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Showing posts from 2009

Sucks being duped.

I’m in a little bit of a mood today. It could be because my daughter beat on some kid and had to get sent home early, or it could just have been my irritation with a product which was too expensive to begin with. I purchased the grammar checking tool WhiteSmoke about two months ago. This is essentially the Word grammar checker on steroids, and works in any text editor. Truly, it’s a pretty good tool. You highlight your text, hit F2 and it’ll open in an editor and either automatically fix errors, or show them and recommendations to fix. The recommendations are far better than Word recommends, and it’s great to have grammar and spell checking in every text box, no matter what program you use. There are only a few down sides I’ve seen: It works in it’s own editor. I’d rather it let me edit directly in the text box. It doesn’t work in Microsoft Word when track changes are on. It sees deleted/changed text as regular text, and messes up pasting and such. After contacting support

Rounding to quarter hours with a solution in SQL Server

A co-worker asked me the other day about an application where they want to sum values and round them to a quarter of a while number. In this case we had a time entry tool where users entered time in any format, not specifically quarter of hours, but it needed to be summed and rounded to the quarter hour. For example, I have a number 6.6143 and it needs to be rounded to 6.5. Looking around I just couldn’t find an example where pure math was used, the best were some general rounding to different values using a case statement. In the end I took this approach, throwing together a quick SQL Server function to get the results. the solution essentially takes the number, removes the whole digits, rounds to two decimals, then checks if those two decimals all in a range. 1: -- ============================================= 2: -- Author: Tom Leary 3: -- Create date: 8/13/2009 4: -- Description: Rounds the given number to a quarter of an hour. 5: -- =====

Zoho for SharePoint

Zoho , the online document collaboration tool, now has an add-on to SharePoint that will allow users to edit documents online, behind the network firewall without having to install separate software. It also allows users to edit documents collaboratively in real-time, though we have a lighter version of that using LiveMeeting. It’s worth noting that while you edit documents behind the firewall, when they are opened, they are copied to the Zoho server during editing, then discarded. So it is clearly not for secret information, but that information shouldn’t be on an unsecured SharePoint in any case. The main benefit is that, when allowed by the agency, users can edit Office documents, and do that collaboratively, without installing the latest version of Office, though they will still need a Zoho license. Check out some more details here: Peace, +Tom

Dropbox Limerick

It’s funny, but I never really get to rhyme much in my daily life. I remember a year or so ago having dinner with our extended family, aunts and uncles at Red Robin, and somehow deciding the rhyme everything I said during the entire meal. It’s pretty amazing how quickly you can come up with rhymes, though they sure aren’t immensely clever. I’ve been using Dropbox for a while now and fallen in love with it. Essentially you have a folder on your desktop and anything you put in it gets uploaded to a shared directory. You can share individual files, or make a public folder. While it’s a little less intuitive than YouSendIt for e-maling files, I’ve found I really prefer using Dropbox for simply copying a file to a folder and copying the public link, as well as having the file sit up there as long as I want. Plus I find YouSendIt to be pretty expensive for just e-mailing files. To kick off them having a million users, and a new 50GB storage option, they opened a forum for people to win a


I got to work on a Web site recently called . This is probably one of the more interesting projects I’ve supported, where we built the site in about four days, and it really provides some value to people. It’s all about raising awareness and helping people connect who have mental wounds from serving in the military. At this point its been featured on CNN and the Today Show (though we got a little shafted on the Today Show). While it serves a pretty specific audience, it was great to be able to manage this thing into reality. Peace, +Tom


I saw this comic today by Debbie Ridpath Ohi . If you’re a writer, or just like books and reading, she is definitely one to follow, her comics are hilarious. This reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend yesterday. We were talking about the things that we’re good at. She mentioned that I’ve always been really good ad keeping people in mind, considering their feelings and needs, even if I don’t have much reason to. For me it simply boils down to loving people, even if I don’t like them very much, and doing whatever I can to help them to have the best life possible. I was also thinking about how my friend is incredibly good at pursuing excellence in whatever she does. She’s one of those people who, if they agree to do something, you know will be done better than you’d have ever done it yourself. You also know that once you give her the task you don’t need to look over her shoulder or check up on how it’s going. It’ll just get done, and she’ll even be pro-active and let y

