Sunday, December 30, 2007

I resolve...

I finally have a chance to sit down and crank out some work- but before I do, I wanted to jot down my New Year's Resolutions.

I resolve to...

...always read National Geographic cover to cover instead of just flipping through and looking at animal pictures then putting it on the shelf.

...stop buying pre-formed cookie dough for eating as a snack.

...only submit ONE Autodesk University class this year- and not get talked into submitting additional classes no matter how appealing the subjects may sound except if they sound really appealing and incredibly difficult to prepare.

...turn in my Autodesk University Class papers in on time.

...never buy anything because it is easier to buy it new than to dig in the attic for the one I already have.

...not to make a full pot of coffee when I know I will only drink one cup.

...never "accidentally" turn two pages at a time when reading an especially wordy book to Panorama. at least one smart book every month, even if it has words in it that I don't understand- such as "moderation", "sleep", and "vacation". Also, I will not skip any chapters in said smart books.**

...get off my butt and get my P.E. done in October. Mr. Probert got his last year, and as of today, he has finished his Masters in Civil Engineering (!). The ball is in my court, and after 10 years, I think it's about time I got the dang thing out of the way.

Happy New Year!!!

**So, I read Atlas Shrugged in college, but I skipped about 20 pages in the middle. You know, that long, boring and irrelevant soliloquy of a radio address that Galt does about 3/4 of the way through? Yeah, well, I read about 3 pages of it, decided that I got the point (blah blah objectivism, self-reliance, the meaning of life and the free market blah blah) and moved on hoping for some more sexual tension between Dagny and Galt, or Dagny and Reardon, or Dagny and the Railroad. If I happen to mention this fact to any die hard Rand fans, they look at me with so much disgust that I am tempted to reread the book and actually pay attention. But with so much Shopaholic and Jessica Darling to read, who has the time? Laissez-faire literacy, that's what I say.


Today I am listening to Winter Songs from iTunes Essentials Apple iTunes

Friday, December 28, 2007


After all, he is half Canadian...

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hope You Had a Great Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Panorama, Prospector and all of us Proberts.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Dinner Chez Probert

I've managed to close Civil 3D for a few hours (but of course I didn't shut down my computer). I need a break from raiding the household appliances for batteries as we put together this year's slog of toys. Steal from the smoke detector, flashlights and emergency radios, but leave those AAA in the remote alone!

Since Mr. Probert and I have long stopped traveling back to our respective homes for Christmas, we have become a Mecca of sorts for reveling grandparents and vagabond younger siblings.

The first crowd comes with white kid gloves for baseboard inspections and expectations of appetizers, wine glasses and placemats. My napkin rings better'd be in good order, and the tree'd best have ornaments on the visible side AND the side facing the wall. Right before the doorbell rings I employ the trick my father taught me as a child "Look at the tree and squint. If you see any gaps in light, you need to do some rearranging."

The second group is a little more forgiving. My office becomes a flophouse upon the addition of a few aerobeds and quickly fills up with laptops, musical instruments, polar fleece, hoodies and sneakers.

Our job is to keep the fridge packed with beer, bagels and brie (no cream cheese for this crowd) and to present the visiting relatives with a pair of smiling youngin' s for kissing and tossing in the air.

We are usually spared visitors on Christmas Day itself, but this year, I volunteered to cook dinner for my parents and one of my younger brothers. Though I am 31 years old and have been living on my own for over 10 years now, and I have hosted holiday meals for my in-laws on several occasions, my mother is thoroughly convinced that I am incapable of preparing a meal more complicated than the Blue Box. She offered to take us out for Christmas Dinner, but we live in the middle of Hell's Half Acre, and even his restaurant is closed for the birth of Christ.

While I make no promises to be the Ritz Carlton, I think we'll have a heck of a nice dinner with minimal fuss. In case you are still trying to figure out what to serve for dinner- here is my menu:

Cream of Beet Soup with Sour Cream, Parsley and Croutons

Rib Eye Roast with Mustard and Black Pepper (pg 269)

Brussels Sprouts with Garlic and Parmesean (pg 236)

Crock Pot Au Gratin Potatoes

Steamed Asparagus

and my Mom is bringing some sort of Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake, which she claims has been more work than preparing an entire Christmas dinner and if it doesn't taste good she's going to be PISSED.

Back to battery pilfering... and coffee with Baileys so I can stay awake to meet Santa but be too drunk to remember...

Merry Christmas to All!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Civil 3D Rocks Christmas Mix

Our favorite tunes for the Holiday Season.

Civil 3D Rocks Christmas iMix

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Millsboro Public Library Thanks You for Your Support

So a few people have asked me "What's the deal with the ads on your blog?"

Well, it's an experiment.

