Contract of Wifely Expectations

Travis Fey of Council Bluffs is on trial for first degree kidnapping and domestic abuse assault causing injury. Allegedly, he wrote up a sexually explicit "Contract of Wifely Expectations" for his wife that required her to fulfill his every desire. The contract spelled out what his wife should wear and required for her to be his "sex slave." What the hell was he thinking? Apparently, his wife did not sign the contract, although I doubt that would make any difference. The couple is currently going through a divorce.


There is a proposed amendment in the Iowa House that would allow the Iowa Lottery's TouchPlay machines to remain in establishments with "certain state liquor licenses" according to the Cedar Rapids Gazette. The way I am reading this article, it seems that these establishments would be bars and other places exclusively for adults. I think that this is a good solution to the issue regarding the machines. Currently all TouchPlay machines are set to be removed from all locations by some time next month, however the business which provide the machines are going to be losing a lot of money if this happens.

I had seen these machines in some bars several months before I heard any debate over the slot-machine-like devices. I think that if they had stayed there and not spread to grocery and convenience stores, people would not have taken am much of an issue with them. It seems that most of the comments I have heard about the TouchPlay machines is that parents do not want their children exposed to them. Limiting them to bars and other adult establishments would take care of this, unless of course some parent takes their children to a bar, but then they are choosing to do so.

Of course, there are those who will still be opposed to TouchPlay machines being in adult establishments, but I would imagine that those people are going to be opposed to gambling as a whole, and not just concerned about this issue. Whatever the legislature does, hopefully they can get this resolved once and for all so they can get some real work done.


Fun Evening

I met my sister and one of my cousins for dinner this evening at India Palace in Roseville, Minnesota. It was good food, although I liked the entree my sister ordered better than what I ordered. After dinner, I returned to my hotel room to take the online Jeopardy! contestant search test. It was fairly difficult. I had absolutely no idea how to answer the question about the author from South America. I also missed the question about the actor who played Morpheus in The Matrix, a movie which I didn't particularly care for. I'll have to wait to see if I passed the test. Hopefully I did, but I won't be too disappointed if I didn't. I am sure I will have future opportunities to take the test. I topped of my evening with an hour-long conference call with coworkers in Iowa City. I, and another person here, briefed them on how our meetings have been going, which isn't too bad in general.


Work Travel is Bad for the Diet

I had been doing a lot better with watching what I have been eating until I left for a business trip yesterday. It is a lot harder to be good when dining out on an expense account. Last night we went to a terrific Italian restaurant in the Twin Cities and tonight it was to a steak place. Tomorrow I am meeting my sister for Indian food. I thought I could be good when it came to picking food, but it hasn't worked out that way. I am going to have to do much better the next time I travel for work.


Missing Fish Tails

I am beginning to wonder if there is an epidemic of fish with missing tails going around. In the past few days, two different people have stumbled onto my blog by searching for fish with missing tails. Earlier this week, someone came to my blog from Cincinnati, Ohio, searching for "swordtail missing tail" and today someone in Leeds, United Kingdom, found my blog by searching for "neon tetra tails missing." I hope they can find the answer they are looking for, but I can guarantee they won't find it here.

Welcome to Texas

I have decided to start providing some background information on the Photo of the Week. I actually had to scan this week's photo as it's from December 1997, well before I ever seriously thought about getting a digital camera. This is a photo of me at the Texas welcome center. I graduated in college in December 1997 and I got a job teaching at a high school in Rosenberg, Texas, a suburb of Houston. I only stayed there the remainder of the school year before moving back to the Midwest. My first teaching job really didn't work out all that well; I replaced a teacher who quit mid-year because she couldn't deal with the crap she was putting up with from the students. While I didn't care for the job, I did like some aspects of living in Texas. Sometimes I think I should have given the job another year to see if it got better, but in retrospect I am glad I didn't. For if I had stayed there, I wouldn't have met my wife.

