Colin Stewart Watt Jr.

November 29th, 2009

My father, Colin Stewart Watt Jr., died on November 21, 2009 from complications resulting from a fall in his apartment and the resulting hospitalization. My son’s blog post entitled My Grandfather passed away says it all. Best wishes my sweet Dad wherever you are. My thoughts are with you now and forever.

My new iPod

September 20th, 2009

I know, I know, it’s been a while. Sorry.

A few years back my sweet wife bought me an iPod for Christmas. It’s an iPod Nano Generation 1 with 4GB. Since then I have used it almost everyday. I never thought I’d use it as much, but I do. I wear it to work and back, but I don’t listen to it at work. It’s my car radio where I get to choose what I listen to. It keeps me company on my many long runs. I typically listen to podcasts, and not music. My favorites are This American Life (NPR), Phedippidations (Running), The Story (APM), and Radio Lab (WNYC). I’ve tried an number of others, such as, comedians and they just don’t do it for me. I tried a book once from Project Gutenberg, but the mechanical voice again just didn’t do it for me. Maybe it’s something to do with not spending $ for the content. I don’t know. Nevertheless, with it I can zone-out and listen to voice-in-my-head chatting, discussing, explaining, and informing me of happenings in the world. It’s like my own little PBS/NPR/etc Radio Machine. Over the years I have had to replaced it or repaired it 2 times by sending it into Apple and getting a new one. Typically it was the result of running, and getting sweat in it. A cap with a pocket for the iPod fixed that issue. Well about a week or so ago, while helping at the Austin Triathlon, the screen went dead. It continues to operate, but I could only start it playing or skip to the next podcast. I found this difficult, because I like to page through the various podcasts and pick one out depending upon my mood. Not seeing the screen was not good.


Apple iPod Nano (photo courtesy Apple.com)
So today I went to the Apple store to get a replacement. Knowing that the iPod shuffle was quite small and self-contained I thought it would be good keeping the elements and sweat out, but I rejected it because there was no screen. Pushing the little up/down thingamabob on the earphones just didn’t cut it for me. So I looked at the latest iPod Nano. Naturally it was more expensive, had much more memory, and included a radio and video camera. I don’t know if I’ll use all those gadgets, but I got a nice bright red 16GB one. Oh, and it’s a (PRODUCT)RED to help fight AIDS in Africa. But I didn’t get it for that, I just like red things. Anyways I’m happy again, and tomorrow morning I’ll be again on the roads with my iPod keeping me company. I can’t wait.

Cheesy Car

May 30th, 2009

Last weekend I went shopping as I typically do. While there I bought the normal stuff consisting of fruit, 2 gallons of milk, my favorite cereal, assorted meats, etc. When I arrived home I carried the stuff in and put it away. Two days later I noticed we had run out of milk, and I was surprised that I had only one gallon of milk. Then another day later I was running late, and I jumped in the car to head out to work when I noticed a funky smell in the car. I immediately realized where the missing gallon of milk went. Upon opening up the truck I found the milk on its side. Now inside the plastic gallon was a one-inch layer of white stuff, and the rest, a clearish liquid, had spilled on to the trunk carpet and then into the wheel well. Ugh. There wasn’t much I could do so I tossed out the gallon jug in the garbage, removed the trunk carpet (having to cut it to get it out), mopped up the liquid in the wheel well (ucky), and drove to work with the windows down. After work I hosed out the trunk, washed the carpet, but poured in some febreze, sprinkled baking soda all over. That night I left the windows and trunk open to air out. Well it’s been days now and the car continues to smell like a mixture of cheese and rotten milk. Double ugh. I don’t know what to do. Ideas anyone?

This American Life

April 24th, 2009

I live vicariously through my children. It’s not that being one of their parents that I haven’t spent my dues and taught them things. That was my job, and frankly I think I was damn good at it. But after it was all over and they were grown up that is not what amazed me, instead it was that they taught me so many things and have made my life richer and broader. It was several years ago that one of Justin’s friends, Jean F., would blog about “This American Life”, an public radio program. Although I tried at the time to download some of the episodes from the web it was only when I received an iPod as a present that I truly started listening. Now when I download any new podcasts to my iPod from iTunes, it is the first one I listen to. It’s my “virtual running buddies” when I exercise the morning. For 60 minutes I get lost in the stories and vignettes. I rarely donate to public radio, but I have donated to “This American Life”. So tonight I went to our local movie theater to see a limited video broadcast of “This American Life”. I enjoyed seeing the face behind the voice of Ira Glass. The stories were so typical yet it was unusual to be sitting (not running) in a audience of over 100 people (not by myself) watching a performance (not listening to my iPod). In any case thank you Jean and especially Justin for enriching me.

