January 30, 2004
Why I didn't have internet.

Here is a copy of the letter I wrote to DirecWay regarding our internet issues:

I thought it would be best to share my DirecWay saga as I feel it could help DirecWay help other users as well. Please forward it on to someone you feel could help solve this issue. Thank You!

It all began back in November when the first freeze hit. The very next morning my system began to lose signal and over the course of a few days eventually it went out completely. After talking to Tier 3 support a technician was dispatched to try and resolve my problem.

The technician wasn't very experienced and he simply re-aimed my dish and was on his way. However, when the weather drop down below freezing again the same issue occured.

The next technician sent to my home was experienced and he decided that the issue was probably because he found some water in the weather sleeves that the installer had placed over all the connections. he removed those, re-aimed the dish and was sure that would solve the problem.

A week later, with the freezing weather, the system went out yet again. This time Tier 3 decided that a new IRU and a new Radio Transmission Arm (the part the transmits and holds the LNB) was needed so the order was made and 2 weeks later I got my parts and the same installer replaced the units. After replacing the units the system still did not work, he had reaimed the dish. This time however he had to adjust the right support arm on the mount about 2" to realign. He realized that for some reason the dish had slipped 2 inches in the 3 weeks since he was last here and he knew it wasn't because he failed to tighten it. He also noticed that some rust had formed around the inside poll of the arm. This lead him to believe that water was inside the arm and when the weather would freeze it was somehow allowing the arm to slide back in on itself making the dish go out of alignment.

Literally 12 hours after he left the system went out again. This time Tier 3 issued a field order that basically said to do whatever it would take to fix this issue. DO to the weather it was about a week until the installer arrived and when he did he said he could tell the dish had slid again.

I opted for a poll install although it would cost me more money. After moving the dish to the poll the technician began to dissassemble the roof mount. When he dissasembled the support arms he showed me how each arm was completely filled with water and that it had caused a layer of rust/mold slime on the smaller part of the arm that fits inside the larger.

So in the end I was without service for over 2 months because of a bad design in the support arms of the roof mount. The thing is there was/is a simple and cheap solution. If the support arms had small holes at their bases to allow moisture to drain out this would have never happened.

Posted by John at 06:31 PM

the friday five

You have just won one million dollars:

1. Who do you call first? My wife, if she isn't already with me, then my Mom.

2. What is the first thing you buy for yourself? I'd probably go out to dinner. But as far as big things first I pay-off all my debt, then I buy a house.

3. What is the first thing you buy for someone else? My wife gets a new car, but outside her my first expense would be to help my mom and sister out.

4. Do you give any away? If yes, to whom? Definetly, tops on my list would be some dog rescue groups, AIDS research, and Autism groups.

5. Do you invest any? If so, how? I'd definitely look for a financial manager to help make the most. A million dollars doesn't go a long way in this economy, so ideally I'd want to invest as much as possible and try to live off of the earnings and not touch the actual base.

Posted by John at 09:32 AM
January 22, 2004
and so your back...

I'm back online now, though I don't know if it will last if another cold snap happens. I'm not going to get into it. But, if it happens again I think I'll have to have the dish moved onto a poll in the front yard.

So let's catch-up....

It started with Keegan, last Wednesday he woke up with that horrible croupy cough. He was able to eat, but stayed congested with a fever for 3 days. As he got over it Madeline started having the same cough at night, though it never went past that stage really, it quickly turned into a runny nose. About the time Brie started to feel sick and as we speak she is at home early for the second day. Sebastian woke up this morning and seems to have a minor cough as well. As for me, somehow I have avoided it. knock knock knock on wood, baby!

I never thought I would say this ... "the south beach diet really works" ok, I've said it... the shame of it all. As of today (17 days into it) I have lost 16 pounds!! I have gone from 235 to 219 and I'm starting to finally fit into my clothes again. Have you seen the Wendy's commercial with the guy who tries to put on his pants then asks for his sweats? That was me exactly. I had 2 pairs of jeans I could squeeze into and other than that it has been sweats for the better part of a year. Brie is doing very well also, but her experiences are for her to share. We still have joining the YMCA on our list of things to do, hopefull that will keep the weight loss going. The diet has been exactly what it says it is. I'm never hungry, I have great food (omelette with sundried tomatoes, smoked salmon, and low-fat cheese for breakfast today), it really doesn't seem like a diet at all. It reminds me much more of going back to eating the way I did as a child. Growing up we rarely had processed food in our house. We ate fruits and vegetables grown in our garden and meat bought from a butcher. things like pasta and sugar cereals were considered rare treats.

the kids .....