At first I thought it would be nice if Civil 3D Rocks generated enough revenue to pay the loan on my farm every month (approx $1200 per month). When that didn't happen, I thought well maybe it can generate enough revenue to pay my mortgage (approx. $800 per month). Hmm. OK, no dice there. Car payment? No. Groceries? Nyet. Then how much money could I make from ad revenue on Rocks?

What could it possibly pay for?

This week, I figured out what your clicks can help me with...

Around Halloween, Pannie and I made our weekly trip to the library and borrowed this book:

It's one of those books that kids latch on to that adults HATE from the first reading. I couldn't have been gladder to get it the heck out of my house two weeks later.

A few days hence, I check my library account online and see that I haven't actually returned Porkenstein. Dang it. There must be a mistake. I returned every one of those stupid books, right? We had a similar experience with an equally annoying book (Time to Pee!). The librarian "tsk tsk"ed me while looking up over her spectacles-on-a-chain and accused me of setting a bad example for my daughter. Not only was I harboring illegal children's books but she knew for a fact that the week before Mr. Probert had the audacity to attempt to use my library card instead of his own. I was extremely pregnant at the time, so I waddled over to the shelf and located the craptastic piece of literature, then in an act of extreme irony, I shuffled off to the bathroom. I foresaw a similar confrontation in my future over Porkenstein.

In early October, Mr. Probert had set up our two man tent in the backyard so that he and Pannie could have a last few camp outs. Time passed and things got busy and the tent just stayed pitched long after it was too cold for sleeping bags and ghost stories.

Well, last week he finally packed the tent away. And guess what was inside? Freakin' Porkenstein .

So... Google Ads earn me about $0.10 per day which is equal to the daily rate for delinquent books at the Millsboro Public Library. Thanks to Civil 3D Rocks, I can thumb my nose at due dates once and for all. At least for one book at a time.

Friday, December 14, 2007

My Dad Would Have Stopped for Directions Sooner

I grew up outside of Philadelphia. While Philadelphia is not exactly in the snow belt, we are no stranger to the winter storm. Every winter, there would be a few big snowfalls. While our parents taught us how to drive in the snow, the typical response to such a storm was "Just stay off the roads". Schools would be closed, Dad would go into work late, and there really wasn't much to worry about since the roads would be clear in about 24 hours and it would be a good few weeks before the next big storm.

When I moved to Edmonton, I soon learned that this approach would not be appropriate. By Halloween it was -20 degrees Celsius with a foot of snow on the ground. There really wasn't much plowing done- the natives told me this was because though Edmonton received vast drifting volumes of the white stuff, it was "Friendly Snow", which I could only imagine was some sort of socialist snow that always said please and thank you.

And so that first winter in Alberta, I learned this: If you don't figure out how to get around in the snow, you won't be going anywhere for a long time. So you buy some serious boots and a serious hat and you never lose you gloves and you plug in your car and you get over it. There is no use commenting on the snow piling up outside the office window, because it ain't like you are going to be allowed to leave early. Kids go to school, trick or treat and show up for cub scouts during blizzards that would have had my family sitting around the fireplace in our pajamas for days.

After the birth of Panorama, I saw that this axiom applied to children as well. If I didn't figure out how to transport one squealing little person from point A to point B, I would never have a reason to put on makeup. Or to bathe for that matter. With the arrival of Prospector, the lesson was driven home even further. With Panorama, it was nice to get out of the house once in awhile and do some shopping or eat a meal. With Prospector, it has become a necessity. Pannie has to be driven to her samba lessons and her metal shop class. She would notice if we never went to the beach anymore or ask why she hasn't seen her Grandmother in a few years.

With Panorama, I hated my giant stroller and never took it anywhere. Or, mostly, I didn't take it because I had to completely dismantle it in order for it to fit in the trunk of my Toyota Echo. I looked on in disgust as other mothers pushed land yachts around the mall knocking over clothing stands as they balanced their lattes and razers in the cupholder-organizer trays. I wore birkenstocks and carried Pannie in a sling and knew that the pain in my shoulder was not really pain but the pride of doing parenting right.

This time, it's a little different.

Once Mr. Probert went back to work and the hordes of relatives scattered back to distant lands, it was just Me and Them. A pouty, sassy three year old with nap-denial and seemingly random potty requirements and a writhing, red-faced, screaming, nocturnal and super sized newborn who seemed to have read the "Book of Baby Panorama" and decided to do everything TOTALLY OPPOSITE of what she did just to keep me guessing and my mind sharp. Better than Soduku.

So I bought a serious mini-van with a serious DVD player. I keep the rear seats stowed so that I can wheel my stroller into the back of the van without even folding it let alone dismantling it. I'm not ashamed to plow through the mall with it now, in fact, I'd love to add on to it with a sidecar or maybe a dorm fridge. I've stopped packing suitcases (to much trouble) and now I just put all of our clothes and gear into a few laundry baskets.

