Saturday, April 01, 2006

Taking a break

I have so many irons in the fire that I have to give something up, at least temporarily. Unfortunately, this blog is one of them. I will be back; I don't know when. As I have been getting some spam, I am going to turn off comments. I think I can do that anyway. If you do read this blog on a regular basis, thank you. You're part of a small elite group, a VERY small elite group. heh So until next time, see ya. LewisC

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Getting back to it soon

Well, I started my new job. So far it's ok although my desk area sucks. That's supposed to be temporary though. So let's see, in the last two weeks, I quit a job, started a job, got a new paying writing gig, finished a paying blog-related gig, was interviewed for a profile in a national trade magazine and, well, got way too little sleep. Tonight's the first night I really don't have any extra stuff to do and I just can't seem to get it together. I am dragging butt. Oh yeah, I also got my google pages account and have started a web page for my new business. It's not really started yet. I'm just preparing. Check out White Husky Consulting. So named after my female husky Nevada. This is what I had planned on working on tonight. I also just read a good article about blooks. And finally, I will be 40 tomorrow, March 30. The big 4 0. Damn, how did that happen?

Friday, March 24, 2006

I haven't posted in a few days

I started a new job on Monday and I got a couple of writing opportunities that are coming due soon. I'll update with more about the crusie either Sunday or Monday. In the meantime, one of my published articles has been getting some decent traffic. Check out the screenshot in this entry.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Cruise Day 3: Grand Cayman

Monday, day 3 saw us offshore from Grand Cayman. Being the punctuality freaks that both my wife and I are, we were up shortly after the sun getting breakfast at the buffet. Pier at Grand Cayman Everyone going on an early excursion met in the theatre. We were one of the first couples to arrive. After that it was sitting and people watching time for a while. We were really just getting into the cruise and already there were plenty of people turning bright shades of red. Some look really painful. Quite a few people appeared to have stayed up partying late the night before. Finally our ship guide showed up and escorted us down to the lower level to disembark. Grand Cayman doesn't have a place for the ship to dock so we piled into several tenders and were ferried ashore. The tenders have high walls so it's not much of a view. When we got into town, they cut us loose without telling us where to go. We wandered around until we found some more people who were also going on the stingray city snorkeling tour and we banded together. Our tour guide was late but finally showed up and marched us away from the pier and through the touristy part of town. Grand Cayman is a very pretty town. Lots of pastel colors. Lot's of banks and jewelry stores too. Church We loaded into some not so new but not broken down buses and headed towards 7 mile beach. We got some interesting tidbits from the guide. 7 mile beach is only 5 miles long. 95% of all buildings in Grand Cayman were either damaged or destroyed during the previous year's hurricanes. It was obvious there was still some rebuilding being done but the city was mostly intact. We got on the boat taking us out to see the stingrays. It was an open boat with plenty of room to move around. After a short trip, we made it to the sand bar where we snorkel. And snorkel we did. I'd guess we were out there for an hour or so. After that it was a short ride back in the boat, a short ride in the bus (which is better than a ride in the short bus) and then time to wander for a bit in town. The storm that had shaken the ship the first night was still following us and it looked like it would finally catch us. We had to be back on the ship by 2:30 instead of 5:30 as scheduled. The captain wanted to stay ahead of the storm. We bought some trinkets and returned to the ship for a nap before dinner. We woke up and lost a few dollars in the casino before returning to the room for some relaxation. The ship was rocking and rolling all night from the storm. It was creaking like a pirate ship but the motion was lulling and we both slept great. We enjoyed the excursion to see the sting rays and would recommend it to anyone. It was a very uneventful day for the most part but it went way too fast. Costa Maya was up next. The storm finally caught us. Boy, did it catch us. Tags:

