Tuesday, May 31, 2005

25 Years of Cable News

Apparently the U.S. Census Bureau has been pretty busy because they're reminding us that on June 1, 1980, Cable News Network (CNN) started its service (source).

Many critics at the time wondered if the public would really be interested in a 24-hour, nothing-but-news channel. Now we have a number of specialty channels, ranging from golf and automobiles to cooking and religion.

Twenty percent of American households had cable back in 1980; now 75 percent do.

Monday, May 30, 2005

No Speak Meow

I think I've figured out how to get Zoe to want to spend time with me: get the laptop out and do some computing:

She frequently hops on the bed, walks over to my left, looks at me, and meows. Often she puts her paw on my arm. I look at her and say, "What?" I pet her, but that doesn't seem to placate her.

Until we got her, I've not been a cat person. I don't understand Zoe's behavior that well. Our dog Jake is easier to understand. I call his name, and he comes. I tell him to go lay down, and he does. When I ask him if he wants to go for a walk, he enthusiastically responds in the affirmative, "OF COURSE I DO!" I've learned dogspeak. Catspeak will take more time, I think.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Life at the Zoo

Mood: Content
Listening to: "Taste of Cincinnati" Music Sampler
Eating: Microwave popcorn (Smart Balance brand) and Samuel Adams beer
Watching: Late Show with David Letterman

I took the day off work today so that I could go on a field trip with Keisha's class to the Cincinnati Zoo. Jennie, God love her, came along. She had worked last night and decided to join us on our zoological adventure. When I was in elementary school we took a couple of field trips, too. As I went about my day today, I found myself comparing this experience with those I had as a young student, nearly 30 years ago:

The Night Before

The night before the field trip, we would wrap a can of pop in aluminum foil and put it in the freezer overnight. Then we would pack the rest of our lunch, which consisted of a bologna sandwich on white bread with mustard, some potato chips, and maybe an apple or a banana. We'd put the frozen pop in the brown lunch bag, and, as the morning progressed, it would melt but still be cold to drink. Of course, the can would squish the sandwich, but I didn't mind.

Last night we went to Bigg's grocery store to get some lunch supplies for today. Instead of getting lunchmeat and such, we opted for the Oscar Mayer Lunchables™, which were on sale for 99 cents apiece.

The Bus Ride

I don't remember a lot about the bus rides to the zoo. I remember the bus pulling into the school entrance, and we would leave our lunches in a box that would remain on the bus until it was lunchtime. Then the teacher or another adult would bring the box to the picnic area, and we would eat.

Keisha's teacher set us up with four kids: Nathaniel, Austin, Kaylen, and Keisha. Keisha's interpreter, whose name is Miss Johnson, came along with us. We would spend the entire day together: two boys, two girls, and three adults named Johnson.

We got on the bus, and I sat with Nathaniel. As we rode the bus, he and I talked about what we looked forward to seeing at the zoo. We also talked about pets we had at home, what we liked to do in our free time, and so on.

Keisha and her friend Kaylen sat together. I think Jennie took a nap. Austin sat with Miss Johnson.

When the bus arrived at the zoo and parked, we all got out, and packed our lunches in mine, Keisha's, and Jennie's backpacks. No structure, no handouts to complete, just be back at the bus by 1:30 so that we could leave.

Making Our Way Around the Zoo

Walking around the park meant that we would be getting a lot of exercise, and I soon became aware that I needed new shoes. We went to the Cat House, the Reptile House, the Ape House (was that what it was called?), Vanishing Giants (elephants and giraffes), the Komodo Dragon, the Nocturnal House, and the Manatee area.

In between we made several trips to the restroom and stopped at the picnic area for lunch.

In the past we would go to the Insect World and also see the penguins, but we didn't have time for that today.

My favorite place today was the manatees. I was so intrigued by watching them swim around, going up ever few minutes to get air, munch on some lettuce, and otherwise have fun.

In all, it was a good time.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Season Finale Wednesday

I love season finales. I hate them, too.

Tonight I watched the season finales of 'Lost' and 'Alias', two hit dramas on ABC created by J.J. Abrams and company.

I love season finales because they reveal a lot of plot information I've been longing for throughout the season. At the same time, I hate them because of the cliffhangers and the long waiting period before I'll get to see what happens next.


J.J. Abrams and company do an excellent job with this. There I was, excited that a boat had come to rescue the group of "Lost" survivors, only to find that they wanted young Walt and blew up the raft his dad and the other three men were on! Similarly, after all the hubub going on with "Alias", the Rambaldi stuff - Sydney and Vaughn are driving along, contemplating getting married. Vaughn tells Syd that he's really a bad guy, and, before she, and we, get a chance to digest this - BAM! they're in a terrible car accident!

New Evening Classes for Men!

