Sunday, December 24, 2006

Inner Chicken (Funny Bird)

Ok, so this is totally random.

I was messing around on that Thank a Chicken website ( )
and I found a quiz to help you find your "Inner Chicken", or what breed of chicken is most like you.

I am an Orpington.

What are you? Take the quiz at:

Quitting Civil 3D Cold Turkey (Eagle)

I am doing my best to forget about Civil 3D for a week. I think it has been 34 hours since I last had it open, which may just be a new record for me. Since James took my keyboard, I am working on Panorama's Hello Kitty Laptop. But that is OK, since I like Hello Kitty very much.

Yesterday on my way to Target to buy some bookshelves to tame our collection of software reference texts and weebles, I saw a Bald Eagle. Actually, I almost hit a Bald Eagle.

At first, I thought it was a seagull because it was swooping down across the road to try to grab a drop-off chicken.

Some explaination is required.

I live in Delaware, which according to is the 7th biggest broiler producing state in the USA. Delaware produced 282,300,000 broiler chickens in 2005. Considering the population of humans in Delaware is approximately 800,000.... You get the idea.

A drop off chicken is a chicken that for whatever reason fell of the truck. Sometimes these chickens didn't make it into one of the truck cages and are just sitting loose on the side of the truck. When I see them at traffic lights, I yell out the window- RUN CHICKEN RUN! YOU CAN MAKE IT! DON'T JUST SIT THERE!

For more info on the Delmarva Chicken Industry, check out

This drop-off chicken wasn't very lucky- since it was now a road kill drop-off chicken. Hence the reason I thought the Bald Eagle was a seagull from a distance- I didn't think they ate things that were dead, but I was wrong

Thinking it was a seagull, I sped up and aimed to kill it. Luckily, I quickly realized my mistake or else I would be writing this on my Hello Kitty keyboard from jail.

Seeing a Bald Eagle isn't all that rare in Delmarva. One of the last land development engineering projects I worked on at my former firm had an eagle's nest right smack in the middle of it. If you go into any significant patch of woods and look up at a bird of prey, most usually it is a buzzard, but maybe 4 out of 10 times it is the shy eagle.

But for some reason, no matter how common they are, I always stop to look at a bald eagle and get that feeling of awe inside. I think it is kind of like James Wedding. He's my friend and team mate now, I talk to him all the time and see him whenever I can. But I always get that tingly feeling in my toes in his presence because he symbolizes the strength of this great nation. Wait.... maybe that is the Bald Eagle. Anywho....

I pulled over, watched him and attempted to take a picture of the bird with no luck. He was through trying to enjoy Delaware's favorite protein treat, so he flew off.

See the Bald Eagle in this Picture? Yeah, well, neither do I.

What does this have to do with Civil 3D, Civil Engineering or Hello Kitty? Absolutely nothing. I just had to prove I could talk about something else.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Never Grow Up

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Anyone Get the Tag Number of that BUS that hit me? Oh yeah--- AU2006

It has taken me a week to recover, and I doubt I will ever be fully unpacked. AU 2006 hit me like a cheese wagon on a runaway truck ramp.

I had an AMAZING time. It was awesome. The hotel was lovely. The people were great. Here is what happened day by day...


I wake up with my sore throat, froggy voice and bronchitis on the mend. I am prepared for a week of fun and excitement.

Jason and Nick arrived on Sunday. I receive frantic text messages alerting me that a modest (sic) Grey Goose and Soda costs $114.95, and the cheapest beer is $75. Neither price includes tax or tip. So on my way to the airport I stop at Uncle Stew's House of Discount Bait -n- Package and pick up one of everything that isn't crawling.

I arrive at the airport and roll my bags into the corner so that I can figure out how to fit six bottles of liquor into my suitcases, which are already at capacity. Manage to wrap the cargo in socks and sweaters and then I slosh my way up to check the luggage.

My big suitcase weighs in at 49.8lbs. No lie. The attendant, who watched me pack the bottles in, winks and says "Now THAT'S good packing"

Thinking that Nevada was on Mountain Time as opposed to West Coast time, I time my Pocket PC battery to keep me actively playing Bubble Breaker until the plane lands. Much to my surprise, I was forced to read SkyMall for an hour. Where do they come up with the ideas for those gadgets? A stairway so that your aging dog can climb into bed with you? GENIUS.

I squeak out enough phone battery to call Jason once I arrive at the hotel and talk him into helping me schlep my bags to a safe place.

I join the gang at a hotel lounge and finally get to meet John Postlewait in PERSON.

New rule- at AU you must also wear a nametag with your Discussion Group Login AND the name of your blog (if any).

After a few hours of meeting, greeting and drawing parking lots on coasters, my froggy voice and brochitis are back in full force.

AU TIP No. 1:
If you live in an indoor smoke-free state, practice not inhaling.

Typical Delaware Air Particle

Typical Las Vegas Air Particle
with a whole lotta


Beth and I continue our AU ritual of getting to breakfast right as it opens. In Florida, this meant we had the place to ourselves. In Las Vegas, this meant everyone from the East Coast had been waiting in line for two hours already. The food was very good, and as usual, I was impressed with traffic flow at these big events.

The rest of the day is unclear to me... I think I helped set up the EE booth, and then I know I assisted James in his Styles Lab. After class, my main mission- to find Mark, Marc and me some GUM. We are about to shake the hands of everyone who stops by the EE booth on opening night, and we have breath that could kill a horse.

I haul myself all the way to the little shop by the gondola ride (which is by the way a bargain at $60 for a ride in a cement pond).

$60 ride on a Cement Pond. Or is it a Concrete River?

The gal at the counter informed me- they do not sell gum. So I bought $20 worth of Certs.

The night on the trade show floor is great. I didn't get a chance to wander even for a minute. The EE booth was jumping with friends- old and new. We gave out about 1000 little jars of playdoh and I got to meet so many readers and reunite with so many old CAD pals.

My froggy voice... creek.... creek.....

I go upstairs and realize I had taken the last of my cold medicine. I figure I will be OK. I take a long bath to soak my aching feet (great bathtubs at the Venetian), set my hair, do some prep work for the next day. I fall asleep. At 1AM I wake up HACKING cough. So bad I couldn't rest and I thought for sure the folks next door were being disturbed. So I get up, unset my hair, and go downstairs to either find a cab that can take me to Walgreens or a store in the hotel. I luck out. There is an apothocary right under the escalator. I manage to fall asleep for a few hours.

AU TIP No. 2:
The Venetian does not sell gum. They sell Mentos, cough drops, candy, Certs, and hard liquor. But they do not sell gum. I guess people were spitting on the marble floors or something. If you want gum next year- bring it yourself. They do however sell Robitussin. At the low price of $99.99.


Beth and I meet again for breakfast. The crowd is a little thinner this morning. Not so many early birds. Hmm....

I spend most of the day prepping for my Stormwater Management Class and trying to make the AU Speaker shirt into something that didn't exactly look like a trash bag. I assist Lucy Kuhns with her Civil 3D Basics lab and got to spend some time with folks new to Civil 3D, which is always a thrill. I attend a few classes, including Nick's Partbuilder Class where I get to meet an allstar audience of the biggest gearheads from the Discussion Group and Blogging world.

You know when you are a little girl and you dream that someday, just someday, you too will have your very own parametric flared end section? Well, thanks to Nick, I now have one.

Last class of the day- I give my Stormwater Management Lecture. What a thrill to see so many people in the room. Wow! 200 people.... oh my God.... 200 people! Looking at me...... Do they think I know what I am talking about? What am I doing here? Can I escape? Nah. It goes well. I have some fun. I think people learned some stuff and got some ideas for how they can take advantage of some of the Map Polygon tools and AutoCAD table things available in Civil 3D for overlays and composite CNs. Plus some ideas for pipes. I am pretty pleased with the way things went.

I can't thank Beth , Jason , Nick, Scott and everyone else who came out to support me.

AU TIP No. 3:
When you teach your first AU class, bring a small but dedicated cheering section. And believe them when they tell you that you did a good job.