So when Mr. Probert had some work in D.C. this week, I said "Count Us In!" and packed up the posse for some fun at the National Zoo.

D.C. and I have an arrangement. I refuse to use GPS or look at a map, and in return, it always allows me to wind up where I need to be. Eventually. I actually love driving in D.C. After my first experience of getting lost and almost causing a 10 car pile up around DuPont circle, I started chalking up my steering wheel and leaving really early. The streets of D.C. sing a Siren's Song of Alphabet, State Names and Numbers that lull you into a dreamlike state and you start believing that there is a structured grid system for the roads. Combine that with the spun sugar cherry blossoms, the sidewalk cafes and the charming Georgetown architecture and you're in such a haze don't even care that your gauge is below empty and not only are there no gas stations but no place to stop, period.

I've never driven around D.C. with kids in the car, but such a thought didn't cross my mind as I took a cursory glance at Google maps in the hotel before leaving. I actually said to Mr. Probert "30 minutes to go 13.8 miles? Whatever." I get everyone buckled in and shove off.

If purgatory is a place on Earth, it's where US-50 turns into New York Avenue. One minute you are cruising along a perfectly attractive limited access highway... then you are slamming on the brakes into a brick wall of jersey barriers, all day traffic and no left turns. Since I didn't think to jot down the directions, I couldn't remember if I was supposed to make a right turn or a left turn on Florida Avenue. When I get to Florida Avenue, I notice that you can't turn left, therefore the directions must have said turn right but I realize this in the middle of the intersection and hang a sharp left into a McDonald's parking lot where I manage to get back on New York Avenue going the opposite direction with no U-Turns in sight.

At this moment, Prospector decides that he didn't get enough at the all you can eat breakfast buffet and begins WAILING. So I make my next possible right turn into a bank parking lot, stop the car and feed him. As I am feeding him, I notice that we don't seem to be in a "bad" neighborhood... but it's some sort of Import Warehouse district. Then, a few police cars pull up. About 12 officers get out, put on reflective vests that say "POLICE" and huddle up into some sort of conference. I watch enough of the Closer to know that they'd be wearing vests, helmets and shields if some sort of shakedown was in effect, and I feel confident knowing I am probably in the safest place in all of the DC Metro Area since every cop in the city is right here.

I finish feeding him, strap him in and take off for another shot at Florida Avenue. Florida turns into U. No problems so far. The zoo is on Connecticut Ave. I pass Vermot. New Hampshire. Massachusetts, Rhode Island. I MUST be getting close- I'm in New England After all. Then I miss a turn, wind up back on Florida and begin my ritual "hunt for a way back". I apply Philadelphia logic "If this road is one way this way, the next will be one way the other way, and I can just make a square..." then SWOOSH, I somehow slingshot through a traffic circle, change lanes to avoid a kamikaze Metrobus and start passing California, Wyoming, Ontario... Now I'm not even in the right country.

Turning mistakes in D.C. are cumulative and you can almost hear the sound effects of a pinball machine as you drive. Ping! DuPont Circle! Slam! Logan Circle. Zonk! Mount Vernon Square. Blam! Road closings for some sort of March for a Cause. Game Over! Each circle with a park or center feature so attractive it seems like it was put there on purpose to distract you from the microscopic road signs, pedestrians licking ice cream cones and "right turn only" pavement markings that forcibly direct you into a mire of alphabet soup and "NW" avenues vs. "SW" streets. "Look kids! Big Ben! Parliament!"


I wind up on the wrong side of the Rock Creek. Or maybe the Potomac.


Pannie has long since given up asking when we will be there to see the Pandas and she is looking a bit green from all of the spinning. "Mommy, why does the car feel like it just tipped over?" "Remember, Pannie, a U-Turn is only illegal when there is a sign that says so." I seek out the minivan compass for advice but it returns only a Sad Mac. Desperate for some solution, I trust my inner GIS and get myself back over whichever body of water I crossed and begin looking for a gas station or a starbucks or a paralell parking spot where I can front-in (not very good at parking this monster yet) and just as I am about to give up, Pannie screams "I SEE Z-O-O".

So Google Maps needs to revise their time estimate to from 30 minutes to 74 minutes. And someone needs to get me a car GPS for Christmas.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Other things that ROCK

If you don't watch this show, you must start immediately.
NBC has the best streaming episode viewer out there (and trust me, I watch a lot of streaming TV these days while up late feeding the baby) and you can also download episodes to watch offline.

Looking for a Civil 3D book? Check out Mastering AutoCAD Civil 3D 2008