Thursday, February 28, 2008

Three Hundred

The other day, one of my co-workers and I were talking about diets, specifically as they relate to wrestling (the high school/college/Olympic kind, not the spandex and roids kind). Anyway, he mentioned an acquaintance whose regular weight was 120 pounds and he needed to get down to 108. His diet limited him to 300 calories per day.

I'll assume that was net calories, but it is still completely ridiculous. For reference, one McDonald's cheeseburger is 300 calories. Not the Quarter Pounder, that is 410, but the little cheeseburger. Now granted you shouldn't be eating McDonalds if you are on a diet, but it helps show how silly limiting yourself to 300 calories a day is.

I knew several wrestlers when I was a kid who did similarly stupid diets in order to make a specific weight class, so I think it is pretty common. But I hadn't heard of someone trying to go as low as 300. My co-worker said the dieter did eventually make his weight, but got pretty consistently blown-out the first few matches because he was so weak from lack of food.

Probably not quite what he was probably envisioning when he embarked on the plan.

Read the whole post.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Too Much Project Runway

Last week, Linzy decided she wanted a computerized sewing machine, and today the beginnings of the Eck clothing empire arrived at our front door.

The machine is pretty fancy, though I was surprised that a lot of its mechanisms are basically the same as the old sewing machines my Mom had when I was a kid. It is certainly lighter then the boat-anchor special Mom had.

Linzy put the whole thing together herself, and was anxious to try it out right after dinner. My contribution was to help read the instructions for getting the thread all setup, which were much more complicated in writing then it was after you figured out what they were trying to tell you to do.

Linzy's first sewing experiment, and hopefully not the start of a new dress shirt for me.

I'm expecting a vast array of creations to come out of the machine over the next few weeks/months. Perhaps she'll even discover her inner high-fashion designer and end up on TV. And in that case, I have it on good authority that Heidi is, in fact, Hot.

Read the whole post.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Middle of the Road

A few months ago I had some airline miles that were about to expire. Rather then let them go to waste, I traded them in for some free magazine subscriptions.

The magazine choices were a bit questionable. I really wanted to get the Economist, but I was about 700 miles short. Most of the other magazines were relatively cheap (compared with the weekly Economist), so I ended up getting three magazines with my points.

To try and fill in for the Economist, based on what I had to choose from, I picked Forbes. It hasn't been as interesting as I was hoping, but so far I have tended to at least skim through most of the articles. About the only thing I can't read is more then about half of Steve Forbes' editorial championing his various supply-side economic, tax and environmental policies. Most of the other opinion columns are also less then even handed.

Subconsciously (I guess) balancing Forbes was my second subscription, Newsweek. Which is, of course, the most liberal of the newsweeklies. Here again, I have to skip most of the opinion columns. The regular articles are hit and miss. And while I try to read each magazine, I find it difficult to keep up with a new one every week.

I thought it was amusing that by picking two magazines on opposite ends of the liberal-conservative scale I actually ended up with two magazines, neither of which I really like.

For reference, my third magazine was Blender (a music magazine). The first time I pulled that out of the mailbox I thought "Dang, I was thinking of Spin when I ordered this". For the most part I read the artist interviews, highly rated music reviews, and skip most of the rest. Blender only comes monthly, so even if it wasn't exactly what I wanted, it is easier to keep up with then the weekly Newsweek and bi-weekly Forbes.

I don't think I'll be renewing any of the three when my free year subscription runs out.

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Monday, February 25, 2008


I thought this Wired article on the economics of free was interesting. An excerpt:

Thanks to Gillette, the idea that you can make money by giving something away is no longer radical. But until recently, practically everything "free" was really just the result of what economists would call a cross-subsidy: You'd get one thing free if you bought another, or you'd get a product free only if you paid for a service.

Over the past decade, however, a different sort of free has emerged. The new model is based not on cross-subsidies — the shifting of costs from one product to another — but on the fact that the cost of products themselves is falling fast. It's as if the price of steel had dropped so close to zero that King Gillette could give away both razor and blade, and make his money on something else entirely. (Shaving cream?)

You know this freaky land of free as the Web.

Nothing earth shattering, but an interesting explanation of the various ways things can be 'free' and how people still make money with that price.

Read the whole post.


I was reading my feeds this morning and saw this post on The Big Picture:

Existing-Homes sales "slipped" some in January, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The problem, the Realtors point out, is simply that some potential buyers are waiting on sidelines.