Legislative Priorities

I'm disappointed in the Iowa Legislature. Today's newspaper lists some of the bills that are still eligible for debate this session. I really do not know where there priorities are when it comes to education. I would think that the goal regarding education should focus on improving student learning and achievement. After all, that is why students are supposedly in school. One education-related bill that is still alive in the legislature would change the school year start date. Currently the law allows schools to begin the school year during the week that contains September 1, although school districts can begin school earlier if they receive a waiver. Such requests have been approved to every district that has asked for them in the past. The bill that is being discussed would allow school years to begin as early as August 25, with no waivers granted. I believe there is an exception for year-round schools, but that would be the only exception. I do not see this bill having any impact on student learning. Instead, it seems to be promoted to help the Iowa tourism industry. What I don't get is that if the number of school days is a constant, starting school later would cause summer vacation to start later, which would then delay the beginning of the time when students can go on vacations.

One education bills that is now dead, which I feel could have an impact on student learning includes one that would have changed the school year in Iowa from 180 days to one based on hours of instruction. The school district I worked in the past two years had early dismissals for students every Wednesday. In taking away instructional time from students, teachers were supposed to have more professional development opportunities. I admit, we did benefit a little from this, but often times the time was wasted. Once a month, we spent the time in the auditorium finding out which staff members had a birthday that month. Each person with a birthday had to stand up and say something about themselves. I suppose that with a staff of over 100, this did help to build camaraderie among the staff (and the cake was good) but it really was a waste of time when most of us had actual work to do.

Another bill would have allowed four-year-olds to enter kindergarten under certain circumstances. I understand that not all four-year-olds are ready for kindergarten, but why would the state want to keep this option from those few students who may be ready. If the goal in education is to leave no child behind, why would the state want to leave some students behind in achieving their potential.


Things Are Working Again

After complaining yesterday about the things that haven't been working out for me lately, I have to say things turned around a bit today. My anti-virus program magically began working again. The spam filter still is not working, but I don't have much problem with spam. Also, I got the necessary information to complete the transfer of my domain name. I'm glad some things are finally working out for me. I also got a phone call from my doctor's office today. My cholesterol level is only 179, which is good I guess.



I just registered to take the Jeopardy! online contestant test next week. I believe that this is the first time they have offered this test online. I have taken the test to become a contestant on Jeopardy! before. About six years ago I was invited to take the test during their contestant search in Chicago. The test consisted of fifty questions, each one from a different category. The difficulty of the questions was that of the two highest dollar value questions during the Final Jeopardy round. The questions appeared on a TV screen and were read. We then had three seconds to write down an answer before the next question was read. In order to pass the test and to go to the next round, we had to get at least 35 of the questions correct. Unfortunately, I did not pass. The online test will also have fifty questions and I will have fifteen seconds to enter an answer. Those who do well enough on the test may be invited to audition for the show. Hopefully I do better this time.

To the Doctor

I guess the third time is the charm. I finally made it to the doctor today. As you may recall, my January appointment was rescheduled to February. That appointment was then rescheduled to this afternoon. Once I saw the doctor, the appointment went by pretty quickly. He thinks I am in good health from what he saw today. I did have some blood drawn so they can check my cholesterol level, but I think that will be alright. My wife has been concerned about my health ever since my father had his heart attack this past June. The doctor thinks I only need to come in to see him (actually, I’ll have to see someone else as he’s leaving the practice soon to take a position at one of the local hospitals) every other year or so.

He is performing one test on me besides checking my cholesterol level though. While he was looking into my throat, he asked me if I snore. My wife has told me that I do. In fact, she once threatened to make me sleep in a different room so she could get some sleep. So tonight, I am taking a nocturnal oximetry test. I have to wear a sensor on my fingertip while I sleep. It is going to record the amount of oxygen in my blood to see if I get enough oxygen during my sleep. My father had sleep apnea, so I would not be too surprised if I have that condition as well. That could explain why I often feel quite fatigued during the day, even if I get plenty of sleep. I guess I will soon find out if this is my problem.

Now on to other things, the past few weeks have not been a good week for me when it comes to customer service. A couple of weeks ago, I reported here about a problem with my Sears charge account which was not fixed to my satisfaction. Then last week, I had a problem with my Dell computer. I was passed around from person to person and then while I was on hold to speak with a third person, I solved the problem on my own.

