Friday, March 31, 2006

Cowboy Karaoke

Today Linzy bought herself Karaoke Revolution Country, to complement her collection of two Karaoke Revolution games for the XBox. The game is pretty much exactly like every other Karaoke Revolution game except for the song selection and some changes to the options for the outfits you can dress your character in.

Some things are expected, like lots of cowboy hats, cowboy boots, belt buckles, etc. But there are some pretty strange clothing options in the game. Some of the wierdest outfits are only available if you unlock it. Things like:

1) Afro Hair, Cropped Pants, Armwarmers, Furry Boots
2) Hi-Top Hair, Star Glasses, Funk Coat
3) Velvet Supreme Outfit and Top Hat
4) Glam jacket & Scarf, Vinyl Pants, X-Ray Specs
5) Renaissance Outfit

I don't even know what a Velvet Supreme Outfit is, but I'm glad they included a top hat in the outfit. And don't even get me started on wearing Furry Boots and Cropped Pants, without Armwarmers.

Of course, there are standard clothing options that sadly weren't so surprising to see in a country karaoke game. Things like the mullet hairdo, the white tanktop (aka wifebeater), and the option for leaving your character barefoot.

Those things combined with the unlocked "Handlebar Mustache", and moving the body slider all the way to "Belly" make my character quite the looker.

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Did the Cat in the Hat like whiskey? - February 2005

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Wheel of Time - Never to Be Finished

I was very disappointed earlier this week when Brenden forwarded me a link to Robert Jordan's recent letter to Locus magazine. Apparently he has amyloidosis, and possibly not very long to live:

Now in my case, what I have is primary amyloidosis with cardiomyapathy. That means that some (only about 5% at present) of my bone marrow is producing amyloids which are depositing in the wall of my heart, causing it to thicken and stiffen. Untreated, it would eventually make my heart unable to function any longer and I would have a median life expectancy of one year from diagnosis. Fortunately, I am set up for treatment, which expands my median life expectancy to four years.

Now, I certainly hope that Robert Jordan makes a full and complete recovery and lives for years and years to come.

But at the same time doctors are usually pretty good at predicting life expectancies for terminal diseases. And the treatment really only has about a 50-50 chance of working, and involves pretty drastic things like extracting some of his bone marrow, using chemo to kill off all the remaining bone marrow, and then putting the saved marrow back in. That sounds risky, to me at least.

I've been reading Jordan's books for more then 10 years. After 11 books, he's finally within one book of completing the Wheel of Time series. Supposedly the next book is going to be a 2,000 page monster, but will conclude the series.

Now, Jordan is not the fastest writer on the planet. It takes him somewhere between 2 and 3 years per book, and that is for the middle books in the second half of the series. I assume the extra-long masterpiece conclusion will take at least 2.5-3 years.

Given that, it doesn't look good for him finishing the series. Even if he is extra resilient to super-intense chemo and bone marrow transplants, and manages to live for 3 more years, is he really only going to lose 6 months to the treatment, recovery, and the inevitable declining health towards the end of his life? My gut says no.

I just hope that I am proven wrong.

And if I'm not, I hope that he fills someone else in on what is supposed to happen in the last book so they can finish the series. Long ago I think he said that he would not do anything of the sort; If he died, the series died with him. I imagine at the time, the threat of death wasn't quite as imminent.

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Tanwi and Jason - September 2003

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Movies: Kill Bill: Vol. 2

On Friday night I sat down and watched Kill Bill: Vol. 2. It had been a long time since I had seen Volume 1, but I still enjoyed the movie.

Actually, I ended up thinking Volume 2 was a better film then Volume 1. There was a bit less over-the-top violence, and a bit more story work. I liked the complex relationship between the Bride and Bill, and finally getting to see the events that started the whole movie.

One of my favorite parts in the movie was when the Bride was being buried alive, and the screen went more and more black as they nailed the lid of the coffin shut, and then all you could hear was the soil hitting the pine box. I thought that was well done. The final conversation between Bill and the Bride was also top-notch.

