Archive for June, 2006

Dad Story: Rancid Pudding

I was looking for an Eisenhower quote and I stumbled upon this journal entry from June 26, 2003. 

It involves Dad getting angry at a restaurant– an event that's not unique.  This occurence is certainly not as memorable as the "THIS RESTAURANT SHOULDN'T BE CALLED FRIENDLY'S, IT SHOULD BE CALLED SLOWLY'S!" incident of the late 80s, but amusing in its own right.

Dad, Mom and I ate an early supper at a pizza place off Hedges Run.  Dad made a ruckus over the chocolate pudding on the buffet.  It was a warranted ruckus – the pudding tasted like vinegar.

When Dad initially complained the waitress said, "Oh.  A lot of people have been complaining about the pudding today."

Dad's response, "Then why did you leave it on the bar for another person to gag on?!?!"

The manager got involved and he actually wasn't as responsive as I thought he should be.  He just told Dad not to eat the pudding if he didn't like it.

At one point Dad dared the manager to try to pudding.

"I bet you can't eat it without vomiting!" Dad yelled across the restaurant.

Did I mention there were other customers still present?  One such customer took the initiative to try the pudding and he concurred with Dad's opinion (which was already seconded by Mom).  The pudding sucked.

Alas, when we left there was still no resolution– the pudding was still on the buffet and we didn't even get a discount.  That place is certainly not an example of exemplar customer service.

June 8, 2006 at 7:41 pm Leave a comment

At the Corner of Progress and Peril

Sean sent me a link to this MSN/Washington Post article.  I found it very interesting, so I thought I would share it as well.  The article discusses how despite all the visible successes of the civil right efforts, there are still challenges, pitfalls and discrepancies that remain.

The two items that stuck out to me the most:

College Degree Statistics

The percentage of black men graduating from college has nearly quadrupled since the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and yet more black men earn their high school equivalency diplomas in prison each year than graduate from college.

When you read the first clause of the sentence you think, "Yay, look how much better everything is!"  …then you read the second half.

During Talib Kweli's Visit to Virginia Tech, a student asked him why there was so much apathy towards activism nowadays, why so few were picking battles to fight.  This is paraphrased from memory, but Kweli said something along the lines, "When you turned on the TV 40 years ago, you'd see people getting attacked by dogs or blasted with fire hoses.  Now you turn on the TV and you see…. Will Smith."

We see the successes and assume everything is hunky-dory, when if fact, there is a deeper story to be told.

John B. Slaughter's Career Advice

Guidance counselors at John B. Slaughter's high school in Topeka, Kan., laughed aloud, Slaughter said, when he told them he wanted to be an engineer. They had never heard of a black engineer, and they told Slaughter he should pursue a trade. Slaughter ignored them and graduated from Kansas State University in 1956 with a degree in electrical engineering, launching a career that took him to the helms of the National Science Foundation, the University of Maryland and Occidental College in Los Angeles.

I found John B. Slaughter's story interesting because a very similiar thing happened to Malcolm X when he told his school teacher he wanted to be a lawyer (See the "Mascot" chapter of The Autobiography of Malcolm X).  

I wonder just how often the public school system tried to squelch aspirations.  I also wonder about the effect of those efforts.  Not every student can convert spite into success.  How often did the advice result in the student silently giving in? 

June 4, 2006 at 10:22 am 5 comments

Grayson Highlands and Mount Rogers National Recreation Area

Today was an eventful day.  Bill C and I both woke up at 5 AM.  We were on the road by 6 AM and headed out to Grayson Highlands State Park and Mount Rogers National Recreation Area

Some well-known features of this area include:

  • The beautiful Rhododendron Gap section of the Appalachian Trail. 
    The rhododendrons blossoms that line the trail peak in early June.  We appeared to be just a couple of weeks too early, but we did get to enjoy the early blooms.
    Rhododendron on Pine Mountain Trail
  • The herds of wild ponies that occupy the mountains.
    We got to encounter of number of the ponies in our 5.5 hour hike.
    Vicky Pets Pony
  • The highest point of Virginia. 
    At an elevation of 5729', the summit of Mount Rogers is the highest point in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Although we choose not to ascend to the summit today, we did cross the highest spot (~5526' feet at Pine Mountain Crest) the Appalachain Trail reaches in Virginia.

Bill and I took a combination of trails throughout our day's journey.  At our halfway point, we met up with Tony Airaghi, Paul Ely, Matt Ely and Nancy at their campsite.  They hiked with us for a while before our groups parted ways.  I'm not sure of our total mileage, but our route was as follows:

  • From Massie Gap Parking Lot in Grayson Highlands State Park, we took the AT Spur Trail up to the Appalachian Trail (0.8 miles)
  • We went Southbound on the AT, past Rhododendron Gap, through Fatman Squeeze Tunnel (what a apt name!) and to Pine Mountain Trail (2.7 miles)
  • We walked down Pine Mountain Trail to Lewis Fork Trail (??? ~1 mile?)
  • We turned right on Lewis Fork Trail and walked to the intersection of Lewis Fork and Crest Trail (neglible).
  • We took Crest Trail back to the Appalachian Trail (??? ~1 mile?)
  • Took the AT Northbound to Wilburn Crest Trail (.5 mile)
  • Took the Wilburn Crest Trail till its connection further down the AT (1 mile)
  • Took the Appalachian Trail Northbound to Massie Gap Trail (2.1 miles)
  • Took Massie Gap Trail down towards the State Road.
  • Whoops! We missed the parking lot and took the Horse Trail all the way down to the Country Store (??? ~2 miles?)
  • Got on a park road and walked back to the parking lot we somehow missed (??? ~2 miles?)

