drug without complaint around the room in a Superman flying style. Amy was not crying, yelling or fussing. And Molly's head was up and proud. It was a sight to see. Makes me wish I had cameras going 24/7.

## Yesterday....my troubles were so.......

Yesterday I had a hot deadline. Meet the deadline and other wonderful things regarding money could happen. Well, Tommy's IEP was scheduled for 10:30am yesterday but we had a call asking if it could move to 11:30am but then the paperwork came home noting the meeting was at 10:30am so in the morning (8:17) I called the classroom, no answer, so I called the prinicipal and left a voicemail asking for a confirmation on the meeting time. Then I called the school receptionist and was put on hold for a long time then I was told the meeting is 10:30am. Cathy arrives there and the meeting is 11:30am.

Noah was sent home sick and I managed to get him a doctor's appointment for 12:45. Slipped in a trip to the DMV after that to renew the tags on the Jeep which had expired in January.

Tommy had to be picked up from school at 3:15pm to make his 4-5:30pm group therapy. During that time I was supposed to go pick everyone else up from the house but circumstances changed the plans. I picked everyone else up at 6ish, Sarah choosing to stay home and work on "vote for me" posters, then we headed out to slip in some dinner at IHOP before moving on to get Tommy to his riding class from 7-8pm.

Since I had been up since 1am I crashed soon after arriving home. Needless to say, my deadlines were not met.

## Words of Wisdom

When your wife says, "I'm just trying to talk. Why won't you listen?" she really means that she is trying to talk. Keep your lips closed and listen!

Click here for the related article Things You'll Never Hear From Your Wife with the infamous quote "I'm just trying to have a conversation!" (you really didn't think that was a link did you?)

## Getting close!

My wife's contractions are coming more frequently and harder. As I worked this morning I took breaks on the porch in the beautifully crisp air and stared at the full moon.. the full moon! I told her that moon would cause an early delivery!

## Things to NOT say to the pregnant woman

When you are bringing the freshly spayed dog inside and telling it "you aren't supposed to leave the yard" and the pregnant wife quips "but you gave her fulltime birth control" do not reply with "so are you telling me that after my operation I can leave the yard?"

## Milestone met

Another critical milestone covered.

## Milestone met

Another milestone hit.

## Milestone met

Excellent. I hit a major milestone. Several more to go. Time dwindling. This day is heavily scheduled so things will be tough. Fortunately my coding style makes for rapid application design.

## Pick a job you enjoy and never work a day in your life!

I really enjoy my work!

I love waking up this early. It's 1:30am and I'm typing on the keyboard. If only I could do this and still manage to slip in a couple of powernaps in the day.

## Time of Renewal

So here recently I've been introspective. I've acknowledged that I have become Alice in the crossroads.

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" asked Alice.

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.

"I don't much care where," said Alice.

"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.

I evaluated my life and realized that I was out of control with growing dysfunction. I was not living my life, my life was living me. I have problems that cannot be fixed instantly. I carry debt that keeps wearing out my pack mules and crushing them. I am running out of mules. I have home repairs and improvements that need to be completed which will require enormous resources but other things are devouring my resources as quickly as they become available. The light at the end of the tunnel appeared to be fading and I was to a point that the walls wanted to start closing in.

Integrity. It wanted to slip.

Yes, I have a yes problem. I want to help everyone. I want to save the world. I want to teach and help all people grow. But I can't feed my family and still volunteer for every organization in town. I can't fight George Bush's destruction of the environment and fight for my son's education at the same time. I can't work on my yard on the same Saturday that I help build a bridge for the in-laws. I want so badly to be everything for everyone but in the end trying to do so makes you nothing as you cannot possibly live up to all the commitments. (mind you, I have the skills/training to delegate, empower and enlist the aid of others to make great thing happen but that is for another post; I cannot use those skills until I have pulled myself up first.) For awhile I must say "no"

Integrity. If I say I will do something, I mean to do it. If I fail on that commitment, I feel a great emptiness inside.

What have I done to change things? Things have changed for the better. My stress is down. I feel more organized. I could not pull myself together enough to read so I looked around and found my tapes for The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People I started listening to them in the car. I really enjoy listening to Stephen R Covey and his words reminded me of so much that I've tried to instill in myself over the years. After getting through the 7 Habits I began listening to First Things First.

Integrity. Time to clean the slate.

As an independent contractor managing cash flow is absolutely my greatest challenge. When I have a project my fulltime effort needs to be on that project but I also need a fulltime effort on finding the next project. That's living in Quad I (Important and Urgent) which leads to exhaustion. I also have a problem with trying to be too nice. I underbid projects or often allow the client to "feature creep" which is to allow additional requirements to be added at no cost nor extending the deadline. Allowing feature creep is a sure fire way to over promise and under deliver as the client will be living on original expectations of deadlines and cost.

All my life I've prided myself on honesty. To mismanage a project, ie. allow feature creep or charge too little, is not honest. It is deceptive to the client in that I promise something that I cannot deliver without significant sacrifice to family and/or health and it is dishonest to myself as I am doing work without recompense. I resolve myself to a new level of communication with my clients.

Integrity. Never be in debt.

I cannot make my debts magically disappear. I cannot even stop the accumulation of new debt as the pregnancy is racking up a bill with the doctors and hospital. I can, however, be in touch with my creditors. I can get them good faith payments and show a willingness to pay.

As I mentioned above, I love to give help to others. I love my talents and abilities. I've always enjoyed the themes of "Man Against Nature" and "Man Against Self." As for "Man Against Man" I generally prefer to be a passive observer preferably through a movie or book. Since I know I can do things for myself, I don't like to burden others with asking for help. It's my greatest weakness. If I would ask for and humbly accept help, I could put myself into a better position to offer help. What goes around comes around.

Integrity. Know where you are going.

When I was 8 I wanted to be an architect. This came after a brief desire to be an astronaut and firefighter of course. What boy doesn't? As I grew older my direction became less clear. I had brief purposes in life. For a short stint I was going to be a software mogul. Then I was planning on putting AOL out of the dialup business. But even these purposes were short term goals. Like Alice, if we don't decide on and write down an overall purpose for our lives, we will be destined to allow circumstances to decide our path. That is not to say that having an overall purpose to life limits you. In steering toward that purpose there can be many side trips and adventures. At one point I had consciously decided to "just go where the wind takes me." I cannot live that way anymore. It will take time and be difficult but I am going to develop a personal mission statement and live by it.

I am stepping forward. I have begun cleaning my desk both physically and metaphorically. A burden has lifted from my shoulders. As of today what has passed is behind me. I am putting First Things First.

Another test

## Questions to which I do not want answers

Why were bird feathers under the crib?

## Just incase you missed it...

Study: Fellatio may significantly decrease the risk of breast cancer in women (CNN Spoof page - no pictures)

## Oh Ambivalence!

I woke at 5:15 am and could not move until 7:15.