The Creation of Man

Erin and I had an odd conversation where we tried to track down exactly when she taught me that if you close your eye, and put eye drops in the corner, then open your eye, the drops don’t bother you. Good stuff to remember for both kids and adults, since I didn’t know until I was 26 or something. The final decision was that I learned this pearl of wisdom before watching The Scarlet Pimpernel at National (or Ford’s) Theater. If you ever get a chance, this is the musical to see, you’ll laugh your tukus off. Erin always rolls her eyes at this, but one of the best songs ever made is the Creation of Man. Here the Pimpernel describes how great it is to be a man, and how we should live up all the flourishes and dressing styles afforded to us men. Not just plumes in our hats, but “lights in our pants.” The suits they come out wearing are just so outrageous that I could only ever dream of being able to wear something like it to work. If only I’d thought of it for my wedding… This song is hil

Dr. Horrible

I’ve been listening to Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog soundtrack on the way in, and it’s just awesome. If you ever think that the jerk who beat you up in school doesn’t want to be loved, this will set you straight… and remind you the jerk is trying to destroy the world at the same time. Truly, it’s just hilarious, and I’m beginning to sing along to some of the songs. I haven’t had time to actually watch the Blog, which you can get on iTunes or Hulu , but the soundtrack is pretty darned good. So, if you’re feeling in the mood to relate to some bad guys, since they are people with feelings too, then check it out! This could all just be a humorous review of Dr. Horrible. Every time I listen to it though I end up thinking about those people I don’t like, or do some pretty idiotic (or hurtful) things. Remember the kid in 3rd grade who ran over and hit the girl… because he liked her? Oh, wait… that was me doing the hitting. Maybe it comes from working with kids so much, but I see s

Polyphonic Spreeing

My friend Alex recently got me into the band Polyphonic Spree . If I’d have to call it anything it’s kind of a mix between the Beatles and symphonic rock (though I stole the symphonic rock part from Wikipedia). They have traits so similar to the Beatles that Pandora ends up suggesting a bunch of Beatles songs on the Polyphonic Spree station. Seeing as how I don’t like the Beatles, I thumbs down and skip those songs. I really got into them because Alex said they had some really upbeat music that just makes you happy. I’d definitely have to agree. I’ve loved driving down the road to Light & Day blaring at top notch. Truly, I’ve read the lyrics and still don’t really understand the song, but it talks about focusing on the day and reaching toward the sun. There are so many times that we look at the day wondering what can possibly befall us. We can just as easily think about the day and wonder what great thing we will make happen. So, how did you bring light to the world today?

Tom’s Friend

Holy cow, I was going to write on leading people, management, or some other such unimportant thing. Thank goodness I checked my email first! My friend Cindy let me know about Tom’s Friend mugs which this group is giving away free (even S&H is free) as a promotion. So, if you’re my friend, acquaintance, or stumbling upon this blog from Google, you HAVE to get a mug that makes very clear that I’m your friend! If you’re across the pond and want to make clear who loves you most, let me know and I’ll try and get one for you. Request one now ! An overview of the whole thing is on the Tom’s Film site with a quick synopsis in Free Tom’s Friend Coffee Mug post . I’ll definitely be there to see the movie! I’ve ordered my own so that I can give it to my wife for her birthday. Thanks Cin! +Tom

