Sunday, February 19, 2006

Trip to Killeen

You'll remember from one of my previous posts that I had to take my motorcycle in to get a recall repair. I was originally scheduled to run it over to Abilene for an appointment at 9:00 in the morning. It's about an 80 mile ride....farther than I've ever been before. However, when I went to leave, it was cold... like 25 degrees. Now, 25 degrees isn't too cold, but when the wind is blowing at about 20 MPH and then you create an additional 70MPH of wind chill and ride for an hour and 15 minutes, that gets really cold. When you don't have the proper gear it can quickly lead to hypothermia.

I chickened out. I turned around and went back home before I made it across town. I called the dealer and tried to reschedule for later in the day. I was told that they were much too busy and I'd have to reschedule for almost two weeks out. This really made me mad because I had called them the day before and was told that "it only takes 20 minutes and you don't need an appointment".

I called other Suzuki dealerships in "the area". The only one I could get in to was in Killeen, which is about 115 miles away. I waited and left at 10:30. By then it had warmed up to 40, which is still chilly, especially for a 2 hour ride. So, I donned by Patagonia long underwear, a pair of jeans, a pair of windproof pants, a fleece pull over, a patagonia R4 jacket, my Mountain Hardwear windproof shell, my balaclava, skull cap, helmet, and windproof gloves. I really felt like Ralphie's little brother from The Christmas Story, but I was toasty.

The ride down was great. I stopped in Lampasas (that's about half-way) and shed a few layers since it had warmed up a bit more. Anyhoo... I got the bike fixed and I didn't freeze on the way down there.

The ride home was a different story. I've heard other cyclists complain about the factory seats on their motorcycles, but always thought mine was nice and comfy. Until I made it back to Lampasas. An hour and 15 minutes from home I felt like I was sitting on a 2 x 4. And talk about a wedgy... yikes!

For awhile I decided to grin and bear it. That strategy soon failed. Suddenly, I began to notice that there were a lot of historical markers along this highway. I'm currently taking US History since 1877 at Howard Payne University. The history of cental Texas become increasingly interesting. I stopped at every historical marker between Lampasas and home. This allowed me to get off the bike about every 10 minutes, stretch my legs, and get my undies out of a bunch. In addition, I learned a lot about several dried up towns like Goldthwaite (the H is silent, go figure) and the Farmer's Alliance. Very interesting indeed.


Somehow Hope got the idea in her head that she would get a pony when we moved to Texas. I'm not sure exactly how that happened, but anyway, she was pretty sure she would be getting a pony.

So, for her birthday we gave her a Cinderella castle. It's really neat. The clock even chimes when you turn the hands to midnight. Anna stayed up until the wee hours of the morning putting on all of the decals. Bless her.

We also bought her the accompanying carriage, which comes with a horse. After she opened all of her cards and other stuff, she was prancing the horse around on the floor. She looked at me and said, "Daddy, look! I got a pony."

"Yes," I replied. "Don't you remember you were going to get a pony when we moved to Texas? There you go."

Friday, February 03, 2006

Bike Bummer

Wow... it's been forever since I've added anything to my blog. I guess it's because I've been crazy busy. Mom and Dad were here, and then Anna's grandma passed away, so she's been out of town with the girls to be with her family. And me? Well, I've been doing a bunch of extra stuff at work... and my taxes...

Speaking of taxes.. Have you ever done taxes when you've purchased a home, refinanced, sold a home, relocated, and bought a new home in 13 months? Well, it's kind of depressing really. Partial year taxes in one state. Figuring cost basis on the old house. Deducting points, interest, and other stuff for a plethora of mortgages. Figuring out what relocation expenses can be deducted, etc. It's a real chore. On the good side, I get to deduct points for 3 mortgages in one year. Still, it's never fun to put all of this together.

I'm also suffering from motorcycle withdrawl. There was a recall on my bike and they recommended not riding it until the issue has been repaired. So, tomorrow, I get to take it in to the dealer (80 miles away) to get it fixed. I'm really looking forward to being able to ride again. It's been two weeks now since I got the recall notice and the weather has been really beautiful down here.

On another note (for you techies), I've been working on playing around with Linux lately. When Dad was here, I was trying to help him get set up to run wireless on his linux laptop. I decided that I should give it a whirl again since it'd been years since I've really played around with it. But which Linux distribution should I use? I decided to try a bunch of different ones and compare them. I started out with Kubuntu, but didn't like it because there was a bug in the distribution that prevented you from doing several administrative tasks. I found this to be really annoying. I tried OpenSuse and I actually liked it fairly well. I think if I was going to run something for business, OpenSuse would be a front-runner for me. Doing the web install took like 9 hours because of all of the downloading. I didn't like that. All of the other distros I tried came on single CD iso images of 650 MB or less. I tried Mepis as well. I really liked Mepis. It just worked. The distribution includes everything you need to play MP3s and DVDs. I really liked that, but it uses KDE, and I'm not a big fan of KDE. Too busy. And ugly. Too much like Windows. It's supposed to be unix. Don't make it look like Windows. Finally, I tried ubuntu. Kubuntu is actually a spin-off of ubuntu, so I wasn't expecting a lot out of ubuntu, but I actually ended up liking it more than any other. The Gnome interface is simple and elegant. Everything worked, and the install was a breeze. However, it doesn't come with support for MP3s and DVDs. Still, I think I'm going to stick with ubuntu and just add the other things I need. Dad, if you're still looking for a good linux distro, I'd recommend that you use ubuntu.

OK, but here's my gripe with Linux. I keep hearing from everyone about how much easier it is to setup and maintain than windows. If you want to install an application, you open your package manager and download what you need. But, often the software you want isn't in the package manager, so you have to go get it from some other source, or download the code and compile it yourself. Most people don't have a clue about how to do this. Shoot... I'm a developer and I don't usually like to compile someone else's code. With a windows system, you simply go to the manufacturer's website, download the installer, and run it. I fail to see how apt-get and package managers are easier.

The security update/patching mechanisms are cryptic and difficult to use. Plus, half the time, they prompt you to update almost every package on your machine, which takes hours. And people say this is better than WindowsUpdate?

In addition, wireless support is a joke. It's difficult to configure, and only supports WEP. Everyone knows that WEP is easy to crack... that's why we all run WPA/AES or WPA/TKIP these days.

It's frustrating, because I want to run a unix O/S, but I just don't think Linux is ready for prime time. I guess I'm just going to have to get an iMac so I can run OS X. Ok, I'll stop spewing out technical gibberish now.

Good Night.