Another Long Frustrating and Sometimes Fun Week

Last week was a bit frustrating and somewhat fun at the same time.

Work was busy and somewhat of a pain. I need to get about four projects done before I head to SXSW on the 6th of March, 2008. A bunch of my users/clients want all the work completed, but do not have time to give me the necessary information or they just have no time to just review the finished work so we can move it to PROD.

On one project I finally, suggested that we put in what we had, which was about 90 – 95% of what was needed. This way they could start using the much better version of the web application instead of waiting. they agreed and next week I still have to work on three pages that are still in the old layout and then I will be done with this pass. We finally moved the new pages to PROD on Tuesday.

After work on Tuesday’s most of you know I normally go to a wine tasting/class. Well this Tuesday the Washington, DC, metro area had some really bad weather. It consisted of some rain, freezing rain, sleet, or snow depending on where you lived. So I figured I would just stay home and do stuff around the house, since people around here just need to learn to drive in bad weather. After talking with a bunch people I usually meet there, we all decided to try and make it to class, which is normally a 30 – 40 minutes drive (12 miles).

I suggested that a few of us that live near each other should carpool. I told one of my friends I would pick her up and then we would go to another friends that is on the way. They both live like two or three miles from me in different directions. I left for the first friends at like 6:45 PM, but first I had to remove ice from car. This drive usually takes ten minutes or less on a bad day, since it is all of 2.25 miles and has a few stoplights. The second half of my trip should take 15 minutes to go to our other friends place and then a final drive of eight miles (15 minutes).

Well, as you can imagine the first part took forever. I was on the phone most of the time off and on keeping everyone inlvolved informed of me progress, which was going poorly. The first three quarters of a mile went well. Once I got to the hill on Braddock Road that’s when the problems started. It took over an hour to get to the top of the hill and it is only like a quarter of a mile long. We moved about two or three car lengths about every few minutes. A few times I had to put the emergancy brake on after putting the car in neutral so I could get the feeling back to my feet. This is the one big problem with having a manual car in this town.

The second friend decided to leave without us. He got to class before I even made it half way to my other friends place. The first friend ended up having enough time to balance their checkbook, watch a full episode of “The Simpson’s”, have dinner, and do a few other things. A few people told me to just head home and call it a night. I told them it was not that easy, since the road going the other direction was backed up too, so I could not make a U turn.

Of course I did not turn around and go home, since now it had became a matter of principal.

At some point I made it to a street that I thought I could get to my friends from. I called her and had her work me through the neighborhood to her place. At one point she told me to make a right on a road that I thought was going the wrong way. She told me now that I was heading uphill I should look for some street, I can’t think of now. I told her I was headed downhill and she said “No, you I should not be”. She had gotten confused to which way I was traveling , because this street was a big loop and she normally comes in to that street another way. After I got turned back around things where just fine.

I then picked up my friend at her place and the last part of the trip to wine class was like ten miles and took all of 18 minutes to get there. Even the Key bridge (named after Francis Scott Key the same guy that wrote the “Star-Spangled Banner”) had no traffic on it, which is really odd, since that is one of the places that I spend most of my time getting to class normally.

When we finally got to class about an hour after it started the other 15 or 20 people started to cheer that we had finally made it. By being this late we had to catch up on like three wines that they had already tried. Not that hard to do, since I could use a drink after spending almost two hours in my car.

On an unrelated note while at class my second friend mentioned that the wine blog, I started for our wine group had gotten a bit of spam comments under one of the blog posts that with the title “Two Blondes, a Brunette and Five Reds – Big Bodacious Blends Part 1“. I have him set up be one of the authors to the blog so I don’t have to do all the work. He said he had deleted about 70 or 80 spam comments. I said I would look into it when I got home.

When I got home we had like 40 or so more comments. I had forgotten to turn Akismet on this blog for some reason, which would have made this a bit easier. So this meant I had to manually delete all the comments from the posts. Just what I wanted to do. I tried to activate Akismet and it was looking for an activation key, which I could not find the e-mail with it in it. I figured it would stop soon anyway and I was tried and needed to sleep. When I woke up early after like six hours of sleep I noticed the spamming had not stopped. I had to delete another 180 comments. What a pain in the rear.

At this point I found my Akismet activation key and got it going, but the spam continued coming. I noticed that it was just a bunch of comments that dealt with casino’s, gambling, slot machines, lounges, etc. and all coming from one I.P. address – 195.225.178.29. It is from a company called “RIPE Network Coordination Centre” in Amsterdam, NL. It finally stopped after like a day and a half. At this point Akismet had stopped about 100 or more comments by Thursday afternoon. I still do not get why comment spammers do this.

The fun part of the week was when about five other single friends (four women, my buddy, and myself) of mine got together on Valentine’s Day at my friends house to have nice relaxing evening. The night consisted of a bunch of appetizers the rest of us brought, that included champagne (really sparkling wine from France), shrimp with cocktail sauce, shrimp cooked in basil pesto sauce, a bread bowl with different types of flat breads, crackers with pate, olive spread, and a cheese spread.

Once all that was done we got to the dinner part, which was just fabulous. We started the meal with a roasted pumpkin soups shooter with one shrimp. Next we got to the dinner, which was filet mignon seared and placed in a beef stock, shallot, and course ground mustard sauce. With all this we had broccoli rabe and roasted fingerling potatoes. During dinner we drank three different years of the same wine the same producer from Argentina.

The following is the list of wines we had during the evenings events in the order that we had drank them.

