Archive for January, 2007

Has it been a week already?

Monday, January 29th, 2007

Todn8r pointed out that I haven’t posted in a week, so here’s a movie I hadn’t heard of before today: Meet the Robinsons (Click here to watch the trailer):

The good news: It’s Disney!

The bad news: It’s not Pixar!

The good news: It still looks pretty cool.

The bad news: I haven’t heard of it before today, and it’s coming out in just over 2 months.

The good news: There are lots of recognizable-name actors in it.

The BETTER news: None of the actors are Robin Williams!

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Okay, I have to go jam down some dinner so I can get to the fitness center and work out before Heroes comes on, so this should hold ya for now …

Little Big News

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

Lots of little things going on, each of which is exciting in its own way, so let’s get to it:

New WIRED Magazine today! Recognize the guy on the cover? The name John Hodgman might not mean anything, especially if you don’t closely follow The Daily Show, but you might know him better as “PC” on Apple’s “I’m a Mac/I’m a PC” commercials. But the gimmick that’s made him famous is being a “know-it-all” who makes everything up as he goes along. I heard an interview with him on NPR a couple of months ago about his new book, Hobo Matters.

“Heroes” returns tonight! The best show on TV since Lost picks up where it left off, after too many weeks away.

Oscar nominations tomorrow! I think it’s significant that it’s no longer as much fun to guess the nominees as it is to guess who’s going to get snubbed. My guesses? “Blood Diamond”, Brad Pitt, and “Little Miss Sunshine”. I just have a feeling.

New-Boss-in-Training is out of town for a fortnight! Woo-freakin’-hoo!

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Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to jump back into the stream that is my life …

Winter Fashion Report for 1007

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

Nothing says Confidence like a chick with a battle axe!

“Here DanaBeth is modeling a classic leather ensemble for winter by Borba’s of Cheydinhal, accented by sporty fox fur trim on the boots and belt. The timeless buckskin leggings feature pelvic-area ventilation, which helps a girl feel cool and fresh, whether chasing goblins through haunted caverns, or sneaking past Path of Dawn cultists to retrieve the Emperor’s magic amulet!

“Her outfit is accessorized with a striking yet understated Steel Battle Axe, which adds esthetic appeal while coming in handy on those overnight trips to the Plane of Oblivion.

“It’s definitely a look that says, If you value your hands, foul knave, you will keep them to yourself!'”

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I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I’ve finally gotten around to uploading a few screenshots from Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion — a small portion of the shots I’ve made, anyway — and you can view them here.

And seriously, the scenery in this game has to be seen to be believed. Go check out my shots, and be sure to view the large versions of the pictures to get the full detail.

Icy Blast!

Sunday, January 14th, 2007

We’ve been warned all week about a huge ice storm that was supposed to hit yesterday, but for the most part it’s been a dud, with only scattered freezing rain where we are, and the icy streets being confined to north of here. The weather gurus new we were going to get huge amounts of precipation at the same time as an arctic front rolled in, but what they didn’t count on was that each time the rain came down, it would warm up the air around it, instead of sinking to the air’s level, temperature-wise.

And all the weather people seemed surprised by this turn of events. Don’t they teach these things in green-screen school?

Anyway: I thought all week that we working people had finally gotten a break. In the past few years our ice storms (only about one or two a year, admittedly) hit one weekdays, either in early afternoon, when we don’t know if we’ll be able to get home, or just as we’re driving to work, and we don’t know if we’ll make it.

I thought that maybe this time it would hit hard on the early weekend, and by Monday morning we’d either be solidly iced in, or else enough would be melted and/or sanded off so that we could make it in. Either way, we would have some degree of certainty by bedtime on Sunday night.

As it is, though, the initial storm petered out early, and now they’re predicting that the final wave will hit tonight, ending only about an hour before I have to drive 27 miles to the office.

And I won’t know until then if I can make it.

In the meantime, though, we’ve had steady rain from Friday morning through last night, so our back yard is half mud, meaning we have to keep a close eye on Molly when we let her out, to avoid having her bring half that mud-yard into the house.

