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A Paying Gig

March 13th, 2005  · stk

You can't beat the regularity of a paycheck from a 40+hour work week. Of the very few things I miss about working, the paycheck, sits, lonely, at the top of the list. (If I could only figure out a way to get a paycheck, without working, then I'd be crowing all day!)

Money can come from odd sources when you're not working. Perhaps it's because you're home to answer the door when opportunity knocks. Mind you, such sources are not nearly as steady as they are diverse, but it makes for nice 'mad money'.

Recently, Mr. Opportunity has knocked twice, or as it is in these cases - Ms. Opportunity.

The first came about via the Internet and the open-source software that we use to write our journal - b2evolution. I often participate in the online forum dedicated to this software. It was a place to get answers when I was new to the software and now that I'm not new, I return the favor, answering questions and helping out the new folks (newbies, or noobs, in computer lingo).

I guess people consider me an expert of sorts and someone sought out my help, then offered to pay me to help them redesign their journaling website. I agreed to do it and was flattered that someone thought me proficient in CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), which is the 'new way' of formatting web page code. (The truth is, I only started learning CSS at the beginning of the new year, so I've only been at it a couple of months. But with a career in UNIX computing behind me, this stuff does come rather quickly.)

It was a positive experience. It was a real boost to my ego and fattened my wallet by $250(US). I got to know a really neat woman living in Minnisota and advanced my CSS learning (some of which I will share in more technical entries). I also got to be creative. Here's a static picture of the site design. It challenged me, because it's not a style I would have done for myself, preferring lighter colors and less bold graphics. I got to play with a couple of CSS tricks that I've been dying to try and both worked out very well. (One is the "page-turned tab" effect, on the upper right of each brown journal entry. The other is the pink 'double quote background image' in the quoted text.)

I put in way more than a $250-worth of time into the project, so from a pure business sense, it wasn't very efficient. But I don't mind, because I learned some things along the way and can't help wonder, "if I was MORE proficient at CSS, wouldn't I have been ABLE to bang it out sooner?"

The technical aspects of computing has been a real draw for me since Rachel started her second term. I think it was bugging me that she was off LEARNING, while I was at home with Alex, catering to the puerile needs of our daughter. Don't' get me wrong. I love Alex to death and I'm very thankful that I'm bonding with her in a way that most Dad's don't, because they don't have the time to be at home. However, or should I say, even still ... the most intellectual conversation I have with Alex all day runs along the lines of, "Can you say 'ba - ba - ba - ba'?" There's a tendency for the mind to mush-out after facing this, day-in and day-out. I can see why house-moms turn to day-time television (soap operas excluded ... I'm thinking more day-time 'talk' shows or 'morning' shows here). Soaps aren't much better than 'ba - ba - ba', in my opinion.

I've spent the money already. I figured it's mad money and by gosh, I'm going to use it as such (very un-Scott like). I've been eyeing a CSS book lately, by Eric Mayer (sort of the guru of CSS). What better way to spend my CSS money? And ... I'll use the remainder to purchase that Riva Producer program, so that we can continue to share snippets of video with our web-readers (also an appropriate use of web-design money, I'd say!).

So thanks, Whoo, for the vote of confidence and I'm glad you're psyched about your new web design! When you get it up and live, I'll change the static image to a link ...

Oh yeah ... I mentioned two sources of income. The second is more in the 'planning stages', but I got a telephone call yesterday from some company that sets up focus groups for companies. They put me on their list of folks to be considered when a company is seeking opinions and consumer feedback on their products of services. Generally, they pay between $50-$100 CAD and it takes an evening of my time, from 7-9pm. They serve refreshments and generally give a pitch, or have group members try a product and then provide opinions about the marketing or an opinion about the product. Why not? Might as well get PAID for offering opinions, right?

So, you see ... the money is just ROLLING in! ;)

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Updated: 1-Jun-2005
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Filed in:Scott

A Kid Again

January 26th, 2005  · stk

In many ways, I wish that I could be a kid all over again. (The most obvious reason, of course, is that I wouldn't be 45 years old & I'd have much longer to live. It would mean, however, that I'd have to go through puberty for a second time. Hmmm. Maybe I need to rethink this whole 'kid again' thing!)

Just look at all the cool toys that there are these days! Here's one that caught my interest - "Topobo" would have been one in which I would have had a keen interest. A 3-D construction toy with kinetic memory ... kinda like an animated Erector Set! Cool. (It was developed at M.I.T., so it's based in science and just bristling with educational benefits!)

This isn't the only cool toy out there, just one that hit the radar screen this morning. Unfortunately, it's not available in stores (yet). But, I bet by the time Alex is old enough, it will be!!

That has got to be one of the BIG pluses of being a parent - re-living one's youth. If I play my cards right, maybe I can convince Rachel that Alex needs a learning tool like "Topobo"? (And Dad can play with it before Christmas and after the Oop goes to bed!) Hee hee ... a plan!