Monday, March 13, 2006

Royal Caribbean Western Caribbean Cruise, Day 2

Day 2 was a slow lazy day. It's a sea day traveling from the gulf of Mexico out to Grand Cayman. It rained overnight; the deck was wet when we finally got up. We started with a room service breakfast of eggs and bacon and fruit. It comes with a nice assortment of rolls and biscuits. No bagel for the wife though. When we did decide to start moving around we headed up to the lido deck. That's deck 9 where the pool and the solarium are. I decided to pony up $48 to get the all you can drink Coke sticker for my seapass. You get a coke cup that gets unlimited refills at any bar. I got my coke and a deck chair and broke out one of the books I brought with me. I decided to read Doom: Infernal Sky by Dafydd ab Hugh and Brad Linaweaver. Wow! What can I say about a book that has more cliches per square inch than any other book I have ever read. It was all exposition along the lines of: "Say Jim, did you notice those aliens eating your face?", said Bob understatedly. "Why I sure did Bob. I believe they are satanic skull people from the planet Kerplah. They traveled here by FTL stage coach. They want our women.", Jim expounded while peeling the face sucker from his head. "Let's destroy them with this handy nuclear bomb", said Bob with absolutely no emotion anyone would believe. Gag. I like the first two in the series and as much as I hate to admit, I read this entire book (not in one day). I left it on board in the library. With a few chapters of that under my belt I had no choice but to immerse myself in a warm, saltwater jacuzzi. That made it all better. A little while there and it was time for lunch. We decided to hit the dining room and eat with strangers. The food was decent and the conversation was amusing. My, my my, look at the time. We headed to the room for a nap. Four hours later we woke just in time for dinner. This was the start of a trend. Not much more to mention for day 2. It was a lazy, warm, jacuzzified day. A prefect vacation day. Dinner was good: Salmon Caesar Salad, Cream of Chicken Leek Soup, and a Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream. Scrumptious. After that it was back to the room for some TV and snuggling. Finally sleep. I found I liked hearing all the accents on board. People were from all over. Our waiter was from Costa Rica and the assistant waiter was from Portugal. We got the opportunity to speak with these guys quite in depth. They did a great job. The cruise we went on for our honeymoon was a carnival cruise that we just didn't enjoy. It's not that the ship wasn't beautiful and well maintained. The food was great but it was geared towards partiers and that's just not for my wife and me. We didn't bring any reading material and the woefully understocked library was rarely open. The TV only had a single channel and that channel played Big Momma's House for 7 days straight. After reading the toothpaste for the 100th time and trying to avoid watching Big Momma's house yet again, I was just about ready to jump overboard. Royal Caribbean was different. The library was 24/7 (only closed while the ship was clearing customs) and nicely stocked with a variety of books. There were activities for just about any interest. And the TV, oh that wonderful TV. Not a single run of Big Momma's House. They had a movie channel and we watched a couple. The movie was different every day and alternated between an english version and a spanish version. Some of the other channels were CNN International (english and spanish), ESPN (english and spanish), XY Music (MTV-alike), CBS Spotlight on Royal Caribbean (Interesting the first go around but boring thereafter), Headline News, Turner Classic Movies, TNT, Animal Planet, Bloomberg, A channel to teach people how to gamble in the on board casino, Royal Classics (really old movies), Cartoon Network, Boomerang (Kids TV), Retro TV (like Nick at Night), E!, Venus TV (women's channel) and a view from the bridge. There was another channel that ran in a loop of available excursions at our ports of call. Day 3 was Grand Cayman. We were looking forward to it. But that's a different story. Tags:

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Cruise as a Replacement for Real Life

My wife wanted to go on a cruise so she could take a break and we would have some alone time. I wanted a cruise for the peace, relaxation and to get away from work and normal daily life. I didn't realize how much daily life we all carry around with us. I was amazed and dismayed at the people who had to be first; pushing to be at the head of the line, any line; arguing about who should go first. I was also annoyed at the line police. You know the ones; loudly pointing out the "cutters", using their butts and shoulders to block the hallway to the gangplank or whatever to make sure no one got ahead of them. One example would be when we were going ashore at Grand Cayman. We all met in the theater and filed down a couple flights of stairs to a narrow hallway leading to the gangplank. There was a very large guy who was pushing people out of his way as we were going down the stairs. He mumbled as he passed, "There are some people waiting for me down there." What, they wouldn't be waiting if you just took your time and stayed in line? There was a couple who instead of following our crew guide had to run around to the left and beat everyone down so that they could be first. They were going to be first to get in line to wait for the tender to take them ashore. And then they would be first to stand in line waiting for the excursion guide. And then they would be first to ride, walk or boat their way to whatever excursion they were taking. Why be first? I doubt they could have answered that. And then of course the woman in front of us who had to, loudly, point the couple out to everyone (as if we didn't see already). She complained her way down to flights of stairs and past about 100 cabins of people still trying to sleep (we were in an early batch getting off for excursions). She didn't prevent anyone from getting in front of her but she did manage to annoy a lot of people. All of these people annoyed me and that's what I mean about carrying my daily life around with me. Why did I care about someone cutting in line or someone who made herself feel better by complaining about it? My annoyance wasn't about them. It was about me. It took me two days to realize none of that crap matters. At least not while I'm on a cruise in the western Caribbean. Certainly not when I was about to spend the day in paradise snorkeling with sting rays. Once I came to that realization, I was able to really relax. I enjoyed myself and my time with my wife. Even when we got rained on in Costa Maya and on the garbage scow in Cozumel. But those are stories for later. Tags:

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Royal Caribbean Western Caribbean Cruise, Day 1

