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28 January 2007

About the Blogger

UPDATE 2015-03-30

So I posted this 7 years ago.  It's very out of date but I'm going to keep here for historical reasons.  Critical updates

  • I'm not a Coldfusion Programmer anymore, I do a lot of SQL and some .NET in my role as an IT manager in the Office of University Development at the University of North Carolina @ C hapel Hill.
  • I'm not 30-something anymore. =)
  • I still live in Apex.  I guess that's worth mentioning!
  • Most of my open source projects are long abandoned.

And now, here's the historical stuff...


A few months ago, Charlie Arehart (many of you know him from the Coldfusion Developer's Journal, New Atlanta, and others) emailed me and suggested that my blog (and all blogs) need some kind of "About the Blogger" page.  Well Charlie, I've finally gotten around to writing one.  And since I have numerous blogs, I'll just post one here and link to it from my owner blogs.

Evolution of a Programmer

My name is Rick Root.  I'm a 30 something coldfusion programmer, and I've been doing the CFML thing since late 1997.  Back in those days, I was unhappily doing software QA for a company in Ann Arbor, Michigan, called ArborText, doing FOSI development for their SGML editor package, ADEPT Editor.  I hated it, but it was my first job where I was really in the IT industry.

You see, I've been a computer nerd pretty much all my life, starting with a Commodore Pet in 1977, and continuing on with the Commodore 64, and the Commodore Amiga before making the jump to the PC world in 1994.  Even then I think I really went to Linux first before giving up and jumping to Windows 95 when it arrived (I never really used Windows 3.1).

But I digress.  Anyway, although I had a lot of computer skills, and I even did some BASIC programming on the old C64, it never really occurred to me to go to school for computer science.  In high school, I was taking graphic arts classes, and I enjoyed printing - that is, the art of putting ink on a substrate.  I enjoyed it, and it was something that could be a career.  I knew what I wanted to major in before my senior year in high school even started, and I never wavered.  I only applied to one school.  Western Michigan University had a highly respected printing program (and in fact is the only university where you can bring in wood chips and take out a printed product, as they also have a paper science and engineering program that includes a real papermaking pilot plant).

I did take some computer science courses while I was there, intending to get a minor in computer science.  I did fine until I took the C class and couldn't handle pointers, so I dropped the class before the deadline, and that was the end of that.

Life after college was not really very exciting.  I took a job doing cost estimating for a book printer in Chelsea, Michigan (just out side of Ann Arbor) in 1995.  At the same time, when I moved back to Ann Arbor, I got my first "ISP" which offered me the ability to have a home page.  I bought an HTML book and used by graphic design and layout skills to make myself a website.  At the time I was also a fan of a variety of local bands, so eventually I made some fan pages for those bands, and one of them found my page and emailed me.  I had my first "client" and although they didn't pay me, it gave me an opportunity to create my first REAL web site, www.fatamy.com.  The lead singer was Bob Guiney, that you may know as The Bachelor (season 4), but this was way back in 1996.

Anyway, I realized that web development was something I wanted to do, and I enjoyed doing it, so I eventually quit my job at ArborText and started doing freelance web design with some friends who had started their own company doing the same thing.  in late 1997, they asked me to look into this Coldfusion product, because I had told them that doing major database development work in Perl was difficult and time consuming.  Plus, I wasn't very good at CGI scripting yet.  So I downloaded the trial of Coldfusion 3.1 and within 3 hours I'd found the product that I was going to use to build my career.

Unfortunately, the freelancing thing didn't work out, so I started looking for a real job.  I didn't have any "real" experience, at least not working for a real company.  I interviewed for a few positions in Ann Arbor but nothing really came through, and my new wife allowed me to expand my search to North Carolina.  North Carolina had a booming tech industry, and was a great job market for her too since she was a research scientist doing virus research.  I landed my first job as a real web developer, doing Coldfusion programming for Micromass Communications in Cary, NC.  They're still around, which is ironic because I left them thinking that they weren't going to make it, and the company I went to after that went bankrupt.  Go figure.

Over the years, I've dabbled in other languages, like Java, PHP, and even Python.  But I don't like doing any of that other stuff.

More about present day me

So I live in Apex, NC with my wife Adrienne.  Our 10 year anniversary is in July, and we have a beautiful daughter named Emily who just turned 5.  When we moved here in 1998, my sister lived here as well, and we'd been down to visit a few times.  But 3 or 4 years ago, my mom and dad moved here from Michigan, and so did my other sister and her family (from Florida).  So my whole clan is back together, 700 miles south-southeast of our original location (near Ann Arbor, Michigan).