This important announcement was forwarded to me by the Official Mom of 'Journey Inside My Mind':


Note: due to the complexity and level of difficulty, each course will accept a maximum of eight participants.
The course covers two days, and topics covered in this course include:


Step by step guide with slide presentation
Roundtable discussion
Practicing with hamper (Pictures and graphics)
Debate among a panel of experts.
Starting with looking in the right place instead of turning the house upside down while screaming. - Open forum


Group discussion and role play
PowerPoint presentation
Real life testimonial from the one man who did
Driving simulation
Online class and role playing
Relaxation exercises, meditation and breathing techniques
Bring your calendar or PDA to class
Individual counselors available

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A Little Subdued at Work

Mood: a little bit subdued
Listening to: Bob and Tom Show

Over the past few weeks, a lot of unfortunate things have been happening, either at the workplace or in my coworkers' personal lives: Pretty heavy stuff. I don't really have much more to say about it right now, except to direct you to Letters to God: Please help my coworkers.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Sith Happens

Mood: Upbeat
Watching: Seinfeld on the WB 64

Getting Out

Last night I wanted to do something nice with Keisha, and Jennie happened to mention that she'd called in sick. Therefore if we went out, we wouldn't need to be back so that Jennie could have the car:

Since Jennie had been inside all day, I decided to take them to see "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith". The movie has some great lessons about the subtle temptation to do evil, along with its consequences.

(May 23 Update: My comments on the IMDB.com message board for Revenge of the Sith have been approved. See "Money and Time Well Spent".)

This morning we had a good quiet time together about Ephesians 6:1-3, which talks about children honoring their parents. We learned that to honor means to show respect, which means to take someone seriously.

And now, for the gross part

To change the subject, Jennie, Keisha, and I have had a rough past couple days. Specifically, our sinuses have been acting up. Jennie has had it the worst, coughing up a lot of phlegm. Keisha sounded like she was wheezing as she slept.

As for me, I've been prone to nosebleeds. Bloody snot. That would be a good name for a punk rock band, wouldn't it?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

When Staying Up Late Isn't So Bad

Mood: eager
Listening to: 'Alias' on ABC
Watching: 'Alias' on ABC

In less than two hours I will be sitting in a movie theater with a bunch of other crazy Star Wars fans, watch Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Now is a great opportunity to talk about that and some great developments at work:

Heading To the Big Show

I had ordered my tickets via MovieTickets.com earlier today, and, on the way home, I stopped by the movie theater to pick them up. I had not been at the Cincinnati Mills mall for such a long time. The last time I had spent any considerable time there, it was still called Forest Fair Mall.

I could barely recognize the inside of the place, and I needed help finding where the movie theater was. I followed some signs as I drove, and eventually I got to the top of a parking garage and went inside.

I asked someone for directions, and he steered me in the right direction. I walked up to the box office and picked up my tickets. Because of the large anticipated crowd, they've already got a special area cordoned off for us moviegoers.

Jennie and Keisha are already asleep, and I'm feeling a bit tired from staying up late last night. I'll have to pick up an energy drink or two before I head to the theater. I may get some popcorn and a soda, too.

At Least the Commute Will Be Lighter

Fortunately, I'm going to be working closer to home tomorrow. My employer has an office here in Cincinnati, and, while it's been used more as a sales office, from time to time, people will work out of there.

I'm looking forward to being able to work part of the week, not having to drive so far to work. Jennie is off work tonight and tomorrow, so she'll be able to have the car tomorrow after she drops me off.

The Force Will Be With You

Mood: giddy

It feels like Christmas Eve. I got my tickets to see Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith for the 12:05 am showing. The only reason I'm able to go is that my wife Jennie has the night off. It's not her kind of movie, and it's definitely not a movie for my 7 year old daughter.

It will be interesting to see if anyone arrives in costume. I wouldn't be surprised.

The excitement and anticipation is making work a little bit distracting, but I'll press through it. My boss and I are going to head to the Cincinnati office this afternoon, and it looks like I'll be able to work from there for part of the work week.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Open Letter to the Meterologist

Mood: cold and a little congested
Listening to: K-LOVE

Dear Mr. and Ms. Meteorologist:

I realize that we're not supposed to shoot the messenger, but could we - please? This has been the coldest spring I can think of. Not only that, but we've been getting teased with warm weather one week and cold weather the next.

Everyone in my family has some sort of sinus-related congestion/nasal drip.



Dan Johnson, Jr.

Open Letter to Our Cat

Dear Zoe:

Jennie, Keisha, Jake, and I are all pleased to have you live in our home and be our cat. We would, however, like to clarify something with you.

For the most part, we are awake when it is daylight outside. We have noticed that you prefer to spend this time underneath the bed located in mine and Jennie's room.

As it becomes night, you come out from under the bed and expect us to pet you. Night time is when we usually sleep. Please don't get upset, therefore, when we decide to nudge you off the bed.