Over the next several weeks (probably) I'll be posting from a journal I kept during my recent cruise. The ship was the Royal Caribbean Legend of the Seas. It was a 7 day, Western Caribbean cruise. Today is day 1. We woke up early today even though we packed last night and didn't need to be at the port until 1. The in-laws, better known as grandma and grandpa, got to the house around 10. Logan LOVES the grand-parents but especially grandma. He gets 100% of her attention. My two huskies love grandma too. Whenever she visits she brings treats. And she takes them for walks to the park. They howl when they hear her voice. I set the DVR to record BSG next friday. I love DVR. I won't miss any of my favorite TV. Invasion isn't on this wednesday. Lunch at Chili's. It was good but I was ready to get going. We got to the port a half hour early. We turned over the bags to one of the guys who works there. I tipped him $5 dollars for a medium bag and a huge bag. I don't know if that was cheap or not but it seemed fair for about 5 minutes worth of work. This ship is amazing. It's smaller than the ship we took on our honeymoon (carnival) but it still seems huge. We were on board and exploring in under an hour. The processing was smooth and painless. We took our first picture on the gangway going in. They were taking pictures against a backdrop. We decided to get ours. Once on board we walked around for a little while since we got there early. The room wouldn't be ready for a while. A view of Tampa, FL from deck 9 on the Legend of the Seas After a while we headed to our stateroom. We got a large oceanview stateroom on deck 3. The room was great but we were hungry. It was off to the WindJammer cafe and the buffet. I never got any pictures of the buffet but here is an awesome virtual tour. We had some snacks and then it was back to the room for a bit. We had to do a muster drill. A muster is where everyone on the ship puts on their life jacket and goes to their muster station. Our muster station was on deck 5 at muster station 12. It takes about a half hour for everyone to show up (some people are complaining idiots) and to hear the speil. Afterwards we went back to the room to change into swimsuits. We grabbed some towels and headed to the Solarium for a dip in the Jacuzzi. The Solarium was very quiet and peaceful. For some reason not many people were spending time in there. After the Jacuzzi we went back to the room and relaxed for a while. We showered and headed up to deck 4 for dinner. Dinner consisted of Tuscan Tomato soup, Caesar Salad, Shrimp Ravioli and chocolate ice cream for desert. The food was very good. The portions were kind of small but since we had snacked at the buffet earlier, it was sufficient. Back to the room a little TV. The ship had CNN International. I found out Don Knotts had passed away. That was sad news. He was incredibly funny. It was a loooong day. We turned off the lights and after some huggin and lovin, went to sleep. It was a good day. Tags:

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Back From Vacation

Tampa Skyline From Cruise Ship, Legend of the Seas. I'm back! What a great vacation. If you're in the market for a cruise I can definitely recommend Royal Caribbean and its 7-day western Caribbean trip. Take a look at some pictures. I'm going to be posting a day by day set of blogs about the trip here as soon as I have them electronically (from hand written notes). I had cruised the Caribbean with my wife on our honeymoon about 6 years ago. We were given a Carnival cruise as a wedding present. The carnival ship was much larger than the Royal Caribbean (RC) ship we took this time. It carried a lot more people and just seemed to always be crowded. The RC ship was much nicer. When the Carnival cruise was finally over, I swore I would never cruise again. When I got off the RC cruise, I was planning my next one. I brought 8 books and a dozen magazines with the intention of reading them all. I read 1 book and 2 magazines. I planned to get all kinds of writing done and I did almost none. It's amazing how much time can be consumed through eating and napping. ;-) Today I'm unpacking and playing with my son. I know it's the grandparents job to do it, but after a week with 100% of grandma's attention, he is SPOILED! We called just about everyday on the trip but he refused to talk to us at all. He woke me up at 4am this morning looking for grandma and grandpa. Heh But we're getting back into the groove. And of course I have to mentally prepare myself to re-enter the real world of work and schedules. Blech! I need to win the lotto! And that's all I have time for today. Unpacked luggage is calling my name. Actually the wife is calling my name, but I think you get the idea. ;-) Tags:

Friday, February 24, 2006

Taking a vacation

I won't be posting anything else until March 4th. It's time for a vacation in the caribbean. The wife and I are going for a 7 day cruise. You can see where we're going at the link below. Taking a vacation Tags:

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Randazzo's King Cakes

A long time ago, as a consultant far, far away, I worked at Yale university as a consultant on Project X (that was it's real name, I swear. Do a google on "yale project x"). Anyway, I had never lived anywhere but New Orleans and San Antonio, TX. New Haven, CT was a different kind of place for me. After an interminable grey winter, the spring approached. Mardi Gras time! But I was stuck in yankeeland, New England. Don't take offense at the label of yankeeland. I wasn't going to make it back for the parades so I did the next best thing (me and a friend of mine from Slidell who was working there too), we ordered some Randazzo King Cakes to be overnighted to us. I think we ordered 4 large. An original and three stuffed with different kinds of goodness. We went through the history of the king cake with our co-workers and then chowed down. I have several very fond memories of my time at Yale and this is one of the best. I'll have to tell the story about setting the crawfish free sometime. The link below is about a bakery called Randazzo's. I don't know for sure that it's the same one, but I can't imagine there is more than one. I'm glad to see they're back. The Sweet Smell of Starting Over Tags:

Monday, February 20, 2006

ODTUG Desktop Conference

This is a post from my professional blog. If you have a few minutes, please browse on over and vote for me in the IT Toolbox Community Choice Awards. ODTUG Desktop Conference Tags:

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Happy Birthday Mardi Gras

Only if you aren't from New Orleans can you ask "Why don't they cancel Mardi Gras?" You can no more cancel Mardi Gras than you can cancel Christmas or Thanksgiving. Mardi Gras is a day that you can choose to ignore but it will still happen. Parades can be cancelled but the day will go on. As long as there's music in New Orleans, there will be some kind of Mardi Gras. BTW, I think CNN is doing the best job of covering New Orleans and Katrina. Much better than the networks or the other cable news channels. - Through war and yellow fever, the party rages on in New Orleans - Feb 19, 2006 Also, the link above talks about the flood of 1979. I was 13 during that flood. Me and two of my buddies help push a car that was stuck out of some people's yard. A photgrapher happened to pass by and took a picture of us. We were on the front page of the east bank guide, a local weekly news paper. My father was a New Orleans cop. He died in the line of duty that year. Tags:

