Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Books: Ship of Magic

Just a few days before we left on our Thanksgiving trip, I finally finished Ship of Magic, which I started way back at the end of October.

Now, the last time it took me that long to finish a single book, it was because the book was harlequin-romance-bad. In this case, the book was actually quite good. It just happened to be over 800 pages long, and I've not had much reading time lately.

Ship of Magic is by Robin Hobb (winner of the most boring website award), and is the first book in the Liveship Traders trilogy. The Liveship Traders trilogy was written after the Farseer trilogy and is set in the same world; however, it doesn't involve the same characters.

In fact, I was a little aprehesive about starting Ship of Magic because the premise didn't sound like anything I would be interested in. The basic plot revolves around a town that has a group of merchants who all have magical ships that are sentient. The ships are very rare and families go into debt for generations to acquire them. Then, after three generations have sailed the ship, it becomes sentient (in the form of the figurehead).

Now, if you are scoffing, I was to. It didn't sound like anything I would be interested in. But based on my enjoyment of Robin's other books, I thought I would give the Liveship Traders books a try. And I was very pleasantly surprised. The magical ships are pretty well done, there is not much 'downtime' in the book spent detailing the characters sailing hither and yon (one of my big fears). In fact, most of the characters were very interesting.

Note that I said most. My only real complaint about the book was the ridiculous stupidity of some of the characters. In some cases I just wanted to throw down the book in disgust over what dumb choices people were making. By far the worst was Kyle Haven, the brother-in-law to the 'main' character. He is one of those 'bad' characters who has absolutely no redeeming qualities, whatsoever. I mean, just a total jackass all the time. Oh, in his mind we are kind of lead to believe he thinks he is doing the right thing, but only in that 'If everyone would just obey me without question, then things wouldn't be going so wrong' sort of way. I just didn't find it very convincing, and so it was tough to understand what the wife would have ever seen in him.

I tend to prefer my characters with a bit more grey to them, say George R.R. Martin style, where you are never quite sure from chapter to chapter if you should be cheering for a character or not.

Despite my complaints, the characters didn't ruin Ship of Magic for me and overall I thought it was very good. I gladly plunged into Mad Ship, the next book in the series. Hopefully I'll finish it a little faster then the first book.

Read the whole post.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Best. Puzzler. Ever.

Sometimes winning is all about choosing your competition.

Last Saturday, when we were in Duluth for Thanksgiving, we spent a while at Linzy's Grandparent's house. We actually visited a couple times over the course of the weekend, but this was one of the longer stays.

Now, it's well known that I like to do puzzles, and at some point during the weekend Grandma mentioned to me that I should come over and finish the edge of a puzzle she was having trouble with. So, when we were over there, how could I resist the temptation to check out the puzzle?

This puzzle happened to be a relatively difficult one, as there was a pretty big border of a single color on the edge of the puzzle. Also, the 'picture' was of a waterfall in Hawaii, which meant that it was largely green with very few distinguishing features.

After just a few minutes of looking it over, there I was, slapping piece after glorious piece into place; Taking huge sections of partially assembled puzzle and finding the missing link to complete giant swaths of puzzle in a matter of minutes.

After watching the progress for a little bit, Grandpa Tex got the bug and sat down to help me out. While he searched for a few pieces I continued my frenzied pace, completing the edge and most of the interior in rapid succession.

Eventually I felt guilty and decided to stop, lest I complete their puzzle in a single sitting, and deprive them of their occasional nightly entertainment. But I have to admit, I felt like I had done a pretty dang good job on the puzzle.

Now, before you go labeling me the Best Puzzler Ever, there are a few things you should know.

First, it happened that the puzzle Grandma and Grandpa we were working on was one of our old puzzles that we had given to them after I finished it a couple years ago. So I had done it once before, which is always an advantage.

Second, when you get to be 89, your eyesight probably isn't what it used to be. Especially when it comes to discerning barely visible (to me) red berries in some of the plants, versus other non-berry-bearing plants. So there was a fair amount of low-hanging fruit available in the pieces that Grandma and Tex hadn't put together yet (or, in the case of Grandma, put together incorrectly or upside down).

So, it was hardly much of a feat. I might as well be writing an entry about how I whooped some old lady with a walker, in a foot race.

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Sunday, November 28, 2004

Christmas Lights

While my sister might wish she could reclaim the season of Advent, not everyone feels that way.

Take for instance my next-door neighbor. He is more of the Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation type, then the "let's save Christmas for Christmas" type.

