In a continuing search for something I haven't seen before, I had dinner at a place called Spangles. It is a Kansas fast food chain in the style of Johnny Rockets. It has the shiny metal siding, the large plaster statue of Elvis, and walls covered with records and advertisements for sodas and milk shakes. But it is more oriented to the fast food crowd than Johnny Rockets, in that there is a drive through and there is not a waitstaff, certainly not one that sings to you.

Did I just mention singing? That's right, I was recently read that Dan Snyder owns Johnny Rockets. According to this Washington Post article:

He owns a group of local radio stations, and earlier this year purchased the Johnny Rockets restaurant chain, a franchise that features 1950s-style nickel jukeboxes and servers who dance and sing.

Have you ever been to a Johnny Rockets where they sing and dance? I have not.

At any rate, another exciting food opportunity only available here in Kansas is Dimple Donuts. It certainly looks unique, huh? Be aware; they do not take credit cards

Tubular, Man

Way back in January, we made the first changes to this wall by removing the brick facing. This weekend, I spent a couple of hours adding a bit more damage.

It seems like the composition of this interior wall is a shell of gypsum or hard plaster enclosing a softer core of poured plaster. The inside material is not exactly mushy, but it is very chalk-like and crumbles with proper encouragement. The external shell is very, very hard, resisting whacks with a chisel. The best approach seemed to be to remove a row of the external plaster with hard slams of a hammer and then remove inner material when it was exposed. Even this, though, took some swinging.

My goal is to remove the innards from the kitchen side down to the level of that electrical outlet. Since I have to travel during the week, this lets me trap as much of the dust as possible in the kitchen, so it is easier to clean up. After I get the inside cleaned out, I am hoping some well place whacks from the dining room side will let me take down the remaining shell fairly easily.

No Parking Without a Vehicle

I know I'm not from around here and all, but that sign is not making a lot of sense to me. This is pretty much my only way to parse this sign: "You can park as much as you want most of the time, but between the hours of 8 and 6, you must limit your time to 10 hours. However, since 8 and 6 are 10 hours apart, you pretty much can't ever break this rule. Good luck to ya."

It's a bit like saying, "No left turn if the day doesn't end in Y." Or "Mini Coopers: No driving in three lanes at once." Impossible for the merely mortal.

Golden Guy

Well, I can tell you one thing I don't like about Kansas. After I dutifully spent half an hour on the stationary bike here at the hotel. After I carefully rinsed off in the shower so I'd be presentable. After I was polite and cheerful to everybody I met. In spite of all that.

The woman at the Golden Corral tried to give me the senior citizen discount.

I refused, of course. The horrible thing is that just Sunday I was given the Senior discount at the Silver Diner without even being asked.

What's up with that? Am I that decrepit? I couldn't find the age policy for either of these restaurants, but I still have 22 years before I can ask for the senior citizen discount from Amtrak.

No Toto Jokes

This building just looks like Kansas, doesn't it?

So, here I am in Topeka, the capital of Kansas. It is flat here. There has been quite an impressive thunderstorm, but no tornadoes yet. I'll be traveling here every week for the next 10 weeks or so. I believe I will have visited every restaurant in town by that time.

I wanted to bring along my copy of Ink, but I was a little worried that the good people of Kansas might arrest me for carrying indecent material. So instead I brought The Picture of Dorian Gray. Hmm. Seems you can't win.

I came in late on Sunday night. The moonlit wings reflected the stars that guide me towards salvation. I forgot how much I hate Southwest Airlines, but I did get a row to myself.

Home, Briefly

Well, the zombie day is over. That was fun. (If you didn't get it, it was a part of a world-wide effort.)

I'm back at home. Survived the conference. Loved speaking in front of a couple hundred. Hated shmoozing and mingling. Learned some stuff. Didn't win an iPod.

Tomorrow, I leave for Kansas. I doubt it will be quite as exciting as Disney World. Don't expect another End of the World Event for another year, anyway.

Blue Breakfast

I'm down here at a conference in Disney World so I'm disconnected from the world a bit. I can peruse a blog or two, but that's it. When I first started seeing the blog posts about zombies I thought it was just some kind of weird stunt.

But then I dropped into breakfast this morning.

Breakfast here in the hotel has been terrible in general. There aren't enough tables; there's not much selection; and is it too much to ask for a Diet Coke in the morning? Jeez. I'm grumpiest before I've eaten, so I didn't think too much of the grumbling when I wandered in today. Today was kind of special: we had a character breakfast! You know, in Disney World, they have this thing where you can bring your kids to meet Disney characters during a meal. It wasn't going well.

The Disney characters were having the tourists for breakfast.

Hundreds of geeks are now lying brainless on the floor of the Dolphin hotel. The characters are ravenous. I saw Donald snack on two blue shirts at once. Ugh. I saw Winnie the Pooh hugging heads to his chest like honey pots and sticking his paw in to scoop out a smackerel of something gooey. Chubby little cubby all stuffed with brains!

I'm going to be sick.

The worst part is the singing. Lord, Disney characters can sing about anything:

A dream is a wish your brain makes,
When you want some brains

Hakuna Matata
What a wonderful brain
Hakuna Matata
I want to eat some braaaains
It's our fiber free, philosophy!

A spoonful of brains help the medicine go down

Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-a-Dee-Day
My, oh my, what a wonderful brain
Plenty of neurons coming my way
Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-a-Dee-Brain!