Busy weekend

April 20th, 2009

I seem to look forward to relaxing on the weekend, but when it comes I seem to be busy. This weekend started with a dinner on Friday with Kathy’s yoga class teacher and students. They will be shooting a DVD video on Sunday. Then on Saturday I had a 25K Trail Race. Celeste D. and I signed up for it. I’ve never done a trail race. I even bought special trail running shoes. However on Saturday it was raining, and after an hour drive we arrived to find that it was canceled, so back home we drove. The best part was talking to Celeste, my running buddy, in the car over and back. Next Matthew and Beth phoned and said that they wanted to continue our look for a wedding rehearsal dinner spot in San Antonio (90 miles away). Before that Kathy needed to attend her Saturday yoga class in preparation for tomorrow. After she left for class I realized that it would be best to leave directly from her class. So Katie and I drove down with a change of clothes to find her. However we were five minutes late and by then she had already left and so we had to drive all the way back home. A total waste of time and gas – oh well. Next Kathy and I drove to San Antonio and met Matthew and Beth at a BBQ restaurant. We talked to the manager and although it’s too casual place the date was available. Before we left we sampled their Margaritas, and got a sample of food as take-out. [At each of these places I would hand them my credit card since that’s my job in this affair, that is, keep my mouth shut and pay the bills] Leaving their car at that place we then traveled together up to Boerne to another restaurant. After another talk with another manager, some sample desserts (yummy cheesecake), and another margaritas (very poor watery one), and another sample as take-out. We tried to find another restaurant in downtown, but it was too small. While sitting in the car talking and munching samples Matthew accidentally spilled his soda by his feet in our new car. A small brown lake formed and we spent 20 minutes mopping it up with tissues and napkins. Did I tell you that we bought a new car, and that it was in the back seat of this pristine vehicle that this happened. Oh well, it’s now a “real” car, and with the smell of BBQ replacing the new car smell too. [The next day I took a pail of water and a brush and cleaned it up.] It was getting late so we stopped by a Rudy’s BBQ, but it was not very good for a rehearsal dinner spot. Next door was another restaurant. We talked to the manager, and sampled a margaritas, but I had to cut it short because we had to leave. See we had a Broadway play, Avenue Q to attend in Austin at 8 PM and needed to get back for it. Luckily we arrived in time, but by then we were both exhausted. Me from waking at 5 AM for the trail race, and Kathy from all the travel and talk about rehearsal dining. We nodded-off during the musical partly because we were tired and partly because it was just average and didn’t catch our interest. Arriving home at 11 PM we crashed. On Sunday I did my long run since I hadn’t run on Saturday. The route started downtown. After driving 20 minutes I got out and put my extra running stuff in the trunk. As I opened it I realized that the night before we had put Kathy’s yoga stuff in it, and she needed it on Sunday morning because they were shooting the video. Well I rushed back home (another 20 minutes north) to a stressed out Kathy who promptly left for her appointment with her yoga stuff. Back I went downtown, and got my run in. It’s called the Run from Hell because there are many hills in it. After completing it, driving home, and getting a shower, Katie and I went to see the “17 Again” movie. It was a light comedy. Next Katie and I went shopping while Kathy was still gone to her yoga “shoot”. I bought Kathy flowers and a card to say I was sorry for stressing her out with my absconding with her yoga stuff. We arrived back home, unpacked the groceries, and I made a Mary-Tyler-Moore recipe from the Hagan cookbook – a yummy golash. While it was cooking Kathy arrived home. We ate together watching TV which is our regular habit these days. Afterwards I’m now up at the computer typing this, and Kathy and Katie are downstairs watching a TV program. And another weekend ends with me more tired than at the beginning. Welcome to my life.

Dooce

April 9th, 2009

Tonight Kathy and I went to the book tour of “It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita” by Heather Armstrong, AKA dooce.com. Kathy was kind enough to go and share this with me even though she doesn’t follow this blog. It was held in downtown Austin at Book People. I heard about the tour from LSL’s blog in Portland, and found out she was going to be in Austin today. I and about 5 other guys were lost in a sea of thirty-something women. It was apparent that I wasn’t her normal demographics. However, I’ve been reading dooce probably since 2002 when my son was in graduate school at UNC. At that time I would follow the links from his page to his friend’s and acquaintance’s pages to keep up with what he was doing and who he was hanging out with. One of them, a person who designed book covers, linked to dooce.com. It took me a while after reading it a few times to figure out that Heather was not a UNC student. Her writing was witty, sarcastic and biting. She made me laugh. That was then and this is now. Tonight she was very entertaining. She made both Kathy and I laugh by reading from her book and blog. Afterwards she graciously signed my book. As I stopped at the signing table I said “In your special way you keep my son and his girlfriend employed at Federated Media.” When she heard Federated Media she said “They’re my people”. Note: Federated Media provides the advertising that is on her site. We told her that he’s a techie and she’s the remnants manager. I’ve now got a new book to read.
Update: Oh, and Jon was there too. Quite a surprise. Sitting in the aisle next to me taking pictures and watching his beautiful wife charm the SRO crowd.