Afterwards, I go down to the EE booth. I am totally drained. Beth and I hear there is some kind of reception. I envision: cocktail weenies. We head up. I am still wearing my cinch sack AU speaker shirt and carrying the M65 which right now feels like a bag of hammers around my neck.

We get up to Tao. Apparently, there are no cocktail weenies. This is a happening night spot.

Beth, who is sometimes mistaken for a high schooler, gets in no problem. I follow behind her, with my slightly older DE drivers license. While hers was examined, mine was scrutinized. He flexs it. He puts it under the blacklight. He stares at it. He stares at me. He asks me about my address and age and birthday. Finally, he decides I am safely over 21 and lets me in.

Hmmm.... I have another class to teach tomorrow. I am so tired. My froggy voice is creak... creak.... croak... I look around the club and think- this would be so much fun without this bag of hammers around my neck and these nails being driven into my feet.

So with mornful backwards glances about how much fun we probably would have had if we weren't party poopers, Beth and I head back to our rooms where I take a long bath to soak my aching feet (great bathtubs at the Venetian), set my hair, do some prep work for the next day.


Beth and I meet at 6:30AM. The only people at breakfast today look suspiciously as if they are dressed in the same clothes they were wearing at Tao last night. And they look like they had a good time. Dang it.

We attend the mainstage presentation for ISD. Wow. GBA had some great project work up on the stage, as did many other firms. Got a small sneak peak at some new tools coming in 2008. Got to see Anthony G do a live demo. He gets a special gleam in his eyes when he does the live demos.

I spend the balance of the morning fretting and chewing through what is left of my nails. My River class is next and though the subject is something that I have done many times, it is not something that I speak of very often. I was so keyed up over my SWM class that the River class seemed like it would never come. And here it was in 2 hours, in 1 hour, in 20 minutes, NOW!

Before class, some clients from back East come up to say Hi! Wow. So glad they could make it. I see my cheering section in the room and I relax a little. I manage to build a few surfaces, my simple channel and a complex stream. Hopefully everyone got the idea that Corridors aren't just for Roads Anymore. For more ideas, screen captures and a sample drawing, head here.

With a great weight lifted off my shoulders, I head to James's Vault lab where Jason, Nick and I were assistants.

That night, Mr. Probert arrived. We hung out at the social dinner and Blue Man Group event with Beth and Mr. Uczynski. Our favorite part was losing Mr. Probert in a crowd of 7000 people at dinner. Our second favorite part was the comedian. Anthony G. also slipped me a Civil 3D Power Track tshirt at dinner. He always knows what I want. I'd been coveting those tshirts all conference.

I get back to my room and I remark that EVERY SINGLE bottle I had brought with me was still lined up on my counter with the seals intact. Dang it. Where did the week go?

I call up a few of the guys and get takers for the bottles. So I go on a little room service delivery mission. I gather up about six bottles of spirits in my arms and head for the elevator. The elevator is full. I get on. Snickers abound. Someone says- "You going to a party?" I respond "This Las Vegas air is sooo dry. I get really thirsty"

I fall into bed and sleep like a log.

AU TIP No. 4:
If you are coming to party outside of the AU umbrella, plan on coming BEFORE the conference instead of staying AFTER the conference. By Thursday night when Mr. Probert arrived, I just wanted to lay on the couch and mutter to myself I was so tired.


Beth and I meet for breakfast at 6:45AM. There is nobody there but the staff.

I attend Dan and Anthony's double header Project Management and Keep the Model classes. Lots of good information and lots of people to catch up with. There is a sense of eagerness to go home mixed with sadness that the party is all over.

Mr. Probert is on his "Wife's Tour". Every ten minutes I get a text message from some Las Vegas landmark. "I'm at the White Tiger" "New York New York is Cool" "The Pirate Ship is Closed", etc.

After class, I head to the Mexican joint inside the Venetian with Anthony, Peter, Ian, Jason and one of Jason's clients. I finally am able to relax and enjoy a beverage- my favorite- a margarita with at least an inch of salt on the rim.

Lunch tastes amazing- maybe it was the company, or the salty tequila. I am not sure. I think it was that I had survived my first AU as a speaker (Taught 2 classes, Assisted 3 labs (ok 2.5 labs, thanks Jason)).

I wander around the Grand Canal shops. I get a Lemon Gelati. I feel happy.

It was a blur. But an amazing blur. I have never learned so much in such a short time. But the best part was getting a chance to meet everyone. I can't wait until next year.... Armed with an understanding of the Venetian Floorplan (next time- request HIGH room in the Venezia Tower and wear SNEAKERS), and having more human faces to put with all of those names from the DG and blogworld- I know it can only get better.


Doing the Vegas thing... Mr. Probert and I met up with Beth and Mr. Uczynski. We saw fountains and volcanoes, tigers and buffets. We went to FAO Schwartz and bought Panorama a stuffed Australian Shepherd ("Roman" for Caesar's Palace).
Me, Roman and Lemon Gelati

For some reason, the scene in "Showgirls" where Nomi and Cristal eat lunch at Spago near, as Nomi calls it, Vare-sayce, comes to my head. So we filed in for dinner at Spago where we were joined by Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf (well, they were at the next table). I take a picture of Versace, darlin'.
My bad photo of Vare-sayce

Saturday night we eat out, we party a bit and wrap things up with salty marg's at the mexican joint and one last lemon gelati.

Sunday, we run into the Fashion Show Mall. Here, I find the store that I have been looking for all my life. I buy many, many things


Hellooooooooooooo Kitty!!!

Heading home was bittersweet. I missed Pannie very much, and I had been gone almost a week. But it was sad that AU was really done.

It felt very much like planning a wedding (no, not James, but the kind where you get married).

You spend all year getting ready, making thing perfect. You think of the clothes you need, the stuff to bring. You make lists upon lists. You think of every detail. So much comes up at the last minute which you just muscle through.

Then, the day comes. You are busy from morning till night and you never get a chance to see those centerpieces you spent weeks picking out, or taste those canapes you agonized over.

You just wind up in autopilot and though the day is AMAZING and perfect you always wonder if you kissed all the right cheeks and danced with all the right guests.

And you never even open your super special order dyed-to-match purse to take out the $150 Bobbi Brown perfect pressed powder compact because you don't even want to take a second to be vain- you are having way too much fun living in the moment.

Thanks to everyone to helped make it great. See you next year!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Lost in transportation (and Drainage)

Last night, I flew home from Vegas. (AU Recap and photos forthcoming)

On the plane, I watched a movie that I have been carrying around in my bag for months. It's a movie that I have wanted to see for awhile, but I didn't really know anything about it. The movie was Lost in Translation.

I had a vague idea that it was set in Japan, and I was pretty sure Bill Murray was in it. I figured that since I like edamame, sushi and Hello Kitty that I would be interested in seeing the film.

The film delivered far more than expected. Set entirely in Japan (mostly Tokyo with a little Kyoto) it gave a fascinating picture of a culture so different from ours.

The story was one of crossing paths and timing. The two characters lock eyes across a smoky bar (cliche, perhaps) and they have one of those lightning bolts that you get when you first cross paths with someone of potential consequence.

They spend time together and it becomes clear that as much as they may subconsciously want to go further, any relationship beyond the platonic would cheapen the little time they have.

We are left with the unspoken notion that "If things were different, thing would be different".

And during this beautiful story of unrequited love, I was endlessly enthralled by the Japanese public rail system, roundabounds, bridges and highway signs.

We have all had those moments, though, those crossed path timing moments.

For me, one of those moments was about a year ago in downtown Newark, DE. Not quite as glamorous as Tokyo.

I don't remember if I was picking up the training laptops or dropping them off, but either way it was 2 hours up to Newark and 2 hours back down to my house after teaching all day on minimal sleep.

It was about 10PM when I was heading back home, so I go into town to get some coffee.

Downtown Newark is a college town with a quaint main street and the requisite Starbucks.

