Thursday, November 30, 2006
Playing the flute has been good for her in other ways. She is one of those for whom things come easy, like me. The thing is that music requires practice and doesn't care how smart you are. She has had to practice at this. It will be useful when she takes Calculus.
I am glad she has found something challenging. I am most grateful that she did not choose to play the trumpet, drums, saxophone, or other loud instruments.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
In other news, I recorded another episode of the Davis Rankin show today, but left my recorder at work. I wanted to upload it tonight, but that won't be possible. I'll have it for you tomorrow.
Speaking of tomorrow, I'll be at UTPA tomorrow with Rep. Pena and Orlando. Afterwards, we will go to another meeting about water. That one will also be interesting.
Today, I got in touch with several knowledgable people about our voter verifiable paper trails, even some who are against. There is value in direct contact versus book and Internet research.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
I have great interest in wikis because they make it easier to organize information. You can start a topic and come back to it later if you go off on a tangent. For team collaboration, wikis are a great tool because the pages are editable by anybody on the team as new information becomes available. Therefore, anybody who has access to your wiki has real-time information available. If you have a small team, it's easy to simply call each other. In a large organization, this is very impractical. Emailing everybody is also a time-waster because the person has to sit there and read every single email. Not all emails will be necessary for that person to read; but he or she will have to read it just in case there is something relevant to his or her contribution. A wiki, on the other hand, lets the person read only the information that is relevant.
If a team has individual blogs in addition to a wiki, team leaders are able to get the latest progress reports as they become available. It takes as much effort to type a blog entry as it does to send an email, type of a Word file, or hand write a memo. The main difference is that a blog automatically archives the progress report and eliminates the burden of saving the word file, keeping track of emails, or losing memos. Yes, there is some mirroring between a blog and a wiki. You're wondering where the segue is, I can feel it.
Well, some wikis, like www.schtuff.com found a way to combine blogging features into their wiki. I use schtuff for the wiki aspect as I already have this blog. I started a wiki for Session80 on schtuff. After having gone through training on the open records act, I learned that anything I use in conducting my job for the state is subject to an open records request. This can get messy and uncomfortable when you combine personal information with work information. Thus, I have my personal wiki as well. I might phase out the Session 80 wiki.
The problem is that I would benefit from the functionality of having a wiki at work. Obviously, installing software on the state servers is out of the question. You can imagine my excitement when I learned that there is a wiki that runs on a thumb drive. That's right, a thumb drive. It's called TiddlyWiki. There is another thumb drive wiki out there, but it doesn't seem as cool. What's awesome about this wiki is that it is basically one file that saves to itself. All the source code is inside the html file. You don't need a server-side backend to run it.
The advantage to such a setup is that it allows you to use any computer with a USB port to update your information. Plug in your drive, do your work, save. and you're done. Another advantage is that you can simply drop the file in a shared folder on the network to have a team wiki without freaking out the network admins. Finally, the greatest advantage is that it facilitates open records requests because you can easily find all the necessary information without opening file after file. Simply use the built-in search function and print all the results. Or, you can simply email the wiki over, copy it to a thumb drive, or burn a CD. It's only 1 text file.
This type of stick wiki makes it so easy to conduct research and organize the information you have gathered. Best of all, your investment is pretty small, the cost of a thumb drive. The alternative would be to have a separate computer dedicated to running a wiki. You don't even need a network connection. Or, you can have your network guys set one up for you. If you're a student, pick up a copy of TiddlyWiki. It will make your life easier for research papers. Oh, and for peace of mind, email yourself a backup on occasion.
** UPDATE **
I found examples of people using TiddlyWiki here.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Client complains of: computer will not connect to the Internet.
Initial diagnosis: software problem, probably a driver gone bad.
hardware OK. Computer detects modem and ethernet adapter.
Drivers working alright
Internet explorer has trouble finding Internet connection.
AOL fails to connect via TCP/IP.
Ethernet adapter detects network, fails to obtain network address. Fails over to APIPA (Automatic Private IP Addressing).
Look for any adware/spyware that may cause problems and remove programs. Remnants of Kazaa indicate likelihood malware is the cause of problems.
Tried to change network settings in case it's a matter of bad configuration. Computer still fails over to APIPA.
