Thursday, August 30, 2007

Update 3 on Cathy's Father

Cathy heard from her step-mom yesterday. Al will be starting chemotherapy in one week. He'll be treated daily at the clinic for four weeks. It's quite a drive, almost two hours (something like Dahlonega, GA).

If the cancer shrinks in four weeks, they will operate, Al will recuperate, and we will all celebrate, because that would be it -- no more cancer. If it does not respond in four weeks, the chemotherapy will continue until Al goes into remission.

I am praying this works the first time around. Cathy's sister's wedding is in late October, so Al would have time to recover. May God grant our requests!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bulls in a China Shop

Ever seen Myth Busters? Here's a rather entertaining one: Bulls in a China Shop.

Monday, August 27, 2007

See if you can read this without laughing

I read this article ( out loud to Cathy. We were laughing out loud on this one.

My favorite line:
I'm glad it's going to a museum and not a private collection.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I was mean to my mother-in-law

It was Friday night, and I was mean to my mother-in-law, Rhonda. She needed a "talking-to," but she didn't deserve anyone being mean to her.

Cathy's mom has been with us since Saturday, September 3rd, 2005 (I just checked). In just over a week, it will have been two years. About five weeks ago, Rhonda became unemployed by walking out when her manager was reading her the riot act. As it turns out, walking out while your boss is scolding you means you quit. When you quit, you do not get to collect unemployment benefits; that's for when you are terminated. So it has been a hard month for her.

Rhonda had difficulty securing another job. I do not know why, or how difficult it is to get a job right now; I have not looked. She got behind on her car payments and other things, and we are not in a position to help. I also happen to be of the opinion that it would be unwise to help financially. Anyway, Rhonda spent all day waiting for social services; she learned about this through the Orange County 2-1-1 system. 2-1-1 is the equivalent of 9-1-1 but for human services referrals. While they couldn't help her with her car payment of medications, they did give her $40 for gas. That was nice.

So, I guess she had a rough day. She came home about 8:30 P.M., appearing frustrated. She complained to Cathy about the rash can being full and wondered aloud why I hadn't taken out the trash. I found that pretty annoying; if it is full, pull it out, tie it up, and put in the new bag; I'll take out the trash later. I figured I would do that before bed, but went outside with Oliver to get away from my frustrated mom-in-law.

So, I'm standing outside with Oliver, and I figured I would try to pray. My mind was racing with annoying thoughts and feelings toward Rhonda, and I didn't want to do or say anything I would regret. I thought I was praying, asking God for patience, asking God to help me ignore Rhonda's complaints. Instead, I thought about how I couldn't remember the last time she said "thank you," how she drains resources without any consideration for us, and generally behaves like a bad roommate from my college days. I struggled to put aside all the negative, bitter feelings. I was asking God for grace.

Apparently, Rhonda decided the trash couldn't wait. I heard her shooing Boaz away from the door, and then Boaz was outside. She told me I better catch him, and I told her that she let him out, she needs to catch him (and I would help). She said it's my cat, I catch him. I said she let him out, it is her responsibility. She said I should have trained my cat to stay indoors; I caught Boaz. I told her that she needs to take responsibility for her own actions; at least apologize. She rolled her eyes and walked away from me. I told her that, if she walked away from this conversation, she could move out, too. She kept going, and I yelled after her, "That's it, I've had enough. You're moving out! I'll bring the boxes from work tomorrow!"

Some where in there, I threw in a cuss word, too.

Cathy was understandably surprised; she was too wise to try to talk me out of it. Instead, she talked to her mother, who basically said she had done nothing to apologize for. I threw in my two cents, Rhonda basically just glared at me and went into her room and shut the door.

About 30 minutes later, after I got ready for bed, she found me in the bedroom and said she apologizes for letting the cat out. I apologized for using a bad word at her, and we each went to bed.

Upon reflection, I realized that I did not apologize for not wanting her to live here anymore. I may have spoken the truth, but I did not do so in love. In fact, nothing I did was loving.

I also do not think I was actually praying. Rather, I believe I was simply trying to talk myself down. I probably would have gone on to praying, but I had not got there, yet. Cathy and I had a decent conversation about it, afterwards.

So, there it is, my confession.

Rhonda's approach to handling conflict is to pretend it didn't happen. I find it rather awkward, as I think I would like to apologize for speaking to her so harshly. Still, what I want to apologize for is saying that I don't want her living here; but, I don't. Gah!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Update 2 on Cathy's Father

Al's cancer has indeed spread (previous post).