Late last week I began having problems with my McAfee anti-virus program. I was getting a message that my subscription to updates had expired, but I just purchased the program this past December. After spending 45 minutes chatting online with their technical support, the problem seemed to be fixed. Then a couple of days ago, the spam filter stopped working. I got a message that it was not installed, but when I tried to reinstall it, I got a message that it was already installed! In trying to fix that, I accidentally uninstalled my anti-virus program. After reinstalling it, I began having the same problems as last week. I think I am just going to give up and switch to Norton. I ended up getting the most recent version of McAfee free after rebates, so I will not be out anything on that.

Now I have been having problems with my domain name registrar. I have my own domain name which I use for a web site as well as for my email. It is set to expire next month, so I decided to switch to a different registrar who is less expensive than my current one. I have been trying for the past couple of days to get an authorization code from my current company. It should have been emailed to me, but I never received the email. I guess I will have to try yet again tomorrow.


All I Do Is Work

Today, it seemed that all I did was worked. I left home this morning at around 6:30 to get to work shortly after 7:00, an hour before my usual time. I left on time at 4:30, however I had to go grocery shopping, so I didn't get home until around 6:15. After cooking and eating dinner, I had about 1 hour during which I paid some bills and relaxed. Then it was time to get back to work. I am finally finishing work for the night. Tomorrow, I get to repeat the whole process, except for the grocery shopping part. I am so looking forward to wrapping up the current phase of the project I am working on. Then I will finally be able to relax a bit more again.


Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

I hope everyone has had a happy Saint Patrick's Day. My day was pretty good. I took the day off from work. I figured with all of the stress at work lately, I could really use a day off. I did end up working about half an hour this morning, but it was just trying to get my timesheet for the week submitted. I had problems submitting it last night, but by then the help desk at work was closed. So I had to do it this morning.

I had some success today fixing my computer. It had been making a low-pitched beeping sound and the fan whirred loudly when the power switch was pressed. I figured out the meaning of the beeps and the diagnostic lights on the back and I fixed the computer. It was pretty easy really. I just removed the memory then put it back in. Somehow it must have come loose.

Mel, two of her coworkers, and I went downtown to see the Saint Patrick's Day parade. I have never been to that parade in Cedar Rapids. I was surprised that it lasted a good hour. Before the parade, we had some drinks at Dublin City, a bar downtown. I had the customary green beer, as well as some green punch.

While we watched the parade, we notice a woman who was wearing an fairly revealing outfit. We suspected that she had a lot to drink prior to arriving at the parade.


The Condo

After looking at the condo that my mother put an offer on, I feel much better about her moving. It is a very nice place, and the price is right. She won't have to spend as much time cleaning, since it is smaller than her current house, and she won't have to worry about any yard work or snow removal -- the two things that caused her the most difficulty with her current house. She may be able to have a small garden in the yard in the back. That will be nice for her.

Winning at the Casino

Yesterday Mel and I went to Ankeny, for the second weekend in a row. This time we went for a baby shower. I felt really out of place there as the only man in attendance except for the father-to-be but on the way home we stopped at the Meskwaki Casino in Tama. I actually came out ahead for once. I ended up leaving with twenty dollars more than I cam in with. Unfortunately, Mel did not have any luck at all, but at least I still have some cash. I will probably end up spending my winnings at the Other Place in Waterloo. They have fantastic pizza, and we like to go there whenever we are in Waterloo.

We are driving up today to see a condo that my mom put an offer on yesterday. I am fine with her selling the house, but I think it will still be a little rough for me. She will be leaving behind the elaborate garden that my father spent the last few years creating, but we will still have the memories.


Just When I Though Things Couldn't Get Worse

The project manager for the project I am working on quit last night. He hadn't been doing that great of a job, but he seemed to be doing better lately. I guess he'd had enough of this project that almost seems doomed for failure. I guess we'll just have to carry on without him. Some of the other project managers are going to have to help out so we can meet our deadlines to get deliverables to our customer. I'm sure everything will work out alright, but it is definitely going to cause a bit more stress at work.