I go into Starbucks for two Venti Cafe Mochas and I notice that the barista is a tall, goodlooking fellow with a twinkle in his eye.

He takes interest in my mocha and asks sweetly "Are these both for you? Long night ahead?" and when I nod, he winks and puts one in a double cup with extra insulation so that it stays warm.

He asks me what I do for a living and why I am out so late and look so weary. He wasn't just looking for a tip, he genuinely cared, something that is so rare even at your most highly rated college town Starbucks. But more than that.... he was someone I could have gotten to know. I was crossing his path.

I hated to leave him and that cozy embrace of dark roast Colombian air, but as I stepped out into the fog in wool coat and listened to my tall boots hit the sidewalk, I wondered if he was watching me walk away. And I wondered if he wondered, too.

Then I rested my coffee on the trunk of my car and wondered if he was still watching me as I proceeded to spill the entire contents of the double cupped mocha onto my wool coat, my boots, my trunk and the road.

I didn't think to be embarrassed, however, since the torrent of steaming brew gave me a chance to remark how efficiently the straight faced curb and gutter delivered the liquid into a DelDOT Type B catchbasin.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Only 6 More Hours.... Howl of the Lone Wolf

If all goes well, in six hours I will be at Autodesk University!

I am not quite sure how this became such an exciting thing for me.

Last year was my first AU, and I did have a great time. Beth and I geeked out from 6AM until 7PM then went back to the hotel and grabbed a quick meal and worked... So we didn't see Mickey even once.

We learned a TON and had a great time- it was amazing to get that much knowledge in a few short days. But we were kind of shy... and didn't know anyone but each other. So we didn't truly get as much out of it as we could.

This year... This year is a different story. Beth will be there, as will all our friends from the Cadapult technical staff... and the team... and the folks that we met from Autodesk over the course of the past year... and some folks from the Discussion Group...

I guess my point is that I once approached learning Civil 3D as an activity that I undertook alone. I would sit with my laptop on a TV tray and drill, drill, drill- all alone. Beth and I did trainings together, projects together and implementations- but it was just us and our users. We didn't know where to turn for additional support or who we could bounce ideas off of. I started mildly in Fall 2004, and then in earnest in Spring of 2005.

The Lone Wolf (Wolves).

I learned a heap, yes, but my true mindstorm and skill explosion didn't hit until I began participating in the Civil 3D community- both online and in person. I learned more from May 2006 forward than I did in the entire 18 months beforehand. What did I change? I started having conversations. I stuck my neck out on the Autodesk Discussion Groups. Started my Yahoo Group. Blogged every idea and every technical question that I was asked. Took a chance and submitted two AU abstracts. Broke down and downloaded gtalk and started having dialogs with those Civil 3D users out there that were seeking a symbiotic relationship of idea swapping. Attending Autodesk University this year with more in mind that just quietly listening.

(**Authors note** those of you who know me will find it very hard to believe that I did, at one time, sit and listen quietly at AU)

So, Lone Wolves, seek each other. And if you aren't coming to Autodesk University this year, start savings your pennies now. I want to see you there in 2007.

The Night Before AU

T'was the night before AU
and all through the house
the only noise heard
was the click of my mouse.


I'm here doing the usual- writing a week's worth of checks and packing a week's worth of lunches and doing the final preparation for my trip to Autodesk University this week.

If you are going- be sure to come on up and say hello.

And don't forget to register for AU Connect- drop me a line and we'll find a way to meet up.

Here is an update on my AU Connect pins. It seems I am only have a few more people in my inner circle... and that i have repelled Beth (now spot # 63), Nick (now spot #174) and Jason (#148) into the far reaches of my compatibility universe.

However, James and Anthony are still right in there. I knew I connected with those boys in a cosmic way.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Clean Topology Turkey with Manchestnut Stuffing

Trying to stuff as many lots into your subdivision as possible?

Think of the Turkey as your SITE.

Here is another tasty recipe from Chef John over at GBA.


(note from Dana: be sure to follow your local health department guidelines for internal temperature and all that jazz.)

Nothing much special with the Turkey.
Pretty much straight out of Joy of Cooking.
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
Rub turkey with extra virgin olive oil. [ not getting into discussion of how virgin olive oil can be extra virgin ]
Reduce heat to recommended cooking temp after placing stuffed bird into oven.
And don't forget the Alum. foil tent for the last hour or so.


Fun stuff to mix and match ingredients but the site MUST be clean.

  • Brown 1 pound crumbled Hot pork sausage.
  • Add to 1/2 corn bread stuffing mix and 1/2 Country stuffing cubes.
  • Add chopped onion
  • Small can sliced water chestnuts [ will give a little crunch to dressing.]
  • Sliced mushrooms [ know your audience, my daughter and her husband EAT NO FUNGUS ]
  • For moisture I add a can of chicken broth, but have used applesauce, even white wine will work.
  • Other options, cubed apple, or pear, walnuts, diced bell pepper, best a red or orange instead of standard green.
Pack bird with stuffing. [ don't know why every cooking instruction I have ever seen says to lightly stuff bird.]

I've never had a crammed bird send a CER yet.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I've started bookmarking articles and webpages that I think would be of interest to the Civil 3D Rocks readership. Articles about design, engineering, Civil 3D, CAD, innovation and learning.

Check out the sidebar for the feed, or subscribe to the feed in your reader or via email at Delicious/danaprobert

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Things that get done when the men disappear

I have been amazingly productive the past two weeks.


At first I couldn't figure out why. I'd seemed scary how fast the ladies at the recorder of deeds got my information, and the receptionists and female designers at my client's offices were able to return my calls and get me what I needed... I'd go into the local bank or post office and women seemed to have that "shake out your hair" attitude that usually you only find in the field hockey locker room, the beauty parlor or a slumber party.

But then the second day that I drove up the highway and saw scores of abandoned pick-up trucks littering the shoulder... I realized that it was that special time of year.

Delaware Shotgun Season. Nov 10 through Nov 18.

Any male with access to a Cabela's catalog was geared up big toe to bald spot with camoflague, a 12 gauge and a spray can of Bucktastic.

Though Mr. Probert doesn't hunt (it's a long story involving his green card, Walmart's firearms counter and my unwillingness to participate in a straw purchase), he did have an incident this week involving a pickup truck and a doe with a death wish, so even he was occupied with Bambi and friends.

So while all of the men-folk were up in trees with their cellphones off, we ladies did some housecleaning.

I personally decided that my home office needed a complete gutting. There were two things that needed to go- a big screen TV that hasn't worked since before Vine was released, and a couch that I bought at an auction for $17.
Free Couch

My home office has always been one corner of an intensely small den in our cramped little house. I have two 19" monitors, technical manuals, five years worth of Urban Land, Landscape Architecture, Architectural Digest and AUGI world, plus a graveyard of laptops and that tall kitchen trash can of "wires leftover"- old mice, keyboards, joysticks, usb cables, serial cables, phone cords, coax and everything else. Not to mention my Gunslinger Girl Action Figures, Crest White Strips and the full set of Pantone markers that I have never used but like to look at.
Real Superheros

So, I needed more space. And once I talked Mr. Probert into saying goodbye to the TV, the couch was the next victim.

The Hardest Part

The couch served as our TV watching couch during the big screen TV days (note that the TV hasn't worked since Vine, which is right about the time I stopped watching and started becoming obsessed anyway), but since the TV is dead and the den has become my office, it had just become something in the way.

We couldn't close the office door when it was in here, and it blocked the propane heater (a problem on soooo many levels).

Every time I brought the idea of pitching the couch, Mr. Probert would give me some story about how if we took the effort to bring it in we should keep it because in six months I will just want to get some other ugly couch that blocks the propane heater, so why not just keep this one... blah blah blah.

So while he was scraping Bambi's mom off of his windshield, I decided to do what all good country folks do when they have things that are no longer useful--- I put it at the end of the driveway with a free sign on it!

I must have had good timing. It was about 10AM, right when the light has gotten bright enough that the 8 pointers can tell the difference between a potential mate and a man in a tree covered in doe scent, because I set a new record.