Sebastian: He has changed so much. He talks about how much he loves his new school because no one "thinks I'm weird". I assured him he was weird and I am weird and his mom is weird. We are all very proud to not be like the "normal people". He and his new friend down the street spend a day or two a week playing together, but as I figured when he came over here, they don't actually play with each other. For children with their special needs it's more like they share the things they like. That means they talk about video games, but rarely play together. They actually seem to take turns. It's odd to me, but I'm just glad it happens. There is a woman in a town near us that teaches piano for $10 every Ĺ hour lesson. Sebastian really wants to get involved, we have to try and get a piano first.

Keegan: other than beeing sick Keegan is Keegan. He loved the first snow of the year and would have stayed outside for hours if I didn't make him come in. He is doing "exceptional" in school and the teacher said he is already far beyond where he needed to be for Kindergarten.

Madeline: She is going on and on about wanting to do ballet so we hope to have her in that soon. Right now we are focusing on getting into the YMCA. I want her to take swimming lessons and maybe some Gymnastics as well. I've never seen anyone as flexible as her. She is a contortionist!

I guess I'll wrap this up with news on the homefront. Brie and I have been offered a 3-year lease with no rent increases and an option to purchase this home from the homeowners, who we get along with really well. They come by to fix things every now and then and we always end up spending about an extra Ĺ hour talking about random things. It's odd for us to think we are going to be staying put for another 3 years in some ways, but on the other hand it is exactly what we want. Everyone of us is very happy here and with the exception of me having some serious issues with loneliness and missing my friends this has become our home. The kids are old enough now where we really need to put them first for a while. They need stability, especially Sebastian. In three years he will be starting High School and that really does seem like the next window for seeing whether we need to adjust again.

Posted by John at 03:15 PM
January 07, 2004
Sebastian's Big Day

It may seem like such trivial news to some of you, but I wanted to let everyone know about a big development in Sebastian's life.

I mentioned in an earlier post how we found it very serendipitous that we just happen to move right across from two other households who have children with either Asperger's Syndrom or High Functioning Autism and attend the SECEP class that Sebastian began on Monday, especially considering there is only eight kids in the calss. Things are already going really well and the teacher has commented on how well Sebastian has fit in and that he has already made friends. He is also doing very well at his studies and able to complete his homework during their study time. Yesterday Sebastian said he was invited over to one of his classmates home to play video games (apparently video games are very popular amongst SECEP students). I walked Sebastian over there figuring that the the boy probably didn't tell his mother, and it probably wasn't going to happen and things looked grim when the boy was actually at piano lessons. This morning however, the boy's mother talked to me (she happens to work at Keegan's school) and apologized that she had forgot about the lessons before agreeing that Sebastian could come over. She seemed just as glad as we are that her son is reaching out and trying to be involved with another boy his age. I believe Sebastian is a grade level younger and may actually be a few years younger based on the boy's appearance. But, today will be the first day Sebastian has ever gone over to a classmates house to play! It is a very big step for someone with Sebastian's uniqueness.

Posted by John at 03:09 PM
January 06, 2004
A Hundred Things

While blog surfing recently Iíve come across quite a few ďA Hundred ThingsĒ list so thought I would do one of my own. It's a hundred things about myself without a questionaire.

1. I was born in November of 1967 in San Francisco. Iím very proud of that.

2. From what Iíve read I seem to be a typical Scorpio.

3. From what I know about myself Iím not very typical.

4. As of next year I will have been with my wife for Ĺ of my life.

5. I have 5 friends who I have known for over 13 years, one of them goes back nearly 23 years.

6. I am very proud of my friendships.

7. I donít believe in Religion, I believe in Faith.

8. I feel like I have led past lives.

9. I believe in those lives I have been with my wife.

10. I believe my wife and I will find each other again.

11. I have three kids. Each one seems to reflect 1/3 of who I am.

12. I use to think I was the center of my group of friends trying to hold
us all together.

13. I have a way with dogs and cats, but I donít like reptiles and I donít
trust gerbils and rodents.

14. I love being in water. I dream of owning a pool.

15. When it rains I like to open the windows so I can hear and smell it.

16. Every friend I had when I got married has been married and divorced since then.

17. There are only two people I trust 100%, my wife and my mom.

18. I have a very non-addictive personality. I have never been addicted
to anything. I have a hard enough time just being consistent.

