Friday, June 30, 2006

Movies: City of God

Last weekend, I watched City of God,
a movie that follows the lives of a bunch of characters living in a slum outside of Rio de Janeiro. I thought it was pretty good, although a bit disturbing.

The movie focuses mostly on a group of kids as they grow up in the City of God, and all the things that happen to them as they try to escape their situation and/or get involved with the gangs and drugs that are basically unavoidable in the neighborhood. The hardest part of the movie was watching the deplorable conditions the characters had to live in, and how they were one after another pulled into being a hoodlum.

Still, the story was interesting and well told, I thought, and I enjoyed the movie.


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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Name the German Twins

Today when I got home, Linzy showed me a new T-shirt she bought me, which she thought was pretty cool and I agreed.


I'm scared by the two "girls" pictured though, they look a little rough. We spent a bit of time tonight while playing Phase 10 coming up with names for them.

So far my favorite was "Brunhilda and Dieter", because I'm pretty sure that one on the right is actually a man.


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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Movies: X-Men 3

On Saturday, Linzy and I went to a movie in the theater for the first time in several months: X-Men: The Last Stand. We both enjoyed it.

I went into the movie a fan of the first two movies. I liked the second one better, but enjoyed the first one as well. The third movie wasn't quite as good as X2, I thought, but it was pretty good.

The story was interesting, and there was a bit of action interspersed to keep things interesting. I liked that some of the characters had a few more shades of grey then in previous movies. Though I was disappointed that Nightcrawler didn't make a repeat appearance. I also didn't particularly like their take on Beast as a politician. Kelsey Grammer was fine, I just didn't like the writing for the character.

One thing I liked about the movie was that some people actually 'died' in it, and probably in a more permanent way then you would normally expect in a movie that is sure to have a sequel. Not that they couldn't bring them back if necessary, but at least they made an attempt to make it appear characters were actually in danger.

All in all I thought the movie was pretty good, fast-paced and interesting.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Full evening

My planned post for tonight never materialized as my evening ended up being much busier then I was originally thinking.

Linzy picked me up from work because the Altima was in for some recall work. After stopping by the dealership to get the car, we decided to go try the new Mexican restaurant down the street, El Patio.

El Patio is in the former Divinci's Pizza location, and sports some of the same furniture as the former restaurant. Luckily it has different owners, and we were really happy with our meal. The service was good, my burrito was tasty, and the prices were comparable to the 150 other small Mexican restaurants around town.

After that, Linzy and I took Pippen over to the dog park again, and spent some time enjoying the weather and walking around the lake. That was fun, although Pippen wasn't quite as well behaved as last time. Once we got back home, and I sat down to type up my post, Paul called to see if I wanted to go to the park and play catch with the Aerobie.

Since it was a gorgeous night out, that obviously won out over sitting in front of the computer. The weather was perfect for playing catch with an Aerobie, not too hot and with very little wind. After spending a little over an hour running around the park chasing down throws, we sat out on his deck to enjoy the last bit of sunlight.

And so just like that, I got home at 10:00 and decided there wasn't going to be enough time to write up what I originally wanted. Although now that I see how long this ended up, perhaps there was...

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Plotters

This morning I had an appointment with a pulmonary specialist, about my doggedly persistent cough. Part of the exam (in addition to answering questions about whether I've ever had every disease known to man) involved doing some pulmonary function tests.

The nurses kept asking me what tests I've had done in the past, what the results were, and all kinds of things I didn't really have any answers for. Once you get past "Peak Flow Meter", I usually can't recall the names of tests or devices used to administer the tests.

Anyway, as we were walking back to the test room, I had this conversation with the specialist nurse:

Nurse: So, have you ever had any pulmonary tests before?

Me: Yeah, I had some back when I was a kid and was first getting treated for asthma.

Nurse: Oh. Have you had a HoozenFrantzen test?

Me: Uhh.

Nurse: How about a SnarfenBigle volume test?

Me: Umm. I have no idea. I know I used to have one test a lot, where they made me breathe out through a tube that was connected to a plotter, and it drew these graphs of the volume and force and stuff.

Nurse: We don't use plotters.