The couch had been outside for about 10 minutes when a white pickup came and took the couch away. Inside that pickup was about as heartwarming a family values moment that you can get in my neck of the woods. Three men. Grandpa, Daddy and 12 year old son. In matching camo.

I can only wonder what interesting journeys my faithful couch will experience over the course of its lifetime. It has that free couch look, so it will never be the cornerstone of a fancy livingroom. it will see the fun stuff- it will get to live in rec rooms, workshops, back porches and vacation houses. It will see the parties and the teenagers. It will get spilled on and burned through and dogs will lay on it and kids will jump on it...until someone else puts it on the curb with a free sign and the adventure begins again.

I waved goodbye to the couch and set to work doing all of the things that women do when their men are out of their hair- I cleaned and organized my office, I baked, and I dug holes in the yard with my daughter.

Since there were no men around to crawl under the house, Panorama and I rigged up something to check thing out ourselves.
Who needs a man?

And then... Saturday night when Novemeber's shotgun season came to a close and all of our weary dragon slayers returned home with their butts full of acorns and their shotguns still fully loaded... we tied our hair back up, put our panyhose back on and went back to acting like nice young ladies again.

BUT... We will have our chance again...There is one more this year- so mark your calendars Ladies: Jan 13 to Jan 20.

More Couch Photos and Actual Civil 3D Related Photos

Monday, November 13, 2006

Wrong Turn

In my haste to escape North Wilmington traffic this AM, I took a quick left down a road that I hoped would intersect Philadelphia Pike, and I would up slowing down in the morning mist to enjoy something wonderful.

I had stumbled upon one of those lovely neighborhoods that we find by accident. It seems I always wind up taking these wrong turns in the full bloom of autumn. Through the grey drizzle and a snowfall of golden maple leaves, I toured through a tree canopied streetscape of modest tutors, split faced brick bungalows, cape cods and colonials of every variety. Each house was completely different yet they radiate some sort of homogenous mood that glues them into one.

I found this neighborhood before... near the Keswick Theater in Philadelphia, off of Collier Road in Atlanta, in the gridded, Elm lined avenues that surround downtown Edmonton and just north of the Bow in Calgary. These are the neighborhoods I walked my dog through when I was in college and imagined myself living there, taking kids trick or treating there, taking early AM jogs on the sidewalks, past the pocket parks, to the nearby rivers and open spaces....

As I pulled onto Philadelphia Pike it struck me that as much as we all love these places, so few of us live there. And often, if we tried to design a neighborhood like this we wouldn't get approved. Not enough setback. Not enough ROW. Not enough lots. Lanes? Ha. Never.

So we drive though the mist and daydream... then continue on to our tract homes, our McMansions, our island neighborhoods that connect to nothing and that despite the best architectural control efforts to remain uniformly beautiful still come off as disjointed and out of place....

And we forget about the golden maple snowshowers until next fall when we take a wrong turn.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Of Mice and Manchester (It's handy being a girl geek)

I have recently earned the nickname CAT because at least once per week I bring home a mangled mouse and place it before my husband for his inspection.

Last week, I had an unfortunate maple syrup accident with a mouse that cause it to perpetually double click.

Yesterday, I managed to drive the entire length of Delaware Route 1 with the USB end of my husband's laptop mouse (which I had stolen to replace the maple syrup mouse) dragging out of the passenger side door. When I arrived at my destination, I realized that USB port would never dock again.

In a seemingly unrelated story, I am going to Manchester, NH today for some sort of Autodesk Geek Party that involves drinking scotch and discussing corridor links vs. feature lines at increasingly higher decibels as the night progresses.

Jason is renting a car and will be ensuring that I arrive at this party safely. He asked me how he could recognize me at the airport. I said, I will be wearing a butterfly necklace.

When I finished packing this AM, I realized that my butterfly necklace was broken! Oh dear! How will Jason pick me out of the teeming mass at MHT? Hmmmm.

So I decided to distract myself from this pending disaster by getting the wire cutters and snipping the USB tail off of mangled mouse #2, and the syrup end of mangled mouse #1 in hopes of a possible happy marriage and resplice.

As I was snipping, I had a realization- there's COPPER WIRE in them cords!

So after i was finished with the needle nose and electrical tape, I pulled out the strippers and peeled myself out 3 or so inches of copper wire from the spare length and proceeded to fix the butterfly necklace with the wire from my mouse.

So now two problems are solved- I have a working mouse AND Jason will be able to recognize me at the airport.

Sometimes being a girl geek ain't so bad.

**Note from the Author: It could be argued that if I wasn't a girl geek in the first place I would have neither a) driven with my mouse cord hanging out nor b) had a necklace to fix. But that is neither here nor there.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Crash and Burn CER Chili

This recipe comes from the Kitchen of John Postlewait of GBA. He's a man who knows a good pot of stew from a pile of doo and he'll let you know about it, too.

This is a meal that will keep your stomach burning long after the service pack fixes what ails ya.


1 lb. hot pork sausage
2 lbs. chili grind beef ( or alternately 1 lb. chili grind and 1 lb fajita strips sorta diced.)
1 Kiel Basa sliced into 1/4 inch slices.
Couple cans diced tomatoes
couple cans tomato sauce ( more different flavors all the time)
1 onion diced
1 or two bell pepper ( depending on size ) diced of course
1 large can Chili Hot Beans. ( or Pintos with Jalapeno's if that floats >

LARGE pot required
Need to tear apart sausage into small chunks and brown.
Add beef and brown.
Start adding the other stuff.

I usually cheat when I season it.
Buy one of those Gilley's chili or 5 alarm chili packages, just to get the cayenne and white pepper etc.
Add Garlic powder, course ground pepper, and a bunch of chili powder.

[ typical frickin' man recipe, no quantities, or times or any of that other crap. ]

I like to add sliced mushrooms but some don't eat fungus.

Now that will put some flame to your CER's.
(note from Dana- stock some mints in your desk in case Philbrick comes in for a suprise visit. And maybe some of those scented candles)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Juice Runs, Grumpy Grey and Laptop Envy- Tales from a PHL Vagabond

Today is one of those days that makes traveling seem really fun.

I arrived at PHL this AM approximately an hour ahead of my scheduled flight- yes I realize this is pushing it these days- however I was utterly dumbfounded when the ticketing agent informed me that they had given all the seats away and I would have to fly standby on the 10AM flight- and the fatigued yet condecending look in her eyes led me to believe that if she could personally ensure I would get bumped from the 10AM, she would do it just cause she didn't like my sweatpants.

So I leave her my checked luggage- basically 40lbs of mousse, hairspray, toothpaste, gel, evian, crisco and other forbidden carry on liquids- and hustle up to security on the off chance that I could pursuade the gate agents to let me on.

Forty minutes later- as I finally clear the Security Labryth (for the FIRST time today), I make it to the gate in time, but alas, nobody has disappeared between the ticket counter and the gate.


So I sit down and hop on the PHL flight schedule searching for anything to San Diego. I locate a several Southwest flights, so I hop on down there to talk to the gate agent. YES- there is a flight. But no, he doesn't know what would happen to my luggage. Good thing USAirways and Southwest are about 4 miles, 3 Brookstones and half a dozen moving sidewalks from each other.

I hoof it back to USAirways- where I am met by a different set of eyes that say "I would burn your luggage given the chance" and I say to myself- "Who cares? I can always buy clothes, I have trusty M65 with me, what else do I need" and I scamper back to Southwest. Too late.

So they tell me- nothing for the rest of the day. I sit down, open up M65, and book MYSELF onto the 4:30PM San Diego via Midway flight, and walk up to the counter to get my boarding pass. The internet is an AMAZING thing. It was virtually instant. And this time, the gate agent- a girl of about 22 with an amazing smile- was friendly and did not appear to want to burn my luggage.

However, my luggage must be dealth with. It too wants to see Shamu and the San Diego Zoo.