Talk about an understatement. The "slippage" the NAR refers to was a 23.4% year-over-year freefall. The term "slip" might not adequately capture the data. Plummet, plunge, nose-dive, crash, tumble or freefall might work. But "Slip?" Gee, that doesn't quite capture the true essence of the data...

The part about potential buyers sitting on the sidelines was particularly timely, as just this weekend Linzy and I were checking out home prices to see how far things had fallen. Our conclusion was that although prices were definitely down and selection was up, it was still too early to be looking at finding a new house.

It seemed to me that we aren't at the bottom yet, and today's data (see the full linked post) seems to back that up. I can also attest that after a highly scientific sampling of homes on MLS, there were an awful lot sporting pictures clearly taken months and months ago (no snow, green grass, leaves on the trees, etc).

Read the whole post.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Carburetor Cleaning

This winter in Minnesota has been colder then the last few winters, but very pretty light on snow. This was lucky, because my snowblower has been giving me problems all winter. Whenever I would start it up, the engine would require nearly full choke just to idle. Turning on the auger required even more choke, and then if I wanted it to also drive forward the snowblower would sputter and usually die.

That was extremely frustrating the two times I tried to use the snowblower, and in fact the second time I just gave up and shoveled instead. The snowblower is expensive and takes up a lot of space just to be used four times a year, so it is pretty ridiculous if it doesn't work for those few times a year.

After consulting with people having vastly greater understanding of engines then I have, it was determined that the problem with the snowblower was probably that the carburetor was gummed up. Now, I am always careful to use stabilized gasoline in the snow blower, so I am not exactly sure how that would have happened. But it did.

Today it was fairly warm outside, so I took the opportunity to try and clean the carburetor out. Previously I had tried some gasoline-additive cleaner, which didn't seem to help at all. So now it was time to step things up and dismantle parts of the carb and use spray cleaner on it.

The carb turned out to be just as easy to get at as I was expecting, it was just bolted right on the outside of the engine underneath a plastic shroud. Despite never really having seen a carburetor before, it was pretty easy to identify and there were very few things to dismantle before I could get access to the insides. Then it was just a matter of spraying the caustic cleaner all over the inside and letting everything dry.

After that, I put everything back together and fired up the snowblower. Amazingly the beast started on the first pull and ended up requiring less choke then I can recall it ever needing (probably due to the warm temperatures I suppose). I was shocked at how easy it was. All told it probably took an hour, including the time to let everything dry, and the three or four trips inside to get the various tools, safety googles, etc that I decided I needed at various points.

I was pretty happy with the whole deal, primarily because I was really not expecting to be able to fix the problem. There are lots of things I can do, but usually mechanical repairs aren't included in that list. In addition, paying Sears to fix the snowblower would have cost a bunch of money and would have required me to bring the snowblower over to the shop and be without it for weeks. That would have been annoying.

Now I just have to wait for a March snowstorm, so I can try it out for real.

Read the whole post.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Recent Media - 2/23

Explanation - Previous Lists

TV: 24: Day 6 - I'm through episode 17 now. I've been pleasantly surprised with the last few episodes, in terms of still being exciting. There have definitely been a few that were duds, but for the most part this season has been pretty interesting. I ended today with the Big Twist, so I am anxious to see how that plays out over the final 6 episodes.

Books: Elantris and The Sword and the Satchel - Normally I only read a single book at a time, but since Elantris is a particularly bulky hardcover I brought a different book with on the trip to Chicago. Since we returned I haven't touched it.

Elantris has been somewhat disappointing. After really enjoying the two Mistborn books, I had high expectations. Which is always a recipe for disappointment. The book is much more political (in terms of most of the 'action' being political wrangling between characters in the book). That's interesting in small doses, but not my favorite. Also the pacing of the book seems much slower then Mistborn, which has made it seem to drag at times. I'm still looking forward to finishing the book to see how the story wraps up, but it is slow going.

Movies: Disney Princess Enchanted Tales and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - We bought Disney Princess Enchanted Tales for my little cousin. It is all about perseverance, and that is exactly what it takes to sit through the movie, for an adult. My cousin loved it.

I'm not a huge fan of the Harry Potter movies (which surprises just about everyone), and Order of the Phoenix didn't do anything to change my opinions. I found it a bit dull until, as usual, the last 20 minutes or so. The special effects at the very end were super cool, and there was actually action. Up until that point, almost nothing happened. There seemed to be very little in terms of overall plot advancement until the bitter end, and even then only one main thing happened. I'm sure I will watch the last two movies, but I won't be in any more of a rush then I was for this one.

