The Nicest Hampton Inn in the World

Last night we stopped in Lexington, Virginia, at a random Hampton Inn and found ourselves at the nicest Hampton Inn in all the world:

It's a part of the adventure, I suppose, not planning where you're going to stop on these trips. The rooms were normal, but very clean and nice, hotel chain rooms, but there were nice touches here and there. I liked this clock:

And the reception and sitting rooms were in a lovely old mansion. There were fire places and comfortable sofas. This is the nicer bit of the building (the cabin sat in the back parking lot with a little plaque about its history):

Tonight, we are in a nice Hilton Garden Inn in Duluth, Georgia, but it doesn't quite live up to the Hampton Inn (although the room does smell like blueberry muffin, a nice touch).

Happy Thanksgiving

Hey, folks, we're off in the car visiting relatives, first to Pennsylvania, then in Atlanta. We shall return. In the meantime, enjoy these pictures of our cat:

Apparently, the house is too cold for him. He has taken to any bag he can find.


Since we were planning to be on the road but we don't have some nice fancy automobile, I ran over to find some new portable speakers for listening to Gunsmoke from the iPod as we drive along America's highways. These seem to be pretty good, so I hope we can hear Chester and Miss Kitty over the road noise.

As a bonus, the product came with instructions for how to party:

Turn it on (woman and balloons appear!), dance around, turn it off, carry a man purse. At least, that's my interpretation. The plus is that I think I already know how to dance like that.

Why do you have to turn it off and turn the volume down?

Losing My Marbles

You may wonder what I do at work all day. Well, most days (as the Brunette will attest), I sit in a chair in the corner and yell at the computer. Other days, I'm off somewhere player/coaching, working on continuous integration or build systems. And once in a while I go into the office and provide training in some software tool or technique. This is what I did today.

Now, to you these might look like foam insulation tubes cut in half to form elaborate marble runs with the help of duct tape, wooden skewers and string.

But in fact these are important aids for familiarizing team members with the terms and principles of an agile method called Scrum. Note the velocity chart in the next picture.

OK, so we spend the afternoon creating marble runs, but the features provided by the marble runs are user stories provided by the product owner and delivered in three sprints, each ending with a demonstrable shippable product for the product owner's review. We also use planning poker to provide estimates for those stories.

If you're in the Chicago area next Thursday, you, too, can learn some very useful techniques and have some fun at the same time.

More Painting

So we did drag ourselves down into the art room on Sunday since we'll be traveling over the weekend.

Since last week, I've added color to the hammer and the door/shelf on which the objects sit.

After three hours I'm somewhere around halfway done. Most of this is going to be cut away.


Am I the only person who reads this thing who doesn't have (or isn't part way down the road to having) any children?

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Shaffer)

I'm intrigued by the idea that we still generate epistolary novels in this time when few people write letters any more. I'm sure I haven't written a letter in ten years. Granted, the novel I just read takes place in the mid 1940s, so I suppose email and IM weren't quite available yet.

Oddly enough, I spoke about this book with several of my imaginary friends in imaginary IM sessions, or so I imagined. It's hard to do anything else when those little boxes pop up all over the screen.

TEH_ABBOT: Great Uncle, I was thinking about conflict in this book. There really isn't much. The biggest thing is not really believable -- a mis-understanding about a letter --
LEADBELLY_US1: JFGI. You drone on.
TEH_ABBOT: I just thought it an unlikely device.
TEH_ABBOT: You're just reading this page

TEH_ABBOT: It's a gentle book and it has a lot of humor. I think anyone who likes the the Moosepath books books will like this, though it's in a different era. It really doesn't have a central conflict.
PRASAD314159: I think you can consider the disposition of the kid as the key conflict point
TEH_ABBOT: I dunno. It doesn't seem like there's any jeopardy there. Maybe a book can be nice and gentle and enjoyable and not have a conflict? But it just seems to be missing a little tiny something.
TEH_ABBOT: Why does *everybody* say that?