Self Affirmation

Following right on my Inside Out post about spending a little time each morning in front of the mirror talking about how great a person you are, I heard the 60 Second Science podcast Affirmations Improve Minority Student Grades . This talks almost specifically about how simply talking ourselves up can improve our grades, the study looked like this Half of the students wrote about any neutral topic over the course of a year. The other half were asked to write about why they cherished certain values. The grades of African-American affirmation kids improved about a quarter of a point on a four-point scale, compared with the control group. And the lowest initial African-American performers upped their scores more than four-tenths of a point. Two years later, the scores continued to track higher among the group that practiced affirmations. Interestingly, for White students who took part they didn't see a difference, which could be attributed to ethnic minorities feeling "

Inside Out

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and made an incredibly arrogant comment (because you can do that with some close friends). I said that it looks like I have the perfect life, and everything is great, right? We agreed, I have a wonderful wife, two great kids, a gorgeous house, great job. I am living the American dream and I’ve just got it all together. My friend Melissa made a comment in a previous post about how she didn’t think my wife and I fought, and was glad to see we did, based on the blog post. Truthfully, in this case, Erin and I very rarely fight. I actually almost fought with anyone I dated. This is really simply because I like to talk a lot, and I want to make sure whoever I’m with is talking too. I talk about what I’m going to do before I do it, as do they, so we talk things out before they even could turn into a fight. I can’t recall a time that we’ve raised our voices to each-other, though we have had a few low grumbles of disagreements when it comes to

Difficult Questions

While questions come in all different shapes and sizes, we all learn in elementary school that they all are about one of these: Who What Where Why When How All of these are straightforward, but some are definitely more difficult than others. Why seems to carry the most weight out of all of these. It can either be the simplest question in the world… Why did the dog lick my face when it had jam all over it? While they may get a little tough when we’re younger, looking back they’re still relatively simple… Why is the sky blue? Of course, as we get older, the questions become increasingly more difficult to answer… Why did she break up with me? And tougher… Why do I feel so alone? The beauty though is that while the questions may have difficult answers, they don’t necessarily have to be difficult. Like some of the best questions worth asking ourselves every day… Why am I so lucky to have this life? Even questions about other people can real

Friends and Trends

Meeting new people, and reconnecting with old friends, gives us the great opportunity to evaluate our own lives through someone else’s lens. I talked with an old high school friend about her life going all over the world, and finally settling in beautiful Maine teaching deaf and blind kids (I don’t think the same kids have both problems, man, would that stink). It helped me look at the traveling I do, and the people I help. I’m recognizing how much I do love to go new places, just so I can become a part of the real culture, and not just the tourist traps. I like to explore, though I haven’t done it too much lately. Then there are a couple of friends who have been laid off, and help me realize just how great it is that I have a job, and one that I really enjoy going to each day. No, it’s not everything I want, but since I don’t know what I want yet, how could I ever fault the job. It’s time for me to stop complaining about work, and instead enjoy what I have each day. I talked to

Stressing the Mind

I’ve been listening to the Dune audiobook and have fallen in love. Don’t ask why a Sci-Fi junkie like myself hasn’t read it yet, but I’m about 2/3 of the way through and love it. I especially like the audiobook from Audible with different voices and a little background music at times, I almost wonder if I would enjoy the book as much. While listening the following line came up. The mind can go in either direction under stress - toward positive or toward negative. This is an entirely true statement that I forget all too often. There are many times when I think the balance of everything is held together by a string, and it would be so easily to change just once thing and turn the world upside down. When there is a ton of work for my job, plus volunteer pressures and family life, I sometimes trend toward shutting down or retreating instead of recognizing all the gifts that I have, a job, a great community and a wonderful family. I have more opportunities to help others in


In all the talk about old friends I had a conversation with one of my teens where a friend of his said “I called that” and I was reminded of my friend Geoff. When I told him I’d been molested for a bunch of years his response was “I thought so.” While he was supportive after that, the response was pretty much the beginning of the end of our friendship. If he’d simply asked about it I would have told him the truth. In any case, that made me realize that all that happened twenty years ago. So, this year is the second decaversary of the last time I was ever molested. How cool is that?!?! I could wax poetic about how I’d never wish it on anyone, but I did grow and learn from it all, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today. But, in reality, I’m glad I have moved on completely. So, Happy decaversary to whatever you can think of from twenty years ago, or even ten since it’s deca. Peace, Tom P.S. Is Decaversary even a word? I assume so since deca is ten, but what do I really kn