The Pressure Mounts

The pressure is really mounting at work this week. At the beginning of the week, we had quite a bit of work that absolutely had to be completed by the end of the week. Actually, it has to be done by the start of business on Monday. That gives us a couple more days. I think we are getting to the point where we are almost done with this work, but there is still more to do. I feel bad since I don't feel as though I am really working as much as some of the people on the project. One of my coworkers has probably been spending at least an extra four hours a day all week working on this. She even worked six or seven hours on Sunday. I have been working extra hours, just not as much as others. I guess I'll have to pick up the slack next week when the next phase of the project needs to be absolutely finished.


My Grandfather

My grandfather had surgery today. Fortunately, everything went well. He's going to have to stay in the hospital for a while, but he should be fine. I am really relieved.


The Weekend

Mel and I had a busy weekend. Saturday afternoon we saw The Lion King at the Civic Center in Des Moines. It was a great show, even if the seats are not all that comfortable. I would recommend the show to anyone. If you can, go see it! After The Lion King, we went to dinner in Ankeny with Mel's family. We stayed that night at Mel's sister's house in Ankeny. Sunday was our nephew's fifth birthday and we had a party.

When we got back to Cedar Rapids, Mel and I stopped at the hospital to see my grandfather. He was taken there Saturday evening. It looks like he may need surgery. Mel and I are a bit concerned since he is 89 years old and not in the best of health. We visited him again tonight and he seems to be feeling alright. He still doesn't know what exactly is wrong. The doctor is going to see him tomorrow to explain that. We are, of course, hoping for the best.


It Hasn't Been My Week

At least regarding credit cards. First I learn about a problem with my Sears card, which technically is my fault, even is I was misled by one of their employees. Then, last night I discovered a message on my answering machine from a the fraud department of a different credit card I have. At first I figured that they were suspicious about the relatively large charge for Mel's and my trip to Jamaica, but that was over a month ago. I called back and it turns out that my credit card number has been stolen! Fortunately there haven't yet been any fraudulent charges, but they did have to cancel that card and send me a new one with a new account number. This is the card that I use most often, and pay in full each month. Hopefully the new card arrives soon.


Don't Trust the Sears Salesman

I’m pissed off at Sears right now. Last April, Mel and I bought a new washer and a new dryer there four our new house. We financed the purchase using their credit card and got one year interest free. That promotional offer is going to expire on April 1. If we do not have the balance paid in full by then, we will be charged interest back to the date of purchase. We’ve been making monthly payments and have been on track to get the balance paid off before that date. In January, we bought an elliptical exerciser also at Sears and put the purchase on our Sears card. This time, we got six months to pay without interest. Now before we made the purchase, I asked the salesman if payments to our Sears card would be applied first to the promotional balance that expires first. He said they would. I realize that not all credit cards do this, but I do have some, such as my Best Buy card, that do. With this information from the salesman, I felt comfortable in adding this new purchase to the same card.

Well, when my bill came a few weeks ago, I realized that part of my previous payment had been applied to the new balance. I called customer service but the person on the phone did not know how the distribution of payments was determined. So, I made an additional payment to see what would happen. I just got off the phone with the customer service people again and I learned that payments are first applied to balances with the latest expiration. This means that if I want to avoid finance charges on my washer and dryer, I need to pay off the entire balance by the end of the month. I can do this without much problem, but I am upset. I was planning on being able to defer paying for the elliptical in full until the beginning of July. I guess I better read my card member agreements a little more closely in the future.


With today being Ash Wednesday, it is also the start of Lent. Last night, after eating our Dairy Queen Blizzards, my wife suggested that we dive up Dairy Queen for Lent. I suppose part of this is that this was my second (her third) trip to Dairy Queen since they reopened last week. We are making an exception to get an ice cream cake from there later this month for her birthday, but other than that, no Dairy Queen for us until Easter.

I am also giving up pop for Lent. This is going to be really tough. I almost grabbed one this morning before I remembered that I gave it up. I guess I'll be drinking a lot more water in the upcoming weeks.