While I wasn't a huge fan of Volume 1, I enjoyed Kill Bill: Vol. 2.

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Epcot at night - March 2005

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Books: Fool's Fate

Recently I finished Fool's Fate, the nearly 1,000 page conclusion to the Tawny Man trilogy by Robin Hobb. I thought the book was pretty good, certainly on par with Fool's Errand and Golden Fool, and provided a nice wrap-up to the FitzChivalry storyline.

The book was pretty much what I was expecting. The quest that was setup in the previous book was finally completed with some (not-unexpected) twists along the way. The characters were the same well-written, believable characters they've been for the past several books. All the pieces that had been so carefully laid in place over the previous eight books came together perfectly to wrap up the stories.

Probably the most amazing thing about the book was the tidiness of the wrap up and the intricate plot that had been strung throughout the books. All kinds of questions that came up over the course of earlier books were eventually answered. Even questions that I didn't realize needed to be addressed. And several minor characters and happenings that didn't mean anything significant at the time they first appeared suddenly became clearly necessary.

I didn't have many complaints about the book. I was very annoyed by one of the characters for a good third of the book, but I guess that also shows how realistically written he was. My only other complaint was that with everything so tidily wrapped up, there isn't much wiggle room to work in more books involving FitzChivalry.

All in all I really enjoyed the book and was glad that I had soldiered through some of the slower parts in the previous two books in the trilogy. Fool's Fate was definitely worth it (especially since the other two books certainly weren't bad).

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Sunrise - August 2005

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Doggy Lifesaving

This afternoon Linzy IM'd me at work to fill me in on the excitement that I missed out on at home. Pippen tried to end her life.

Apparently our dog was hard at work on her new rawhide chew bone, while Linzy was reading. All of the sudden there was this hacking and coughing coming from the other side of the room.

Pippen had gotten what was apparently a too large piece of the bone torn off and proceeded to try and swallow the entire thing whole. It got lodged in her throat, causing her to choke and be unable to breathe.

Luckily my wife has earned her Doggy Lifesaving merit badge, managed to administer the doggy Heimlich Maneuver, and Pippen coughed up the piece of bone.

Then, to prove that she is, in fact, dumb as a box of rocks, Pippen snatched up the piece of bone, ran around the table and ate the piece of bone again. This time successfully, fortunately.


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Lake Mead (I think) - January 2006

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Too Full and yet Empty

On Saturday Linzy and I went over to the Mall of America for no particular reason other then we hadn't been there for a long time and felt like doing some walking around. What we forgot to consider was that both the NCAA Basketball regional and the Frozen Four were in town this weekend, and it was "Hole in One Weekend". The place was packed.

There was a 15-minute line just to get into the parking ramp, and pretty much all the parking spots were full even on the top level. We just happened to get lucky and found one, but some people were circling the lot for quite a while waiting for one to open up.

Inside the place managed to swallow up a good portion of the crowd, but it was still uncomfortably crowded. As bad as it gets on (say) the Friday after Thanksgiving or the Saturday before Christmas. It's been a long time since I've been there when it was that crowded, as normally I would plan ahead and stay far, far away on those kinds of days.

Interestingly, the only place in the mall that wasn't crowded was the 4th floor bar area. Of course, you wouldn't expect it to be at 2 on a Saturday afternoon, but it was also because virtually every single bar and restaurant on that level closed. Gillian's, closed. Gators, closed. Players, closed. America's Original Sports Bar, closed. Planet Hollywood, closed (a while ago). Knuckleheads, closed (a while ago). Fat Tuesdays, closed (long ago). The area looks ridiculous now, as all these places sit empty.

The last bar standing? Hooters, of course. In fact, it had a line. Nothing like hot girls in tight shorts to bring out the crowds.

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Christmas steaks - December 2005

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Movies: V for Vendetta

The movie Linzy and I went to see in the theater on Friday was V for Vendetta. I really enjoyed it.