I'm a big sports fan.  I grew up loving Michigan football and Tigers baseball, and I still do.  But over the last 5 years, I've also really grown to love hockey.  My team is the Carolina Hurricanes, who won the Stanley Cup last year.  Yes, I was there, and yes it was awesome.  They've actually played in the Stanley Cup Finals twice.  They lost to Detroit back in 2001, and they beat Edmonton last year.

I'm also overweight, but working on doing something about that.  If you read my blog, you'll notice a lot of diet updates.  I'm 20 pounds into a 70 pound weight loss program where I'm hoping to weigh about 200 by my birthday, which is July 24.  I've got 48 pounds to go.

My web sites

In addition to my personal web site at www.rickroot.com, I also maintain a blog for my open source projects called www.opensourcecf.com, and another for my thoughts on the Carolina Hurricanes at www.thecaniac.com.  My freelancing work is done under the name www.webworksllc.com.

In addition to those, I also run www.cfmbb.org for my coldfusion message board software, and www.blogcfm.org, which is the home page for my coldfusion blogging software.

I'm a chronic domain registerer.  Is that a word?  I often register domains based on ideas that I'm never able to spend enough time on, like www.banphonebooks.com, intending to be a petition type web site to ban the practice of sending printed phone books to people who don't specifically ask for them.  I once built a parody web site where you could complete an offer, refer 5 friends, and get a free asian girlfriend (a parody of the freeipod.com type web sites)

The Coldfusion Community

I regularly attend CFUNITED in Washington DC, and I'm a regular participant of the cf-community and cf-talk mailing lists at the House of Fusion.

If you are attending CFUNITED 2007, please look me up and say hi!

Posted by rickroot at 11:31 AM | Link | 14 comments

Developer Persona

Tim Buntell, a prominent coldfusion blogger, recently started talking about what the typical coldfusion developer is on his blog.  I thought I'd post my own "developer persona" (since I saw Joe Rinehart doing it too).

  • 34 years old
  • Married for 9 years, has a 5 year old daughter named Emily who he's trying to convince that hockey is the world's greatest sport.
  • Drives a 2005 Mazda3, but only because his 2002 Ford F-150 Supercrew gets crappy gas mileage.
  • Bought his second house two years ago, a typical two story in a nice neighborhood that has a pool and a swim team (not the house, the neighborhood). There's more IKEA furniture in it than non IKEA furniture. 
  • Likes the "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" tv commercials, but still uses a PC.
  • Tends not to watched critically acclaimed movies, and so Best Picture nominees don't usually concern him.
  • Into Lost and Battlestar Galactica, Family Guy, and (though he doesn't admit it freely) American Idol. But not the early part of the series with the bad singers. 
  • Talks about how much fun whitewater rafting is, but hasn't been since 1984.
  • Cooks more than his wife, and gets experimental sometime.  Sometimes it works (Thai Shrimp), and sometimes it doesn't (General Tso's Chicken) 
  • Enjoys most "Adult Alternative" music like Vertical Horizon, Train, John Mayer, and the like, hates these new fangled rock bands that SCREAM as loud as they can, but mostly listens to 80s pop music.  Enjoys going to a good rock concern like Def Leppard, Nickelback, and Ratt.  Yes, he said Ratt. 
  • Secretly spends time on myspace posting links to I Like You! in order to generate more google ad revenue.

I think that covers it.

Posted by rickroot at 7:37 AM | Link | 0 comments
27 January 2007

Frank Allison & the Odd Sox

Back in the mid 90s, I was a big fan of a local (Ann Arbor) band called Frank Allison and the Odd Sox.  They were a danceable folk-rock type band for the most part, and the lead singer (Frank) was a great entertainer, in a goofy sort of way.  Frank used to tell stories between songs while his lead guitarist would play some crazy blues riffs in the background.  They would always pack the Blind Pig (a small music club downtown), and everyone would have a great time.

Frank and his guitarist would also do acoustic gigs at coffee shops in Ann Arbor, like Cava Java, which were always much more intimate affairs, usually a crowd of 20 or 30 people.  Frank broke more strings at the acoustic venues than any artist I've ever seen.  I think he used it as an excuse to stop playing music and tell stories.