BOB: ZOMG! I <3 that book.
TEH_ABBOT: Bob, how did you get the handle "Bob" without it already being used?
BOB: 404
TEH_ABBOT: It's taking me forever to figure out what you people are saying with these abbreviations.
BOB: The author really understands about birds.
TEH_ABBOT: What about birds?
BOB: They're scary! She knows what it's like
TEH_ABBOT: I missed that.
BOB: Oh, yeah. There's the bit about chickens and the other bit about ducks.
TEH_ABBOT: I really didn't notice that.
BOB: Fun book. YMMV.

LEADBELLY_US1: What about the Germans?
LEADBELLY_US1: Conflict, boy. The island is under occupation by the Germans. That's why they start the book club.
TEH_ABBOT: Sure, but I don't know if that's a conflict. It's the setting.
LEADBELLY_US1: The Germans are always at the heart of the conflict

TEH_ABBOT: Bertie, give me sanity. My great uncle is going on and on again about the Germans.
TEH_ABBOT: It really drives me nuts how he blabbers about things that just aren't important any more
TEH_ABBOT: U there
TEH_ABBOT: Bertie?
LEADBELLY_US1: You might want to learn how to use this tool, boy. Unbelievable mistakes, my Great Aunt Fanny


The best thing to do when sick? Watch movies.

Have I mentioned I'm sick? Oh, I think I'm a-wastin' away. Moan. Sniffle. Etc.

Twilight Based on the YA book about a whiny teenager who falls in love with a vampire. (All that moaning and she wasn't even sick!)
Theater Location: Beltway Plaza (Greenbelt)
Noise Level: Fine
The Skinny: Oh, gosh. This was one of the funnier movies of the year, but not because it was trying to be. It's just so hard to take these people seriously. Spreading the bad vampires out along the story was a little better than the book, but overall it was about what one would expect. I hope Lost Boys was better than this; certainly I remember it as a better movie.

Bolt Animated (computer) Disney film about a TV star dog that thinks he's really a superhero.
Theater Location: Beltway Plaza (Greenbelt)
Noise Level: The brash woman who bought tickets ahead of time was really loud, but otherwise the sound was fine.
The Skinny: This was much better than expected, with a lot of good laughs. I particularly enjoyed Rhino the hamster. As for story, this is pretty much exactly the same story as Toy Story, but the ride was fun. Recommended even for people who aren't hopped up on Sudafed.

Cry, The Beloved Flow Chart

I saw this chart and decided to make it bigger. Using ten songs, we can help you decide whether or not to cry. Try it out.

Can you name the ten songs? I tried to work in the Proclaimers, but in their own words, they don't know what makes you cry. On the other hand, they like the taste of your teardrops. Pair of weirdos. Of course, that's what happens when your old friend is the blues. On the other other hand, it's pretty cool that they can pronounce Saskatchewan without starting to stutter.

Oh, I went a little off the rails there. Any suggestions for other questions for this difficult life decision?

Mannequin Virtue

Don't let anybody tell you that it's all vegans and vegetarians here in Greenbelt. I joined the line of meat-eaters in the parking lot this afternoon, along with a good number of other secretive folks, waiting to get our family fix from the Farmer's Market guy. You don't see anyone standing in line for 45 minutes in 30 degree (that's -1 for you, Fiona) weather waiting on fresh broccoli, do you?

After about forty minutes, I was next in line, and this woman came up to me to say, "There's a couple back here with a 7 month old baby and I think you should let them go first."

I was too astonished to be funny. I said, "But I have a cold." This, by the way, is my new answer to everything. I feel very self-pitying when I'm in this condition and I'm going to keep shouting it to the world until I feel better. Of course, it's not really all that witty of a response.

She said, "Well, at least you have an immune system!" and scuttled back to the end of the line.

Geez. I didn't ask them to bring their little vectors into the world. I wish I had said, "Why don't you volunteer to watch the children inside the warm grocery store while they wait? Oh, you don't want to give up your place in line? hmmm?"

If you "get" the reference in my title, then you are a Christian freak and why are you reading this blog?

As God Is My Witness

I will never touch cat litter again

Alphabet Soup

I'm sick, or I'd have something witty to say about the fact that Typealyzer decided my blog is an ISTJ. I am an INFP. I shouldn't really get along with my own blog.

ha ha. If you put typealyzer's URL in, you get:

Detected language Thai. The only supported languages are English and Swedish. But stay tuned, we are expanding.

