Southern Man

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Holiday Weekend Day 0

Day zero as Southern Man put in a long day's work today but immediately afterward scooted over to his folk's house to pick up twelve-year-old daughter (just back from a week of church camp) who he will have for the rest of the holiday weekend. We hit a favorite restaurant for dinner (yum, cheap steak and endless buffet, and a rare indulgence for the weight-watching Southern Man), Wal-Mart for supplies, and after dropping everything off at Casa Southern Man hit the pool for an hour.

Twelve-year-old daughter as future Bond Girl Agent K. Actually her inspiration is more along the lines of Angelina Jolie as Mrs. Smith or Lara Croft. Water guns are way cooler today than when Southern Man was a lad. Why, yes, it does come with two spare clips.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Movie Review - Super 8

With Super 8 (which is not a prequel to Cloverfield but features a similar critter and many similar themes) J. J. Abrams is now three for four in Southern Man's book (there can be no forgiveness for the fiasco that was the once-promising Lost), The bowing and scraping before the altar of Spielberg is a bit heavy-handed in places and the general disregard for the laws of physics a bit annoying but overall it's a fine film; the young actors are uniformly terrific and the intentional lens flares are not nearly as disruptive as in Star Trek. A background television places the time in the era of the Three Mile Island accident and Southern Man was transported right back to high school by the music choices. One supposes that this means that he is old. This one will definitely be added to the DVD collection next Christmas.

Birthday Weekend Day 2

Southern Man and twelve-year-old daughter capped her birthday weekend with a relaxed morning in the apartment, then lunch followed by a long dip in the pool and a movie (Super 8) before Southern Man took her to her grandmothers. She's off to a week of summer camp on Monday and Southern Man is looking forward to a routine workweek. And payday. Southern Man hasn't been this close to the edge in a long, long time (and it doesn't help that he can't say no to either daughter) but summer pay soon kicks in and should be a good start in replenishing the savings account and emergency funds. Not to mention the "fun with daughter" account!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Birthday Weekend Day 1

And now she's officially twelve-year-old daughter. The first phase of the party was at Laser Quest where we played two games...

Agent K stalks the night.

...and then gathered for cake and ice cream...

Merry-making in the Party Room at Laser Quest.

...then phase two was a huge family dinner at Outback...

Much of the clan is gathered here. Photo by the server at Outback.

The Birthday Girl with teen sister and teen brother.

...and finally we wandered back to Casa Southern Man for swimming and movies.

This is actually a photo from Summer 2009 in Orlando, Florida, taken from a disposable underwater camera that Southern Man just found and had developed.
Actually, all of these photos are from disposable cameras as Southern Man paid the "messy house" tax and had to buy one when he couldn't find his digital camera. The cameras plus developing worked out to about $5 per usable snapshot, which should encourage him to clean his room and find that camera.

Mobile App Workshop Day 2

And a short one for Southern Man as he cut out before lunch to prepare for daughter's birthday party. Again, hard work and advanced preparation produced a smooth, enjoyable morning for the participants. When Southern Man slipped out they were importing music and photos to create an animation app.

Southern Man and his graduate student assist the grandson of the fellow who gave several million dollars to the School of Business in which he works.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mobile App Workshop Day 1

This time Southern Man and his colleagues are on the other end of the workshop; he and two other professors and five graduate students are presenting a workshop on Android and iOS application development to high-school students - thus the "packed" work week with regular duties for most of the day and workshop prep until late every night. Southern Man, who in spite of a lifetime of immersion in computers of all types, had never owned an Apple product of any sort until the iPad dropped into his lap so naturally he's in charge of the iOS side. Also naturally, most of the kids are in that group. But a week's hard work by Southern Man and his grad students paid off; today went quite smoothly (some intro talk on computers and programming and such in the morning; introduction to the horror that is XCode (most IDEs are bad but Apple has a reputation for particularly awful ones) and an example application in the afternoon) and everyone had a great time. And the rest of the material is already prepped so no late night tonight! Tomorrow we'll finish up, but Southern Man will duck out early for almost-twelve-year-old daughter's birthday party and following birthday dinner.

And to end the day Southern Man and teen daughter teamed up to prepare a most delicious pasta and salad for dinner. She's turning out to be quite the cook, much like her mother.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day 2011

Southern Man is fortunate indeed to still have his parents nearby. He and both daughters were able to join them for lunch. After we got home teen daughter presented him with some nice gifts, and almost-twelve-year-old daughter slipped onto the computer while Southern Man was napping to compose and print a lovely poem. After an afternoon at the pool we then went to parent's home where Southern Man's brother and sister joined us for dinner. A very nice Father's Day, indeed. Tomorrow it's back to work...