He is not a candidate for surgery, but they think chemotherapy may help. However, Cathy is not sure Al would undergo chemotherapy willingly.

More on Monday...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Taiwan to be struck by Super Typhoon Sepat

Per this Reuters article, Super Typhoon Sepat is going to hit Taiwan today (interactive map).

I don't remember what year (maybe 1990), but there was this one typhoon season when we had three separate storms cut right across Taiwan, just like this one is supposed to do but from west to east. We had high winds, hard rain, flooding... school was naturally canceled, and I remember trying to ride my bicycle and getting pushed all over the road. If I remember right, that was the same year I saw a car floating down the street.

Typhoon Sepat has caused a lot of trouble for the Philippines... I hope Taiwan fares better.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Update on Cathy's Father

Here's an update on Al, Cathy's father.

The lung capacity test results are back and they are good. They met with the surgeon today and feel very good about him. The surgeon is wondering about the initial diagnosis, though; he thinks the prognosis is better than initially expected. He is reviewing the findings of the first doctor before proceeding.

The cancer is in the upper part of Al's left lung. The inflammation caused by the cancer spread to his larynx, which caused him to lose his voice. The first doctor thought the inflammation had spread from the left side of Al's larynx to the right side; this could mean the cancer spread from the left lung to the right lung. The surgeon does not think this is the case, but he wants to make sure.

The other bright spot is that the cancer is growing very slowly. They have at least two months to determine the best course of action. This gives us much more time to plan our trips and get the grandkids to Al.

The possibilities of Al's treatment are:
  1. the cancer has not spread, it is large-cell cancer, they remove one lung, he lives normally in remission.
  2. the cancer has not spread, it is small-cell cancer, they treat him with chemotherapy, he goes into remission.
  3. the cancer has spread, he gets chemo.
Come what may, the timing is much better. Please ask God to prevent the cancer from spreading, and that God grants mercy upon Al and those who love him. Thank you!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Cathy's father has lung cancer

Cathy's father has lung cancer. His name is Al.

The results of the initial test came back yesterday; it's not the type of cancer you can leave alone; it is not benign. A lung capacity test has been scheduled for Monday, 08/13/2007. If that works out, the doctors will arrange for an operation to remove the cancer; up to removing one lung.

Cathy is understandably concerned. While we had been praying for this for about three weeks now, I had expected it to be benign. We are making arrangements to be present before and after the operation. Cathy's brother and his family will be going, too.

Al is a pastor out in Georgia. Our plan is to ask (and receive) an eventual transfer to Georgia, then begin working with Cathy's dad's church. Cathy would work there most weeks, and I would work there on weekends and after office hours. So, they're looking forward to our eventual arrival. We have plans for several years of working side-by-side until Al's successor can be installed (I think he is hoping it is I, but I'm thinking we'll just get through this and get to Georgia, first).

It is another time to ask for God's grace to trust Him and His will. Please pray that the upcoming tests are good, that the surgery and scheduling all work out, and that God grants mercy upon Al and those who love him.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Palm Desktop beta available for Vista

Palm Desktop 6.2 Beta for Windows (Vista) is available now. It only supports Vista, and it is beta. But, if you are stuck committed to Vista, at least you can play with your Palm PDA again.

Via DSL, via Brighthand

Vista's slow file copying, video problems, spooler dying finally patched

It's about time! If you've copied files and wondered why it was taking Vista so long to do a simple task, here's the update for you.

KB 938979 "performance and reliability" update addresses (among other things) the "file transfer" problem, which Microsoft describes as, "When you copy or move a large file, the 'estimated time remaining' takes a long time to be calculated and displayed." This is what I referred to my coworkers as the "why does it take so long to copy one file?" problem.

KB 938194 "compatibility and reliability" update deals with some video card issues and a printer problem, so you may want this if you 1) play games on Vista or 2) have a problem with print spooler dying unexpectedly (although I'm not sure it will fix bad drivers).

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

How to Green Your Pet

Love me, love my pets. Love God, love His creation. Here's a good place to start thinking about being "green" where it concerns your furry family members, starting with "adopt from a shelter" to "feed them better food."My personal tip -- don't flush cat litter; according to the handlers at SeaWorld (see also, some cats carry a parasite which hurt ocean wildlife like otters.

read more | digg story

Monday, August 06, 2007

Las Vegas Trip

So, we went to Las Vegas to enjoy our timeshare. It had changed hands a few times, and the new HOA wanted to try selling us more stuff while discussing some favorable changes. We didn't buy, but we're happy with the changes and the inexpensive stay while we were in town.