Video Games (Portable): Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings - I finished the game this week, after spending hours and hours of gameplay time trying to beat a few of the optional and extremely difficult side missions. In the end, I skipped two of them and just went ahead and finished the game. The ease of which made those side missions seem ludicrous. I actually spent the last few days this week replaying some side missions because I am out of DS games to play and I didn't have time to hit the store this week. I'll probably pick up something new on Sunday.

Video Games (Home): Rock Band - I only played this twice in the past couple weeks, but that was enough to unlock the Endless Setlist. I also ordered a memory unit from Amazon, so now it will just be a matter of arranging a time for Brenden to come over to help me finish the Endless Setlist. This week I also spent the last of my Microsoft points to buy two more songs for the game (Working Man and Sex Type Thing), both of which are pretty fun.

Oh, I played Super Mario Galaxy a bit the other day and got a few more stars. The game is fun, but there is just something about the Wii controls that detracts from my ability to relax on the couch while playing.

Read the whole post.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Parent Friendly

At Ellie's party, one of the gifts she received was a LeapFrog book thingy. It looked like a good gift to me, very educational. While I was looking over the box, I noticed this panel on the back listing the "Parent Friendly Features".

Of particular note was the middle one, "Volume control for quieter play". Since I've noted before (and now watch for) what types of noisy toys people buy for other people's kids, I thought it was amusing that here was a toy that took those complaints to heart. Not only did they add a volume switch, but they advertise that fact right on the back.

Read the whole post.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


The Alter-G treadmill that was apparently just approved by the FDA freaks me out.

The anti-gravity technology behind the G-Trainer was originally developed at NASA. Air pressure is used to accomplish unweighting allowing individuals to set body weight as low as 20% in 1% increments.

It looks like crazy, doesn't it?

Read the whole post.

Good to Know

Just as I was about to boil some water at my cousin's house I realized: Wait, this is a toy, I can't put this on the range.

Phew. Disaster averted.

For some reason having this disclaimer on the bottom of a tiny, plastic pot that comes with a toddler's kitchen play set struck me as funny. My 4 year old cousin can't really read the warning anyway, let alone the 2 year old.

I'm also amused by the seemingly random capitalization and underlining. TOY DO NOT apparently warranted capitalizing and underlining, where as RANGE earned only capitalization. At least CAUTION makes sense.

Read the whole post.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

So That's Why

I saw today, belatedly, that the mystery of the Don Pablo's in Eagan closing has finally been answered. Buffalo Wild Wings bought out 7 Don Pablos locations:

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Restaurant chain Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. said Friday it has bought assets and leases for seven Don Pablo's Mexican restaurants from Avado Brands Inc for $1.2 million in cash.

The restaurants, located in Rockford, Ill.; Eagan, Minn.; Rochester, N.Y.; Cincinnati; Chesapeake, Va.; and Ft. Worth, Texas, have been closed and will be renovated and reopen in the third quarter as Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar locations.

So, as a commenter mentioned on the original post, it looks like a BW3s will be going into the building in Eagan. It seems strange that Buffalo Wild Wings waited to announce anything for over a week after closing down the restaurant, and that the signage on the door didn't mention it at all.

Read the whole post.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Chicago Trip: Pictures

For our trip down to Chicago last weekend, Linzy and I actually planned ahead (well Linzy did) and we arranged to borrow my parent's camera. It was amazing how much more I enjoy taking pictures when there is a good chance they will come out, rather then knowing that I will have to try to carefully frame the shot to avoid the black smudge showing up.

As a result I had a whole pile of pictures when we got back. Many are uploaded to Picasaweb, but I thought I would comment on a few as well.

Nicole and Katie reading the valentines Katie got at pre-school

Grandma's new building. After visiting for the first time, Katie apparently commented to her mom that "Great-Grandma has a big house!".

Linzy, Grandma and I, demonstrating Eck-approved hand folding.

Nicole made cupcakes on Thursday, which were a huge hit with all of the kids (and adults). They were a bit messy to eat though, as Ellie shows here. She tended just to eat all of the frosting, gnaw on the cake part a bit and then leave it on the table.

Linzy and the girls do a little coloring of decorations for the party.

Katie and Josie in the car to go to the doggy park.