Despite never having read the graphic novel, I knew vaguely what to expect after having read some articles on the movie. The movie turned out to be just as interesting as I was hoping, with a complicated but understandable plot, a somewhat ambiguous resolution, and a convincing world where Great Britain is under the control of a ruthless fascist government.

I thought that Natalie Portman was outstanding as Evey, and that Hugo Weaving did an amazing job bringing life to a character whose face you never actually see. Both characters were very interesting, particularly V where you could never really be sure if he was a genius or a raving lunatic.

You have to get a little nervous about whether a movie will be any good when the creator of the original source material goes to great lengths to disassociate himself from the film. But from everything I have read, the movie is actually a surprisingly good adaptation of the graphic novel. It certainly seemed well done to me.

I'd highly recommend V for Vendetta.

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Lake Valentine at Bethel University - March 2006

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Screaming Kids

This week's helpful checklist: How to ruin a movie for other theater-goers, without needing a cell phone.

1) Smuggle in your own snacks. Make sure these are wrapped in super-extra-crinkly foil. Make enough noise opening them to make surrounding people think you were trying to open the package without actually using any fingers.

2) Carry on loud, unrelated conversations with your buddy. If you aren't sure of a good topic, let me suggest: fishing.

3) Bring a newborn child.

4) Act surprised when 15 minutes into the movie the kid starts screaming.

5) Spend a while trying to mollify the child, while it cries.

6) Act surprised when 45 seconds after you set it back in the baby holder, it starts to cry again.

7) Instead of leaving the theater, pace back and forth with the child in the front of the theater.

8) Eventually, when the embarrassment factor and crowd outrage level is unbearably high, actually leave the theater.

9) Come back 30 minutes later.

10) Act surprised when the child starts screaming a minute after you sit back down.

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New & Improved: Larger Box, Less Product; Same Great Price - March 2006

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Beer Run

I was driving home from work tonight, and while sitting at a stoplight I noticed three Police trucks waiting in the turn lane of the cross street. When the lights changed they all made the turn, drove up the road a bit and pulled caravan-style into the liquor store's parking lot.

Now, perhaps that was just the world's slowest response to an in-progress crime. Or maybe it was the 4:30pm Thursday beer run.

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Westminster Abbey - February 2000

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Illegally Parked

Last weekend one of our neighbors moved out, to their much larger, brand-new house in Rosemount. One of their parents came over to help them move out, and actually came a day early and spent the night. I guess to help pack things up and so they could get an early start the next morning.

Anyway on Saturday morning there was mayhem over at the house. It turned out that the parents parked their car on the street and someone had backed into it. Hard.

The whole rear door on one side was smashed in and the window was shattered. Apparently whoever hit the car had done a hit & run, because they didn't know anything about it until the next morning when they came outside.

The position the car was parked in and the angle of impact made it look like the car had come from the neighbor's driveway across the street. But none of those cars showed any signs of being in an accident (at least that I could see from across the road :).

Now the interesting thing about the whole ordeal was that in Lakeville it is illegal to park on the street from 2am to 6am November 1st through April 1st.

So my former neighbor's parent's car was illegally parked at the time of the accident.

I assume that still doesn't let the hit & run driver off the hook, but it does probably result in some of the blame (as far as the insurance company is concerned at least) fall on the illegal parker.

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Don't stress a redwood tree, they'll grow a burl - June 2003

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

No Post For You

Unfortunately, since I am still at work there will be no new post tonight. I don't even have a random picture pre-uploaded, so you get nothing.


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Monday, March 20, 2006

Movies: Boondock Saints

On Friday night I watched The Boondock Saints, on the recommendation of a friend. I wasn't that impressed.

The movie follows two brothers who turn into vigilantes, and go around killing all the mob members and lowlifes in their town (Boston). That in itself was OK, but I didn't buy into the story of how this comes about, at all.

