General Ramblings comments edit

What can I say about 2006? I think about it and it reminds me of A Tale of Two Cities - “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Some of the stuff I blogged, some I didn’t, but let’s see if we can recap some of the major happenings.

In January, I ended my three year stint of taking allergy shots. I still have some minor troubles now and then, but nothing like it used to be. I put it to the test when we went karaoke-ing at a local pub, marking it as the best time I’ve ever had at a karaoke bar.

In February, Stu and I invented “units” - running up against a video game for sometimes hours on end. Jenn and I started working out to try and look good for the wedding (and it didn’t totally fail, but it didn’t really succeed, either).

In March, following a great run at Paper Mario, I went to the Corillian Casino Night and had a blast. We saw the Cirque du Soleil show, Varekai, and we decided a lot of stuff surrounding the wedding (like catering). I also went to a really great Peer Mentoring seminar and learned a lot of stuff I use all the time.

April found Stu entirely addicted to coffee in a week (which we’d find out would end a few months later after he decided it was really kicking his ass). I got further into some fun board games, switched to cable phone service, and got my Xbox 360. We rounded the month off with the 24: Season 1 marathon. April also found Stu and Tiff getting divorced, which, while I didn’t blog it and won’t go too far into it, was an unfortunate occurrence for them that affected Jenn and I far more than I think either of them realized. This was actually quite a turning point for a lot of things. I’m sorry it had to happen, and I wish things would have worked out.

In May I spent a lot of time playing Tomb Raider: Legend and my dad got an Xbox 360 (though he’s rarely on it, which sucks). It was all to be overshadowed with my granddad passing after a bout of cancer. I still think about him all the time and miss him very much.

In June not a lot happened beyond some experimentation with scripting and contact information and a round of rototilling at home. I did take a bad drink in there, but I wouldn’t really qualify that as “eventful” as much as just gross.

July was much more eventful. My sister, Tori, got married to a really cool guy named Brandon (congrats again!); Jenn and I did our usual pyrotechnics at the sewage treatment plant; I turned 30 and had a great birthday (even though my Xbox 360 died and had to be sent in for repair); and my stinking dad got me hooked on R/C helicopters so I had to spend a lot of money.

In August we got our sprinkler system installed. I got my Xbox 360 back and discovered the lameness that is Xbox Live Digital Rights Management. We got the house trim painted, but it didn’t turn out too great and had to be fixed. Stu’s parents came to visit and it was great to finally meet them in person and talk, even if they couldn’t stay very long. I also went a little aggro because people just don’t understand the need for RSVPs when planning a wedding.

September started off with a fun, unit-filled Labor Day weekend. I didn’t (and still don’t) get Sandcastle and think Microsoft should have just taken NDoc over. I got myself a PSP (love it!) and discovered the awesomeness that is TypeMock.

October began with my bachelor party in Vegas, one of the best times I’ve ever had. I saw the Cirque show KA while I was there, front row center, and it absolutely rocked. The month peaked when Jenn and I got married and went to Aruba.

November was fairly uneventful, which was fine since October was exactly the opposite, and ended with a fairly lame Thanksgiving (my least favorite holiday).

December started off slow, but things definitely started happening toward the middle of the month when we were hit with a city-wide blackout. I also wrote about some of the cool gadgets I use to help me keep the house clean. The month took a definite downturn as Jenn’s fat kitty got sick and had to be put down. That cast a shadow on Christmas, making it sort of hard to have a great time the way you really should during the holiday.

I took the last two weeks of the year off and started back to work on the third of January, 2007, after taking a while to recover from Jason and Tracy’s yearly New Year’s bash (which was a load of fun where I proved once again that I am an unstoppable force at Scene It! and where I successfully avoided getting conned into going streaking). Stu was there, but ditched after showing up fairly late and only hanging out for about an hour - just as we were starting to play games. He missed out on a great time.

