Quotable Monday: Christianity without Christ

“In answer to your inquiry, I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.” — William Booth

This is something that has bothered me for a long time. I think it is one of the things that leaves me questioning my beliefs in “Common Christianity” and puts me outside my circle of friends a lot.

We like the idea that if we say a prayer and ask forgiveness, our sin doesn’t matter anymore. While in a sense this is true, it’s not that simple. It’s not OK to say “Yes, God, I know I did this bad thing, but I’m sorry and I ask you to forgive me,” as we get ready, walk out the door and do whatever it was all over again. It’s not OK to claim Christianity while ignoring the parts of the bible you don’t like, whether it is to love everyone equally, or to give to the poor, or other more controversial things.

It’s OK to accept anyone into the church, but it’s not OK to allow them to serve in ministry when they have sin they refuse to acknowledge or address. It’s OK to teach about the wonder of heaven, but it has to go hand in hand with the risks of the other option.

Security: We’re Doing It Wrong

Don’t worry, this won’t be a long post.

I have long been of the belief that we are going about password security all wrong, and XKCD have successfully visualized it. A few months ago I saw an excellent post somewhere (of course, now I can’t find it) about the basic methods used to crack passwords and how to derive a secure but memorable password that will defeat most of them for long enough between change cycles.

Basically it boils down to brute force, and dictionary attacks. There are also hybrids, but they are essentially combinations of the two. Social engineering, while valid, doesn’t really apply to this argument.

With a dictionary attack, a hacker or script kiddie will have a long list of words that may be commonly used for passwords that they will run through attempting to gain access. So if you use a word like “banana” or “elephant” as your password, it probably wouldn’t take long to be compromised.

With a brute force attack, a hacker or script kiddie will use a system that tries to guess your password by cycling through every possibility and hopes that he eventually lands the right one.

More common are hybrid systems which take words or phrases and use them as the core of a brute force attack, making the attack more intelligent, if you will.

The problem is that deriving a good secure password (as we’ve been taught is secure, at least) can result in a password that is difficult to remember. Personal anecdote time. A couple of companies I have worked for in the past had password systems in place that required a password at least 8 characters long, and that had upper and lowercase characters as well as at least one number. It also had to be changed every month, I believe, and it wasn’t possible to use any password that had been used in the last 12 months.

Most people will agree this is a good idea. Passwords should be regularly changed for various reasons, but having those kinds of requirements starts to become silly and LEADS to insecurity. I reached the point where I had to use an insecure password system (though I wouldn’t tell anyone what it actually was) just so that remembering it wouldn’t be an issue.

The other issue arises when someone needs 3 or 4 passwords to go about their daily business (I have 4, that I can think of that I use regularly) but there is no interconnection between the two. Even worse, there may be different requirements for technical or security reasons. “No numbers” or “cannot start with a number” are occasionally issues. This ultimately leads to people writing their passwords down, which is just not a good idea. Whether it’s in a file on your computer, a note in your notebook, or even worse a post-it taped to your desk, keyboard or even monitor, chances are good someone will find it and utilize it.

Simple rule: keep it simple, make it long, use some form of obscurity. Ideally find a password that will suit all the systems you use so you can keep it in sync, and find a way to juggle it around in a way you’ll remember every time that window pops up saying “your password will expire in 12 days, would you like to change it now? Yes, No”

Dear McDonalds..

Thank you for putting onions on my burger, when I specifically requested no onions.

I also note how you put a note on the box saying “No Sliv O[nions]” to indicate that there are none in the burger.

Fortunately, I checked, and it is a preference – not an allergy. This does, however, happen fairly regularly.. I fear it happens to people who do have such allergies.

Love,

zEkE.

Photos from Winter Jam

Here are the photos I took at the Winter Jam concert on Friday night. Below are brief descriptions and military times from my phone of when they were taken. I apologize for the quality of the photos, I used the camera in my phone having (intentionally) left my digital in Harrisonburg.