A Daughter Weekend II

After a lazy morning spent doing a lot of nothing we ran some errands (mostly to set up her birthday party next weekend), hit the pool for a while, and then headed over to her grandparents for a cookout and some family time. In other words, an actual day off. Rare, but welcome, as next week at work is pretty packed.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Daughter Weekend

After work yesterday Southern Man headed to his folks to pick up almost-twelve-year-old daughter (where he had a nice chat with his teenage son - considering that we live fifteen minutes apart we really don't see each other that often) then we hit Wal-Mart for supplies and finally arrived back at Casa Southern Man. By this time Southern Man could barely keep his eyes open and collapsed into bed - then when his daughter shook him awake a few hours later he was half convinced that it was already the next morning and why was he still so tired? But we hit the pool for an hour of evening swimming and had a great time. Today was much of the same - after a most welcome night's sleep we noodled around the apartment all morning and after Southern Man ran some errands we spent the afternoon in the pool (Southern Man taught her and a playmate to dive and she's already begging for more lessons tomorrow) and now she's settled down for some premiers of her favorite shows on the Disney Channel. Life is good!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Software Engineering Conference Day 3

Our hosts worked us all morning and then let us go at eleven and the flight isn't 'till six so Southern Man embarked upon a six-mile walkabout from the beach to the airport to collect geocaches. The adventure began with a slow walk down Daytona Beach up to International Speedway Boulevard, a cache near the beach, then across the bridge, a break at the very nice Volusia County Library on City Island and another cache right there on the island behind the library.

The cache was near a lovely gazebo at the end of a dock where another citizen relaxing and reading a book snapped this photo.

Southern Man then headed into town and found a few more caches, ate lunch at the very nice Angell and Phelps Cafe, then tackled a tough cache that he wouldn't have found at all if the cache owner hadn't come out of the building and helped him out.

You meet the nicest people while geocaching. Photo by the CO's friend.

He then decided to shave a few miles off the walk (Southern Man packs light but that carry-on was getting heavier by the minute) and caught a bus to the
Volusia Mall ($1.25 - had he only known before taking that $20 cab ride a few days earlier), took a break inside and found a couple more caches near the mall and across the street at the Daytona International Speedway, then walked on in to Daytona Beach International Airport - only to find that the previous flight out had been canceled and that his own was delayed. Southern Man will never scoff at his own little regional airport calling itself "international" ever again; DAB gets four Delta flights a day and that's about it. It turns out that their one and only long runway was closed for repairs, there was a lot of haze from nearby wildfires, and the short runway is VFR only,

Invasion of the Geeks. Photo by a Delta gate agent.

So after much waiting it became clear that if we stayed at DAB we'd be there 'till Friday (everything tomorrow was already seriously overbooked) so five of us re-booked through Orlando International Airport, rented a car (the Delta folks were very nice but made it clear that getting to ORL was our problem and would be at our expense, not theirs), and headed that way. We had to spend the night in the terminal and Southern Man would like to spin a tale of excruciating hardship but the truth is he spent most of his wait in an overstuffed chair in a 24-hour Starbucks drinking hot chocolate and surfing their free WiFi so there was really not much suffering involved. The early-morning flight out of ORL and connection in ATL were full but on time and Southern Man arrived home at ten-ish for a shower and bite to eat before heading in for work.

The wonder of it is that after some twelve hours of waiting modern transportation technology whisked Southern Man halfway across the continent in five hours at a cost of less than a week's salary. When you stop to think about it, that is remarkable, isn't it?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Software Engineering Conference Day 2

They work us hard and feed us well - today Southern Man got some valuable lessons on how to manage a little programming project he's inherited back at work and tonight they took us to Crabby Joes on the famous Sunglow Pier in neighboring Daytona Beach Shores. There were lots of people fishing off the pier and pulling some surprisingly large fish out of the water. Southern Man sampled a local ale called Land Shark, which is allegedly a favorite of singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffet.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Software Engineering Conference Day 1

The conference has been interesting. It's a fairly small group, only about twenty or so. Our hosts are all professors at nearby Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the focus is on the use of software development case studies to teach software engineering, which is of interest to Southern Man as his one and only SE professor could retire any minute now and someone will have to take on that course. They worked us pretty hard today, then took us to dinner at Down The Hatch where Southern Man slipped away to nab a geocache (our host unknowingly parked within feet of it) and then rejoined his comrades to eat delicious seafood and drink cold beer (a Red Stripe, which Southern Man often selects when there's fresh seafood on the table).

Why, yes, there are girls who go to software engineering conferences. Here's 2/3 of them.

On the dock behind the restaurant - boats of every size and description, most rigged for fishing. One large section is marked "docking for restaurant customers only." That chair was marked "Dock Master Only."

