Friday, February 29, 2008

Highs and lows

Actually this was not bad for what I call an "IT Friday". Those are the days when everyone needs everything technology-related by the end of Friday so they can presumably (but almost never) use it first thing Monday. It was somewhat crazy this afternoon but manageable.

I was told that I was mentioned at a management meeting and in a good way. Very unexpected, and nice to hear that my work is perceived well. Can't get a big head, though; just need to remember how easy mistakes are.

On the other side of life, that "peaceful, queasy feeling" of pre-illness has been with me since last night. This is most likely the flu/cold/whatever bug that has been freely shared amongst the co-workers for the last two weeks. HURRAH... With luck a quiet weekend will fend off "the Devil Bug".

Very grateful for good friends and co-workers, despite what I said in a previous entry...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Shout-out

Best of birthdays to AZ friend Karen, who steered my life's path in a totally unexpected, delightful direction. I will always be grateful for that... Enjoy the day and year!

Somebody feed this idiot a happy pill...

...the idiot being me, of course. Someone famous somewhere (perhaps it was Peanuts' own Linus van Pelt) once stated "I love humanity, it's people I can't stand", which pretty much sums me up lately. With a very few well-chosen exceptions (you know who you are)...

It seemed like all my work buddies needed to reach me between 4PM and 5PM, when I'm trying to get home from a different remote site. With the cellphone on vibrate, my leg never felt so good. Two stops later and I was finally home by 6:30. After chugging a Mountain Dew (a major vice), I am now ready for 10PM server maintenance, which then must be checked at 5AM before every one's workday starts. I thought service to one's fellow man was supposed to feel good...

At least the Bald Eagle soaring over my car was a treat. Perhaps a sign of opportunity elsewhere? Patience; perhaps the upcoming Birds and Beer will yield some insight.

Odd news of the week: I was re-watching Ken Burns' "The Civil War," when about 30 seconds into the scene "kiss Daniel for me" in the episode "Forever Free" I dropped my jaw. There in a still photo of a small cemetery plot shows a headstone "AMASEE NILES". At first I thought "Is that great-great-great-uncle Amasa?" but upon another look I suspect not. But at least for a short while I was delightfully stunned.

Enough. Maintenance calls...

Sunday, February 24, 2008


At least this past week did have a highlight for which a camera was desperately needed. Taking advantage of the springlike day near Nisswa, MN on Saturday, I was driving around the countryside when I came across a wondrous site. For five blissful minutes I watched a flock of 200 or so Snow Buntings careening, landing and repeating along the road and in adjacent fields. Insert mental picture here...

Meantime in the remaining world life is just beautiful (yeah right). I was blessed this week with:
1) More information about tiling and grouting than I will ever use.
2) A varied array of NASCAR wannabes cutting me off, doing 90 mph merges, shoulder passes or the usual "Minnesota exit." At least the deer that ran in front of my car this morning was only trying to cross the road (and yes, we managed to miss each other).
3) Having two vendors argue with one another about why their products don't play nice together. Of course it's the other's fault.

Almost Monday, let's try again; this time with feeling...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

'Round and 'round it goes...

Well, I'm about halfway through the ugly slog of work in 2008. One set of software is loaded but is at the "well, there's still a few bugs" phase. Yesterday was 18 dreary hours (4AM to 10PM) of a system upgrade; 11 of those hours were spent watching backup tapes. I have a bird banding program today (plus teaching someone the new banding reports program). I suspect at least one person will call this weekend with upgrade-related issues, even if this is SUPPOSED to be a long weekend. I'm fried more than beans and burgers.

At least two nice things happened this week. I received Valentines (one nice and one naughty) from unexpected sources. And while waiting for the last backup to finish I came across this comedy skit that had me using my remaining energy in gales of guffawing. Perhaps it was just the time of day, my sense of humor, both?

Sleep. Need sleep...

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Many happy returns!

Well, OK, just one return. And I'm sure the returnee wasn't very happy. But for a bird bander, a return from somewhere other than one's own banding stations is a true treasure.

In my 30 years of being associated with banding, I have had only 4 instances where either I recaptured a bird banded by someone else (1) or had someone else find a bird I had banded (3). That's out of about 12,000 banded birds in those years (by either me or my mentor Kathy Heidel), which is few compared to some locations dedicated to bird research (I am still a hobbyist while the full-time job beckons).

Back on October 1, 2005, during a public program at Ritter Farm Park in Lakeville, MN, I banded a Slate-colored Junco (Junco hyemalis) with band 2370-29389. At that time, this bird was found to be a female (by coloration, molt and wing measurement) that had hatched that summer.

On December 22, 2007, this bird was (unfortunately) found dead (probably a window kill). The finder noticed the band and reported it via the available toll-free number (1-800-327-BAND) to the Bird Banding Laboratory in Patuxent, MD.

It was found in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Thank you for finding and reporting it, Shelly!

It is these moments that are more exciting (but far less lucrative) than the lottery. For who knows when and where, if ever, the next return will be?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Too tired...

Bad day today, which was actually a carryover from yesterday.

Made a simple mistake at work. Not one of those disastrous things, but one that makes a bunch of extra work for none-too-pleased co-workers. A mistake that one shouldn't make as a de facto database administrator. Granted, if I'd been informed of a work hierarchy before I made my mistake, it never would have happened. Still no excuse for doing what I did.

The best "reason" for it is being tired, tired, tired. Taking a shortcut instead of thinking a problem through. And thus one ends up with dagger-staring (thankfully not dagger-laden) fellow travelers.

At least there's less than 2800 days 'til age 59 1/2, then toodles to all this nonsense. Perhaps sooner?

Meantime, good night ladies and gentlemen. More fun and frivolity tomorrow...

Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Bowl thoughts

Quite an interesting, entertaining game. I originally had no thoughts of watching, but its development was most intriguing. Congratulations to both teams.

The game also played out quite well with my pet theories (yes I am a nutcase in that regard). I predicted the Giants would win this game based on how each team comported themselves before kickoff. I had the same sense before the Giants-Packers game. One could see the upbeat mood of the Giants, and in each case their opponent seemed rather sullen. These fit very well with my thinking that some pro sports are pretty much on a par with "sports entertainment", the latter just hides it better.

Ready for the slings and arrows. Remember, they're all just games...

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Roots, twigs and branches

The frustrating thing about genealogy is that when one discovers it as an interest, most of the people in the best position to help are already cemetery tombstones. But I guess that is the fun part, too; trying to piece everything back together from available evidence. There must be a TV program in there, somewhere...

Anyways, with priceless assistance from friend and very distant relative Jackie in Vermont, the Niles (mom's side of the family) story becomes a bit clearer each year (can't say each day or each month because I can't devote that much time yet). I close this entry with a couple photos, one four-generation photo of great great great grandmother Jane Hadlock Niles and her boys of various levels of greatness to me. The second is a group of relatives yet unknown but determined by Jackie and her friend Joan to be at Roche-a-Cri near Friendship, Wisconsin.