Set static IP. This prevents APIPA. Able to ping the router. IE still cannot find Internet.
Tried disabling and enabling hardware, no result.
Turned off APIPA via Windows registry, no benefit.
Uninstalled AOL 8.0, no success.
Installed AOL 9.0 to let software install possible solution. No connection, even with TCP/IP. Dial up initiates, but does not get past authentication.
Definitely a software issue. Specifically, Winsock is damaged. I came to this conclusion because the hardware part is functional and all the "client" software has connection problems.
Repair Winsock. Obviously, one of the layers is damaged and blocking communication between the "client" software and hardware. Several free utilities are available online to reinstall Winsock.
Full Internet access restored. AOL can connect via TCP/IP and dial-up. IE is able to connect by both routes as well. Problem fixed.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
We went shopping for some of the last minute stuff at the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Palmhurst. It was crazy out there. The place was full of people. Like us, many people were doing a lot of last minute shopping. For the most part, we are ready for our Thanksgiving feast. We will probably make it a Thanksgiving Lunch rather than dinner. This way, we can pick at the leftovers for the rest of the day rather than go to bed stuffed.
Later, I went to the HEB on 495 and Conway. That place wasn't any better. Everybody is stocking up. The cashier at Wal-Mart told us that the store would be open all day tomorrow. I think that HEB tends to close early.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
We've decided to put Rep. Peña's blog at an adjacent address to where it was. If you want to update your links, we have moved the blog to http://acapitolblog2.blogspot.com until we find out what Google can do to restore the original address.
I have started work on a possible future incarnation of A Capitol Blog at http://www.aaronpena.com/wordpress temporarily. It's a dummy site until we figure out all the functions and features. Your opinion is welcome.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
I'm working on getting back his subdomain. If you could, temporarily, disable the link because there is a porn ereaser website that pops up. Obviously, it's not something Mr. P wants associated with his name.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
I started to learn more about local politics and even got involved in the Laura Hinojosa campaign for Hidalgo County District Clerk. I met some interesting people. Things went more or less OK in the semester at the university. I had trouble finding work. My job options were limited during the semester due to my class schedule. My available options meant that I would work fewer hours at lower wages. I wasn't about to leave school to get more hours at low wages.
I had started the year from a low point and things did not get any better. My wife later told me that she no longer saw a spark in me. She saw that I had given up. And I did. I had instigated changes to try to get out of the grip of hopelesness. It worked for a moment, but as the summer approached, I fell right back into its grasp. I really was at the end of hope.
This is part of the reason why I needed to get out of the Rio Grande Valley. I decided that I might as well do something meaningful with my travels, so I sought to bring light to the struggles of migrants. Even at my lowest, I'm willing to help people out. Being broke, I had much in common with migrant families. What motivated me to try was a little bit of hope. I had hope that maybe there was something out there for me. You could say that it was my last hope. I was fortunate that I found work, well-compensated work. It was even more fortunate that I would work with and for the same people I would be writing about.
I wrote about changes in the preceding paragraphs. The more meaningful changes occurred during the season that I spent working up north. All I needed was to win a little bit. Like that one breath after being underwater longer than you care to be, it was such a relief to work at a job where I could earn more than just my family's basic needs. When we first moved into our apartment a couple years ago, I was scared about making enough money to pay the $500 rent. That was a little less than double our previous rent. It was a big change for my psyche to be able to pay that AND pay rent on a second apartment in Wisconsin simultaneously with money left over. On top of that, I had enough to pay the outrageous electric bill here in the RGV (my worst bill in Wisconsin was less than $60) Once again, I had hope for the future.
I was prepared to stay up north after finally being able to see the light at the end of months of darkness. The thing is, I really like living in the Rio Grande Valley. Although I had much better opportunities up north, this is home. Rep. Peña had mentioned, at one time, that he needed somebody with technical skills to join his team, so I decided to try my hand. There are trade-offs that I was willing to accept. I know for a fact that wages and salaries are lower in the Rio Grande Valley. There are other benefits, like family, that factor in as well. So, we came to an agreement and now I work for the State of Texas.
