Friday, April 29, 2005


As some of you may know, I'm a Pennsylvanian born and raised. Growing up in PA had it's share of difficulties. The same trials and tribulations that any kid in any state would go through during their youth. But Pennsylvanians have an extra hurdle. They have a constant battle of East vs West. For example, if you're a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, you most likely despise the Philly Eagles, and vice versa. The same holds true for anything that comes out of these areas. They're just natural opposites. The graphic below illustrates the geographic area of divide I speak of. (more on that to follow)

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Now imagine a kid who was born in western PA and moved to eastern PA to grow up. Accepting the new culture. Trying to fit in. Learning the language. But I did. And before my 5th birthday, I was bilingual. Often times I would serve as an interpreter for those that came to visit from the west. I felt as if I knew my purpose in the world. I could be the great unifier. Put an end to this whole eastside-westside squabble.

So I did what any born ambassador would do I decided to attend college smack-dab in the middle of the state. The epicenter of east-west convergence. There I would champion my cause. I would break the language barrier. An age of peace would surely follow for generations.

Perhaps my most difficult language hurdle was cutting through the "pop vs. soda" barrier. I can't tell you how many times I've been in an eastern restaurant only to see a visiting westerner ask the waitress what kind of "pop" she had. It's like watching a car wreck. The music scratches to a stop. Everyone stops and turns. Tempers flare. It's at that point that I feel obligated to intervene before a fight breaks out. Most times a simple translation will diffuse the situation. I have had my share of close calls, too close.

So what better way to defeat an enemy than to learn about it? To study its strongholds. To pinpoint its weaknesses. That is why I entered the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Using GIS technology, enabled me to see the battlelines. My good friends at the East Central University of Oklahoma are facing an insurgency as well and have joined my cause as you can see by clicking below.

From the map, you can see that we are clearly a nation divided. (and you can also see people in North Carolina clearly can't make up their mind on anything) GIS is a powerful tool. But it's going to take all lot more than new ideas and powerful technology to win over the hearts and minds of ideologies that date back for generations.

So join me. Help me bridge the gap between these deep rooted religions. You may be saying "Del, what can I do, I'm from Arkansas?" Well, first you can get your hands off your sister and go to the dentist, then you can educate your friends or family (is that redundant?).

So help me. Even if you just educate one person a day. Explain to them that it's not "pop VS soda", it's "pop = soda".

And remember, the life you save, just one day may be your own...

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

More fun being high...

Neil, over at Air Trails, commented on a post the other day about close calls in the air. Well Neil, here's another one for you...

When we couldn't get our hands on a helicopter to go up, due to budget restraints or scheduling, we resorted to the agency's plane.

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This was our fallback option because it was MUCH harder to get a decent photograph of a project if you didn't have the option to stop and hover. In fact is was quite difficult. Getting a good picture in this plane essentially required three people. 1) The pilot must bank the aircraft so that you are almost completely sideways. 2) The rear seat passenger must lean forward (while banked) and hold open the flip-up window, and 3) the co-pilot (me) must lean out into the wind, looking straight down, and attempt to get a steady shot.

Kind of like this:

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We take off from the Civil Air Terminal at Dover Air Force Base, and try not to get in the way of the big boys defending our country.

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During these little excursions, we'd often times stop for lunch at the Georgetown Airport. They have a nice little restaurant inside.
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One fateful day, we stopped in and I was really starving. So I, in all my glory, decided that I was going to have a NICE GREASY CHEESESTEAK. MMmm. It was delicious. We finished up and headed back out to the plane. Up we went and resumed our picture taking missions. We shot the final project area and headed home. Now those of you that know Delaware, know that the state is something around 30 miles wide at it's widest point, and around 90 miles from top to bottom. So needless to say, in the air, that's nothing.

As we flew towards DAFB, I began to fell a little uneasy. That wonderful cheesesteak wasn't agreeing with my current altitude. So I really wasn't concerned too much with anything else rather than keeping it together.