The proof (I appologize for the blurriness of the pictures):





And you can't even really see the inflatable Santa behind the left fence, the jumbo inflatable Frosty the Snowman behind the fence on the right side, and the lighted plastic Santa on the porch.

Personally, I have been thinking that perhaps the manger scene is a bit out of place.

The good thing is that I don't need to turn on the outside lights when I take Pippen out at night.

Read the whole post.

L to the Izzo

While checking NFL info for my fantasy team today, I was amused to note that New England has a player named L. Izzo.

Were you expecting his bio to link to Snoop or Jay-Z?

Read the whole post.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Thanksgiving

We'll be heading to Duluth tomorrow afternoon to celebrate Thanksgiving with Linzy's family. It's been a while since we were last up there, and even longer since we spent Thanksgiving there (three years, I think). So it is long overdue.

There'll be no Internet access while I am up there, so you'll just have to wait to hear all the fascinating stories until we get back.

Have a good turkey day.

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Movies: The Day After Tomorrow

On Sunday, after I got back from helping with the cabinets, Linzy and I watched The Day After Tomorrow. Neither of us really liked it.

Let's get this out of the way right up front: The special effects are flat-out amazing. The images of a flooded and flash-frozen New York were very cool, as was the helicopter sequence. If you are lookng for some eye-candy, this is the place to see it. At least until The Incredibles comes out on DVD.

Now, for the not-so-good. The plot stinks. It is contrived and pretty ridiculous. The characters were also pretty one-dimensional. I'm not sure if it was the writing or the acting, but I just didn't care about any of the characters. Part of me was hoping for some crazy depressing ending where Randy Quaid has hiked 120 miles in snowshoes through -150F degree temperatures (I'm not kidding, see how ridiculous the plot is?), only to find his son frozen to death.

The other issue was the movie was way too long. It clocked in at just a little over 2 hours, which is just too long to try to carry a movie with special effects alone. There was a lot of boring stuff at the front of the movie to set the basis for how the world suddenly under goes another ice age. It just seemed to drag on and on, where all you were waiting for was the weather to start going terribly wrong.

Especially when you are going to have a good portion of your plot revolving around a guy walking from Washington DC to New York in snowshoes, a North Face parka, while dragging another guy, do you really have to spend an hour trying to setup a 'realistic' explanation for the weather disaster? Probably not.

Overall, I'd recommend picking something else up at the rental store.

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Movies: National Treasure

On Friday night we went out to dinner with my parents and they took us to see National Treasure.

Despite it's terrible reviews, everyone who went really enjoy National Treasure. I think you had to go in with the right attitude. Yes, it isn't Shakespeare. It is a Jerry Bruckheimer film, after all.

National Treasure was basically what I was expecting: A crazy combination of Indiana Jones, and The Mummy, with a shot of The Rock thrown in for good measure. If you didn't sit there an analyze every little plot point (like say, how they could suddenly unearth a burried ship on what was previously a completely flat plain) it was an enjoyable ride.

The movie had a suprising amount of humor thrown in, mostly by Nicholas Cage's sidekick and some dry humor from Cage himself. It also provided something of an American History lesson, as they chased down all these clues based on events back in the 1700s.

One thing that did suprise me was how crowded the theater was. Friday was opening night, but they were allowing free passes to the movie so I wasn't expecting it to be overly crowded. Instead it was sold out, including the seats on the flat part where there was no stadium seating. Pretty much every other seat was occupied.

Anyways, it was a decent enough movie, probably worth a rental if you are looking for a mindless action flick.

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Monday, November 22, 2004

Why I Love Cars (pt 2)

I wrote a couple months ago about my issues with car repairs. Basically, how I hate anything having to do with car repairs because I don't know anything about them. So I never have any basis for knowing if I am being fed a complete line of crap. I end up completely at the mercy of whatever the mechanic is telling me.

This makes it important that I go to a place I trust, where I don't feel like they are going to be making stuff up just to buy that second Porsche. I thought I had a good place to go to, but I was wrong. Way wrong.

I got so mad about the whole deal that I actually wrote a letter to a company that I never plan on giving any of my money again. Apparently I magically turned into an old man overnight.

Anyways, if you are interested in my tale of woe, I decided not to write up a second recap of what happened. You can just read the letter for yourself. I should warn you though, it's mostly just whining, and might not be all that interesting for you.

November 22, 2004

Precision Auto Care, Inc.
748 Miller Dr, SE
Suite G-1
Leesburg, VA 20175

Attention: Customer Service

To Whom It May Concern:

My wife and I have been loyal Precision Tune Auto Care customers for close to 4 years. We have had nearly all of our routine maintenance on both cars done at your 4595 Nichols Road, Eagan MN 55122 location. However, after my most recent repair experience with your shop and its management staff, I do not feel I can trust Precision Tune Auto Care with my business any longer.