  • NV – Kirkland Rose Champagne
  • 2000 – Concha y Tora Don Melchor Cabernet Puente Alto – Chile
  • 2001 – Concha y Tora Don Melchor Cabernet Puente Alto – Chile
  • 1999 – Chateau Lalande Saint-Julien
  • 2004 – Concha y Tora Don Melchor Cabernet Puente Alto – Chile

If all this was not enough my buddy was reading reviews about the wines from the internet. He mentioned that the second wine we had was similar to French wines from the Saint Julian region. One of the women that was there said something to the effect of I have never had one of those. So what did my buddy do, he went to where he stores his wines and brought out a 1999 of one of them. Great wine drinking just wonderfully now.

We finished the the night off with a flourless chocolate tart with home made fresh whipped cream and a dusting of coco power. the final thing to top off the evening was my friend had made each of the women a box of home made chocolate truffles. He had asked me to get a single rose for each one , which I told him I had thought of doing. From what I heard from all the women these two things topped off and already perfect night.

Now that the fun is done it’s back to work projects. I moved my second project’s the code into PROD on Friday without any error checking, since it is only used by one maybe two people. I figured that they can be careful for a few days while I get that done. The only reason I’m doing it this way is they really need to get to entering information into the system and they know they should enter information for every field and there is field formatting examples as part of the LABEL text. Now I can get going on two other projects and at least move the new and improved code for now. There is still going to be a second phase to add new fields, reports, and functions in the near future (after SXSW) anyway.

Last night (Friday) I went back and checked to see if the spamming had stopped and of course it had started again. Now they are trying to post to another one our spots that has the title “Two Blondes, a Brunette, and Five Big Bodacious Reds Redux“. We are now up to almost 700 spam comments from them stopped by Akismet, since Wednesday morning, plus the 250 or so we manually deleted. They are spamming the website every four or five minutes from different websites and blog posts, but the same I.P. address.

So in conclusion if you want to get your blog post comment numbers really high without having to write a really lot of ground breaking information and not getting hit by Mixx, Digg, or Slashdot, just have a post titled with the words “Two Blondes and a Brunette” in it. By writing about this subject I could be asking for comment spam on this blog too.

Have any of you had similar stories of getting spammed, just because of a blog post title? If so what did you do to stop it?

Pedestrians Have the Right of Way?

I always thought that pedestrians the right of way, especially when they where in the crosswalk. On the walk home from the Metro after work. These four kids walked out of the 7 – 11 parking lot and into the street stopping in the turn lane into the store. This minivan stops just stop across from them.

I figure the lady in the van is telling them they needed to cross the street at the crosswalk. She talks to them for like at least a minute, while a few cars back up behind her. By this time I have stared to cross the street, once I get most of the way past the first lane and am about to enter the second lane the lady decides to start driving without looking to see if anyone is near her let a lone in front of her. As she goes by I put up my hand and shake it at her. She keeps going so I took a swing at her car with my hand and hit the back van window. You know the ones that have the funny lack, well it opened to my surprise.

At this point she puts on the brakes on and get out of the car and starts shouting at me for hitting her car. I tell her that she should pay attention and that pedestrians have the right of way. She keeps yelling and starts swearing at me, I’m upset for almost getting hit and the adrenaline is flowing so I start back at her for a minute and then just start to leave as she tells to get my “Fat ass back there”. At this point one the kids is walking towards me and  just leave. The kid follows me for a little bit, why I don’t know.

At this point I walk across the 7 – 11 parking lot and head home. I look out of the corner of my eye and the lady is in the left hand lane waiting to make the turn. Once I get to the side street she comes up stops her car again and gets out. She starts yelling again about she can’t believe I hit her car with my hand. At his point a young woman pulls up and tells me to just get in her car, she must have seen what had happened. The first lady is still yelling that I better get in the car if I know what’s good for me. The woman that picks me up yells something at the lady, I get in the back seat of the car and we leave. I had just hopped into the back seat of the second ladies car and she asked how far away I lived and I told her just around the corner about a block away.

We ended up taking the long way to my house to make sure the first woman did not follow her and I. I had her drop me of at the front of my house in case the first lady was driving around looking for me. I asked the second woman her name and I believe she told me Kristan or Christina. I’m not sure which since I was all wound up at this point. I asked her if she lived in the neighborhood, so I might be able to do something for her. She said she lived in Arlington and just goes home that way. I thanked her and went into the house. Thanks again for the ride home, who ever you were.

After relaxing some and writing out a bill that had to be mailed I went to the post office. After mailing the bill at the post office I went to Best Buy to look for a keyboard and flat screen monitor for my laptop. My laptop key board is giving me problems. Mostly the space-bar and the right shift key. I looked around and when I went to leave and cross the street to get to my car, another woman was on her cell phone as she stopped at the stop sign in front of the crosswalk. She started to pull in front of me and then realized she was supposed to let me go.

I have been in that same crosswalk in front of the 7 – 11 before and people just drive right through. The first time was when there was a cop in his car sitting in the parking lot close to the street and he pulled out after and went after the person. Another time a girl was on her cell phone talking to someone and looking over at the passenger in her car doing like 40 mph in a 25. I just missed getting again that time. I even stopped in the road and waved my hands and she still did not notice me. For those of you that know me you know I’m not a small guy and hard to miss seeing in the middle of the road.

So please pay attention when you are in the crosswalk since cars and their drives don’t really need to stop for you if they are not paying attention or are distracted on their cell phones.