Wednesday, June 28, 2006

5 A.M. Wake-Up Call

It's 5:15 A.M. in Tampa, Florida. I've been up for 15 minutes. What I thought must be the loudest alarm/wake-up call in any hotel I have ever visited turned out to be a fire alarm. Yay. Shortly after the alarm went off we were told to stay in our rooms. This was followed 15 minutes later with the following announcement:

"The emergency response team has determined this alarm to be a non-emergency. Please return to normal business."

Normal business? Like what, sleeping?! My ears are still ringing, I'm quite sure I'm awake for the morning and ready to go to work.

In 18 months of traveling this is the second time that the fire alarm has gone off in my hotel. The last was during the winter in Washington, DC. I looked damn funny in a pair of flimsy shorts, a t-shirt, jacket and dress shoes (the first ones I could find) standing outside in 30 degree F weather. At least its warm outside this morning...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

More pizza naming...

Chin Chin used to call me "Bean Bex".

I forgot all of the variants of Saxe beginning with F:

Mr. Fax
Mr. Faxe
Mr. Facks

And the wife reminded me that I was "Mi' Dean" (pronounced like mister without the ster!) and she was "Miz Dean".


I need a pizza name... and Gary, the ex-neighbor

James, as usual, has some interesting stuff on his blog. I personally liked the Pizza Name story. While I don't have a long last name (Saxe, if you didn't know already), it is one that is notoriously difficult for people to hear correctly over the phone or spell correctly. So, I am one of the following:

Mr. Sacks
Mr. Sachs
Mr. Saks
Mr. Sax
Mr. Sex (hmm, nothing wrong with that one)
Mr. Zacks
Mr. Zax

(I'm killing myself trying to remember what Chin-Chin II called me when they used to deliver Chinese food to my house...)

Although, my favorite still is from my ex-neighbor, Gary. Gary was a poor schlub who only wanted to go to work, make some money, come home and sit on the front stoop drinking a beer and watching the world go by. Preferably, he was drinkiing a beer that he came and got out of my fridge. Gary was a huge mooch. Anyway, to Gary I was "Mistuh Dean". Of course, that meant that Steph was "Mizzuz Dean".

This was a common conversation:

"Hey there Mistuh Dean!"
"Hi Gary."
"Mistuh Dean, you got $20 I can borrow 'til Friday" (I replied no, even though I had $500+ in cash on me from my roommate's rent!)

Ah, yes, I have fond memories of living in East Atlanta... but at least I didn't have to deal with a crazy HOA.

Amtrak Acela

So I'm traveling all over the northeast this week for Foundstone's Software Security Roadshow. I started by flying to NYC on Sunday and took the Acela Express train to Philadelphia last night. Right now I'm traveling down to DC on the Acela Express train.

THIS ROCKS! I could totally get into traveling by train more. Its comfortable, spacious, has 120V AC power plugs at every seat and I can get internet access via EV-DO. Why, oh why, don't we use trains in the south? I'd much rather take a longer train ride to other southern cities and have these amenities than take a short flight, deal with the TSA stupidity and be crammed onto a plane like a damn sardine.

Enough ranting... back to work.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I passed!

I received notification this morning that I passed the CISSP exam. I'm glad that's over and the books can all go back on the shelf.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Marley & Me (and Java)

For the past few months I have been reading Marley & Me off and on as I have had a few spare moments to devote to reading. I am within a few pages of finishing the book and it has definitely made me sad. Let me back up and explain why.

The book is about a big, boisterous and very bad dog named Marley. I can totally relate to the author, I have a lab mix named Java who is also prone to misbehave at the most inopportune times. When I read about Marley's exploits with the trash can, I think of Java. When I read about Marley running away, I think of Java. When I read about the big, dumb dog named Marley being the authors best friend, I think of Java. Thankfully, when I read about Marley being afraid of thunderstorms and destroying the authors house, I don't think of Java. (Lucy, on the other hand, is deathly afraid of thunderstorms. But she just shudders and shakes and runs under the bed or to her crate.)

As the author walks through Marley's life I see a lot of parallels with Java. As Marley gets older, they became more and more clear.

