Green grow the rushes-O

Ok, so the title really has nothing to do with what I was planting, it just popped into my head. Anyway, tonight after and during the grilling of dinner I planted a few of the plans I bought two weeks ago. They included a Korean Lillac bush and some columbines. I’ll have pictures eventually but it was to dark tonight to get any pictures. Besides that, right now the bed isn’t finished. I still ahve some english daisies to plant and a ton of mulching to do.


I discovered this on the Prohibited and Restricted Items page of eBay:

Internal organs of animals
Internal organs of animals (for example, bear gall bladders) may not be listed on eBay.

So that makes me wonder… is there a black market site for spleens? Perhaps spleenBay?

SOAPy MARC – Part 1

Success! I have actually managed to create an interface between the Microsoft Research task pane in Office 2003, and our Library catalog. I gave up on trying to accomplish this with Perl as Office never seemed able to connect to the functions. I downloaded nuSOAP for PHP and in about 15 minutes I was able to create the Registration service to add a search site to Office 2003. Once I discovered that I had that working I decided that it would be very easy to communicate with our library card catalog using Z39.50. There are multiple advantages to using a protocol such as that. The first advantage is a matter of portability. I should be able to re-use this setup on pretty much any Z39.50 compliant database. A second advantage to searching via Z39.50 is longevity. I do not think support for Z39.50 will be vanishing any time soon, which means it might just outlive the Research task pane in office, depending on Microsoft’s plans. The third advantage to using Z39.50 to talk to our catalog is that I already have code snippets from another project I came up with that I could reuse.
Once I had decided on Z39.50 to talk tot he catalog I got to work on deciphering the communications between Office and my program. The research pane in Office communicates using XML. The XML is based on multiple schemas many of which Microsoft invented specifically for this task. Once again I was able to recycle code from yet another project in the form of an XML parsing project in PHP. (Thanks again Kris Smith, for asking me to play with RSS feeds for pod casters.)
After a little bit of tweaking and some pretty sloppy code (hey it was really late) I was able to read the search requests and see what it was that I was asking for via Office. That success spurred me on and after a very loooong night of sleep coding I started in again the following morning. (Yes when I’m obsessed about something I have a habit of writing code, and debugging things in my sleep.)
The next morning I began the task of getting the Z39.50 code setup to perform a search. At this point I wasn’t even worried about returning useful data, just the number of hits on the search. After about an hour of digging though my old code, and a VERY helpful note I left for myself in the manual on PHP.NET I was able to return the number of hits to office. At this point I had what can loosely be described as an actual research service. Pretty useless, but it did perform a search and return data form an outside source. I now had to figure out the best method for parsing out the MARC record data. If you have ever seen a MARC record you would understand the “fun” involved in that. After looking at my options I decided to go hog wild and use XML for it as well. After all I already had the XML functions in use, so why not make them do double duty. Silly me… I think I should have just returned the record in Array form. It would have been much less of a headache. A few hours later though and a couple hung processes on the server and I was able to actually return real, honest to goodness data into the research pane in office. At this point I left it alone as it was 7pm after all and went home to sleep in prep for the next day.

Money for nothing

I overheard the following conversation by two students today:

Guy: “… na he doesn’t go to school, he makes money.”
Girl: “Huh? What do you mean he makes money?”
Guy: “He is working…”
[long awkward silence]

What did she think… “he” is sitting at home counterfitting?

What a difference a day makes

I was IMing with my sister saturday night after spending part of the day upgrading sendmail, and setting up smarthost features so that I can once again send mail to everyone I talk to. (Spam filters have been being very generous about bloacking out full dynamic IP ranges) While we were talking, the subject of the various projects around the house came up and I mentioned having to rebuild the old grape arbor that was falling apart.
Old Arbor
FYI: There is a very long story involved in why the 3 year old grape arbor is falling apart that I won’t get into here. Anyway she then asked for a few details about what we wanted, and told me she and her husband Glenn and little Jessica would be here Sunday at 10. WOW! Now there’s a surprise for me. I expected that project to be another of those never done projects that start fights.
Well sure enough at 10:15 Sunday morning there they were in my driveway. I had already dismantled part of the old arbor and in minutes Glenn had the other remaining section torn down. He and I then went over the rough scetch Palley had made of what she wanted and headed off to Menards for supplies. $80.70 later (woohoo 8% off everything sale) we had a truck load of lumber and decking screws.
By 4:00pm we had a new and MUCH improved arbor.
New Arbor
Thanks again Glennn, and Sharon!!!


Despite what it may appear from my previous posts on this board, I have been weighing my choices and really had not made up my mind on who I was voting for until I went to the polls this morning. As I drove down my street I noticed, yet again, that the signs for the existing board members were slashed and in lying in pieces. I find these acts of vandalism deplorable and completely uncalled for. This has been going on for weeks. I even noticed that a supporter of the current board erected a hand painted wooden sign in their yard to keep it from falling victim to the vandals. I would have liked to have seen some sort of statement from those opposing the current board stating that this is not an action their campaign supports. I understand that the vandalism may not be something they condone, but with no statement to contrary one is left to wonder. It is my hope that if Mr Brockman, and the other candidates that are opposing the current board are elected they will endeavor to stand up against this type of militant behavior.

Happy Engagement

Chris and Molly got engaged tonight. The funny thing is I was sitting at work thinking to myself “Hmm it should be right about time for Chris to propose”. I sent a text message to our buddy Karl asking him if we would hear the squeel out this far. He responded back that Molly was on the phone with his wife telling her the news right then. As I read that message, Chris rang my phone with the news too. Too funny! Congratulations guys!!!