Sometime around 1996 or 1997, Frank stopped playing music.  Apparently, he'd blown out his voice and was simply unable to sing anymore.  The last show I saw was at Top of the Park (a festival in Ann Arbor on top of a parking garage where they showed movies at night), and he had lots of guest singers assisting, so it wasn't too noticeable.

I've heard that he's now owns and operates the Clinton Theater, a tiny little movie theater in the town of Clinton, about 20 miles or so southwest of Ann Arbor on US-12.

My favorite album of his - and in my opinion the most well produced - is an album called "Russia", which featured some rehashes or songs that appeared on other albums, and some new tracks as well.  It was recorded in a church in Russia, and apparently the masters didn't make it back to the states for quite some time after the original recording, but when they finally did make it back, Frank put it onto CD.

I've seen a number of "discographies" that don't even list this album. 

I had some MP3s posted here originally, but Frank recently emailed me to let me know that he will soon be making these albums available online, and I will post the link to his new web site after things have been worked out.   I think that's great, and so I've removed the songs from my web site.

Posted by rickroot at 7:44 AM | Link | 4 comments

Diet Update - No Change!

247.5:  -19.7 pounds, 62 days

I didn't have such a great week.  I did go to the gym a couple of times, but I had quite a few bad meals, and so I stagnated.  Sunday i had a really big lunch at Longhorn Steakhouse, and Monday I had dinner at PF Changs - which was fabulous, but not exactly part of the diet.  We had cake for Mike's birthday at work the other day (and it was GOOD cake!), and it's not going to get any better until tomrrow at least.  Emily's birthday party is today, and we're going to Cheeburger Cheeburger for dinner afterwards with the family.

I actually haven't been terrible outside of eating a couple of bad meals.  Ie, I haven't been snacking.  Though I did eat about 6 ounces of jalapeno almonds the other day.  They were far too good, and so I won't be buying them any more!

I think I'll go to the gym after Adrienne gets back from soccer registration.  They're only open until 8pm on Saturday evenings so I can't go after dinner.

BTW, I attempted to make General Tso's Chicken last night.  It was a miserable failure.  Aside from not being on any kind of diet. =)

Posted by rickroot at 7:35 AM | Link | 0 comments
26 January 2007

What do those bra cup sizes really mean, anyway?

A female friend of mine sent this to me via email forward, and I decided to blog it because it's pretty amusing.

< Prev Next >

A Friend Is Like A Good Bra...
Hard to Find



Always Lifts You Up

Never Lets You Down or Leaves You Hanging

And Is Always Close To Your Heart!!!

Posted by rickroot at 5:57 AM | Link | 0 comments
24 January 2007

Migrating/Importing IMAP email to Gmail

About a month ago, I started using Google to host my domain's email (ie, webworksllc.com).  They host your domain email for free, using the same gmail interface that everyone loves.

The problem is, it's not super easy to migrate email from your old account to google.

There is a tool called the Gmail Loader (GML) that can handle all kinds of mail formats for mail stored on your desktop.  For example, if you use Thunderbird or Netscape to download your email via POP3, it stores that mail in files called "mbox" files, and GML can handle those.

If you're using Outlook, your mail is stored in special files called PST files, and you'll have to use a utility called "ReadPST" to convert them to mbox format files before GML can load them into google.

But if you're using webmail - or if you're like me and you use IMAP to store your email, then the mail is not stored on your local desktop.

One option - if you're using Thunderbird - is to copy your entire account - all of the folders - to your Local Folders.  This causes thunderbird to download *ALL* of the mail and store it locally in mbox files.  You can then use Gmail Loader.  Another option would be to ask your provider to zip your entire domain's mail files and send them to you - AFTER you go through and do your domain and account setup on google.  Then you can use gmail on those files (probably maildir formatted files, which Gmail Loader also supports)

But if you're running your own server, and you're using qmail - there's an easier way.  I created a little script called "sendtogmail.sh".

