April’s Travels

Kara almost had a heart attack when she saw that I was writing a blog post. Anyway, I figured I would give an update of what has been going on recently. Work has been fine lately. This month was pretty full as far as travel is concerned. A couple weeks ago I was in San Francisco. On my off time, I went around and saw the Golden Gate, Point Bonita Lighthouse, Coit Tower, Lombard Street (a curvy road with a 100 foot elevation change), Municipal Pier, Pier 39, & the Marina Green Park. San Francisco was a cool city to visit. The last day of the trip was interesting. I got up on Friday around 6:30am, finished up everything for work in the afternoon, and did some final sightseeing in the evening. I took the red-eye at 11:00pm pacific time, landed in Atlanta at 6:30am eastern time, then left Atlanta, and landed in Nashville around 8:45am central time on Saturday. As crazy as it sounds, if I need to go to the west coast in the future I would probably prefer the red-eye on the return trip over waiting till the next day. It just seems like such a waste to burn the next day on travel alone, when you can get in the next morning and still be able to do stuff, albeit drowsy. Anyway, if you want to see the pictures from this trip, see the San Francisco album in the gallery.



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So this last week, I also had to go to Atlanta. Kara tagged along as she wanted to see a number of people she knows there. We also wanted to go see some stuff together. On my off time, we took the subway into town and went to the World of Coca-Cola museum (since I had never been), Centennial Olympic Park (well we walked just outside of it as there was a private event that day that had it closed), and the Underground. I don’t know what the big deal is about the Underground. Maybe it was cooler in the past, but I wasn’t at all impressed (this was my first visit). I am not being judgmental since Kara agrees with my opinion. In fact, I would not be comfortable going there at night. There weren’t even any cool places to shop. For example, there was this store that said it had items “as seen on TV”. We thought that was interesting, so we went inside. It turns out this store had knock-offs of the items “as seen on TV” (i.e. ShamTowel instead of ShamWow). How pathetic? We also went to Stone Mountain. It was a lot of fun despite having developed some kind of sinus illness half-way through the trip. Towards the end of the trip Kara was also feeling under the weather. Needless to say, we were both tired and glad to get back home. To see my pictures from this trip, visit the Atlanta album in the gallery.

I’ll end on one final thought. I already mentioned this in a previous Facebook status, but I will relay the idea for any non-facebookers. I found out last Sunday that I will be going to Manchester, England for 4-6 weeks in June for work. Apparently, most of the people involved with the project my boss and I will be working on are in Manchester. Therefore, we are going over there. I don’t know if it is going to be six weeks all at once or two weeks there, two weeks home, two weeks there. Either scenario, Kara wants to go with me. We’ll have to see how long our budget allows her to tag along for. We would like to use some vacation time and travel through Europe while we’re there. Luckily, we have some money saved up; we just have to decide how much we want to spend (it could get expensive quickly). I hope these plans don’t fall through as I have wanted to return to Europe for a while.

Vacation Pictures

Kara & I enjoyed a full week of vacation last week (when is the last time that has happened?). We went to Panama City Beach with almost the entire family. The condo we stayed at was on the 25th floor. So, as you might imagine, I took copious pictures from the balcony (as well as at the beach). I have created an album in the gallery where I have uploaded the pictures. Enjoy.

Tree Climber

In the interests of practicing some programming skills that I don’t use at work (while I have written a few .Net apps at work, I mainly code in ABAP), I have tried lately to come up with fun projects to work on personally. A while back Mom and I were talking about genealogy and the fact that she mainly has information in PAF on her family and not Dad’s (even though there is lots of info in the Ancestral File on FamilySearch.org). I mentioned that I could probably write a program to extract that data, and she said that data would be good to have. As you already might have guessed, last week I took up the challenge.

I set out to write a C# app to extract all genealogical data in the Ancestral File for my direct ancestors. Of course, I had to give it a cool name. I called it Tree Climber…get it? You know; it’s a program that climbs a family tree. Most people reading this are probably shaking their head at me, but I thought it was clever. I utilized a technique called scraping, where the program gets a web page’s source HTML from which to harvest information. Some websites consider this a violation of their terms of use; so I checked the FamilySearch.org terms of use, which does not mention such a violation. So here’s how it works:

  1. For a given person in the tree (I started the program at this node in the tree), download the GEDCOM file using the link found at the top of the page.
  2. Store nodes 8 through 15 for further processing.
  3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 for all of the stored nodes.
  4. Once all of the nodes have been visited and all GEDCOMs downloaded, merge all of the GEDCOMs into one combined file. This is used to import into PAF.


After a couple days of coding & testing, I was ready to try it out. As mentioned, I started the processing at Caitlin (Mom’s Caitlin, not Shannon’s) to include both Mom and Dad’s genealogical information. I created the program with a textbox that shows the names as they are extracted. While it was running, I was amazed at all of the interesting names and at the volume of names. We were always told that a whole lot of genealogical work has been done on Dad’s Mother’s side. Now I have an idea as to how true that statement is. My program ran for 10 hours before it had completed! It took 6 hours to extract 5,683 GEDCOMs and an additional 4 hours to merge them into one combined file. After I imported the GEDCOM into PAF I discovered that 19,580 names had just been extracted. Holy cow! The volume of names is not nearly as impressive as some of the cool people I found that I was related to.


I was actually going to list the complete descendancy from me to Otto I (just because I can), but I figure I have been long-winded enough. If anyone wants the data I extracted or if you actually want to see the descendancy just let me know.