This July I had my 2001 Nissan Pathfinder in your shop for a brake inspection, after I noticed that my brake fluid was a little low. At the time the manager on duty was Mike. After inspecting the car, I was told that my brake pads looked OK for another 6 months. Mike gave me an invoice for the brake pad replacement of $209 for all 4 pads, indicating that the increased price was because my vehicle required ceramic pads.

Earlier this month my wife had her vehicle in for a routine oil change, and again talked to Mike. He printed out another copy of the invoice for my brake pad replacement after my wife mentioned that I was planning on coming back in for the work soon.

On November 19th, I had an appointment for another brake inspection and brake pad replacement. The manager on duty was Jeff. After a brief inspection, I was told by Jeff that:
1) Only my front pads needed to be replaced.
2) When replacing brake pads, the rotors needed to be machined, which required 2.4 hours of labor
3) The rear brakes needed to be cleaned and adjusted.

These significant changes brought my bill to $385 instead of the $209 I was quoted. When I questioned the increase I was told that the original amount I was quoted was done by a manager who was not qualified to be running a repair shop, and the inspection was probably done by a general tech, not a brake specialist. I reluctantly agreed to the work, since my desire was to have my brake pads replaced and I was being told that this was required to accomplish this.

Although I agreed to the work I was very concerned about the sudden change in the required work, and the nearly 100% increase in the price. This type of sudden increase in price was not what I would have expected from your establishment.

After approximately 90 minutes I was told my vehicle was complete. At this time I sought additional explanation for the sudden increase in price. I was again told that the manager who wrote up the original invoice was only qualified to ‘run an oil-change shop’, and that the previous brake inspector was not qualified to inspect brakes. In addition, I was told repeatedly that there was no question that rotors needed to be machined when the brake pads were replaced.

There are a number of issues that concern me with my visit to the Nichols Rd Precision Tune Auto Care. The most obvious is the implication that some employees of your establishment are not qualified to be in charge of a car repair shop, or qualified to be doing certain types of inspections. I take my vehicles to Precision Tune precisely because I thought you employed qualified individuals. Having to worry about who is in the back looking at my car is not why I pay for your services.

I was also concerned by the apparent lack of a team environment at your shop. To have one employee basically washing their hands of the situation and saying “Well the other manager didn’t know what he was doing, and the technician was unqualified to be inspecting brakes” strikes me as grossly unprofessional.

Another area of concern is that I expected that your employees would be able to present accurate and realistic estimates for work that needed to be performed. To me, drastic, unexpected increases in the price of a repair are a sign of a less-then reputable shop. When you have blocked time out of your schedule to bring a car in for a repair, have it partially disassembled in the back, and then find out that the repair is actually going to cost twice as much as expected that seems like it puts the customer at a severe disadvantage. I had no way to get a second opinion, or even to get another estimate on what the repair would cost elsewhere without having to delay the whole process at least until the next time I was able to arrange time off work.

In fact, the next day, after I had been effectively pressured into having the rotors machined, I started researching the subject. According to a mechanic friend, rotors shouldn’t be machined at all, unless they are wearing the pads unevenly or the brakes are pulsating. GM issued a service bulletin specifically recommending against machining rotors. Car Talk’s website has several articles talking about how rotors do not necessarily need to be machined. Several other well-known websites had articles about how machining rotors could actually be harmful because they are so much thinner these days. I am not trying to say that there is not a situation where rotors need to be turned, but it hardly seems like the ‘absolutely required practice’ that I was told it was by your staff.

Given the increase in the price of the repair, and the fact that it took a fraction of the book time (since you could charge 2.4 hours labor plus the price of a brake adjustment) it is hard to look at the increase as anything besides an attempt to pad the margins at your shop. Certainly it is difficult to see the situation as something that was done in my best interest. If the original estimate had included rotor turning, then at least I could have had time to research the information or reasonably budget the repair. Instead it was sprung on me in the middle of a repair I was expecting to cost half as much.

Overall, this experience has made me seriously question how I could comfortably bring a vehicle back to one of your shops for a repair. I am sorry to report that you have lost two formerly-loyal customers.

Sincerely,
Steve Eck

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Dad's Shelves - 11/21

For the fourth time in 8 days, I was over at my parent's on Sunday to assist with the epic remodel-the-family-room project. Sundays's excitement was to be had from varnishing the cabinets.