I’ve been using my in-time to try to figure out my new music program, Cakewalk’s Kinetic 2, which seems to have been designed for everyone from rave DJ’s to … well, aspiring rave DJ’s. But I’ve discovered that I can dig down into the pre-programmed “grooves”, isolate the individual instrument components, and form them into loops that I can use with Acid Pro, to even make non-rave music.

So anyway, I’m going to get back to that, if you don’t mind …

My Christmas Gift to Myself …

Friday, January 5th, 2007

I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, and I’m finally getting around to showing it, my reward for parking across the street and fighting the crowds and long lines: My new ATI Radeon 1300 XGE graphics card.

Don’t be too impressed by the flashy name and wild graphics (too bad it’s not installed on the outside of the machine, so that cool design wouldn’t go to waste), because it’s actually a fairly low-end card. And since my motherboard, like my old graphics card, doesn’t have PCI-Express slots (which is all the rage for graphics cards these days, replacing the once-cutting-edge AGP form factor), I didn’t have a whole lot of choices.

So anyway: Click here to see the huge view, in all its gaudy glory …

Since now, it’s trapped away inside my computer, somebody should be able to enjoy what it looks like …

New Year’s Shout

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007

I need to give a shout-out to our newest reader Natalie, whom I met today as she had lunch with her boyfriend (my co-worker), and who has never heard the term “Blogiversary”.

Welcome to my madness, Nat! You’re joining at least a half dozen readers from all different parts of the world …

State of the Blogger, 2007

Monday, January 1st, 2007

Okay, now that I’ve got my new Flash-animated Fourth Blogiversary banner installed, I wanted to take the opportunity to take a snapshot of my life right now, since that is what blogging is all about …

… unless of course you’re a member of the mainstream media, and then blogging is all about thousands of us know-nothing upstart amateurs who idolize “real” journalists and are pretending to be just like them …

But to me, blogging is journal-ism in its most literal sense: Documenting this thing we call Real Life in a way that only the individual can, and that is by offering up the minute details of my existence, to be aligned with everyone else’s in order to form The Great Jigsaw Puzzle of Reality.

Which is something that Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather never did for us.

So then, let’s get to it: My Life, January 1, 2007.

In my previous post I noted that when I first started blogging four years ago, we were without the use of a clothes dryer, since the heating element had gone out on my wife’s Maytag, and I was in the process of finding a new one. Now, in 2006, the appliance that has crapped out on us was the microwave oven. She has had that one for over 20 years now, so we’re not even bothering with repairs; she’s gotten her money’s worth out of it, and parts alone for something that old would probably cost more than a new one.

So we went out yesterday and got a new one: A two-cubic-foot LG.

Long story short: We went to several different places, Sears has a much, much crappier selection than we ever would have imagined, and the hardware superstores have an endless selection of over-the-range models but not so many coutnertops, and are even out of stock of the ones they do have on display.

Also: You don’t think about how dependent you are on a microwave until you don’t have one.

Gerald Ford died last week, but not before becoming the oldest former president, at 93. Who would have thought it would have been Ol’ Stumblebum.

And here’s a bit of fun trivia: Ford’s birth name was Leslie King, then later changed when his mom remarried.

I’ll bet you’re resourceful enough to re-form that information into a stumper-question with which to baffle your friends.

One more thing: Tuesday is going to be a national Day of Mourning for Ford, meaning, among other things, no mail service and no federal offices open.

No mail for three days?? For Ford??? He wasn’t even elected, not even as V.P.! Besides, I don’t personally remember this ever having been done for any president, elected or not. Is this something new, or have I just not been paying attention.

And sort of on that subject: A couple of weeks ago I heard about the release of the DVD box set of the complete first season of Saturday Night Live. After just a little consideration — I try to avoid impulse purchases — I decided that I would be crazy NOT to buy this set. I saw all those episodes the first time around after all, LIVE, like the Good Lord meant for them to be seen, and those first four wonderful years are almost never shown in reruns.

Plus, the show itself was so revolutionary, the first season should be mandatory in high school history classes.

And now that the topic of history has come back around, I’ll mention that I watched (or re-watched) the first episode last week the day after Ford died, and it was weird seeing all the jokes from when he was still President. Among the fake news items: They reported that Ford himself had written his re-election slogan: “If He’s So Dumb, How Come He’s President?”

