Sunday, September 26, 2004

About 8:30 pm, wind around 70-80 mph and things are just getting started. Posted by Hello

We survived our second hurricane in three weeks and this time we sat home through it. It made landfall just north of us again, and Jupiter (our town) was right on the southern edge of the eyewall...meaning we didn't get any of the calm of the hurricane eye. At one point I think we caught some gusts over 120 mph from a micro-burst tornado, which form near the eyewall in hurricanes.

It was awesome to hear the power of the wind and see how it shoved the trees around. I took some video and pictures and will share those later on, but I don't know if they captured everything we saw. The sliding doors actually bowed inwards as the wind peaked, like cheeks being puffed up. The huge fronds on our biggest trees being pulled hard in one direction and a split-second later being thrashed hard in the other direction. The smaller palm tree outside our bedroom catching the light in such a way that it looked like a mad scarecrow dancer prancing, yes prancing, and waiting for the window to blow out so it could come in and poop in my shoes.

And poor Patch kept asking to go to the toilet, but of course I wasn't going to let him out in the backyard. I took him to the front door where there was a small area fairly shielded from the wind. I pointed to the spot and told him "come here. go potty" and he stand there, sniff at it, and just look at me. "Go potty", I'd repeat, and the brave guy would start wandering out into the street, which is where he usually goes ! "No ! Patch, come here !" would get him back and I'd try again to get him to use the shielded spot. He just looked at me, then walked behind me and stood against the door. I think he didn't want to use that spot because it was too close to the house. Anyway, we tried this three seperate times and eventually I just waited for a lull and let him into the backyard. I shone the spotlight on a grassy spot near the back door, which he totally ignored and ran around the house to his usual spot. It wasn't much of a lull - the wind was still pretty damned strong and I was worried about him being blown over and hurting his back, but a minute later he came back, tail wagging and his body totally soaked. We dried him off and he flopped back onto his bed and slept well.

We slept around 3 am, got up again around 10 am, and the power came back at 4:40 pm, which is not bad at all; just 22 hours without power.

We had some water drip into the house in about six places, but strategically placed buckets and plastic dishes took care of that. Of course we'll need to get a professional roofer to inspect it and see what kind of damage is under there. Worst case is that the whole roof will need replacing. Another questions is whether this will be covered by the windstorm insurance that we have; they might just say it was a problem with the roof that wasn't actually caused by the hurricane.

So that's our second hurricane experience in a month - I'm glad we stayed home, especially for the pets' sake, but I'm glad its the end of the season :) Thanks to everyone for the kind emails - see you all later !

Saturday, September 25, 2004

doom 3 is way scarier than this hurricane
We've decided to stay home and sit through this hurricane, unless it does something to change our minds in the next 24 hours. It's the same strength as the last one, and seems to be heading even further north (viz. away from us) than Frances did, and since the house came through with no damage at all, we think this is the easiest place to be. Not necessarily the safest - that'd be a couple of hundred miles away, but moving Patch and the cats at such short notice would be tough.

No sales yet on Mercury MailRoom, but I've submitted it to lots of shareware sites and signed up six affiliates, who will take 30% of whatever sales they generate for me. It's an interesting world, this shareware business, with forums full of arguments between vendors (that's me) and affiliates (that's the guys who built sites designed to sell vendor's software) arguing over affiliates "stealing" sales from vendors by offering discounts, or falsely claiming that the vendor's price is higher than it actually is. My program is pretty expensive for a shareware program ($99) and I'm not banking on making a lot of sales to the general public. I'm actually looking for working tech support staff to find it and buy it. When I get into the next phase of promotion I'll be trying to get it in front of such people in a more targetted way; in the meantime I'm just putting it out there and seeing if anything interesting happens.

I just downloaded the Doom 3 demo and fairly shat my pants when the zombies started lurching at me while the lights went out. I tried turning up the brightness level in the game, but it did no good :) They want it dark and shadowy ! Even on my low end video card (FX 5200) it does a very good job of terrifying you. I'm a total wimp when it comes to things like horror movies...why did I think I could handle Doom 3 ? I think I'd better play it during the day (non-hurricane conditions) with the lights on and happy sunshine daisy sunflower bright cheerful posters on the wall. And happy music playing too :)

Speaking of music, I signed up at intending to try it and dump it quickly, but I'm very impressed. It's the first online music service that doesn't assume you're a thief who needs to be punished before you've done anything wrong. For $9.99 a month you get to download 40 high quality (192K) mp3 files. That's it. No DRM, no "limited number of burns to CD", no "only plays on an iPod". They're unencumbered mp3s, they're yours forever, even if you cancel the service. There's not a lot of mainstream music on there, but luckily I was looking to beef up my Steeleye Span collection, so this is a good thing for me. They have a wide range of music, editorials etc, so if you're interested in music at all I can recommend it.