Now, you have to read that final comment in a tone that implied that I might have been riding to those old appointments on the family dinosaur.

Amusingly though, one of the many tests I did inside their Plexiglas phone booth while breathing into something that certainly fell under the term 'contraption' was the exact same test I used to have to do into a tube connected to a plotter.

Sure the graphs showed up on a computer now, but otherwise it was exactly the same.

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Illegible

On Friday night, I was busy doing just about everything I could think of other then what I was supposed to be doing: Writing Thank You notes to people I didn't thank in person for birthday gifts. I just don't like writing Thank You notes, but it isn't for the reasons you might think. I don't like writing Thank Yous because my handwriting is ridiculously bad.

When I was a kid in elementary school, and got graded on that sort of thing my worst grades were always in Handwriting. Since then, my handwriting has steadily declined, especially as the need to handwrite things got more and more rare. Nowadays, I'm lucky if I can read my own writing, let alone anyone else. And so I feel embarrassed and guilty to be sending an illegible note to someone who was nice enough to send me a gift.

To make matters worse, my writing is very compact. That means a Thank You card that Linzy can fill with a single short paragraph requires approximately my life story, when I'm the one writing it.

Friday night was my self-imposed deadline for the Thank Yous, as that would mean they would get mailed out a week after my birthday. In typical procrastinating fashion, I was surfing the web, looking through all the different notecards we had on hand (to find the 'right' ones), making up reasons to go see what Linzy was up to. I even spent some time doing work e-mails. Obviously, anything I could find to avoid having to work on writing the notes.

When I finally couldn't put it off any longer, I concluded that I was being ridiculous about the whole issue. Not because my handwriting was better then I recalled. It wasn't. But because it probably doesn't matter all that much.

I did my best to keep the notes legible, and I like to think that someone like my Grandma will just appreciate getting a note, even if it is a bit of chore to decipher what I've written. At least I hope that is the case.


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Friday, June 23, 2006

Movies: The Aristocrats

One night earlier this week, I watched The Aristocrats, a documentary on "The world's dirtiest joke".

I was a little worried about whether I would enjoy 90 minutes of the same joke, over and over, especially since a friend mentioned that they got bored by the end. As it turned out, I was entertained through the whole film. I'm not sure that I would have wanted it to be much longer, but there was definitely plenty of content for the length.

The gist of the movie is documenting a particular joke that has a (more-or-less) set beginning and end, but which allows for basically infinite ad-libbing in the middle. So the film spends a while talking about the history of the joke, and then all the different variations people use to tell it. Some are very similar, and others are completely different.

I enjoyed a lot of the comics, but my favorites were probably the South Park version, Kevin Pollack's impression of Christopher Walken telling the joke, and the guy who told it as a joke about Jewish, Buddhist and Catholic priests.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised that the movie held up as well as it did, covering one joke for 89 minutes.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Play it Again and Again

Since my MP3 player broke (err, was broken) last week I've had to listen to the radio quite a bit for the first time in months. And my apparent inability to escape Shakira's ubiquitous "Hips Don't Lie" has reminded me just how little variety most of the stations have.

I recalled seeing last week that the song set the 'world record' for most played song on pop radio, after being played 9,637 times in a week. Since that's more then once a minute all week long, I knew that translated into a lot of airplay.

What I didn't realize was that apparently they've scheduled all of those repeats across all the stations during the 30-40 minutes I'm in the car everyday. I'm pretty sure that we even have an all Shakira station now, I guess to compete with Jack FM's relative variety.

It all reminds me of the summer after I graduated high school, when I worked as a picker/packer at a local warehouse. They let us listen to the radio out in the warehouse, but unfortunately the few men there were out-voted by the hundred-or-so middle-aged women and so we had to listen to KDWB (the local pop station) all day long.

Now normally I can listen to just about any kind of music (as proven by my alphabetical music adventure). But this was the summer of Bryan Adam's "Have you ever really loved a woman?" song. I disliked the song to begin with, and after listening to KDWB play it over and over and over and over, I started hating it.

It became something of a game between me and one of my co-workers to count the number of times it was played during our work shifts because it seemed to be on constantly. I believe our count topped out at 10 times in an 8 hour day. When you throw in a morning show, 10-15 minutes of commercials an hour, DJ chatter, and traffic reports, that is a lot of times to play an almost 5 minute long song.