This only works AFTER you've set up google mail for your domain completely, set up the accounts, and changed the DNS.  You must also have configured qmail to no longer think it accepts mail for your domain - by removing it from /var/qmail/control/rcpthosts

I wrote a little script called sendtogmail.sh and this is what it looks like:

for X in 1*
        cat $X | /var/qmail/bin/qmail-inject -A -f rick@webworksllc.com rick@webworksllc.com
        rm -f $X
        echo $CNT

There's probably a better way to do it, but I put this script into /usr/local/bin and permed it executable.  Then I just change into each directory where mail is stored, and run it.  It uses qmail-inject to inject the original mail file back into the mail queue.  The -A option causes it to only use the recipient specified in the command line, and the -f option specifies the envelope sender (don't worry, it won't have any affect on the "From" of the message itself.  After each message, it outputs a current count, and then removes the message (which is unnecessary, really)

It works quite quickly, because qmail is VERY good at sending mail!  It's *MUCH* faster than GML too, which seemed to take about 3-5 seconds per message, and I was able to do thousands of messages in only a few minutes.


Posted by rickroot at 8:22 AM | Link | 6 comments
23 January 2007

2007 Family Trip to Disney World

Pictures are on Google now!  http://picasaweb.google.com/rick.root/2007DisneyTrip

Like last year, we once again decided to make a trip to Disney World in January.  It's a good time to go.  January is a dry month, and it's relatively slow at the parks.  And we don't have to fight the traffic on I-95 that you normally see during "high times" like spring break, christmas, or thanksgiving.

Day 1 - The Drive

Anyway, we drove down Saturday morning (January 6).  Made the trip in about 10-1/2 hours, which isn't bad.  Incident free, and Emily was pretty good too.  It took her a whole hour to say "Are we there yet?"

We left at 6am, and so after we'd been driving for an hour or so it started to get light, and Emily looked up from her movie (she was watching CARS on my Creative Zen Vision) and said "Wow, it's day!  I didn't know we were driving all the way to daytime!".  That was pretty funny.

We stopped at south of the border for coffee and picture taking (you'll see them in the photo gallery above).

I won't bore you with the details but there were a few highlights.

Day 2 - Animal Kingdom

One of the things we like to do at Disney World is character breakfasts.  I had arranged for breakfast at Animal Kingdom on Sunday at "Donald's Breakfast-o-saurus", a counter service restaurant for lunch and dinner that they convert to a fantastic breakfast buffet in the mornings.  Our reservation was for 8am, which was actually an hour before the park opened.  The spread was awesome too, I should've taken a picture of the buffet itself!  (There are pictures of Emily with the various characters that were at this restaurant - Pluto, Goofy, Mickey, and Donald).  Cinnamon-swirl french toast, breakfast quiche, chocolate chip pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits with gravy, and cheesy potatoes with peppers were among the many offerings.  There was also a cold bar with yogurt, cereal, fruit and such things (we nabbed a couple of bananas for the road)

After breakfast, we wandered back out towards the Tree of Life.  The park wasn't open yet, as it was only about 8:55am, and we wanted to find out when the first showing of "It's Tough To Be A Bug" was and if we could get fast passes.  After conversing with the nice lady for a little while, I asked when the first show was, and she said "We'd love for you to be our First Family".  So she took our name down and asked which Lion King show we wanted to go to - we'd get VIP front row seats for it, so we picked 1 o'clock.  Then she tooks us back to the exit of the Tree of life theater, and sent us inside, where they seated us - and only us - for the first showing of the day.  Yeah, we were in the theater all by ourselves!  It was really cool.

We also took Emily on "Dinosaur" which was a huge mistake because the ride was scary - very scary - especially for a 4 year old.  There were no warnings about it being scary, but emily cried for 5 minutes after we got off that ride.

We were surprised later to find out that Emily was tall enough to go on the 44" rollercoasters, and there was one such ride at Animal Kingdom - the Everest Adventure, a fairly large coaster by Disney's standards, though like Big Thunder Mountain at Magic Kingdom, it does not have a steep (or large) first drop.  We did end up going backwards at one point, which was unique.  Emily was a bit dazed by the experience, but at the end of the day she said it was her favorite ride.  She's a thrill seeker (that's my girl!)

The rest of the day at Animal Kingdom was fairly uneventful.  I took lots of pictures of animals, and we went to the petting zoo and stuff.  Emily had a great time.

BTW, it was sunny and 85 degrees that day.  HOT!  I don't go to Florida in January for that kind of weather.

Day 3 - Magic Kingdom

The director here at work mentioned something about riding in the front of the monorail, which I didn't know you could do.  So since we had to ride the monorail today, I asked when we got to the monorail station if we could ride in the front, and they said sure, just go wait over there.  When the monorail arrived, we got to go in where the driver sits, right in the front of the whole thing.  It was pretty sweet.  The front only holds 4 people, and that's all we had, so it worked out well.