I'll be taking video and stuff during the storm, so come back for some choice cuts of real life hardcore weather.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

None for a hundred years, then three come along at the same time !
Hurricane Jeanne looks like it's going to hit us, which is a real drag. If it's less than a category three I think we'll stay home - the house stood up to Frances with no damage at all, and if it's weak enough and moving fast enough we might be better off sitting through this one. But that's not set in stone, of course; we'll see how the storm shapes up.

I've set up a streaming music server on the box at home, so anyone who reads this can take a look through my music and listen to it. Point your music player to and you'll hear whatever music the server has been told to play. You can change the music by directing your web browser to and using the menus to build a new playlist. I don't know what happens if more than one person tries to change the music at the same time.

Best of all, this is a free program ! Download the server from, makers of the Squeezebox, which is a piece of hardware that will hook into this same music stream and plug into your stereo system, and some other stuff too. Look at the bottom right of their screen for the "Slim Server 5" software.

Regnow have done what they need to do in order for me to start selling Mercury Mailroom, so here we go :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Working for the men....
Deanne is in Houston this week, and I'm sitting in our quiet living room listening to The Church on my old DSS laptop as I work my second job. We bought a new carpet for this room and it really makes it warm and inviting - we're still looking for a carpet for the other room.

Patch had another attack today, a full-blown fall to the floor howler. He'd been doing really well with no pain for three or four days, but today I walked into my office with my boss, Victor, and though I told Patch to stay on his bed three times, he still got up, walked around Victor's legs a few times and then got hit with the pain. I stroked his ear and petted him while the pain subsided, cleaned the floor where he'd peed a little and put a pillow under his head, but he didn't move from the corner for another three hours when it was time to go home. After this kind of pain if I ask him to stand, he trembles visibly and hangs his head as if he's upset that he's too scared to do what I ask. I always tell him it's OK and he can stay where he is, of course. He's taking 1.5 pills of Prednisone each night, which I stick inside some peanut butter between two small pieces of chocolate - a guaranteed pill delivery system for a Great Dane with sweet tooth :) This medication is supposed to be gradually tapered off though, but he's behind schedule by quite a way. We tried going down to 1 pill per day but his pain was more frequent, and to have an attack even after 1.5 pills is very worrying. I so hope that the inflammation recedes further.

I drive Patch to and from work in our PT Cruiser, which has lots of room in the back. He has seven dog beds in the bedroom, one in the office at home, one downstairs, one in the Saturn, two in the Cruiser and one in the office downtown ! We just got too tired carrying his big beds from place to place, so whenever we found a new place he needed to be, we picked up another bed for him :)

OK, that's it for tonight. Hope you're all doing well !

Friday, September 17, 2004

Patch is in some trouble
We've had bad news about Patch's condition. The best we can hope for is to make him comfortable and hope the inflammation in his vertebrae can be held at bay. His daily attacks (see Hurricane Part 3 from Sept 3rd, 2004 below) are continuing, though they seem less intense now. A vet x-rayed him and saw damage around his C6 vertebrae, where his body has developed inflammation that is pinching his spinal cord. He's on steroidal anti-inflammatories which have some mild side effects, but aren't working as well as the vet would have liked. He's been coming to work with me so I can keep him company and also let him out every few hours to go to the bathroom - the pills make him drink a lot and pee a lot.

The new job is going very well: it's good to have Patch with me, of course, but I'm also starting to make changes to the software and hopefully the previous developers will be able to do some more training soon so I really understand all the subtleties of what they built. I've also begun a contract with DSS, who I just left two weeks ago, to continue working on one of the products I worked on while I was there. I'll be working nights and weekends. Plus I got the merchant account sorted out for Mercury Mailroom and will be, hopefully, getting that into shape this weekend. I can take credit card payments now !