From what I am told, the crowds started arriving at 3pm, doors opened at 6pm and the show started at 7.

16:51 – Eating Pizza at Lil’ Cucci’s Pizzeria in Daleville, VA. Good pizza, but a bad decision.

18:17 – A sign at the Roanoke Civic Center. This wasn’t for our event, looked like a trade show or something inside.

18:19 – We see the crowds outside. At this point the venue was declared full, and the doors were blocked with no more allowed in.

18:48 – Show starts in ~ 12 minutes, and the line has shrunk. From what I heard, they opened the area behind the stage and allowed another 300 people in, but that wasn’t enough to get us through the doors.

18:56 – They haven’t played inside yet, but the Sidewalk prophets came and gave an acoustic performance for those of us stuck outside. Great guys, great music. They all signed the copy of their CD I bought, and the singer recognized me after the show when I went to get his, having missed it earlier.

18:57 – I took a few photos before my phone battery started saying it was low.

20:31 – This is the first photo I took after getting inside, so we got in at about 8:30pm, an hour and a half late.

20:32 – David Crowder Band is finishing up their set.

20:33 – A slightly better shot, David Crowder Band

20:39 – Crowd blinders came up, this is my view for the first few minutes from behind the stage.

20:48 – This was our seated view behind the stage before moving, this guy was talking about orphans and the sponsoring thereof, I believe.

21:16 – KJ-52 performing while the final details are put on the Kutless set.

21:29 – Kutless!

21:57 – Newsboys entrance. Closest is the guitarist, farther away is the keyboardist, both on platforms above the crowd on the floor.

21:58 – My last photo of the night before I ran out of room on my phone, the Newsboys stage.

Winter Jam 2011, Roanoke

It was a Friday, just like any other Friday, except that it involved music. Lots of music, loud music, good music (in my opinion!).

It was a Friday full of disappointment, as well as great enjoyment and miscellaneous good times.

It really started earlier in the week – the band I work with (Chasing Grace) had elected to make a group trip to Roanoke to see the Winter Jam featuring RED, KJ-52, Kutless, David Crowder Band and the Newsboys, among others. The rest of the group were leaving at 1:30, would have got them to Roanoke around 3:30 or 4. However, I accepted an offer to leave at 2 – a decision I now realize was not the wisest – although the question remains how different it would have been.

So we left at 2, and had to pause in Harrisonburg briefly before we got going. We were making good time when it is decided we need to stop and get food – this seems fine, we’ll stop, get food, and eat in the car on the way. No, this is not a good plan, there’s plenty of time, we can sit down and eat and then carry on. Another unwise decision.

Eventually we reach Roanoke and see the Civic Center, where the event was held. Hordes of people surround the building, and my nervous level rises even further. “Don’t worry” I was told, “It seats 10,000” and “I doubt there’ll be 6 or 7 thousand.” He was right, there weren’t 7,000, not even 10,000. However many people the building could seat, there were more people trying to get in, and we were at the back of the queue. For around 2 hours we stood in line after being told that no more could be let in – they promised that as people left they could let just as many people in.

As “consolation” the Sidewalk Prophets came out and did an acoustic set on the sidewalk for us, before having to pack up and run inside to play for the crowds in there. Then after playing inside Jason Castro (of American Idol fame) came out and played for us. He was really cool, being his first tour he was excited to play but felt really nervous being so close to his audience and being able to see and connect so easily. He played a couple of songs and then like the Sidewalk Prophets did, sold CDs and signed along with photos for anyone outside who wanted them.

While waiting in line I met a nice couple from Harrisonburg. They had seen the show in Charleston WV and were just great to be with. We talked a little after spending 45 minutes or an hour standing at the very front of our line – able to touch the door, but not able to open it and walk in.

At around 8:45 – 9 we got in (for free!). I followed them and we ended up behind the stage. The couple (who are remaining nameless!) I came with got in a few minutes later, and they found the rest of our band (in much better seats, and with room for me and the couple I found to join them).

