Blog'n the night away...

Hasta La Vista Phatty!

Friday July 11th 2008
K2 Moto ExtremeThis winter was particularly bad for me and my jelly belly. After all that work a few years back loosing weight, I managed to put a good chunk of it back on. This just won't do. Instead of falling back to Seattle Sutton, I decided to strike out on my own and go the tried and true route.
Step 1.) EAT LESS
Step 2.) EXERCISE
I know, DOI.. right? Anyway, once you get in the groove and stop being a lazy F'r, "You can do it!".

Two things helped me get my move and groove on. First off, I bought some spanky new blades. The K2 Moto Extreme. These are a great set of wheels. The front 2 wheels, are 90mm, and the read 2 are 100mm. This gives what K2 calls an "aggressive" stance. Whatever that means. For me I find these are the perfect blades to handle all the bumps, cracks, twigs, and curbs of outdoor blading around the lake. I no longer fear tripping over things as much as I used to.

The second addtition was Wii Fit.This gizmo is simply a white wireless board that you stand on and do various workouts, and yoga poses. The "game" that comes with it is more or less a simple virtual instructor that guides you throuh the routines. It keeps track of your progress and offers suggestions and tips. Pretty nice package and easy to use. I managed to maintain a daily workout habit on the Wii for over a month straight.

After all this, I have again lost 25lbs! Nice. Not only that but, I feel much better overall. It seems corny to say, but I think the Yoga poses have really helped my flexability and balance.

I still have much more work to do. Even with all my progress I'm still obese according to the game. I need to loose about 15 more pounds to get my BMI under 30. If you put any stock into BMI. Honestly, all I care about is getting rid of my muffin top looking beer gut. Not that I'm going to stop drinking beer, aww hell no!

Welcome to the Dog Pound

Friday May 9th 2008
Karen sent this out as an email, it is too good of a story to not include here:

So I've got a funny story from last night - they are just dogs, but
seriously - the stuff they do.

We've been propping the back door open in the evenings so they can run in
and out at will (until the bugs get too bad).  So, Kirby & Bailey had been
going back and forth for about an hour.

The 3 of us (Jer, karen & Eric) were in the basement watching TV, and Kirby
comes racing downstairs, his tongue is hanging and he's panting like crazy.
We laugh, assume they have been chasing each other and let it go.

About 10 mins later I ask "Where's Bailey?"
No one knows.  I go outside, take a look around. Don't see him.
Come in. Look around the house. No Bailey.

Finally, we hear a bark and assume he's wanting to come in the house, but
he's not by the back door.

I go back outside.  This time Kirby comes with and he starts running back
and forth in front of the firepit/sandbox area (that is fenced in).

Low and behold - there is Bailey.  Stuck inside of the firepit area - on the
wrong side of the fence!!!

I'm assuming they were wrestling in the back yard, and he got excited and
jumped over - but couldn't figure out how to get out.

Welcome to the Dog Pound!!!


Have a great Friday.

DisneyWorld Vacation 2008

Sunday February 17th 2008
Now this is how you get away from a frozen Minnesota winter. Growing increasingly tired of -10F temperatures we hopped on a jet to sunny Florida. We enjoyed temps 70F+ above what we normally have here.

The last time we were down to Orlando, FL was exactly 8 years ago. It amazes me how much has changed in those 8 years. Marriage, owning a house, getting a dog. Disney has not changed much in those 8 years. Sure there has been more than a few Disney and Pixar movies released in that time. There was only several major new rides and attractions. The biggest being the Mt. Everest roller-coaster at Animal Planet. At Disney Hollywood they added a live car stunt show. Speaking of Disney Hollywood it was renamed from Disney MGM just last month. We were surprised by that change, but as we thought about it, the MGM name just does not have any impact anymore. Epcot saw the addition of the Soaring ride, and updates to "The Seas" using Finding Nemo as the theme now. Magic Kingdom mostly only had aesthetic updates using new characters to some old favorite rides. The last time we were down, I missed out on several attractions. The Indiana Jones show was shut down, and Pirates of the Caribbean was getting updated. Both of those were new to me as I didn't get to experience them before. Being a HUGE Indiana Jones fan I was on the edge of my seat during that show. Cool Stuff indeed.