We went out to R.J Gator's for drinks and dinner with some DSS buddies, then met another DSS guy, Kip, for drinks at Quarterdeck, watched a little baseball, then came home.

Life is good, but I hope Patch feels better soon. He's a brave little guy and I can see how nervous he is when I ask him to stand up - he knows it might hurt him, but he's tries his best to do what I ask of him. Good boy :)

The first load of palm fronds and chopped up trunks. It still hasn't been picked up, so it's actually getting hard to get out of the driveway, the pile is *so* big ! That's Patch's sofa in the background there - it wasn't damaged but we decided to get rid of it. It took up too much room and his back pain seems to be worse when dealing with overly-spongy beds that are high off the ground. Posted by Hello

This is the remains of one of four fans outside a cafe on Clematis street, where I work in downtown west palm beach. They were all damaged, but at least the awning stayed up. Not much good to anyone now :) Posted by Hello

"You're human being would ever stack furniture this way." Posted by Hello

Patch on the sofa bed in the the Hampton Inn. Five days later we were still there and the carpet was soggy from water being blown *in* through the air conditioner. But we were glad they let us bring the pets with us ! Posted by Hello

Repair crews at the traffic lights as I drove back to work. Posted by Hello

Monday, September 06, 2004

Hurricane Part Lucky Seven
The house is fine ! I drove up to Jupiter and looked around, then drove back to Miami and we'll probably stay here one more night. The house is fine, no water got in at all and there's no damage to the outside of the house either. All windows are intact and everything is where we left it. Yay :)

I'll post more later.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Hurricane Part 6
It's Sunday night and we're still in Miami, bored and ready to go home and see what the storm did to our house. Like everyone else we've watched the reports on TV, and so far we're hopeful that the house is intact because I haven't seen anything more sturdy than a mobile home that's taken any damage. Flooding is another matter, of course, because West Palm Beach caught 12 inches of rain and we are about 20 minutes north of there. I'm hoping that because the eye passed over our town that the downpour from the west side of the hurricane drained away before during the 8-10 hours during which the eye passed over and no further rain fell. And if so, then the rain from the east side may have stayed low enough to not flood our house.

I'll probably go home tomorrow if I can get gas for the cars, and let Deanne know if its safe to come home. A part of Interstate 95 was washed out, but we'll take the turnpike home if it's safe. I really hope our power has been restored - I hate the heat and the thought of trying to fix up the house without our air-conditioners would really be awful !

Patch went to the vet today, after another attack of terrible pain. The vet diagnosed a pinched nerve, also called a "lumbo-sacrial condition" which thankfully should be able to be kept under control with pills and hot water bottles three times a day. The good news is that Patch is in great condition other than this new thing - his artificial knee joint is in perfect shape, his hips and joints are strong, his weight is fine, muscle tone is perfect and he's just a big friendly guy :) I'm very glad he's not in any danger and this condition is treatable. He's going in for X-Rays ASAP to nail down the diagnosis. He had singapore noodles, General Tso's Chicken and rice for dinner last night, sausage, egg, muffins and yogurt this morning...he's eating the same stuff we are :)

Thanks to everyone for calling Mum and Dad to check on our condition - sorry I didn't blog again sooner, but the net connection here is flakey.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Hurricane Part 5
It's a bit of an anti-climax so far. The storm has slowed down a lot and seems to be weakening, though there's a good chance it'll strengthen again when it hits warmer waters. So we're hunkered down in our hotel, eating, watching TV and using the free WiFi provided by the Hampton Inn - thanks Hampton !! I ate like a pig this morning - seemed to have a bottomless stomach after all the lifting and moving yesterday, which started at 6.45 am Thursday and didn't end till 1:00 am Friday.

Patch hasn't had any pain this morning, and is eating like a king: five sausage patties, two biscuits, a yogurt, his dry food and some leftovers from yesterday. Garibaldi is still a bit skittish but his appetite has returned. We've also managed to extend our stay to Sunday night, which gives us a nice stable situation to last out the storm.