About 5 miles out, the guy in the back says "Hey look at that!"
I looked out the window to see an amazing crop formation in a farmer's field. The pilot says "oh wow. Hang on, I'll circle back around so that we can get a few pictures" and banks the plane HARD.


Trying to cover up my discomfort as much as possible, I get ready to take a few last shots. The plane was tilted, the window was open and all it took was the motion of the plane circling to experience "The Cheesesteak: Part Two".

I grabbed the nearest cheesesteak recycling container I could find, which happened to be a plastic bag on the floor, and made a donation. Here's the fun part. In a plane you're all wearing headsets with little microphones that swing around close to your mouth. Well, I forgot about that. So everyone in the plane got to hear me vomit through the microphone headset. Clean up was fun, let me tell you.

But, to show you how much of a trooper I am, during all that, I managed to snap this picture which you may remember seeing in the Delaware State News on September 10, 2002 as a tribute to 9/11:
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As we landed at DAFB we almost collided with an incoming C5, but I'll save that story for a rainy day...

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Spare me the speeches...

...about watching reality TV, and PLEASE just explain to me why convicted thug Scott Savol is STILL on American Idol.

Thank you.

Monday, April 25, 2005

True story...

Read this first...

You may ask yourself how this could happen. And my answer is fairly easily. In fact, it almost happened to me once. (not the severed, the plane part)

For my old job, once in a while we'd have to hop in a helicopter and take some aerial photographs of projects, lands, or whatever throughout Delaware. So we'd either charter a chopper or if the State Police didn't have anything better to do, they'd take us up.

My job was the navigator. I sat in the co-pilot seat with my maps and reference points and directed the pilot from project site to project site. The photographer sat behind me with the door off the side and took pictures as directed.

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One trip, we were down near Laurel, DE taking some shots. I wasn't paying attention outside, rather I was trying to plot our next course while the photographer was getting his last few shots. All of a sudden the pilot comes over the radio and says "oh shit."

Not the first thing you want to hear from any kind of pilot.

If you've never ridden in a helicopter before, I can tell you that a good pilot will make it seem like you're floating on air. A bad (or evil) pilot will get you sick. Ours was a good pilot.

So anyway, after the pilot's declaration, I said "what's wrong?" And I immediately turned to make sure that our photographer hadn't fallen out. "We've got jumpers!"


"Jumpers! Over there."

Sure enough, about 500 yards away in brightly colored jumpsuits were a half-dozen skydivers.

"We've got to go. NOW!" the pilot insisted. "We'll suck them right to us if we stay here!"

"Holy shit! GO GO GO!"

And with that, he yanked the stick right and we shot sideways like I didn't know we could! My papers went flying. I about lost my lunch. Once we were clear he explained to us that even at that distance we would have pulled them right into the blades and killed all of us.

And if you think that was scary, the State Police pilots are former Air Force. I learned never to eat at all on days we'd go up with them...

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire!

Yesterday was fun.

I sat down to do some reading for work and all was going fine until the little future felon, and his homeboy friend that lives upstairs, decided to chase each other, running up and down three floors of steps.

Keep in mind, that these steps are outside, made of solid steel, and are welded to the side of my apartment building. See where I'm going with this?

So not only are they screaming at each other, these two 13 year olds are stampeding three flights of stairs every 15 seconds. Needless to say I'm sure I'm not the only one they were pissing off. With each stomp they made, my entire apartment shook.

Of course I yelled a few obscenities through our paper-thin walls, but that only seem to encourage them. Once again my theory on parents having a license to have a child was reinforced. As I turned my TV up to try and drown out at least part of the noise I got my next nice surprise of the day.

Little hommie pulled the fire alarm.

*insert rant of explicatives here*

Myself, being the "veteran" tenant in our building, reluctantly called the maintenance guy who looks like Juan Valdez to let him know what happened. Naturally the two little bastards hommies ran, one back inside thinking he could hide, and the other I assume he went back to wherever he spawned from.

