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Religious: Life comes at you too fast...

23 February 2006
Jay Kimble

[WARNING! This is an archived post and as such there may be things broken/missing here.. you have been warned.]

So you all know my current situation.  As mentioned before it’s bleak… it’s grave… and it’s God-filled.  I’m currently at a place that I don’t need to seek God out.  He’s right here.  I know I probably shouldn’t be this open on my blog (at least most people don’t do this), but when I get like this… uhm… in situation like this (if anything is like this), I have to express myself… If I offended you yesterday…. GOOD!  You probably needed to hear it.  I spoke with my best friend Dave Balzer and he told me it was a good post (he has a different perspective on US politics than me), so again if it offended you, good (you needed it). 

My whole experience right now reminds me of the movie “Stand and Deliver.”  If you haven’t seen it, it’s very inspirational (but not religious).  Anyway, there is a scene in the movie where the main character (a math teacher) takes one of his students (who is about to drop out of school) for a ride in the student’s car.  They are tearing down the street at a pretty good pace.  When all of a sudden there is a fork in the road, the teacher asks the student “Quick! Right or left?”  The student picks right.  All of sudden they are bringing the car to screeching stop; it’s a dead end.  The teacher looks at the student and says “Life comes at you too fast! It’s easy to pick the wrong direction…”

Needless to say this whole thing with my mom has changed me.  I used to be a very quiet almost afraid to talk about my Christian faith (I know there are some CodeBetter bloggers who would rather I didn’t even post this, but it’s a cultural difference I guess).  When it came to talking about my faith, I was always very careful of how far I took things even when someone was point blank asking me about it.  No more!  If anything my intention now in life is to live deliberately.  I won’t be carried by life anymore; I intend to seize the day!  That doesn’t mean that I’ll become a “Bible Thumper” but it does mean if you need to hear it you WILL hear it from me…Because “Life comes at you too fast!”  If you are not careful you will choose the wrong direction.

Politics: How did this happen to my mom?

22 February 2006
Jay Kimble

[WARNING! This is an archived post and as such there may be things broken/missing here.. you have been warned.]

So you all know that my mom’s life hangs in the balance and I’m still asking about prayers.  So how did we get here…

[You may or may not care, but I do… and when I’m going through stuff have to communicate.  It’s what I do… I’m a natural blogger.  It wouldn’t matter if I was tech blogging or not… I have to write.]

My dad worked 30+ years for J&L Steel in Lousiville, Ohio.  Like us programmers they kept adding to what he did (and then changed his title).  He was a maintenance guy.  I don’t know what all he started doing but by the time was done they had combined 3 or 4 different positions into one.  My dad went to welding school and learned about hydraulics. 

None of this is really important, but if your a programmer look at the similarities.  Where I just worked they had gotten rid of all the Project managers and combined that with the regular resource managers (although they all through alot of the work on the developers).  There were hardly 3 BA’s in the company to get requirements (for at least 25–60 developers), so you can guess who was gathering requirements.  The QA department was shut down… In the midst of this they kicked up our paperwork for our SLDCS process.  It’s just like my dad… He went from simply greasing machines, replacing filters, to full hydraulic work, became a welder, and I have no idea what else.

So he put in 30 years, for my mom and me.  When it came time they decided that he needed to get out.  Co-workers were dropping like flies from cancer.  Dad was a afraid of leaving us.  He retired with enough money for them to survive and come to Florida to visit us.  They also had full insurance… they had to pay a little bit, but they had full insurance.  As you know unions sign contracts periodically… so 3 years later the company negotiated that there either needed to be a pay cut or the insurance had to go.  The vote happened and my dad who was now a life long memeber of the union was not allowed to vote.  So, my mom and dad lost their insurance.  I think they were about 55 years old at that point.  They were offered to be able to buy into the plan if they would pay the full amount.  The full amount was over half their monthly pension (which of course was fixed).  They couldn’t afford it.  My mom had been dignosed with diabetes (long before this), and so they had trouble finding alternate insurance; my mom did call me and tell me that they had insurance, but I found out this week that they let it lapse because it had gotten so expensive to snowbird in Florida with us 6 months.  My mom also decided to let their life insurance lapse.  In effect they have nothing.

What do I think of this?  I think our politicians have let us down in the USA.  I’m not saying we need national coverage like Canada (or several other countries), but my dad retired with a contract… the company is still in business… why were they allowed to cancel his coverage or basically tell him sorry we can’t offer you something affordable.

I would like to have the guys who decided this together in a room for 5 minutes.  Everyone would walk back out, but I would land into them.  Oh yeah, by the way, Thank you George W. Bush and the Republican congress for doing what the credit establishment wanted and changing the bankruptcy laws so that my dad and mom can’t even declare bankruptcy from this (they took away the 2 most common reasons for bankruptcy here in the US: medical, and credit card).  What did the rest of the American people get?  Did we get a do not mail list for credit card apps?  Did we get a cap on medical expenses?  Nope, we got nothing… it’s all about corporate interests. 

Sorry, I’m pissed about all this… and it’s even worse that I had no idea.  My mom always preached to me to keep my insurance up and then she has none when this happens.

I would like to encourage you my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to remember that NO political party has your interests at heart… they are only trying to figure out how to steer their agenda that it gains your vote.  If you think the US Republicans are God’s party… you better go look at the first great Republican: Abe Lincoln.  Abe said that everyone says “Might Makes Right.  I think that right makes might.”  In the old testament God repeatedly warned Israel leaders to remember the poor and the powerless because that was going to gain God’s favor… today we favor the rich and powerful and fight to push “morality” but we don’t really want to talk about what the scriptures say about justice…  The Democrats have the opposite problem when they talk about tolerance… tolerance does not mean acceptance that every way is right… it doesn’t work that way (I’m making a general statement).