I still shudder when I hear the song. Of course it might just be from memories of slaving away in the non-air-conditioned warehouse in the heat of August.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Prey Animal

On Tuesday night Linzy and I brought Pippen over to Alimagnet Dog Park for the first time. It went pretty well, all things considered.

Pippen very rarely gets to be outside without a leash, and never goes on any sort of walk without one, so she was a bit confused at first about what to do when we unleashed her inside the park. Initially she was trying to be good and stand still (like she is trained to do if someone drops her leash), but eventually she got the hang of it.

I was actually shocked at how well behaved Pippen was. She was a little timid with the other dogs if they charged up to her, but in general she just did a little mutual sniffing and then moved on to follow us around the path. She spent most of the time trundling along just slightly over an imaginary leash length away, as if to say "Normally I couldn't be this far away, so I'll take advantage now".

The park itself was much nicer then I was imagining, with a nice long path circling a swampy pond for the dogs to play in, and a big field for the larger dogs to burn off some energy by running around. In addition to the main park there is also a small portion that is separately fenced especially for small dogs. Unfortunately it is so small you can't really walk around in it, and there were no other dogs there so that didn't seem like very much fun.

We were actually joking a little bit about having to use the large dog park, after reading the warning on Minnesota Valley Humane Society Dog Park Page:

Dogs under 25 pounds should only use dog parks that contain small dog areas – if a small dogs slips and squeals while being chased by others, he may be perceived as a prey animal and could be attacked. Be your small dog’s advocate and keep safety first!


We were envisioning our first trip to the dog park ending with Pippen being chased and eaten by some larger dog, just because we didn't want to sit at a picnic table while Pippen sniffed all 10 plants in the small dog park 30 times.

Luckily she avoided any Prey Animal behavior during the trip, so everyone came home unscathed.


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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Movies: FF7: Advent Children & Saved

Over the past week or so, Linzy and I watched two movies Shawn and Andrea loaned to us: Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, and Saved!.

Advent Children:

Back in the day, I really enjoyed playing Final Fantasy VII. The movie, I didn't enjoy quite as much.

It was definitely pretty to look at, with lots of action but the dialogue was just painful. Despite having played the game a lot, it was a long time ago and the movie made no effort whatsoever to introduce the characters and explain anything. It assumed you recalled the story of an (admittedly popular) video game released 9 years ago. Well, I didn't recall it all that well (other then Aeris dying, of course), and Linzy certainly didn't since she had never even seen me playing the game.

From what I understand from friends it doesn't matter that much, as the movie's plot was complicated enough and thrown together randomly that it didn't make much more sense even if you were intimately familiar with the game.

I think Linzy summed up the movie succinctly when she said "I like it a lot better when they don't talk".

Saved!:

When Shawn and I were staining the deck, he was referring to someone (Jena Malone) as that girl from Saved!. He was then horrified to discover that I had never seen that movie, and promptly gave it to Linzy and I to watch.

I ended up enjoying the movie, though I don't think quite as much as Shawn did. During the first part of the movie I was getting nervous, as I didn't find it very funny or interesting at all. By the middle things picked up, and I ended up liking the story by the end.

I still didn't think it was all that hilarious, but there was enough comedy to keep things moving along, and the acting was pretty good.


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Monday, June 19, 2006

Bright and Early

Last night, in an unfortunately not-so-uncommon occurrence I got called by my boss at 3am. I spent an hour on the phone, and then had a terrible time getting back to sleep. Eventually I turned off the alarm, planning to sleep in till whenever Pippen woke me up and then go into work a little later then normal.

At 7am I was awakened by the roar of my neighbor's lawn mower.

Now, I was admittedly a bit cranky given the fact that I was getting called at 3am even while 'on vacation', and had only gotten a partial night's sleep. And normally I would have already been awake for quite a while (and probably on my way out the door), but it still seemed kind of ridiculous.

Personally, I always feel guilty when I have to use the snowblower early in the morning during the winter, but at least there I can almost claim that I have to use it in order to clear off the driveway. Mowing the lawn seems a bit different.

