It’s always fun trying to do things the right way. I’m implementing some filters that keep a person from bypassing a specific page until they handle all the items on the list. It’s a challenge. The keeping them on the page and the passing on it for now is easy. Now I have to figure out exactly how to manage the “taking care of it” part.

However I wasn’t liking the possiblity that I could introduce errors in processing by resolving the request to get the route name. So after about 2 hours of searching for alternatives I finally found a method that doesn’t require me to resolve the request but I can still get the name.

$route = Route::getRoutes()->match($request);

$route_name = $route->getName();

Saturday, June 13, 2015 8:15 PM

Two weeks in and I was still trying to find my quarry. I stared at the picture in my hand hoping to find some inspiration of where to go next if tonight's jaunt into town was unproductive.

The image depicted a woman with obsidian skin and golden hair. She was not what she seemed. She was a dragon in human form, and there was no doubt about it; she was a beautiful creature. It was frustrating finding her trail, and then losing it just as quickly.

However, tonight was not like any other night these past few weeks. I did find myself in another rural town chasing my lady dragon. But this time, a lady in a convenient store around the corner in this podunk town just south of Apache Peak knew my lady's name. So tonight, I sit outside a bar with brown peeling paint avoiding the inevitable – going inside. But it was getting late and I was starving.

Inside made me rethink my plans. The smell caught me first thing. It reeked of stale beer and body odor underneath layers of pine scented air fresheners.

I almost turned around and walked out to find some other place to gather information but my choices were non-existent. I forced myself to walk in and made my way to the bar.

The bartender was just as rough looking as his place of employment. He rubbed his gray peppered beard while he appraised me. "What can I get you, son?" His voice was as gravely as his appearance.

"Just a beer — whatever you've got in a bottle." I flashed him my best smile.

The man gave me that look that said he didn't trust me, but he nodded his head and turned on a slow heel towards the cooler that kept their cold beverages. He called over his shoulder, "What brings you to town, stranger?"

I grinned; I did love it when people pointed out the fact that I was not from around these parts. I may have been born not too far away, but I grew up in Midtown Manhattan and I spoke like a New Yorker no matter how hard I tried to hide it.

I lied to the man, "Just some hiking."

The grisly man turned with an opened beer bottle in his hand. He slid it across the bar with a frown, "Hiking alone is dangerous."

My grin widened as I saw the fresh bottle was a Sam Adams, my brand of choice. I took a quick sip and sighed with refreshment. "Damn, I missed a cold beer."

I looked up at the bartender and lied again. "I'm not alone. I got a buddy sleeping back at camp. He’s a bit worn out." I winked at the bartender; it was always fun making people squirm.

"City slickers like you shouldn't be holed up in these woods, likely to get yourself killed."

I could almost hear the threat in his words as I chuckled to myself. "I can handle myself. Trust me, Cowboy." And I meant that in more ways than one.

He turned back to his regular customers with a disgusted look on his rugged face. I could see the hatred for my kind rolling off him in waves.

I grinned; I could have said more, but I had work to do and I couldn't play with the locals. I extended my hearing beyond my optimal range for pretending to be human and listed to the snippets of conversations around me.

The pair of men at the bar with the bartender started talking about me. "What's a queer city slicker out in the woods for? Ain't they all fancy and high priced?"

I chuckled to myself. I was hardly that type of man. I liked men, but I was not like half the gay men you see on TV. I couldn't tell Prada from Gucci even if my life depended upon it. And none of them here had to worry about me making a pass at them, but that was every straight man's fear. What if he hits on me? The easy answer – be flattered and say not interested. I hated bigots. I could turn around and flirt with the woman three stools down, but it wouldn't matter now. I was gay in their eyes. Such was life.

The door jingled its welcome to a newcomer taking me from my thoughts.

I looked up into the plate glass mirror that was the other side of most bars and saw a stunning woman walk in. My information paid off.

She walked towards the bar, and coincidentally me. She moved with the grace of a cat. The patterns were shifting around her – fire pulling in, everything else pushing away forming the shadow of her dragon shape. Each individual scale was almost visible in the pattern. She was gorgeous. It was a shame no one else in the room could see her true beauty.

I gave her a silent catcall. She was even more impressive in person. Her skin was black as night, and her golden hair looked fake but I knew it was soft and as real as the hair on my own head. I wanted to reach out and touch it. The pattern surrounding her was beautiful too. The mirror was not doing it justice. I marveled at the sight of her. She wasn't the first dragon I had met — just the prettiest.

She sat down to my left and was waiting for the bartender to come on down to her. She was staring at me with caution.

The man finally came over and spoke to her, "Your order will be right up, Naomi. Don't mind the city slicker here." He threw a nod in my direction, "He'll do you no harm."