Worst Holiday Gift Idea Ever

Yeah, the end of the year is coming up, which means there'll be a bunch of New Year's Resolutions. But, still. This just arrived in my email box:

Dear MapMyFitness User,

Do you have a Friend or Family Member in need of Fitness Motivation & Challenges in 2009?


If I have a friend in need of fitness motivation, I am SO not opening my mouth about it. That's the best gift I can give myself.

TV Review

I'm also enjoying Sarah Rees Brennan's Blog. Here is a small part of her review of the TV show called Merlin:

MERLIN: What a lovely city! You hardly notice the executions.
MERLIN: Cease this bullying of a random meek-looking extra! I guess you can carry on being blond.
SARAH: Hi there, series antagonist. I think I like you.
BLOND BULLY BOY: Come and have a go, IF you think you’re hard enough!
MERLIN: Yeah, you and what army?
BLOND BULLY BOY: That’d be my daddy’s army. Because I am PRINCE ARTHUR.
SARAH: … I may have been wrong about that series antagonist thing.
MERLIN: As the series protagonist, I am plucky and despite being raised as a serf in a medieval village, I have no concept of social boundaries or respect for rank!
ARTHUR: Break that one down for me?

An Ill-Favoured Horse

Uh-oh, looks like trouble is brewing over on the world's oldest blog:

...hired an ill-favoured horse, and away to Greenwich to my lodgings, where I hear how rude the souldiers have been in my absence, swearing what they would do with me, which troubled me, but, however, after eating a bit I to the office...

Good ole Pepys: a little food always makes me feel better too.

Where Have You Been (U.S.)?

visited 38 states (76%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or try another Douwe Osinga project

Flower Power

I have this great idea but it's too late to manufacture them for holiday gift giving, so I'm releasing the idea to you all for free.

I have discovered the very best way to get men interested in helping out with the garden.

I'm calling it the Tulip Shooter. Or the Bulb Blaster. I haven't decided. Imagine if you could just shoot flower bulbs into the ground. It would be easy and fun! Ka-Blam! Ka-Blam! Ka-Blam! Instant garden! (Well, instant garden next spring or something.)

Ask for it at your local big box retailer.

Watching Paint Dry

Although we live in tiny places in this cooperative, we also have a nice community center in walking distance. In our own house we can barely pass each other in any given room without knocking over a bookcase, but we can walk down to the community center and have plenty of space to spread out our messy paints and junk (as long as there isn't a class in session). There are even big trash cans and lots of easels and surfaces to work on. If we get paint on the floor, at least it's not our floor.

We've not been down to do painting in a year or so, but we signed up for an exhibition next summer, and we have to get cracking if we want to have anything to show. (Signing up for an exhibition is a good motivator. Having a deadline is vital to productivity in this household.) I don't really know what I'm doing, but it's fun to throw stuff on canvas paper. Here is what I accomplished in two hours today:

Started with this:

It seems a shame to mess up that pretty white space, but I sketched in the pieces:

Then I started adding color. This is pretty much the color of our dining room, I think. I work from a picture, which some people might think is cheating, but I don't care. I'm having fun. This is the state at two hours:

I'm predicting an eight-hour painting. Huh. Looks a lot better at 2" x 3".

Christmas List 2008

Since Thanksgiving is coming up and that's when we have to exchange Christmas lists, I thought I'd just revamp the one from last year. I like to say I'm always happy just to spend time with family and friends during the holidays and that presents aren't all that important, but then everyone tells me to cut the smug act and just say what I want.

My nephew gave me a great idea. Over Thanksgiving last year, he pulled out the junk mail and started pointing to stuff on the pages that he wanted. I remember being a kid and cutting up the JC Penney or Toys R Us catalogs and pasting pictures together. With the magic of HTML, I can do the same thing again! This will be "fun."

So here I present:

My Internet Picture Christmas List:

And, of course, I'm happy just to see all my friends and family safe and well during the holidays.