About ten minutes later the Dover Fire Department rolls up, sirens and lights blaring. I've got to give them full credit, their response was quick and efficient, like a well-oiled machine.

Standing outside, chatting with the civilized neighbors of mine, both of us complaining about the water buffalo upstairs, we informed the DFD what happened and they were not amused. Each of us was more than happy to rat out the future inmate. The senior fireman marched up to the second floor and pounded on the door where we told him to. There was no answer. He looked down at us. I said, "I know they're in there. They haven't left since they pulled it." The fireman sternly yelled into the door, "I'm not leaving until you open the door."

After a 15 second delay, little homie's white trash mother opened the door and acted ignorant to what was going on as the fireman informed her that her son would be receiving a hefty fine. He had the little pants-sagging, t-shirt-too-big-wearing, gonna rob me some day punk down to the truck to fill out some paper work as the rest of the building glared at him. All the while, he whined "I didn't do it". (After he realized he wasn't getting sent to jail, he admitted pulling it.)

It was clear that his mother didn't really care about the severity of this little stunt. And it was also clear that he would walk away learning nothing from this experience. It was even more apparent to me that I needed to move. After all, how can one be happy in their daily life when they despise the place they live in?

All in good time...

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Go. Play...

As if I needed one more reason to hate Ben Afleck... has a Freudian slip...

Ever been to EPCOT Center in Disney World? How about Sea World in CA? How about a Titan nuclear missle site in AZ? There's an entire site dedicated to Google's new maps.

I was a HUGE Transformers fan as a kid, looks like the Autobots got served.

Johnny Mnemonic

This week I've spent sitting in a chair, downloading company information into my brain.

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I really never imagined that I'd get thrown right into the mix of things. I've got until Tuesday to bring myself up to speed on a project I'm joining that has been in progress for the past two years. Yes, that's right, two years in about 4 days.

On the bright side of things, I'm really enjoying this "work from home" thing. It's very convenient to wake up, grab a shower, and head three feet down the hall to my new makeshift office. Ok, maybe it's more like 4 feet.

Anyway, I'm very impressed at the technology this company has at its disposal. Maybe it's because I'm used to the State agencies, or maybe I'm just out of the loop, but the infrastructure that exists here allows virtually everyone to perform every function of their job from anywhere there's an Internet connection. I'm a tech nerd, so it takes a lot of bells and whistles to impress me. I'm impressed.

In other news, someone told me that I should change my habit of sitting my laptop on my lap and doing my work if I ever want to have children. I smirked at them and responded "why do you think it's there?"

Monday, April 18, 2005

Divine Intervention

With every news channel trying to best each other by being the first reveal who will be the next Pope, the rest of the world is sitting around wondering what the hell is taking so long and what they could possibly be doing all locked up in there.

Well, you heard it here first folks. The Delawarean brings you the inside scoop on what all those Bishops, Cardinals, and other religious figureheads are doing...

As it turns out, they're testing the latest video game in the Grand Theft Auto series...

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I hear they replaced the prostitutes from previous games with young boys...

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping...

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

"Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door -

Only this, and nothing more." - Edgar Allan Poe

The past few days have been a little strange. I seem to have stumbled upon a gaggle of impatient knockers. (oh, that didn't sound right at all)

It all began a few days ago. An impatient little blonde girl knocked on my door trying to sell me magazines. But I only know that because I looked out of the peep hole in my door before I opened it. By the time I had walked from my desk, into the den, and to the door she had given up and moved on to the door across the hall. She couldn't have waited more than 5 seconds. My place isn't that big. And there was no way I was going to open the door and invite her to sell me subscriptions.

Then later in the day I was just getting out of the shower, drying off, when I heard another knock on the door. I threw some shorts on and a t-shirt and jogged to the door again. This time it was the FedEx guy. I had been expecting a package from work. But instead, he slapped a "sorry we missed you" door hanger on me and ran like the wind. By the time I got to the corner of the building he was in the truck and halfway down the damn driveway!