So I go OUT of security and down to the USAirways baggage department, where I am informed, that my luggage DID INDEED make the 740AM flight. Interesting.

So I go back through the Security Labrynth (for the SECOND time today). And this time is even better than the first. Since my Southwest ticket was a "last minute purchase" I get to go into the special line- the one reserved for Pilots, Flight Attendants, Delta Crown Club Members, and Suspected Smugglers of Non Essential Toothpaste.

So..I survive.. hours to kill.... I wander around, look through Brookstone and Sharper Image, and walk 4 miles back to the food court for some breakfast and to stream a few episodes of Grey's Anatomy from The first episode works like a charm, then as soon as Nick (TGFGT) tells me he is having issues, kaboom. No more Dark and Twisty Meredith and friends. What am I going to have to do, WORK here?

I realize it is now time for a JUICE RUN. You've seen us. We have a greenish skin tone, a laptop under our arm and a power cord in hand. We scan the foodcourt pillars, the airport bar and the walls by the payphones for unused outlets. I have even been known to sit on the floor by a vaccuum station to load up on enough juice to watch Wedding Crashers during a cross country flight.

I found myself digusted that people WITHOUT laptops would have the audacity to take a seat with a clear shot at an outlet. Where were these people raised anyway?

Juice in tow, I work on a cut fill and some template creation and prep a little for tomorrow's Civil 3D class I am teaching out in California.

I look at my watch and realize that my luggage is currently watching the Beluga Show and enjoying a corn dog.

I figure it is time I head over to the Southwest Gate. Oh, a glance at the terminal monitor- my flight is in Terminal E not D. I follow the signs and notice this one "LEAVING TERMINAL D AND ENTERING TERMINAL E WILL RESULT IN HAVING TO GO THROUGH SECURITY AGAIN"


How bad can it be? Bad. Construction and detours later, I wind up in the longest and most disgruntled line yet. And yes, I am still considered dangerous. So, on with the strip search, the laptop wipes, the bag digs. And I make it through with about 15 minutes before departure. Once again, cleared Security Labrynth (for the THIRD time)

And yet, I am blogging. Needless to say- the flight is delayed.

Terminal E (Southwest) has no armrests on their waiting room chairs. What a simple, yet welcome comfort. Boy.... I must be having a bad day.

But I will get there. And I will have a great, fun group in class and with any luck my luggage took lots of pictures at Sea World.

Side note...Laptop Envy-- I spent a lot of time researching machines when I was out to build my desktop and purchase my new laptop (I love you, my precious M65). So now, whenever anyone whips out their laptop at security, I check it out. I saw a red XPS (which is what I really wanted- except apparently Dell Business Leasing didn't think it was appropriate for me to purchase a $4000 gaming rig), a few of those nifty technicolor Alienwares, countless Macs, IBMs, and the usually potpourri. Since there are a few gates near where I am sitting right now that have flights to Manchester, NH and there is an ICE class this week- I found myself scanning the crowds for the typical Sonys, Toshibas and Dell M90s that AEs usually carry. The guy sitting next to me is a good candidate..... Hmmm....

*** Postscript: I just took a hard look at my boarding pass and apparently, Southwest has open seating. This almost guarantees that I will be crammed in some middle seat hell from here to Midway since I now notice that other people have been lining up in what I had originally took to be cattle chutes. However, despite the rank smell of PHL, there are, indeed, no actual cattle.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

James Wedding to teach Civil 3D 101 at Cadapult, Ltd.

James will be teaching the Nov 13+14 Civil 3D 101 at Cadapult, Ltd. in Newark, DE.

We are looking forward to future classes and events where we can bring in Engineered Efficiency experts thanks to the ongoing partnership between Engineered Efficiency and Cadapult, Ltd.

(Cadapult is convenient to the greater Philadelphia or Baltimore Areas, including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania)

2- Day CIVIL 3D 101

November 13 + 14

Download Agenda and sign up form here

or call 302 733 0477 ex 0 or email

For more details, more classes and more information, check out the Cadapult Training Calendar

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

How Much Mountain Dew?

This weekend while hanging out at White Birch Cabin I made a comment to Mr. Probert that he needn't drink the last of the OJ since he had about 20,000 cans of Mountain Dew in the back of the truck.

And he said, "Dana, even if I had a SEMI full of Mountain Dew, I wouldn't have 20,000 cans"

And so let the nerd moment unfold... Of course we can't let this one go.

Based on the approximations of Mr. Probert's brother ( a former retail mogul)

28 Skids to a trailer
56 cases on a skid
24 cans to a case

37,632 cans in a trailer

So my vacations are about as boring as my real life.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

See you in Paramus, NJ???

In my attempts to make some friends for AU, I have decided that I will attend the AUGI CAD Camp in Paramus, NJ on October 19, 2006.

I signed up for a few Civil 3D classes, and plenty of AutoCAD visualization classes.

Look for me, and PLEASE come up and say hi! Nobody came up and said hi at the Collision Tour except Beth , and I drove her there so that doesn't count!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Pin Me! Join the AU Social Network

So you want to find out if you and I are compatible?

Yeah you do.

And you want to meet some neat people at AU this year?

Yeah you do.

Sign up for AU Connect. If you registered for Autodesk University, use your AU Login to gain access here: AU Connect

Nick Zeeben and I did ours over the weekend. Tell me if you think this is strange.

Ok so here is me. Apparently the only person I am compatible with is James Wedding.

And here is Nick. Hmmm... he has more chances to fill his foursome.

I need some friends!!! Go sign up now!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

So what do you do again, Dana? (when you can't be on your computer)

I have had a pretty fun weekend so far- and it is only half over! I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

The weekend essentially started on Wednesday night when I packed up Panorama and headed north to my parent's house. Mr. Probert had some early stuff, and I was expected in New Jersey at 9AM wearing my Land Desktop hat.

Thursday was great fun despite the fact that I might choose a root canal over Land Desktop these days. They were a really great group of surveyors and we got through a lot of surface building skills and even I learned a few things.

Friday I came to the realization that I needed to drop the M70 off at Cadapult over the weekend so it could be adopted by a new owner on Monday. So I had many computerless hours to kill while I backed up and bleached Ol' Bessie.

So I went to the Church Attic Treasure's sale and scored a copy of Richard Halliburton's New Worlds to Conquer: America's Most Dashing 1920s Adventurer Explores South America for $0.50. On the inside cover, there is a written inscription: "To My Lukie with all my love, your Sandy- Christmas 1937"

Then I came home and spent about 5 hours working on a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle of Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party with my Dad. I always have had a thing for Renoir, but I especially dig this painting and always focus on #6 after the scene in Amelie where she and the Glass Man discuss the figures in the painting.

Interestingly enough, the film Amelie also explains my obsession with garden Gnomes, lentils, photobooths, men who drive mopeds, and skipping rocks.

However it does not explain my obsession with Matryoshka which is something that I also spent some time with this weekend.

My parents house about half of our collection at their place, so Pannie and I took them all apart and put them back together again, then I thumbed through the tall stack of Golden Cockerel Catalogs my Dad hoards with my eyes glazed over wondering which of the finely painted treasures would make its way into my Christmas stocking.

I have quite a few, but probably my favorite of my collection is actually Panorama's (hmmm, maybe she won't remember), a blue and silver ten piece.

Pannie and I did some giant floor puzzles including a brand new Map of the World that I picked up for a discount on Friday, and we also played with her Magnetic Paper Dress Up Dolls which in spite of my dislike of all toys girly, I actually enjoy playing them with myself.

After the last CD popped out, I headed back south and swung by Cadapult, leaving Ol' Bessie to run an overnight "DOD Approved" deleted files scrub.

While driving, I listened to The Cluetrain Manifesto which is absolutely fascinating... It is amazing how much what is happening with Civil 3D right now happened with Java... and everything else. And it is so true how we as users "the target market" form our own communities and seek advice from one another, and how the internet has really made it easy for someone to start their own blog and spout off pseudowisdom in the form of pointless prose riddled with self serving links.