I got in just in time to see the end of the David Crowder Band set – I Saw The Light was amazing. I was a little sad I didn’t get to see the rest of it, but that was fine – I was more disappointed that I didn’t get to see RED play (one of the three I came to see). Out came KJ-52 to do I think two songs before leaving the stage. Then Kutless came out (two of the three) and started with It Is Well before several other songs. Chris August played a song, and Tony Nolan kept going on about things that are now about normal for a Christian event. Finally out came the Newsboys who put on a rocking show.

Michael Tait can not be faulted on a lack of energy, that is one thing that is certain. He was almost constantly moving, either it was around the stage or up and down the catwalk making contact with his fans. He held the hand of a little girl briefly while singing a verse and then kissed it before moving on. Having never really seen the Newsboys before I can’t speak for how much they have changed over time but he definitely did a great job as a frontman, albeit not being Peter Furler.

It seems that the Newsboys a) have too much money and b) have a fascination for moving things. All four of them had platforms that moved in one way or another. Michael Tait had a straight up-and-down platform about 2/3s of the way out the catwalk, the guitarist and the keyboardist both had moving platforms on arms that would allow them to be raised up and moved around over the audience, and the drummer had a tilting/turning platform (readily found on Youtube) used during the finale.

I got three CDs for $5 each (the Newsboys CD was $10, but they did a 2-for-1 deal and I went halves with a friend). Newsboys, Kutless and Sidewalk Prophets – all signed by the band members.

So it was not an altogether bad experience. I met a couple of great people, heard of a couple of great restaurants in Harrisonburg that I’d never heard of, heard 2 of the 3 bands that I’d come to see, and got 3 new CDs that I wanted, all of which were signed by the artists that recorded them. And had a great Pizza in Troutville.

2010 Self Review

With the dawn of 2011, many people are making resolutions, as they always do. I believe in looking forward, but not forgetting to check behind occasionally, and having just completed an employment-based self review it seemed fitting to perform one on a more personal level. Am I happy with my life? If not, why not, and either way, how can I make it better – or at least not get worse? What significant things have I achieved in the last 365 days? What do I hope to succeed in doing in the next 52 weeks? Anything? Nothing? I tried (albeit briefly) to find a form to follow, but couldn’t find anything suitable, so I’m making it up. Seems to be something I’m not bad at..

Goals I had for 2010:

  • Find a permanent, full time job.
    • Between February and June I had a full-time temporary position working as a Testing Analyst for Rosetta Stone, in their test lab. Working many hours of overtime had it’s ups and downs, and in August I was offered a permanent, part-time position doing the same thing on the night shift working core hours of 5pm to midnight.
  • Pay off debts.
    • While this was only partially achieved, we are well on track to paying off several debts to zero. The initial goal was to utilize overtime money while working as a temporary employee to pay off debt, however there were several other events that required our attention. The car needed some work done on it, in addition to Crash needing veterinary visits. We were able to pay large amounts on one of Kelly’s student loans, which has brought our monthly outgoing amount down somewhat.
  • Purchase a second vehicle.
    • This was achieved late in the game. In September a second car was procured, which meets it’s requirements and it’s desirements. A ’97 Outback, it is a year older than the car we had, it’s a stick shift (so I’m happy!) and it seems to run well. It does have some work needing to be done, which will hopefully not be major.

Goals for 2011:

  • Find a way to full time, dayshift employment, ideally within Rosetta Stone, and ideally within the IT department.
  • Pay off more loans and other debt.
  • Move out of Kelly’s parents house.
  • Spend more time with friends in various formats. EG continuing/restarting “Thursday Night Office/30 Rock/etc,” game nights (board game and video game), day or (maybe?) weekend trips to nearby places, etc.
  • Find a church that Kelly and I can both agree with and attend regularly. Become involved where possible.