19. I am a great procrastinator. I lack self-motivation.

20. I believe I can learn anything and do anything. I just canít decide what to do or learn.

21. Iíve learned mainly through osmosis, not from teaching.

22. I learn things either verbally or physically. I donít remember what Iíve read unless I say it out loud or do it with my hands.

23. If Iím not focused I cannot hear someone talking right at me.

24. I have a quick mind that moves in random tangents. Because of that I am plagued with seeing worse case scenarios and fear of harm coming to family, friends, and myself.

25. It also causes me to get lost in thought a lot. Itís not unusual for me to go through years of possible outcomes in my head in a given moment.

26. I have a very hard time reading other people's emotions.

27. My emotional well-being use to be so tied to my friends that I had to seek counseling for depression when 2 of my friends had major relationship issues at the same time.

28. I have had to learn to let my friends fail and to not try to always help.

29. I honestly feel I have the best marriage ever.

30. I am not very good at being supportive. I tend to always want to help.

31. I am a jealous person by nature, but because I know it I am much better at controlling it now.

32. I have never broken a bone in my body.

33. I have perfect eyesight.

34. I once thought I needed reading glasses, but it turned out I didnít have the attention span to read.

35. I have read more books in the last 2 years then I did in my first 34.

36. I am a very good cook. I am also very skilled at multi-tasking in the kitchen so that a whole meal is ready to be served at the same time.

37. I am very adventurous in what I eat.

38. I have severe reactions to marijuana so I have only tried it a handful of times in my life. Every time I do I swear itís my last.

39. I only recently began drinking anything alcoholic other than beer. I can now enjoy Merlot, but mainly drink vodka based drinks.

40. I am very good at dancing, I have rhythm and I have soul.

41. One of the best compliments ever given to me was that I am not a ďwhiteĒ person.

42. I have a very positive self-image. To the point where I think I look better than I actually do.

43. I have been in theater and performed music live a lot, yet I have pretty intense stage fright.

44. My first two career goals were; to go to UCLA and be a computer programmer (pre-puberty) and then it was to be a gigolo in high school. I combined the two and came up with electronic musician/Ērock starĒ.

45. I can remember the exact moment when I realized Iíd rather be a father and husband than a ďrock starĒ and Iíve never regretted it.

46. I believe in love-at-first-site. Iím living proof it exists.

47. I am obsessed with sex, but not addicted. I can go for months without sex, but I think about it constantly.

48. I believe pornography is healthy.

49. I donít like visible body hair on women.

50. At one point in time I was 6í3Ē and weighed only 145 pounds and had a 28Ē waist.

51. I believe women are most attractive when they are size 10 or bigger.

52. I get bored with my appearance a lot. When I do I dye my hair or change my facial hair.

53. I think I have the best kids in the world.

54. My style as a Dad is based mostly on trying to not be like mine was.

55. My father once made me try to kill a chicken with a stick for dinner.

56. My father killed my pet goat and served it to me for dinner.

57. Growing up we had about 20 rabbits, which my dad would kill with his bare hands and serve it to us for dinner.

58. My father never swore and never hit me; he also only complimented me once.

59. My father does not understand why we have issues.

60. When my parents divorced I was 13 and had no idea it was coming.

61. Listening to and making music brings true joy into my life.

62. I didnít understand the music of ďThe BeatlesĒ until I was in my 30s.

63. I wish I hadnít bought so many cassettes growing up. I should have stuck with vinyl.

64. I have seen Grease more than any other movie, except the Star
Wars trilogy.

65. I always wanted to have blue eyes.

66. I grew up a blonde, but at puberty my hair turned dark brown.

67. I have been looking forward to growing gray since I was a child.

68. I am a Mommaís boy.

69. I donít like men in general.

70. Most of my friends have always been women.

71. When I feel jealous I tend to get judgmental and negative.

72. I enjoy traveling.

73. I know things I donít share.

74. There are parts of my mind that I have to suppress.

75. I have two very distinct sides to my personality. One is outgoing, adventuresome, and can talk to people and go places. The other doesnít even like to answer the phone unless itís a familiar person. Over the years Iím getting better and blending them.

76. When Iím nervous I talk too much. Because of this when I meet new people I often walk away feeling they must hate me because I didnít shut-up.

77. I can only be monogamous. The way my mind works I equate infidelity with death. Before I knew about STDs and HIV I wasnít this way.