Upon arriving home, I was greeted by a box from Zappos. Finally, I now have shoes to go with my Engineered Efficiency garb. (And if you think I am kidding, come see me at AU and I will show you how well they match.)

Oh yeah, and this is funny.

Right before I left my parents house, my Mom was looking at the potential floor plans for the new Probert Estate (estimating building year: 2025) and said something that makes me realize that I have become my Father. Not only do I look like him, but I also have one of those jobs that isn't easy to explain- like Fireman or Farmer. I still can't really tell you what my Dad does, and apparently, nobody gets my work, either. At least not on my side of the family.

She said:
"You are going to hire a professional to help you with the site design, right? I mean, you need to make sure that the water drains away from the house and stuff like that"

And I said:
"Mom, you do realize that people pay me to do that for them"

And she said:
"Yeah, but you really need to hire someone to do this. You just can't do this yourself."

Monday, September 18, 2006

So I have some news....

You may have picked up on the signals....

But here is the full story

The Player to be Named Later

Saturday, September 09, 2006

101 Uses for a Dual Core Processor

You may be aware that som Autodesk applications don't currently take advantage of a dual core processor. (Check the Autodesk website for details on what applications may take advantage of one)

I just got my new machine last week, and I must say it is awesome.

My corridors do build faster than they did on my slower machine, but since right now I am experiementing with building one monster corridor for the whole site (I have not yet made my final decision about whether or not this is a good idea) even a fast build is at least 3-5 minutes when you have 60+ baselines.

So a few times a day when I rebuild the whole thing, I can take advantage of my second "core" in a variety of ways.

Here are some recent favorites:

1- Exercise Videos- Play your DVDs on your second monitor and get toned and fit while your corridor knits. I also moved my weights into the home office so I could get in a few sets during hang time.

2- Civil Engineering Community Site- you thought I was kidding about a Civil 3D MySpace? Autodesk has moved the discussions groups and a whole heap of other goodies like shared VBA, templates, etc. You can also make a Profile where you list your fave Civil 3D commands, your love of gadgets and your IM handle. You can leave endorsements (cough- comments) and add people to your network (cough- friends). I've already spent hours in here trying to see what those folks from the DG actually look like.

3- Blog- No need to know anything or have anything important to say. Just sign up for a blog and start waxing poetic on any subject you feel you want to talk about. Like puppies, butterflies or Civil Engineering software.

4- ITunes- Who needed money this month for rent? Certainly not me since I downloaded about $400 worth of songs I really needed. And now no rude musical hiccups because it has a whole processor to itself!

5- Gtalk or other IM- being as my first email account was in 1994 and that was on Georgia Tech's Unix monster, I missed the middle school IM craze. I still need the IM to english dictionary for things like "YT" and "TTYL", but somehow I have managed to while away many a corridor building hour yammering about nothing in particular and sharing links to good YouTube clips .

I am sure I will discover more as time goes on.... send in your suggestions!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Civil 3D 101 and Map 101 Classes at Cadapult in Newark, DE

Cadapult, Ltd. is offering the following classes at our Newark, DE training Lab.

(Cadapult is convenient to the greater Philadelphia or Baltimore Areas, including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania)

2- Day CIVIL 3D 101
November 13 + 14
Download Agenda and sign up form here

2- Day MAP 3D 101
October 30 + 31
Download Agenda and sign up form here

For more details, more classes and more information, check out the Cadapult Training Calendar

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Flexible Terrain with Optional Flowers

No this isn't some custom birthday cake gone bad...

I have been so busy lately with work, I have neglected my motherly duty of making homemade playdough. So today, I make a month's worth.

Panorama and I then went to work shaping the world. We started with the usual- cookie cutter butterflies, kitties and elephants. Then we moved into the doughball genre- snowmen and the like.

Then, I left to answer the phone, and when I came back she had created this. I think she had originally intended it to be an example of a road corridor, but it quickly turned into more of a river.

Friday, August 25, 2006


I need your help.

I keep getting these Fatal Errors while using Civil 3D 2007 SP1A with Pipe Networks.

FATAL ERROR: Unhandled Access Violation Reading 0x001c Exception at f0ec880h

FATAL ERROR: Unhandled Access Violation Reading 0x001c Exception at effc880h

FATAL ERROR: Unhandled Access Violation Reading 0x001c Exception at f0ac880h

FATAL ERROR: Unhandled Access Violation Reading 0x001c Exception at ef0c880h

Here is the scenario: I lay out a quick storm pipe network. Then I realize that I chose headwalls instead of catchbasins. So I go back through to replace them and I get crashmagic land. I can get it to repeat, I can document it.

But Autodesk can't. I sent them my drawing and my how to, and they can't get it to repeat.

So, I ask you, faithful reader. If you get either of these fatal errors in a similar situation, please let me know so that I can get you in touch with the right people at Autodesk so that we can get this one fixed.

The good news is- I documented another fatal error this week that they were able to repeat and a fix is on the way.

FATAL ERROR: Unhandled Access Violation Reading 0x0004 Exception at 64555170h

This one occurs when you are using the Connect to Part tool and accidentally try to connect a part to itself. So for now, be careful when using that tool.

OK, SO WHY do we NEVER migrate parcels?

I had a break in the excruciating emotional minutiae that is my life the past few weeks, so I was able to throw together a quick appeal to ALL Civil 3D users out there who have fallen into the temptation of migrating parcels from Land Desktop, importing parcels from LandXML or creating parcels from closed polylines.

I need to get off my duff and post a "Fundamentals of Topology" which may demystify some of this... but until then...

Read my article at on this subject.

Parcel Migration and Parcel Import- Don't Let them Bite You

Wednesday, August 23, 2006




I don't have the energy to explain right now. Just don't do it. Ever.

Here is why:

Parcel Migration and Parcel Import- Don't Let them Bite You

Autodesk Collision Tour September 19 Philadelphia

Autodesk Infrastructure Collison Tour

Coming to a city near you... I'll be in Philadelphia to check out Pete Kelsey's presentation, and possibly New York to sit in on Geospatial as well.

Come on up and say Hello!!

8:30 a.m - 9:00 a.m.
Registration and Continental Breakfast

9:00 a.m.- 10:15 a.m.
Welcome and General Session

Keynote Speaker: Chris Bradshaw, V.P., AutodeskChris will help you learn more about Autodesk's integrated infrastructure solutions and how your organization can connect GIS and CAD data, systems and tasks. He'll explain how new technologies like dynamic modeling save you money and time and how open systems help you to connect your existing data formats and applications to other legacy systems. He will also discuss how industry trends like open source software will change the way you work.

Chris will help you learn more about Autodesk's integrated infrastructure solutions and how your organization can connect GIS and CAD data, systems and tasks. He'll explain how new technologies like dynamic modeling save you money and time and how open systems help you to connect your existing data formats and applications to other legacy systems. He will also discuss how industry trends like open source software will change the way you work.

10:15 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Break

10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Breakout Sessions:

GIS Professionals
See the latest geospatial software featuring CAD and GIS interoperability using a central database. Discover the geospatial features that mapping technicians require -- polygon overlay, table editing, and more -- plus multi-user editing, direct access to live data sources, and even map publishing on both web-based and mobile devices. Hosted by:Pete SouthwoodGeospatial Technical SpecialistAutodesk, Inc.

Civil Engineering
See the civil engineering design software that delivers proven power and outstanding interoperability to complete transportation, site, sewer, storm drain, and subdivision projects with production plans produced directly from a dynamic engineering model. Hosted by:Pete KelseyISD Technical EvangelistAutodesk, Inc.

12:00 p.m.- 1:00 p.m. Learning Lab

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Civil 3D Companion: MySpace for CAD Nerds

It is hard enough to meet new people these days, let alone while you are glued to your seat exploring and learning Civil 3D.

There is a new service out there to match people who are looking for fellow Civil3Disciples to bounce ideas off, collaborate with, play LAN Ghost Recon and meet up for anime marathons.

Think of it as Friendster, only Geekster.