Katie and Ellie heading around the lake at the dog park.

We saw some ducks floating in the Des Plaines river. Here I am pointing them out to Ellie.

Jon watches Katie try and climb up a fallen tree.

Ellie really liked picking up sticks along the way. The last one she selected was taller then she was, and about an inch thick.

Linzy reading Ellie's favorite dinosaur books.

Blowing out the candles on the cake.

Read the whole post.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Chicago Trip

Linzy and I made it back safely from Chicago today, as planned. It was looking questionable for a while, as Chicago was supposed to have a horrible rain/freezing rain/snow storm starting at 6am this morning and peaking about noon when our flight was scheduled to leave. As it happened, although the rain started early this morning as predicted, the temperatures never got cold enough to create the messy ice/snow storm. There appeared to be lots of flights canceled out of O'Hare, but our flight wasn't one.

The trip was a lot of fun. We were able to spend all kinds of time with family and do some fun activities with my little cousins. On Thursday we spent some time with Jon, Nicole and their girls Katie and Ellie, and then went over to visit my Grandma at her new apartment. The apartment turned out to be really nice, and we spent several hours catching up with her before heading back to Jon and Nicole's.

On Friday a couple of the girl's friends came over for a play-date, so Linzy and I helped keep them all entertained and happy, which turned out to be much easier then I was envisioning. I had visions of general mayhem and lots of fighting over toys, but all the girls played nicely with each other and even did some sharing. Not much, but some. After the play-date I went back over to see Grandma (who, incidentally, still had Linzy's bookmark on her walker tray).

Saturday morning Jon, the girls, and I, along with their Swiss Mountain dog Josie, went over to a nearby dog park. The dog park was ridiculously huge because, even though the portion that is strictly a dog park is only 30 acres, it adjoins (without a fence) an enormous wildlife preserve. We spent a long time walking around the lake, checking out the various rivers and getting some exercise. The sun was out, and the park wasn't particularly crowded, so it was a lot of fun.

Saturday afternoon we watched a video and got ready for Ellie's birthday party that afternoon/evening. A bunch of family came over for the party, including my Aunt Priscilla, Jon's Dad Richard, Grandma, Jon's nephew Marcus, and my cousin Julie's husband Lorant and their two little girls Olivia and Avery. Everyone seemed to have a good time, and all the little cousins got along pretty well.

Then on Sunday it was time to head home, and close out what turned out to be a very fun, but extremely busy weekend.

Read the whole post.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Weekly Rate

Tomorrow after work Linzy and I are leaving for Chicago for the weekend. We'll be going for my goddaughter's birthday party and also to see my Grandma's new apartment. Since it is a quick trip, we'll be flying down instead of driving. That saves a lot of time, and will allow us more time with family.

Amazingly the most expensive part of the trip is the rental car. The two plane tickets only came to $250, where as the rental car is going to be pushing $260 after all is said and done.

I was shocked at the prices of rental cars in Chicago for this weekend. The cheapest we could find was over $50 a day. At one point we actually had a weekly rental booked as that was roughly half the cost of renting by the day. Unfortunately the fine print on that deal said that if you kept the car less then 5 days you would be charged a daily rate of sixty or seventy bucks a day. Since we'll be down there about 4 days, that would have ended up being a worse deal.

My expectations for a rental car are about $20 a day, maybe $30 if it is some popular weekend or a nicer car or something. $50 a day seems outrageous. But we need something to drive around for the next few days, and it should be a good time down in Chicago.

Read the whole post.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hot Pink

On Sunday afternoon, since it was so cold outside Linzy and I ended up spending the day working around the house, primarily cleaning. There were a couple areas of focus, but one of them was getting rid of old, worn out clothes.

While cleaning out the storage cubes that make up my nightstand, I found this pair of shorts. I had to ask myself, while staring at the neon green and hot pink colors, just how a pair of girls shorts got in there.

I blame Linzy. Or maybe Pippen.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dining Out

This weekend has been a whirlwind of dining out. While we ate at home on Friday evening, we ate 75% of the remaining lunches and dinners this weekend out.

On Saturday afternoon we went downtown to Brit's Pub with Dan, Nikki, and Phillipa for lunch. Since Nikki and Phillipa are from England, it was interesting to see what they thought about our imitation English food. Surprisingly, Nikki loved it, and even Phillipa, who rarely likes anything, seemed to enjoy the chips. I guess the food must be mildly authentic. For what it was worth, my London broil sandwich this time was nowhere near as good as last time we were there.