Thursday, February 16, 2006


If you're like most people, you just let your spam blocker do it's job and then delete the crap it sends to your spam folder. I, however, am not like most people. I like to browse through the list and pick out interesting subjects. Some are just gross but some are really quite funny. My email of choice (yahoo) displays sender, subject and date. Here are some actual senders and subjects that I got today: Attention Ladies sends Enjoy your love life as much as he does. If they think that's possible, they just don't know me. Doggy Steps sends Don't miss cuddling with your dog. My dog has gotten a restraining order. SushiTrendCo sends Frozen Sushi Warms Investors' Hearts. Ick! Sushi-pops. Rick Knutson sends Take just a candy and become ready for 36 hours of love. 10 minutes, 15 maybe. 36 hours? Owww. Merle B. Fox sends Enlargement for you. Thanks. Right back atcha! Chris sends Online Mexican Pharmacy. A good idea (Mexican Pharmacy) just got better! Lipo Alternative sends Liposuction without surgery. All you need is a straw and good lungs? sends Please update your eBay account ! Oh right. Like I'm going to fall for that one! Again. The Rich Jerk sends Don't waste my time. Ok. Find Love sends browse local singles for free. Browse? How about touch? Get Ephedra sends Ephedra is Back-Get It While You Can. The stuff that kills people? Where do I sign? Tags:

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cartoon Violence Headlines

The violence brought on by some cartoons is really surreal. Everytime I hear "cartoon violence" I think of Tom & Jerry. Here are some of my favorite headlines so far (the articles are unimportant, it's all about the headline!): Cartoons: 2 Dead in Pakistan Riots Hmmm? I wonder if Wile E got some Pakistani road runners? The Reality of Cartoon Violence Hmmmm? Am I the only one who sees something fundamentally wrong with "cartoon reality"? Blair: Cartoon Violence Unacceptable Hmmm? Maybe they should put ratings on them? That darn Bart Simpson! Danish Imam Condems Cartoon Violence Hmmmm? I wonder how he feels about video games and porn? Cartoon Violence: What's wrong with this picture? Hmmmm? I don't know. Maybe the fact that we're even asking what's wrong with this picture? And my favorite headline so far: Hezbollah Leader to Bush, Rice: 'Shut Up' Well that's mature. Tags:

Monday, February 13, 2006


I am not really a right winger. I'm not a left winger either. I tend to be right down the middle in that I think all politicians are idiots. I normally consider myself a republican though. George bush has me leaning a little bit more left than I used to. I won't go into the details of that in this post except to day that W needs to hire Ann Coulter as his media person. I haven't read any of her books but I love watching her on fox news. Not so much because I agree with her (I do some, I don't some) but because she is so feaking funny. The post below is a prime example of that. CALVIN AND HOBBES -- AND MUHAMMAD - Yahoo! News I think insulting someone's religion is a bad thing. I think freedom of the press is good. To kill people for any reason is bad. To commit violence for religious reasons is real bad. I feel bad for all of the people who did nothing but have been killed and injured. What a world we live in! Tags:

Sunday, February 12, 2006

US group implants electronic tags in workers

This falls under jobs I'd prefer not to have. Would you be willing to have a glass encrusted silicon chip implanted in you for your job? I'd rather be an anal thermometer tester at Johnson & Johnson. How much privacy does someone need? / By industry / IT - US group implants electronic tags in workers Tags:

Will Write For Chocolate - A Cartoon for Writers

Check this out. I ran across this cartoon that should appeal to any writer. Will Write For Chocolate Tags:

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Katrina and missing family members

Read this story. - Viewer call leads to missing mom's body I felt a lot like the woman in the story for a few days after Katrina. I couldn't get in touch with my mom, sisters or brother for most of a week. I tried the Red Cross after a couple of days and they said it was too soon for them to do anything. They said they would call back when they could. They called back after a month. I didn't have to wait that long, though. My mom was able to get a call out after they eventually made it to West Monroe, La. When the water started sloshing things off her kitchen table she decided it was time to hike to my sister's apartment. Her and my nephew practically swam through neck high water (at times my mom was on her tip-toes). They made it the 4 miles to my sister's 3rd floor apartment. When they were able to get out of there two days later, they made their way to a hotel in West Monroe. My nephew was able to text message my niece and everyone was able to contact each other. I finally heard from her and by that time she had heard from all three sisters. It was another couple of days before we heard from my brother. Everyone made it through although my brother died 7 weeks afterwards. I can't imagine what state my mind would have been, or would be now, if it had been months before I found out anything. I really feel for the lady in the story above. And her family. Katrina sucked. Still sucks. It's like the neverending storm. Tags:

Friday, February 10, 2006

Random Thought of the day

LewisC's Law: It's better to be last through a green light than to be first at a red light. TimH's Corollary: But if you have to be at a red light, it's better to be first.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Jazz Fest 2006 is a go!

