August 1, 1999
By Scott Lewis
We had a unique opportunity the night of July 27th. The space shuttle flew over San Antonio. It arrived in view from my house about 10:04 PM. We got a pretty good look at it right in front of our house. It shot across the sky in about 2 minutes. It just happened to take a path that let us watch it as it flew between the trees on our street. So by the time we lost site of it, it had past Houston. I know this, because I ran inside to call a friend in Houston to tell him to go out and see it. He was coming in from seeing it as I called.
This was a very impressive site, and probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The shuttle usually lands during the day. I doubt you would see much during bright sunlight. Even if you could see it at all, it would not leave such a beautiful trail through the sky. Also, there is the problem with landing in Florida at all. In my Air Force days (13 - 5 years ago) I was always hearing that the shuttle had to land at Edward's AFB in California. It would then take a piggyback ride on a 747 to Kelly AFB here in San Antonio, refuel and continue on to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. I don't think they do that as much anymore, but I have lost interest in it over the years.
What I saw the other night was unforgettable.
Alas, the summer is over. My wife is returning to work as you read this and I am no longer able to workout twice a day. I did enjoy it. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let's look at the entire program.
At the beginning of the summer I started a double workout program. For the most part I did not increase my weightlifting exercises, but took advantage of working out two times during the day. This allowed me to make each workout more intense. So instead of working chest and back in the same workout, I would work my back in the morning and my chest at lunch.
I did add a few exercises. I added dumbbell flies to my chest routine, rowing to my back routine, and forward and bent over lateral raises to my shoulder workout. That's only for extra exercises spread over 8 workouts. But each workout was more intense, and I pushed much harder than I could otherwise.
So did it work? I had planned on gaining 10 pounds over the summer. After the very first workout I weighed in at 214.8 lbs. After the final workout I weighed in at 218.2 lbs. Less than four pounds gained. I did notice my stomach got a little flatter, but not 6-1/2 pounds worth.
Did it work? No. But there was some success. I did notice a marked improvement in the mirror. My legs are bigger, my shoulders more defined, and my chest and back fill out my t-shirts better.
It was not a complete failure. I made some strides that are important. I increased my weight in pullovers to 130 lbs. This is more weight than I have ever done. I also increased my bench press to 100 lbs. dumbbells. Again, more than I have ever done before. These are what I call "work out weights." That means I use that much weight for the workout, not just a one-time lift. I can do two sets of 10 repetitions in pullovers with a 130-lb. dumbbell, and I can do 10, 7, 6 repetitions on bench press with 100-lb. dumbbells.
Lastly, I can say categorically that I am in the best shape of my life, right now at age 35!!!
With our recent approval/direction in screen requirements to our web efforts, I have made great strides building the framework for the data driven pages. Last month I added some polish to the pages to meet our sponsor's requests.
This month I tackled the rest of the functionality needed to replace our client/server application. I broke down all the functions needed and came up with 9 items. One of those was help. Since we all know programmers hate to create help I left that off the list for the time being.
That left 8 items. The first 6 were fairly easy. It only took a couple of days to get the basic functionality working, and another day or so to put some necessary polish on them. Number 7 is a nightmare. Number 8 works differently for certain data. So 8a is going to be as much of a headache as 7, but 8b should be much simpler overall.
As I am writing this, number 7 is still not working, and numerous attempts at getting around limitations in the web tool we are using have failed.
Here are the details for you serious computer nerds (the rest of you can skip to the next section). We have two basic views of our data: Snapshot and Trend. Snapshot displays data for multiple geographical locations for one time period. Trend shows data for one location over multiple time periods. Simple enough. The problem I am having is we have two different hierarchies for geography. I have figured out how to change the hierarchy, but not how to tell which one is currently displayed.