Then on Saturday evening, Linzy and I went over to Enjoy! for an early Valentines day dinner (since we will be out of town on the actual Valentines day). Unfortunately our meal there was very disappointing from both a service and food standpoint. For $30 a steak, I expect it to be very good, if not terrific. And I certainly expect a higher level of service then I would at a regular restaurant.

Tonight we went out with my parents to Doolittle's Cafe, which I haven't been to since they remodeled. The new interior is quite nice, though they have raised their prices significantly to make up for it. They have an interesting selection of meals now, almost all revolving around their specialty rotisserie chicken. The atmosphere was very nice, and although my meal wasn't quite as tasty as I was hoping, I still enjoyed the dinner.

Much more eating out then I prefer, but it was nice to be able to spend time with friends and have a fancy meal out with Linzy.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Recent Media - 2/9

Explanation - Previous Lists

TV: 24: Day 6 - I've made it through 11 hours or so of this season of 24, and it is still holding up OK. There have been some sort of dull parts, a few side stories I don't care about, and the usual amount of ridiculously unbelievable conspiracies. But overall it has been entertaining, which is the point I guess.

Books: Stormbringer - I finished up the last main Elric book, and it was a satisfying conclusion to the series. At some point I will probably take the time to read the "Elric at the End of Time" book that has some short stories which fit in earlier in the series, but for now I am planning to move on to Elantris, another Brandon Sanderson book.

One thing I haven't decided is what exactly to do with the Elric books now that I am basically done, as some of the copies I have are pretty old. The majority are from the 1977 DAW releases of the books, but my copy of Stormbringer appears to be a legit 1967 first printing, complete with the 60 cent price tag on the front cover. It seems a shame to sell that one for a pittance.

Movies: Shrek 3 - I was very, very afraid of this movie, expecting it to be horrible. Amazingly it wasn't...or at least wasn't as bad as I was expecting it to be. There were amusing parts, and if the story was predictable, it was at least tolerable. It certainly was infinitely better then Spiderman 3.

Video Games (Portable): Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings - I seem to be seriously stuck on mission 9-4, which is just three missions from the end. I have close to 90% completion, but on this particular mission I'm not even close. Hopefully with another few days of leveling up my characters, and plane flights to/from Chicago I'll be able to finish things up.

Video Games (Home): Rock Band - I haven't played at all this week. I did complete an 11 song set last weekend, so I only have about 30-35 stars left before unlocking the Endless Set List. There still hasn't been any progress on finding a memory unit, so it is looking like I'll have to buy one. Which will be a complete waste of money, but might not be able to be helped.

Read the whole post.

Friday, February 08, 2008

A Day in Pictures - 2008

Tonight, we interrupt your regularly scheduled "Recent Media" update (which everyone seems to hate anyways) to bring you A Day in Pictures 2008.

Back in 2005, on February 8th, I was even more out of ideas for a blog post then I normally am, so I decided to take some pictures of what we were up to that evening and make an 'Evening in Pictures' post. It worked out pretty well, so I did the same thing on February 8th 2006. In 2007 we had a dinner guest on the 8th and I totally forgot to take any pictures that day, so the post ended up happening on the 9th instead.

This year we're back on the usual schedule, so read on if you are interested in some pictures of what I was up to today.

Mr. Pine Martin was very hurt this morning when Pippen got up and then completely ignored him.

What I bring to work each day. My lunch, plus an apple for a morning snack and carrots for an afternoon snack.

Pippen went right back to bed, leaving Mr. Pine Martin to sniff sadly in the hall.

Time to get to work.

Work was quite busy as always. At one point I spent well over an hour in a heated discussion over what resulted in this diagram. Which is kind of crazy when you look at it after the fact.

Pippen was waiting at the top of the stairs to greet me when I came home, just like always. So was Mr. Pine Martin.

Veggies for the stir fry, a throwback to the original evening in pictures.

Linzy cooking a tasty dinner.

After dinner it was time for a silky brushing and bath. Mr Pine Martin snickered from the hallway.

Linzy went shopping today and among other things, found this jacket and hat for 70% off. So I spent some time playing model.

Afterwards Linzy and I tried playing Rook for the first time. Linzy took the championship, and it wasn't even close.