Robofest 2009 RoboZone

April 5th, 2009

I was again the scorer for the Austin Robofest event yesterday. Prior to today I’ve attended organizing meetings and have written a placement randomizer and scoring spreadsheet. In other words, my evenings have been busy this past week.

The event was held at the Austin Recreational Center in downtown Austin. I arrived at 11 AM and left at 7 PM. During that time I helped set up, then scored each game and match, and cleaned up afterwards.
It’s always fun to watch the young people’s creativity during this competition. Each robot is uniquely crafted by them, and the autonomous programming shows such variety and insight into different ways of solving the same problem.
Although the day starts out stressful with the unknown issues that have to be addressed, then at the end of the day there is such satisfaction in knowing that you helped someone else and had fun doing it. I really appreciate the excellent organization and the camaraderie of the judges and volunteers. Both of these keep me returning as a volunteer. Oh, did I mention that the pizza dinner afterwards was great too.

New Car

March 21st, 2009

Hectic day. Post and pictures coming…
Update: So here is the promised picture:


Update: I’m always surprised how long it takes for a buyer to be separated from his money. If you go to Walmart it can be a matter of seconds or a few minutes. I think car dealerships should work the same way. It took me about five hours this time. Now it’s not all the dealer’s fault since I didn’t bring my loan agreement and car titles with me. So there was about an hour in the middle where I had to go fetch them and get lunch. Nevertheless it’s always interesting that the salesman talks to you, but can’t actually do the paperwork. That’s the business manager’s domain. And because there is only one of them you have to wait for him to get to you (in these dire business times you would think that the Honda dealer would not be busy, but this was Saturday and he mumbled something about this being his 8th one that day). So once the paperwork was done, then I had to wait to get the car ready. As a result it took five hours. Regardless, the car is very nice. It is bigger and has more features (CD player, remote locks) as compared to our last one. Naturally as soon as I got it home it became Kathy’s car since she does mostly highway driving to get to work. Oh, and it’s too big for me especially since I use the parking garage and the spaces are tight.

Family Values and Principles

February 8th, 2009

The Watt Family Values and Principles
or
What we’re trying to teach our children
through our actions and our words

  • Be concerned for other people and their feelings. Put yourself in other people’s shoes. Be kind, sensitive and caring. Look at things from the other person’s point of view. Treat all people equally and fairly. Help others.
  • Family is very important. Confide in your brother and sister. Your parents will always love you.
  • Don’t lie, cheat or steal. Tell the truth. Be honest.
  • If you make a commitment, you must keep it. Commitments must be completed. Promises must be kept. Don’t promise unless you can follow through. Be responsible. Complete your assignments. Be trustworthy. Don’t give up.
  • You are responsible for your own actions. You make choices. The choices you make are your own decision. Don’t blame others for your decisions.
  • Be constructive, not destructive. Take care of your things. Be creative. Be a contributor.
  • Work hard. Extra effort. Don’t stop until it’s right. Do the best you can do. Quality work. Don’t be sloppy.
  • Fairness. Fair play. Follow the rules. Don’t be prejudiced. Minimize your biases. Share.
  • Have a good sense of right and wrong. Have a conscience. Be law abiding.
  • Put things back where they were when you’re done with them. Clean-up after yourself. Cleanliness.
  • Be assertive, self-confident and independent.
  • Be aware of the world around you and things that happen including political and social changes. Keep the environment clean. Don’t pollute.
  • Love books. Be a person of words. Enjoy reading and writing.
  • Put things back from where you got them or what position they were in. For example, toys, games, other people‚Äôs possessions, and most importantly toilet seat lids (after use naturally).posted to the refrigerator door on 10/20/94 bdw
  • Resource Actions

    January 23rd, 2009

    My company is having layouts. We call them resource actions (RAs). Internally we’re using the mob term “getting wacked”. Typically you are given 30 days to find another job in the company, but because of all the other RAs taking place throughout the company there are few jobs to be found to switch to. BTW, the next-aisle-over group, our sister group was told in November that they were wacked, and they were all gone by the 10th of December. It was very sad, because this is not just getting rid of low performers. They were all good hard-working people. It was just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Also two people I know in other groups (areas I had worked in the past) contacted me yesterday and today saying they were wacked. They asked if I had any jobs where I’m working. I had to say I don’t know, and as soon as I do I’ll tell them. So things are getting too close for comfort. Very spooky. We call it the black cloud. It’s hanging over us, because my group hasn’t been told one way or the other. So we continue to go to work, do designs, development code and test it, but we don’t know if in the next day or week some of us will be wacked. We continue to focus on the work, because it helps us not focus on the black cloud and the unknown. So I don’t know if I will survive these cuts. I just don’t know anything. Very scary especially when my primary fear is fear-of-the-unknown. Ugh.
    Update: I ducked and the bullet missed me. I was not on the RA list. Whew! But a number of others in my group were not so fortunate. I am deeply saddened by all this.