Monday, March 30, 2009

Verbose: On

Today Tor announced that the last Robert Jordan book will instead be three books (or volumes, whatever):

Tor Books is proud to announce the November 3rd, 2009 on-sale date for The Gathering Storm, Book Twelve of The Wheel of Time and the first of three volumes that will make up A Memory of Light, the stunning conclusion to Robert Jordan’s beloved and bestselling fantasy series. A Memory of Light, partially written by Jordan and completed by Brandon Sanderson, will be released over a two-year period.


I'm torn by this announcement. On one hand, I'm glad that at least something will be released soon (this fall), and Brandon Sanderson as far as I can tell is motivated and putting in serious effort to crank things out as soon as possible. On the other hand, another several years (I would think three or four, even though they say two) before the completion of the series.

I suppose I've waited this long, what's another few years. At least Brandon is actually producing something. As opposed to, Mr. Glacial himself, George R.R. Martin.


Read the whole post.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Seek & Destory

Today was the release of Guitar Hero: Metallica. Originally I was trying to resist buying it as it is overpriced relative to Rock Band, and Lars doesn't really need any more money. But as more information about the game came out, like the song list, I ended up getting excited for its release. For valentines day, Linzy got me the game, and so today I could finally go pick it up.

I talked Brenden into coming over this afternoon and we spent a while working our way through songs. The game is pretty much what I was expecting: lots of fun. The song list is pretty awesome, and the presentation is is well polished. Most of the songs translate really well into something that is fun to play on a little plastic guitar, and from what I could tell the drums sounded good too.

I was a little afraid the difficulty would be hand-injuring, but it isn't quite that bad. Certainly worse then any of the Rock Band games (which are generally too easy), but not quite as bad as GH3. There appear to be some songs that are going to be a challenge, others that will just take a couple tries, but a lot are very manageable.

Because of the narrow selection of music, GH: Metallica will never be a party staple, but it is a lot of fun for me to play. Of course now the challenge will be finding time to actually play it.

Read the whole post.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Medallions

Today walking through the mall on the way back to the hotel I noticed one of the many junk-peddling kiosks that had fake jewelry. The item that caught my eye was a terrible-fake looking replica of Rick Ross' medallion.

The thing about Rick Ross' medallion though is that it is a grotesquely huge diamond medallion that looks like his head. Yes, he wears a three pound medallion that looks like himself.

But the imitation medallion raises an interesting question: Is it more ridiculous to buy a six-figure, three pound medallion of yourself, or buy an imitation medallion of someone else's head? I say toss-up.

Read the whole post.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Three Dozen

Today one of the SysAdmins and I spent most of the day moving 75 servers from an old data center to our server rooms at the office. This was much less interesting then a normal server move as the functions that were on the systems had already been migrated, so it was purely an exercise in manual labor of picking up the servers, transporting them to the new site, and unloading everything.

Anyways, I had asked my co-worker to arrange for the U-Haul rental and the specifics of where to pick things up, who we needed involved, etc. So early this morning we went over to the U-haul place to pick up the truck, a furniture dolly and blankets for the move. They had some problems finding the reservation (apparently there are three U-Hauls in a close area in Cambridge), but eventually they got us going and were finalizing the order. The conversation went like this:

Counter Guy: So, a 14' foot truck
Us: Yep
CG: Ok
Us: And a furniture dolly and three dozen blankets
CG: Three dozen?!
Us: Yeah
CG: Three dozen?
Us: Yeah
<CG walks over to the front door to yell at the guy outside>
CG: Hey...they need a 14' footer...yeah, that one there...and three dozen blankets.
Other guy: <something I couldn't make out>
CG: yes, three dozen!
Us: Not many people order three dozen blankets?
CG: Nope....Three dozen. Heh. I'm going home early!

Then while ringing the order up the counter guy stressed the 3 dozen blankets again, smirked, and made a 'score' motion with his arm.

I'm not sure what kind of commission the U-Haul people get when they rent out three dozen blankets, but it clearly made his day.


Read the whole post.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Looking in the Dark

Despite my reservations last week, I managed to pack for my trip reasonably well. However one thing that I forgot to pack was directions to get from Boston to my sister's house. Luckily I remember at the airport and was able to get online and hastily scribble some rough directions on the back of my boarding pass.

I had a general idea where I was going, so the vague directions were working just fine all the way from Boston to Hanover. By that time it was after 10pm and I realized that I didn't actually know the actual house number where my sister lives. I've been there once before, but it was several years ago and my recollection seemed pretty good so I soldiered on.