Jazz Fest is on. Same place as normal. You can get the details here. Unfortunately, I'll be in New Orleans in late May for a wedding so I won't make the fest. Jazz Fest 2006 From New Orleans.Com! Since I will miss the food, I try to make up for it by eating at the cajun cafe as often as possible. The food is amazing! It's real cajun. The whiskey bread pudding is killer! Tags:

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Homeless again in New Orleans

This is an etremely well written and mind boggling journal entry. It talks about a lot of things that I think most people don't realize. I saw the camps in City Park when I went to New Orleans at Christmas. Homeless again in New Orleans. It's a painful read. Tags:

E G Simmons Park Ruskin Florida

What a great day! We needed to do the paperwork for our homestead exemption and my wife needed to get a new driver's license (because we moved) and none of that is real easy with a 2 year old, so I took a day off from work and we made a day of it. First we slept in. I slept in the longest but my son worked with us on this and slept in until 8:30. That's about 2 hours later than normal. He's kind of sick so the whole day had a lot of snot wiping but I can live with that. Anyway, we finally got on the road and ran down to Ruskin, FL. It's in the same county as Riverview but is a lot less crowded. The county offices down there get you in and out a lot faster than the ones in Brandon, FL. We did the homestead and license in under an hour. While we were there, we stopped in a goodwill store in the same strip mall. We like to browse goodwills and thrift stores. I found a first edition Larry Niven hard back in Great condition for $3.00. Can't beat that. Afterwards, my wife noticed a Buddy Freddy in the same mall. We ate lunch there. Ewwww! What a mistake. Buddy Freddy sucks! At least this one did. If this is the way all of them are I am surprised they're still in business. It was dirty, we had to scrounge to find a table since the unoccupied ones had not been bussed. There were people waiting for plates. Did I say it was dirty? Floors, walls and silverware. The food was all either under or over cooked. All in all a disappointing experience. I will never go to another buddy freddy, that's for sure. After though, I remembered a park we had gone to in the summer for a seafood and arts festival. The park is the E G Simmons Park of Ruskin Florida. It has a great play area for kids as well as being a beautiful park. From the beach (just south of Apollo beach) you have a view of both the Tampa and St Pete skylines. You can see the skyway bridge and the stadium in St Pete. An awesome view on a clear day and today was very clear. My wife met a mommy and son who were also there playing. She had just moved from Colorado and didn't really know anyone. The kids hit off and played like hyper active chipmunks. We finally got home and I took a quick cat nap. Yep, A really wonderful day. Tags:

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Do You Know What It Means to Lose New Orleans? - New York Times

Here's an op ed piece by Anne Rice in the New York times. This is what I would like to have said. Anne Rice is kind of strange but she got this one right. Do You Know What It Means to Lose New Orleans? - New York Times Tags:

Monday, February 06, 2006

Slidell Mayor is upset | Slidell mayor fumes: All we hear about is Ninth Ward I just read this on Slidell is where two of my sisters live. My brother lived there a long time and I hung out there quite a bit in my teenage years. That was the first place I stopped when I went 4 months after Katrina. It was still wrecked. The houses and busineses along hwy 11 just don't exist anymore. The things that are still standing look like a bomb went off. The hotel that my wife and I and our wedding party stayed in on Gause Rd is damaged and still not open. The chapel we got married in has roof damage but is at least still there. Tags:

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Is it wednesday already? Invasion is on at 9. Or is it 10? It's getting DVR'd. I have been going non-stop since last week. Work is picking up speed, I have a bazillion wiritng deadlines and I am working on something I can't share just yet but it's taking a toll on both my free time and my sanity. I went shopping last night and bought a new suit. Jacket, shirt, pants, tie, belt and socks. I wore it all to work today. Everything I was wearing was brand new except for my underwear. And they weren't even all that fresh. I like the double takes that generates. I don't normally wear dress shirts much less a tie and jacket. I like the looks people give me when I do that. Of course the first thing people ask is if I'm interviewing. I say, "Yeah, it's a phone interview." heh Man, I'm tired. It's time for bed!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Job Hunting Feels Good

I like job hunting. I don't like being unemployed of course. I just like to play with my resume and post it on the internet. It's kind of like masturbation. It feels good and as long as nobody knows, it can't hurt. If someone found out, it might get embarassing. But hell, everybody does it! Of course, interviewing is a lot like mutual masturbation. Candidate: I really like your company! Company: You have great skills! Candidate: I would like to work here! Company: We want to give you money! Both: Ooooooooh! I feel so pretty. Tags:


I went to the dentist today. While I was sitting there, I thought to myself, "Ya know. Terrorism is bad but dentists are worse!" You might say, "What? How can you say that?" Well, let me splain. There is an industry that has formed around scraping crud off of people's teeth and occasionally pulling them out by the roots. It probably evolved from the people who pulled out people's teeth and stuck sharp sticks under their fingernails. Ok, maybe not. But didn't we learn about 100 years ago that cavities and plaque are caused by bacteria? If they can come up with an anti-bacterial creams to wash my hands and my dishes, why not my teeth? Because the dentists enjoy it! Now, I will be the first to say I don't think my dentist has ever sat around and old damp cave, eating old damp lamb chops, mumbling about sticking it to those hated americans. Oh no, he doesn't do that. But his breath occasionally does. Wow. The guy can get rank. He was breathing in my face and my eyes starting tearing up and I wanted some kind of tactful way to tell him so I said, "Dude. Ya ever hear of a dung beetle?" It came out like, "Uude. aahh ahah ahah ah ung eeetle?" He understood though. "Sure, I have." So I said, "Any idea why your breath smells like that ball of stuff they push around. Owwwww." And then said, "Sorry." Yeah I bet. "I had coffee this morning." So I'm thinking about this and I gotta ask, "Did you drink coffee or lick a monkey's ass? Owwww." I started bleeding badly at that point and had to quit talking. Dude, have a mint!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Living: BSG on DVR and Florida