2006 was a pretty stressful year. A lot happened, both good and bad, and I’m really not sure where 2007 will lead. Friends I thought were really tight with me have drifted (extremely suddenly and fairly inexplicably) away. I find that unfortunate, particularly as I’m sure they don’t actually realize it. Or maybe that’s just the way things go. Friends that had drifted away over the course of the years have come back and are just as much fun as ever, albeit slightly changed over time. Things I thought would become regular traditions turned out to be more important to me than to other folks, and things I never thought would happen came to pass.

Regardless, the past is past and what’s happened has happened. On to 2007, whatever it holds in store.

General Ramblings comments edit

Semper, the Tub
CatThis year the holidays have had an unfortunate shadow cast on them as, on December 21, we had to put down Jenn’s nine-year-old cat, Semper. She was losing a battle with fatty liver disease and pancreatitis, and there was nothing we could do to save her. It came on very suddenly, especially considering just two weeks before that we had taken her in for a routine check-up and her blood work came back fine. She was a bit overweight (20 pounds!) so we were in the process of transitioning her to a prescription diet food when this happened.

She didn’t do much. She’d sleep most of the day away, rarely venturing out of one of her three or four known “spots” around the house. She didn’t like people much and she was scared of everything. If you were in eyesight, she wouldn’t eat, drink, or go to the bathroom - she’d hide. She liked to destroy anything she could get her gigantic claws into and she’d bite you for no particular reason. She liked tools, particularly the hammer, which she’d roll around on and sleep next to. She was dirty and oily because she had medium-long hair and was too fat to clean herself. She breathed really loud like she had respiratory issues even though she was just fine. Her skin was so pink you could almost see through it, particularly in her ears. We called her “The Tub” because she was so huge.

She was fat, she was mean, and she was a good cat. She left us unexpectedly, and our other cat has been wandering around looking for her friend, a friend that won’t be coming home. She was a total piece of crap and we miss her very much.

General Ramblings comments edit

Christmas this year was reasonably good, all things considered.

We opened the season up with the 24: Season 5 marathon at our house on the 23rd. From 8:00a to 1:00a the next morning, Jack Bauer fought terrorism in my living room while Stu, Meaghan, Jenn, my dad, and I sat entranced by the action. Watching it marathon-style really is the only way to go.

Christmas Eve being the next day, we slept in a bit (watching TV that long is actually pretty wearing… sort of counter-intuitive, I know) and finished the last of the package wrapping. That afternoon we headed over to Jenn’s parents’ house to do some gift exchange and chat for a while with them. Jenn brought her Nintendo DS because her mom and niece both got them for Christmas and it was the first time we were able to play with some of the networking abilities. It’s actually a pretty slick deal and we had a lot of fun with it.

After that, we went over to Jenn’s mom’s cousin’s house and visited with some of her extended family. I’d been there once before, several years ago, but while I recognized faces, I’m horrible with names and had to be re-introduced to folks. I’m introduced as “my husband, Travis” now, which is still weird for me to hear.

Christmas Day I had expected to be at my parents’ house early, but they had things to do, so Jenn and I exchanged gifts to each other in the morning and it ended up being a little after noon before we got to my parents’ house. We talked for a bit and I showed my parents some of the gifts Jenn and I had gotten each other, then my grandparents showed up and we ate dinner… at 2:00p… which I guess is what elderly folks expect, but is still something I don’t understand.

We exchanged gifts with folks, Jenn and I cheaping out taking advantage of the wedding this year and giving a lot of wedding photos. I got a few very cool things that I’m enjoying on my vacation, including The Unit: Season 1, Gears of War (and the strategy guide), The Beatles’ Love album, and more energy drinks than I’ve ever seen in one place at one time.

All in all, a good Christmas, but nothing screamingly outstanding or exceptionally notable. Jenn and I have been talking about the fact that Christmas sort of loses its magic more and more the older you get. It becomes less about the wonder of the season and more about trying to arrange schedules, make sure everyone has a gift, get everyone together come-hell-or-high-water… it’s not at all like it was when we were kids, and it’s not like you see in the movies. It used to be, and neither of us are really sure where things went wrong. Maybe it’s the age difference, maybe it’s the turmoil of the year catching up to us, maybe it’s something else, but it’s not the way it used to be - the way it should be. We’re going to have to look at how to change that for next year.