The problem presents itself when switching between trend and snapshot. We need to reset the geography for each of those operations. Without knowing which one is displayed, we do not know which hierarchy to reset to. Also, I want to display only one link (button, something) for the user to display the hierarchy that is not showing. Since I cannot determine which one is showing, I cannot determine which link to provide.
Number 8a is going to be a similar problem. We need to switch between showing months vs. quarters. I think I will be able to determine this though, so I can trend months or quarters appropriately. But it still presents a problem. 8b switches between monthly and year-to-date views of the data. This will be easier since they are different data elements. I just have to show the appropriate data elements. Trending will not be effected.
I'll let you know how this goes next month. Oracle's Web Agent is due for an upgrade to version 3.0 sometime in August or September. We are using 2.0. We have established a freeze on any new development after September. I don't think we will have time to test and implement the new version before the end of September. So our users may have to wait until next year to get the full functionality they have with the client/server application.
Cable Modem Status
Paragon Cable of San Antonio has gone live with their cable modems as of July 26th. They are going to start scheduling self-install classes for those that want to install the modems themselves. Unfortunately I have not been contacted to schedule when I want to take the class. I should have detailed information for you shortly. I am planning on a full report in my Feature Article next month. If I get into a class!?!
We have water, almost. The land we bought earlier this year did not have water. All the people on our block had to have wells drilled and setup to get water in their houses. We saw the local water company laying water pipes near our neighborhood, and asked if they would be coming up our street.
They had no intentions of laying pipe up our street. Half the lots on our block already have houses with wells, and they didn't think it would be very profitable for them to bother. We sent out a letter to all the land and homeowners that were on record with the county. In this letter we requested people join us in getting the water company to reconsider their position. We received three responses to add to the quest. Since my sister & brother in-laws were in the mix, that totaled 5 people. We then took that information to the water company. Along with that, we discovered that a couple of people, who's names we didn't get form the county records, were asking for water to be brought up our street.
Well, it worked. Due to the efforts of a few people we were able to get water supplied by the local water company.
What does this mean? Instead of spending $7,500, or so, having a well drilled and installed, we only had to pay $1,860 for the water company to lay its pipes in front of our property and hook up a water meter. We will have a monthly water bill once the meter is hooked up, but this will not be much more than the electric to run a pump. And we never have to worry there won't be enough water available.
Timeline to Build
If you recall... My wife and I have 1.1 acres, and her sister and brother-in-law have 1.67 acres next door. My wife's parents will also be moving out there with us in an external mother-in-law suite. We have a tentative plan. My brother-in-law (I know that isn't accurate, but we will use it anyway) will build my in-law's house first. Then him and my sister-in-law will move into the house. While living there, they will build their house.
Once they move into their house, my wife and I will move into the mother-in-law house. Then we will build our house. Once we move into our house, my in-laws will move into the mother-in-law house.
My brother-in-law expects to lay the first two foundations at the same time, providing a little overlap in the building. He wants to start in March 2000. Figure at least 4 months for the in-law suite, and six months for his house. There will be some overlap, but I think 9 - 10 months is probably about right. That puts us into starting around late 2000, very early 2001. We should be in by Spring of 2001.
This will be a slow story. I plan to document the entire process here, but at the very least I will keep you abreast of major events as they happen.
A Bigger Vehicle
If you read this month's Car Corner you are aware that we are considering getting a Suburban. Well, we got one. I have taken a few pictures of it in front of our land. When I get them developed I will post copies on this site. Don't spoil it for next month's Car Corner article, which will detail the vehicle we bought and provide an introduction to a long-term road test.
Alas, we will miss our Explorer. Hands down the most reliable vehicle I have ever owned, or even heard of. It never went to the shop for anything. I have yet to meet anyone that has had a new vehicle that made it though his or her entire warrantee period without ever going to the dealer for something. Farewell Explorer. You have provided us with many carefree miles. We wish you and your new owners well.
That about covers it for now. I am hoping (praying) that next month will finally be the month of the cable modem. Keep in touch.
See you next month.