## Anyone seen my glasses?

So how far can eye glasses and a cell phone ride on the roof of a car? 3.9 miles (6.2 km)

The cell phone actually rode on the roof about another 3/4 mile where it was discovered still on the roof. Turning around in the car the glasses were found at a 4 way stop and survived appearing to have only been hit by a car once perhaps.

test two version 1.0 build 651

testing - pre Hello upgrade (v1.0 build 549)

## Macromedia / Adobe Merger in English

Daring Fireball has a fantastic translation of the Macromedia (MM) / Adobe press release regarding their merger.

I just spent a good deal of time in Quad II. I sent an invoice to a client. I cleaned the office (which makes me more productive) some more. In the cleaning process I found my patches for my scout leader uniform as well as other assorted goodies.

Good feeling!

An overly simplified view of Stephen R Covey's time management system called First Things First (the 3rd habit of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) is that we want to strive to life in Quad II where things are important but not urgent. In reality most of us life in Quad I where things are urgent and important and Quad III (urgent but not important--what a terrible place) and Quad IV (not urgent and not important -- television is a good example) devour our lives. How do we get to living in Quad II? Stephen says, "steal from Quad III and Quad IV" so even if its small steps the end result will be a huge improvement in your lifestyle.

For instance, last night I choose to spend some time in Quad II with my wife. We would spend quality time in bed watching television. It would be quality time because we would talk and catch up and bond. However, television sucks the quality out of quality time giving you just time which is Quad IV. As we silently watched CSI I found sleep.

A classic example would be that of the gas for the grill. I used to always have a spare tank of propane for the grill but the law prohibits the refilling of my older tank now. Refilling the gas tank should be a Quad II. It's important that the tank be filled so we can cook dinner but not urgent since we won't grill out for several days. However, procrastination can turn a Quad II task into a Quad I task in a heartbeat. We bought steaks. Steaks having a shelf life turned getting gas for the grill into both an urgent and important task.

Quad I...not a comfortable place to live. Quad I makes you fatigued. I live primarily in Quad I and frequently get sucked into Quad III (yesterday was totally Quad III) and often find myself wanting to retreat to Quad IV (last night). My time in Quad II is minimal yet I really enjoy Quad II.

## Irritated with self

I woke at 3am. I should have gotten to work but the dog was laying across my legs and I used that as an excuse to sleep until 5:30.

I had us budgetted to the penny and things were working. Got blindsided yesterday and suddenly there is big trouble. To top it off, my client that was going to "put a check in the mail Wednesday" sounds like he hasn't done that yet.

## Where did the day go?

I went to a friend's house this morning to help him with a 30 minute configuration of his wireless connection. I returned home 7 hours later and he still can't connect to the Internet.

The Windows 2000 machine will ping the router, ping yahoo and even show www.yahoo.com if you type the ip address into the browser. Domain names will not resolve! It is definitely a DNS issue with the machine as his wireless laptop connected to the access point with no problems and the other desktop connected via cat 45 no problem.

I'm beat.

## The day thus far

I rose at 3:00am and spent the first hour blogging, dog walking and posting the lottery numbers. The next part of the morning was spent exercising my brain. I figure I have to make myself my own client. Even if TN Lottery Results and Complete Lottery Info never make a dime, they are important learning tools to help me break some of the bad habits I've developed over my years of coding websites. This morning I rearranged TN Lottery Results to accommodate the new Lotto 4 game. Behind the scenes I started rebuilding the code from scratch to accommodate a clean look instead of the horror that it current is. I also started working on making the code validate which means to make code usable on any browser and adhering to standards. My next exercise was to take the database design for Complete Lottery Info from paper to computer. That is begun but will take a huge effort to complete. Now I must turn my energy to my clients.

## What happened?

My blog seems to have temporarily vanished. This makes me nervous. What would happen if blogger lost my blog? All the writings, all the links...gone. I must ponder this and may consider having it published to my own server instead of bloggers from now on. Clearing FireFox's cache fixed the problem.

## The one that made me laugh today

This one comes as a forwarded email from my brother and sister-in-law:

Mom and Dad decided that the only way to pull off a Sunday afternoon quickie with their 8 year old son in the apartment was to send him out on the balcony with a Popsicle and tell him to report on all the neighborhood activities.

He began his commentary as his parents put their plan into operation:

"There's a car being towed from the parking lot" he shouted.

A few moments passed.

"An ambulance just drove by"

A few moments later, "Looks like the Anderson's have company" he called out.

"Matt's riding a new bike....."

"The Coopers are having sex!!"

Startled, Mother and Dad shot up in bed!!!

"Jimmy Cooper is standing out on his balcony with a Popsicle too."

## Of Grasshoppers

Student: Couldn't once it just be easy?
Master: Would you appreciate it?

## Woohoo!

Stress down... My accountant said, "It's going to be ok!"

## Car fixed.

Those things need gas to keep puttering. Who woulda thunk!

## Fort Wayne Open Container Law Bans Everything

No alcohol, no soda, no chips...

## The day thus far

So far the day has included phone calls regarding insurance and other bureaucracy including calls about the elementary school bus. Knoxville needs to own their own buses. Contracted bus service is pathethic.

Use them both!

## Today's Waste of Time

An old favorite! Lemmings!

## Doing and Not Doing

What I should be doing:
• Invoicing clients
• Emailing clients that would have liked to have heard from me Monday morning
• Picking up two powersupplies from a client
• Talking to the IRS
• Balancing the books
• Programming for Client A
• Documenting for Client B
• Programming for client B
• Calling the school to make sure the bus is not causing my son tardys
• Calling the transportation department to find out why the school bus is picking up after school has already begun
• Arranging for the hospital for the baby that could come at anytime (ie. Medicade/TNCare etc)
• Cleaing the house
What I am doing:
• Trying to figure out why the car won't start

## Parenting 101: Could you pass this test?

Fifteen-year-old girl throws out-of-control party, destroys house. Man-on-the-street interviews suggest her punishment:spank her, twice So this girl throws a spring break party after her parents leave town. Much more than the 10-20 high school students invited show up. She hides in her room while the party smashes her windows, front door, and flat screen television (which they were trying to steal but it wouldn't fit through the front door so they attacked it with golf clubs instead); And "they carted out more stuff than the Grinch on Christmas Eve."

I'm stunned just trying to imagine it...