Next was the sorostitue neighbor of mine. Around 6pm, I'm still reading those documents for work, and there's another know on my door. I get up, go to the door, look out only to see her going back into her apartment and closing the door. What the hell!?

So just now, I was Blog surfing, catching up on the usual reads and ANOTHER knock at my door. I get up once again, head to the door, look out the peeper, and see to females walking away out into the courtyard darkness. I walked over to my window and watch them, a blonde and brunette, cross the courtyard and go through the buildings and walk across the parking lot disappearing into the

What is going on here? Did someone put up a billboard with me on it in town somewhere? I mean, then at least, I could see why women would flock to my door, but come on.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Date night...

I'd like to personally nominate the good folks at Breyers for this years Noble Prize.

Today at the grocery store, they were selling quarts of Breyers ice cream - buy one get one free. So naturally, the economist in me says that's a bargain and I should definitely get two.

Decisions, decisions.

Then I found this:

As if "all natural" mint Breyers ice cream wasn't enough, they went and added M&M's!

It was all I could think about on the way home. In fact, I almost pulled over several times and ripped open the carton along the side of the road. I can see that now, *green ice cream and chunks of M&M hanging off my mouth* "I'm sorry officer, I didn't mean to speed, would you like some Breyers?"

But you can bet the moment I walked in the door, I dropped everything and went straight for the spoon drawer. Ripping the top off like a savage, I dug into untouched surface of green minty pleasure. (See, I can eat out of the carton, because I'm single and I don't have anyone to yell at me!)
I sank down into my couch with a big green smile on my face. A couple of extra miles on the treadmill is a small price to pay for spending an evening with Ms. Green M&M..

Friday, April 15, 2005

Show'em what they've won...

While visiting my parents recently, the one snowy TV channel they got (sometimes) was ABC. They clued me in that their favorite show on TV nowadays is Extreme Makeover Home Edition. I started watching it here and there and I have to admit I'm a skeptic.

The saying goes "if something's too good to be true, it probably is." This show, to me, is a beacon of light. This team of do-gooders are just too good. If there was a battle between good and evil, this team from ABC would be like God's SWAT Team.

So anyway, every episode I watch is like the feel good show of the year. And I can't help but think to myself; no body gets all that for nothing.

It turns out, I was right. Kind of.

"Some reality television winners apparently got a brutal reality check this tax season.
Daily Variety reported Friday that families featured on the ABC
hit show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and Fox's "Renovate My Family" not only are getting their dream homes, but also nightmare tax bills.
One Illinois husband and wife, according to the entertainment industry publication, discovered it owes $529,000 in taxes after Fox-hired contractors tore down their old house and built a new one with special accommodations for their paralyzed son. The renovation aired on Fox this past summer."

Nothing in life is free people...

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Workin' for the weekend

Well now. I'm almost through my first week on the job and I have forced myself to learn more in just this week than I have during the 3 years at my old job. My brain hurts. I'm tired. I'm down right pooped.

I can totally see why they say the average career of a consultant lasts seven years. It's very easy to burnout. I'm going to have to watch myself for that. Tomorrow I'm rounding out my orientation/training by reading a 137 page manual on the company methodology. Can wait for that.

Oh screw it. I'm too tired to type anything else right now. Maybe later.


Monday, April 11, 2005

Uh, yeah... Did ya get that memo?

First days are always painful. It's inevitable that you're going to get stuck with one of two extremes: extreme boredom or extreme workload. Today I could have used a snickers.

All began well as I showed up at the parent company's HR offices. Everything was in order. Papers, packets, binders, and nifty little glass mugs were waiting for me when I arrived. (It also brightened my day to see that the HR rep running the orientation was a very attractive brunette.) I figured if I wasn't going anywhere for a while, and I didn't have a snickers, it was very nice of them to provide me with eye candy.

But alas, she was very efficient and shortly after 9am we were done. We walked to the building next door where I got my mugshot taken. (I still have no idea what they're going to do with that. It's not on my ID.) She walked me up to the 4th floor and handed me off to my division who looked at me like Elvis had just walked through the door. I knew it was going to be all down hill from here.