Mr. Pine Martin did get some attention after dinner, when Pippen was trying to entice me into playing with her. She ran by at full tilt, grabbed the toy, shook it a couple times and threw him in the corner of the bedroom. Where he still lies now. The life of a dog toy is not a satisfying one.

So there you have it, how I spent my day today.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

All You Can Eat

Long ago when Linzy first moved to the Twin Cities, we were trying to decide on somewhere to eat for dinner. As I was listing off restaurants in a particular area of Burnsville, I came to Baker's Square. The conversation went something like this:

Me: ...Or Baker's Square
Linzy: Oh, what's that?
Me: Nevermind, I was just thinking out loud. I don't think we want to go there.
Linzy: No, I've never been there, do they have good food?
Me: They have good pie.
Linzy: But is the food good?
Me: They have good pie.

Now, if you've ever been to Baker's Square, you should be well aware that their pie is good, and the rest of their food....not so much. On that particular day I relented, we went to Baker's Square and had a terrible meal and a slice of tasty pie.

To this day, whenever someone mentions Baker's Square, the usual response is "They have good pie".

Well, now you can enjoy nothing but the best of Baker's Square. At dinner Linzy told me the local Apple Valley Baker's Square has a huge sign painted across all of their windows advertising "All-you-can-eat pie for $5.99".

Now, I'm not sure just how many pieces of pie a person could eat in one sitting. I assume a minimum of two, if you were doing that as your meal, and probably a good chance for a third.

My thinking was that it would be a perfect opportunity to be able to try my second (and third) favorite pies. I could get my hands-down favorite French Silk pie out of the way early, and then move on to a piece of lemon supreme pie. Follow that up with some sort of fruit pie (blueberry?) and I'd be good to go.

Plus, after that grotesque feast, I probably wouldn't have any interest in pie for quite a while.

Read the whole post.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ty's System

I was out at lunch today with Paul, and a random guy stopped by and threw two dollar bills on our table and started walking off. Paul questioned what was going on, and the guy came back and threw another one on the pile.

The guy claimed to be giving the money "Just Because" or something like that. It turned out that on the back of the bills there was a small plastic card stapled with the guys name and website address. Looking at the back of the card confirmed my suspicions that it was selling some sort of get-rich-quick scheme, as it said "Since learning Ty's system I can spend all day giving away money."

I suppose handing dollar bills is cheaper then taking out an ad in the newspaper or something similar, but it still seemed strange. And Ty's reverse funnel system sounds just as vague and scam-like as any other system claiming to get you rich with no effort.

I'm sure it is making someone rich....just not you.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Grandma's Bookmark

Back in December Linzy posted on her blog about a bookmark that she made for my Grandma for Christmas. Grandma was really, really, really happy with the gift and called right away to thank Linzy for it, despite the fact that it was still a week before Christmas. At her age, she told me on the phone in no uncertain terms, she feels no guilt about opening her Christmas presents early.

Anyway, she went on about how great the bookmark was that day. Then a few weeks later I called her again to see how she was doing, and she was again telling me again how great the bookmark was. At that time she mentioned how she was keeping it 'on her tray', that is on the tray of her walker. "Oh, in the book you are reading, that is on the tray?", I asked? Nope, just the bookmark on the tray by itself.

Apparently because that made it easier to show off to visitors. My Dad was down visiting a few weeks later and confirmed that the bookmark was just sitting out on the tray, and that it was basically the first thing Grandma talked about when he arrived.

Good to know she liked it!

Read the whole post.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Navigation is Hard

On Friday when I was went to Duluth straight from work downtown, I decided to test out our new Garmin GPS navigator thingy. We previously had just used it a couple times to navigate simple things like from our house to Linzy's parent's house (which requires like 5 turns and a few 'keep rights'). Anyways, I thought it would be interesting to see how it sent me out of downtown. It was pretty much a disaster.

Now driving around northern Minneapolis is not my strong suit. I'm passable in South Minneapolis, but I hardly ever drive through North Minneapolis. So I was expecting it to find a new better route for me to go, through uncharted territory.

To begin with, it sent me roughly the way I would have gone, but then was trying to navigate me to a closed section of 35W. That was to be expected, since it couldn't know the bridge collapsed. I just kept driving the way I normally go, and it adjusted eventually. The next process was that after getting across the river, it was going to send me back through random streets to get onto 35W further North. This is when disaster struck.