Not much to tell about this day except that we got to see Ariel in her "human" form, wearing her white wedding dress, and Belle in her yellow ball gown.  Last year we'd only seen Belle in her blue and white dress.  she looked good!  Belle has always been my favorite Disney princess.  Emily likes Ariel the best though.

Emily did go on Space Mountain.  She said she doesn't want to go on it again until she's a little older.  It's not a particularly smooth ride.

We did another character dining experience, this time dinner at the Liberty Square Tavern at 5pm.  It's nice to sit down for a meal after a long day at the park.  This meal was served family style - they bring you all the food on the menu and you eat whatever you want until you're full.  It seemed incredibly wasteful and I said something to the server like "You guys must waste a huge amount of food here!"  He responded that they do, but it's all turned into fertilizer!  Go figure.

Amazingly, Emily managed to survive the entire day without taking a nap.  We left after the parade but before the fireworks, so we were there from 9am to 7:30pm.

Day 4 - At The Resort

Okay, on Tuesday we decided to take a break from the parks, and hang out at the resort.  It was only 68 degrees, but sunny, and I'd promised Emily I'd take her to the pool.  We went to the pool by building three, which included a really cool waterslide.  Emily was afraid at first, but after watching me go on it, she decided she was brave enough, and that was all she needed.  She must've gone down that thing 30 times in the 2 hours we were at the pool.

Thank god it was heated.  Being in the water was fine.  Getting out kinda sucked.

We also went to Downtown Disney for some Ghiradelli chocolate and ice cream.  I got a sunday with hot fudge, caramel, and strawberries.  It was very good, as always.

Day 5 - Epcot Center

Today it was sunny again but windy and only 62 degrees.  A good day for Epcot, if you ask me, because so many of the attractions are indoors.  Emily was excited about going on Soarin' again (the flying seats, as she called them).  She also really enjoyed Turtle Talk with Crush.  Let me share her conversation with Crush

Emily:  What kind of turtle are you?
Crush:  That's a great question little dude!  I'm a green sea turtle!  Do you know why my shell is green?
Emily:  Umm.... because you're a green sea turtle?

The crowd laughed - as did Crush.

Once again, we had a sit down meal but this time without characters.  I made dinner reservations for the family to eat in the San Angel Inn, located in Mexico.  I've probably eaten there 5 times now and it's always good.  Sadly, the river board ride was closed.

Day 6 - Seaworld

It warmed up into the low 70s - and sunny again - but still not warm enough for me to sit in the "Splash Zone".  Seaworld is only open from 9am - 6pm this time of year, and the place was pretty empty!  We went straight to the dolphin cove first for an opportunity to feed the dolphins, which was pretty cool.  Most of the rest of the day was spent going to shows.  That's what Seaworld is mostly about, anyway.  emily absolutely loved Shamu, and the only souvenir she brought home from the vacation was a shamu stuffed animal and a seaworld t-shirt.  I hadn't been to Seaworld in over 5 years, so it was pretty fun.  Emily also enjoyed the kids rollercoaster they had, but she's nowhere near tall enough for the Kraken.

Mom and I were plenty tall enough though.  The Kraken is a good sized coaster with lots of loops and stuff, but it's very well designed and smooth as a baby's bottom!  It's a great ride, that's for sure.

Day 7 - Resort Day 2

Thankfully, it was much nicer today for hanging out at the pool - sunny (again) and mid 70s.  Nothing else to tell, really.  We cooked dinner in the room tonight - meatloaf, rice, and corn.  Nice home cooked meal.

Day 8 - The Drive Home

The ride home ended up being about 12 hours.  Why?  Well, we had to stop a lot more often to go to the bathroom for some reason.  Plus, we stopped and sat down for lunch.  We also stopped again at south of the Border to buy fireworks (um, only the legal kind, of course), and to take a ride up in the big sombrero.  Emily and Adrienne also got ice cream there.

Finally, in Aberdeen, we got pulled over by a copy who apparently had nothing better to do than ticket people with expired registrations.  Thankfully her inspection was current!

Nice way to end the vacation, eh?  Welcome back to the real world!