Apparently they didn't get the memo that I was starting today, because no one had a clue that I was supposed to be there. My laptop wasn't ready. No one was available to show me the ropes. I spent the entire day reading and rereading benefits packets sitting in an empty cube. Time is money in the consulting world and they just lost about 3/4 of a day having me just sit there.

It's ok though. I know to expect this. It happens everywhere. I guess I just figured that this time would be different. But now it's over. And it's a very small torture to endure to work from home starting Thursday.

Hmm, now I only have to figure out how to get the cute brunette to transfer to the soon-to-be-opened Delaware office.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

American Idiot(s)

I really love it when the weather is nice. I also really hate it. Because, never fail, the drunken men on roids or narcotic stimulants, or m.o.r.o.n.s. for short, like to stumble about in the public courtyard here where I live.

They yell, wrestle, throw things, and check each other for fleas once in a while. Every so often, something shiny catches their eye and they all just stop and stare:

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"Ah, Duuuuuuuuhhhh."

No matter where they go, I have yet to pass them without a beer in their hand. And I blame their parents for not teaching them what an "inside voice" is. Of course, I'm sure "Coach" tells them to yell during football practice or something.

What strikes me the most is that it's funny how I'm intolerant of the exact same thing I used to be. I think that's part of the thing I hate about this whole situation. I look at them and I realize how stupid I acted back in college. What an ass I made of myself. I realize that now. Maybe it's part of growing up. Maturing. I can't even tell you when it was I made the transition from drunken moron to adult, but I'm sure glad I did.

All I know is that it's driving me crazy living in this complex with college students who act a fool each weekend. And it's the motivating factor behind my quest to become a homeowner.

It's all good though, because I'm sure the water buffalo upstairs thinks it's me making all the noise. (Note to self: get water buffalo hunting permit.)

The more you know...

Only 6 more days...

Do your damn taxes!

Then you get rewarded with this funny video of a floating dog. Come on, laugh. You know you want to.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Movie time, with Del...

Because I only have three more days until I start work, and I'm still quite bored. I decided to flex those Netflix muscles again. (You know, the ones that are used when inserting a DVD into the player) For your reading enjoyment, you will now hear my opinions on two movies: Paparazzi and Closer. Let's start with Paparazzi.


I'm a little confused on where the title came from but no matter. Paparazzi is the story of a rising action star from the middle of bumblefu*k Montana who finds fame and (wait for it) THE PAPARAZZI to be a little tiring/annoying/intrusive to say the least. Everything is going fine until (wait for it again) THE PAPARAZZI start taking pictures of his private life and family. Hmm, go figure. Because if someone who takes pictures for a living, isn't snooping around taking pictures of you in your private life, then they're called PHOTOGRAPHERS. Duh.

Anyway, our hero, Cole Hauser, who you may remember as the racist officer in Hart's War, or the racist mastermind of the Aryan gang in Higher Learning, proves he's not really a racist by tipping Chris Rock, who makes a cameo, $60 for delivering his pizza. So (wait for it one last time) THE PAPARAZZI get a little out of hand and people close to Bo Laramie (Hauser) get hurt. That's when he gets pissed, and takes matters into his own hands.

I must admit, this is a good drama/action film. It kept me interested and flowed fairly well. I found myself subconsciously rooting for Bo to kick all their asses. That'll teach 'em! I'm sure each star in Hollywood owns a copy of this movie fantasizes being Bo for a day.

All in all, I thought it was mildly predictable, yet entertaining. For a movie stacked with cameos, and based on actors getting revenge at (ok, you don't even have to wait for this one) THE PAPARAZZI , you'd think that there'd be a line forming to take the lead, but my guess is, they didn't have the budget. That would explain Daniel Baldwin's casting. I will admit Tom Sizemore works well as the main villian.

Out of a full bag of popcorn, I give it 2/3.


