We are a flu-ridden family. I came down with it last Sunday. Helen and Katrina started showing symptoms on Thursday just as I was starting to feel better. Runny nose, aching, and prolonged fever (mine was four days) are the main symptoms. This is not an illness you want.

Elena, who got her flu shot a few months ago, has been perfectly fine. Helen tried to get Katrina vaccinated at another time, but they had run out before she arrived.

How to raise, then dash, a friend's hopes

I’m a software developer at Autodesk. I’ve worked on Inventor since around 2003 (give or take a year).

One decent way to judge a company is to look at how likely its employees are to refer friends and family. Me? I’ve referred three people over the past few years. One person didn’t have the right skill set for the open position, another had to take another job because of time constraints (the company gave him an absurdly short amount of time to accept their offer and he didn’t have enough time to shop around), and the third … ah, the third.

The third is a good friend of mine. (Wait, that’s not quite right. He stood in our wedding. He’s godfather to one of our daughters, for cryin’ out loud. That’s beyond “good friend”.) And I thought he would be abso-friggin’-lutely perfect for a position Autodesk has just created.

Well, to make a long story short, his current employer told him no. Why should that matter, you ask? Apparently his employer has some sort of secret agreement with Autodesk where Autodesk won’t hire their employees. Unless they give permission, that is.

So he asked for permission.

They denied it.

But that’s not all! They also said that because they now knew about his desire to work at Autodesk, if he quit, they’d contact Autodesk and make sure he wouldn’t get hired there for a year.


Below 190

189.6 pounds. I’ve lost around 34 pounds!

Hidden features in digital alarm clock radios

When I was younger — I’m not sure how young, though I’m certain it was before high school — I was intrigued by my digital alarm clock radio. It was the kind where pressing the “Sleep” button turned on the radio and displayed 0:59 as long as you held the button. It would play for 59 minutes, then shut off automatically.

Back then, I discovered the following features:

  • If I held “Sleep” down, then pressed the “Hour” button, it changed to 1:59. If I pressed “Minute”, it would decrement the minutes. Thus, it was possible to set it to play for, say, ten minutes, then shut off.
  • Holding down “Alarm” and pressing “Sleep” button would display the last digit of the minutes and the seconds. Holding “Minute” would cause the seconds to stop. Each press of “Hour” would reset the seconds to zero, and if the seconds were 30 or greater, it would increment the minutes. Thus, it was possible to set the clock exactly and resynchronize it when necessary.
  • Pressing both “Hour” and “Minute” while holding down “Alarm” reset the alarm time to midnight.

The software in these clocks must be available on a standard chip somewhere, because the clock in Elena’s room and the Dora the Explorer clock in Katrina’s room have the same features.

UPDATE: There is a common chip! Actually, several manufacturers make chips with these features. The NTE NTE2062 [35k PDF], the Sanyo LM8560B [789k PDF], the UTC LM8560 [92k PDF], and the TI TMS3450NL have these features listed on their data sheets.

Back from Děčín

By the way, I’m back from Děčín. The trip was uneventful, which I believe is a synonym for “successful” when it comes to international travel.

Facts about Mr. Bear

Here are some facts about Katrina’s teddy bear, Mr. Bear.

  • Mr. Bear is a Ty Pluffie called Slumbers.
  • Mr. Bear was purchased by John McKenzie, a friend of Brad’s, and given to Helen and Brad at Katrina’s baby shower. (John was Brad’s manager at TPI and is now part owner of Majority Controls LLC.)
  • When she was still learning to talk, Katrina gave Mr. Bear the first name “Beebeebee”, pronounced [βi βi ˈβiː] in IPA. Pronouncing it “bee-bee-BEE” or “vee-vee-VEE” is close, though using voiced bilabial fricatives (a sound between a ‘b’ and a ‘v’) is better.
  • Some of Mr. Bear’s friends and family, originally purchased as possible Mr. Bear stand-ins, have the same first name as Mr. Bear. (Brad: “Hey, you sat on Beebeebee!” Katrina: “No, that’s Beebeebee’s friend, Beebeebee.”)
  • According to Katrina, Mr. Bear is a girl, though masculine and feminine pronouns are often used interchangeably.
(Comment from the old site:)

Will the "real" Mr Bear please stand up?

I think Mr Bear’s CURRENT picture should be displayed as well, for comparison purposes.

Coming this fall (sometime around October 5, 2007)

(On the old site, there was a countdown to October 5, 2007 here.)

Helen's Blog

“Now how does the baby get inside the Mommy’s tummy?” — Katrina

So, as Katrina was feeling a bit artsy and decided to draw a picture of me she asked, “Now how does the baby get inside the Mommy’s tummy?”

I told her some cells had to get together and grow. She seemed satisfied with that. Phew!