Challenging Friends

An interesting thing about reconnecting with old friends is finding something you’ve been missing. As adults our friendships change from what they were in high school and college. As we grow up we get used to being polite with others to the point that we hold everyone at arms length. People don’t want to be around others who are emotional, so we keep those emotions close to our hearts to be shared in journals and with therapists. We’ve become more and more distant with each-other to the point that we’re missing the connections and the opportunities for growth that come from those connections. I was thinking about one friend form college who always made me want to be more than I was. She always seemed to have her life together, and was very sure of herself and committed to what she wanted to do. Sure, she had some insecurities, but she was also very open about who she was and what she was focused on. It was always refreshing and made me more sure of myself and my own decisions.

Imperfect Freedom

I got to my car yesterday to find a note on the window. You know what window notes mean, someone ran into my car while it was parked. Sure enough, there was a red mark on the bumper. Of course, the note ends with (Not the red mark). So, of course, I had two accidents during the day while my car was parked… how prefect is that? What was great though, was that I really didn’t care. I’ll call the woman back, only to let her know not to worry about it. I saw that mark and just thought, no big deal. The car still runs, and now it doesn’t matter if I bump the wall while pulling into the garage. That mark also means that I really don’t have to worry about the odd ding or scratch I get. I plan to keep the car until it dies, or until Rachel kills it while she learns to drive… 12 years from now, whichever comes last. So, who cares about a mark here or there? On the way home I really realized how freeing it is to have an imperfection or two. I spent middle school trying to be perfect. T

We’re All the Same

Recently I’ve been listening to the Scientific American 60 Second Science podcast . their podcast Peers know you better Than You Do followed an interesting study about speed dating, where a person who described themselves did a worse job being accurate than people who had previously dated the person and then described them. While the whole thing was interesting, the line that stuck out for me was this: The researchers say such “surrogate” information may be strong because we’re more alike than we think. Even people of different cultures share similar likes and dislikes. Plus we tend to hang out with people who share our interests. So while we may be marching to our own beat, we’re always part of a bigger band. All my life I’ve been convinced that we are more similar than dissimilar. We all have very similar wants and dreams. It’s part of why religion has such a string influence in our life. We all want to belong to something. We want to feel loved, and, in most cases, we

What Ifs

I expect everyone imagines to some extent. I certainly hope so, otherwise life really would be boring. I’ve found that I can imagine almost anything, quite vividly. It comes in very handy when I’m making up stories for the kids, and probably was more handy when bending the truth to the breaking point as a teen. Recently I’m finding it is also really useful in understanding people. The bloodshot eyes on the kid in Orlando letting me know she’d been to the beach, or the slow movements of the teen whose been hurt. The problem with that imagination is that it’s easy to wonder “what if”. While it doesn’t happen all the time, I spend a bit of time wondering about what could have been, or what would have happened. Every now and then I wonder how my life would have been different if I’d married the girl I dated for almost two years in college instead of Erin, really the only other person I seriously considered spending the rest of my life with. There’s the obvious stuff, like I wouldn’t h

Easter Sunrise

Since I’ve been attending St. Matthew’s we’ve had a sunrise service on Easter. We gather in the church and tromp out at 6 AM to our chapel in the woods to stand by benches (er, pews) and light this huge fire, which we then light the Paschal candle (a big candle signifying Christ’s light and presence among us… among other things). We then head on back to the church singing in all our off-key glory to continue the service through readings, in a dark church. About halfway through we say some prayer, turn up the lights, and the whole room becomes festive. In the dark everyone is silent, and it’s an amazingly peaceful and calming experience. In the light our breath explodes and the colors, light and sounds bring out the joy we feel at this miracle God has performed. The funny thing is that Easter was really late in the year for 2009. So late that the time change had already occurred, which led to there being some light being out as we were in the woods. Somehow that little bit of li

What are you spending your money on?

