Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Back to Real Life

In the game World of Warcraft, I recently finished a mad charge to level 70 before the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.  I would have hit it if there hadn't been a complete server outage the day before the release of the expansion.

While not completely anti-social, I was leveling with my friends Chip and Angela, I'm trying to get some stuff done in the real world too.  Hmm, I'm not sure that posting a blog entry really counts as real world work, but it's at least a different virtual activity.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Greatest Olympian

I'm not writing this to take anything away from Micheal Phelps, who certainly had an unbelievable Olympics. 8 Gold with 7 world records is going to be a record I expect to stand for quite a long time. Mark Spitz's record of 7 gold and 7 world records held up for 36 years. However I do think you have to look at more than just total medal count. Here are some people I think deserve to be counted in discussions of great Olympians.

Carl Lewis - Won 4 consecutive long jump gold medals. Lewis was also unusual for being a gold medal sprinter as well. It is unusual for an athlete to be world class in both a track and a field event.

Jesse Owens - Carl Lewis duplicated Jesse Owens accomplishment in the 1936 Olympics, Gold in 100m, 200m, Long Jump, and 4x100m relay.

Al Oerter - Other than Carl Lewis, he is the only person to ever win 4 gold medals in consecutive Olympics. Al overcame severe injuries in a car wreck (life-threatening according to wikipedia) before his second Gold, and set a world record with torn cartilage in his ribs before his third Gold.

Johan Olaf Kass - While he won medals in the 1992 Olympics shortly after having surgery, he is most famous for the Lillehammer games in '94. He won gold in the 1500m, 5000m, and 10,000m speed skating events setting world records in each event.

As you may have guessed, I've been watching a lot of the Olympics. When one of my nieces pointed out that I had been watching Olympics all day, I responded that I would keep watching all night. She didn't like that answer.

Hide and (sort of) seak

Last night, we were watching all four of Michele and Robert's children. One of the things we did for entertainment was to suggest a treasure hunt for Regan's Webkinz poodle. Lauren wanted to help me hide it for Regan and Taylor to find. She picked my room, and liked my suggestion of hiding it in a paper bag that was up there.

When we came back down Lauren announced to here sisters, "Here is a clue. It is in a white bag and it is in Uncle Eric's room. That is a clue." Of Course, Regan and Taylor had no trouble finding it. As Blake commented, "That's too big a clue."

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Summer Games

I really love the Olympics. One of my earliest memories is being down in the basement in '76 in the house on St. Thomas. I was too young then to remember any specifics of those games, but something stuck with me.

I'm a big fan of events that can be scored with a stopwatch or tape measure. This includes any sort of race, and the field events in track and field. As I'm writing this, I'm watching a rowing race. I particularly like the way you can see physics in action as the boats speed up and slow down on each pull of the oars.

Other things I like are archery, wrestling and weightlifting. Of the sports with judges who score the competition, the diving family of events is my favorite. The only thing I would say I really don't like is synchronized swimming, but then, does anyone like watching that?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

It's Alive

Well, I had to wait a bit for parts, but I got my computer booted last Thursday, and the OS installed Friday after work. The weekend was devoted to program installs and gig upon gig of download. I've still got a few things that I want to install, but my new computer is up and running well.

I had trouble with getting the CPU fan locked in place, and then I overlooked the 2nd power hookup for my video card. However I had the most trouble with the IO plate for the motherboard. That was my mistake in thinking I could install it last. I kind of forced it into place, which I decided was better than basically starting over.

My new machine scored just over 12,000 on 3D Mark 08, which is almost 3 time more graphics power than my PC that died. I think I should be happy with this machine for a few good years.

Monday, July 28, 2008


The odd title of this post comes from the novel Dune. Frank Herbert used it as a Fremen term for the delay between wanting something and trying to acquire it. The reason I used this is that I'm having to order more parts before I can start to put my new computer together.

Although my delay in obtaining a new computer is from an oversight, so it is only loosely self imposed. However, in general, I've wanted to upgrade my computer for quite some time, but I put it off until a catastrophic hard drive failure forced me to upgrade. I think my use of the term is justified, and I like Dune.

With any luck, I'll have a new PC up and running before the end of the week, but it's not going to be tonight.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Chicago Dining

We ate quite a few good meals while we were in Chicago. Here's a recap.

Avec - Angela discovered this one through Top Chef. - It's family style dining, and you will probably end up sitting at a table with another party or two depending on the size of your group. The stuffed dates were quite tasty, but that may have been the stuffing more than the dates. The fire grilled pizza was really different, but really good and the salmon was perfectly cooked.

Phil Stefani's Itialian Steakhouse - The Hotel we stayed at last time recommended this restaurant. It is awesome. Come hungry and plan on sharing the appetizers. The side dishes are great, but you may want to stay away unless you are very hungry. The lobster bisque may be the best thing I've ever tasted! I've done pasta both times I've eaten there. I may have to do steak the next time I find myself in Chicago.

Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab. - We couldn't get in to eat here last trip, so we made this a lunch meal. The food was outstanding, and we could see why they are as busy as they are. I had never had stone crab before, and it is delicious. The crab claws come out pre-cracked, so it's not too much work to get the meat out. It's an almost sweet crab meat. When we were done eating the waiter came out with lemons halves, squeezed the juice in our hands, and gave us hot towels to wipe off with.

Aborted Ball Game

Last summer I had gone to Chicago to see the Police in concert, and my friends Chip and Angela met me there. We ran around Chicago for a few days, and we had such a good time we went back this summer. We flew into Midway the morning of the July 12th.

We decided to try to get into the Cubs game that afternoon, so we dropped off our stuff in the hotel and took a cab out to Wrigley Field. We had seen tickets online starting at $33, but decided to try to get tickets at the stadium. There was a guy selling tickets for $75, wich was more than I wanted to spend. I'm not a big baseball fan, so I was really just there to eat a hot dog and hang out. We ended up getting standing room only tickets for $15 without really knowing what that got us.

Since we showed up a little late, it was probably the 3rd inning before we got done eating a hot dog and trying to find a place to watch the game. (The hot dog was really good by the way.) We found a cool spot on a ramp, but the problem was the good spots on the rail were already taken. Where we were standing we could only see about 1/3 of the field. We tried to find a better place to stand, but couldn't find any good ones. I suppose all the locals know where the good spots are and rush to them with a SRO ticket. After failing to find a good spot to stand, Chip declared he was done, so we headed out.

We missed a good game. The cubs got up 7-0 before letting San Franscisco tie it up. The cubs ended up winning in 11. I also got hit up with the strangest pan-handling request I've ever heard as we left the stadium. Someone wanted our tickets to get a free hot dog with them. I handed over my ticket and he was happy.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Book of Three

I discovered this book when I was a kid after the Disney movie, The Black Cauldron. The Book of Three is actually the first book in Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain. I remember enjoying the books as a kid, but not remembering a great deal about them. Cauldron is by far the best known book of the series, but if you are interested I recommend starting here.

The main character is Taran, the oddly titled assistant pig keeper who craves adventure. (In Taran's defense, he is watching a magic pig, Hen Wen.) Having recently re-read this book, I would recommend it as kid friendly fare to anyone who enjoys Harry Potter. This is actually written for a much younger audience than Harry Potter. It's a book that could be read aloud in a reasonable period of time, and also one that a young reader might be able to tackle on their own. The biggest sticking point for a young reader would be the names inspired from Welsh mythology.

As you would expect from a novel written for children, there is some moral instruction going on while the plot unfolds. It's not heavy handed and emphasises things like not being too proud to accept help, sensible bravery, honesty and the ability and willingness to recognize a mistake so it can be corrected. The plot moves along quickly, and Taran is back home, no worse for wear but wiser before you know it.

Comparing this to Harry Potter once again, this book doesn't suffer from the flaw that Harry never seems to learn. Late into Book 6 of that series, Harry would still be lost without Hermionie and her studious habits. As much as I enjoyed the Harry Potter books, that always bothered me.

I want to compare this to another book that I read as a kid and re-read as an adult, A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K LeGuin. I would have to say that A Wizard of Earthsea is as deep a book as you would ever want to find that was written in such a way that it is suitable for children. Upon re-reading LeGuin's book, I discovered that I had absorbed the philosophy of that book without even realizing it. The Book of Three is a children's book that an adult can enjoy, and I intend to pick up the rest of series from the library so I can enjoy them again.

Warrior Training

A few weeks ago, my niece Taylor saw a show with a Chinese warrior. I forget the name of the show, but I'm sure my sister Caroline will remind me. When I took Lauren and Taylor to the library, Taylor wanted a book with Chinese warriors in it. I showed her a book on China, but after flipping through the pages, she decided that she wasn't interested in that book because of a lack of warrior content.

While she and Lauren played with some toys in the kids section of the library, I found a kids book of Kung Fu. It had pictures of old Chinese men training and a few pictures of Bruce Lee. She was happy with that for a while. However, when I asked her about the book the next day, her response was: I don't want to train any more, because then I would be a warrior, and I do not want that.

This one of my favorite Taylor stories. She went from being fascinated with Kung Fu and Chinese warriors to not wanting anything to do with them all in the span of about 2 days. I suppose that wraps up this Drunken Monkey style blog entry.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Switching away from periodic email updates

When I left Jacksonville in 2007, I gathered a large list of emails to keep in touch with people. I decided that there were problems with this approach.
  • Sending a long email to a large list of people is kind of weird. I always felt like I was making it too long for people to want to read it.
  • Sending a short email isn't all that good for staying in touch.
  • There are people I want to stay in touch with that weren't on my Jacksonville list. I suppose I could have added them, and very few people would have ever known that I had snuck in a couple of college buddies. However, I always ended up forgetting to add them to the email updates.

So I'm going to try posting to a free blog and see how that goes for keeping people updated. I'm new to the whole blogging thing, so I may end up changing my mind later.