Comments:

This year has been a good year. A vast improvement over 2009 in terms of finance especially, we have been able to take a much-needed trip over 300 miles away (which we have just returned from) and have no fear regarding the ongoing payment of bills. Additionally, we have a basic plan laid out for paying off several loans in the next 3 to 4 months, to be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

I am also realizing the impact that working in the evenings, combined with living in Broadway, is having on my social life and thus my overall happiness. I had forgotten how much of a social creature I am, and while introversion may be a part of my personality I am finding it difficult surviving without people. An important feature in any house we look at, for me at least, is that it be in or very close to Harrisonburg. The actual rent may be higher (although I doubt it would be by a whole lot), but being closer (or more central) to an increased number of friends would make up for it. That is certainly not to say that friends in Broadway/Timberville are less important, simply that there are less of you and it has to be factored in.

This coming year holds several challenges that are not listed as goals. To name just a few, there is another USCIS related cost coming up, as my green card expires in July and will require some more forms completed and some more money paid 90 days before that happens. Secondly we have a wedding to attend (one of Kelly’s old school friends, Sarah) is getting married in May, around the same time as our anniversary. This will involve a drive to Mississippi, with a side-trip to New Orleans (since we’ll be so close!).

A high priority on my list is a trip to visit New Zealand. This year will mark 3 years since I left, and a third year of wishing I could visit and see the many friends and family members I left behind to miss me. While the inability to return is entirely related to our financial situation and said financial situation is finally improving, I have minimal hope that the situation will be sufficiently rectified any time soon, unless both Kelly and I have significant pay increases. Chances are also good that to receive the pay increases needed will require us both to find new positions – mine may or may not be within RS, Kelly’s most certainly won’t be with the day care.

I have high hopes for 2011. Expectations are lagging slightly behind, but also high. I believe my goals are reasonable and achievable, while still being challenging. I wish everyone else the best with their goals for the coming year, and a happy new year to all.

Hapless, Helpless, Hopeless

WARNING: This blog entry is long and has a high “Boredom Potential.” You begin reading at your own risk.

hap·less

/ˈhæp lɪs/ [hap-lis] –adjective
unlucky; luckless; unfortunate.
Origin:
1560–70; hap1 + -less
—Related forms
hap·less·ly, adverb
hap·less·ness, noun

—Can be confused:  hapless, haply, happily.
—Synonyms
miserable, woebegone, wretched, forlorn; pathetic, pitiable.

help·less

/ˈhɛlp lɪs/ [help-lis] –adjective
1. unable to help oneself; weak or dependent: a helpless invalid.
2. deprived of strength or power; powerless; incapacitated: They were helpless with laughter.
3. affording no help.

Origin:
1125–75; ME; see help, -less
—Related forms
help·less·ly, adverb
help·less·ness, noun

hope·less

/ˈhoʊp lɪs/ [hohp-lis] –adjective
1. providing no hope; beyond optimism or hope; desperate: a hopeless case of cancer.
2. without hope; despairing: hopeless grief.
3. impossible to accomplish, solve, resolve, etc.: Balancing my budget is hopeless.
4. not able to learn or act, perform, or work as desired; inadequate for the purpose: As a bridge player, you’re hopeless.

Origin:
1560–70; hope + -less

—Related forms
hope·less·ly, adverb
hope·less·ness, noun
—Synonyms
1. irremediable, remediless, incurable. 2. forlorn, disconsolate, dejected. Hopeless, despairing, despondent, desperate all describe an absence of hope. Hopeless is used of a feeling of futility and passive abandonment of oneself to fate: Hopeless and grim, he still clung to the cliff. Despairing refers to the loss of hope in regard to a particular situation, whether important or trivial; it suggests an intellectual judgment concerning probabilities: despairing of victory; despairing of finding his gloves. Despondent always suggests melancholy and depression; it refers to an emotional state rather than to an intellectual judgment: Despondent over ill health, he killed himself. She became despondent and suspicious. Desperate conveys a suggestion of recklessness resulting from loss of hope: As the time grew shorter, he became desperate. It may also refer to something arising from extreme need or danger: a desperate remedy; a desperate situation. Despairing and despondent may apply only to feelings.