I snickered; he thought I only liked men. I turned to face her. I already knew she'd know what I was as I smiled brightly at her and spoke, "That's right, Duckling. I'll not do you any harm." I knew I sounded like an arrogant prick — it was part of my charm.

Naomi's eyes went wide with recognition as she took in the tattoo at my right temple. The pair of crossed swords spoke to exactly what I was, and what I was there to do. She blinked her eyes sideways — a thing only a reptile can do. She was forgetting herself. She hissed at me, "How dihd you find mhee, Ferasss?"

I smiled as I lied through my teeth, "Not hard really." It had been a difficult journey. I had followed her from Denver through some backwater towns to New Mexico. I didn't even know the name of the town she'd stopped in there. She eventually hit a bank in Boulder before I caught back up with her. I suspected she'd been flying. She hit two more small-town banks before I found her here, but no, really it wasn't hard — not at all.

Her words were colorful to say the least. Savage Thing — but so very not human. "But really, Feras? Can't you think up something a bit more human to call me? Like Bastard or Asshole? You are pretending to be human. Aren't you, Naomi?"

That was when things went dangerous. Naomi opened her mouth and lunged at me.

I fell backwards landing on my back as I created a pattern of air to shield me from anything she could dish out. My instinct to protect myself was at its highest. I was grateful I had practiced that defensive move as often as I did.

But no fire erupted from the woman's mouth.

I'd learned the hard way that a dragon in human form could still breathe fire. Who-da-thunk that a man could shoot a volcano of flames out of his throat, but I bore the scars to prove it.

She leapt from her place and ran for the door. "Barry, Lex, he's going to kill me, help!"

She bolted out the door and I heard her shouting "Get that thing started, we gotta run. There's a Venatori here!"

So I finally worked up the nerve to enter a writing contest. It cost me money to join - $20 I think. It earned me 6 weeks free writing group and a free ebook on writing short stories, so I felt it was a win win. And the upside is I got a peice of work critiqued AND published even if I didn't win.

I didn't win the contest - didn't really expect to. But it was a very large step for me. I rarely let people see my original pieces of writing. It's a self confidence thing - something I lack a great deal of in nearly everything I do despite my best efforts. So the fact that I let strangers see my work was a big step for me. To not opt out of the public viewing yet another big step for me. And then I publicly posted it on my facebook page. And now I'm finally posting about it on my blog.

The contest was a short story about First Meetings. I wrote about the first meetings of two of my characters that while seemingly insignificant will turn out really big in the long run. Or at least that is my goal. I think it'll happen, but as with any good story, the twists keep on coming. The Scent of Safety can be read at The Writing Practice. As I look at it now, it's been shared 26 times, and only twice by me.

Anyway, that is old news. In the near future - today, tomorrow, soon I hope. I will be posting here to my journal the very first scene to my current work in progress. This particular scene is part 1 of four sections. I am extremely happy with this one section. It's like draft six. I started writing it in third person limited, I didn't really feel the story so I rewrote the story in first person. But while I had been writing in third person somewhere in the middle towards the end, I blurted out one little fact of back story. This one little fact changed everything. It was a good thing I was rewriting the pov because the entire way the main character was reacting to things internally had changed. It had always been there, but I had the reason now.

It's one of the reasons I don't like to share my work. Because as I write I create more and more about my characters, I add back story that makes things make sense for now, but it can potentially impact what happened in the past. But not in substantial ways of the story. Just how I want the character to be perceived, how an action should go down. Not because this future event is more important but because this makes more sense for the character's development.

What I post in the next few days will probably change again before I'm completely happy with it. But I'm being brave. I'm showing you what goes on in the depths of my head when the voices talk to me. I hope that you will like, and if you don't well, I do apologize, but if there is a specific reason I'd really love to know. (And if there is a reason you really loved it I'd like to know that too. Critiques are welcome.)

Yesterday I received a phone call in the middle of the day from my parents. Wasn't a bad sign right off, Mom's retired now maybe she was calling just to say hi. But when my Dad was the one on the phone I knew something bad had happened. I wasn't surprised when he told me that Grams had passed away. I had been dreading getting that phone call ever since I'd learned Grams wasn't doing well. It didn't hit me until after I'd hung up with my Dad.

I called Shea directly there after and told him. He told me to come home. But I know me and I know that if I came home with nothing to do I'd be a mess so I stayed at work and did my best to focus despite the sadness. The girls had open house that evening, and we ate dinner and did that. I called my Mom later that evening. We still haven't told the girls. We decided to let them get through the week of school before we told them.

Last night I cried. I don't know how long it took me to fall asleep but I eventually did. I kept playing out all the memories of Grams. I remember being little and coming to New York on vacation. I remember the smell of her house. It never changed even after a year of not being there. It always smelled the same. Vacations in New York were always my favorite. I remember seeing the ice-cream cone sign on the side of the road and knowing without a doubt we'd be there soon. And it was always painful leaving.