78. I believe all men should feel comfortable hugging and kissing each other. It would make the world a better place.

79. My natural clock is to sleep from 2 am to 10:30 am. This is not conducive with being a parent.

80. I have a pretty good eye for photography and graphic design.

81. I like to write, but I know Iím not very good at it. Written language
doesnít come easy to me.

82. I believe a successful relationship boils down to three things. Trust, Faith, and Communication.

83. When I make my wife laugh it brings me more happiness than anything else but my kids can.

84. As I get older I am remembering more about my childhood.

85. I still feel loss when I think about friends who are no longer a part of my life.

86. If I donít keep my mind busy I can think myself into a complete mental breakdown over things that will most likely never happen.

87. I canít wait to be a grandparent.

88. My grandmother dieing on my birthday when I was very young has had a huge effect on me.

89. I have always felt like my life was watched over by all of my deceased family members.

90. My innate sense of direction has become useless now that I live on the East Coast.

91. At this moment I donít think I will ever want to live in California again.

92. I have grown more skeptical with age.

93. I do not watch horror movies and violence makes me uneasy.

94. Every time I hear about harm coming to a child I get nauseous.

95. I am too materialistic.

96. I donít know what I want to be when I grow up yet.

97. I love watches.

98. Computers make sense to me, but I get overly stressed when something goes wrong.

99. I do my best to lead a good life and make the right decisions.

100. I believe people can change.

Posted by John at 03:01 PM
January 05, 2004

I just realized I haven't posted anything personal in a month. So here is a brief rundown of how I wound down '03 and opened '04.

In my family growing up the holiday season wasn't allowed to begin until after my mom's birthday which is 12/12. Brie and I have tried to get it started a little earlier but I still feel like it begins on 12/12. This year we broke down and bought an artificial tree. It actually was one of the smartest things we did. Christmas tree lots are few and far between out here and our woodlands are not filled with pine trees. Everyone we asked told us that they had an artificial tree. The great thing is we got a good one that really does look like a tree (my mom didn't even notice until we told her) and it was pre-lit! go team! I put up the tree and did most of the decorations myself. Then we all spent a night putting on the ornaments (99% of them are Hallmark) while listening to holiday music on directv (Sebastian feels that is our tradition).

My mom arrived in time for us to celebrate her birthday. Unfortunately, we were all sick so we didn't get to take her out as we planned. Brie and I got all out shopping done on two different Sundays. One for the kids and one for each other. Christmas itself was one of the best. We had so many gifts under the tree since most of the family shipped them to us. Santa was pretty generous this year as well. All of the kids commented that this was their favorite Christmas ever. Always something a parent loves to hear. We kept our holiday meal simple (see Brie's blog). I myself got a new Fossil watch (it has animated flames), a new GBA game, a new Gamecube game, some lounge wear (with flames to match my watch), some Goofy pajamas, and Brie and I received a new Bissel carpet cleaner and 2 new luxrious sheet sets for our bed. The boys also got me some tools from their schools fundraising christmas shop.

Brie and I have only been out a couple of times for NYE. For us it's always been about staying in, even before we had kids we babysat Bethany while my sister went out. To me it's the perfect time to be with the family and reflect on the year that has gone by. This year we managed to keep all the kids up (Maddy was so beyond tired we didn't get her to sleep until almost 2 am!

This past weekend Brie and I drove out to Viriginia Beach for the Holiday Party at the Sheraton By the Sea (I think that is right). The only downside to these events for me is that as Brie has risen in rank she has gone from one of the helpers to being the main person in charge of events like this. In the past I have taken dates so that her constant time away overseeing everything didn't leave me all alone. Typically I would also know a couple of people at her work I could sit and be with as well, but her position has left us in a precarious area of Upper Management where the only people who seem to socialize with you is other members of management and they don't see each other outside of work, so for the first time I don't know anyone she works with. I did manage to sit next to a couple of women in management who themselves were without their partners so we all talked.

Today Brie and I began the South Beach Diet. Our goal is to get back down to our wedding weights in time for our 15th Anniversary which will be in 13 months. I took down the holiday decorations and tree today as well. Plus, Sebastian started his new school and already we can see how much better this is going to be. For the first time in years he didn't come home with 2 hours of homework, because they actually give the kids a study period where they can work on their homework at school. My mom should be heading back to Georgia by weeks end which is good because by the end of the week the warm mid-70s weather we have been experiencing is going to turn into the low 30 winter we've been expecting.

Posted by John at 06:17 PM