That task sounded fine by itself, until you consider all the steps that were required to accomplish it. First, every single nail hole (and there are a lot) had to be puttied. Then all the new trim had to have it's nail holes puttied. Then some of the walls that aren't being repainted had to be taped. Then all the trim putty had to be sanded smooth, and the putty on the cabinets had to be completely sanded off (since there is only varnish for a finish). Then everything had to be cleaned up and wiped off with a tack cloth. And then we could varnish the cabinets while my Mom painted primer on the door and arch trim.

Turned out to be a bit more work then anyone expected. Especially all the sanding. That was a huge amount of work. We basically spent 5-6 hours working on everything, and got all the cabinets varnished, most of the trim primered, and none of the bookshelves varnished.

I'm sure I'll be back over there this week before we head to Duluth for Thanksgiving. They need two more coats of varnish on the cabinets (three on the bookshelves), probably two coats of paint on the trim, the rest of the walls primered, and then two coats of paint on the walls. That's a lot to get done in a week.

I took some pictures (with my own camera, I doubt they'll be letting me borrow any memory cards anytime soon)

Like the industrial-look?

I was suggesting perhaps 10 nails for a single 4-foot facia board might have been overkill. Especially when there are 6 biscuits behind the board as well. Dad apparently disagreed.

The TV cabinet before the nail-hole putty was sanded off. Power-nailers are the devil, if you are the guy puttying the holes.

Dad, sanding off the wood putty. It was dusty work.

The cabinets, with their first coat of varnish. The picture doesn't do them justice, they look amazing! (If I do say so myself)

Read the whole post.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Jeff and Renee's Wedding

On Saturday night, Linzy and I went to Jeff and Renee's wedding. Linzy used to work with Renee, so she knew a few of the people at the wedding. It was a pretty small affair, with somewhere under 100 people in attendance.

Before the wedding, we went to see Laura and Andy's new townhome just a mile or two from our house. It was real nice, very large and open. And of course, since it is new construction it still looks perfect. I was jealous of the three nice-sized bedrooms on the upper level. I wasn't quite as jealous of the townhome-nature of things, everything is pretty close together, in their development.

Anyways, back to the wedding. The ceremony was held at the nearly impossible to find Fort Snelling Memorial Chapel. Because of the construction for the light-rail, the whole Fort Snelling area is a giant mess of detours, suddenly one-way roads, and poorly marked turn-offs. We made it to the wedding with 5 minutes to spare, but it was close after a few wrong turns. The ceremony was nice. The organist was staggeringly terrible however. And if you are bad on the organ, there isn't anyway to cover up all those wrong notes, they just resonate on and on. It was downright cringe-worthy.

The reception was held way on the other side of town, in Shakopee. It took at least 20-30 minutes to get there from Bloomington, partly thanks to all the construction they are doing on 494 (the highway you have to take to get across that part of town).

The reception was like most weddings where you only know a few people; alternatively fun and uncomfortable. We did have fun chatting with Andy and Laura though.

The wedding was later, the ceremony started at 5:30, and with the cross-country drive, dinner wasn't served until around 8:30. Around 9:30 the place started clearing out, and we left sometime between 10:00 and 10:30.

A few pictures are below.

Renne and Jeff's first dance.

Laura and Andy.

We clean up pretty well, I think.


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Saturday, November 20, 2004

Dimples for Distance

When I go over to my parent's to help with their remodeling, I usually remember to bring my camera. The last time I was over there, I forgot my camera and had to borrow my parent's camera and bring the memory stick home to unload the pictures (we have the same camera).

Sometime yesterday the memory stick got knocked off the desk and onto the floor. Where Pippen found it.

You know how golf balls have dimples, to help them fly further? Well, I'm pretty sure that Pippen was trying to help out by putting lots of dimples on my parent's memory stick:



Luckily it was only the 16M memory stick that comes with the cameras for free. So we just gave my parents our 16M memory card.
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More Brawling

Did you see that the Pacers - Pistons NBA game last night ended in a brawl?

And not just two players throwing punches at each other and then quickly getting separated. Nope, up in Detroit they do things right, so it was a stand-clearing brawl. Complete with players wading into the stands to go after fans, chairs being thrown (always a sign of a cool brawl), and general mayhem.

Hilarious, except for the fact that Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal are on my fantasy NBA team and will likely be suspended for many, many, many games to come.

BTW: Guess who instigated the brawl? Ron Artest, of course.
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Friday, November 19, 2004

Excuses

Most likely, there won't be a real post today.

What I had planned on posting turned out to be quite long and now we decided to go see National Treasure. So there isn't any time to be writing up an epic post. Especially one that is of debatable interest anyways, since it isn't even funny.