At the moment, I am willing to accept a salary that isn't as great as I could command up north, but is more than I could normally expect in the Rio Grande Valley. This brings me to the third item in this post, gratitude. I started out with all the changes I put in motion to try to have a better life when I had lost hope. As a result of the changes, I regained hope. This is significant; you have to have lost hope to know how meaningful it is to regain it. Now that I have hope and am back home, I can't help feeling gratitude.
I am thankful for findng my way back to the light. I am thankful for the people whom I have met on my journeys. I am thankful for having a wife who stuck with me throughout this dark period in my life. I am thankful that I have a decent job in the Rio Grande Valley. I am thankful for the friendships that blogging has brought me. I am thankful for all the experiences about to come my way. And, I am thankful that my family and friends have been there for me. I also want to thank readers of RGV Life for your interest in the life of an RGV peasant.
There have been many changes in my life this year. I have lost and regained all hope. And my gratitude for the relationships I have formed overwhelm me. As the Holiday season approaches, I wish you the best whether you've had a good year or a rough year. I think you know that we have a series of vacations and half work days ahead of us. Once Thanksgiving hits, the rest of the year flys by.
I'd like to hear what changes, hope, and gratitude you have in your life this year. Leave a long-ass comment if you have to. I would like to hear from you, please.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Friday, November 10, 2006
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Saturday, November 04, 2006
I won't be able to make it to tomorrow's walk or event at the VFW. Take plenty of pictures if you can.
This was my second day walking with them. Yesterday, I worked at the dedication of the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery and could not participate in the walk. From start to end, Juan Vela was like a machine. He just keeps going and going. The group kept asking him to slow down and wait for them to catch up.
The group had another show of kindness by a local business owner in Mission. Gordhan "Victor" Bharat, owner of the Executive Inn & Suites and Mi Hacienda Restaurant, offered lemonade for all of us. He had read about the group and was quick to offer us refreshment when he saw us walking by. Victor also volunteered use of his parking lot by members of the group who had just joined us.
The walk today was pretty straightforward through Mission, Palview, and La Joya. We stopped for lunch at the Whataburger in La Joya. There was discussion about underestimating the distance between La Joya and Rio Grande City, so we figured out how to cover the distance in a shorter time to allow the group to arrive in Roma by Sunday afternoon. Essentially, we did what they called relays. We split the group into two. Each group would cover two miles and then leapfrog ahead of the other team at their two mile mark. This allowed us to cover four miles in the same time it would have taken to cover two miles by a single group.
I was in the group with Jesus Bocanegra, Mike Escobar, Robert Gomez, Jimmy Krummel, and Eddie Avila driving the chase vehicle. Our group did three relays, I think; which amount to 6 miles. In our last relay, Robert went with the other group because a couple of people in that group had to leave early. Krummel rode on the back of the chase car. He didn't want to overdo it as he has a pacemaker. Bocanegra and Escobar joked that he shouldn't worry, they had jumper cables to bring Jimmy back if the pacemaker gave out. In the last relay, in order to mess with Jimmy's pace timing, we decided to run about a quarter mile. Within a few hundred yards, we realized that it was going to kill us, so we decided to keep going to the top of the hill. This way we could walk downhill while recovering from the run. Once you leave La Joya going west, the terrain starts to get hilly.
At the end of the walk, the whole group got together. We were asked to pose for a group photo by a couple of residents who saw us coming. One of the ladies is related to General Sanchez who we had seen just the day before in Mission.
My family will be celebrating my son's birthday tomorrow, so I won't be able to accompany America's Last Patrol Post #3 tomorrow on their final and important installment of the walk. They start the walk at the Wal-Mart in Rio Grande City and end it at the VFW in Roma. At 4 pm, they will have an open microphone for veterans to speak their grievances for two minutes. Last word is that both Frank Enriquez and Henry Cuellar will be present. I wish the veterans the best for tomorrow.
This message is from a Virgin Mobile user. Enjoy.
We are currently leaving Mission and entering Palmhurst. The group started their walk this morning at the Veterans Memorial on 29th in Mcallen. The group wants to walk as much as possible today so that they can have a shorter distance on their last leg of the walk tomorrow.
As we keep going, we are gaining more and more people in the group. If you need to know our location, contact Jesus Bocanegra at 496-7827. Anybody supporting the cause for bringing a veterans hospital to the RGV is welcome to join.