Sorry I had to get that out… it’s been inside of me for a long time. Sorry, if I offended a few of you, but you cannot continue following the party line and calling it godly... it's not.  I would highly recommend the book God's Politics by Jim Walls (go look it up on Amazon).  It talks about both sides and where they've gone wrong, and what we should do about it.


Prayer... greatly desired...

20 February 2006
Jay Kimble

[WARNING! This is an archived post and as such there may be things broken/missing here.. you have been warned.]

Hello everyone who is subscribed to my personal feed.  I just wanted to let you all know about something that is going on with me right now, and to solicit your prayers (if you are a praying sort of person).

I was at an after church pot luck at about 2:10 today when I got a call from my dad.  He and my mom are snowbirds here (they spend 6 months out of the year in Florida and 6 months in Ohio).  He told me that mom had gone into cardiac arrest and that she was being taken to a local hospital.  My 58 year old mother hasn’t been taking wonderful care of herself (mainly because she and my dad lack insurance… a couple years ago it was cancelled by the company my dad retired from)  Anyway, they lost her twice at the hospital and had almost given up when they got a pulse back.  My dad thinks all total today her brain went without oxygen for about 30 minutes. 

Prognosis has gotten better throughout the day.  Her heart’s pretty much pumping on its own and they think she’s trying to breath for herself.  Right now, she is asleep and we’re waiting for her to wake up.  She is starting to respond a little bit, but we’re afraid that it might just be the normal bodies reactions.  The doctors told us that we’re all in a waiting game.  Tomorrow we should know a lot more.

Anyway, there won’t be a second XSLT post this weekend (sorry).  You understand I have a lot more on my mind. 

Please pray for us (if you are a praying sort of person)… Tuesday is my youngest’s first brithday.  I want her to make the party even if we have to take it to her.


Why does it do this?!!?

15 February 2006
Jay Kimble

[WARNING! This is an archived post and as such there may be things broken/missing here.. you have been warned.]I love VS 2005.  But does anyone else run into this.  You're working along and all of a sudden you think your box is frozen solid??? When you hit task manager, VS 2005 has locked and is grabbing 90% of the CPU and the devenv process is eating memory like there's no tomorrow (if you let it sit and wait it will eventually eat all memory on the meachine and crash the OS... at least I let it do this once).  It seems to be refactoring related.  I can see why some people say VS 2005 is buggy.  (BTW, this is a rare occurence for me).

I think I'm going to stick with only using the Refactor! Pro refactorings (for now).

XSLT for the Uninitiated Part 1: Beginning Xpath

13 February 2006
Jay Kimble

[WARNING! This is an archived post and as such there may be things broken/missing here.. you have been warned.]

Why an XSLT Tutorial?
I have had a couple conversations with fellow programmers recently.  I was surprised to learn about their lack of knowedge in the area XSLT.  As a result I have decided to put together a few posts (I don’t know how many I’ll need to cover the material).  I will primarily be focusing on the XSLT 1.0 standard (but maybe we’ll do some exploring after this series).

You may be wondering what’s so cool about XSLT.  Well, I have used it as an AJAX technology that do some speedy reporting with filtering and sorting.  I have used it to create multiple reports from the same XML.  It really can be used to do all kinds of things, and it is in my opinion one of the key things that makes XML cool (XML isn’t really all that compelling to me by itself).

Before we can really talk about XSLT we need to talk about XPath.

What’s XPath?
Glad you asked! XPath is an XML selection language.  If you understand directory trees then you understand XPath… No really it’s true!.  Let’s start with a simple XML document that looks like this (pulling this out of the air, BTW)

<?xml version="1.0"?>
      <country region=”North America” type=”Preliminary” name=”Canada” sales=”34300” />
      <country region=”Europe” type=”Final” name=”Italy” sales=”35000” />
      <country region=”Europe” type=”Preliminary” name=”Sweden” sales=”36700” />
      <country region=”North America” type=”Final” name=”US” sales=”33200” />

So if I wanted to select (get) all the country nodes, the XPath would look like this:


So we are selecting country nodes because that’s what’s at the end of the XPath statement.  We want country nodes whose parent node is a countries node; the parent countries node must have a parent that is a root node.  BTW, when we select the country node, we are getting the country node and all it’s attributes and all it’s children (contained tags).

Now this is not the only XPath statement that will accomplish the desired affect for this XML.  It could also be written like this:


Of course we’re selecting country nodes, but in the ‘//’ means that we are selecting any country node in the XML file (sometimes called the tree or document tree).  This works for our XML, but it might not have the desired affect in all XML files.

Ok, let’s try something a little more complicated.  Let’s select all the country nodes where the region is Europe.  We’ll use the shortened syntax (mainly because I don’t feel like typing that much):

//country[@region eq ‘Europe’]

The stuff between the square brackets are selection criteria, so we’re still selecting the complete country node, but we’re only getting country nodes with a region attribute (the ‘@’ symbol designates an attribute) that equals the string ‘Europe’ (BTW you can represent the “equals” other ways, but I have had more luck with using eq, lt, etc in XSLT… it all depends on your XSLT processor)

So let’s repeat the last one except let’s add two things.  First of all let’s select only Final numbers and let’s return just the sales attribute. 

//country[@region eq ‘Europe’ && @type eq ‘Final’]/@sales

So we added 2 things here.  First we added a second condition  and combined the 2 using the ‘&&.’  The other new item occurs after the square brackets: the ‘/@sales.’  This means that we are now selecting just the sales attribute. 

That’s it for now.