Planning For Travel When Someone you Love Suffers From Chronic Illness

Last week, my wife posted an article about traveling with chronic pain, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia on our couple’s blog. This week, I posted from the caretaker perspective. She has gotten better about travel, but still has a tendency to over-extend herself, which is where I come in to play. Of course, sometimes my reminding her that she has real limits ends up in a minor pout.

More after the jump. Continue reading

Calendar Plus: Indispensible!

About two years ago, I picked up a copy of Calendar Plus by Qbix, Inc. It’s a nifty little menu bar application that does one thing, but does it, both literally and figuratively, beautifully. Qbix recently updated it to version 1.9, and I want to tell you why you should spend the money on it. Click on through for my full review. Continue reading

How Siri found it’s voice

I spent quite a few years working on the back-end infrastructure for a Text-to-Speech (TTS) system for AT&T. We used the voice engine from Nuance. In this video, we get to see a little of the magic behind the voice.

Thanks to The Verge for the video

Absolutely unconscionable

In November 2012, Minnesota resident Byron Smith made his home an inviting target for a couple of kids after he had a couple of previous break-ins. Then he hid out in the basement with audio recording equipment and firearms, and waited for someone to break in.

17-year old Nick Brady and 18- year old Haile Kifer did just that and were, in essence summarily executed by Smith, who admitted to delivering a coup de grâce to Kifer by placing his .22 caliber handgun under her chin and firing into her head because he “didn’t want her to suffer.” What’s worse, he didn’t call police until the next day.

As if that wasn’t enough of a human travesty, Fox News personality Sean Hannity went on the air on April 30 to DEFEND this monster, saying that the slaying was reasonable and justifiable! Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself:

At least Geraldo Rivera had the decency to be outraged at the obvious malice with which the event occurred, but Hannity and Fox Business producer Bernard McGuirk had the balls to suggest that it was not only justified, but laudable. Since when do citizens have the right to be judge, jury, and executioner in this country? What happened to due process? What happened to being tried by a jury of your peers?

Simple: On April 29, 2014, Smith was tried and convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder. This despicable human was held accountable by his peers and sent to prison for the rest of his life, without parole. There is nothing laudable about lying in wait with the intent to commit murder.

Captured Lightning (Lichtenberg Figure) Sculptures – Gallery 1

I’m a nerd at heart, and I love interesting and unusual representations of the world that we live in. Thanks to a Facebook friend, I discovered the first piece of art that I actively want to own. These “Captured Lightning®” sculptures are exactly what it sounds like: Lightning “frozen” in acrylic, and they are amazingly beautiful.

I would love to have one of these some day.

Captured Lightning (Lichtenberg Figure) Sculptures – Gallery 1:

(Via Marc Bailey on Facebook.)

My birthday present 2014

We’re frankly broke this year for my birthday, and I know that Kristen has had a little anxiety about it. We had discussed her getting me a cool case for my phone, but that didn’t happen, due to finances. Fortunately, I had a solution!

I’ve been eye-shopping this little tealight candle holder at work for several weeks. For all that I am a solitary Zen Buddhist, I have a certain veneration for the Medicine Buddha. He’s often pictured as either being blue (lapis lazuli) or having some part that is that color, so this little icon is particularly apropos to my inclinations. He might not be in the typical presentation, but it’s the thought that counts.

For $6.00, it works. 😀

My Medicine Buddha

Heartbleed: A major problem for much of the current Internet

Ok, if you haven’t been sleeping under a rock, you probably know that one of the biggest security components on the Internet has been discovered to have a major flaw. OpenSSL has been vulnerable for a while, but it just came to public light this week. Here are some tools to help you make sure that your online security is intact. Me, I spent the better part of an hour making sure that my passwords and accounts are buttoned up tight.

First, check out this list from for an updated list of some of the biggest/most significant websites that might be impacted.