Despite having been at this the last three days, the group is going at a good, brisk pace.
Friday, November 03, 2006
You can see more photos here.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Today, I had the opportunity to join Mr. Peña on his walk with a good bunch of guys, and a few gals, from America's Last Patrol Post #3 on their walk from Brownsville to Roma. This was Day 2 of their 5 day walk. Just in case you're not up to speed, this group traveled from Edinburg, Tx to San Antonio, Tx on foot one year ago. The distance of the trek was 250 miles. This time, the trek is 125 miles. The purpose of the walk is to highlight the need for a Veterans Hospital in the Rio Grande Valley. Currently, veterans who need medical care must travel the 250 miles to San Antonio. For many of our veterans, this journey is a hardship for lack of funding or transportation. Therefore, these veterans got a feasibility study going to determine whether the government should build a VA Hospital here. There is no hospital yet, so they want to remind the public so that we don't forget.
We caught up with the group at La Feria and accompanied them all the way to Weslaco. Along the way, more and more people joined the group. It was inspiring to see so many people dedicated to the cause. During our walk, you could heard a constant series of honking from drivers-by in support of the effort. Some people even stopped by and thanked the group for what they are doing.
Our first stop was to park our vehicles ahead of the group. We were coming into Mercedes where the new Outlet Mall opened. There was a lot of bumper-to-bumber traffic around that area for the Grand Opening. Up ahead, we stopped for an interview with a newspaper reporter. Some of us took advantage of the stop and visited Van Burkleo Ford to use their toilets. I'll take this opportunity to thank Van Burkleo Ford for their kindness.
Around the Donna area, the group received a gift of water bottles to lend their support. We were crossing the street and heard a distant voice calling to us and waving for our attention. The young lady asked if we would like some water, which we gratefully accepted. Thank you to the Texas Taco Mart for their encouragement and water.
Up ahead, we passed the South Texas ISD schools. We were really close to our lunch stop at the Peter Piper Pizza in Weslaco when we met a couple of World War II veterans, brothers.
These men are Filiberto and Jose Zamora. They had been searching for the group all day. They took our pictures and shared their experiences during the war. One of them was stationed in Africa where the allies trounced the enemy; and the other went to France right after D-Day. He was young, and therefore one of the last ones out of Europe.
We stopped at the Peter Piper Pizza in Weslaco for lunch. I got the chance to properly introduce myself to some of the group and get their names.
We also had the good fortune to meet Maria Luisa Alvarado, who stopped by to lend her support. She is running for Lt. Governor of Texas. Ms. Alvarado is former Air Force.
You can see many more photos about the walk here.
Overall, I enjoyed the experience. I'm a bit sad that I won't be able to join these fine soldiers tomorrow. I'll be at the opening of the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetary in Mission.
If you are interested in attending, take Expressway 83 west past Mission. Get off at the Inspiration Rd Exit and take a left. As you cross under the bridge, you'll take another left and then drive straight for a couple miles or so. It's big enough you won't miss it.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Backup in case video gets deleted from YouTube
You won't believe the timing of this. Today I got the ball rolling to enlist in the U.S. Army Reserve. The recruiter was not too pleased with this clown's remark. The recruiter has a degree in Criminal Justice. He quit his job and went full-time with the Army. I am 21 hours away from graduating with a degree in Finance. With my pending job, what need would I have to risk deployment?
Does the recruiter need the Army to get educated? No. He already is. I've got this far without the Army; I'm pretty sure I don't need it. Some other things I've learned today. The Army is seeing an increase in 41.5 year old enlistments. They are even seeing father/son and mother/daughter enlistments. Can you imagine going through basic training and AIT with your child beside you?
Despite what some would have you believe, some of us want to serve our country because it's the right thing to do. I want to do more than just pay our veterans lip service. I admire them enough to want to become one of them. I would be honored if my son or daughter one day made the same choice. Some people have that sense of duty and honor. Others, like the clown in the video who used the military as a stepping stone, think everybody else does the same. There is no nuance here, he said it.
To his credit. Senator Kerry apologized. It seems as though it may not have been enough to some soldiers in Irak.