## Is Yelling Worse than Spanking?

A very thought provoking article on MSN today.
This generation has sworn they wouldn't hit their kids. The problem is, the same anger and frustration that fueled the old model of corporal punishment didn't magically vanish merely because a generation of well-meaning parents wanted it to. Instead of letting anger lead to hitting, it now often leads to shouting. But that simple act of raising our voice, depending on what we say and how often we do it, can hold the potential for long-term harm, says Murray A. Straus, a sociology professor at the University of New Hampshire.
The article asks the question "would you yell at a co-worker or a bumbling bagger at the grocery?" Our society allows for yelling at children but in other circumstances that doesn't apply. Why not extend this courtesy to children? I like their "9 Anti-Yelling Tips":
1. Defuse with humor (and that doesn't mean sarcasm)
2. Sing
4. Whisper
5. Invade your child's space (I don't like this one although I'm employed it)
6. Insist once, act immediately
7. Put yourself in time-out
8. Create a key phrase
9. Create a no-yelling rule
You can resolve a conflict without yelling in 15 steps:
Thinking Steps
1. Assess emotions
2. Accept anger, behave well
3. Gauge intensity
4. Who and what?
5. Perspective check
Talk/Listen Steps
1. Time and place
2. Avoid coalitions
3. Express appropriately
4. Listen actively
Solving Steps
1. Brainstorm solutions
2. Pros and cons
3. Decide and plan
4. Do it
5. Review/revise
Resources:

## The first hour

So the first 45 minutes of my day, begun at 4:30--almost 3:30!, have been spent confirming a quote, backing up a database for a client and beginning documentation for the client, posting lottery results, email, and some blogging. Now I'll spend 15 minutes puttering about and making some tea.

No coffee today. Maybe a coke or two.

Stephen R Covey encourages
30 minutes to an hour of stretching and cardiovascular exercise as a step toward effectiveness. I want to exercise. I like it. I have more energy and less stress. Despite all that, I can't justify it until I get a couple of things off my plate. Oh the dichotomy!

## Brain - over easy please

When a plan or a schedule slips I start to stress. When they slip badly I get a bit beyond crazed. I need today to go well.

"I love it when a plan comes together."

## Is your fire insurance up to date?

Unsafe health care in Seattle.
"The male patient, who was not identified, went up in flames after alcohol poured on his skin was ignited by a surgical instrument."
And now for bureaucratic cya and spin:
The patient died after the surgery but that was due to heart failure and not the fire, said Dr. Robert Caplan, medical quality director of Virginia Mason.
Dr. Caplan. Don't you think, in your professional opinion, that perhaps, just maybe, the patients heart failed because he was ON FIRE!?

## Of Grasshoppers

Student: The mower fails.
Master: It has not been maintained.

I'm a ColdFusion developer and wasn't sure which side of the fence to ride when MacroMedia bought Allaire. I find the purchase of Macromedia by Adobe down right exciting.

## Home Deliveries are the Best

I just got off the phone with the hospital. We are going to deliver the baby in the living room. Everyone is invited to watch!

## Getting Organized

A messy desk kills me. I haven't seen the surface of my desk in a year. I've begun the great organization. Having discovered my floor yesterday has motivated me to do more.

Dry erase addiction. I love to work with a dry erase board. I'm very visual so it helps in my teachings and presentations to draw and a dry erase board is just such a beautiful medium for planning.

Do not automatic until the manual process works! A dry erase board also helps you work out processes that can later be automated. My database designs, business rules, etc all begin on dry erase.

Yesterday I re-hung a dry erase board that had be tucked away in the garage. I instantly felt like a saved person!

## It's not the fall that kills you...

When I was a child I had the most wonderful recurring dream. I would find myself in a flat, grassy meadow. Toward where the meadow ended was a dense forest. At the end of the trees, my mother and father stood side by side with my little brother in front of them as if they were posing for a picture. Instead I was posing for the picture as they had the camera. I can't remember if I was instructed or if I just did but next I would backup slowly until I came to the other edge of the meadow which was a sharp cliff. Without hesitation or words I would turn and jump off.

The cool part of the dream is I would wake before ever hitting the ground. I would always wake with a gasp like I had been underwater. And I would be on my back bouncing in the bed as if I really fell and the bed caught me. It was an exhilarating experience and for awhile happened most nights.

Like others, this dream has long since ended.

Because of this dream, for much of my teens I was convinced that my death would be from a high fall probably in the mountains although I presume tall buildings would count. When riding my motorcycle through The Tail of the Dragon (see also) I often would ponder how easily it would be to speed off one of the cliffs and just soar through the air. I bet you could get an incredible amount of hang time! Can you imagine the inner turmoil as the ground rushed up and you mentally fought to stay in the air or struggled to convince gravity that you'd changed your mind?

It is no secret that I'm a thrill seeker; an adrenaline junkie. I like the edge. I like to try to explore my limits. Spelunking, rappelling, and rock climbing have all put me on the verticle side of cliffs. Although I've had the pleasure of stalling a glider plane at 1219 meters, I have yet to experience a hang glider or parachuting.

Shortly after my nervous breakdown I took a job in downtown Knoxville at a building with a 5 story parking garage attached to it. The people I worked with were serious smokers and would take their smoke breaks upon the roof of the parking garage. The edge of this parking structure was a nearly chest high with the top of this wall being flat and nearly 40 cm across. I did not smoke but would join them for conversation. My favorite place to be was on this wall and I would get there by taking a few quick strides and launching myself atop it. I guess as I looked down this roughly 16.5 meter drop that I received some thrill. I don't know why I was doing it. One slip. One trip. One mistake would have fulfilled that childhood prediction of my end.

Don't get me wrong. I wasn't hoping for a mistake. I know my bounds and stay confined to them. My margins of safety just extend a little beyond the comfort zone of most people. I'm still a thrill seeker. I like the rush. Now that I have a wife and children who depend on me, my margins have been reeled in a bit but probably are still outside most people's comfort zone.

## Poop Snacks

The outdoor cat has taken to using our mulch bed as a litter box which is better than just squating in the front yard like she did in the past.

The dog has taken to using our mulch bed as an hors d'oeuvres tray.

## Lost Phone Found

Cathy has a meeting at 7pm (11.6 km round trip). I have to get Tommy to STAR by 7pm (51.5 km round trip). Sarah is with her best friend. Amy is going to go with Cathy. And Noah is going with me. 6:30 ding! And they're off. "Tommy go sit in the car!" "Dad, change Amy's diaper" "Amy lie down. Wow, you have to take this whole thing off to get to the diaper." "Someone let the dog out." "Just pee-pee Daddy. No poop." "Should I go to the car." "No[, you'll fight with your brother]." "Where's my ____?" "Do I get in the car or the Jeep?" "Someone buckle Amy in." "Noah hold this towel." "Ok. Noah go to the Jeep. Take Molly with you but don't get in. Just stand beside it." "Come on Amy." "Where are the dog leashes?" Place leashes, towel etc on hood of Jeep. "Ok Molly. Shake. Shake with the other paw. Clean your back paws." "Should I let Noah in?" "Not until Molly is in." Move stuff from hood to inside. "Bye dear! Love you!" "Molly's clean. Now get in Noah." 6:37. Two cars to two different exits of the neighborhood.

Where's my phone?! Must have left it in the red car. Rush back to the house call Cathy. "Nope. I just tried calling you and would have heard it ring." Walk around the house dialing my phone over and over but its nowhere. Even if it was on vibrate I'd hear it. So tonight our errands had me phoneless.