Enjoy a cup of coffee, read the newspaper, and at least wait until 8am, buddy.


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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Summer Party

On Saturday, Linzy and I threw our annual spring party, which ended up being more of a 'summer' party this year since we've been so busy lately. The offer of free food and beer resulted in a pretty good turnout, with Amy, Andrea, Anita, Brenden, Dan, Dan, Evan, Felicia, Gerard, Kelli, Laura, Megan, Mike, Paul, Shawn, Tristan, and Wes coming over for various portions of the party.

The weather cooperated for the most part, except for a brief downpour right as I was beginning to grill the hamburgers and brats (of course). Other then that, it was nice enough for people to be out on the deck at least some of the time.

As far as I could tell, everyone had a good time. I know I did. Read on for some pictures, if you'd like.

Megan and Pippen greeting each other.


Dan, Tristan and Amy relaxing on the deck.


The lone party casualty, one of my parent's folding chairs. The arm snapped, and then the legs buckled, causing the chair to collapse.


Brenden showing off while playing Guitar Hero with Dan.


Laura and Shawn (along with Evan and Megan) swapping baby stories.


Dan, Mike, Wes and Gerard playing cards.


Social!


Celebrating my second win in a row at cards.


Brenden totally destroying me in Guitar Hero at the end of the night.



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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Depressing Chart of the Day


The blue line is the monthly amount we spent on gas purchases according to Microsoft Money. The red line is a 6-month moving average.

The large jump in mid-2002 is when Linzy's spending started getting entered in the same Money file. The smaller jump in late 2000 is when I traded in my Civic Si for the Pathfinder. The peak of the 6-month moving averages is in November 2004, shortly after Linzy stopped working and starting going to school full-time again.

I can't believe I got by on less then $15 a month in gas, back in 1996. I guess that is what driving a 1986 Chevy Nova and living on-campus will do for you.

I found it interesting that while the chart obviously trends upwards as gas prices increased over the past 10 years, our driving habits (whether Linzy was working or going to school, when I was driving to Duluth every other weekend from 2/99-6/00 to visit her, when I switched to a less fuel-efficient but more cargo friendly vehicle, etc) appear to have a larger impact on things.

On the other hand, that 6-month moving average has been charging upwards pretty steeply since the most recent minimum in October 2005...

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Friday, June 16, 2006

Precious Junk

One thing Linzy and I discovered in Stillwater was that it seemed like every other store along main street was an antiques store of some sort. All seemingly filled with exactly the same kinds of junk.

But we did come across some pretty strange stuff. Read on for some pictures.

Did you know Harley-Davidson made beer? Neither did I.


I found this book on Shakers, it even featured drawings of their famous 'crazy dancing' style of worship. Unfortunately they wanted $16 for it, which was about $15 more then I was willing to pay.


A crazy Hopi statue of a blind man carrying a small-disabled girl (or so the sign told me). Amazingly someone paid $2500 to buy this.


Midtown Antiques is apparently famous, as they had a door autographed by various celebrities that have visted there (including Glen Close, Rich Gannon, and Sally Strothers)


Easily the scariest rabbit doll I've ever seen. As Linzy said "Could you imagine waking up to that thing staring at you?"


Who wouldn't want to play with a Winnebago Indian?


The Winnie even sported a lovely brown interior, with orange seats. How 70s.


The inside of Queen's "Killers Live" album. It's hard to believe Freddy Mercury was gay...


Jacques Cousteau wearing his "Life Aquatic" red stocking cap. ;)


Planet Baywatch and Playboar magazines.



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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Third Anniversary

Yesterday was Linzy and my third wedding anniversary. We spent the day in Stillwater, a little town about an hour away (from Lakeville at least) on the St. Croix River.

There wasn't quite as much to do in the town as I was expecting, I was thinking it was going to be more like Red Wing where we spent our first anniversary. Still we had a pretty good time checking out the four blocks of shops on Main Street and just bumming around town.

We got into town just a little before lunch time, so walked around a bit and then stopped at Nacho Mama's for a delicious, but somewhat overpriced lunch. After that we went on a tour of the Joseph Wolf caves, which were not particularly impressive but had a somewhat interesting tour. Then we spent several hours checking out all the random stores along main street before stopping at the Northern Vineyards Winery for a tasting.