Tuesday: We drove up on a Tuesday, and boy was it hot all week! It was 107 at Baker, CA (good name) on the way up, and 112 when we came home. It actually poured heavily as we crossed into Nevada, but cleared up as we got near Las Vegas. Once we got there, we just settled in and relaxed for a bit. We finally decided to read the Harry Potter series, so we we read some of that (cooling it at Borders) and generally just tried to decompress.

Wednesday: The next day, we sat through the presentation; time actually passed pretty quickly. As it turns out, Wynn had sold Bally's to Harrah's, which in turn tried to buy the property we owned (which was originally Ramada, them someone else, then someone else, and now "Summer Bay"). Anyway, Harrah's did something wrong and our HOA sued and won, and Harrah's settled by offering to move us one block into a 5-star facility (which they later regretted because they now want that property). There was a buyout offer that the owners voted down; the new facility will be worth much more if we hold on to it. We took the rest of the day easy, walking the casinos and playing a little badminton and ate dinner at an amazingly good Mexican place "Lindo Michoacan" -- highly recommended if you stop into Las Vegas!

Thursday: We actually spent the morning wandering through various casinos (thus seeing the giant chocolate fountain in the Bellagio) searching for treats Cathy can eat, and searching for hours for her towel. Now, the towel probably sounds very HHGTTG, and it's not a joke; the hotel towels were unusable for Cathy (too much polyester), and she didn't bring one with her. We eventually settled on a nice towel from the Paris Las Vegas casino.

Every time we are in Las Vegas, Cathy wants to see another show, one we have not seen before. As this vacation coincided with Cathy's birthday, we discussed seeing Blue Man Group, but Cathy decided on Stomp Out Loud instead. We got tickets and had a very nice dinner at a tucked-away place called "Rosewood Grille." After that, we enjoyed the show at Planet Hollywood.

Stomp was very enjoyable (YouTube clips); I was unprepared for the show, as I only knew that it involved percussion and unusual instruments, and I was thoroughly entertained. Cathy absolutely loved it. We had purchased middle-section tickets, off center, but the guys seating us moved us forward to the front sections, dead center, and those were great seats. It was a nice "happy birthday" upgrade for Cathy!

Friday: We had planned to see the MGM Lions and take it easy the rest of the day, reading at the book stores and playing badminton. As it turns out, it was so hot we tried to stay indoors at all times, so we ate a lot of watermelon at the resort, saw the lions around lunch, walked around the casino shops and read more Harry Potter at the bookstore. We had planned to watch the Fountains at the Bellagio casino but a storm moved in, whipping up a lot of wind with lightning on the horizon. We stayed home and at more watermelon, reading more Harry Potter.

Saturday: We went and checked out the tiger display at the Venetian casino and got to watch a tiger swimming; it was actually kinda cute (from behind inch-thick glass).

That eventing, we got cheap tickets to a variety show at Planet Hollywood, inventively named "V." It was hosted by Wally Eastwood, whom I recognized from this YouTube clip, where he plays the piano with juggling balls. We were very entertained, and the other acts were pretty good, too.

Oh yeah... during the comedic act of Russ Merlin, he talked four men (I was one of them) into raising our hands, and then asked for four volunteers. I didn't see the rest of the act, as I was under a mask, but Cathy found it absolutely hilarious, and we got tickets to Nathan Burton’s Comedy Magic Show, which we decided to see Sunday, after church. That same evening, we saw the Bellagio fountains and watch six or seven shows in a row.

Sunday: There's only one EFCA congregation in Las Vegas, so we visited that church on Sunday. It's a church plant, and the pastor is good (graduate of TEDS). I keep thinking that a church plant is a good idea...

At 2:00 PM we saw the Nathan Burton show, which was very engrossing and family-friendly. We got home at 10:30 PM, and we were very happy to kitties and Oliver, who were also very glad to see us.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Vista Wireless DHCP Problems with SonicWall TZ170w

The title bar link will not work for you if you do not have a SonicWall forum login. Nonetheless, here's an interesting problem I ran into and the solution.

I've been running Vista with various wireless access points just fine; Vista's WiFi stack seems OK to me. Then, we had a client running Vista who could not connect wirelessly to the firewall/access point we sold to them. That was a problem.

The Problem:
This Vista laptop was not able to obtain an IP address via DHCP from the SonicWall TZ 170w. It was able to associate itself (it showed up in the mac/ARP table) to the access point, but instead of getting an IP adress it kept reporting an IP address conflict. The same Vista laptop acquired a DHCP address just fine when connected through wired Ethernet.