Posted by rickroot at 11:01 AM | Link | 2 comments
20 January 2007

Aprilia Mojito 50 Moped/Scooter For Sale

I have a 2004 Aprilia Mojito 50 scooter for sale. This is a high quality, italian scooter in fantastic condition. It has 1380 miles. In Europe, it is known as the Habana, not the Mojito.

Its 50cc engine size and 35mph speed limit (Downhill) mean that it does not require registration, nor does it require a drivers license to operate in North Carolina. It was most recently used by my legally blind step-sister to get back and forth to work. (She's blind enough where she can't get a drivers license, but not so blind she can't see where she's going!)

We are selling it because she has moved to Michigan and has no way to get the moped there.

Click for larger view Click for larger view

Call Rick at 368-7668

Posted by rickroot at 7:42 AM | Link | 4 comments

My first experiment with Thai food

I've never had "thai food" before, but when I go to the Capital City Chophouse, I always get the calimari, which is lightly breaded and tossed in what they called a "thai chili sauce".  I figured shrimp would probably be good that way, so I decided to try it.

A little googling found a Thai Shrimp recipe on the Food Network web site, which I modified slightly to server over a bed of spinach lettuce instead of rice noodles, and I used splenda instead of sugar.

Here's the recipe:

1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup sugar (or Splenda)
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp red curry paste
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves

Combine lime juice, sugar, and fish sauce, and curry in a medium sized skillet and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Add shrimp, and reduce heat to medium low.  Cook 3-4 minutes, until shrimp is tender.

Now, if you pour the mixture over pasta or rice, you're going to get the "full calorie" value of the lime juice - which really isn't much, but it's pretty much all of the carbs in the recipe (about 20).  In our case, We just took the shrimp and put it on a a spinach salad, with enough sauce to flavor the spinach leaves.

Oh, I also accidentally bought cooked shrimp.  Oops!  It still tasted pretty good, but I only cooked it for about a minute before turning the heat off and letting the shrimp just soak up some of the sauce before using it.

At any rate, the flavor was fantastic.  It wasn't quite what I expected, but it still turned out really good.

Posted by rickroot at 6:49 AM | Link | 4 comments

Diet Update

247.5:  -19.7 pounds, 55 days

I lost 3.4 pounds this week.  I would've probably done better if not for my inability to go on the treadmill (though I did a couple times anyway!)  I also had (whole grain) pancakes 3 nights ago, and lasagna (made with whole grain noodles) 2 nights ago.

Nonetheless, it's a good step.  I suspect that the last couple of weeks of this diet are going to be a lot harder than the first couple of weeks - at least as far as weight loss goes.

I made some "low carb" Thai Shrimp last night, but I'll discuss that in another blog entry.

Posted by rickroot at 6:22 AM | Link | 0 comments
17 January 2007

The Fairfield (Wyndham) Discovery Club is a fantastic deal

Whether or not you buy!

Back in January of 2006, my wife and daughter and I visited Disney World, and we brought my mom along because she let us use her Fairfield Resort membership to book 5 night's at the Bonnet Creek location on Lake Buena Vista Blvd, right next to Disney's Carribean Beach Resort.

My mom - and both sisters - are owners with Fairfield Resorts (currently in the process of changing their branding to Wyndham Vacation Resorts), so we'd been through their timeshare presentation before, so although we didn't have to go through a presentation this time, I joined my mother for her 45 minute "update" presentation, and then told the sales lady that I'd like to join the Discovery Club.

The Fairfield Discovery Club is a plan that they don't tell you about until about 3 hours into the full presentation if you go through one.  They don't tell you, because NOBODY would buy before going through the discovery club plan if they did.

You see, the Discovery Club is sort of like a "Trial Ownership".  You pay a certain fee, they finance it at a good interest rate (8%) over about 2 years, and they give you 12 months to use 300,000 points, which is the equivalent of a "VIP" status owner.  Then, if you decide to buy, every penny you paid towards the principal (not interest) goes towards your downpayment, making your initial vacations practically free.

They also freeze the price for you, so as long as there is available inventory when you finally purchase, you pay the same price as the day you sign up - the prices at Bonnet Creek for the level we're going to buy have already gone up 10% or so.

If you don't buy.. well, you've paid $2500 for some really nice resort vacations.  For example, we used 291,000 points to get 7 nights in a 2 bedroom deluxe unit at Bonnet Creek in January, 3 nights in a 2 bedroom deluxe unit at their Lake Lure location in the North Carolina mountains in April, and 3 nights in a 1 bedroom "standard" unit (full kitchen still but no jacuzzi tub) in Williamsburg in May.