Basically the brothers get in a bar fight with some Russian gangsters, and win. The gangsters come back the next day, and in the process of escaping/defending themselves they kill the two gangsters. The cops let them off, for a variety of reasons. Then they find out where all the big bosses of the Russian mob are and go and kill them all. Then they go kill some mafia members (including Ron Jeremy) for good measure.

Now, I watch plenty of unbelievable movies. So I am not sure why the gaping holes in the plot of the Boondock Saints bothered me so much, but they did. I think I was expecting a more traditional 'brothers triumph over the mafia' movie, rather then a pure vigilante movie.

I was also annoyed by the prolific use of the f-word. Normally that wouldn't bother me, but 246 times in 110 minutes was a bit unnecessary.

I seriously considered turning the movie off about 2/3rds of the way through but I soldiered through till the end. In retrospect, I'm not exactly sure why. Definitely not a movie I would recommend.

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Pippen challenging Sarah for her title - March 2006

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Dad's Birthday

On Saturday night Linzy and I went out to dinner with my parents to celebrate my Dad's birthday. Afterwards we came back home and Dad opened his presents and we had some birthday cake. It's always fun to spend some time with my parents, and Saturday night was no exception.

Read on for some pictures, should you be so inclined.

Dad opening his present (a windbreaker specially designed for golfing, and a gift card)

Mom dancing while humming a song.

Cutting the birthday cake.

How could the cake not be good, look at that thick layer of tasty frosting.

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Larry and I preparing to cut some plywood - July 2004

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

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Drifted snow - March 2006

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Canceled Due to Lack of Attendance

This week's helpful checklist: How to be an office bully

1) Schedule a conference call for late Friday afternoon. Invite everyone remotely involved with the project. Do not invite the project manager.

2) Spend most of the meeting complaining about the lack of attendance by the non-invited project manager.

3) At some point launch into a long monologue about how you don't really want to be in charge of this, because it really is a project management function. They'll believe you.

3) After that speech when no one has much of a response and you start badgering people to respond in some way, jump on the guy who actually speaks up for bringing up something somewhat off-topic.

4) Complain some more about the non-attending project manager

5) When sending the meeting notice for the next meeting copy everyone's boss's boss and another of his peers. Have the meeting notice prominently labeled "Rescheduled due to lack of attendance". Neglect to mention that every group invited showed up, so that upper management thinks everyone is not showing up for your meetings.

6) Schedule the follow-up meeting for 7:00-7:30 am.

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A rose from Linzy's graduation flowers - March 2006

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Movies: Corpse Bride

On Sunday afternoon Linzy and I watched Corpse Bride. I thought it was OK, but it wasn't one of my favorites.

The animation was very cool, and the voice acting was exceptional. I also liked the overall art direction/'look' of the film, and the unique setting for a love story.

I can't exactly put my finger on what I didn't like about the movie. It might have been the musical numbers that were thrown in occasionally, or it might have been the rather predictable plot. I don't know.

It certainly wasn't a bad movie (in fact Linzy liked it quite a bit), but it just didn't grab me.

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It's not a party till someone shows up with a trunk full of booze and snacks - December 2004

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Sore Knees

After the weather started to get cold this fall, I switched my exercising from riding my bike to running on our treadmill. I don't own a trainer or have much interest in one, and was actually looking forward to doing something a little different. Unfortunately, I'm really not much of a runner so it took quite a while for me to build up to being able to run a good distance at a respectable speed.

The biggest trouble I had initially (other then my embarrassing running stamina) was finding comfortable shoes. I tried just about every pair that was laying around the house, but all of them caused varying degrees of sore feet. Eventually I settled on a new pair of a cheap style I already owned, but a half-size larger (so they didn't pinch my toes like the pair I already had). Those have worked great all winter.

Over the course of the winter I've been able to increase how long I run for, and increase the speed(s) I use. I was able to stick to my schedule of running 5-6 nights a week without too much trouble, alternating between two different treadmill programs. Everything was going well.