We went to the Mondavi vineyard on our honeymoon and bought a bottle of wine that we saved to drink on our first anniversary. Two years ago when we were in Red Wing we happened to stop at the Falconer Vineyards and picked up a bottle of wine which we drank this year. Next year we'll have a nice bottle of Minnesota Old Vines to enjoy.

After the wine tasting we stopped at the Luna Rossa for a tasty Italian dinner, and then came home and watched a slideshow video of the past year that I made for Linzy.

It was a fun day.

The lift bridge across the St. Croix River.


One of the original brewery wagons, left in the Joseph Wolf brew caves.


Some of the 156 steps to get from the caves to the top of the limestone cliffs on the edge of town.


"little" Phil Bunyan, The lesser known Bunyan brother.


Grumpy Steve's Coffee shop


The wine we had from the Falconer Vineyards, which was very good.


After dinner at Luna Rossa.



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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Movies: The Transporter 2

Earlier this week I managed to find enough time to sit down and watch a movie (albeit an 87 minute one), Transporter 2.

A couple years ago I watched The Transporter and enjoyed it for what it was, an action movie. The Transporter 2 was basically the same. The plot was a little different then the first movie, but mostly it was just there so Jason Statham could drive around in fancy cars real fast and kick people in the head.

Since that was effectively what I was expecting, the movie delivered, and I enjoyed it. It certainly wasn't the best movie I've ever seen, or even one of my favorites. But on a night when I was tired and just wanted to be entertained, it certainly managed to do that.


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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Too Loud, Too Soft

Today I managed to ruin my MP3 player in a single act of clumsyness. I was getting all my stuff together to head out to work. Somehow I managed to fling the Rio off the half-wall near the door onto the tile floor.

Not a big deal, its been sturdy enough to survive numerous drops in the past year. And it wasn't on, so the hard drive wasn't at much risk. Except today it hapened to fall just right so as to land on the plastic jog wheel that is in the upper right corner.

That smashed the wheel into the case, snaping it off the little internal plastic wheel that it appears the external wheel was attached to.

Now the frustrating part is that the jog wheel is almost completely uncessary. Oh, it's an easier way to scroll through large menus of song titles, but the face buttons also serve that function. So I could have gotten by without the wheel, except that it is the only way to control the volume of the player.

It happens that the player remembers the last volume it was at, so in theory I could still use it. Except that the volume isn't remembered if it was on full-tilt when shut off, it backs down to about 2/3 volume. Which is way, way too loud for my tender little ears if I was going to use headphones with the player. But at the same time, the FM transmitter doesn't work for crap unless the volume is cranked all the way up (and even then you have to define 'working' rather loosely).

So with the volume the player will be at forever-more, I can't listen to it using headphones, and I also can't listen to it in the car (which is primarily what I did with it). Rendering the entire less-then-1-year-old player useless, all because a 50 cent plastic piece cracked.

Oh, and they don't make the player anymore, meaning I'll be basically forced into buy a smaller capacity iPod. Which I was specifically trying to avoid having to do by buying the Rio.

At least the iPod will probably work a little more smoothly then the disaster that is trying to keep a Rio synching consistently with Windows Media Player.


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Monday, June 12, 2006

I'm Bored

I was out staining the last portion of my deck this afternoon, and noticed one of the little neighbor boys tormenting his sister (swinging on her swing, trying to play with her toys while she was using them, etc). His Mom noticed him too, and they had this short exchange:

Mom: Freddy, stop bothering your sister!
Little Boy: But I'm bored! [ Said in a little boys whinny voice ]

I thought two things:

1) Only an older brother would think that bothering his little sister was an appropriate way to relieve boredom.

2) He's in for a long summer vacation.


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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Video Games: New Super Mario Brothers

This afternoon while waiting for numbers to change on my computer, I completed New Super Mario Brothers on my Nintendo DS. New Super Mario Brothers (henceforth NSMB) is the first new side-scrolling Mario game in over a decade. I was a huge fan of Super Mario World, the last Mario side-scroller, so I was really looking forward to NSMB. The game definitely lived up to my expectations from a gameplay perspective.