You'll have to amuse yourself with pretending to be shocked (shocked I say!) over the fact that there was yet another fight at a hip-hop awards show.
Read the whole post.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Dad's Shelves - 11/17


The cabinets

It's crunch - mode over at my parent's, as the new carpet is scheduled for installation in a little more then a week.

Thus I was over earlier this week to assist with picking up the new 6-panel doors from Home Depot and then back over there last night to help install those doors. Hanging a door by your lonesome is enough of a pain, but these doors (being solid wood) are insanely heavy. So it is a two-man job.

The doors are really nice. The wood is just beautifully smooth (it will be painted), and since they are heavy there is a real solid feel to them. Much nicer then hollow-core doors like I have here.

Since the last time I was over, my Dad has been busy (he doesn't get off days, like his slacker son). He finished the remaining trim work on the cabinets, leaving only the doors and shelves left to complete. Because there is a time crunch, the doors and shelves will probably be left until after the new carpet arrives, while the rest of the cabinet will be varnished.

My dad also put some new trim on the entryway to the family room (I was calling it an arch for lack of a better term). We've never had trim there before, and it came out looking really good. I was very impressed.

Next up on the project plan is trimming the new doors, varnishing the cabinets, painting the walls, and (in theory) cutting all the baseboard trim. The plan is to finish all that before the new carpet comes on the 29th.

As usual, I was able to take a few pictures:

The newly trimmed entry arch.


Close-up of the trim on the top of the cabinets, that I did such a poor job explaining in the last post.


The new 6-panel maple doors we installed.


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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Baby I Got Your Money

This is old news now, but I saw on Monday that ODB died last weekend.

I'm not a huge Wu-Tang fan, but ODB always amused me in that 'crazy-from-too-much-crack' sort of way.

I loved these paragraphs in the article:

But as his fame increased, so did his erratic behavior, and fans came to expect the unexpected from O.D.B.

When MTV News followed him around at the height of his popularity, he took the camera crew and several of his kids (he was said to have more than a dozen, by numerous mothers) to the welfare office -- in a limousine -- to get an allotment of food stamps.

And he received them.

In February 1998, he crashed the stage at the Grammy Awards and hijacked a microphone from singer Shawn Colvin as she accepted an award, apparently upset over losing the best rap album Grammy to P. Diddy (then known as Puff Daddy). He complained that he spent a lot of money for new clothes because he thought he was going to win. The rapper later apologized.

Over the years, he was wounded in shootings and arrested on a veritable laundry list of charges, including menacing security officers, illegally possessing body armor, driving with a suspended license, shoplifting and threatening a former girlfriend.

In 2000, after escaping a court-ordered stint in a California rehabilitation center, authorities searched for him for a month. He was finally arrested in Philadelphia -- three days after performing in a New York City concert with his Wu-Tang clique.

He was sentenced in 2001 to two to four years in prison for drug possession, plus two concurrent years for escaping from the clinic.


And they didn't even mention half the stuff he was arrested for over the years. This page had a funny look back at some of the incidents.. And that page doesn't even cover all his stupid-crazy behavior in court. His VH1 profile covers some more (like the fact he already had 13 children in 1997)

I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that when the autopsy comes back, they might find some cocaine in his system. Just a guess.

Read the whole post.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Stupid Home Networking (pt 2)

[ This is in reference to this earlier post. ]

One more round of client reboots fixed the DWL-G820 and XBox; It took two for the FileServer.

The root problem? Sunspots, of course.

Read the whole post.

Stupid Home Networking

So instead of relaxing tonight and doing what I wanted to do, I've spent the last hour and a half trying to figure out why my new DWL-G820 wireless bridge suddenly refuses to connect to the network.

It was working just fine since late last week, but it suddenly went off the deep-end and started sporatically refusing to connect to the network. So, out came the laptop, to connect to the administration console (stupidly) accessible only to a hard-wired client. Nothing I tried seemed to make any difference, despite the fact that the bridge insisted that it could see the network's SSID just fine, and was getting good signal strength.

Then, during some of the 'throw-your-hands-up' reboots of the router, bridge and clients, the file server up and decided that he, too, was much too cool to reconnect to the network (after all, no one else had to reconnect, why should he?)

I hear you saying "Ah-Ha! Sounds like your router is the problem". But then, oh-master-network-troubleshooter, why has the wireless laptop weathered the reboot storm just fine?

The moral of this story is that consumer grade networking hardware is largely crap, and provides virtually no information for any sort of debugging other then 'reboot-and-pray'.