Three distinct feelings that can be felt despite the conditions being the opposite. Sometimes they are sitting in the background, waving politely to remind you they are there, other times they are in your face yelling and screaming and occasionally kicking you in the shin. At this point, despite my emotional feelings of haplessness, helplessness and hopelessness, let me explain how I am well aware that this is not the case.

The start of this problem goes back a long time, to the beginning, even. It is no one persons fault, and blame cannot easily be placed on any individuals or groups, with few exceptions, and for the most part I suspect they may be ourselves. It probably starts with leaving New Zealand for the US, with high hopes and expectations a little beyond reality, and throughout it is plagued by circumstances far beyond our control. The economic problems play a large part, but it is also compounded by the area we live in and what industry is available, as well as the long and boring game of waiting for someone to do something – like USCIS.

When I left NZ I had a well-paying job, and had high hopes of that experience being useful in my hunt for work, here in the US. More than once after arriving I wondered why I left it. That said, with the economic issues being a global problem there is little guarantee I would have still been employed by the same company, although as with so many decisions in life I have no way of knowing what the outcome of staying (with Kelly moving to NZ) might have been.

Part of our problem was the way we dealt with USCIS. We weren’t 100% on the ball – if we’d gotten it right the first time, I would have had a work permit a lot earlier. If we’d gotten it right the second time, work permits would have been arriving not as early, but not as late. By the time I had an employment authorization card it was February of 2009, and very few places were hiring. We had also had to move out of our apartment (end of Nov, beginning of Dec 08) at this point, because Kelly’s college loans had come due for payments, and we couldn’t afford to pay loans as well as rent. See the next paragraph, but even having had a work permit in October or November (2008) probably wouldn’t have helped unless I had taken a job doing retail or something (I did always say I would work at Walmart if I had to). Kelly quit her job as a barista early in 2009, as the work environment was horrible and causing all kinds of emotional problems, and had begun to cause physical problems as a result. Kelly’s mom had offered to help us with the loans in return for cleaning the house.

Anyway, back to my employment (or lack thereof). It took until May of ’09 to get my first interview, and they turned me down. My first job in the USA was working as a camp counselor at a summer camp. Great job, great times, didn’t pay very well. Kelly had been cleaning her parents house (where we had been living), but was offered a summer job as a babysitter for two awesome kids. All this time we were trying to keep a lid on our debt – not necessarily bringing it down, but paying the minimums so that it wouldn’t hurt us too badly. Summer of 2009 was lived very much on a week by week basis.

The end of summer came, and Kelly had found a more permanent job working for the Harrisonburg Rockingham Child Day Care Center, where she still is! I worked for a couple of months for the Boys and Girls Club in Timberville, but they had issues with me, I had issues with them, and we decided the best course of action was for me to resign. Winter of 2009/2010 was bleak, to say the least. Kelly’s job paid the bills, but it was right around December that benefits began, and the impact on the paycheck was greater than we anticipated. Many nights were spent wondering if it would ever get better. Several weeks were spent with one or two dollars in the bank at the end.

The turnaround came in February, and financially it couldn’t have been a better time. Rosetta Stone offered me a temporary position (with a small hope of continuing permanently) in the test lab, as a Software Testing Analyst. From the middle of February 2010 to early June, I worked 40-50+ hours a week to make as much money as I possibly could, and thus began the debt-blitz of early 2010. We had a number of things that had piled up that we needed to get dealt with – Crash had been with us nearly a year and he needed some things attended to, I think the car needed something done, and beyond that the goal was to pay off as much debt as we could. This was primarily successful – we brought our monthly budget down a little, and survived to tell the tale. But sure enough, June came (having had the contract extended twice), and Rosetta Stone said “We don’t need you, but we might soon.” Insert large amounts of hopelessness, and begin looking for work again.