On to Closer. Riiiiiight. Let me just say that broadway plays are broadway plays because they generally don't work as movies. If they did, they'd be called MOVIES. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this movie is going to have a split audience. Love it or hate it. I'm the guy standing in the middle that can't make up his mind yet. The official pitch is as follows:

" An intriguing story of passion, drama, love, and abandonment involving two couples, which only gets more complicated when the man from the first couple gets acquainted with the woman from the second coupling. "

Riiiiiiight. Now let me tell you what really goes on- in English. A closed-off stripper (Natalie Portman) falls in "love" with the cradle-robbing Jude Law who falls in "love" with a selfconscious photographer (played by Ms. "My career is spiriling downward" Julia Roberts), who gets married to the rich, womanizing, terrible-in-the-sack doctor (Clive Owen). They all sleep around and break up and get back together. The end.

I think the thing that bugged me the most about this movie is that the term "love" is thrown around so much, when really all these people are doing is trading spouses over the course of four years. None of these characters really seem to know what "love" is, let alone being just plain faithful to each other.

I know, I know, those of you that "loved" the film are saying, "Yes, but that's the point! There's such a deeper meaning to the story." Whatever. Other than seeing Ms. Portman portraying a stripper, the only reason I'd watch this moive again is to take notes on where I should visit if I ever travel to London. (I "love" double-decker buses.) I think they tried to wake the audience back up at the end with a slight twist, but by that time I was too busy scratching my butt to care.

Overall, I had to get some beer to wash down the 1/3 bag of popcorn I'm giving this movie. Turns out, I guess that means I hated it.

Rise of the machines...

Well, the "wise" folks at Comcast had their hands full today it seems. A trusted friend at Comcast tells me the problem was nationwide and that the entire network was hit with a massive DDoS attack. For those of you who don't speek nerd, that's Distributed Denial of Service. The attack brought their DNS Servers to a halt and those of you using Comcast most likely felt the ill effects.

I realize that this blog isn't the first place any of you would turn to for tech help but I can offer you this little tidbit in case this happens again.

The following is a list of backup DNS Servers that I use in the event somthing like this takes place. Most people have their network connections set to "auto detect", simply type one of these in the manual spot and go to town. Here you go. It wouldn't hurt to copy this little list and store it in a text file as I do in case of an Internet emergency. Enjoy...

The List

Verizon (Level3) Nameservers

SpeakEasy Nameservers

ORSC Public Access DNS Nameservers

Sprintlink General DNS



Wednesday, April 06, 2005

End of the line pal...


Just yesterday I posted about Starwars freaks fans already forming up in front of the Chinese theater waiting for opening day. Turns out, they're standing in front of the wrong theater.

Perhaps Linemaster Kenobi should have listened to the little voice in his head that kept repeating "There is another...".


Maybe they can mosey on over to the correct line and "FORCE" their way to the front!


Guess they'll have to "(e)wok" on down the road.


Oh, jeez, I just kill myself....

You just don't know how hard I'm laughing on the inside.

Mama said there'd be days like this...

Today was absolutely beautiful.

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And I did nothing. And it was everything I hoped it could be...

(Disclaimer: This is not my dog. However, if I had a dog, it would be just as cool as this one.)

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The difference between fanatic and insanity... a fine line.

Ok. Now I'm a Star Wars fan. And it just so happens that I've had a good block of time dedicated to not working. But I'll be damned if I'm standing in line for a good TWO MONTHS ahead of the opening for a freakin movie. I can understand wanting to see it opening night and standing in line, but for TWO MONTHS!?!?

Let's say you joined the line April 1st. Do you realize that by the time that opening day arrives, you will have spent 70,560 minutes of your life uselessly waiting around like a tool to sit and watch a movie that lasts on average, 120 minutes? You know what? I can WAIT until May 20th (the day after opening) and see it, spending ZERO time waiting in line.

Although the site claims it's for a good cause, which I can respect, you have to wonder about these people. In all seriousness, the people in this line are stereotypically the smartest people in our culture... go figure.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Punch it Margaret...

Even though I don't start my new job until next Monday, I already have my marching orders.