If you want our affection we suggest that you adjust your schedule to better reflect our lifestyle. Jake, our somewhat neurotic dog, was able to do that after about one month, so you're definitely on track.

Also, we've never had a cat before, so we cannot be expected to understand the varied meanings of "Meow". Please bear with us.


The Johnson Family

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Butterfly-shaped Highway Interchanges

I have a dream that one day there will be no such thing as butterfly-shaped interchanges:

To say the least, it's dangerous because vehicles are merging in opposite directions.

Here's an aerial photo of one at I-275 and I-75 in the Cincinnati area.

Here's one of I-75 and I-70, which is being reconstructed to a safer design (see I70-I75 Interchange Project).

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Bad Grammar Begets Griping

One of my pet peeves lately is poor written grammar. While I tend to be more tolerant when English is not the primary language, I don't have a lot of mercy, however, for my fellow Americans; specifically, those who live in the metropolitan area where I live (emphasis added):

  1. On July 11, 2003, I posted a picture showing a sign at a drugstore that reads:"We now EXCEPT the Ohio Direction card"
  2. About a month ago, someone in management from the apartment complex where we live sent us a note, alleging that our dog had defecated on a neighbor's welcome MATT.
  3. Over the weekend I stopped at a Shell gas station and spotted this note on the back of a cash register: "Now EXCEPTING applications".
  4. Yesterday our apartment complex left us a note, stating that our parking lots are going to be resealed and restriped. During that time, the note stated, parking "will not be PER METED" in the areas in question.
Perhaps these people should obtain a copy of the "Vocabulary Builder-Upper", as heard on the Bob and Tom Show.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Not Expecting THAT Kind of Support

I've heard it said that, when you read a fortune from a fortune cookie, you're supposed to add the words "in bed" to it:

That's why, for a long time, I couldn't stop laughing after reading the fortune I'd gotten yesterday. Remember to add the words "in bed" at the end.

Rules for Household Living

I first obtained this list when I was in college. At the time I had four other roommates. Now that I've been married, it applies to how I live with my wife and daughter. The cat and dog, too, perhaps:

Based on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

  1. I am patient with you because I love you and want to forgive you.
  2. I am kind to you because I love you and want to help you.
  3. I do not envy your possessions or gifts because I love you and want you to have the very best!
  4. I do not boast about my attainments because I love you and want to hear about yours!
  5. I am not proud because I love you and want to esteem you before myself.
  6. I am not rude because I love you and care about your feelings.
  7. I am not self-seeking because I love you and want to meet your needs.
  8. I am not easily angered by you because I love you and want to overlook your offenses.
  9. I don't keep a record of your wrongs because I love you and "Love covers a multitude of sins".
Above all, love each other deeply - 1 Peter 4:8

Monday, May 09, 2005

Another Manic Monday

Mood: hungry
Listening to: K-LOVE

Mondays at my company are always hectic because that's when payroll processing begins. What makes it challenging for me, as a programmer, is that I have to be available to troubleshoot problems with applications I've written that are used to automate payroll entry into our system.

In most cases, it just takes less than an hour to diagnose and fix the problem. Today, however, is different. We have one client who has decided to change things around on the file they've sent us:

I made the changes to the application, but the business was not ready to handle the exception messages. This new layout has uncovered mistakes that client has made, as well as mistakes made on our (the business's) end.

My job is not to necessarily tell the business how to handle these; it's really just to interpret it for them.

At the same time, I'm trying to finish testing another application for a client who will be sending their payroll within the next few hours.

Friday, May 06, 2005

How Not to Honor Mothers

As we in the United States get ready for Mother's Day this coming Sunday, let's consider this:

My Mom mentioned today a story about a junior in high school who was suspended for talking on his cell phone to his Mom, who is currently serving in Iraq.

Is this the lesson the school system is trying to teach our children?

Is this the message that the school system is trying to convey? Can't they be a bit lenient in this case?

I'm outraged.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

VSP: Very Special Post 2005

Because I can, I've created a post with the following date/timestamp:

05/05/05 05:05

There's gotta be something significant about that. Not just that it's Cinco de Mayo.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Golden Silence Around Our Home

It's been kinda quiet around our home for the past few days:

Jennie has had laryngitis since Saturday afternoon. As we were shopping on Sunday afternoon, Keisha remarked that she felt like she was losing her voice.

"I can only hope," I said to Jennie, jokingly.

In order to communicate, Jennie has had to use sign language. When we were driving on Sunday, I couldn't watch her and the road at the same time - contrary to what you might think. We had Keisha, who is hard-of-hearing, interpret so that I could concentrate on the road. It wound up be pretty effective.

Now, as Jennie's voice is returning, she's sounding like Don Vito Corleone from "The Godfather". When she calls, she says stuff like, "I need $600 under the table, or you'll need to get ready for the 24/7 dirt nap."