I went back to camp for a couple of weeks over summer, and at the end of August I had a call from Rosetta Stone asking for an interview. If there is one thing I can say for RS it is that their communication skills have some things to be desired, but long story short on August 31, 2010 I started as a permanent, part time employee on the test lab’s second shift (5pm-12am, Monday to Friday, limited to 35 hours a week).

And so here we are – it is the middle of December 2010. We have lived with Kelly’s parents for two years (and about two weeks), and the hope of regaining our independence is slowly, slowly rising again. It isn’t that we haven’t enjoyed living with the rest of the family, I know I have. It isn’t that we don’t appreciate the support provided, I know I do. For the most part we all get along, and we seem happy and comfortable. But we don’t want to abuse the privilege. Already we’ve stayed a lot longer than we had initially hoped or expected – and the way we are set up to a large degree reflects that. Our various boxes of ‘stuff’ were haphazardly packed with little regard for what was going where, and this has resulted in several hours of looking for things that were possibly in a box with something else that we have no idea on the location of.

At this stage, the goal I think is for around May next year, if not before. Realistically, we have several thousand dollars allocated (between now and then) to pay off some of the loans that are really hurting our monthly bank balances and preventing us from moving, and then we can find somewhere to move to. Additionally, May seems like an ideal month to move – aside from a trip to the deep south for a wedding it will be warm, and friends will be more available to help.

We certainly aren’t ‘unlucky’ or entirely ‘unfortunate.’ We are finally at a point where we fail to meet the criteria for ‘unable to help oneself’ or ‘powerless.’ And while it will take time, the task ahead is certainly not ‘impossible to accomplish’

The hard part now is waiting. Every day that goes by I wish I could have done something to help us dig ourselves out faster, but I think I’ve done everything I can. From planning when we pay bills to constantly calculating our budget over a month, over a fortnight and for other special events (like Christmas). Our financial life is about as organized as it could possibly be, and the struggle is remembering why we shouldn’t be mindlessly spending money (a temptation that I constantly fight, and sometimes lose). Keeping our mind on the prize, we must keep our eye on the road, for it is rocky and there are monsters.

Oh, Insomnia. Where Did You Come From?

And why won’t you go away and let me sleep?

Well, at least it has been a while since I had trouble sleeping. I just hope it isn’t related to the new firmness of the bed.

Good news and potentially bad news! The good news is, I replaced the severely damaged boxspring that was under our bed and built a new one. The still good news is that it cost around $80 and took 3 days (not working 8 or 9 hours a day either, probably could have finished it in 2 had I worked my butt off). The bad news is that now our mattress has a much more solid support and in turn has become more solid. I’m not sure if that is related to my inability to sleep or if I’m just not nearly tired enough, but it’s entirely plausible.

The design of the new frame thing is simple: I bought 6 pieces of 2″x6″(x8′) and 12 pieces of 1″x4″(x8′) and cut to suit. It’s a queen-sized bed, so the dimensions were supposed to be 60″(W)x80″(L). Turns out the mattress is something like 78″ long, but I’m not going to complain endlessly about it.

With some help from Randy and the use of his circular saw, electric drill and sander, I constructed a basic design. It has a 2×6 frame with two paired 2×6’s down the middle for extra support. There are then 12 slats screwed down on top. To compare this to the old boxspring design, it looked like there were 10 1×2 pieces for slats, something smaller than a 2×6 but bigger than a 1×4 (no, it wasn’t a 2×4 or a 1×6) down the middle, and a not-very-rigid frame around the edges. I’d patched several of the slats on one occasion, and two of these had broken again.

Anyway, here are photos:

This was the break at the foot of the bed. I’d repaired it before, but it’s one of the common landing points when Crash jumps up.

This one is looking from the foot towards the head. You can see a couple of the patches I’d made, as well as the big break in the piece down the middle. Again, all the pieces broken resemble the points where Crash typically lands on the bed.