I have found a few listings of interested from this brand new Civil3D Companion service. "Seeking to Align you on the Correct Site"


5'9"ish Mechanically inclined but Civil just the same.

I am looking for someone to steer me down the right path- both horizontally and vertically. If you have tight curves and varying grades you could help set my targets. I'm working through a transition right now, so I need someone patient who can watch me build and extract volumes of good material from me.

Likes: daylighting, VBA
Dislikes: Incomplete profiles, Subassemblies created from polylines, AutoLISP, HTML
Other interests: Partsbuilder, Vault


5'10" Long blonde hair. Degreed engineer, Obsessive topologist.
Hobbies: Crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, quilting, puns, screen capturing

Seeking IM buddies for late night chats, inside jokes, metes and bounds, and blogging banter.

I want friends that see beyond my normal function and take advantage of my hidden talents. I am more than just what my default label might lead you to believe. If you want a report on all of your areas, I don't mind doing the calculations for you.

I might be senstive, but respect my rules and I will pay off huge in the long run.

Candidates must be able to produce a span label on the first try.

Likes: Civil 3D, Lots lines perpendicular to the ROW
Pet Peeves: Overlapping Edges, Sleep, Fatal Errors, Hex Dumps, Fatal Errors, Feature lines reacting with site geometry, BUG REPORTS
Fears: The PE Exam
Other interests: None


Approx 6', (6'1" in Cape and Tights).

I'd like to find some like minded folks to chill with while rockin' out and hecklin' at AU.

Start in the beginning and just download all of your information on me, I will carry you through the whole deal. We'll process the real world together and make any adjustments you need to make life easier. Let's divide and conquer, get things aligned and take a look at what is going on below the surface.

Likes: Telling it like it is, getting the job done, finding a solution
Dislikes: Span Labels, Desc Key disappearance
Other interests: DG

Monday, August 21, 2006

Civil 3Delicious: Piping Hot Pulled Pork Pot

It's been a little while since I have had a chance to cook. Busy with Panorama, Civil 3D and life in general.

Mr. P. and I drove all night Wednesday and arrived the the grocery store at 3PM Thursday famished. We swore we would never go hungry again!

So I loaded up on things that I could make ahead and munch on all weekend.

This weekend's projects was pipes, as you may gather from Nick and my posts at

So as I sketched, imported, exported and generally piped my brains out, I would occasionally find my way into the kitchen and make a sandwich.

To learn more about my weekend piping adventures moving designs in and out of excel, check out my article Inverts Inverts Everywhere

This is a recipe even a frat house could pull off. A real man's meal.


1 Cheap Pork Roast (like a shoulder). Fatty is OK!
1/2 cup-ish of soy sauce
1 tsp-ish of chopped garlic
1 cup +/- white wine or apple juice or white grape juice
2 cups +/- water
Salt, Pepper, Seasoned Salt, spices to taste
1 medium to large sized bottle of BBQ Sauce
hamburger or sandwich rolls

Sprinkle roast with salt, pepper, etc. Put in crockpot. Add soy sauce and garlic. Add wine/juice. Add additional water to come close to covering the roast.

Cook in crockpot on low for approximately 8 hours, or until pork is done and shreds easily with a fork.

Remove pork from pot, shred with a fork.

Pour liquid from pot into a large bowl.

Put pork back in pot. Add BBQ sauce. Use cooking liquid from the large bowl to thin the BBQ sauce as desired. Discard extra liquid.

Cook a few more minutes in crockpot unitl BBQ sauce is warmed up.

Make sandwiches for days.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Rejected names for CAD and Coffee

Just a reminder about the CAD and Coffee at Cadapult this Tuesday, 8:30AM

A section of the Civil 3D 2007 for Stormwater Management Tasks presentation that I will be giving at Autodesk University

For signup info check out
CAD and Coffee August 22

For fun, here are a list of names that were rejected for the CAD and Coffee. Let me know what you think- and if you have any additional ideas:

CADfiends and Caffeine
ICE'd Tea
Modern Model Mornings
Breakfast Epiphanies
Brunch with the Stars
Green Eggs and CAD
Once upon a CAD
CAD omlette
Big Bowl O’ CAD
Top O’ the CAD to ya!
Model Based Muffins
Cuppa CAD
CAD: Ain’t just for breakfast anymore
CAD coffee caucus
Picks, clicks, swizzle sticks
Model-Based Design and Donuts

Wakeup to CAD
Coffee CAD Click
Breakfast Tricks

And for the Buildingly Inclined:
BIMs and Beans
Fill it to the BIM
Raisin BIM

Sunday Morning Book Shopping

Mr. Probert is studying for the P.E.

This morning he handed me a list of resource books he needed. He hates this stuff. I, on the other hand, live for that satisfying crackle noise of a new hardback. Or better yet, pondering the mysterious life of a used book- who owned it? Did they love it? Did they read it in the bathtub?

So it was a perfect opportunity to stock up on some of the books I had lingering in my amazon shopping cart.

Here is a list of books that will be showing up on my doorstep in 3-5 business days.

Nothing gives me the warm fuzzies more than coming home to a nice heavy box of books on the doorstep.

Surveying & Layout Fundamentals for Construction (DVD)
I am feeling the need for a refresher, and this DVD comes highly rated. My layout experience is limited to one hideously cold autumn in Edmonton with the world's coolest party chief, Cam F. and his sidekick Brad. Brad and I fought like brother and sister, and I never could get the rod level. Lesson learned: Party Chiefs can read lips through the sight, so keep the cursing INSIDE your head.

Civil PE Sample Examination
More ways to ruin a perfectly good weekend. It will be my turn in April.

Six-minute Solutions For Civil PE Exam Geotechnical Problems (Civil Engineering)
Seeing Mr. P's geotech study sheet inspired me to do a LL test on some playdough Panorama had laying around. I am still trying to figure out how I can run a triax on it. I spent the better part of the Fall of 1998 pounding proctors so just seeing the density curve still makes my hand hurt.

Six-Minute Solutions for Civil PE Exam Problems: Water Resources
Weirs, channels, swales, retention, yadayada- it all boils down to ditches and puddles.

And to cap it off, my recent obsession with the "perfect" surface led me to these choices:

Topographic Surveying (Technical Engineering and Design Guides As Adapted from the Us Army Corps of Engineers)

Topographic Surveying and Geodetic Control Basics Manual Cd [CD] [Software]

Topographic manual [Unknown Binding]

Modern Topographic Drawing

Civil 3D: Are you thinking the right way to make the best of it?

You may have experimented with Civil 3D and found it frustrating.

Perhaps you encountered a steep learning curve yet didn't quite see the payoff.

If you are considering Civil 3D, or are having trouble getting into the groove, check out the article I wrote for last week: Rethinking Your Approach: Stone Sculpture vs. Clay Model

Many of us, especially those who have been around since manual drafting was phased out, approach our designs like we would a stone sculpture: Don't start drafting until the design is straightened out. Each chisel stroke is permanent and difficult to fix.

Where Civil 3D really works best when you approach it like shaping clay- build your model, backup, build again, experiment, iterate, iterate.

Which paradigm are you in? Read the article and find out.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Farewell to Nova Scotia

It has been a long time since I have been somewhere that was so peaceful and lovely. The southeastern corner of Nova Scotia is amazingly quiet and quite untouched.

Most of the time, we were the only ones on the beach. The water was colder than Delaware, but not intolerable.


There was one beach that had extremely shallow water that extended very far out, so the water there was warm and we could explore the whole bay floor.

The company was fabulous, too. Mr. Probert's family has the house on the water, and cousins, uncles and aunts from Toronto, England, and Arizona came out for a bit of a reunion.

I mentioned before that most of the family there were either engineers or work in the construction industry, so no family get together is complete without a tour of the local infrastructure.
Wind Farm
We were saved from a visit to the sewage treatment plant by the presence of a wind farm near Pubnico. The wind farm was one part beautiful, one part awe inspiring, and one part weird as hell.