The 7 nights in Orlando - on disney property, in a 2 bedroom condo with full kitchen and a jacuzzi tub in the master bedroom - was easily worth the $2500.  2 pools, a lazy river, water slide, 4 hot tubs, 2 childrens pools, a playground, minigolf, lots of activities for the adults and the kids, etc.  They are really really nice resorts.

But if you *DO* buy.... well, let me give you an example.  Adrienne and I have to "convert" by July 28.  We'll have only made 16 or 17 payments of $101 each.  In order to entice us to convert, they offer to waive the remainder of our discovery club payments - so essentially we will have $1500 to put towards our downpayment, and we will have spend maybe $100 (in interest) taking 3 really nice vacations.

If you ask me, the Discovery Club is a good deal whether or not you plan to "convert" to full ownership.

Posted by rickroot at 10:00 AM | Link | 10 comments
15 January 2007

Two Buck Chuck - Not Terrible

A few years ago, my doctor told me I needed to get my cholesterol down.  Well, I haven't done a whole lot in that direction over the course of two years.  Since I'm currently in the diet and exercise mode, I decided to try some "alternative treatment".

Red wine.

You see, I'm not much of a wine drinker.  Okay, I'm *NOT* a wine drinker.  I haven't drank more than a few sips of wine since my days in college at Western Michigan University, when $5 would get you 3 bottles of Boones Farm white zin.  *shudder*  And I didn't do that unless I was REALLY REALLY desperate, which was almost never.

Tonight, on a trip to Trader Joe's,   If you haven't heard of Trader Joe's, click the link.  It's sort of a cheap hippie food mart.  Lots of organic and natural products - at prices more affordable than you'd find in your local whole foods store.  Near the front of the store, they had a wine display, and cases upon cases of Charles Shaw wine.  Every time I've been into Trader Joe's, I've seen people leaving with cases of this stuff.

It's $2.99 a bottle here in North Carolina.  Apparently, this is the famed "Two Buck Chuck".

If I'm going to drink red wine for the sole purpose of lower my cholesterol, I don't want it to be an expensive habit.  So I picked up a bottle of the Cabernet - a 2003 vintage.

I'll have to ask my wife, but it's pretty drinkable.  I can probably deal with a glass a day of this stuff.

Not that Adrienne would be much more of a real opinion.  She likes wine, but she'll drink just about anything.  I think her favorite wine is a Chilean wine whose bottle is wrapped in burlap, and only costs $8.99 a bottle.  That's probably the most expensive wine she usually gets.

Anyway... anyone out there have any opinions on Two Buck Chuck?

Posted by rickroot at 5:27 PM | Link | 1 comment
14 January 2007

New Games Added! Simon and Asteroids

Some of you have seen and play the games on my web site.  I've recently added a few more games, and the ability to add comments as well.


Games Index: Mah-Jongg Frogger Mini-Putt Tetris Minesweeper
More Games: Pacman Space Invaders Copter Breakout
New Games: Asteroids Simon
Amusements: I Like You! Badgerphone

By the way, I'll be blogging about the Disney vacation later today probably - including pictures.

Posted by rickroot at 6:46 AM | Link | 1 comment

Diet Success! Now the work begins...

250.9:  -16.3 pounds, 49 days

Okay, so my goal - pre-Christmas, was to survive THREE periods of gluttony without gaining any weight.  Christmas and Christmas Eve, New Years Day and New Year's Eve, and an 8 day, 7 night vacation at Disney World, including 4 days at amusement parks.

As you can see from my last pre-holiday diet update (December 23), I've actually lost a couple of pounds, and I only gained 1.5 pounds at Disney World.  I might've done even better except I was kinda bad on the car ride home.  =)

So, now the real work begins.  My goal is to lose 2 pounds a week until my birthday, July 24.  There are 27 Saturday's between now and then.  So to make my goal a nice round number, I'm hoping to lose over 50 pounds in 6 months, getting myself down to 200 pounds.  I haven't weighed under 200 pounds since some time during my freshman year in college, approximately 17 years ago.

How do I get there?

Healthy eating (including GOOD carbs), 5 days a week on the treadmill (or 30 minutes of vigorous walking), and some moderate weight training.