The Heartbleed Hit List: The Passwords You Need to Change Right Now

Second, we have Qualys SSL Labs – SSL Server Test. While not exactly friendly for the layman, this website will help you determine if a particular website is *currently* at risk. It does not tell you if a site *was* at risk and has subsequently gotten their ducks in a row.

Student organization elections

I’m almost done with my undergrad work, and I’ve finally reached a point where I feel like I could take a student leadership position without feeling like a pretender. I have also matured in my education to a point where I feel like I can actually provide some benefit to my fellow members of the student chapter of the International Association of Emergency Managers. Below is the post that I left on the forum, indicating that I am interested in becoming the webmaster/communications officer for the group.

Wish me luck!

As I wind down my undergraduate career and look toward graduate school, I feel that I am in a better position to submit myself for an officer position for our student professional organization.

I’ve been involved with some form of social media since before the term was en vogue, as I was using email and computer BBS back in the mid- to late-80’s. I’ve been on Twitter since about 2007, and am fairly active on Facebook.

I’ve run my own websites for more than a decade, and operate a couple of blogs currently. I am a firm believer that social media must be part of an emergency manager’s tool collection, and must be organized long before an emergency event comes up.

Many people use the Internet on a day to day basis, but I’ve been told that I don’t just “use” it, I *USE* it! I am connected on my smartphone, my tablet, and my desktop to a number of social media outlets, and I often see news and events before any of my friends, family, or coworkers do, sometimes by days. I usually verify the info that comes my way, then share what I’ve discovered out to my friends and family.

Social media is a passion of mine, and I hope that you’ll consider me to bring that passion to bear for the benefit of the AMU/APU IAEM program.

Why do we keep doing this?

Stupid leadership

Random thoughts


Over the past several weeks, I’ve been noticing some darker coloration on my toe where I had that nasty infection a few months back. I had initially thought that it was just random bruising from being on my feet at work. I spend a LOT of time on my feet these days.

Then, a couple of days ago, I stumbled across a picture that we had taken to document my foot as it got worse, and I realized that the discoloration was definitely not bruising. While my feet hurt all the time (dead shoes and overweight, combined with tile-over-concrete floors at work), the discoloration doesn’t have any particular discomfort to it. Rather, it pretty much outlines the worst of where the infection had formed the abscess, and runs down along the incision scar. I guess I have some permanent (at least, long-term) skin changes in that area. At least it doesn’t hurt like it did!


I am being thwarted in my attempts to get hired on with a local ambulance company. Unfortunately, it’s a saturated market, and a small one at that. I may need to start looking beyond Rockford, further out in the county, or even over in Boone County/Belvedere area. And that frustrates me.


I think that I’ve come up with an adequate backup solution for the home network. I don’t need anything for my computer, since I have an “older” Time Capsule, so that takes one full computer our of the need analysis. However, there are still four (five?) other people in the house who pretty much need some sort of backup: Erik, Kristen, Kirk, Tori (and Katie, who doesn’t have her own computer at the moment).

I’ve been looking for something that has cloud access (yeah, yeah, I know. Cloud security/privacy is questionable at best) and large capacity, for everybody, with relatively low cost. I think that the answer I’m looking for is the PogoPlug Office. The PogoPlug device acts as something like a NAS server, and is expandable to whatever you can get your hands on for drives. With two USB 3.0 ports, one 2.5 SATA/USM port, one USB 2.0 port, and one USB 2.0 port, there is plenty of room to expand.

I picked up a new/never used/in original packaging on eBay USB 3.0 drive (1.5 TB) for about $75. The PogoPlug Office allows for quasi-cloud storage (i.e the “cloud” is your own storage media, and is accessible either locally through the client software, or through the Internet and your home broadband router for sharing and access to backed up files, etc) for up to five separate user accounts. The device has an MSRP of about $150, but Rakuten/ has it available for just over $100.

I will be picking up one of these little gadgets when we get our tax return back, I think.

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