I was by myself and while I was going over the river the GPS was sliding all over the car and threatening to get me into an accident. Somewhere along the line when I picked it up off the floor I mistakenly and unknowingly added a navigation point to my route. After that the directions started getting really strange, as they were trying to navigate me back across the river to get back to the middle of the bridge where this mystery navigation point was.

But I didn't realize what it was doing, and thought it was just sending me back to an on-ramp to the highway. And since I didn't know that part of Minneapolis, I didn't catch on right away.

Eventually after the third time it wanted me to go right when I thought I should be going left, I caught on and realized what happened and figured out how to delete the route point. But by that point I was all turned around and even worse, the Garmin was apparently trying to 'adjust' to me having driven by several roads without making turns by avoiding sending me to the one road I wanted to be on, 35W.

So in the end, instead of find a new more efficient way out of downtown Minneapolis, I spent 20 minutes over and above my normal route out of downtown driving around following directions that were not taking me anywhere but back to a bridge I had already gone over. And on top of that, I had to find my way to a 35W on-ramp by myself, since Garmin's directions were going to take me off on some other road.

Technology at its finest.

[ I realize that this story makes me sound like an idiot, and since I apparently can't even run a GPS navigation system, perhaps I am. But I thought it was funny enough to share. ]

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Busy Weekend

And just like that, the weekend is over.

The week started on a bad note, with Linzy's Uncle Gary passing away on Monday afternoon. Linzy had gone up to Duluth first thing on Monday morning, and spent the rest of the week up there.

On Friday after work, I made my way up. Saturday morning/afternoon were filled with the visitation, a nice funeral service, and a lengthy fellowship luncheon. The turnout for the funeral was pretty amazing, filling the French River church to past its capacity.

Then Saturday evening we drove back home, so we could attend Laura and Andy's daughter's baptism. Following that was a trip to Olive Garden with their family, and we got done with that just in time to go home, change, and head over to Brenden and Allison's place for a Housewarming/Super Bowl party.

It was nice to have something positive like the baptism to celebrate today. And the Super Bowl party was a lot of fun, even if I will have to listen to the stupid 1972 Dolphins cackle every time a team fails to go undefeated for the next 36 years. But overall the week was a fairly sad one, as Gary will be missed by many people.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Recent Media - 2/1

Explanation - Previous Lists

TV: 24: Day 6 - After finishing Lost last week, I turned out to not have very many shows left to watch. Eventually I settled on last year's season of 24. I really liked 24 the first year or two, but as time has gone on, I've started to enjoy it less. Usually by mid-season things are so crazy I lose interest, especially if I look back at all the insane things that have supposedly happened in 24 hours. So far I've watched three episodes and it seems similar to previous years. It is interesting now, but we'll see if I make it to the end.

Books: Bane of the Black Sword - Another Elric book. This one was very similar to previous books, in ways both good and bad. I'm starting to reach the end of the series, so I am curious to see how things will end. I just started Stormbringer, which I believe is the final book in the core series.

Movies: Spiderman 3 - Yawn. In addition to being bored out of my mind for most of the movie, I have very specific complaint about the movie. Unfortunately I can't complain about it without spoiling the ending of the movie. Instead I'll just reiterate my complete boredom with the movie, until evil emo-haired Tobey made an appearance. And even then things still were not that good. Bruce Campbell made me laugh though, as he has in the previous two.

Video Games (Portable): Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings - Unfortunately I'm only a few missions past where I was last week at this time. Mission 8-4 (the final mission of Chapter 8) turned out to be insanely difficult, at least for my relatively simplistic mob tactics. I did eventually finish the level, but it was very close. There are only the side missions and then a few short chapters left in the game.

Video Games (Home): Rock Band - Last weekend I finished the Hall of Fame event with my one-man band. It was actually surprisingly easy because: 1) I played with only Expert Guitar and Hard vocals (not Expert/Expert) and 2) It doesn't include Green Grass and High Tides. I whizzed through the 8 songs, only having a couple close moments at the ends of some of the more difficult solos.

My next plan is to finish the 150 or so stars that I need to unlock the Endless Setlist challenge, and then sucker Brenden into coming over and playing it with me with Expert Guitar and Expert Bass. I figure playing through all of the songs will take around 5 hours, but other then Green Grass and High Tides most of the songs should be pretty straight forward. At least that is the plan. All that remains is talking someone into it.

I didn't buy any new downloadable songs this week, although Working Man is severely testing my will power.

Music: Lots of Rush. Because they're awesome.

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