I don't think I have very many memories of Grams that didn't include every bit of family we had in the area at the time. Whether we were on vacation or someone else was visiting while we lived there, there was always family with Grams. Everything about our family comes from Grams. She raised an awesome family! There won't be a day that goes by that I won't think about her.

I will always fondly remember Sunday afternoon cards. "May I" will never be the same!

My love, my heart and my thoughts and prayers go out to all my family. As with everything else, we will get through this together. It is the best thing about our family. I will miss Grams greatly but she left behind a great legacy! We will see you again Grams. Lots of love and fondest memories.

This past few weeks I've been migrating from Dreamhost to Digital Ocean for my hosting company. Dreamhost was being extremely slow and I really wanted the ability to try Ghost with node.

At some point I will try it but right now I'll stick with wordpress as my main blog platform.

If you are here from some of my various other domains, you'll notice they all point to Raising the Herd. I will over the course of time add my resume and portfolio.

The following domains all point here now:,, and of course

I have a writing journal at ( and both point here for now) This will cut down on the duplication of things I maintain for now.

I am loving the speed of Digital Ocean's SSD storage. It is heaven! Hopefully I'll start blogging regularly again.

Of all the things that I've been trying to do, there is one thing I'm excelling at. Reading! I have caught up on all of my Anita Blake books, ready for the new one out in June. I've caught up on Merry Gentry too. I also started a new series from Patricia Briggs. I like it so far, I've read 3 of them so far, Shea's on the forth right now while I read the Divergent Series. I have the 3rd book and then the shorts about Four to read before I continue on with the new Mercy Thompson series.

I am writing, just not publicly. And I am working on an App outside of work, and learning Laravel 5. It's not that there is a lot to relearn, just new things to relearn and so far I'm loving it such cool new features.

I have not had a Dr Pepper in over a week. That is not to say I've not had any caffeine. Crystal Light and Great Value make a caffeinated Energy drink which seems to be hitting the trick, provided I actually remember to make one for the day. It's more caffeine put together than two sodas, but it's the best I can do I suppose. I had a coke zero today because I'm fighting off a migraine/caffeine withdrawl. The migraine meds seemed to help but then again I've had plenty of caffeine this morning too. So no telling for certain.

My goal still is to be a better me, but that is always my goal.

Resolutions come and go. I rarely actually finish most of them. My goal is to be a better me. That's what my goal is.

I want to eat better, kill the soda, but I know it won't happen, so limit my Dr. Pepper is a better goal. So far so good. I'd like to lose weight. I've added morning workout, 30 mins of stationary bike or some calisthenics (squates, push-ups, etc). I'm also limiting the carbs. I've a good breakfast going if I remember to make it. Lunch is finger foods, grilled chicken, cheese, nuts, and raw veggies - mostly carrots and celery. The snap peas I will keep around but I probably won't get those everyday cause right now Sam is eating them like crazy.

I want to be a better Mom. I will temper my temper when they are in trouble. That will be a challenge. This goes hand in hand with being a better wife. Temper my temper. Give more to my family whom I completely adore.

I want to be a better programmer. I always strive to be the best I can here, but this year, I intend to begin implementing TDD design into my everyday work. I would really love to learn AngularJS. I will completely understand SOLID design patterns this year at least I hope so.

I want to complete an actual app I will use. I have so many running around in my head, my problem is I get distracted so easily with new shiny objects, or get hung up and move on to something else until I feel the desire to wrastle with it again which usually means I start over from scratch.

I want to be the avid reader I was in college. I love reading. It's a better escape than television. Thankfully this goes hand in hand with the 30 min bike ride.

I want to write. Here, First Age, my own stuff, my character building website I created. Writing is mind freeing. It gives me an outlet, a way to cleanse the mind of all things.

So here is to a better me in the new year.

I take a look back at what I've written here over the past here and I'm appalled at my lack of anything. Seriously horrible on my part. I hope to change that.

My best friend writes everyday in many places. I can't say I will write everyday, but I will do my best to write at least once a week. My goal is to write every weekday. But I don't think I have all that much to say so I'll be happy with once a week.

I just got back home from my folks place in New York, we are settling in. We've gone grocery shopping, Shea's picked up Lady from the kennel and we are all winding down. The girls have two more days off from school where they'll be at work with me. So here's to hoping those go well. I know I have tons of work to do do. I'll have a write up of my vacation soon as I can think again.

I do have resolutions. All revolving around things I am already doing anyway, so hopefully I'll make the habits all stick. WE'll see. That will also be another post coming up soon.

This is basically just a "Hey I plan on writing here again" so you all know what's going on.

I've switched back to WordPress from Wardrobe CMS, not that it was a bad system, just easier for me to keep up with like this I guess.

I follow alot of people over the internet between twitter and my feed reader, almost 99% of them I do not know personally, nor will I ever get the chance to meet them. But everyday they share with me their lives, their families and their work.

Over the past several months I've been reading about a little girl with brain cancer. Those that know me, know what that means to me. Those that don't, probably just never asked. In 1994 I was diagnosed with a brain tumor on the left side of my head. It was my senior year of high school and all I wanted to do was graduate. That's all I really remember feeling about it. Now it terrifies me. But my prognosis was good, even at that time. The tumor was fully removed and benign. I've had probably 3 to 5 follow up MRI's over the past 20 years mostly just to make sure my headaches aren't a result of something of that nature again.

I cannot begin to comprehend what Eric Meyer is going through. His 5 year old daughter will likely not survive her cancer. For the past two days I've found my self in tears as I read his words. Today, he wrote about why he was writing. While I cannot help them through this. I will do what I can to help Rebecca's arrow fly around the world.

It is not easy being a parent. What I feel now when I think about my brain tumor has to small in comparison to what Eric and his wife feel about losing their child. Rebecca is being strong and brave and she should be an inspiration to us all. The Meyer family is in my prayers.

Today and yesterday started the fun process of creating a new web server. Yay! and Boo! Long boring hard work is ahead but the benifits out weight the boring hard work. Fruitful boring work! Once we get the web server up and running I can finally begin the long audious task of converting my CI applications at work into Laravel 4! No fun you say? Me I look forward to that adventure. I cannot wait until the day that I can work with nothing other than Laravel.

I've learned so much working here and Laravel has played a bit factor in that in these past recent months. It has taught me to be a better developer! Needless to say with Laravel even if I stop using it down the road. Chances are I won't have to redo a crap ton of work because it'll easily port into a new system because of the way it is built. I don't forsee a reason to switch, but then again I didn't see one with Code Igniter either. But this will be a far better solution than CI.

Why am I not using it now, or converted earlier? The biggest reason being that I could not for the life of me get freeBSD to play nice with MSSQL and PDO. I am not a sys admin, I know my way around, I can do most things, and the rest I google. But that! That was beyond my scope and my comfort zone. We had someone who could do it when I got here, sadly he left. Our new IT guy doesn't do much with nix based systems, great with windows. And since MSSQL and mySQL are a requirement for my job, they have to play nice. So we are migrating to a WAMP system. Maybe one day I can play with other server types, but for now I know this will work!

I can now maintain the software much easier by myself. And the windows permissions and stuffage I don't know our IT guy does or we can get the inforamtion quickly.

So today I am listening to Laracasts while I work. I started with the SOLID vids first, those are where I want to concentrate. I've hit a few basics, but I know the basics of Laravel pretty well. Now hitting a few of the more questions in my mind. I do very much enjoy working with Laravel.

Those that know me well know I have a fondness for writing. I've been writing since I was a kid, silly stories about the ABC's or holidays. It's kinda cool to see Kathleen doing that now as well. But that's beside the point of this blog. My fondness for writing got me involved in play by post RPGs first at Dragonmount and now pretty much exclusively at The First Age.

The First Age like Dragonmount is based on the Wheel of Time but with a different twist. It's currently 2045 and channelers are just reamearging. The world building to start off with is pretty great, but with such a small site and with so much unwritten stuff the world is your oyster. Since the creation of the site, there have been two player classes that have been added above Channeler, Civilian, Atharim, Government, Military and Wolfkin. Furia and Sentient were created with the help of members by our Fearless Leader, Ascendancy.

As memebers join, new monsters are created. Wait? What? Monsters? Yes! There in lies another twist. The year 2045 holds many different kinds of monsters as well as strange new classes. Things form myth and legends are true. They are tied into the Wheel of Time universe as well as our current myths and legends. In chat you can debate the theory of the wheel and the pattern, which we've done on many occassion, but mostly it's a great place to get to know your fellow writers and plot your next adventure.

I didn't know how much I missed a small writing group until I came here. I missed interactive writing. I can write Cari all day but it's so much more interesting when you don't know what's going to happen next.

If you miss it too, or want to give it a go, stop on by. There is almost always someone in chat and we are only a post away.

At work we are finally converting to a platform where I can use PDO and MSSQL at the same time. This means we are moving to a windows server. I know against standards but I am a PHP developer not a .net while I could learn .net and probably pick it up quickly, it is far quicker just to stick with what I know. So with this move it means I can move to Laravel.

I love Laravel, but I love that it can easily implement testing in an automated way. On our biggest project and my daily life at work it would be great so I don't break things down the line by changing or adding new features. So this is a big win for me. Not to mention that I get to work with Laravel on a daily basis.

My biggest problem with TDD (Test Driven Development) is that it is very difficult for me to implement in terms of here's the answer how do I get to it. I'll be honest most of the time I'm given a problem, here's the data, now make that data create the solution to the problem. Almost 100% of the time I have no idea what the data will look like much less what it is supposed to look like in the first place.

You'll say that I don't know the business that well. Yes, I don't. We are a rent to own company. I know every little about the workings of everyday things. I learn something new everyday about what we do and don't do and I'm cosntantly asking questions to better understand the problem. Which isn't a problem in itself, but the idea of knowing what my output should look like is something that I'm not going to say I grasph 100% of the time.

I mean I do know what the answer is, but not how to massage said data into the right data. So how can I write tests for a report I'm writing when I don't know exactly what's it's going to look like in the end. A simplified version of the problem is. I need to get a % difference from some set of statistics. Sure the answer is going to I mock up a decimal or percent and yay, it's working.

But that doesn't test the calculation was done correctly.

But I think I might have figured out how to do some of this. Today I was rewriting our existing website and creating our by Zip code store locator. I wanted to use the Repository pattern for this simple site so that I could learn it for the big project down the line that will need rewriting. I kept the DRY principles in mind. I didn't want to rewrite code. I think I'm starting to implement SOLID programming - specifically the Singlular Responsibility Principle but I think by using this method I'm working mostly within the SOLID principle.

Granted I didn't do TDD more like BDD.

On the upside of the whole trying to change for the better. I have cut out most of my caffeine. Though I still do consume it. And I still have the occasional soda. It try to limit it to one serving at a sitting. And I do try to avoid it in general, as I do most things.

Lack of caffeine is making me sluggish but I'm sure that will adjust. I'm drinking Green Tea to help compensate for the lack of soda. It's not diet but it's 100 calories per bottle instead of the 130 per cup I beleive Dr Pepper is. Tho I still crave it. It is a big weakness, though I won't stop drinking it completely because if I do then I'm more or less just going to break down and start drinking it all the time again.

I lost 2 lbs last week. Pretty sure that is mostly water weight from cutting back on the soda.

I haven't posted the past 2 lunches cause I worked through them. Had to take Sam to the doctor for a potential ear infection, she was right, she had one. We spent nearly 2 hours in the doctors office waiting. While I was supposed to be at work. Thankfully I made up the time.

So that's why there was no posts. But for the past two days it's been freezing her in South MS. And to top it off the office has sporatic heat. Thankfully today is slightly better than yesterday, but my feet are still freezing and my fingers are cold. But it's slightly warmer.

The girls started school again after Christmas break, both of them really didn't want to go. Not because they don't like it but because they were use to staying home. It's all good I guess, they went and Shea's home so he can pick them up. I don't have to go out in the cold again. He does, which I don't envy but I'm glad I don't have to rush.

I've lost about 2 lbs since the Friday weigh in at work. On their scales and will report on Friday where I stand. I'm not counting calories and I have managed to cut out the soda, but I'm still drinking hot coccoa/capiccino in the morning to wake/warm up. We'll see how it goes, but other than the green tea I have I've not had any additional caffeine.

Work is lovely. While not overly challenging project it's time sensative which gives it its own set of challenges. Thankfully it's must CRUD work with very little calculations involved. At least right now. I'm sure the reports will become complicated. But that's not really until we have data beyond my tests.

I'm eagerly waiting working in Laravel 4 on a regular basis. Hopefully by June I'll be able to work fully in it. But it all depends on how fast I can rewrite existing code. At the very least the new site will be using Laravel 4. Which is good, was my first Codeigniter site. Same basic function just different store. We are hoping for a new look around April.

New years resolutions? yes and no. I want to make changes and to do that I'm starting a goal tracking program for myself. I have a small list of goals that I want to accomplish on specific days and reasons for each of them.

Every work day I want to write here, in my journal. I noticed that when I was going back to do my Christmas Newsletter that I really hadn't written anything here except my step sons wedding and out trip to New York. I know I missed a lot of things. I can't say I'll write on the weekends but those will be bonus Everyday at lunch I need to sit down and make a simple small note so that things are recorded for posterity and for next year. I might also start wrting more on moving to Laravel as I will be working that from Code Igniter here soon at work and it will be a big process but it's all doable.

I will also be tracking my daily pill intake. Which is mostly for my forgetful mind. I do forget if I take my pills even though I am very good at doing so for myself not so good with remembering anyone elses.

I will incorporate fruits and vegetables into all meals. One to eat less of the bad stuff and two just because it's healthy.

I am trying to kill the soda consumption and this is by far the hardest change, but it is NOT a trackable item. I will attempt to cut down on the caffeine intake and try to switch to green tea. However I know my weakness and if all things in moderation is the rule, I just have to learn it. Not to keep it out, but to moderate it.

And of course the all important exercise. I don't like to run, I don't like to walk, I don't like to cycle, I'm not likely to start up the Wii U to get into dance mode on a regular basis. And I'm not likely to go to a gym or a work out classs. What does that leave? Body weight exercises. I have a small list of exercises I want to do every week day.

I have found that doing those few exercises in the day is a great wake me up. So from the hours of about 4:30 to 5:30 I intend to do some push up, planks, squats, chair dips, butterflys, floor extensions and hip bridges. Maybe in the future I'll add some pull ups in. But right now I don't see that happening with no real place to do them at home.

I am looking for an app that will track many things and tweet those things to a given twitter account. I might have to end up creating one myself. Or installing wordpress and the correct plugin to do that. So if you know of one then I'd love to hear about it other wise I'll probably end up with wordpress doing most of the leg work until I can write my own (not complicated but just don't have the time).

So here's to a better me, not because you said I need to change, but because I need to.

On a side note, my company is sponsering a biggest loser type contest a pot to be split by weight loss percentage for all participants. So yay for accountablity in this next year.

As usual my goals for 2013 have pretty much failed.

* Lose weight - ulimate goal: 136 min 130 prefered
* Continue working on A Dark Journey stories
* Write at least one application for the web and mobile platforms
* Finish the Wheel of Time series
* Teach The girls the basics of writing a program (only if interested)
* Start reading the girls some chapter books

The only thing I did accomplish was finishing the Wheel of Time. It only took me two months.

I'm always working or thinking about A Dark Journey. Though I didn't write much. I did attempt Camp Nano this year and I met my word count goal but not the goal of writing everyday.

I did lose weight on and off. I'm currently down 10 lbs but not for my trying. I was diagnosed with High Blood pressure and I was retaining water. So all the weight that I've lost was just water weight that the meds have helped me reduce.

The girls have been introduced to Scratch, a programming interface aimed at young kids and beginners. But the biggest accomplishment here is Kathleen is learning how to type in school. So that's one step closer to teaching her.

I have not completed any applications. I have started many but not followed through. Not for lack of time or motivation. Just move on to another project too quickly. I need to work on that.

Kathleen is reading chapter books on her own so I didn't feel the need to read them to her. She started Harry Potter, though she doesn't read it much she has started it tho.

Some of you have heard, but I've not posted anything official. Last Tuesday Shea went into Ameriforce and tested for a job at Ingalls. He went through Ameriforce because they don't have to take the strength/agility test that did him in last time. Shea is now working in the shipyard as a pipefitter again. He's on his third day today.

We are all still adjusting to the new schedule. We all go to bed at 8pm. Shea and I get up at 4. I do a 15 min work out, sit at the computer for a little bit, and at 5:30 I make breakfast. We get in the shower around 6:15a. And then we get the final touches on going to school and deciding what is coming to work with me when I pick them up.

I go in to work early now. I still need to work on my schedule a little. But I can't do much until I get a better feel for how things are with the girls pick up schedule. Yesterday, I didn't wait long, the day before I did. So I don't know.

I pick the girls up around 3, I leave the office around 2:50 which gives me enough time to get them.

All in all it's going well. Supper is a big chore though we have this week covered.

I am tired in the morning and caffeine is necessary. Though I may have to force myself into tea with caffeine, but really I can't do it with out sugar so is sugar better or soda? It all comes down to calories I guess.

But I'm working out now. I hope to keep doing it first thing in the morning. 2 days in and I'm sore, but that's to be expected.

Wish us luck as we start this new chapter as a two income family.

I suck at Photoshop. Sure I can use it and I can make it do what I want in most cases, but I don't have the patience to do half of what is needed. Extracting backgrounds is one of them. I hate it! It never comes out clean. That was until I found Clipping Magic. It such an awesome tool. And at lunch I found a good use for it.

clipping magic family header

And I only had to zoom in and make some minor adjustments to it.

Camp Nano for July started and I'm 3 days in and I have several goals I'm looking to meet.

  • Write 750 words every day
  • Write 50K in July
  • Rewrite Revolution in third person

The last is probably not going to be finished in July. There are over 69 chapters. And my goal is to get the 1613 words needed for a day to hit 50K into once scene/chapter. So with only 31 days that's not likely to happen. But you never know. Below is an interactive chart of my progress.

Shea proposed that we go to New York right after the girls get out of school. I needed to put in 2 weeks notice for vacation so it was a week later before we were able to go. We flew up to Albany on June 1st and flew back to Gulfport on Jun 8th. It was a lovely vacation.

To Edmeston

I'm a worry wort. I stressed about the whole thing, but we didn't forget anything and all in all it was a good flight. We got up at 2am, left the house around 3am, had breakfast at IHOP and got to the airport around 4:45am. Our plane didn't leave until 6am, but we started boarding about 5:20am. Security was a breeze and the girls didn't have to take off their shoes so that was nice.

The girls really enjoyed the flight. We had no issues. We got to Atlanta a little bit early. Not that it would have mattered.

Sam was terrified of the escalators. The first one down she freaked out. I told her to grab my arm cause my hands were full, she didn't and she didn't step with me. sighs So I tried to climb the escalator that was going down and messed up my knees. Thankfully the lady directly behind us grabbed her hand and she got on but talk about a panic attack! I had nightmares for days afterwards.

The plan in Atlanta was delayed. Why? Because of faulty navigation computer. So we waited an extra 1.5 hours on top of our already 1 hour delay. That was not fun. The girls were getting anxious and there wasn't much we could do.

The second leg of the plane trip was easy, Kathleen slept and Sammi and I played games on my phone.

We rented a car, thankfully the guy talked Shea into a bigger car than we had. It was still very small compared to our van and we all felt a bit confined. But it served us well for the drive down.

We were all starving by the time we got on the road and were going to stop. However there was nothing before Oneonta so we called my parents 30 minutes out and met them at Walmart to pick up our toletries and some things for Mom. And then we went to Denny's to eat.

We followed my parents home, the girls road with Grandma and Grandpa, so we had a quiet ride into Edmeston.

The Week of Relaxing

Shea and I relaxed most of the time, the girls on the other hand were go go go with Grandma.

Saturday was hot and the girls played in the kiddie pool for a good share of the evening as it cooled down. Shea went to bed early he was wiped out.

Sunday we ate lunch at Grandma T's house and played cards. We had two web calls with my Aunts who were out of state or out of town. We of course played cards. I think the game was called three to thirteen. It was a relatively simple game outside of the initial learning curve. We hung out with my cousins and my aunt.

Monday Mom and Dad had to make an early run to Cooperstown for a doctor's appointment. We had the morning to our selves which consisted of TV lol. That evening we went to Jenny's little farm down the road, and the girls got to pet some calves, goats and ride a pony. They had a grand time.

The remainder of the week consisted of Shea and I watching TV with Dad and the girls running around with Grandma to the chickens. They got to drive the tractor and hold a chicken called 'fluffy'. I believe it is my uncle's only Silky. I know nothing of farm animals despite the basics lol.

Shea and I caught up on Dr Who and Game of Thrones. Though we did miss the final episode of Game of Thrones as it aired Sunday when were home. Hopefully my Mom recorded it so we can watch it. Would suck to have to wait a year just to watch one episode.

Thursday and Friday it rained, but that was okay, it slowed the girls down a bit lol. Thursday we went to Oneonta and the girls got their ears pierced. Kathleen did really well. Sammi didn't like it. She won't let anyone touch her ears right now, but she's getting better. Hopefully the trauma won't last too long.

Thursday was also the family get together at Red Pines for Thirsty Thursday. We saw many more cousins and aunts and uncles. We didn't stay long, Kathleen was getting antsy and wanted to go. To be fair there wasn't much for them to do there in the restaurant/bar on the golf course.

Friday, Dad had another doctor appointment. He came home early to spend some more time with us. After his appointment we went to Oneonta to eat at Brooks. Yum! As good as I remember. Then we headed to Albany to spend the night in a hotel to catch the 6am flight back home.

The Trip Home

At the hotel Shea took the rental car back to the airport after getting gas and the rush hour traffic calmed down a little bit. When he got home we ordered pizza. We ordered around 6-7 pm and after two tries it got there nearly at 10pm. We waited for some not so good food. The wings were passable. I didn't try the garlic knots and the pizza was so so. All in all it wasn't a good night.

But we got up at 4:30a and headed to the airport. We grabbed two drinks and we got on the plane. No major issues. We got to Atlanta with no problems, and sat for our 2 hour layover with some hold over food. The plane ride was good Sam slept the second leg of the trip. Kathleen did the first leg and drooled all over my arm lol.

When we landed we went to the Golden Coral to eat.

Home Sweet Home

When we got home the house was hot so we opened the windows and turned on the AC in the back and then to Walmart to go grocery shopping since we had no food in the house.

All in all we had a great trip. I think the girls liked the plane but neither really wanted to do it again. So we'll see how things go in the future. Once I get two weeks I think it'll be much more feasible to drive up. As long as Shea gets two weeks too, we'll see how things go. Now back to life and hopefully Shea will get a job soon so he'll feel more productive. I know it's killing him not working.

I have been waiting for Jeffery Way's Laravel Testing book since I heard he was writing one. On Tuesday both Laravel 4 and his book was released (along with Dayle Rees book Code Bright).

I read the first 7 chapters while waiting for backups to download. And started testing a simple application model.

I got the first test written no problem. Then I started trying to make sure that the unique fields were actually unique and I ran into a database writing error. The test code was generating items that were not unique. I refreshed the database and my test passed. So since I have more unique areas I needed to figure out how to automatically clear the test database upon the start of the test.

First I tried Artisan::call('migrate:refresh'); But that ended up in an error Artisan class not found

So I tried Stack Overflow for an answer and no one had responded this morning, so I went to IRC, nothing helpful there. So I dug into source again to see what I could find. And still nothing stuck me as the correct approach. I hit the docs under Facades and sure there was a way to call the facades. The problem was the $app variable wasn't there to use. So I looked through the TestCase file again and saw exactly what happened again. It hit me that I could use the only function in there to create the $app variable and then I could use the method described in the documentation.

Yay for being able to figure out the problem. Here is the final code:

    public function setUp()
        $app = $this->createApplication();



The following also works now:

    public function setUp()
        $app = $this->createApplication();



Today I bought hosting at So far I'm loving it. Updated a large database with out hosting support via the commandline! AND git is already installed. Color me happy!

I've been playing with Laravel for some time now. For those not in the know, it's a PHP framework that is one of the next up and comers in the industry. I love it. I loved CodeIgniter when I found it and I still enjoy it. Both are simple, easy to use and great documentation.

Everything else I've pretty much tried and left cause I just didn't want to use the command line to HAVE to set this up. But with a little bit more command line stuff under my belt it's not nearly as daunting as it once was. And I don't have to use the command line tool if I don't want to so yay! But Artisan is pretty awesome for a command line tool.

I've decided that the best way to learn Laravel is to take my current company Intranet and turn it from CodeIgniter into Laravel. This is a HUGE undertaking, and the first challenge is one that can potentially keep this undertaking from ever going live. That is the fact that Laravel uses PDO and PDO on a *NIX server does not play nice with having to access a MSSQL database. (If anyone knows of any way to make this work on a FreeBSD server I'm all ears! I'd love to be able to use it on our current web server).

But I have gotten PDO with SQLSRV on my local machine here at work to play nice. And the ability to switch between multiple database is fundamental to what I have to do.

Now I just have to figure out how I'm going to rename models as currently in Codeigniter I have model files that have the same name in two different folders inside of my models folder. I believe namespacing will be key in this. I just have to figure out how to do that in my own files.

This months goals are probably a bit less than far reaching but hopefully it'll work for me this month we'll see.

  • Continue watching carb and veggie intake (and of course keep soda out of diet)
  • Buy, install and start teaching the girls the typing program
  • Outline a story for Camp Nano April
  • Work on Base Headache API in Laravel 4

This month I'm preparing for Camp Nano in April. I'm going to attempt to write a story that is 'random' in nature. The idea is to take 6 DnD type characters and randomly generate a story line based on a map, roll tables and various other things. I potentially might call for some volunteers for reactions but we'll see.

Next month I hope to throw in a work out routine. I'm hoping to get our schedule nail here soon. Shea didn't get the last job he applied for. He failed one of the physical fitness (agility/strength) test so he couldn't go in and do what he's been doing for most of his life. sighs He's two more positions he's applied for at the shipyard. Hopefully something will come of one of them. And if he doesn't like those jobs then maybe in 6 months he can reapply for a pipefitter.

February Goals:

  • Continue to leave soda off daily menu and lower carb intake (increase vegetable/fruit intake)
  • Finish Headache Diary Web App with out syncing/database/api options.
  • Rewrite last Chapter of Revolution to a non-cliffhanger ending
  • Start teaching the girls to type
  • Write The First Hunt Short Story

Soda off the menu has been achieved again this month. I've had maybe four sodas all month, yay! Still trying to reduce carbs and intake more veggies but still on that tight budget limits us drastically since it's extra for me cause very few in the house actually eat veggies. But I'm watching portion sizes and taking care not to eat too many fried foods. All in all with out trying I'm maintaining the weight loss from the lack of soda, so that's a plus. Now to incorporate some exercise and I think it'll go down from here. But that's a whole nother story.

I didn't touch my app this month. Mostly because I had paying client work which took precedence.

I did finish my last chapter of Revolution to the non cliffhanger version. I'm much happier with the end of the story now than I was. It needs some major editing thought.

I didn't start teaching the girls how to type. I was waiting for our tax refund to buy a teach kids to type program which I hope they will use. We got the Tax refund in so I will probably buy it but its no longer February so it's a failed goal.

I didn't finish the First Hunt, I did work on it a little bit this past week but for the same reason that I didn't do my headache app is the same reason I didn't write. I had paying work which took up my free time.

All in all it wasn't a great month. But I feel my excuses were valid ones as it brings more money into the house. Yay money!