Finally upon getting home I search the house once more and resolve myself to walk the neighborhood in hopes that it fell from the hood into a nearby neighbor's yard. I get the urge to check the red car once more and on first try hear nothing. Then on the second attempt I think I detect a vibration. Sure enough. Third attempt and I start triangulating the rhythmic pulses but can't seem to narrow it down. It's not between the seat cushion or in the car seat nor in the back of the car or the floor boards. Slowly, my eyes look upward. I gaze at the ceiling as the vibration seems to emanate ever so loudly. Slowly I exit the car and as the climatic music of 2001: A Space Odyssey plays in my head I peer on the roof of the car to discover my cell phone with its little LED flashing "12 missed calls".

## Productivity!

I turned a Quad IV into a Quad II! I had a small panic attack and didn't want to work so I turned toward office cleaning and made some major headway! I found floor!

## The Day Thus Far

Just incase you live in the nine counties and didn't hear, my daughter wants M&Ms.

This morning Sarah missed the bus again. My fault for leaving the house late and it took a full hour to get her to school and back (that included some sitting and waiting for the bus time). I returned to find that I had written down my client meeting in my calendar as 9:00am but was basing my travel time on the 9:30am written on the family calendar. Met the client for 2 hours then went to KUB and got frowned at. Apparently my offering wasn't large enough. Returned home to try to save Cathy from Amy the Destructor. Two days of folding clean clothes have been launched from the couch and all bedrooms demolished.

The next 45 minutes will be on lunch and trying to slip in some cleaning. Then I spend the rest of the afternoon frantically trying to get programming done.

## Yesterday's Home Repair

I'm trying to make one home repair a day. Yesterday I cleared the clog in the condensation drain and reattached the pipe (using duct tape!). The a/c is on!

## Late Start

I woke at midnight, 2am, 3:30, and 4 but could not pull myself from bed until 4:45. I need to start running.

## Buzzed

I've hit that "I'm really too tired but must keep on going" stage.

## Another milestone!

I hit another milestone. Now users can only have 1 test in progress at a time. If a "new test" is begun all old attempts are removed. My error? I was recording the new attempt then deleting all unpassed attempts (which happened to include my freshly started new attempt).

## Heartbreak

This is killing me. Amy is bawling because she wants to go outside and play but she's not dressed and I'm trying to get something major completed in the next half hour so I can get an email off by close of business.

I'm denying her the outside. That's evil!

## Afternoons are hard

I've probably been at the computer a good 9 hours today which rocks. But I could stand to put in another 14 hours. The afternoons particularly on these beautiful days are just so hard especially at task changing time. Focus. Focus. Focus!

## Re-grouping

I have hit a good stopping point on one task and am now refocusing on the next major programming task. Accomplish feels good!

## Major Progress!

YES! I learned much about using the PHP function usort() to sort arrays of objects. Much fun! I'll have to write it up sometime. That was a major roadblock and super milestone for one client.

## Hiking in the Smokies

Yesterday I had the pleasure of hiking in the Smokies with 9 women!

We started out by using my favorite shortcut through Metcalf Bottoms to get to the Sugarland Visitor's Center where the Girls Scouts had the unique pleasure of speaking with Toni, the oldest Ranger in the park. Toni's grandmother raising 13 children by herself owned acreage across the street from where the Visitor's Center now sits and sold the land to the government for $11 an acre then turned to servantship for the rich women of Pigeon Forge. She spoke to the girls of "Leave No Trace" and took questions. It was quite a treat for the girls (although they may not appreciate it for years to come) and I've never heard them so quiet. I followed Toni's talk with a quote from the forward of Caves of Tennessee Take nothing but pictures; Leave nothing but footprints; [Waste]* nothing but time. *I remembered the quote wrong. "Waste" should have been "Kill". I could have listened to Toni for hours! We started our hikes at the Sugarland Nature Trail which is a paved path slightly less than a mile long and circular. The book Great Smoky Mountains National Park Scavenger Hike Adventures and Mountain Journal by Kat LaFevre and John LaFevre kept the "I'm bored"s at bay and encouraged the girls to move along the trail. We had lunch at Noah Ogle's house.(see picture and see some of the hike). The amount of vandalism was depressing. Please don't write or carve on historic structures! Your damage cannot be undone! We hiked the more rugged 1.2 kilometer trail. The girls were so noisy that I believe all the wildlife in the Smokies quite possibly ran to the Rockies. In trying to keep the group together and help them be observant of the nature around them, I was just as loud or louder than the girls. As if to prove a point to them, a deer showed up on the trail. After that the girls were very quiet! We also saw fresh, what we thought to be, bear cub prints in the mud. This makes me think perhaps it was a fox. A great time was had by all! Of course, we ended our day at Little Rivers for ice cream. ### Saturday, April 09, 2005 ## (*&$ Blogger!

I just spent 20 minutes writing a beautiful post to have it vanish into the ether!

The lesson: Before publishing a post, cntl-a to select all, then if the post fails you can try again with a cntl-v to paste your post.

## Extraverted Hermit

I grew up moving a lot. Each move represented a promotion for Dad and a greater opportunity for the family. We moved from a termite infested efficiency to a house my grandfather rented to us to our first owned fixer-upper property (much akin to the house I own now) to our newly built house to our first built-to-spec two-story Jamestown to a nice brick home on a wooded lot in Germantown, TN. From there I went to college and the moving around becomes somewhat a different story.

Each move to me represents a definitive chapter in my life telling a story of growth, moral lessons, trials and tribulations, happiness, sadness and an array of other Hollywood type themes. With each move, the extravert in me emerged more and more. My desire to have friends squelched any shyness until my junior year of high school. I was a sophomore in New Jersey and a junior in Tennessee. I started off with a desire to focus on studies and ignore people as we would just be parting company in a matter of two years. Little did I know that about half the 674 people in my graduating class would come with me to Knoxville. No matter; I could not contain the extravert.

A side-effect of the moving was that I didn't develop a history. I didn't get to know my family and could not appreciate their roots, my ancestors, nor could I carry on any of their legacies. Likewise, my friends could not know or share my history. Others, the hometowners, would tell shared stories that spanned their entire lives. I had trouble developing bonds with people. No matter how badly I wanted closeness of a friend or girl friend, no matter how badly I wanted to develop platonic or even emotional relationships I just could not overcome a sense of distance, unacceptance, separation, and alienation. Something always seemed to be missing.

When I was about 11, the neighborhood kids gathered for a game of baseball. I wasn't invited. In hindsight, probably nobody was...they probably just gathered. I had a red bike I named Mickey because it had a big sticker of Mickey Mouse on it; in a similar way I named our gray cat, Gray; and our cat with two different colored paws, TwoPaws; and this is why I'm not allowed to name our children. I rode my bike back and forth near the yard where the game was being played becoming more and more incensed that here I was in plain view yet I still was invisible to the people I wanted so desperately to call "friends." Finally someone, a girl named Angie I think, looked up and asked if I wanted to play. My reward had come! But I could not accept it. I had to snub them they way they snubbed me so I declined and rode off to spend some alone time. Yes, in hindsight it was a rather demented way to think.