Monday, May 02, 2005


This comic strip web site is spoofing the Star Wars saga over the next few weeks. Here's where it started (apr 18) http://yirmumah.net/?date=20050418


Becoming a Cat Person

Mood: Upbeat
Listening to:Positive and Encouraging K-LOVE
Eating: Dannon Light 'n Fit blueberry yogurt

Zoe is gradually getting used to her new home:

She and Jake are learning more about each other, too. More than anything, I think it's curiosity on both sides. Jake probably just wants to play, and that's why he's probably wondering why Zoe is underneath our bed.

Jennie and Keisha wooed her out yesterday with a can of tuna fish. She loved that.

This sounds weird as I type it, but we're looking forward to when she uses her litterbox. I think that we're eager for her to use it because we don't want her to go anywhere else.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Mother's Day 2005

Mother's Day in the US is Sunday, May 8, 2005. The US Census Bureau has released some facts for us to ponder:


The first Mother's Day observance was a church service in 1908 requested by Anna Jarvis, of Philadelphia, to honor her deceased mother. Jarvis, at an early age, had heard her mother express hope that a day to commemorate all mothers would be established. Her mother had also expressed the sentiment that there were many days dedicated to men but none to mothers. Two years after her mother's death, Jarvis and friends began a letter-writing campaign to declare a national Mother's Day observance to honor mothers. In 1914, Congress passed legislation designating the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day.


82.5 million -- Estimated number of mothers of all ages in the United States. (From unpublished Survey of Income and Program Participation data.)

68 percent -- Percentage of women in Mississippi, ages 15 to 44, who are mothers. This is among the highest rates among states. The national average is 56 percent. link

82 percent -- Percentage of women 40 to 44 years old who are mothers. In 1976, 90 percent of women in that age group were mothers. See link


Only about 10 percent of women today end their childbearing years with four or more children. That compares with 36 percent in 1976. See link

2 -- Average number of children that women today can expect to have in their lifetime. See link

3 -- Average number of children that women in Utah and Alaska can expect to have in their lifetime. These two states top the nation in average number of births per woman. See link


23,094 -- Number of florists nationwide in 2002. The florists' 119,117 employees will be especially busy preparing, selling and delivering floral arrangements for Mother's Day. See link

The flowers bought for mom probably were grown in California or Colombia. Among the 36 surveyed states, California was the leading provider of cut flowers in 2003, accounting for more than two-thirds of the domestic production ($306 million out of $425 million) in those states. Meanwhile, the value of U.S. imports of cut flowers and fresh flower buds in 2004 from Colombia, the leading foreign supplier to the United States, was more than $385 million. See link and link

$5 billion -- Revenue of greeting-card publishers nationwide in 2002. The 15,859 employees of the 119 greeting-card publishing companies are especially busy creating Mother's Day greeting cards. See link


4.0 million -- Number of women who have babies each year. Of this number, about 425,000 are teens ages 15 to 19, and more than 100,000 are age 40 or over. See link

25.1 -- Average age of women when they give birth for the first time -- a record high. The average age has risen nearly four years since 1970. See link

40 percent -- Percentage of births that are the mother's first. Another 32 percent are the second-born; 17 percent, third; and 11 percent, fourth or more. See link

35,000 -- Number of births in 2002 attended by physicians, midwives or others that do not occur in hospitals. See link

1-in-32 -- The odds of a woman delivering twins. Her odds of having triplets or other multiple births was approximately 1-in-540. See link

August-- The most popular month in which to have a baby, with 359,000 births taking place that month in 2002. July, with 358,000, was just a shade behind. See link

Tuesday -- The most popular day of the week in which to have a baby, with an average of almost 13,000 births taking place on Tuesdays during 2002. See link


5.4 million -- Number of stay-at-home moms in 2003. Thirty-nine percent of these mothers were under the age of 35. See link

55 percent -- Among mothers with infant children in 2002, the percentage in the labor force, down from a record 59 percent in 1998. This marks the first significant decline in this rate since the Census Bureau began calculating this measure in 1976. In that year, 31 percent of mothers with infants were in the labor force. See link

63 percent -- Among college-educated women with infant children, the percentage in the labor force. See link

Among mothers between ages 15 and 44 who do not have infants, 72 percent are in the labor force. See link

More than 687,000 -- Number of child day-care centers across the country in 2002. These include nearly 69,000 centers employing close to 750,000 workers and another 618,000 self-employed persons or other companies without paid employees. Many mothers turn to these centers to help juggle motherhood and career. See link

About 2 million -- Among more than 10 million preschoolers, the number who are cared for in a day-care center during the bulk of their mother's working hours. See link


10 million -- The number of single mothers living with children under 18 years old, up from 3 million in 1970. See link