Last weekend was my 20 yr reunion. I had a great time meeting everyone again and catching up on how their lives have grown. Even after 20 years I still recognized most everyone. Some people changed very little, while others have changed significantly. It’s interesting to me how our lives have and have not changed over this many years. Many people have quite different carreers and family lives than what I would have expected.

I posted  pics on my dotmac gallery.


I was shy of the year anniversary of construction by a few months. Whew! The tree fort, which resembles more of a playhouse, turned out exactly as envisioned. And, I learned software engineering and house construction have some similarities and some distinct differences. In the last few work sessions I experienced the most valuable similarity between the two disciplines: hire an expert!

In a recent post concerning Java One, I discussed Ben Galbraith’s rule of hiring a designer. In the actual construction of the fort, his sediment echoed loudly. I grossly underestimated the need for experienced help. Actually, I underestimated the importance of a square and over estimated my ability to carry 8ft sheets of plywood and lift them 6 ft above me. But even more importantly, I am a total n00b with working with wood. Luckily this is not a family trait.

My father drove all the way from Savannah two weekends in a row to help me erect and complete this pet project. Since he’s done similar construction projects in the past, he knew all of obstacles to avoid. He, also, knew what needed to be planned and what could be fudged. Most of my time in the past had spent deliberating on the “right” way to proceed. Dad was a constant momentum forward. Having an experienced person is invaluable.

Below are pictures of the project. The fort is primed and ready for painting and the finer finishing.

Spring is in full force in Georgia. We had a battle with intermiddent cold spells. But with a pleasant Memorial weekend, the unfinished Tree Fort was beckoning. Last weekend, I attempted an untimely addition. My daughter has been patiently waiting for a swing set. The plan was to finish the fort and then add the swings. But, she’s too cute to ignore. I took a weekend to plan out the extension. My wife and I looked at some online plans, went to a couple of home depots, and selected the materials to use. A few bruises and bolts later we had our swing set ready to go.

Of course, the first design is never the best design. Just like in programming – you use the limited amount of information at hand and build with assumptions. With a swing set, the models used either a (1) 4 X 6 or (2) 2X6 for the beam. I had trouble finding a good connector to the tree for the 4X6, so I elected for (2) 2X6. I bolted them together for extra support and used a connector to the tree. On the models, the swing set is traditionally 8ft long. (2) 2X6s can handle the swing leverage at 8ft. At 12ft long (my design), the beams tend to bend more. One adult or two excited kids can make the beam wiggle like a rubber pencil. I find this out after I am completely done and admiring my handy work. Ugh!

So although way within woods stress thresholds, I decided to refactor the swingset. Now, in software engineering I would check out the existing version. I’d make my changes. Tag the source code. Check it back into my repository. Retest. And, then push it into production. A simple not so labourous process. Tree forts and swing sets follow the same process except “make my changes” involves completely disambeling the existing. More labor. More bruises. More expletives.

Nails, when hammered into an object, generally are put there not expecting to come back out. In fact, the whole reason you hammer them in the first place is to ensure they will stay there. “Keep this board attached to this other board” is the sole purpose of a nail. If you want to fasten something and are unsure if it should stick, use a SCREW! I spent an hour or so digging out frack’n nails. This is not fun with 50 pounds of boards which you are trying to take them apart strategically as to not have them come crashing down upon your son 11 ft below. Luckily the fall was well designed with me catching the brunt of the wood as I fell off the ladder. I hate ladders. Billy and I decided I should continue the disassembly alone.

Once the pieces were on the ground, reconstruction went pretty well. Tisha helped keep the boards from tumbling back on me while I propped the A frame back up. All in all, the 4X6 was heavy but easy. And, the beam is much better at handling the G forces of my two kids swinging the spring away.

MERRY FRAK’IN CHRISTMAS!! I came back from JavaOne Conference in San Francisco to the cold hearted world of big corporation mentality. Digg is dead! The corporate police have blocked the site tagging it as a social/dating site. Great now I guess I have to get some real work done (read with an Eyeore voice).

I wish I could make a valid argument to access the site; but truth be told, the site is mostly a waste of time from a company perspective. I do get an indirect benefit of a temporary distraction to relax. But, I am not getting paid to relax. Am I?

I guess I am just a little disappointed. Our company is becoming more and more aggressive about access to external web sites. Not sure how much longer until WordPress is blocked as well.


The world is better. I can now safely access Digg from the comfort of my home: work. The network admin/gods were kind and changed it back. Or, perhaps they went postal and killed all of the security guys. I really don’t care as long as I can live with Digg again.