Recently I've begin thinking about what I've been spending my money on. For example, I love my new iPod touch . No matter what people say about their mp3 player (and I've seen a bunch) Apple has figured out the music stuff. Automatically remembering where I was in each audiobook/podcast. Letting me slide to position or fast forward. Plus the App store. I just love doing it. Plus I'm writing this post on the iPod since my laptop is in the shop, and I love that I can e-mail it when I'm done. Or my Chrysler Pacifica which I bought used. It, along with my Dash navigation system and iPod or Pandora radio on the cell make driving relaxing and fun. Then there were the tons of other things I've bought and have since forgotten about. I do love having new things . Heck, did I mention the TiVo ? If you have only used a regular DVR you don't know what you're missing. I even love our house, which was still a good investment even in this crappy economy. I'

Gotta Lotta Latte

About six months ago Erin and I got an espresso machine, and our house has never been the same. I keep joking that I’ve become a decent barista. If you look at my counter you might agree, I have syrups in the following flavors: White Chocolate Chocolate Cinnamon Dolce (delicious with white chocolate) Orange (delicious with chocolate, like a chocolate orange) Peppermint Almond (also called Oregot, did you know that) Hazelnut Vanilla Egg Nog Amaretto Cookie Dough Gingerbread (almost out of that, and it’s Rachel’s favorite) Caramel I have pumps for them and everything. Quick tip, one pump from a spout is 1/4 of a shot (or 1/2 an ounce). So when you’re at Starbucks and they say 5 shots, you’re getting 2 1/2 ounces of sugar there. Recently I’ve been listening to the Scientific American 60 Second Science podcast . They recently had one titled Caffeine Cuts Workout Plan which has completely reinforced my latte habit. It turns out t

New Friends

Thanks to Facebook, and to a lesser extent Myspace (which I openly hate but keep since others still use it) I’ve recently reconnected with a lot of old friends. Not old friends from a few years ago, but people from almost different lifetimes. While I’m talking a little more with some friends from college, almost 11 years ago now, I’m talking to more from high school. And a few days ago I even reconnected with a friend from middle school. All this leads to an interesting reality. I’m starting “new” friendships with people who know more about my past than almost anyone I’ve met in the past few years. Tons of different emotions come up when we talk. At times I think about how great all of our lives have turned out, and how people have gone beyond my wildest dreams. My college friend Kat is a PhD in England researching cures to incurable disease. then my friend Coretta traveled all over the world to end up in Maine to teach blind and deaf kids. My friends are making huge impacts on

Paint Loaves

Yesterday Rachel tells me about this dream she had. I had a dream that a bad man came to our school and tried to kill Lydia, but she was a paint loaf. When the angel started to bring her up to heaven Lydia said “no, I’m not dead, I’m a paint loaf.” After asking what a paint bock was, she didn’t really explain, it was just a paint block. All I know is that I really can’t wait for her to begin writing stories… I thought mine were weird. Update: I ended up fixing this after talking to Rachel and she informed me that it is not a paint block but a paint loaf . Of course, this cleared up nothing for me… but the image from DeviantArt still fits. Peace, +Tom

Lent Devotion Version 2

I mentioned earlier about a Lenten devotion I needed to write for this Lent. This goes into a book where a bunch of us write devotions to be printed and shared with friends, family or whomever. When I wrote the first draft it was because I couldn’t find a final thought or cohesive item to help grow. When I sent it to my friend Alex fro review, he said it was good, but it wasn’t specifically “Tom”. He said it looked like something that would be in a published devotion book, which was good, but could be better. So I ended up going back to the topic that had been rattling in my mind for two months. The problem is that it’s incredibly challenging, and I didn’t really have an answer. But, here’s what I finally came up with. --- How do I live as a Christian in a suburban world? I have a house with four bedrooms, an office, family room, dining room and living room (can someone tell me why I need both a family room and a living room). If I get kicked out of the bedroom I’ll never sl