10 miles outside of town it became clear that it was a lot harder to tell houses apart out in the country, set back from the road behind stands of trees apart in the dark then it was during the day. So I drove all the way down the road into Lyme (about a 30 mile trip). I did slow passes past a few houses, and one in particular but eventually chickened out and passed by. Upon reaching Lyme I decided to try coming from the other direction to see if anything looked familiar.

Again I saw a house that looked very similar but just wasn't positive and passed by. Now the thing to remember here is that there is not really any cell service, and even if there had been my battery was dead due to roaming in and out the whole way from Boston. So in the end I decided to continue on back to town and use the wireless town internet to try to look up the address.

After some e-mail searching I found the old 'hey we bought a house e-mail' and got an address. So I headed back down the road looking for numbers, only to realize that at this point in the winter almost all of the houses have had their mailboxes savaged by the plow, and most only had partial digits displayed. Eventually I found a house with the right number, except it was on the wrong side of the street.

At least as far as I could recall. So I circled once or twice thinking about it, but it just didn't feel right and so I eventually continued on down the road. Much further down I found another house with the right number and it was one I had stopped at twice prior, so I felt much better about pulling in.

In the end I found the house, though the extra driving around added about an hour to my total trip time. I did learn an important lesson about bringing the house number with, rather then just bringing a list of all the roads leading up to a 30-mile stretch of country road where there are two sets of houses with the same numbers. Especially if you are going to try to find the house in the middle of the night with no street lights. Plus the experience provide endless entertainment for Linzy, Sarah and John as they relived the image of me driving slowly up and down the road trying to find the right house in the middle of the night.

Read the whole post.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Evie May

Linzy and I spent the weekend in New Hampshire with Sarah, John, and my new niece Evie May. We had a good time hanging out with the McBrides and meeting the newest family member. Evie May is 10 weeks old and so is starting to interact with her surroundings more and so we had a good time playing together. Being only 10 weeks old she also spends a lot of time sleeping and eating, so there was plenty of opportunity for Sarah, John, Linzy and I to hang out and catch up.

It was really nice to be able to spend time with our family that we don't see as often. Linzy will be spending a few more days with them and then is off to sunny Phoenix, while I headed to Boston for the week.

Read the whole post.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Packing

Linzy left for her across the US trip this morning, and I leave for my trip tomorrow afternoon. That means I'm home alone today, and raises an interesting issue with packing.

Normally Linzy keeps me on track with packing, either by helping me get stuff together or by reminding me that it is getting late and I still haven't packed. Yesterday Linzy was concerned about this, but I had promised that I would be just fine packing for myself. Except of course that I got home late, got distracted with a few things and next thing you know it is 10:45pm and I still haven't packed.

So I've more-or-less already failed, and I haven't even gotten to the part where it normally all goes wrong and I forget socks, a phone charger, or some other critical item. I'm pretty good at a fair amount of stuff, I'm not sure why packing is not one of them.

Read the whole post.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's All Downhill From Here

The BBC is reporting the results of a new brain study looking at the deterioration of the mental capabilities with age:

In nine out of 12 tests the average age at which the top performance was achieved was 22.

The first age at which there was any marked decline was at 27 in tests of brain speed, reasoning and visual puzzle-solving ability.

Things like memory stayed intact until the age of 37, on average, while abilities based on accumulated knowledge, such as performance on tests of vocabulary or general information, increased until the age of 60.

Peaking at 22 and marked declines starting at 27, how's that for depressing. I'm not sure the knowledge that I have another five years or so of good memory outweighs the knowledge that I'm likely already ten years removed from my peak.

Hopefully that wealth of valuable knowledge in important subjects like video games, movies, and strange dog behavior will help carry me through.


Read the whole post.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Shrinking

I saw in the news recently that the Washington Post was reducing the number of sections in their daily paper by combining the business section with the front page section, and reducing the amount of stock charts they publish. There were various reasons presented, but they never specifically named the obvious reasoning: cost-cutting.

The Star Tribune has been doing similar things, folding the classifieds into the business section, folding the metro section into the front page sometimes, etc. Today, for example the paper was surprisingly thick due to NCAA basketball coverage, but it was still only 4 sections and 54 pages (versus the claimed 'average' of 82 pages). With out the NCAA coverage, I would guess it would have been closer to 40 pages.

This has been a steady trend for quite a while. I'm fully expecting one morning to walk out to mailbox to find a single sheet of paper in the newspaper tube saying "News happened - See Internet".

Unfortunately, until I figure out a safe way to eat my morning cereal in front of the computer, I'll continue to want something to read at the kitchen table in the morning.