Read the whole post.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Music in the key of A-Z: Finished!

Well, as you might have guessed by the short music update today, early this afternoon I completed my quest to listen to all my music at work in alphabetical order.

I started back on Tuesday 9/7, and finished today, putting the total time to get through 263 hours of music at 10 weeks (minus a few days off of work here and there). I was originally estimating about 2 months to get through it, so I am happy with my relatively close guess. I averaged about 5 and a quarter hours of music listening a day.

Overall, it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. Even at the lowest points (Jay-Z, Pink Floyd, Metallica, and Paul Oakenfold marathons) I was suprisingly willing to listen to the same kind of music over and over for days. I guess when I am busy at work on interesting things, I'll listen to just about anything. However, when I am busy with not-so-interesting things, I get frustrated and lash out at whatever happens to be playing that day.

I'm not sure what I will do next. The first order of business is to bring the laptop home and get some different music on it. After that, I might listen to all the cds in random order rather then alphabetical. We'll see I guess.

Some notable points during the 10 weeks:

9/10First reference to what I was trying to do at work.
9/15First update on the progress I was making, at this point it was weekly updates (which proved to be way too much work to put together).
9/16First automatically generated daily update. (Including geeky bragging about the overly complicated system I cobbled together to upload information)
9/25First daily update with album covers uploaded.
10/4 - 10/5Jay-Z mini-marathon
10/7Midpoint update.
10/11 - 10/1310 Metallica albums
10/19 - 10/27Mysterious gap during the P artist albums.
10/28 - 11/2Mind-boggling 17 albums of Pink Floyd's psychadelic stylings.
11/5Headphones die in protest.
11/15Completed!


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Daily Music Update 11/15

What is this? - Yesterday's List - Legend


 ArtistAlbum/Track
Velvet RevolverContraband (14 tracks)
XzibitRestless (16 tracks)

Read the whole post.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

You're Not The Boss of Me

I was taking Pippen on one of her twice daily walks this morning and noticed something funny. It's been a while since you had to endure a Pippen story, so here it is.

Our dog Pippen is a 9 pound Silky Terrier (looks like a Yorkie, except normally a little bigger, but not in Pippen's case). She normally likes other dogs, unless they charge right at her barking. And even then, normally after the initial charge she will go greet them.

When I take her on walks, sometimes other dogs will bark at her, either from inside the house, or in the fenced backyard, or perhaps tied up in yards. Sometimes if Pippen doesn't see the dog right away, and it barks at her, she gets suprised and kind of hurriedly walks to the far end of her leash, away from the source of the bark.

However, after the initial suprise of being barked at, she always makes a beeline back to the dog's yard. Once there, she immediately takes a pee, staring straight at the barking dog while she is doing it.

Basically, (in my mind) looking the dog in the eye and saying:

You're not the boss of me, I'll walk through your yard if I want to. In fact, I might even soil your grass...right here.


Read the whole post.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Dad's Shelves - 11/13

I went over today to help my Dad with his shelves for the third time in as many weeks. There aren't as many pictures as some of the other times however.

This is partly because no one else was around to take the pictures while Dad and I were working, and also because what we were working did not lend itself to photography.

Earlier this past week, my Dad put together the mantle from the pieces we had started preparing last weekend. It looks pretty cool:


Having the mantle finished left only the casing at the top of the cabinets, and the facia board on the left side of the TV cabinet left. The top casing was the order of the day today.

It was slow, frustrating work, because the casing has to fit together tightly around some not-so-90-degree angles. Particularly between the fireplace and the two other cabinets, we spent a lot of time making test cuts to test various compound miter cuts to see what fit the best. As has been the case lately, there was only one piece of wood available for each section, so everything had to be done exactly right the first time.

In addition to having various combinations of 45 degree, 44.5 degree, guess-timated 46 degree, 22.5 degree, and/or 23 vertical and 1.5 degree horizontal cuts on the ends, each piece had to be trimmed on the bottom to add a shadow line effect to the cabinet casing. Basically each piece was trimmed at a 30 degree angle on the bottom, leaving 11/32 of an inch flat, and the rest angled.

Here is the best (which isn't saying much) picture I was able to take of a non-installed board. You are looking at it from the back, and it is upside down, so the angle on the top of the board would actually be on the bottom/back of the board.


It is hard to explain (and I didn't get any good pictures), but when the pieces are put flat against the cabinet, this makes them look like they are angled out, and adds a nice shadow to the top.