Lent Devotion Version 1

Over Lent some people in our church write a devotion for each day to be put into a printed booklet that we try to share with everyone, both people in and out of the church. There’s the hope that the people will read the devotion each day, since it aligns with the reading of the day. We are kept to 300 words or less, so about half a page. Every year I offer to write a devotion since I really enjoy it, and every year I keep it foremost on my mind and have a hard time finding a final focus until I get the writing in late. This year was no different. I’d originally read the readings and subsequently thought daily about what it means to be a capitalist, and a consumer, and a Christian. Then the deadline came and passed, and I still didn’t think I had a good insight. I finally wrote this first draft, which had almost nothing to do with my original thought, but did apply to the reading, and it could have applies to almost any readings. This is a prayer that was one of the few times I kn


I was looking to copy a cassette tape from my stereo to my computer, since this particular album Paranoimia by The Art of Noise is only available on tape, and I couldn’t find my old copy.  Turns out it was actually in the radio I have… which I discovered after trying to put the copy I just bought from Amazon for $4 into the player… Chalk that up to another Tomism I guess. The radio I had is mangling the audio from the tape for some reason. So I went to e-mail my friend Mason to see if he has another tape player and ran into a minor problem… I forgot how to spell cassette. Was it casett, casset or cassett? None of them seemed right. I actually ended up browsing the Net before Erin came in and informed me. This got me back to thinking about just how quickly something becomes so useless we forget how to spell it correctly. I was also thinking about this because of a recent announcement by Pioneer that they would stop making Laser Disc players , essentially writing the format

Contagious Happiness

I’ve been listening to the Scientific American 60 Second Science podcast. I’ve found a bunch of fascinating things, but one that struck me today was about happiness. Apparently Happiness is Contagious . Here’s the interesting part: Researchers looked at twenty years' worth of data on more than 5,000 individuals and found that when any one person was happy, their friends became more likely to share that joy. Benefits spread out to three degrees of separation, meaning a better chance at happiness for not only their friends' friends, but also their friends' friends' friends. Apparently it works only when you’re physically close to the person. So my having 300 Facebook friends doesn’t seem to help. It made me think though about just how happy I am. I like to think I am often upbeat and spreading happiness, even when people may not really want bubbly. People do lighten up when they’re around happy people. Even when a naturally happy person is subdued and ser

Why I Need to Be President

On this historic day, when our world will no longer be the same, I’m watching the inauguration and noticing a couple of reasons that I absolutely have to be president. So I can ride on helicopters I will leave the inauguration as outgoing president on horseback, just because I can So I can forget what office I’m accepting, just like Obama almost did So my kids can take my picture So I can gossip with the outgoing president with billions watching, and no one will know what I said So I can make millions after I leave office just for talking To be able to see my face blown up on huge posters and that people carry around So that I can sign presidential orders in one second or less with my super fast signature To be able to say, I want carrots, sardines and ranch dressing at 9 p.m. and someone gets it for me To be able to look in the mirror and call myself Mr. President for the rest of my life So, will you vote for me at the next election? Peace


Okay, so this is a post entirely about me. Don’t worry, I’ll have some useful content soon, I promise. But I was talking to my friend Rob last week about some friends that started doing something new “a few months ago.” Rob’s response was that it was at least last August. My reply? Yeah, that’s a few moths ago, right? I related that story to Erin and she pointed out that you could almost list out certain things that I do which are slightly off from other people. Now, there are tons and tons of ways that I think differently from other people. Personally, I love that. It keeps me unique. At times though it also seems pretty darned funny. I figure that if people need to laugh at someone, it may  be at my expense instead of some unsuspecting, and undeserving person. so, here are a few Tomisms specifically regarding how I see time. A few years ago: Any time between last year and thirty years ago Last year: Last year A few months ago: Any time between two months and a yea