Other symptoms included the laptop mac address showing up multiple times in the DHCP lease table on the SonicWall, the event viewer recording DHCP errors on differing IP addresses all reporting conflicts, and finally the wireless NIC falling back to an automatically assigned private IP address. I think that, if our DHCP pool has been small, this single laptop would have used up every available IP address in the DHCP pool.

The Solution:
According to Microsoft, a network trace revealed that Vista client is doing gratuitous ARP while losing the IP.

One of the usages of ARP is to provide duplicate IP address detection through the transmission of ARP Requests known as gratuitous ARPs. A gratuitous ARP is an ARP Request for a node’s own IP address. In the gratuitous ARP, the SPA and the TPA are set to the same IP address.

If a node sends an ARP Request for its own IP address and no ARP Reply frames are received, the node can assume that its assigned IP address isn’t being used by other nodes. If a node sends an ARP Request for its own IP address and an ARP Reply frame is received, the node can determine that its assigned IP address is already being used by another node.

After obtaining an IP address from the SonicWall TZ 170w firewall, the Vista client issues an auto-ARP to assure no conflict; in doing so it expects an answer from the DHCP server confirming the IP address. Without the confirmation the client will decline the IP address received via DHCP.

The core of the issue seems to be the ARP request sent out by the Vista client. The wireless Vista client issues out a Version A ARP request with a source IP address of This is non-standard behavior (whatever that means). Future SonicWall TZ 170w firmware will address the issue.

The Resolution:
The ArpRetryCount registry setting sets the number of times that a gratuitous ARP is sent when initializing IP for a specific IP address. If no ARP Reply is received after sending ArpRetryCount gratuitous ARPs, IP assumes the IP address is unique on the network segment.

In the mean time, runas REGEDIT as administrator, then go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters and add a new REG_DWORD named “ArpRetryCount” with a value of 0 and reboot.

Again, according to Jean-Marc of SonicWall (as of May 2007), a future firmware will address the issue.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Vista: Five-Month Impression

OK, it's been five months since I first started using Windows Vista. I started off using Vista Ultimate, but frankly I did not find the additional features of Ultimate to be compelling. I tried using Media Center a couple of times and never used BitLocker. As I said previously, there's no compelling reason to upgrade from XP.

If you do upgrade, however, make sure that Vista has been available on similar hardware for a few months. My Toshiba laptop required a BIOS update to make all the hardware appear correctly in Vista, and drivers were not completely available until May. I would check for both drivers, firmware, and BIOS updates for your platform before upgrading.

Speaking of upgrading... my opinion on Vista editions is as follows:
  • Vista Home Basic: Why bother? It's just Windows XP with annoying UAC prompts.
  • Vista Home Premium: get a decent graphics controller
  • Vista Business: if you don't need Media Center, this is a better choice because of the advanced backup feature of disk imaging
  • Vista Ultimate: You better have top-of-the-line hardware and actually want to use Media Center, otherwise just use Vista Business
  • All Editions: get 2GB memory (1GB is bare minimum)
If you just want the graphical improvements, check out this article and this utility.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Returning to normal

Well, life seems to be returning to normal for me.

Do you know that feeling, if you take a vacation, where you have difficulty relaxing for the first few days after a stressful time? It's August, and I'm beginning to feel like a normal human being again.

Yes, school starts in a few weeks. But, frankly, I'm feeling ready for it, finally.

Cathy just had her birthday, and we went to Las Vegas for a time-share vacation (I'll post on that later). I bought her a really nice set of knives (don't laugh) -- she threw the set we got after our wedding into the trash about three weeks ago out of sheer frustration; they were 10 years old, I suppose.

We had a good time in Las Vegas, but I keep feeling like I'm forgetting something really important, like a birthday... but I think I was just nervous about Cathy's birthday going well. Still, I've got this nagging feeling...

I've written my parents a few times; it is no secret that I struggle with being a good son. I've offered to send some money home, but I have not heard back from my parents. I am growing concerned, but I do not yet wish to call them on the phone; my last conversation did not go well, and I yelled at my mother. I regret it, but I feel my apology would be insufficient. Perhaps that is why I have not heard from them.

Work is good. I am still hoping and praying for a transfer to Georgia. I'm looking forward to serving in Cathy's dad's church, along with whatever else God has planned for me.

Oh, that's right! My pastor called while he was on vacation and told me there's an opening to preach as a guest in L.A. for a ministry we support there. I'm looking forward to that, too.

Cathy took a few really nice pictures of Bubba, our new adoptable kitten. Man, is he cute! I suppose I ought to post a picture... later. I've got a wedding to get to!