Then last week I noticed my right knee would sometimes start to get a little sore towards the end of my runs. Over the weekend it started getting a little worse, until eventually on Sunday I decided to cut my run short. I didn't run on Monday to rest my knee and did a normal short-but-fast run on Tuesday. Initially I thought my knee had bounced back, but then at the end of the run it started bothering me again. Today I decided to give it another day of rest, because it had been somewhat sore before I even started running.

Ironically, my knee started giving my trouble just a few days after I dropped more money then I ever have in my entire life on a pair of shoes. I finally decided that maybe I should invest in a 'good' pair of running shoes. In theory, to protect my feet and knees.

I guess that didn't work out quite like I had envisioned.

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Pete's Liquor in Long Beach - January 2006

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Oh and Have You Heard About Larry?

While I was sitting in the waiting room yesterday for Linzy's epidural shot, I ended up reading a TIME magazine. Specifically, I was reading an article on V for Vendetta.

It was fairly interesting, and contained some information I didn't know previously (which isn't saying much because I didn't know much about it in the first place). For example, they mention that V's mask is styled after Guy Fawkes' face, who I also had not heard of before New-Planet mentioned him.

Anyway, what was most interesting about the article was a little tidbit thrown in randomly, that didn't really have much to do with V for Vendetta and was just a parenthetical add-on to a paragraph in the middle of the article. It went like this:

The Wachowskis no longer talk to the press, and their personal lives are the subject of considerable speculation. Larry, the older of the two, is a transvestite in a relationship with a Los Angeles dominatrix.

Hmm. I admit that is a juicy tidbit. But it seemed a little random to be thrown in the middle of an article largely focusing on the seemingly risky 'hero terrorist' aspect of V for Vendetta.

It was still kind of funny, though.

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Icicles on a tree - March 2006

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Snow, Snow, and more Snow

This morning I woke up to roughly the view in the picture to the right. Quite a change from the beautiful spring-like weather we had a few days earlier.

We got around 11 inches of snow between last night and today. I had to clear the driveway twice, once this morning before work and once this afternoon before Linzy and I had to leave for an appointment.

By the afternoon the snow had accumulated and drifted so badly that it didn't even look like I had done anything to the driveway earlier. Plus the plow came through and left a two-and-a-half foot barricade at the bottom of the driveway. The snow was so wet that the pile from the plow had congealed into a solid mass the snowblower wasn't happy to have to deal with.

In fact, after just 8 usages over two winters, the snowblower decided to break.

Luckily the remaining two bolts held the chute well enough that I could finish the driveway. But with all the extra stress on the other two connections, I don't think it will have much longer. So I'll have to pick up a replacement chute, or lug the whole thing back to Sears to try and get it covered under warranty. Either way hopefully I can figure out whether the bolts were too loose or too tight, in order to cause the plastic chute to break so quickly.

But, at least I was able to work from home today, which spared me from having to venture forth on roads that reminded me of the roads in Texas when they get an inch of snow. Cars driving 2.5 miles an hour, gridlock everywhere, buses in the ditch, etc. You'd think we don't ever get snow here.

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Japanese Garden in San Francisco - June 2003

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Linzy's Graduation Ceremony

On Friday night we all ventured up to Arden Hills for Linzy's graduation ceremony.

It was held at Bethel University, because Rassmussen doesn't have an auditorium large enough to hold all the graduates from all three metro campuses and their families. That ended up working out pretty well (other then the annoying drive up there) because the auditorium was just the right size. Not so large that we felt like we were only filling a portion of it (like UMD's graduation at the DECC), and not so crowded that we were packed in like sardines.

The ceremony was real nice, with four student speakers and a featured speaker. All did a pretty good job, although some of the students were better then others.

This ceremony was for Fall and Winter graduates, so it was fairly small. About 80 students were walking, and there were a few over one hundred listed in the program. The smaller size was nice because it allowed them to spend a little more time on each student (rather then machine-gunning names out). Each student had their bio read while they walked across the stage and shook hands with all the campus directors and got their picture taken.