And one more thing about that early SNL: It was an entirely different animal when it was starting out.

The first episode started with a sketch (John Belushi and Michael O’Donohue), but a large percentage of airtime was taken up by host George Carlin performing his comedy routines, on a section of the stage that jutted out into the audience. There was also more music, with two musical guests (Billy Preston and Janis Ian), each of whom performed two songs.

The second episode was even more music heavy: Host Paul Simon opened with “Still Crazy After All These Years”, and had two more songs in just the first half hour. Then guest Randy Newman sang “Sail Away”, then there was a Simon & Garfunkel photo montage to the sounds of “Mrs. Robinson”, then Simon introduced Art Garfunkel and they sang two more songs! And Garfunkel sang another one by himself!

And there was still another musical guest!

It seems insane now that they had all that comedy talent back then, but made them wait in the wings while middle-aged pop artists trotted out their tired old Top 40 hits.

At one point they were allowed to come out in their bee costumes, where the big joke was that Paul Simon was telling them that the bee sketch had been cancelled that week.

Fortunately the producers wised up after that, serving up much less (but much better) music, and more cutting edge comedy.

I’ve only watched those two episodes so far, but I’m looking forward to seeing the show progress. In particular, I’m looking forward to the Jill Clayburgh episode, which I recall watching the first time around after having consumed some very excellent brownies …

If you’re a regular here you know that last year I got into the most extended regular exercise habit of my entire life, doing 30-45-minute power walks almost every day for six months, even when temperatures were in the 100’s. Unfortunately, this routine got derailed in October when I got a sinus infection and the weather turned cold and wet; we did get some warm weather after that, but by then the sun was setting earlier, so I only got in about three or four walks since then.

Last Wednesday, though, I had some business in the area of our city’s recreation center, so I stopped in on a hunch, and got a glimpse of their workout room, which included five fairly new treadmills and stairwalkers. Since the membership fees are only $25 for 6 months, I impulsively decided to sign up.

Which is really something for me, since I pretty much NEVER impulsively do ANYTHING.

Seriously, just ask my wife.

On second thought, don’t.

Anyway, I’ve done pretty good so far, considering the were closed Sunday and today: I got in a half hour of walking on Thursday and Friday, and I would have Saturday too if we hadn’t been dragging all over Creation trying to find a store that didn’t suck in the microwave department.

I’ve never had a workout on a treadmill before, so it took some getting used to; I was a little unbalanced each time when the session was over and I tried to walk on solid ground.

It was cool because the machines tell me my speed, miles walked, exact time elapsed, and approximate calories burned, things I could only estimate with real life walks. Bonus points: I didn’t have to sidestep puddles or dodge cars. On the downside, it was mentally rejuvenating to be able to contemplate the skies, wide open spaces and other scenery during my walks, but having climate control just might even things out.

My membership will be up in late May, just as temperatures are approaching 100 again, so I just might be doing my walking indoors all summer too …

A couple of months ago, I found a PC game at half price on Amazon, but it didn’t run well on my computer. Then, at our Christmas office party and gift exchange, I ended up with two Best Buy gift cards, so two days before Christmas I took the plunge and got a new graphics card, since my old one was a 2002 model and only had 128MB of video RAM. That might sound pretty good, but some of my video editing projects were pushing it to its limits, so I was due for a new one.

I just bring up the card to get back to the game: It’s Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion … and it’s the best freaking game I have ever played. That’s not surprising, since it’s been winning all sorts of Best Game of the Year and Best PC Game of the Year awards for 2006, and now I’m finding out for myself that those awards are no exaggeration.

I’ll go into detail at some other time, but for now I’ll just say that the game has a huge, sprawling 3D world that you can explore, and a main plotline that you can follow when you don’t feel like freestyling, and an excellent storyline, and breathtaking graphics — I’m starting to see why it requred a new graphics card.

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So those are most of the things I’m doing right now, the State of the Life for Me.

And before I end this post, I’d just like to wish everyone A HAPPY, HEALTHY 2007. Thanks for joining me here this past year, even with my diminished posting schedule, and be sure to keep checking in in the new year!