Oh, please, please, please make them stop!

By the way, don't let his size fool you. Piglet can put away the gray stuff.


  • I agree with this person who has strong feelings about his cat's meowing and the wonders of science.
  • I'm concerned about a bullet point in blog post, because I'm mightily concerned about organizational principles in general. I'm also worried about the violence in New Zealand.
  • It seems odd to be away from home. I see that the weather is improving there. People are acting a little twitchy here in Florida. Must be the heat.

Picture Them All Wearing Sombreros and Lederhosen

This is what the room looks like from the point of view of the presenter, at least while people are still filing in. Looks pretty empty doesn't it? I wonder which is more nerve-wracking, too many people or not enough? At any rate, I think my presentation went okay. I got several questioners afterward, and I didn't run out of time.

RSDC 2007 - Day 1

There's wireless in the conference rooms, so it's easy enough to pop into the internet while the presenters speak. I'm in the middle of the keynote right now. There are more than 2700 of us in the room. It's like some big video party.

They just announced that Rational is acquiring Telelogic. I'm most familiar with Telelogic as the owners of the ReqPro competitor called Doors.

My presentation is this afternoon and I'm much more nervous than I expected. I hope nobody sits in the back and blogs on me!

RSDC 2007 - Day 0

I'm down here in Florida for the Rational Software Development Conference (RSDC), where I'll be presenting tomorrow. I've done a quick glance at the other presentations, and it's pretty obvious that the key word is "cool". Apparently, functional testing is "cool", there are "cool" Rational Application Developer techniques, and you can do "cool" stuff with BuildForge.

The cat has kindly provided bits of his fur to keep me company on this trip. I can't imagine how he go it into the bag, but there you go. IBM has been nice enough to give us new bags, so I can go back with different luggage than I came.

So, what do you do when someone comes up to you and starts talking to you like you should remember him? I mean, if you haven't got the slightest clue where you know him from? I smile and nod, but that's not convincing enough.

The weather here is dang hot! And you have to go outside to travel between the Dolphin and Swan hotels. I didn't anticipate that. There are fountains all over the place. Imagine if they took a few of those and converted them into misters along the walkway between the two hotels. Now that would be cool!

Cañón de Plaster

The interior wall separating the dining room from the kitchen does not quite have the innards I was expecting. I think we've found another abandoned dwelling place of the Anasazi. Honestly, I knew that the walls were plaster, but I had expected there to be some studwork behind the plaster, but it just seems to be a honeycombed glob of plaster, hair and cardboard.

Our plan is to bring this wall to half-height, remaining mostly as the backing to cabinetry and support for a small bar. I don't want to take a sledge hammer to it, but this hammer and chisel might take forever. Perhaps we'll try a crowbar on the upper sections.

The real challenge is keeping the dust from getting everywhere. Up to now, we could seal off the kitchen, but now we'll be busting through to the dining room. This renovation is making more and more of our home unlivable. Was that the goal?

Mr. Taleswapper, Take Down That Wall!

Finally, we are about to have some positive movement on the kitchen. After our lifecycle review, we determined that the next iteration should actually involve the removal of the wall between the kitchen and dining room. Analysis of our activities to this point showed that the architecturally significant portion was too risky, and so we are shelving the idea of moving the laundry for now.

What I am saying is: Like all projects, we are giving up on risk-based execution and are now trying for a quick win!

Last week, I submitted a new request to the Cooperative and this morning, I actually received permission to partially remove the wall between the kitchen and dining room. Yay!

Finalists for PRQ

Ah, well, the PRQ folks didn't select my entry, but that's no reason that you should all hold a grudge or anything. Go look at the winners, give them a listen and support them through the next steps of the contest.

Good luck to all of them!

What Kind of Pies?

The Brunette and I had our hair trimmed down at Roosevelt Center yesterday morning without fatal incident, so it seemed like a good day to go over and check out Kensington's production of Sweeney Todd. The group stages their productions in the town hall, an old National Guard Armory. The setting would be great for an outdoor performance of the Scottish play, if you ask me.

Inside, it was freezing and the acoustics were less than optimal. On the other hand, considering it is a glorified gym, the sound could have been worse. There wasn't terrible echo or anything. The only two people, however, I could consistently understand while singing were Sarah Hirschman (Ensemble) and Ryan Manning (Anthony). Perhaps I am simply getting old.

As for the acting, I thought that Mr. Manning and Sam Ludwig (Tobias) turned in creditable performances. Mr. Ludwig transitions well from innocent to madman, a transition it would be nice to see Sweeney go through himself, though I suppose the book doesn't really give such an opportunity. And the story of Todd is problematic. I don't think it gives enough of an arc to the story, dropping us in after the transition has already occurred.

For revenge, I think the Count of Monte Cristo is a better story arc, but of course it takes three separate plays and there's no music. As for stories about returning Australian exiles, try Jack Maggs. Finally, for a funny mass-murdering barber, try Barney Thomson.

In addition, is nobody else concerned about the theme of ownership inherent in the story of Johanna? She seems to be an object to be kept "safe" or "stolen". I'd like to see her stronger, though at least she gets to kill somebody in this production.

Oh, and Sarah really likes those pies!

You're It!

This is kinda interesting, sorta. I copied the contents of the front page of my blog into Tag Crowd, removed the lines linking to comments and got this tag cloud:

created at