General Ramblings comments edit

My mom just called me (she works for the Fred Meyer book buyer) and let me know that the new Harry Potter book is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. No release date yet, but it’s kind of cool to get information on the inside track.

personal, home comments edit

I’m always on the lookout for tools, tips, and tricks to make my life easier. I read Life Hacker. I follow Hanselman’s Ultimate Tools List (I think I’m on the list). The thing is, I hate cleaning but I haven’t seen anyone provide a list of ways to help me so I don’t have to clean my house. I’ve found a few things I use and like, so here’s my list of things I use to make it easier to keep a clean place.


  • Roomba is my #1 weapon in my passive-aggressive fight for a clean home. Roomba is an automatic vacuuming robot made by iRobot. It has a home base that it charges its battery on, and when you’re ready to vacuum, you pick it up and put it in the middle of the floor, turn it on, and away it goes. When it’s done, it parks back at the home base and recharges for the next time. All you have to do is empty the dust bin and periodically clean the brushes (which I find easier and, frankly, more novel than pushing a vacuum cleaner by hand). I have two of the Discovery SE models (so I can do two rooms at once) and I love them. They do a great job (and you won’t believe it until you empty the dustbin and see how much it picks up). Plus, if you ever have any issues, iRobot customer support is actually a great experience. I’ve called them twice (once I had a problem with one of the wheels and once I had a home base charger issue) and both times were hassle-free and satisfying. Any issues I had - resolved, no questions. If you have to choose just one of the things on this list to pick up, make it a Roomba.


  • Scooba is the cousin of Roomba. While Roomba vacuums, Scooba mops. Most of my downstairs is hardwood and it gets nasty. Scooba to the rescue! Technically Scooba does some vacuuming, too, but not as much as Roomba. I usually run Roomba over the hardwoods to pick up any debris and then follow up with a Scooba run. Again, you won’t believe how much gunk this thing picks up until you empty the dirty water tank and see it
  • it does an awesome job. The only thing I’ve run into is that on a large floor like mine you need to break it up and run in sections - something easy to do with the “virtual walls” both Scooba and Roomba have.

Kaboom! Never
ScrubKaboom! Never Scrub - I found this one by accident at the local supermarket and figured I’d give it a run. The idea is that you put this device in-line with the pipe that fills your toilet bowl and the water runs through a chlorine filter to kill any bacteria and add some bleach to the water to stop anything from growing. This thing is amazing. I have one of these in every toilet in the house. You still have to clean the outside of the toilet, but nothing grows under the rim or in the bowl. Note that if the toilet doesn’t get used (never gets flushed, or doesn’t get flushed often), then water won’t be running through the filter and stuff will eventually start to grow. We have one bathroom that rarely gets used; we flush the toilet once or twice a week to make sure it stays clean.

Caution: if you have pets that like to drink out of the toilet, this isn’t for you (or you’ll have to make sure you keep the lid closed).

Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower
CleanerScrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner

  • Hang this in the shower and, when you’re done, push the button. Fifteen seconds later, it sprays a cleaning solution around in the shower that gets rid of soap scum and mold. Do this daily and it’ll clean up a dirty shower or keep a clean shower clean.

Placement on this is key - if you put it somewhere so the spray head can’t shoot solution to one area of the shower, it won’t get clean; if you place it too low, it won’t reach everywhere because the spray head isn’t a fire hose. It generally is supposed to hang from your shower head, but we have one of those removable massage heads so I put a plastic hook in the shower.

I’ve found that, while it keeps the orange soap scum out, you do occasionally have to give the shower a good scrub to get rid of some of the more built-up scum. We have glass doors on the shower and still have to pay a little attention to them. Not as effective as the Kaboom! Never Scrub, but pretty darn good.


  • Less a cleaner and more of a freshener/deodorizer. Drop one of these in your garbage disposal and run it to get rid of the stink and give it a nice fresh lemon scent. You still will have to clean out your garbage disposal as usual (you do clean it out, right?), but in the interim you can get rid of the stench.

What gadgetry and doo-dads do you use to keep your house clean?