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Software Engineering Conference Day 0

The conference doesn't actually begin until tomorrow morning - early tomorrow morning - but they provided a room for Sunday evening anyway so Southern Man made it a point to arrive as early as possible and have half a day to enjoy Daytona Beach. So he arrived at The Plaza Resort and Spa right at noon, took his bearings, checked his luggage at the desk, and went exploring. A long walking loop took him to a couple of geocaches near the western shore and then back around to the famous beach where he walked through the surf while eating ice cream. Back at the hotel he had a late lunch at the pool bar (overpriced but quite tasty) and then it was late enough to actually check in and get his room - resort quality, small kitchen with 'fridge and microwave, free wi-fi, private balcony overlooking the beach - and take a much-needed nap. Then the evening took him on a long walking loop in the other direction for more beach time (again with ice cream) and dinner at a local BBQ place where Southern Man asked for a dinner with a little of everything and they served him something called a "Belly Buster." He would work on the leftovers for the rest of the conference.

You can see my balcony from here.

This is kind of a placeholder - blogging with the iPad is possible, but just barely, and pics are stuck in the camera 'till Southern Man gets back home - so this post (and those to follow) will get pics and better formatting in a couple of days. But that I'm lounging in bed at a relatively famous resort blogging on a wireless notepad is kinda cool. Back in high school we dreamed of a future filled with flying cars and cities on the moon; what we got instead was not only unexpected but equally cool.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fishing In The Rain

Nothing quite like spending an evening in the country in a gentle summer rain (a rarity in Southern Man's neck of the woods, where rainfall generally has a sizable horizontal component) with the fish nibbling at the surface and burgers sizzling on the grill and cold beer on ice and good friends by your side...

...and now home to clean up and get ready for a conference out of town. The flight leaves at 6:00 AM...

Friday, June 10, 2011


What's the difference between an introvert and an extrovert? A commenter on a blog Southern Man reads puts it this way:
I only read a few replies, but they seemed to misuse the terms “introvert” and “extrovert”. These are not terms that indicate your level of social skills, or even your desire for social interaction. They instead indicate how your energy levels are affected by others.

For an introvert, social interaction is a mentally-draining activity, and after socializing the introvert needs solitary time to recharge. For the extrovert, being alone is draining, and socializing is an energy-gaining activity.

This is a pretty good description of Southern Man, who is (and has always been) something of an introvert. And after a fairly challenging week at work and with both daughters out of the state Southern Man is more than content to hide away at home today and recharge. A little blogging, a little light housecleaning and laundry, a lot of catching up on videos he's meant to watch (several on the space program and Apollo missions, to see if they're worthy of incorporating into his astronomy course), and no answering of the phone. It didn't even occur to Southern Man that he was in full-out recharging mode until the phone rang and his first thought was "if that isn't a family member, let it ring." It wasn't, so he did. And who knows, in a few hours he may venture out and spend the evening at The Land. But this is a recharging day and he's going to enjoy it to the fullest.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Tornado: Final Tally

After a survey up and down the road this evening it looks like the tornado will take all but three of the houses on the west side of the road and every single house on the east side. There are a few on the east side with some tarps on the roofs but tonight it looks like all have been abandoned and are probably waiting for final insurance estimates and the wrecking crews.

What a tragedy. The only silver lining is that no one was hurt, and that in all likelihood everyone had insurance. But Southern Man's respect for his state's violent weather has grown considerably in the last month; on his list of future Land projects the storm shelter has moved from "eh, maybe, someday" to "top priority." And if he ever builds out there, he's thinking about concrete or block walls. On the plus side, utility poles are back up and The Barn has power once again, so the 'fridges are back on and Southern Man will haul the "land food" (which of course includes the "land beer") back out there sometime this weekend.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Daughter's Travels IV

Southern Man continues to live vicariously through his vacationing daughter, who is now at the National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown, ND... front of the World's Largest Buffalo. Photo by Mel.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Daughter's Travels III

Now in Fargo, ND... front of a statue of a "tigalo" (that would be the offspring of a male tiger and a female buffalo if you believe in that sort of thing) at the Red River Zoo. Photo by Mel.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Daughter's Travels II

Now they're in Watertown, SD...

...admiring a big blue cowboy. Photo by Mel.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Daughter's Travels

Eleven-(almost-twelve)-year-old-daughter is on vacation with her "cousin" and cousin's "mom" (long story) who sent Southern Man a cheery photo of daughter and her cousin in front of...

...well, a bird. A giant bird. A wren, to be precise, Some digging on the InterTubes revealed that it is the world's largest wren and once sat atop (or beside; sources differ) radio station WREN (the second radio station in Topeka) before being relocated to a park on SW Topeka Boulevard. Photo by Mel.

This was a mid-day break; they made it all the way to Nebraska City before stopping for the night. More updates tomorrow!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Fantasy Guitar

Everyone has their secret guitar fantasies. Here are two...

Steve Ramos plays a short version of Mason Williams' Classical Gas...

...and Ewan Dobson plays his own Time 2.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Fantasy Ticket

With a full year and a half to go, Southern Man is going out on a limb and stating that his fantasy ticket is Paul Ryan and Sarah Palin, in either order. That way if it actually happens Southern Man can say he was on the cutting edge, for once. But given that last election most of his fantasy tickets had Condi Rice on them he does not have much of a track record here.