[ As a follow-up, today's paper was around 40-some pages and much more typical in size. ]

[ As a second follow-up, apparently I was quite timely as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer just announced they are going paperless. ]


Read the whole post.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Couples Shower

On Saturday night we went over to Fred & Robin's house for a couples shower for Brenden & Allison. Robin and Linzy jointly threw the shower, and there was much stress involved in making it happen after the invite list came in at nearly 60 people and most of the RSVPs didn't come in until the final week and eventually totaled 35 people.

Despite the significant amount of planning that many people required, the party went off without a hitch and everyone seemed to have a good time. The food was tasty, there were plenty of drinks and lots of good conversation. Brenden and Allison also made out quite well, with all sorts of nice gifts.

All-in-all it was quite a successful shower, and was well worth all of the effort that went into it (though that is easy for me to say since my contributions were very minor).

Read the whole post.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

So Much to Do

So here we are twelve days into March and I've posted a grand total of four blog posts this month. Not my best work.

Normally this would indicate I was on some sort of business trip traveling streak, but I'm not (that starts next week). Instead, we had some unfortunate happenings at work and now I'm responsible for another group of people. I was already busy and without a transition of any sort, this has been challenging to say the least. I'm excited about the opportunity to improve things, but damn is there a lot of stuff to do.

Starting with even more meetings when I was already attending. Which, of course, leaves me no time to do any of my other work. So then that all spills over into my evenings, which were already sporting a healthy amount of conference calls with team members in India. End result? Very little time for sleep, let alone time for blog posts.

Things should be better over the next few weeks as things settle down. And if nothing else, next week I'll get to spend a long weekend with my new niece.

Read the whole post.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Movies: The Watchmen

On Saturday Linzy and I went to go see the Watchmen. Neither of us have read the graphic novel, but Linzy thought the previews looked really good. The movie was interesting, and certainly not like your typical comic book movie.

I thought it was pretty good, although it was definitely slow moving at points. The way it was framed, with lots of long establishing shots was (I assume) accurate to the graphic novel. But while that helped set the atmosphere of the world it also made it longer (well over 2.5 hours).

Since I hadn't read the novel, the story line was completely new and that made it enjoyable. I also liked the characters and grittiness of the story. The movie is definitely not for everyone, however. It was gory, graphic, and probably much darker then what most people are used to.

Regardless, I enjoyed it. For reference, Linzy did not.

Read the whole post.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Blockbuster

I saw on the financial sites today that Blockbuster is likely going to file for bankruptcy. No real surprise there, I guess, but I still thought it was worthy of note. Getting squeezed on both ends by Netflix and Redbox is not good for an expensive brick-and-mortar business model.

Gerard's parents owned a video store way back in the day. It was near our house and so my family rented there (this was way back when you bought memberships that came with X amount of rentals). Because Gerard and I were about the same age (3?) my parents and his parents would frequently when they came into the store. Years later in high school I randomly met Gerard through Dan and both sets of parents still remembered the other from the video store.

Long before that 'small world' occurrence, of course, the video store was put out of business by Blockbuster and the other chain video rental places. There was no question the chains were better in terms of larger selection, lower prices, etc. But it obviously impacted Gerard's family in a big way, and there wasn't really any way they could compete.

I guess the shoe is on the other foot now.

Read the whole post.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Snoring

Pippen 273Pippen has been sick for the past month or so with something that is making her eat like crazy (she's gained over a pound, which is a lot for a 9 pound dog) and also have to go to the bathroom constantly. She's been waking us up a few times a night, and then waiting downstairs for me when I get up so that I take her out right away.

In addition she has been snoring like crazy at night. (This all sounds very pleasant, no? It's actually just little doggy snoring, which is more like sighing) Last night she was snoring loud enough around 3am that I woke up and, groggily thought that the sighs from her breathing were actually her whining downstairs, so I got up and hustled down to let her out. Except she was no where to be found, until I called for her a couple times. Then she got up and groggily made her way downstairs too, extremely disgruntled that I woke up her deep doggy-dream-filled sleep in the middle of the night and made her go outside.

I felt bad for her, but at the same time turnabout is fair play.

Read the whole post.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Concerts

I had quite a bit of preparation to take care of this weekend for something that is going on at work this week. Today for a change of pace, I did a lot of that work from the couch in the basement. Instead of listening to mp3s for some reason I ended up watching a whole bunch of concert videos on Palladia.

I'm not sure why I decided to watch TV instead of my own music, but once I did Palladia randomly had all sorts of concert videos that interested me. Rush's R30 concert, some Muse performances, a couple random Rock festivals, an AC/DC concert from 1996, even the Fray turned out to be tolerable. It was pretty strange, in the consistency of one show after another of bands that I was interested in seeing.

Score one for random cable channels justifying their existence, I guess.

Read the whole post.