Posted by rickroot at 6:41 AM | Link | 0 comments
06 January 2007

Off to Disney World

249.4:  -17.8 pounds, 41 days

It was a good week!  In 25 minutes we're going to hop in the car for a 10 hour drive to the happiest place on Earth - Disney World!  We'll be there all week, spending one day each at Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, Animal Kingdom, and Seaworld.

I may or may not blog during the week, we'll see.

Gotta run!

Posted by rickroot at 2:50 AM | Link | 1 comment
04 January 2007

Good Bowling Night! Mostly...

Two out of three ain't bad.

So, we had to "pre-bowl" for next week because only one of our team members would be able to show up, and you have to have at least two regulars and one sub to be a legal team.  All four of us were able to hook up tonight and hit the alleys.

Sometimes when you go on a different night, and bowl on different lanes that aren't necessarily treated the same way that the league lanes are for that given night, it takes a little while to adjust.

For me, it took the whole first game.  I think I got 3 strikes, but ZERO spares and ended up with only a 118.

I started out the second game with 6 strikes, then an open, then 2 more strikes, and an open in the 10th.  8 damn strikes and I only got a 230 thanks to the open frames.  If I'd picked up those spares I could've gotten a 260!  Nonetheless, I'd gone two full  games at this point without picking up a spare.  I'm not complaining.. much.. about the 230.  It's a fine game.

The third game I actually bowled a "clean game", which means i had no open frames.  All strikes and spares.  More spares than strikes though, and I ended up with a 207.  Again, a fine game.  My average is about 174 right now I think, so a 556 series is still a 185 average for the night.

I'll take it!

On a category note, do I date categorize this under "Sports" =)

Posted by rickroot at 7:39 PM | Link | 0 comments

Front Porch Grandpa

A grandson came to visit his grandparents & noticed his grandfather sitting on the porch, in the rocker, wearing only a shirt, naked from the waist down.

"Grandpa, whatcha' doing? You're weenie's out in the wind for all to see!" he exclaimed.

Grandpa looked off in the distance, not answering.

"Grandpa, whatcha' doin' sitting out here with nothing on below the waist?" he asked again.

Grandpa looked at him and said, "Last week I sat here with no shirt on and got a stiff neck. This is grandma's idea."
Posted by rickroot at 10:50 AM | Link | 0 comments

Notre Dame - Overrated

Well, Notre Dame finished off their season as one of the most overrated teams in NCAA football this year.  Before losing to USC, Notre Dame was concerned a "national championship contender" but even then, it was all smoke and mirrors.

With last night's trip to the woodshed offered to them by the LSU Tigers, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish finished 1-3 against teams ranked in the top 25.  The win was over a very middle of the road Penn State team.

Their three losses - to Michigan, USC, and LSU were with a combined score of 132-59 - affording 40 or more points to each of those three opponents.  Brady Quinn's statistics in those three games say a lot as well...

24/48/50%   234  3  3
22/45/49%   274  3  0
15/35/43%   148  2  2

Of course, I thought originally - as a Michigan fan - that our shellacking of Notre Dame early in the season was impressive.  Michigan.

By my own arguments, Michigan was pretty overrated too, going 2-2 against ranked opponents, with wins over Wisconsin and Notre Dame.

So it goes, I guess.

Posted by rickroot at 6:52 AM | Link | 4 comments
01 January 2007

Happy New Year, 2007 is Here!

Adrienne and I went out to Tony's Bourbon Street Oyster Bar last night.  I had the New Orleans BBQ Shrimp, and it was awesome.  The crab dip appetizer was fabulous too.  We'll definately be going back.

Afterwards, we went to the hockey game, which was horrid.  Canes outshot the Flyers 42-18 but lost the game 5-2.  Robert Esch was standing on his head, because the Canes had a LOT of good scoring chances.  We came home after the game and watched TV for a while, and went to bed around 12:15.  Very exciting.

I didn't make any New Year's resolutions, though I've obviously got some goals.. but they're unrelated to the new year :)  So maybe they'll have a better chance at being successful.  I'm really anxious - and hopeful - to see if I can really make this work.  I felt great at 230 pounds, and I think i'll feel even better at 200.  The heartburn had almost completely disappeared when I was at 230.  Even at 200 I'll probably still be technically "overweight".  I weighed 185 when I graduated from high school and I don't think I was even slightly overweight then.  I was downright skinny!

Well, anyway, happy new year!

Posted by rickroot at 9:20 PM | Link | 5 comments