Yesterday was a slow day. I slept late and woke up feeling bad. I went back to bed for a 4 hour nap. When I got up, my wife and son both decided to lay down for a while. I've been recording this season's battlestar galactica (BSG) on the DVR so I had a battlestar galactathon! Three hours of adama, starbuck and cylons. This season is starting off really well. I liked all three episodes. What's up with that nuke,huh? Today we got up and drove across town for an early lunch at our favorite vietnamese place. It's about a 45 minute drive but it's worth it. I always get the same thing: fresh spring rolls and pork and shrimp on broken rice. Good food. Afterwards we walked around the huge flea market on park blvd. I've heard it's the largest in florida. We got some books for my son and some big black sunglasses that fit over my prescrption glasses. I can't stand those little clip-on sunglasses. Now I look like a retiree. Oh well. The best part of all this? The temp was about 80 degrees all day. A little cooler in the morning but still warm enough for shorts, sandals and a t-shirt. I'd rather live in New Orleans but if I had to pick one reason to live in Florida, 80 degrees on Jan 22 would be it. Have a good one, LewisC

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Chocolate New Orleans

Earlier this week, New Orleans' mayor Naggin made a comment about New Orleans being a chocolate city. I'm not going to argue about how racist that sounds or how bad that is for tourism or even how mentally damaged he may or may not be, many others have been doing that. Nope, I'm going to take the high road here and talk about the gritty side of a chocolate New Orleans. My first stop is Blue Frog Chocolates. Check out the link to the "New New Orleans". That's a good read. Next up is Candy and Chocolate at CitySearch. If you have a sweet tooth, this is a good place to visit. And my last stop will be Cafe Du Monde. Not normally known as a chocolate shop but since I'm not particularly fond of coffee, I just happen to know they make a fine cuppa hot chocolate. So why did I write this? Because New Orleans is not a city of racists. It is a city of black people and white people and gay people and straight people and crooks and sinners and saints and just plain folk. There are winners and losers. Most people got flooded, a few didn't. Some live uptown, some down, some by the river and some by the lake and whole bunch live in between. They all love food and music and having a good time. Mostly they love food. And chocolate. All kinds of chocolate. And when a New Orleanian hears about a chocolate city, he imagines a kind of edible Oz. New Orleanians are not defined by the idiots they occasionally elect. Even though we do have a loooong history of electing idiots and crooks, don't let people like the mayor define who New Orleanians are. We snorted in disgust at his "chocolate City" and "god is mad" comments too. Of course, if you really want to see Noggin make an ass of himself, hop over to IFilm and watch the video. What an idiot. Later, LewisC

Saturday, January 14, 2006

New Orleans Takeout: The MRE

In December, I took my wife and son to New Orleans for a visit with my family. That trip and the things we saw, the people we spent time with, the gifts my son wracked up are for a different story. What I want to write about today is the nouvelle Orleans cuisine. For once I was able to bring back to Florida a real new Orleans meal.

The NEW New Orleans that is. I brought back 6 packs of what my family has been eating for the last few months. Everybody says they're great. My mom has her favorite. My sister's do too. When my brother-in-law was giving them to me he asked me not to take one of the pastas; his personal favorite.

My mom told me about the red cross coming by each day with water and food. MREs. Meal Ready to Eat. I can't tell you how consistently I heard, "This is really good food!" This from people who live to eat. People who on any particular day could, before katrina, get shrimp po-boys, gumbo, boiled crawfish, etouffee, and other excellent, make me drool, food.

Let me tell you what kind of person my mom is. She lost her house in katrina (along with everyone else in my family and all of their neighbors). She was living cramped up in an tiny apartment with 4 other people: no electricity, no water, no AC. The first floor apartment was a reeking, unhealthy mold factory. No TV, cable, internet, radio or newspapers; no news of any kind. The red cross was delivering food and bottled water daily. They were bathing with bottled water in addition to drinking with it and flushing the toilet with it. She had every right to be depressed and despondent. She could have been angry and resentful.

I asked her how she was doing. She said that red cross was bringing them food and water and that the food was military style (she can't seem to remember MRE). I asked her how it was. She said it was really good and that made her glad because now she knew that our military over in Iraq at least had good food to eat. That was so out of left field that I will never forget it and it makes me proud that she's my mom. Everything she has to worry about and she was worried about the troops.

But I still had a hard time believing that the military, with it's propensity for totally destroying food (at least on M*A*S*H and in the military cafeterias I've eaten in), could create these non-refrigerated bundles of goodness. After a little online research I find that they didn't get it right the first time. These "meals ready to eat" have at times been know as "meals rejected by everyone", "meals rejected by ethiopians", "materials resembling edibles", and due to a low fiber content, "meals refusing to exit". That one had me crying I was laughing so hard.

I didn't take a full case of the goodies. Just a sampling so that when we talked about them I would have some experience with them. I got one pack each of Beef Roast with Vegetables, Sloppy Joe, Chicken with Noodles, Vegetable Manicotti, Cheese Tortellini, and Jambalaya. I HAD to try the Jambalaya.