I rescued Java from the pound when he was just a puppy, weighing no more than 6 pounds. It was the summer of 1996 and the Olympics were coming to town. I was in graduate school at the time, working on the Ph.D. that I never did earn. Java was with me to see the Olympic torch run past Emory — as a puppy he would spend the day in the genetics lab with me — and later than night in VaHi. He went with me everywhere, including to bars, where he was a great chick magnet.

As I grew older, left school and got a real job, Java grew up too. He turned into a pain in the ass who would run away from me, dig in the trash, roll around in horse poop, break out of every fence, bust through front doors when people try to walk in the house and get picked up by the pound. Yet I still loved him, despite his flaws. He was, and still is, my companion. He has grown up and become older as well. However, he's aging much more quickly than I am and it's really starting to show.

First it was little things. Glassy eyes indicate that he is getting cataracts. He doesn't jump up in the bed to join us for a "dog-pile" as readily as he used to. He's no longer quite so quick to try and make his escape through a partially opened door. This is possibly because I had an electric fence for years, but that has been inoperable for more than a year now and I don't think he's noticed yet. In the past year he's started having trouble getting up the stairs at night. On a few occassions he has refused to go up the stairs because his rear hips have arthritis. We've even had to carry him up the stairs on some occassions — no easy task with a 65 pound furry beast! Finally, he's unable to come with us on long walks or hikes. When we last took him for a 5 mile walk on the Silver Comet Trail, he was in obvious pain later that evening. He has trouble getting up to the top of Kennesaw Mountain and we don't even bring him along when we plan a longer hike. Steph and I both feel bad that we take Lucy along with us while he sits at home, alone.

I know as time goes on, his ability to do the things he once did will continue to decline. I am finding it more and more difficult to observe. I know he's not suffering, his quality of life is still generally quite good. I also know that some day in the future his quality of life may decline significantly leaving us to face some tough decisions about how best to care for him. And that scares the hell out of me.

Reading Marley & Me last night this all hit me like a ton of bricks. I found myself on the couch crying over the book and the inevitable reality that Java will not be with me forever. He's been a part of my life for so long, I'm not sure what it will be like without him. And I hope I don't have to find out for a very long time to come.

If you're a dog lover, you owe it to yourself to read this book. You'll cry too.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Vineyard Mountain Trail

Yesterday Steph and I took our younger dog, Lucy, up to the Vineyard Mountain Trail (warning: PDF content) on Lake Allatoona. There is a doggie hike every Sunday morning, however, it conflicted with other plans we had made for today. Instead, we decided to go check things out yesterday morning so we could get our lazy asses moving again. We've been pretty sedentary since returning from the Grand Canyon...

From our place it is about a 45 minute drive to the trailhead which is located just off Interstate 75 near Cartersville, GA. We were one of four cars parked at the trail, so we knew it wouldn't be too busy, unlike Kennesaw Mountain. We took off up the trail with Lucy on leash, but that didn't last too long. Lucy is a complete wuss, so we knew she wouldn't go far if she was allowed to run free. So I unclipped her leash and off she ran, never more than 30 feet from either of us. Of course, she'd run ahead, then back to us and off to either side, so I'm sure her hike was at least twice as long as ours!

The hike was really nice. While not terribly difficult, it did have a number of downed trees across the trail provided some challenges for Lucy to figure out. Of course, she could just do an end run around the tree, but that would be too easy. Instead she had to figure out how to either go over or under the tree, but never around. That would take her off the scent trail that everyone else has left behind!

Lucy really impressed me, she's a great hiking companion! She was extremely well behaved the entire hike, even when we met up with a group of hikers with two Great Danes and another mutt. She was a little cautious at first, but quickly fell into her place in the pack with the humans and dogs. We hiked the last mile or so of the trail with the people we met, they showed us how it connects back to the park to make a loop. Based on the map we had, we thought the trail was an in-and-out for a total of 5 miles... we were clearly quite wrong and almost doubled our intended hike. However, since the terrain was relatively flat it didn't feel like a long or strenous trek.

This is definitely a hike we'll be doing again in the near future due to its proximity to the city and the lack of traffic on the trail early in the morning.