Bonehead

DeSean Jackson is a bonehead. In fact, he is the bonehead’s bonehead. Check this out; I picked up DeSean Jackson for my fantasy team as I was very week at wide receiver (and pretty much everywhere else). He was playing last night and I needed some points. So he catches a 61 yard pass from McNabb going into the end zone. What happened next must be watched to be believed (see the first clip). That was 6 points he threw right out the window for me. Want to guess what the final score was in my game this week; yeah, I lost 76 to 80. I could have used those points you idiot. Well it looks like he has done this kind of thing before (see the second clip); what a moron. At least I am not the only one vexed by this jerk.

Monday Night Football
2005 U.S. Army All-American bowl

Grass

I had to mow the lawn for the first time this weekend. Luckily, the sodded portion was the only bit that needed it. So it didn’t take nearly as long as it will in the future. The section of the yard that was seeded and strawed started out great but eventually fizzled despite Kara’s dedicated watering routine. The sodded part of the yard, on the other hand, has been doing well, thus necessitating a lawn mowing. Even though I abhor lawn mowing, spending the extra money to get a self-propelled lawn mower(as opposed to entirely “me propelled”) was very much worth it. It is especially useful as the front yard has a little bit of slope to it. My question is why couldn’t dad have spent a little more money on a less painful lawn mowing experience for us back in the day? Surely, this feature isn’t new?

Anyway, I thought I would end this post with a picture of our new front doormat. Isn’t it lovely?

St. Louis

Well, I have put off blogging long enough. The first half of this week I was in St. Louis for work (the company has a fair sized office complex in St. Louis). I had to train a couple of people on some programs I finished earlier in the year. After the five hour drive, I was pleased when I arrived at my hotel. I stayed at a Marriott right next to the St. Louis International Airport, as in 1,500 feet away from the airport. I lucked out and got a corner room on the fifth floor. So, I had a huge window along each wall of the corner. This meant I had a prime view of the airport. I have enjoyed playing flight simulators for years, so naturally I enjoy watching airliners landing & taking off. Yes, I know I am a geek.

Anyway, I was there for two and a half days of meetings. Interestingly, it just so happened that the company had some Cardinals tickets (Cards vs. Brewers) they weren’t using (the customer service department there regularly gives out baseball tickets as incentives for high customer service scores for the employees) and the group of people I was meeting with and I caught the game on Monday. As you can see in the image I hijacked from Wikipedia, the second incarnation of Busch stadium has a wonderful, open view to the St. Louis skyline. We had pretty good seats as well, along the third base line about 15 rows up on the bottom level. Unfortunately, the wonderful venue just couldn’t compensate for the 95 degree game time temperature with a billion percent humidity. It was miserable weather, but the game was good. So, overall it was a good trip.

On a completely unrelated note, I found out the other day that Nashville will have a Weihnachtsmarkt(a Christmas street market if you didn’t know) this Christmas. NashvilleChristmasMarket.com states that “Beginning this year, Sister Cities of Nashville and partners in our sister city of Magdeburg, Germany will bring a month-long traditional Christmas market to downtown Nashville during the holiday season. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, Nashville’s Hall of Fame Park will be transformed into a holiday village, where visitors can enjoy German food and drink specialties, experience holiday music and entertainment, and purchase authentic German ornaments, nutcrackers, puppets, and other crafts.” I am excited to see how authentic it is going to be. Magdeburg was my last area on my mission. In fact, if you have never heard the story about some Nashville-Magdeburg sister city events that happened while I was there, you can read about it here.

The End of the World is Near…

Well, we have finally gotten settled in. This weekend Kara and I went through the pain and sorrow of moving from our apartment to our new house. Everything has been moved and the apartment cleaned and handed over to the landlord. It is nice to have more room. This morning, the cable internet and satellite was set up. Both the cable guy and the satellite guy arrived today on schedule (the end of the world must be near). In fact, Kara said that they were here at the same time. At least we can watch some TV while unpacking the myriad of boxes we moved.

300

I figured I’d take a moment to mention a recent accomplishment (I know it is sad to call this an accomplishment, but oh well). I bowled my first 300 in Wii Sports. Woo Hoo!

Anyway, on a more important note, we are finally closing on our house on Monday. Kara’s been boxing things up all week. After getting the house, we will have a week and a day to get moved out. I can’t wait to get this all over with.

Inland Trail

Kara and I decided it has been too long since our last hiking outing (read about our past hiking adventures here, here, here, and here), so this Memorial Day we did a little hiking. We went out to Long Hunter again. This time we selected the Inland Trail loop, which as the park trail map says, "passes through a dense, rich, hardwood forrest and climbs to a wooded hilltop."

The map also mentions that this trail has small karst formations. I found the karst topography most interesting, whereas Kara was not particularly impressed. After completing the loop, we also wondered onto another trail by the shoreline that links several picnic areas together. All together, we walked about 1.33 miles, which is outlined in the map below. Of course, it wouldn't have been complete if I hadn't taken the camera along. Check out the pics in the album titled Long Hunter Inland Trail in the gallery.




(View larger map)


Making Progress

I guess it is time for my monthly post (that’s pretty sad isn’t it?). Anyway, our weekly visits to the house are going well. I have posted the latest pictures. If you’ve been following Kara’s blog, you would have seen weekly updates here, here, here, and here. Everything seems to be coming along well. Go to the gallery and take a look at the pics.

I just came home for another trip for work. This week I was in Atlanta. The week before I was in Chicago. It was kind of interesting because the week before my trip to Chicago you may have heard about the mass flight cancellations by American Airlines due to inspections of wire bundles in their MD-80’s. My flight to Chicago was on an American MD-80 and therefore this interested me greatly. Luckily, I dodged the bullet and all of their aircraft were cleared the day before I had to travel. Since taking my current position last July I have traveled 14 times. The remaining trips that are currently planned are in May to Atlanta and in June to Dallas.