I packed them in an empty MRE case, i.e. A card board box. The box says that no additional refrigeration is required. That's true although from my research, refrigeration can extend their life. An MRE is planned to be "good" for about 6 months at 80 degrees and for about 3 months at 100 degrees. Katrina hit just in time for the MREs to sit in 100 degree weather. Hopefully the packs I got arrived at a later date.

Just for completeness, here is the entire list of entrees: Grilled Beefsteak with mushroom gravy, BBQ Pork rib, Beef ravioli, Cheese & vegetable omelet, Chicken breast filet, Chicken fajita, Chicken with salsa, Hamburger patty, Beef stew, Chili with macaroni, Penne with vegetables and sausage in spicy tomato sauce, Veggie burger in BBQ sauce, Cheese tortellini, Vegetable Manicotti, Beef enchiladas, Chicken with noodles, Sloppy Joe filling, Cajun rice with sausage, Pot roast with vegetables, Spaghetti with meat sauce, Chicken Tetrazzini, Jambalaya, Chicken with cavatelli, Meatloaf with gravy. I believe my brother in law said his favorite was the penne. I wish I had gotten one of the cajun rice packets. That sounds delicious.

So, what is an MRE? It's a brownish-tan plastic package. Inside that package is an entree, a desert, spices, napkins, matches, etc. It also includes a chemical heater. Real cool stuff! I'll talk about the heater first.

The heater uses water and magnesium (with a few other chemicals) to produce hydrogen. This chemical change produces heat. Basically, you have a little flat heating element in a plastic bag and an entree in a plastic cover inside of a flat cardboard box. You add a few tablespoons of water to the heating element and drop your entree into the plastic bag with the heater. Fold it up, put the entire thing back in it cardboard cover and in 10-15 minutes you have hot food.

Each meal is supposed to be between 1200 and 1400 calories. These are carb heavy. They're meant to suffice as the only meal for a day if they have to and are designed for soldiers, carrying heavy packs, who are on the move.

For dinner last night, my wife and I decided to try a couple of MREs. I grabbed the Jambalaya and she grabbed the cheese tortellini.

Here are the menus:

Cheese Tortellini:

  • Cheese Tortellini
  • Vanilla Poundcake
  • saltine crackers
  • peanut butter
  • spices apples
  • hot apple cider
  • plastic spoon, moist towelette, napkin, matches, salt, spices, gum


  • Cajun Jambalaya
  • Wheat Bread
  • Pineapple pound cake
  • Blackberry Jam
  • tobasco sauce
  • coffee (not CDM)
  • Vanilla Dairy Shake
  • plastic spoon, moist towelette, napkin, matches, sugar, coffee, gum, non-dairy creamer

I have to be honest. I didn't drink the coffee or the vanilla shake. I was stuffed from the meal. My wife skipped the hot apple cider. We ate the rest of it though.

So how was it? Well, my wife is a lot pickier than I am and she liked it. She put it on par with a microwave meal. I have to agree with that. I'd say it's a little better than almost any frozen meal I have ever had but not nearly as good as I would get in a restaurant in New Orleans. I've ordered Jambalaya in other parts of the country that I regretted putting in my mouth. I would eat this jambalaya again. The pound cake was downright delicious. The wheat bread was good, moist. It reminded me of middle eastern flatbread. I spread the jam on it. Mmmmmmm.

Because it was our first MRE, I over filled my heater some and my wife heated her spiced apples instead of the entree. Unlike the people in New Orleans who were living on this, she was able to nuke the tortellini in the microwave.

And that gets to the gist of it. These MREs are a novelty to me and my wife. I wanted to try them because my family spoke so often and so highly about them. But for a few hundred thousand people in New Orleans, a few hundred thousand more (million maybe?) in the gulf coast, these meals are what kept them alive. In the comfort of my living room, in the AC watching television, I can critique these meals. If I was sitting in my mom's house last September, November, etc, I would eat these things up. I think I would tell the world how good they were. They are good. In the right situation, they'd be great.

I am somewhat humbled by what all of my relatives have gone through, and are still going through. It's not over yet. All of them have shown a consistent strength that I hope I would have shown had I been there.

What more can I say except that at least I know they have good food to eat.

Katrina is gone but her impact remains. Everyone in the gulf coast can use your help. Check out Charity Navigator for a list of valid charities. Give what you can.