The gameplay in NSMB definitely lives up to the standards set by Super Mario World. The level design is very good with very few exceptions, and they introduced a few new items that add nicely to the gameplay. There are three new items, only two of which are particularly interesting.

The mega-mushroom is my favorite, transforming Mario into a giant, block and enemy smashing Mario. It is fun to smash your way through part of a level destroying everything in your path. I didn't use the mega-mushroom all that much in the later levels, but it was fun when I did.

The other new power-up is the mini-mushroom, basically the opposite of the mega-mushroom. It shrinks Mario down to a miniscule size. This isn't particularly useful in-and-of-itself, but it does let you access secrets that otherwise would be off-limits.

The graphics in NSMB are excellent, especially considering the switch to a 3D Mario character, instead of a normal sprite-based Mario. The sound is also top notch. The game doesn't do a whole lot with the dual screens of the DS, with the touch screen displaying a general idea of your progress through the level and allowing you to access the extra saved item that you are carrying.

My main complaint about the game is that it really short, and it doesn't hide that fact from you. A significant portion of the game (probably 1/3 total) is 'secret' and thus completely optional. There are also a number of gold coins on each level that are difficult to get and not directly required, but allow you to unlock additional places in the game.

If you ran through the game completing just what was strictly required, you could easily beat the game in just a few sittings. Even though I spent a lot of time trying to collect extra gold coins (and dying because of it), and trying to unlock all the levels in each world, it took less then 10 hours to complete the game.

Now granted I have not played through the two 'secret' worlds, but that is a pretty short game by any stretch of the imagination. Compared with Super Mario World, which had 96 levels (with only 10-15 optional secret levels), the ~60 levels in NSMB with ~20 of those being optional secret levels feels really short.

Still the game was a lot of fun while it lasted, and I will definitely be going back and trying to get 100% complete. Also there is a multiplayer mode which is supposed to be quite fun, and I am looking forward to trying as soon as I find a friend with a DS. I enjoyed the game a lot, I just wish it had lasted longer.


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Friday, June 09, 2006

Wedding Attire

When we were at Brittany and Tony's wedding last weekend, one of the guest got me thinking about the strange things people wear to weddings.

This particular man was wearing skin tight jeans, snakeskin cowboy boots, and a tight, fitted (like a womans) button down white dress shirt. To really 'make' the outfit the shirt was unbuttoned down to the lower half of his chest. It was quite the look, considering the prevailing dressiness of the rest of the guests.

Still, he doesn't win the prize for most unique outfit that we've seen at a wedding. That award goes to the guy who wore a shirt featuring pictures of flames and jean shorts. Admittedly it was hot for that wedding, but still...


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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Just Too Old

I spent a couple hours tonight over at a friend of my Dad's helping repair her computer. Oddly, her computer actually used to be my computer.

Its a long sequence, but my current two-year old computer is a Pentium 4 3.2Ghz. It replaced a Pentium 3 933Mhz computer, which in turn replaced a Pentium II 300Mhz. Long ago, when the 933Mhz was brand new, I sold the 300Mhz computer to my Dad. He used it for a few years, and then sold it to his friend.

She's had the computer for quite a few years (2-3), and actually I was somewhat amazed to hear that it was even still in use, considering it will be 9 years old in August. Since they do virtually nothing with the computer except check e-mail a couple times a week, and occasionally print things, I guess it works out OK.

But then recently the printer stopped working, and they couldn't get the Internet to work anymore making the computer into a fancy paperweight as far as they are concerned.

After hearing about the rather random problems, I came over fully expecting to find the computer choked to death with spyware but surprisingly they didn't have anything serious. Perhaps it is because they only have dial-up and so don't do much web surfing. Or it could be that Windows 98 is too old, even for the spammers to want as a zombie system.

And if that isn't a sign that you should be getting a new computer, I don't know what is.


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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Staining

No post tonight, as Shawn and I were out working on staining the deck until nearly 10pm.


It wasn't quite as dark out at the picture makes it look, but it was getting pretty dark by the time we called it quits. Now I just have to pray for a few more days of no rain, to finish up the remaining portion of the deck.