I was always at peace with myself particularly if I was surrounded by nature. I would go to a pond, climb a tree and sleep in its branches. I found solace on the tops of buildings at shopping centers. I disappeared in acres of undeveloped woodlands trying to get lost. I hung out at Lake Pontchartrain playing on the levees and rested spread eagle on my back at the end of the airport runway watching 737s take off 100 feet over my head. I danced near the railroad tracks trying to convince myself to hop on a boxcar and see where it would go but in the end I was more interested in finding my smashed pennies than explaining to Dad why I needed to be flown home from Chicago.

Similar feelings and experiences carried over to college but that's a different story. In the past I intentionally kept myself closed to the world and was an emotionless husk. I did not want closeness. Today I am a far different person with great openness and emotionally exposed. However, when the stress and tension rises I find myself having to fight hard to not retreat within. It would not be healthy for my family but sometimes I just want to shut myself off from the rest of the world.

[Note: On the same day as the baseball game I found a key in the road in Kenner, LA that some 7 or 8 years later would open the trunk of my newly purchased Triumph Spitfire 1500 in Germantown, TN.]

## Bizarre Error Message of the Day

"managed MAPI service catastrophic error"

First bit of research brings up to this site with these possibilities:
1)
The message « Managed MAPI Service Catastrophic Failure » appears to come from a wrong configuration from the Anti-Spam feature of Norton internet security.

To test if this applies to you can:

Launch Symantec Internet Security from the “active icon bar” or how ever your PC is setup;
Click the “Norton Antispam” button;
Click on the “Allowed list” link;
Click on the “Configure” button;
Click the “Import Address Book” button;

In doing so you should see the message « Managed MAPI Service Catastrophic Failure » appear …. Answer OK (once or more depending on how many MAPI are wrongly configured)… And the last message would be “Norton AntiSapm did not find any new addresses”; click OK…. And “OK”; And proceed to next step….

To correct the problem you can configure your Anti-Spam and remove unused services:

From the area titled “Email”, click the “Client integration” button;
In this window, make sure only services you are using are checked; (Outlook, outlook express….); Click OK when done;

To test if configuration is correct, click the “Import address book” again, the message should no longer appear; if you have unchecked the correct services…

The response: OK, cool, that works.
2)
It is an Outlook problem! Delete the 'Business Manager Contacts' data file and you are smooth sailing. It really is as simple as that. It took me 2 weeks to figure this out. I saw some info on the web that the Busines Manager Contacts feature causes probelms, but not
3)
Are you using Outlook 2003.
Symantec's web site says this is a known problem, run live update
Mine went away through the use of magic. (And having Outlook already open when I tried to send email from MapPoint)

## Save a tree for my son

It makes me so sad to see needless construction. Satellite imagary shows acres of woods behind my neighborhood being torn down to build houses. That acreage should be preserved and used to connect 4 neighborhoods by greenways and trails. It would be astounding to have a habitat for deer and birds and other wildlife in this part of town that several neighborhoods could enjoy all the while connecting these neighborhoods to the Rocky Hill baseball field.

Once its gone, it's gone for good.

And what's more sad is that I don't have the time, money, energy or political prowess to do anything about it. In my apathy I haven't even tried calling the Greenways Commission.

## Attempted Amputations

I tried Jack's amputation technique last night (see also Lost and Do No Harm). Fortunately, I still have my thumb but this morning it is sore!

I've started listening to Stephen R Covey's audio tapes again. I feel that I need the review. Instantly I receive a gold nugget that I've longed since misplaced. Stephen advises that once a week we have our children teach us something they have learned in school. That by doing so, the roles are reversed as the parent becomes the student and the child has a greater feeling of self-worth and importance; the child takes a greater interest in the subject matter; and the child's performance will improve.

This morning I told Tommy I wanted him to teach me something he was learning in school and suggested math. His initial response was to mutter dejectedly, "you probably already know how..." But after I assured him I genuinely wanted him to teach me, he about jumped out of his shorts. He became energized and excited. He said, "I'm learning...well, I don't know what its called but I'll find out today." then he exclaimed, "Yippee! I get to be the teacher!" I was blown away. Now if I can only be a good parent and have the patience and memory to follow thru.

## Progress! and delays

Over came a hurdle on one project today!

In other matters a project of roughly $X was delayed as the client recalculated their schedule and re-estimated the project at$3X.

Having an off day like me? Sugar levels wrong? Ambivalence gotcha? Then you need further distraction! Try the Kitty Cannon! Or an even more fun game brought to us by James! (James' is better as it has more user control over the distance)

## Interesting...

Strangely enough, that first domino fell again...

(and that's Murph in action! We needed the cell phones desperately yesterday!)

## More reason for regular sex! Prolactin!

Fend Off Dementia with Sex, Crosswords and a Run
CANBERRA (Reuters) - Sex, cryptic crosswords and a good run could help ward off dementia and other degenerative conditions by stimulating new brain cells, an Australian researcher said Thursday.
...mental and physical exercise helped create and nurture new nerve cells in the brain, keeping it functional and warding off diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
[Turn on your best Monty Python] Through careful and repeated experimentation researchers did find it inadvisable to try all three at the same time. One researcher commented, "We had decent luck with simultaneous crosswords and sex particularly with certain positions such as the 'doggie' and, my personal favorite, the 'woman on top'. Running and simultaneously solving crosswords sometimes worked but often ended with injury. Running and sex just plain looks silly. Doing all three activities at the same time proved to be disastrous!"
prolactin appeared to promote new cells in the brain and could be found in high levels in pregnant women
Perhaps that explains some of the more laughable behaviors of pregnant women. They are simply trying to learn how to use their new brains!

## Acting Presidential

Ever get the impression that the White House just doesn't have the class that it did in the past?
April 7, 2005 -- VIDEOTAPE of Jenna Bush in very high spirits at a bachelorette party is being sold and could end up on national TV by the end of the week. Luckily for Jenna, the cameraman missed "the high point . . . Jenna on all fours doing 'the butt dance' — and doing it very well — as guys were ogling her thong."
You know, if my daddy was president I think I could keep a clean nose and act appropriately for a 4-8 years.

## Bloody 'ell

Heading to the ER. The blood stopped so did we. The ER won't deal with him if its not pouring out but man if we had have showed up the way it was pouring this morning I bet we'd be at the front of the line!

## Tight Schedule Today

Computer repair in the morning, programming throughout the day, Pack meeting this evening.

## Kindness

At 12:01am yesterday the second domino fell then miraculously I had the sudden ability to right either the first or second domino but not both and before I was faced with that choice, apparently some kind soul righted the first domino and I was able to right the second. I didn't have time to look into it yet but my thanks goes out to you.