It took many hours, but we were able to get all the pieces cut and fitting together pretty well. However I had to leave before the last two top pieces were installed. So the 'current state' of the cabinets is probably a bit further along then this picture. If you can envision the right-hand cabinet with the same type of casing as the left cabinet and fireplace, that is what it probably looks like now.


For reference, this is what it looked like last weekend.

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Friday, November 12, 2004


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Daily Music Update 11/12

What is this? - Yesterday's List - Legend


 ArtistAlbum/Track
Tom PettyWildflowers (6 tracks)
ToolLateralus (13 tracks)
Toolundertow (10 tracks)
Tool├ćnima (15 tracks)
 Trance Global Nation 3Progressive trance essentials (12 tracks)
U2All That You Can't Leave Behind (11 tracks)

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Thursday, November 11, 2004

NBA Spoiled Brats...err..Players

Just a few weeks ago, Latrell Sprewell was complaining that he might not be able to fee his family on the measly 14.6 million he is making this year. In fact, he went further to say:

If they don't want to pay me, why would I want to stay here and risk injury and sit there and be with nothing, no contract? If something happens to me, who is going to look out for Spree then? Nobody.

Why would I want to help them win a title? They're not doing anything for me. I've got a lot at risk here. I've got my family to feed. Anything can happen; it's a long season. You never know.


I mean, he only signed a contract to play for another year, what effect should that have on anything? Apparently none, if you are Sprewell. Certainly the fact that he makes the second-most money on the team, and is tied for 9th highest salary in the league should have no effect. Why would you want to play hard for a team when you are making a pittance like that?

NBA players do have something of a reputation for pumping out the illegitimate kids, so clearly he is well justified to claim that he won't be able to feed the family on 14.6 million a year. They probably will have to apply for some sort of government assistance.

After this performance (which even managed to get the commissioner to make a statement about how ridiculous Sprewell was being), I was shocked (shocked I say!) to find another NBA player already taking the stupidity-crown away from Sprewell.

Ron Artest apparently asked the Indiana Pacers coach for up to a month off (the season just started 10 days ago, BTW). Why? Well, to promote his rap album that comes out on Nov 23rd, and to rest his 'aching' body.

In response, the coach (Rick Carlisle) benched Artest for 2 games (with pay, he's got a family to feed after all). Carlisle's quote was:
[The situation] compromised the integrity of the team. It's a private team matter, and I'm going to leave it at that.


Artest's response? 100% vintage NBA brat:
I don't know what that means.

They probably expected a little more; expected me to play every game.


Good lord! They expected him to play every game. How unreasonable is that?!

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Daily Music Update 11/11

What is this? - Yesterday's List - Legend


 ArtistAlbum/Track
Stone Temple PilotsPurple
Sum 41All Killer No Filler
Sum 41Does This Look Infected?
System of a DownSteal This Album!
System of a DownToxicity
Tom Petty & the HeartbreakersGreatest Hits
Tom PettyThe Last DJ
Tom PettyWildflowers

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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Music in the key of A-Z: TEH SUCK

I just want to go on record and say that, hands-down, the two worst CDs I own are in fact:

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness Disc 2 (Twilight to Starlight)
and
Steve Miller Band Greatest Hits.

Complete and utter rip.
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Music in the key of A-Z: Casualty

Well, on Friday we suffered the first casualty of my quest to listen to ~263 hours of music in alphabetical-order at work.

No, it wasn't my sanity after listening to 3.5 days of Pink Floyd. It was actually my headphones.



I've been using the same headphones for about 4 years at work, they were perfect.

You don't understand the need for the perfect headphones until you wear them at work for 4-6 hours a day. Suddenly all the little things become pretty important.

The things I liked about my old headphones was that the cord was just the right length (1.5 meters). Not so long it gets tangled on everything, but long enough I don't feel chained to my computer. Also, they are not 'street-style', as those hurt my ears after a few hours, and they aren't the full-ear covering ones that mean I end up getting startled by the streams of co-workers coming into my cube with questions.

The headphones were starting to get a bit ratty looking. As you can tell from the picture the foam ear covering was all stretched out and starting to tear. Being stubborn, I wasn't going to replace them until absolutely necessary. Well, on Friday necessity struck, as the right ear piece decided it had had enough crappy music and stopped making sounds. At first it was intermittent, but it got worse as the afternoon wore on, eventually cutting out completely. Interestingly, I had just started disassembling the ear piece to see if I could fix it, when it up and died. Unrelated, I'm sure.

Anyways, the headphones were replaced over the weekend (with the exact same model) and the tunes roll on.