We've stopped watching hurricane speculation on the TV and Deanne has the movie Starman on, which is a sweet film. I'm going to do some more work on Mercury Mailroom now; simplify the shareware key and add some more functionality that was suggested by my friend Shannon.
Hurricane Blog Part 4
We made it to our hotel in Miami and are settling in for the night. The weather is very mild right now; the occasional shower and thick clouds is the only a tiny, tiny taste of what's to come. Unfortunately Patch's leg has not improved - he's howled without much warning twice tonight. We hope a good night's sleep on his bed (he has a mattress with real springs in it ! He definitely enjoys having a good springy mattress over the foam ones that crush down to nothing under his weight) will give him some stability. He seems to be bouncing back very quickly and there's a vet on the same road we're staying on, so tomorrow morning we'll take him down for a look-see.

The cats hated the trip, as they usually do. But Aura bounced back very quickly and within a minute was exploring, bouncing all over the hotel room and playing with a catnip mouse. Garibaldi, the brave hunter of lizards and small furry creatures, immediately retreated to the space under the sofa and took twenty minutes to emerge. This is par for the course for both of them.

I made four trips carrying stuff from the cars to the room before I realized that hotels have those big rolling baggage carts, and picked up all the rest of the stuff in one trip. We have enough food for about a week, which we'll only need if the hurricane takes out the power to the house for a few days. Our neighbor, Toni, works for Hilton and got us rooms at short notice at a great rate, but as of now we're only booked in for two nights...we definitely need another night ! Hopefully Toni can pull some strings tomorrow.

Thanks to Keith, Dad, Anne and Deac, Vicky, Scott and Rebecca for calling to see how we are. Good mojo to Rebecca, who lives in Sebastian and is the likely target for Frances' landfall at the moment. And good luck to Vicky and Scott who are driving to Tampa with two huskies in tow !

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Hurricane Part 3 - Patch is hurt
We're just about to leave for Miami. It's 7.00 pm and we decide to give Patch, our Great Dane, a shower outside, so he'll smell better at the hotel. But while drying him I press on his hip and he collapses to the ground, screaming. I don't think anything has torn at my heart more than hearing my dog in pain. I tried to help him up but he nipped at my hand "Don't touch !", howling the whole time. After about ten seconds he struggled to his feet and jumped in the pool - I guess he associates that with cooling off and reducing burning. We dried him off again, carefully, and I took him for a short walk to see if he was ok - he seemed alright and even stood on the leg while relieving himself. I hope he's OK on the drive down there; we're going to look for an emergency vet ASAP, assuming the worst of the weather misses Miami and the power is still on tomorrow.

You can read more about Patch at his website.
Hurricane Part 2
We're going to Miami to ride the storm out - we've picked up all the plant pots (I hate oograh - always said we shouldn't bother with it !) and lawn furniture, picked up all the furniture and stacked it up (we're expecting flooding - hoping for just a few inches, but a 15 feet surge is predicted) and will be leaving in a couple of hours. Our neighbour works for Hilton and got us a room down in Miami, which is about 1.5 hours away.

So we'll be doing the whole "come back and see what's left" routine. I'm glad hurricane & flood insurance are compulsory in Florida ! If some stuff gets destroyed - hey it's only stuff and can be replaced. Except Steve Kilbey's bass guitar and his gold record award for Starfish, which are safely stored away upstairs. We're taking our photos with us, and the pets of course.

Next post from Miami !

Hurricane Blog Pt 1.
A hurricane hasn't hit this part of Florida for a hundred years, but on Saturday that right might come to an end. We live half a mile from the ocean and are in the evacuation zone - it's nearly noon and we have to leave at 2PM. We're planning to sit out the storm at the offices of DSS, which is a new building and should be sturdy enough to stand up to Hurricane Frances, although it is still pretty close to the ocean.

Deanne is talking to her mother on the phone, trying to calm her down....that didn't take long :)

We went and put gas in both cars this morning, bought about $300 of groceries, withdrew $500 cash from the bank and took pictures of the house, cars etc. We're planning to take one of the cars out of town about ten or twenty miles to park it somewhere so that one of them will be, hopefully, out of range.

The TV is full of Very Scary People with dire warnings about how destructive the storm will be. We're hoping, of course, it will miss us and that can happen just a few hours before it is due to cross land. Apparently all the weather models agree it will turn more to the north and we're really hoping it does it soon. If it does so, we'll not bear the brunt of the storm, the 140 mph winds and 15 foot storm surge and hopefully get those numbers down to something our home can manage.

We have about 36 hours before the winds start to reach us, so I'm hopeful that we can move all our belongings upstairs and hope the roof stays on !

I'll try and connect later and post more.