Normally, I'd be attending the annual GIS-T conference right about now. In fact, a good number of the X's would be. Instead, I'll be filling out countless forms, receiving my "mobile office equipment", and enduring even more GIS training to refresh my memory/skills at building GIS webportals like this. (Note the date of that article. It's pretty government-like to flaunt a champion project once it's complete and dispose of it's core team creators, isn't it? It's nice to see I have been replaced but something I helped create.) ...But I'm still not bitter.

But anyway, back to my post.

I feel like a little old lady in her big car about to merge on to an 8 lane highway right now. I've been out of work for what will be close to two full months, and I'm feeling the need to try and prepare myself for actually working everyday again.

This may seem very simple to those of you who do work normal jobs, but I implore you to take two full months off and then try and jump back into a fast-paced, eat-or-be-eaten career. It takes an adjustment period. An adjustment period that I will not have the luxury of. Hell, I'll admit that I haven't gotten out of bed before 9:30 but once in the past TWO MONTHS. And that once was for the drive to Harrisburg for my interview.

I am, however, looking forward to lowering the Financial Alert Level down a few notches. This TP recycling program is getting a bit "stale".

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Forever Young

Today would have been my brother's 22nd birthday.

Five years ago, on Christmas Eve, I received a phone call from my father. It was the first time in my life I've heard him cry. He told me that there had been an accident.

My brother was attempting to cross a divided highway with three friends on his 4-wheeler. He rolled to a stop in the median, looking for traffic, but unknowingly his line of sight was blocked from his friends 4-wheeler to the left. He never saw the Dodge pick up traveling at 65mph. The driver saw him, but it was too late.

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I'm the first to admit that my brother was a wild child. At times he was even reckless, throwing caution to the wind. He lived with my father, I with my mother. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've wondered if things had been different if I was more of an influence in his life. What if I'd just taken him aside and "talked" some sense into him? Would he have ever calmed down?

I remember the viewing the most. I think his entire high school showed up. I didn't realize until that day how many peoples lives he touched. The man driving the pick up came up to me with his wife and introduced himself. He broke down as I extended my hand. "It wasn't your fault." I told him. And it wasn't. It was an accident.

My father still visits the cemetery each Sunday. I visit whenever I'm in that part of the country, but unfortunately, it's not that often. I try my hardest to live my life to the best of my ability for him. Seeing the things he'll never see. Doing things that he'll never get to do.

This is why I push myself. This is why I stop just to appreciate life once in a while.

Here's thinking about you Bro...

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Meet Virginia (part II)

Perhaps one of the things I miss the most about living in Pennsylvania are the mountains. Living here in Delaware, one really gets used to living on a flat, sandy, wet landscape. Until this little trip of mine, I forgot what it was like to drive up a hill and down the other side.

Virginia is home to part of the Blue Ridge Mountain chain. And my folks just happen to live smack dab in front of them. This is the view from the road that goes in front of their house:

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They are certainly not the Rockies by any means, but it is a change in elevation. And that is what I needed. So I loaded a pack with water, food, a camera and off I went. It's nearly 1.5 miles from the bottom to the summit. A rugged hike on some pretty rough terrain.
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A mile and a half is a lot more difficult than it seems when you're going vertical. Two hours later, and 3,875 feet higher, I was at the top of the world, or so it felt.
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To breathe deeply and not have car exhaust and chemical plant smog fill your lungs is priceless. To sit and enjoy the tranquility of nature without hearing thunderous car stereo systems or drunken college students is enough to ease even the pressures of the most stressful lives. This is my retreat. My getaway. My moment of zen if you will.
At the top of the mountain, the National Park Service has built a shelter amongst the boulders in the event of severe weather. More pictures can be seen here.
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The day was perfect. I couldn't ask for anything more. For someone who hasn't taken a vacation in over three years, all it took was a morning trek to wipe the stress slate clean.

Truly living life to it's fullest means different things to different people. Some seek adventure, some seek fame and fortune. I seek appreciation. Appreciation for life itself.