I know I'm on the mark here, because when I was a kid, my parents bought me an electric, slot-car race-set for Christmas. (I usually got one Christmas gift from "Santa", which was always unwrapped and laid out, while I was asleep, on Christmas eve. On that particular year, it was the slot-car set.) My parents had invited some friends over for after-dinner drinks & they got all involved in setting up MY Christmas present. Well, one thing led to another and there was Don & Dad playing with the slot-cars, making a racket & having a ball My Mom, however, was annoyed and saying things like, "Shhhh, keep it down or you're gonna wake Scott," and, "Stop playing with Scott's present or you're gonna end up breaking it!"

Not that I'm wishing Alex would grow up any faster, because Lord knows, it's happening quickly enough, but I can't WAIT for Alex to grow out of teddy bears & blocks, because there's a LOT of really cool toys that I can't wait to give myself, ahem, her! An X-box (or some newer, improved version), for one. I know she's a girl, but don't you think that she'd really like a remote controlled car (or better, a truck)? I know I would! "Topobo" will be one I'll have to add to the list!

Rachel, bless her heart, knowing that I'm a kid at heart, bought a really cool boom-a-rang helicopter for me for Christmas this year (it was only a buck). Of course, with all the ice and snow in Edmonton, I can't really get out and try the thing ... though, as impatient as a 10-year-old, I tried it in the house! It REALLY flies great! (Though the blades chipped off a bunch of that ceiling texturing and made a mess all over the carpet. Oops. Good thing we live in a rental house ;) Alex howled with delight on it's inaugural, ceiling-scraping flight.) Dad's hopeful that Alex will have a similar taste in toys. She can keep the dolls, but she'll have to share her other ones with you-know-who.

Here's to being a kid all over again! Yahoo.

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Filed in:Scott
Our Life

New Shop

October 5th, 2004  · stk

We're still settling into our new home & Scott has been dying to get the garage organized. (It's been a junk pile ever since we have arrived, boxes strewn everywhere & hardly any room to walk around). Now that the Honda is in Edmonton, we're planning on storing it in the garage & it's become a priority to free up some space. So Scott has been working on designing and building a set of shelving units that we can break down, move and use in ANY living situation (we're finally getting wise to the ways of moving, having made six moves in the last two years!) As weather permits, he's been out measuring, cutting, hammering & applying polyurethane to the six 4-foot, stackable shelving units. One day last week, shelves completed, we moved EVERYTHING out of the garage & onto the lawn, installed the shelves and moved EVERYTHING back in. WHEW ... what a day! He's since added florescent lights, but there is more work to be done - organizing, insulating, installing electrical outlets ... BUT he's really glad to have a place to work & play 'tool man'!

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Updated: 15-May-2005
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Grandparents Visit

September 9th, 2004  · stk

Grandpa and Grandma Pilley came out for the better part of a week, with their tent-trailer and Sasha, their dog, in tow. (Well, I guess Sasha got to ride in the back seat, but you get the idea). They had a great visit with their #2 grandchild, Alexandra, who was delighted with all of the extra attention. It's the second Edmonton visit for Gran Pilley, but the first for Grandpa and he got the nickel tour of our new home, shortly after he arrived.

Outings for the week included a trip to Fort Saskatchewan and we all took a brief ride east to see some Plains Bison at Elk Island National Park. It was a nice visit and we're extra thankful, because they sewed and installed a Roman blind in our bathroom. They also gave us two curtain rods for the two remaining curtainless windows (when we moved in there were NO window coverings in the house). THANKS!

Scott was absent for part of their visit, because he had to fly down to California to pick up our Honda Accord, which we've been storing at his parent's ranch. Wouldn't you know, they sold the ranch and are moving into a rental house, temporarily, until they can locate a permanent place.

The cows, sheep, chickens, pasture, orchard, garden, yard, watering and general caretaking has become onerous and down-sizing will allow them more travel time. After all, they're supposed to be retired! Anyway, with the sale of the ranch, the storage option for the Honda evaporated and Scott had to make a trip down to bring it up north. It was a long drive, but he enjoyed visiting with his folks for a few days, as well as stopping by to see an colleague from his oil-company days, now retired and living in Logan, Utah. Visiting was nice, but he missed Alex and Rachel and was happy to be home, after a week of traveling.

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PCT Slideshow

August 8th, 2004  · stk

Two years after we hiked 2,560-miles from Mexico to Canada along the PCT, Scott finalized the online slide show. We have added LOTS of new photos and they've all been modified to show at a higher resolution. Click HERE to see pictures and information about our 5-month long wilderness adventure. It was the experience of a lifetime!

Note: Our slide show is currently a Java applet, so make certain that you have the latest version of Java and that you have javascripting turned on in your browser.

(Scott has been motivated by Tom & Sheila, who've almost finished hiking the length of California. They're headed to Seiad Valley this week). We've been reading their online journal, which brings back memories of our 5-month-long hike. Just the motivation to get that slide show finished!

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Updated: 22-Feb-2006
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