It was more mileage than we intended, but still a wonderful journey!  Well-worth the trip. 

All my pictures from this Grayson Highlands/Mount Rogers trip can be found on my website.

June 3, 2006 at 9:29 pm 10 comments

JavaScript: Changing a Button’s onClick Programmatically Client-Side

Today we had a QualTrax customer who wanted to override the onClick call of one of our form buttons and add in a quick popup reminder.  Since this was a standard HTML button in a standard HTML form, it seemed like it would be fairly easy via JavaScript in the screen's flexible footer.  It seemed like we could just do:

document.FormName.ButtonName.onclick="alert('Here is a pop up message');"

However, when I tested that change, the results were a little boring.  The page just sat there idle.  No pop message, no errors, nothing.  So I did some research.

It turns out the onclick property of the button is expecting not a string like I was passing in, but an actual function reference.  A quick revisement produced the desired behavior:

document.FormName.ButtonName.onclick= function() {alert('Here is a pop up message');};

And actually– wrapping it in an impromptu function turned out to be quite handy.  There were already other activities going on with the button's out-of-the-box onClick event that we wanted to preserve.  We were able to just include them into the function:

document.FormName.ButtonName.onclick= function() {alert('Here is a pop up message');OriginalJavaScriptCall1();OriginalJavaScriptCall2();};

Now when they click on the button– they get the pop message and then it moves on to finish the rest of its usual tasks.

We tested this script call successfully in Internet Explorer 6.0 SP2, Netscape 7.2 and FireFox 1.0.4.

June 2, 2006 at 2:10 pm 14 comments

Dogs vs. Honor Students

The very first time I saw one of those "My [Insert Dog Breed Here] is Smarter Than Your Honor Student" bumper stickers, it was on my friend Jennie's car.  Honestly, I found the bumper sticker hilarious and fitting.  She had an Australian Shepard.  I accompanied Jennie and her dog to a number of Fly Ball and Agility classes and I can say without a doubt that the dog is extremely intelligent (not to mention fast).  

Last week, I was driving along 460 and I saw a variation of the bumper sticker.  "My Pug is Smarter Than Your Honor Student".  Okay, I'm not too familiar with pugs.  It seemed a bit of a stretch, but I let it slide.

Today, it's gone too waaaay too far.  I got an email from CafePress advertising "Beagle Products".  CafePress is a website where users can upload their own images and make products such as mugs, T-shirts, and even dog-hiking calendars.  So I clicked on the link to see what the beagle lovers had come up with.   I only perused 3 of the 68 pages of beagle products.  Lo and behold, each page sported a "My Beagle is Smarter Than Your Honor Student" bumper sticker.

My Beagle is Smarter Than Your Honor Student 

Okay— so I have a beagle.  And I love this animal to death, I really do.  But, let's be honest.  Intelligence is not a strong suit of the breed.  Beagles are cute.  Beagles are cuddly.  Beagles aren't very destructive.  Beagles are loyal.  Beagles are good with children.  And Beagles can do amazing things with their talents– the USDA's Beagle Brigade sniffs out people bringing illegal food into the country.  But I still wouldn't quite classify them as "smart". 

Vicky and Henry

Here's a true story from this very morning!  I walk Henry out into the yard and suddenly he starts gagging and pawing at his mouth.  This is a common occurence– I knew exactly what the problem was.  When Henry came out into the yard, he picked up a stick– and when he chomped down on it, the sides chopped off, making it the exact perfect size to get lodged in the roof of his mouth.  So I worked through our usual routine.  I pried open Henry's mouth, looked in and confirmed there was a stick held securely in place by his upper teeth, I reached in and yanked it out.

Now, let's overlook the fact that Henry has faced this same discomfort numerous times in his past.  I can grant him some level of forgetfulness.  But this morning, after I extracted the stick, I threw the slimy thing on the ground.  The first thing Henry does?  He lunges for the stick again! 

If you need more evidence– I can tell you tales of how after 7 years he is still afraid of the same halogen lamp… or what happened once when he had full access to a 16 pound bag of dog food… or how many times he is arooing at a noise and facing the the wrong way… or his sporadic display of house-breaking skills.

Nonetheless, I love that guy.  It's a realistic love– I am well aware of his flaws. 

I adore him as is.

P.S.  Odds are, My Beagle Can Out Hike Your Honor Student! 🙂

June 1, 2006 at 12:40 am 1 comment

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