For more info about MREs, visit Wkipedia, How stuff works, or the Federation of American Scientists.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

My Resume

To get things started, I thought I would post my current (as of July 2008) resume. Lewis R Cunningham Email: Blog: PROFESSIONAL SUMMARY: Application Developer, Designer, and Team Leader with over 15 years using Oracle; expertise with EnterpriseDB, Postgres and MySQL; foundational knowledge of Ingres, SimpleDB, BigTable and Firebird. Proven team leader with project management experience; has managed diverse staff and complex projects. Expert at OLTP data modeling, logical and physical entity relationship diagramming (ERD), data warehouse dimensional modeling (Star Schema), data mapping, VLDB design and tuning. Extensive SQL, PL/SQL & XML and ETL programming. Oracle ACE Director, published author and popular technical blogger. WRITING CREDITS: Rampant Tech Press EnterpriseDB: The Definitive Reference An Expert's Guide to Oracle Technology Oracle 10g Security and Audit Oracle Database 10g XE: Not just for Learners Making the most of Oracle SQL Developer Reports PROFESSIONAL SKILLS: Databases Oracle 7,8, 8i, 9i, 10g & 11g Postgres 8.0, 8.1, 8.2 & 8.3 EnterpriseDB Advanced Server 8.1, 8.2 & 8.3 MySQL 3, 4 & 5 DBMS Design Tools - Oracle Designer, Erwin, Silver Run RDM, Visio, Schemester, SQL Developer, Oracle jDeveloper Environments - Replication, Standby Database, Streams, Amazon Web Services Languages - EDB-SPL, PL/pgSQL, SQL, PL/SQL, XML, XSLT, XML, Java OS - Solaris, HP-UX, TRU-64, Windows, AIX, SunOS, MVS, Linux Leadership - Team Lead, Architect, Lead Designer, Project Management Certified Oracle9i PL/SQL Developer Oracle ACE - PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Senior Solutions Architect • Jan 2008 – July 2008 • EnterpriseDB, Tampa, Florida • Environment: Oracle, Postgres, EnterpriseDB Advanced Server, Standby, Replication, EDB-SPL, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Elastra, Rightscale, PL/SQL, SQL Developer, DB Architecture, XML Data Architect – Manager II • Nov 2006 – Jan 2008 • PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Tampa, Florida • Environment: Oracle 9i & 10g, PL/SQL, TOAD, SQL Developer, Erwin, Database Design, DB Architecture, XML, XSLT, Data Warehouse, Data Mapping, Oracle Streams, Data Replication Database Architect • May 2006 – Nov 2006 • Shepherd Systems, Bradenton, Florida • Environment: Oracle 10g, PL/SQL, TOAD, SQL Developer, Erwin, DBA, Database Design, DB Architecture, XML, XSLT, Data Warehouse, Business Intelligence, Data Mapping, Dimensional Modeling (Star Schemas) Architect • December 2004 – April 2006 • Certegy Inc, St Petersburg, Florida • Environment: Oracle 9i/10g, PL/SQL, TOAD, MKS, Oracle Designer, CMM Level 2, DBA, Database Design, DB Architecture, XML, XSLT, Oracle Warehouse Builder (OWB), Data Warehouse, ETL, Data Mapping, Dimensional Modeling (Star Schemas) Senior Oracle Applications Consultant • August 2004 – December 2004 • US Air Force, Randolph AFB, Texas • Environment: Oracle 8i, Oracle Forms, Oracle Reports, Oracle HRMS 10.7, Oracle Applications AOL 10.7, PL/SQL, PL/SQL Developer, PVCS, StarTeam, Kintana Sr Project Director • April 2002 – August 2004 • Certegy Inc, St Petersburg, Florida • Environment: Oracle 8i/9i, PL/SQL, TOAD, JDeveloper, Java Stored Procedures, XML, BRIO, Forms 6i/9i, Oracle Designer, CMM Level 2, DBA, Database Design, DB Architecture, Team Lead, Oracle Advanced Replication, MKS Data Warehouse ETL Consultant • September 2001 – April 2002 • Certegy Inc, St Petersburg, Florida • Environment: Oracle 8i, PL/SQL, TOAD, JDeveloper, Oracle Warehouse Builder, Data Warehouse, ETL, Data Mapping, Dimensional Modeling (Star Schemas) Lead Architect • September 2000 – July 2001 • NDSi, Clearwater, Florida • Environment: Oracle 8i and 9i, Oracle 9iAS, PL/SQL, TOAD, JDeveloper, Oracle Forms, Oracle Reports, Oracle Designer, XML, XSLT, Java, DBA, Database Design, J2EE Oracle DBA Consultant • May 2000 – September 2000 • Veterans Benefits Administration, Seminole, FL • Environment: Oracle 8i, PL/SQL, TOAD, Oracle Forms, Oracle Reports, Oracle Designer, DBA Lead Developer • February 2000 - May 2000 • NDSi, Clearwater, FL • Environment: Oracle 8i and 9i, PL/SQL, TOAD, Oracle Forms, Oracle Reports, Oracle Designer, DBA, Team Lead Senior Oracle Consultant • September 1998 - December 1999 • Loyola Marymount University, Valencia Community College, Cornerstone Propane • Environment: Oracle 7, Oracle Forms, Oracle Reports, Oracle HRMS 10.7 & 11, Oracle Applications AOL 10.7, PL/SQL, TOAD, MS-Project, Team Lead, Project Management, Oracle Discoverer 4.1 Senior HRMS Technical Consultant • March 1997 - July 1998 • Yale University, New Haven, CT • Environment: Oracle 7, Oracle Forms, Oracle Reports, Oracle HRMS 10.7, Oracle Applications AOL 10.7, PL/SQL, TOAD, BRIO, Silver Run RDM, Oracle Discoverer 3.1 Computer Consultant • September 1995 - March 1997 • Shell Offshore, Inc, New Orleans, LA • Environment: Oracle 7, PL/SQL, Oracle Forms, Oracle Reports, SQL*Plus, Application Design