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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Exceeding Expectations

I am in the midst of one of my least favorite household chore: refinishing the deck.

As far as I can tell, there is no way to explain just how much power-washing a deck sucks to someone who hasn't had to do it to a deck of sufficient size with vertical railing spindles. But trust me, it's no fun.

I did the bulk of the pressure-washing on Sunday, and the plan tonight was just to touch up some spots on the deck that didn't end up as clean as I need them to be. So after hauling the washer up the 16 stairs to the top of the deck, and hooking up all the necessary hoses, I went to be start work and realized that somewhere between Sunday and today, I misplaced the 40-degree tip. Since the pressure-washer I am using is not mine, but a friend's, this was a bigger problem then just delaying my work.

I distinctly recall washing the tip while I was cleaning up on Sunday. But what I did with it after that is anyone's guess.

So I went off to Home Depot to buy a new tip. Since the tip is just a small metal part set in a plastic piece that probably costs less then 50 cents to make in Mexico somewhere, I wasn't expecting it to be all that expensive. In my mind I was thinking maybe 3 bucks, if I bought the same quality as what the washer already had (it is a pretty nice pressure-washer).

After hunting around a bit, I found the power-washer accessory parts in the paint section. There I discovered two problems with my $3 expectations:

1) They only sold DeWalt replacement tips, guaranteed to be 50% more expensive for the name alone.
2) They didn't sell individual tips, just multi-packs of a variety of tips.

So, instead of buying just the tip I needed for $3, I ended up having to pay $15 for a name-brand pack of tips most of which I didn't need.

Sigh.

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Movies: Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

I watched the movie Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence last night. I enjoyed the original movie quite a bit and also really liked the first season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Unfortunately the second movie is much more like the second season of GitS: SAC, which I didn't like particularly well. Actually, I thought GitS2 was worse then the second season of Stand Alone Complex, which actually had some decent moments (particularly at the beginning of the season).

Ghost in the Shell 2 has many of the same characters from the previous movie, including Batou and Togusa, who I usually like. But the plot was convoluted and mainly involved the characters standing around philosophizing with each other. Discussing the differences between humans and robots when humans have the capability to become complete cyborgs has always been a part of the Ghost in the Shell movies/shows, but they took it to a whole new level in Innocence. And I was bored by it.

The animation was OK, but nothing spectacular. They slipped into CGI during a number of parts, which I am not necessarily a huge fan of. I prefer the more hand-drawn style, that you typically see in Production IG's work.

Basically I was disappointed, which is amazing since I knew full-well that the movie had never been in theaters and has generally been panned in reviews. But apparently I held out some secret hope that the movie would turn out better then everyone said, and I would enjoy it. Alas, I was wrong.

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Brittany & Tony's Wedding

On Saturday Linzy and I went to our friends Brittany and Tony's wedding. It was a lot of fun.

The wedding ceremony was held at a church in Northeast Minneapolis, which added some excitement to the drive there, since northbound 35W was closed this weekend. Heather and Linzy slogged through the detour and accompaning traffic jam and made it to the church with about 30 seconds to spare.

I, having to drive back home to pick up our forgotten gift, was about 30 minutes behind them. But I skipped the detour and made my own way through downtown, and ended up getting to the wedding just a few minutes after them (although those few minutes did mean I missed the processional).

After the ceremony we had several hours before the reception, so we ended up hanging out in various people's hotel rooms, watching parts of The Matrix Reloaded and The Shawshank Redemption. The reception was a lot of fun, one of the most lively ones I've been at in a long time. Everyone there was having a great time and the dance floor was packed from start to finish.

Music at the social hour, and during dinner was provided by a string trio + accordian player. They were pretty good, although the accordion player was so old I kept expecting him to keel over during dinner when they were walking from table to table performing.


Linzy knows Brittany from high school, and there were a whole bunch of classmates from the Class of 1996 there.


The reception was at the Four Points Sheraton, and was quite fancy. We estimated there were around 300 people there, so it was a pretty large wedding.


The wedding party dancing.


Tony busting-a-move and showing them how it's done.


Linzy, Heather, Brittany, and Katie.


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