Being the nerds that we are, we clocked one revolution, wrote down the measurements of the blades, and took bets on velocity at the tip.

Then, we went back to the beach house and calc'ed it out.

Brother-in-law won. But I was pretty close.

Rainy days and quiet evenings were filled with Su Duko, crosswords, all too serious games of Whist, and for me, corridor modeling. I also brought a few back issues of POB, Urban Land, and the ASLA magazine which were passed around with great enthusiasm.

We managed to limit the NDP vs. Bush Redneck debates over dinner to one per evening by keeping the sherry glasses full, and at least once I purposely dropped a plate in the kitchen as a diversion when the subject of socialized medicine came up.

Before the final run to the border, I picked up a few things that are just better in Canada- yogurt, Mars Bars, Kinder Surprise, Fuzzy Peach, Toonies, good cheer, friendly smiles and a few lungfulls of sweet northern air.

I shall return, there is no doubt.

Farewell to Nova Scotia, you sea-bound coast
Let your mountains dark and dreary be
For when I am far away on the briny ocean tossed
Will you ever heave a sigh and a wish for me?

More...Create a Table of X,Y,Z Coordinates from an Alignment: Method 1

As I mentioned in my post If it quacks like a duck, anything from propector that looks like a spreadsheet can be pasted into excel for further reporting, and "prettification".

But an under-used tool, in my opinion, is the AutoCAD table. I will be using the AutoCAD table hard core in some of my SWM papers and presentations, and many other applications. They support simple formulas, can be used with attribute extraction and much more.

I also use a method similar to this for some more detailed parcel analysis and breakdowns, so use your imagination.

Make additional columns to show whatever you want, in this case I added some stationing.

There are some neat Excel commands like CONCATENATE that can help you do things like specific station formatting.

In AutoCAD/Civil3D, paste special.

Choose AutoCAD Entities from the paste special dialog box.

These tables can be edited, added to, etc. The possibilities are endless.

Create a Table of X,Y,Z Coordinates from an Alignment: Method 1

The question came up on the Civil 3D discussion group today:

If I have an alignment
and a Surface

Can I make a table that pulls out the X, Y and Z at each station?

Here is one method- I am still working on another one, because you will see there are two minor annoyances.

1) Create a Surface Profile from your Alignment. You won't have to do anything with this, Civil 3D just has to think about your surface with respect to your alignment.

2) Points>Create Points. Use the Measure Alignment Option. Choose your sampled profile for the elevations. Follow the command prompts.

3) Make a Point Table style that shows Point Number, Northing, Easting, Elevation

4) Make a Point Table

Annoyance #1
Points from a surface, unlike surface labels, are not instantly dynamic to the surface. Moving the point or changing the surface will not immediately update it. If your surface did change, you could always Points>Edit>Elevation from Surface. Once you do that, your points will update and your table will, too.

Annoyance #2
Points can't have references, so I can't (at press time) figure out a way to get the Alignment Station in the Point Table. It would be easy enough to just remember that Point Number 1 = Station 1+00, etc. but that bugs me. You could also name each point in the name column of the Prospector with its station, which is what I show below. If there were only a handful of stations, this is what I would do.

There are a few other things we can mess with here- involving excel, an autocad table, an empty roll of toilet paper and a small amount of nitroglycerin, so I will post an update later today. This one is better than Su Doku.

Friday, August 18, 2006

To Rock... or Not To Rock

You may also have heard of a little blog called

Apparently, the guys over there are having trouble keeping their feet off the furniture and their drinks on coasters, so they are seeking a bit of a Diva touch.

I have been invited to contribute content to

In all honesty, I was quite dumbstruck when "the" James Wedding invited me to join as a contributor- I mean, little ol' me?


Should this Hermit Crab switch to a roomier shell?

Should I keep Civil 3D Rocks alive? or just move all of my content over to

Tell me what you think.

This reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite films of all time Drop Dead Gorgeous

"...Mom always says, 'Don't ever eat nothin' that can carry its house around with it. Who knows the last time it's been cleaned..."

HEC RAS tools for Civil 3D

You might have read or seen that I am doing a flood plain and river class at Autodesk University.

As part of that class, I will be showing a little program that automates the export of river sections from a Civil 3D river alignment to HEC RAS, as well as importing the RAS analysis data back in.

I beta tested this program a few weeks ago and found it to be easy to use and did a great job of getting data back and forth without leaving the Civil 3D environment for the export/import. Of course, I still had to to the analysis in HEC RAS.

There is a trial version available, and I would love to get some more real world feedback on the program before I show it during my AU presentation.

So if you use Civil 3D or even Land Desktop (and are willing to try that unused Civil 3D seat!) follow this link to download the trial version.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

CAD and Coffee at Cadapult August 22

For those of you who live/work nearby,

CAD and Coffee Event at Cadapult, Ltd. in Newark, DE on
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
8:30AM to 11:30AM
No Charge
RSVP to (800) 332-9961

Speaker: Dana Breig Probert


A section of the Civil 3D 2007 for Stormwater Management Tasks presentation that I will be giving at Autodesk University

1) Creating and Analyzing a Surface to delineate your subcatchments
2) Creating parcel styles and leveraging parcel labels and tables to assist in determining Subcatchment Areas, Soil Types, Cover Types, and performing calculations.

§ Discussion of the Civil 3D Certified User Class Curriculum and Examination
§ As well as AutoCAD Certified User and Certified Expert Curricula and Examinations and Autodesk University
§ Your questions and answers
You may have heard rumblings about Autodesk finally offering Examinations so that you can prove your skills in AutoCAD and Civil 3D. We’ll talk about these exams after the main presentation.

**This will be a monthly event!! Location and Agenda will vary- so stay tuned!**

Friday, August 11, 2006

Notes from Nova Scotia

The beauty of a socialist country is that every library in every small town has wireless. The librarians here seem not to know what to do with me, but eventually we figure it out and I get a password. It is wonderful to look out at the bay and keep in touch with life back home.

The trip was great- 13 hours from Millsboro to Bar Harbor, a quick but expensive ferry ride, then a scenic jaunt up the Lighthouse Scenic Highway to Mr. P's uncles house right on the water.

We have already had a conversation about GIS- Aunt and Uncle are a retired Planner and Engineer respectively and they occupy themselves in the winter on volunteer municipal support missions, most recently to Cameroon, where Uncle and his $100 handheld GPS are singlehandedly mapping the country. So I am here at the library seeing if I can't get him a dataset or two.

Lobster is on the agenda for tomorrow as the British contingency arrives this evening.

See you around the corridor...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

You know you need a break when...

We are headed out tomorrow for a trip to Nova Scotia.

I informed Mr. Probert that I would be doing nothing but sitting in a chair, watching the ocean and eating lobster. I would NOT be running around sight seeing.

So Mr. Probert told me that I was not allowed to be an SRBM.

Apparently this is engineer code for "wet blanket".

Our trip will be wonderful- but we are meeting up with a collection of relatives that includes:
1-Urban Planner
2-Electrical Engineers
1-Nuclear Engineer
1-Concrete Manufacture
1-Construction and Building Supply professional

So as you can see, I will really "get a break from it all"

(I did check- no worries- the Yartmouth Library has WIFI)

Using Expressions and References to Help you Design with your Model

Anyone who has tried designing an intersection knows what kind of a book keeping nightmare it can be- on paper, in LDT or in Civil 3D.

This weekend, I tamed about 30 intersections in a project I was working on, and I developed a few labels to help me make sure my grades were matching and following my design intent.

I used two things that are new to Civil 3D.

1) Expressions- take object data "harvested" from Civil 3D objects and build a formula. For example, I wanted to know the design elevation at my edge of pavement based on the centerline profile elevation. So I make a label that is Profile CL Elevation- (Lane Width X Cross Slope)

2) Object References- we'll be using an Alignment Station/Offset label, but referencing two profiles, a surface and through one of the profiles some alignment information. Pretty wild.

Here it is in action:

Here is another label along the same lines to keep your profile intersections matching: