Monday, September 29, 2008

Late night at the cable company

Tonight/Early Morning I'm working the late shift. Some people call it the third shift. Some call it the Graveyard shift. In our biz we call it "the maintenance window." When there is work to be done that will take down customers we try to schedule that work from the hours of 12:00 midnight to 5:00AM. In other systems that I've worked in, the headends (communications downlink center) have been manned 24/7. That is not the case here in Sun Valley. There are two of us here that run the headend and we both work M-F. Any work that needs to be done in the maintenance window requires one of us to get out of our cozy beds and head into work.

That's me tonight.

Simulated Cable Television Bucket Truck

Tonight's work requires the help of the Network Technician. These are guys that drive around in cool bucket trucks and work on the hard line. We are setting up return in several of our nodes so that customers will have a better experience with their High Speed Internet. The Network Technician booms up to the node, injects a signal that travels through the fiber optic cable back to my office that looks something like the picture below.

Simulated Cable Headend operations center.

I inspect the signal that the Network technician is sending back with a piece of equipment called a "Spectrum Analyzer." With this device I can measure the amplitude of the signal required by these devices below.

Simulated Return Receivers.

Once these levels are set up correctly for a given node the Network technician moves on to another node and the process starts again. Tonight we are doing 16 nodes. That's a lot of driving for the Network tech.

The picture above represents a typical HFC plant drawing. In the picture you will see everything originating at the Headend with homes being the end user.

Like I said before. This process means a lot of driving for the Network technician. This gives me time to look up cool pictures on the Internet like this one below.

Interesting to me is that I wound up in the communications field. I graduated from the University of Utah (Go Utes) with a teaching degree. Life's crossroads took me to this industry. I enjoy this biz very much having been in it now for nearly 20 years. I wonder from time to time about teaching and coaching in high school and if I would have been successful. Even without teaching for a living I benefited immensely from the education. I really don't dwell on it much though. I've always enjoyed the cable industry.

Well, Network guy is calling me on the phone again so I've got to get back to work!

Friday, September 26, 2008

More charts and graphs

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Woman climbs Galena Summit!!

This woman recently climbed to the top of the Galena Summit in Idaho. Actually she stood next to the road sign that says, "Galena Summit." This woman's name is "Ruth" and she accomplished this task wearing only the clothes that you see her pictured in. In fact...this photo was taken at the "Summit."

That's right. No crampons, no water bottle, no backpack, no ice pick, no muffler. Just her against the elements while happily humming the "Gumby" theme song.

Asked if she really climbed to the "Summit" in pink garden shoes, "Yup!" was her reply.

You might ask..."What about, Everest, McKinley or Rainier."


Galena Summit is 9 times higher than all of them. And this woman made it to the those shoes.
This is the woman's dog. "Arrow."

This is the woman's youngest daughter. "Penny."

Winners of Music Quiz #2

Let's give a big Daily Item round of applause to the above individuals that were the winners of Music Quiz # 2

They are: Krysten, Dr. Rosen-rosen and J-Rig.

Nice job.

The song was Remind Me and the band is Royksopp. This single was released in 2002 and rose to number 21 in the US song charts.

The song is best remembered as background music to one of the Geico Caveman commercials.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Totally to do with nothing Tuesday: Dog vs. Porcupine

Years ago when I was a teenager. Our family dog tangled with a porcupine. The next morning, the site of our dog was gruesome to say the least. We painstakingly took out all of the quills with pliers and left the dog to heal. Within a few days the dumb dog tangled with the porcupine again. This time our dog wasn't so lucky. He is off in dog heaven now. Probably a much better place.

This post shows a few photos of other owners dogs who have tangled with Mr. Porcupine.

There are two types of Dogs. They are: Dogs that have been Porcupined and Dogs that haven't yet been porcupined.

No...stop right there...I know what you're thinking. How could this... a cute little Porcupine send Brent's dog to dog heaven? Well, If you're brave enough scroll down a little farther, you'll see for yourself how nasty these things can be!

Are you sure you want to see the gruesomeness?

Here it is.

Poor guy!

This feisty dog got nailed!

This sweet dog was minding his own business. And then whammy right in the kisser!

This is what my dog looked like both times he got nailed. Bad huh!?

This dog wasn't hit by a Porcupine. Instead it is wearing a porcupine costume.
"Who's a pretty porcupine dog? You are, you are!!" That's a good boy!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Internet Hypnosis!

Hypnosis: You must return to "The Daily Item" often!
Look into my eyes!! You're getting Sleeeeeeepy....You must: A) Visit the Hope's in Sun Valley and B) Return to The Daily Item often! Now then...when I snap my fingers you will awake....(snap)

Music Quiz #2

Welcome to today's music quiz. You know the routine. Press play and enjoy.

Tell me what you know about his music? Name of song or band name. Where you've heard it and what you think of it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Winner of Daily Item Quiz #1

Jeremy Rigby has won Daily Item Quiz #1 with his answer of Glen Campbell singing "These Days." I've included a picture of my kid brother. This is how I remember him: Reverent, polite, in underwear and cowboy boots with fingers in ears.


Here's an album cover of Glen back in the day. Interesting thing to note about the song "These Days" is, this is Glen's first album release in 15 years! Also, Glen is a bright and chipper 72 years old on his new album. Shoot, that's Coker's age!
Glen spent time as a touring "Beach Boy" in the late 60's. His most famous song and best in my opinion is "Wichita Lineman." In 1976 he had the year's 2nd best song in "Rhinestone Cowboy." Who had the number one song in 76? That crappy band, "The Captain and Tennille" with "Love will keep us together."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Oh yeah baby...It's here!! The first inaugural "Daily Item Music Quiz"

Daily Item listeners, I have a treat for you.

Today is the inaugural run of "The Daily Item Music Quiz." I will be adding music quizzes from time to time. This particular quiz will be Quiz number 1.

This is what you have to do to participate in the quiz:

1. Take your mouse pointer and click the play button on the little mp3 player below.
2. Once clicked, the song will begin to stream/load. Be a little patient you dial uppers.
3. Listen to the song; if you know who it is or would like to guess post a comment at the bottom of this post.
4. If someone has already posted the correct singer go ahead and post the group or person that you believe it is.

Correct guessers will be shown on the next Quiz post.

Hint and background:

The song was originally written by Jackson Browne and the new cover of this song was just released this summer. I enjoyed this song when released by Nico but her accent is a bit heavy. I was very happy to see this particular artist cover the song. This person is an expert guitarist and pitch perfect singer.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Name that Tune

A couple of my favorite musicians.
Name the tune and win a gazmillion donuts.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Day in Twin Falls

Having been assigned to work at the Twin Falls Temple Saturday night. We loaded up the family and made a day of it at Shoshone Falls State Park. (Sarah, Jake, Penny and Brent)


Looking to the NW on the Snake River as it meanders through the canyon.

Sarah jumping at Dirkees

Brent jumping at Dirkees

Uncle Dad jumping at Hidden Lake! Look out!

Twin Falls Temple!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Brent Hope: Troubleshooter

Many of you Daily Item readers have requested that we post the "Omni Magazine: Troubleshooter" cover from way back in 94. It's taken some prodding, but we looked into the DI Vault and found some of the old manuscripts and photos taken from that era. For those of you who don't know what I'm referring to, I'm talking about when I invented the "teleoptical-microelectophlange." Years ahead of it's time. The "teleoptical-microelectrophlange" (TM) and it's cousin the "Phlendo-diaphram encabuloator" (PDE) enabled cable television viewers to watch TV without being watched back through the "Iris-opticaldenarude" (IO) device located on all cable set top boxes. As many of you know the "IO" allows cable tv operators, bill collectors, and technicians (not contractors) the ability to look in on people (through the set top converter) while they watch their cable television. My devices: the "TM" and "PDE" blocked the cableman's (or cablewoman's) video observation through the "IO." Instead of visually seeing inside of someones house, the "TM" and "PDE" would block the video and instead the "peeping-tom would see a kaleidoscope with thousands of 16bit color followed by a rather jolting shock to the observing person's optical orbit. Beautiful, painful and no more big brother watching in. A fantastic device that won me the prestigious "Gold Bowler Guy" trophy.

So...You asked for it.

Here for your viewing pleasure is the Omni Magazine Cover accompanied by the insert pictures from the article showing the four faces of a genius troubleshooter.


Aware that there is an anomaly. The troubleshooter begins to give 100% attention to the problem.
Using the dominate right eye which uses both sides of the brain, the troubleshooter gets closer.

Full focus now as the troubleshooter's wheels are spinning: Ready to solve.

Finally, the trick to all good troubleshooting. The "Chicken-Eye" glance. Looking 90 degrees at your object like a chicken-eye disengages the right and left brain and engages the "blenterior brain" to operate. This is how complex problems are solved and discoveries are made. Ask anyone that knows. They'll tell you. seems like yesterday.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Favorite Swimming Hole Ever!

My favorite swimming hole as a youth. Looking eastward just off of the Saint Anthony city bridge in scenic Saint Anthony Idaho. This is the Herny's North Fork of the Snake River as it meanders through lava rock. The "sandbar" can be seen in the distance across the falls and river. The river here is narrow and deep! A fantastic place to swim

This is the famous Saint Anthony city bridge. With spectators on the left sitting on the rocks. Brent the younger is poised and ready to make the big leap to the water below. Brent is around 10 or 11 in this picture.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I can't remember when we did this...I think it was three years ago. Brent and I found ourselves on the side of a cliff looking down at a small pool of water. It was trouble just getting to the places we were standing and there was no way we were going back the way we came. So jumping was the only answer. The jump went fine and was the easiest part. The crazy part is my son climbing all over the cliff with no shoes on!!
This photo is taken by my studly brother Jeremy.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Weird Dream

Ever have that wierd dream where the TV painter guy is painting you? Me too.

Best dream line from a movie? Here it is:

From Pee-Wee's Big Adventure

Simone: "Pee-wee, do you have any dreams?"

Pee-Wee: "Yeah, there's this snake, wearing a vest... and it's riding a bicycle...and, "

Simone: "Not those kind of dreams!"

Pee-Wee: (shrugs) "Oh..."

The Proof is in the Pudding

Most folks know that my favorite food ever is Chocolate Pudding. Most people also know that my wife Ruth's favorite grocery store is "Grocery Outlet." Below is a story that involves both of our favorite things.

According to the San Francisco Examiner, Mike Phillips, a civil engineer at UC-Davis, has become a cult hero in the obsessive subculture of people who collect frequent-flier miles by parlaying $3,150 worth of pudding into 1.2 million miles.

Oh, yeah - he's also going to claim an $815 tax write-off.

Last May, Phillips was pushing his shopping cart down the frozen-food aisle of his local supermarket when a promotion on a Healthy Choice frozen entree caught his eye: He could earn 500 miles for every 10 Universal Product Codes (bar codes) from Healthy Choice products he sent to the company by December 31.

Even better: Any bar codes mailed by the end of the month would rack up double the mileage or 1,000 miles for every 10 labels.

"I started doing the math, and I realized that this was a great deal," he said. "I wanted to take my family to Europe this summer, and this could be the way." Frozen entrees were about $2 apiece, but a few aisles away Phillips found cans of Healthy Choice soups at 90 cents each. He filled his cart with them, and then headed to his local Grocery Outlet, a warehouse-style discount store. And there he hit the mother lode.

"They had individual servings of chocolate pudding for 25 cents apiece," he said. "And each serving had its own bar code on it. I did some more math and decided to escalate my plans."

Phillips cleaned the store out - bought every last cup of pudding in the warehouse. He then asked the manager for the addresses of all the other Grocery Outlets in the Central Valley and, with his mother-in-law riding shotgun in his van, spent a weekend scouring the shelves of every store from Davis to Fresno.

"There were 10 stores in all," he said. "Luckily, most of them were right off the freeway."

He filled his garage to the rafters with chocolate pudding and stacked additional cases in his living room. But Phillips wasn't finished yet-he had the manager of his local Grocery Outlet order him 60 more cases.

"A few days later I went out behind the store," he said, "and there were two whole pallets of chocolate pudding with my name on them."

All in all, he'd purchased 12,150 individual servings of pudding. Around this time, Phillips began to reveal his scheme to fellow readers of the Webflyer Web site, where he posted an account under the name "Pudding Guy."Phillips' tale was met with skepticism, if not outright disbelief, until he uploaded photos of his haul. They're still there, at

But then Pudding Guy discovered he had a problem on his hands: The deadline for earning double miles was quickly approaching, and there was simply no way Phillips and his wife could tear off all those bar codes in time.

"I had to come up with something to do with all that pudding, fast" he said.

Phillips trucked the pudding to two local food banks and the Salvation Army, which agreed to tear off the bar codes in exchange for the food donation.

"We'd never seen anything like it," said Larry Hostetler, community relations director for the Sacramento Salvation Army. "We've gotten some big donations, but always from companies and institutions, not individual people."

Phillips got his bar codes in the mail in time to beat the deadline, and then held his breath.

"The promotion specifically said I could get the miles for any Healthy Choice product," he said. "But still, it seemed like there was a good chance they'd get me on some technicality."

But then packages - large packages - started arriving in the mail from Healthy Choice. In all, they contained 2,506 certificates, each good for 500 miles. That's 1,253,000 miles.Under the terms of the promotion, Phillips could have the mileage posted in any airline account. He split 216,000 between his United, Delta and Northwest accounts and posted the rest--1,037,000 miles--to his American Airlines account.By surpassing the million-mile mark, Pudding Guy now has AAdvantage Gold status for life, entitling him to a special reservations number, priority boarding, upgrades, and bonus miles.

Pudding Guy did a little math--as you might have noticed by now, he's very, very good at math--and figured out that scheme netted him enough miles for 31 round-trip coach tickets to Europe, or 42 tickets to Hawaii, or 21 tickets to Australia, or 50 tickets anywhere in the U.S.

"Wow - 31 trips to Europe for a little over $3,000," I said. "That's less than $100 a ticket.""Oh, it's better than that," Phillips said. "Since I gave the pudding to charity, I can take a tax write-off of $815. So that brings the cost of a ticket to Europe down to $75."

As it turns out, Pudding Guy didn't donate all his stash to the food banks. He kept about 100 servings for himself, and he's just about finished them. "Actually," he said, "I really like the stuff."

Monday, September 8, 2008

Busting through the Middle Ages

I had a nice visit to Tacoma recently. It was there that I got to visit with my three oldest daughters. They are all so wonderful. I love them!! For three nights I got to stay with Jessica and Travis Hatch and my grandson Thomas (and Speck the dog and Hope the Cat). It was delightful for me to stay with them. One night we invited my brother David and his girlfriend over and played Guitar Hero. Great fun.
I also had the opportunity to baptize a good former neighbor friend of ours while I was there. Sanford Marcellis McCleod asked me if I would do the honors for him. His wife Linda, grandson Kris, Kris's parents and a handful of folks from the Lincoln Ward attended. It was a spectacular event. I so much enjoyed being with Sanford and his wife Linda. These people are some of the best folks...ever.
In addition to these events, I also got to play golf with one of my very good friends, Mark Anderson on two different courses.
It was great to see these friends and family of mine.

This was the perfect trip to rid myself of "Senile Agitation." No drugs were necessary.

This weekend we had the Hatch's come to our house. They brought "Speck: The Dog" with them. As it turns out Speck will be staying with us through the first semester. He will be home schooled by me and my teaching assistant: Ruth M. Hope.
We also had my kid brother Jeremy and his family Saturday afternoon and night. Talk about great people. Jeremy and Becca have 4 amazing boys! They will all be pro football players. I just know it!

All of this action and excitement has stunted a bit of my right brain. I go through periods of creativity with "The Daily Item." Some days I have lots of ideas to post about. Sometimes I can't think of anything (my wife will attest to this). This feels like one of those times. This lack of creativity on my part also seems to coincide with me running out of chocolate pudding. The troubleshooter that I am says there is creativity in chocolate pudding.

Stand by for more creativity.