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.