I kept thinking through the process that I should be taking step-by-step photos, but a) they aren’t really necessary for such a simple thing, and b) by the time I actually got around to doing anything about it it was too late to bother, so I waited until it was done (and then nearly forgot).

This is the frame as it was, completed, sitting in the garage waiting to be brought inside and placed on the metal frame that holds it above the floor (came with the bed, I’m not responsible for that part). You can see the 2×6 around the edges and the double 2×6 down the middle.

Carefully note that at this point the ends of both the mattress and the base are pushed against the wall of our room. This is the difference between the 80″ long base and the 80″ long mattress (ha ha..).

I’d take a wider angle view of the complete bed, but the rest of the room is….camera shy, at this point in time ;-).

In other news, I have some more train photos going up on my Flickr account, and I’ll try to get some new scenery photos up too. I’m hoping to write some kind of ‘newsletter’ or just slightly generalized (with a touch of personal) letters home to New Zealand to family and friends. I’d really like to go home to visit some time, but that (as always) depends on money and our ability to save enough of it. It’s hard to prioritize so often, when there are things we desperately need that cost money, along with things we really want, in conjunction with little things that are really nice (but mount up quickly..). IT WILL HAPPEN. I SHALL HAVE MY SUMMER CHRISTMAS ONCE MORE!

Life is Good, with Few Minor Interruptions to Goodness

As life goes, I have little, some might argue nothing, to complain about. As Christmas rolls around, Kelly and I have marked off most of our Christmas gift recipients, and the gifts themselves are arriving ready to be wrapped and placed under the tree which was chosen on Sunday and will probably come inside this weekend to be decorated.

Our money management skills aren’t doing too badly – almost all of our bill payments are scheduled and there should be little problem with our trip to Charlotte at the end of the month. So really, there is little for me to complain about that doesn’t just sound like whiny drivel.

Somehow, the bed broke again. It’s hard to justify any suggestions of abuse through the commonly considered manner, because Kelly works from 9:30 to 6, and goes to bed around 12, I start work at 5 and usually finish around 12 or 12:30, and Kelly is usually asleep when I get home around 1-ish. A while back several of the slats (is that the right word?) in the box-spring snapped. I repaired them with a glue-and-screw type brace using some spare 1x3s I had laying around from the model train layout. For a while it worked fine. A couple of weeks ago one of them broke again. Then another one. Last night I came home and sat on the bed and thought “This doesn’t feel right.” I couldn’t pin it. I looked around the outside of the bed, and there was no reason I could see for it to have been leaning the way it was. I took a look under it this morning and realized, in broken horror, why that would be the case. Down the middle, presumably a primary source of support, is what looks like either a 2×6 or a 2×8. And it’s broken in a couple of places (looks kinda like a Z) in the middle, causing the bed to lean somewhat inwards.

And I get paid tomorrow. I think today will involve a planning session, tomorrow will involve buying materials and the weekend will be putting it together. Here’s hoping the broken one lasts that long.

(It’s most likely Crash that is responsible, he enjoys jumping on the bed, and 100lbs of sudden force will do that to a structure after a while..)

Either VDOT reads my blog, or they just have great ideas

Back in January of 2009 I wrote a post about how bad a particular highway in Virginia was when it rained. VA-42 between Broadway and Harrisonburg is 4 lanes all the way and is well trafficked, and yet had no lights or any form of marking on the road other than the paint. This is all well and good, during the day or in good weather. At night, when it’s raining, the lights from cars just reflect off the shiny water surface and the lines become invisible. I realized with snow and plowing etc that reflectors might not be a good idea, but some other main roads in the area have recessed reflectors that work well.

It seems VDOT have realized the lack of safety when it rains on roads like 42, and on the recently surfaced sections of the road, the sections closest to H’burg and closest to Broadway, they have installed reflectors. Hopefully whenever they get around to resealing the middle section it’ll get the same treatment, but for now I’m happy that even just part of the road should be visible at night, when it’s raining.