## Where does one find powdered resin?

In my post on Making Bird Calls I forgot to mention the grief we went through trying to locate "powdered resin" Today someone found my blog by searching google for "bird caller resin to purchase" so others must be having the same grief.
MATERIALS: 2" hardwood, eye screw, resin powder

Take a close grained hardwood such a rock maple or mountain ash, about 2" long.
Drill a hole in one end, slightly smaller than the screw threads of your eye screw. Turn the eye screw into it. Unscrew the eye, put a little resin powder in the hole. As you twist the screw back and forth in the hole, very slowly, you can make a chirp chirp or trill in loud, clear notes.
With practice, this device will produce an astounding variety of bird noises.
Paint or decorate if desired.
Elective 12h in the Bear Handbook
To those searching, the powdered resin that worked for us was simply the resin bag that a baseball player or bowler would use. Buy it at Amazon. Perhaps climber's chaulk would work also. We did not tear the bag open rather we placed it on the eye screw and shock the sack a little. When the screw was white with powder the scout put it into the block of wood for a 2nd time and chased birds.

The calls do work and work well. I want to make one for myself now.

## Why is there not a pill replacement for sleep?

I'd much rather take a pill that does to my body what sleep does. An occasional night's real sleep would be nice like an occasional vacation is nice but for the most part I'd rather be doing than sleep.

On that note, I overslept last night going down about 10pm and waking at 6am. Thank you wife for the wakeup call!

## It begins...

The first domino fell tonight.

## Domestic Terrorists Urge the Destruction of America Thru the Elimination of Civil Liberties and Basic Freedoms Without Checks and Bounds

Officials Urge Renewal of Patriot Act
The Bush administration's two top law enforcement officials on Tuesday urged Congress to renew every provision of the anti-terror Patriot Act. FBI Director Robert Mueller also asked lawmakers to expand the bureau's ability to obtain records without first asking a judge.
FBI Director Robert Mueller of course is the reincarnation of J Edgar Hoover
"What are the dangers to a democracy of a national police organization, like the FBI, which operates secretly and is unresponsive to public criticism?" - The essay question that pissed off Hoover. It was optional question number 7 on UC's 1959 English aptitude test for high school applicants. See: Reagan, Hoover and the UC Red Scare - a SF Chronicle Special Report "Secret FBI files show how the bureau's covert campaign to disrupt the Free Speech Movement and topple UC President Clark Kerr helped launch the political career of an actor named Ronald Reagan"
Let's review these words "asked lawmakers to expand the bureau's ability to obtain records without first asking a judge." Incase you don't get it, they are asking for unbarred permission to outright spy on the American people using "terrorism" as a scare tactic to encourage you to give up your rights. Terrorism has been around for decades. The Patriot Act is not helping.
He said that some of the most controversial provisions of the Patriot Act have proven invaluable in fighting terrorism and aiding other investigations.
I'd like to see some evidence supporting this.
He also asked Congress to expand the FBI's administrative subpoena powers, which allow the bureau to obtain records without approval or a judge or grand jury.
More requests to open opportunity to the abuse of privileges and the harassment of the American people without checks and bounds.
In one of his concerts, Bruce Springsteen said, "Blind faith in your leaders, or in anything, will get you killed." Never was a truer word spoken, and it is particularly correct at this time.
Now is not the time for ambivalence. Now is not the time for apathy. Now is not the time for blind faith in your leaders! Now is the time to be political. Stand up for your rights. Contact your congress person today!
Other quotes:
"Cooler heads can now see that the Patriot Act went too far, too fast and that it must be brought back in line with the Constitution," said Gregory Nojeim, associate director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington legislative office.

(AP) Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testifies on reauthorization of the Patriot Act before the...
Full Image

The ACLU is part of an unusual coalition of liberal and conservative groups, including the American Conservative Union, that have come together in a joint effort to lobby Congress to repeal key provisions of the Patriot Act.

Among the controversial provisions is a section permitting secret warrants for "books, records, papers, documents and other items" from businesses, hospitals and other organizations.

...criticism has led five states and 375 communities in 43 states to pass anti-Patriot Act resolutions...

Even some Republicans are concerned.

...the central concern of opponents, which is that it allows the government to seize records of people who are not suspected terrorists or spies.

Gonzales also notes that the law has been used in non-terrorism cases.

## Terrorists Supplant Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush praises Scientologists. I can hear his brother George now saying, "That ain't my brother. Goss git on down to Florida I think terrorists have body snatched my brother. They know the Republicans can't win in 2008 without Florida!"

## Make regular backups

You really should backup your computer so that you don't become this guy. Warning! Vulgarities in the audio.

## Featured Site

I love the colors on Princess Ponderings! I typically don't like busy backgrounds but in this case it adds so much to her design. I think she did a great job!

## There is a house, er parking garage, in New Orleans

...they call The Rising Sun

## Yummy and Dreams

I tried the vanilla tease last night and it was quite good! I used to own a tea strainer. I wonder if I still do.

Last night my dreams were technicolor, brilliant and vivid!

## Logs Sawed

I went to bed at 10pm last night and watched some television with the wife. I was suddenly conflicted. I had the energy to stay up and program, I could let sleep take me, or, I discovered, I could watch Battlestar Galactica! I watched the show. Midnight rolled around and I passed out for some much needed sleep to rise at 5am and get to business.

The dog didn't follow me upstairs this morning which is good. She doesn't spend as much time with Cathy as I would like.

### Monday, April 04, 2005

In my previous post I solicited links for TN Lottery Results suggesting we could jump it from 2 to 5 in pagerank.

A better solution would be a few extra links to Aspergerteen as its pagerank is 4. If we can get it up to 5 then Cathy shall have her well deserved tea!

## In Tea Heaven...sort of

My Adagio Tea arrived today. I was excited and a little disappointed. My wife had a page rank of 5 and should have gotten the ingenuiTEA Set but when her site was evaluated the link had slipped into an archive post so she got 1 tea, no thank you note, and no instructions. The tea was vanilla (Tea Sample).

My page rank was 4 and I learned from my wife and Zero Boss so I took a little extra effort and made the banner ad above and the advertising square to the left. I didn't expect anything extra for those. I was sad that my wife was so terribly disappointed in not receiving her just rewards due to Adagio's poor instructions so instead of ordering Herbal which she would avoid drinking for now I ordered Flavors because I read somewhere that 4 flavors would arrive and she might enjoy some variety. The tea that arrived today was vanilla (4oz Tin of Tea).

(see also Catawampus, Serendipitous Reflections and my original post and the day I received the email notification incase you want to see the time frame it takes to get your tea)

Perhaps some of you kind folk could find a spot on your sites to link to TN Lottery Results (yes, it's ugly right now). If its page rank would jump from 2 to 5 I could get Cathy the ingenuiTEA Set.

## Major Progress!

Whew! Hit a major milestone on a project this morning with a really cool query too. I love data maps and fancy inner and outer joins.

## On shaky ground

Just came off a 10 minute power nap with the shakes.

## Stephen King Type Eeerie

This morning has strange stillness to it. My coding is going well. I have a couple of windows open so I can hear bird song quite well. The toddler is downstairs asleep with Cathy. The 8 year old boy is sick so he's in bed. The 11 year old girl is crashed out on the couch. And the 14th year old boy is still sleeping in his bed. There is a definite peace to this morning that isn't usually found in our typical chaos and excitement.

## Oops sleep

I had to lie down. I really need more sleep.

## Computer Repair

After another 2 hours and 15 minutes of networking troubleshooting the computer is back at its owners and they are surfing the Internet. A 3 hour job took 17.25 hours!

## A different path

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be one of those people that gets into the office at 7:59am, has a 30 minute lunch brought in a sack and eats in the breakroom, leaves the office at 5:01pm, and doesn't interupt family for work nor work for family; each would get left at its respective door.

I hope that one day I can be as cool as this dad [should be work safe..only possible offensiveness is the word "blowjob" in the audio]

## Progress!

I may have woken at 5:30 this morning. The clock times I remember on the cable box were 3:30 and 4:30 but the wife says it adjusted after I was up.

My computer repair is going well. If you know someone in Knoxville that needs a computer repaired, refer them to my via SIDesigns.com please.

I'm simultaneously fixing issues in the website that I am frantically trying to see released.

## Local Blingo Winner!

Hey someone in Maynardville, TN won on Blingo!
2 hours ago Cathy N, Maynardville, TN

## Computer Repair

I have a machine to add memory to, de-virus and otherwise cleanup.
1. First problem, I can't get a signal to the monitor. Did the video card die? Ah! Monitor cable wasn't plugged in all the way.
2. Installed memory is a 128MB DIMM. Must check with Gateway TS to see what memory is allowed. Wow! Have to hand it to gateway. Surfing their support site for documentation is a breeze.
3. 256 MB of memory installed. The memory doesn't have to be identically paired but I believe it best to put the larger DIMM in slot 1 so the 128MB DIMM was moved to slot 2.
5. Removed ViewPoint and ViewPoint Manager
6. Removed Diet Kaza
7. Removed KaZaA Lite--nix--uninstall file unavailable
9. Uninstalled Morpheus--nix--uninstall file unavailable
12. Running Norton Antivirus Liveupdate - Subscription expires on the 27th, must advise.
13. Last full system scan was 1/11/2005. Scanning now.
14. Spybot issues:
• Avenue A, Inc.
• Callinghome.biz
• FastClick
• HitBox
• MoeMonkey
• SurfSideKick
Repairing...
15. Spybot S&D fixed all but Callinghome.biz and will attempt that on reboot. Time to start researching a manual removal.
16. Adaware found 215 problems. I won't list all those but it does show that sixty pop six (\\windows\sixtypopsix.exe) is by a company called MediaMotor aka Roings LTD "a leader in targeted marketing" (their AIM is roingsmaster)
Some of the names include:
You can right-click in adaware to select all. Also be sure to look under the "negligible objects" tab. Cleaning all issues.
17. Done. Waiting for virus scan to complete.
18. Virus scan complete. Symantec reports no viruses. Rebooting.
19. Of 9.7 gb only 421 mb of harddrive remain. Must fix that.
20. Spybot runs on boot. Results:
• Callinghome.biz
• AbetterInternet
Fixed!
21. unplugged Internet connection to prevent new trojans
22. Used Partition Magic to remove the unused 3GB partition and combine it with the 9.7gb partition
23. Partition Magic failed. Trying again with one step at a time. Deleting Logical partition within Extended partition. Success.
24. Deleting Extended partition. Success.
25. Resizing primary partition for the full 13gb. Boom.
26. Restarting computer.
27. Partition Magic blew up again. Let's try in safe mode.
28. Giving up on Partition Magic.
29. Re-created 3gb extended partition.
30. Deleting temporary files and Windows uninstall information for antique updates
31. Rechecking with Spybot SND. Reports clean.
32. Rechecking with Adaware. Reports 10 objects.
• 2 tracking cookies (http://landing.domainsponsor.com/ and http://domainsponsor.com - considering no browser has been opened since the cache was dumped this is interesting)
• MediaMotor
• Prutect
• ClearSearch
33. Installing VX2 cleaner plugin for Adaware
34. Checking for VX2 issues. Reports clean.
35. Checking CWShredder. Reports clean.
36. Reboot.
37. Running Spybot SND. Reports clean.
39. HijackThis found:
• wsxsvc
• Ebates_MoeMoneyMaker under program files
• some other questionables
40. reboot
41. Removing Morpheus Gone.
42. Manually checking registry. Mainly looking under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ (Run, Run-, RunOnce, RunOnceEx) and HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ (Run Run- RunOnce) Found newdotnet parasite
43. Removed references to morpheus and kazaa within registry and program files.
44. reboot.
45. Reconnecting Internet connection.
46. Checking HijackThis
47. Task Manager won't come up via cmtl-alt-del or right clicking the taskbar. Troublesome. Ah! A registry hack to enable/disable the Task Manager.
48. HijackThis reports clean.
49. Final virus scan with TrendMicro's HousecallFound:
• TROJ_UR.A - \\windows\system32\sysdrc.dll
• TROJ_SMALL.AJM - \\windows\memmupdaterV2.exe
• TROJ_SMALL.ABT - \\windows\pi1_25.exe
• TROJ_UR.A - \\Documents and Settings\User C\Local Settings\TEMP\ICD8.tmp\sysdrc.dll
• TROJ_DROP.A - \\Documents and Settings\User C\Local Settings\TEMP\iF5.tmp
• TROJ_SMALL.ABT - \\Documents and Settings\User C\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\7PBF500\pi1_25(1).exe
• EXPL_IFRAMEBO.A - \\Documents and Settings\User C\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\7PBF500\counter(1).js
• EXPL_IFRAMEBO.A - \\Documents and Settings\User C\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\1RXAFK7L\counter(1).js
• TROJ_SMALL.UX - \\Documents and Settings\mb user\My Documents\backit\gmz\Tiberium Sun\TiberiumSunRAR.zip *Layer2 cctibsun\RAZOR.EXE*
50. One final Spybot S&D. Clean with the exception of 3 tracking cookies (no big deal).
51. One final Adaware. Clean with the exception of 4 tracking cookies (no big deal).
52. Norton Antivirus caught:
I did a preliminary cleaning that lasted 3 hours earlier in the week. Today's cleaning started at 7am and ended at 7pm.

## Beautiful Morning!

I rose at 4:30 and while walking the dog
just had to stare at the sky.
The air was crisp and quiet.
The horizon was painted in soft clouds
barely visible through the still leafless, skeltons of trees
yet above the canopy of trees the majority of the sky was purple and cloudless
showing off the stars with absolute clarity.
The moon hung low still in the clouds
as not to diminish the brightness of the stars with its own light.
I could have stared at that sky for hours.

## Everything can be done online

I just ordered pizza online for the first time thanks to Pizza Hut! What fun! As a programmer I would like to help them make their system better. Now to see if its really ready when we get to the store in 45 minutes.

## Credit Card Debt - My Bane

[NOTE: Be sure to jump to the bottom of this post and read "What spurred this post?" as it has some great links!]
Now
We are a cash family and have been for at half a decade now. I don't remember the year but it was probably 5-7 years ago I took a glass and cut all my plastic cards up into little shreds, filled the glass and set it on my desk as a reminder to myself. Like the cards, the glass was full.

The Seed of Debt
My debt story is probably not unlike many others. I was in college and walking to class. Someone had a tent and a table setup. I was thristy and they were giving away six packs of coke to anyone that applied for a credit card. I thought, "I have no income. No one will give me a credit card but I am thirsty." That application resulted in a VISA card with a $500 credit limit. The Spending Catalyst I have had 2 car accidents in my life. When I was 19, I drove a Triumph Spitfire under a junker whose wheel had fallen off in the middle of Poplar Avenue, Memphis during lunch hour traffic. The car in front of me zigged and I had no where to go but under the disabled vehicle. That's a different story and one that would trouble me for 10 years. The 2nd accident, a year or two later, was a hydroplaning incident on I-40 outside of Nashville in a pickup truck and a torrental downpour. That one wasn't so bad. The truck accident was during the return to the University of TN, Knoxville campus after visiting the family for Thanksgiving. Christmas break was quickly approaching and I had to get the truck fixed to get home. Turns out the parts I needed (a new fender and new front bumper) came to just under$500. Wanting independence and not wanting to ask Dad for $500 I used my new found power of charge! The Escalation After Christmas I returned to campus with a check from Dad for my tuition. That's when I learned about "deferred payments". I applied for deferred payments which meant I could pay my tuition in 3 parts. 1/3 up front; and 2 other payments during the semester. I used part of the check to completely payoff my$500 credit card because I understood it wasn't good to carry a balance on these things. A lot of the other money was squandered on beer, some toys, eatting, oh, and of course beer. Did I meantion beer?
The credit card company was thrilled with my spending behavior and upped my credit limit to $750! Ironically, that was just about how much I needed to pay my 2nd payment to the university. I think I bought a$70 Australian Outback hat which to this day people say nice "cowboy hat". It is still one of my favorite hats.
I wasn't earning as much money as I thought I would to pay the deferments. I think my job only covered my beer and liquor expenses. So I was sweating the third payment when one morning my dorm phone rings. I'm groggy, possibly hungover and some voice offers me a credit card. I replied "sure", gave some information and went back to sleep instead of going to class.
The MasterCard arrived in the mail with something absurd like a $1500 credit limit. The party began and would not end until I was roughly$35,000 in debt.

The List of Cards
My apologies to any evil creditor whom I may have forgotten in this list:
Thirst begat NBC Visa;
Who begat MBNA Mastercard;
Who begat Capital One;
AT&T long distance begat the AT&T Visa;
Middle management begat an American Express card;
The TVA Employee Credit Union begat the TVA Visa;
Car repairs and tire rotations begat Credit First National Bank (Firestone card).
A suit begat a JCPenney store card;
JCPenney regular begat JCPenney Major store card;
A man's need for tools begat the Sears Premier card;
A washer, dry and ladder begat the Sears Plus card;
Business ownership begat the Fleet gas card;
Marriage begat a handful of pre-existing store and credit cards (which I paid off quickly and before all other cards..those cards of course left when the wife did);
The first wife begat Dillards store card;
Dillards begat Proffits store card;
Proffits begat The Limited store card;
The Limited begat Structure store card;
Vacation begat the Disney Credit Card;
There were debts outside the $35k range: Marriage begat GM Motors autoloan; A cracked engine head begat a TVA Credit union loan (Jeep loan); A desire to not pad the pocket of a property owner begat a Mortgage. Proprietorship begat several personal loans. Proprietorship begat a laptop computer lease. Re-marriage begat two student loans. This also excludes regular recurring expenses: • Homeowners Insurance • Auto insurance on two cars • Fire insurance • Cable television • Regular phone line • Fax phone line • Cell phone • Two business phone lines • Water bill • Electricity bill • Garbage service • 3 post office boxes • Internet access • Gym membership •$92 per month for a "Get out of debt" course - see the lesson?
• newspaper delivery
• medical expenses
• and food
[Note: much of this has changed dramatically over the years. Luxuries such as "gym memberships" are a thing of the past.]

The Breakdown, The Penalties, The Interest
It's no secret that as my first marriage failed and my business simultaneously collapsed that I had a little nervous breakdown.
I was having this discussion
Rearranging my position
On this friend of mine who had
A little bit of a breakdown
I said breakdowns come
And breakdowns go
So what are you going to do about it
That's what I'd like to know
-From: Paul Simon, Graceland "Gumboots" (lyrics)
What I did about it was basically ignored my mail for a year. In that time of igoring bills (I was flat broke anyway) I nearly lost my house, had utilities cut off, skipped meals to save money and watched my debt skyrocket. My interest rates of 9 percent shot to 27%. The cards had late fees put on them which caused some of them to go over their limits creating over the limit fees. Mind you, the card company created the charge that caused it to go over the limit in the first place. I had one card with a $700 balance that over the course of 2 years in fees, penalities and interest would grow to be$2100! A $7000 card rose to$14000 without a single purchase!

Payoff Strategies
I meantioned paying $92 per month for a Debt-Free program. This was not credit counselling. I knew how to get out of debt. This was a multilevel marketing program that taught techniques on debt reduction. The monthly newsletter and tape were worth the$92 for awhile. It served as a reminder to stay on track. Basically it taught the same thing that Dave Ramsey (see also Dave Says) teaches on his radio program. Adjust your lifestyle to maximize paying off debts. Do you really need a capuccino every morning? Pay the minimums. This number is the constant dollar number that will be applied toward paying your debt until it is completely gone. If that number is $1200 per month fix it in your head. Now any extra money that can be gathered will be paid toward the card with the lowest balance. Say that lowest balance is$200 and requires a minimum monthly payment of $10. The next lowest card is$550 and requires a minimum monthly payment of $15. Once the$200 card is paid off you don't look at the $10 you were paying toward it as "extra cash" but instead pay that on the next lowest card. So now the$550 balanced card still has a minimum of $15 but you are paying at least$25 per month because your debt reduction constant of $1200 must be maintained. If the third lowest card had a monthly minimum of$30 per month when the 2nd lowest is paid off that $30 per month will become$55 per month. You can see how that quickly escalates into eliminating debt;however, it assumes steady, predictable, regular income which is not what a consultant has.

What did it cost me?
Debt has cost me an enourmous amount of anxiety, opportunity, health and stress. To list everything it has cost me would require a post in length equivalent to this one but to name a few: I applied and was accepted to the college of Danube in Budapest for a summer program but could not come up with the money to pay for the trip (maxed out cards); I was inspired to hike Europe street performing and juggling but did not know how to pay the cards while doing so and it never happened; I passed up an opportunity to hike the Appalachian Trail with some friends because I did not know how to pay a monthly bill from the woods; and my family has lacked security, educational opportunities and those nice, unnecessary material things you'd like your kids to have as well as necessary things like a van. I also feel tired and old because I've carried this burden for so long.
The real kicker is that I am still paying on debts occurred for things that for the most part were either intangible or I no longer own. Even the ladder from Sears is trash now.

What spurred this post?
Today MSN Money ran "Take charge of your credit cards" with these fantastic links:Another resource: Cardweb - US Credit Card trends