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Daily Music Update 11/10

What is this? - Yesterday's List - Legend


 ArtistAlbum/Track
Simple PlanNo Pads, No Helmets...Just Balls (12 tracks)
Slash's SnakepitIt's Five O'clock Somewhere (5 tracks)
Smashing PumpkinsMellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness (27 tracks)
SoundgardenBadmotorfinger (12 tracks)
Steve MillerGreatest Hits (13 tracks)
Stone Temple PilotsCore (12 tracks)
Stone Temple PilotsPurple (8 tracks)

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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Halo 2

No, I didn't buy Halo 2 today. My policy against paying full-price for video games still stands.

But since I happened on this great Halo 2 quote today, and laughed at it again, and today is the day Halo 2 was released, I thought I should post it here for anyone who missed it the first time around. This was the description of Halo 2 given by the head of Bungie Studios back in August 2002:

Halo 2 is a lot like Halo 1, only it's Halo 1 on fire, going 130 miles per hour through a hospital zone, being chased by helicopters and ninjas ... And, the ninjas are all on fire, too.


From what I've heard, the game lives up to the hype. Gamerankings.com has this to say:

Halo 2 for the Xbox was released on 11/9 from Microsoft. It has been reviewed by 24 websites and magazines including TotalGames.net UK, GameDaily, Talk Xbox and To The Game. The average review ratio for all 24 editorial reviews has been 98.0% making this title place 2nd in the all time overall rankings and 1st among Xbox Games.


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Movies: The Incredibles

This afternoon, Linzy and I went to go see The Incredibles.

I went in with pretty high expectations. The movie has an insane 97% positive rating on rottentomatoes. Also, my parents had gone to see it last friday and liked it a lot.

The movie was great. Let me repeat that, because you don't see many unqualified 'great's in movie reviews around here: The movie was great. Go see it.

I loved it, the story was really good. The whole premise was interesting, and the characters were really fun. The voice acting was perfect, and the animation was top-notch.

I do have to mention, even though the animation is light-years beyond Toy Story and A Bug's Life, and even though they obviously spent a ton of time on animating the character's hair, it is just not there yet. Oh, it was the best animated hair you'll see around, but there is still just something about it that doesn't look quite right. A few more years and they should have it.

The other thing I liked about the movie was that the length felt just right, it clocks in at about 2 hours. There was plenty of plot to keep things moving so it didn't drag, and at the same time it wasn't a short little 90 minute movie over practically before it begins.

Incidentally, going to see a 2:40pm show on a random Tuesday is definitely the way to see a movie. Linzy and I were the only ones in the giant screen theater. It was like our own private giant screen tv.

Finally, I have to mention that the new Star Wars movie trailer was shown before the Incredibles. It looks pretty dang good. Must keep expecations low!

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Monday, November 08, 2004

Dad's Shelves - 11/7


The mantle in-progress

Another week, another update on my dad's cabinets. Try to contain your excitement, mmm-kay?

On Sunday I again spent the day at my parent's helping my dad build his new built-in cabinets. They are still coming along nicely, although we didn't make as much progress on Sunday as we might have liked.

Dad had already finished off the back paneling for the TV cabinet, built the support system for the overhead arch, and cut the amazing curved piece. So Sunday we worked on cutting the piece that goes behind the arch (that the lights will sit in), and started work on the mantle piece.

We finished the top of the mantle without too much trouble, and it came out looking really good. That piece is made out of gorgeous wood and when it was all sanded it looks pretty impressive. Then we moved on to cutting the pieces that will make the 'front' of the underside of the mantle.

The plan called for 4 pieces of wood which will overlap each over to create a stair-step effect. That turned out to be quite the time-sink, as one of the pieces (the only one available that would work, incidentally) looked like it had previously been part of a ship's hull. So we spent a long time devising schemes to square it up while keeping enough width to still be able to make the front of the mantle as tall as it needed to be.

By the time I left the worst was over, but it was also like 8:00 pm. Dad continues to inch closer to completion. Read on for pictures, if you'd like.

The "Workshop".

All I'm allowed to do is label strings.

Dad filing the back of the mantle, so it will fit more snugly against the bricks.

Don't the string's really add a touch of class?

The current state of the cabinets.

For reference, last week's ending picture is at the bottom of the page, here.

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Daily Music Update 11/8

What is this? - Yesterday's List - Legend


 ArtistAlbum/Track
Robert Miles23 AM (6 tracks)
Robert MilesDreamland (11 tracks)
Seb FontaineGlobal Underground Prototype 3 CD 1 (12 tracks)
Seb FontaineGlobal Underground Prototype 3 CD 2 (14 tracks)

Read the whole post.