The whole thing was very nicely done, and I enjoyed it. Afterwards we all went back to my parent's house for some delicious cake. The whole evening was a lot of fun.

The Bethel Auditorium

Linzy shaking hands with one of the campus directors

The Sironens

The Ecks

The tasty cake from Woullet Bakery

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Tony, Gerard and Wes relaxing after paintball - May 2003

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

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Grandma and Linzy looking at wedding pictures - March 2006

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Burn Marks

Since I graduated from college a little early, I had already moved away from Duluth by the time the graduation ceremony took place. As a result when it came time to iron the robe and my clothes for the ceremony, I was woefully underprepared.

I ended up borrowing an iron from Linzy's roomate Brittany, and ironing on the floor in Brittany's room (as she didn't own an ironing board). The results weren't spectacular, as you might imagine, but then again it was a more-or-less plastic robe, and those are probably the least iron-able piece of clothing on the face of the planet.

I was surprised later that night when Brittany was upset with me for leaving a huge iron-shaped burn mark on her carpet. I had thought I was pretty careful about keeping the iron moving, and didn't recall smelling anything burning. I denied the charges, but no one really believed me. I pointed out that Katie had used the iron, after I did, so it could have just as likely been her. Still no one bought into my explanations.

And so occasionally through out the intervening 7 years Brittany will give me a hard time about burning her floor with an iron. Finally just a few months ago, Katie finally admitted that, in fact, it had been her who burned the carpet in Brittany's room. So my name was cleared.

I was reminded of all of this today while Linzy was trying to iron her robe for the graduation ceremony tonight. Her ironing results were much better then mine were back then. Proving, I guess, that an ironing board makes a big difference, in addition to protecting your carpet from burn marks.

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Me and Katie before graduation - May 1999

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Simple Pleasures

I'm surprisingly easy to please sometimes.

For example, today I spent most of the day cleaning the house and doing miscellaneous chores to get things ready for some company we are having stay here this weekend. While I was vacuuming the floor, the vacuum stopped working.

Just randomly decided it had had enough and wasn't going to run the brush or wheels anymore. So I sat down, dismantled the case and started trying to figure out what had gone wrong. After a bit of poking around and realizing that there really isn't much to a vacuum, I found what looked like the problem: a slipped belt. I put the belt back where it was supposed to go, closed everything back up and fired it back up. And it worked.

Now, it was close to the world's simplest repair, and didn't even take me very long. But I was still sort of pleased that I managed to fix the vacuum. I think it was because I didn't expect to be able to.

I figured it was going to be some electrical switch problem or that some critical piece of plastic had broken, or something else that I wasn't going to be able to fix. And I really didn't want to have to go out an buy a new one just to finish vacuuming the three rooms left. But when I was able to get it all fixed, I was surprised and pleased.

It really is all about your expectations I guess.

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The cyclamen loves to grow flowers - February 2006

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Come Back When You Aren't Doing Well

How to give rise to angry Steve in only 10 simple steps - A practical guide for Doctors.

1) Overbook your appointments so you are running 45 minutes late.

2) Have a discussion with your nurse right outside the exam room, before we've seen you, and talk about how much you hate having more then X number of appointments in a day.

3) Be so vague with your instructions in the previous appointment that we had to call back in for clarification.

4) Have the nurse triage line give incorrect information during that call back.

5) Tell us how we 'wasted' a trip back to see you after 6 weeks because of that incorrect information.

6) Blissfully ignore the fact that the only thing that was clear about your previous instructions was to come back in 6 weeks.

7) Waste most of the 5 minutes we 'get' to spend with you trying to track down a nurse to complain about how the triage line gave incorrect information.

8) Ignore me when I question why it is necessary to find a nurse Right Now to discuss the triage line screw-up, since it is over and done with and we don't even know the name of the person we talked to anyways.

9) Literally head for the door while I am still asking you legitimate questions to clarify your continually vague instructions.

10) When I look annoyed at you trying to rush out of the room in the middle of our consultation, start giving flippant answers to those questions. For example, try using the title of this post as an answer to "When should we come back".

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The Bombadier at Holden Village - November 2001

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Think someone clipping their toe-nails in the bathroom was gross? Disgusted by the thought of a half-eaten unwrapped sandwich sitting in the work fridge? Well today I saw something that probably topped both of those.

I had the misfortune to be in the bathroom at work when someone else finished going to the bathroom and then proceeded to use his unwashed hands to slurp water from the faucet.

Dear Lord, Why?!? There's a drinking fountain right outside the door!

I realize it is only his own germs that are at issue here, but it struck me as completely gross.

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The Paper Monster - July 2005

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Movies: Layer Cake

On Sunday I watched Layer Cake, a British gangster movie. It turned out to be exactly what I was in the mood for that night, so I really enjoyed it.

The basic plot is that the lead character is a drug-dealer who is planning to leave the business. He ends up having to complete one last deal, which of course ends up being a lot more trouble then planned. So the lead character (who is never named) ends up just trying to survive long enough to straighten things out.

The movie had a number of interesting characters, and Daniel Craig (the new James Bond) was super cool as the lead character. The story was nice and complicated, with tons of twists, double-crosses, and double-double-crosses.

I enjoyed the movie, and would recommend it if you are into violent, somewhat hard-to-understand British gangster movies.

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Clouds - May 2005

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

World Domination

On Saturday night, I went over to Dan's house for a long-planned evening playing Risk with Gerard, Brenden and Wes. It was a lot of fun.

It had been quite a while since anyone had played Risk, but we all got back into the swing of it pretty easily. The game was one of the most up-and-down games of Risk I've ever been involved with. Who I thought had the best position was constantly changing the entire game.

I grabbed South America right out of the gate, but got bogged down in Africa and pushed out of North America. Brenden and Gerard spent several turns fighting over Australia and southern Asia, while Wes barracaded himself in Europe and started pushing into Africa, and Dan slowly took over North America.

Gerard had placed his armies disjointedly all over the map, and ended up being reduced to just three countries in Asia. But when he turned in sets of cards in back to back turns, he made a huge land grab for half of Asia.

Dan secured North America with huge masses of armies at each entrance and started trying to attack Europe. Meanwhile Wes was trying to carry on a war on too many fronts and started losing his grip on Europe. He did manage to take over almost all of Africa, and pen me into just a few countries and South America.

By this time the number of armies for a set was 30. Brenden took advantage of all those armies to wipe Gerard's forces from the map, claim his cards and turn in another set for another 35 armies. That let him secure all of Asia and the all-important Ukraine. All that land, along with his previous ownership of Australia, put him in a very strong position.

Dan and Wes didn't turn in sets and contended themselves with continuing to nibble away at my ever shrinking collection of countries.

But by that time I had managed to collect a set, used those 40 armies to wipe out Dan, used his cards to make another set, used those 45 armies to wipe out Wes, used his cards to make another set (with an additional one in reserve), and took over the entire map except three countries in Australia.

Brenden turned in a set and used those armies to try and take back the whole map (which I believe was possible, but required him to win nearly every single dice roll). He ended up having to stop after taking about 65% of the map, I turned in my final set and won the game.

The starting position (Brenden is Red, Dan is Blue, Gerard is White, Wes is Green, and I am Gray)

Gerard makes a big push in Asia, after having been reduced to only three countries.

Wes winces at a particularly bad dice roll.

The position after Brenden wipes out Gerard and claims the Eastern half of the board.

The board after I pushed Brenden back into Australia.

Brenden and Dan plotting.

Brenden takes back 65% of the board in righteous anger over my 135 army turn.

But it doesn't help when I have another set to turn in. [ This was just an approximation of what the final board would have looked like, we didn't actually do all the rolling ]

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Candles - February 2006

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