The other difference I experienced, was in the area of our personal technology. Back in 2000, cell phones were not very commonplace yet. We are so used to them now, but I remember that we didn't want to get separated back then. Now we can just call and find each other easily. The other change was digital cameras. Now we can take hundreds of photos quickly and easily. For Christmas I bought Karen a new Cannon SD-1000 cam. This was the perfect cam for this trip. Small and easy to whip out for fast photos. Not only that, but it was very capable at video. I took a crap-ton of video. Coming very close to filling our 2 gigabyte flash card. I even took a video of the entire Mt. Everest ride, holding the cam out as we rode. I hope to edit something together and upload it to YouTube soon.

I've always been a big fan of Disney. I can't recommend enough going to DisneyWorld if you are big kid like me.

Website Upgrades

Thursday January 17th 2008
Upgrades on sonic today. I switched to PHP5 from PHP4. Made the appropriate changes to the website code. A few months ago, I already upgraded the OS to Debian Etch. That made the transition much easier. I also made some code tweaks to the website. For example I am now using memcached for session management. This reduces the load on the DB server as sessions are now stored in RAM. I also reworked the database class to only open connections to the DB if there are queries being made. Some of the subpages of this site don't need to open a connection. This should also reduce load on MySQL. Exciting!

I learned today that one of my all time favorite NES games Bionic Commando is getting a remake. It will appear on Xbox Live in the spring. I'll be looking forward to that one. I'm also curious to see how the fully 3d sequel turns out.

Holiday Cheer, Games, and Dog Scare

Saturday January 12th 2008
Another holiday season has come and gone. Not that I am going to complain. I for one am a pretty big fan of the holidays. Saying that it is a crazy busy time of the year for us is a massive understatement. I didn't have much downtime in the month of December. Like I said, no complaints. I love it. Big thanks and much love to our family and friends that we spent time with over the Festivus `for the rest of us`.

Our annual Winter/B-Day party was another huge success. Thanks in part to Rock Band. Almost everyone was giving the game a try. It is amazing to me how mainstream games have become. Party games such as this really allow anyone to get into the fun. This is what gaming was supposed to be about.

Speaking of gaming: After Christmas passed, I still had the rest of the week off of work. This gave me plenty of time work work my way through my new games. The first was Call of Duty 4. Awesome game. Those Infinity Ward guys really know how to put together a visual marvel, but still give you plenty of action at the same time. The only downside was the length. The game was over much to fast. What was there was above expectations. The second game was Mass Effect. This gas was much more satisfying in amount of time to completion. I had expected this game to take me a month or more to finish. Well guess what, I managed to finish the main quest in only 3 days. Granted it still took me 14 hours, but I never thought I'd finish it so fast. You can blame the games amazing graphics and story to prevent me from putting it down. It gave me flashbacks of Knights of the Old Republic from time to time. That really is not such a bad thing.

Getting off games now...

We had a little accident over New Years . My Brother-In-Laws dog Bailey was attacked by a Pit Bull mix at the dog park. Apparently this animal felt the need to take a chunk out of Bailey's side. The skin was ripped open, but thankfully the chest cavity was not punctured. After a mad rush to the University of Minnesota Pet Hospital, Bailey was stitched up by the excellent veterinarians there. He was made to wear a clear plastic head cone so he would not attempt to pull out or lick his stitches. Poor dog. I am now happy to report that he is doing much better. We expect him to be his normal happy self soon.

Rock Band ROCKS!

Sunday December 2nd 2007
I picked up Guitar Hero II back in the late spring of this year. It has been a hit and we love jamming out on the little plastic toy guitars. Yeah, it looks silly, but it is worth looking we-todd-did for the entertainment and laughs it provides. For as much fun as GH was, Rock Band doubles maybe even triples the pure joy of rocking out. RB adds a drum kit and a mic. So now you get to play the entire band. When you have 4 (or more) people over playing the experience is (in lack of a better word) orgasmic.

Europe Vacation Part Deux

Thursday November 15th 2007
I have (finally) uploaded the photo album for our Zurich/England trip. We spent the first part of our vacation in Zurich, Switzerland. I was there to attend WineConf 2007. It was being held at the Google offices this year. Big kudos go out to the blokes and Google who organized this for us. I do have to say that they have some pretty nice digs. Last I checked, my office at CodeWeavers did not have a freezer full of single serve Ben & Jerry's ice cream. I need to submit a request for that some time. After the conf was over we had time to explore the city. Zurich is another fine example public transportation. There was a tram system that made getting around the city a breeze. Why can't we do this better here in the US?

After Zurich we spend the rest of our trip in England at our good friend Rob and Gemma's flat in Southampton. More time for me to check out the pubs and have some of my personal favorite Steak and Ale pies. Mmmmmm gravy! I always hear that the food in England is not so hot, but I for one love it. I even got into some fish and chips action, good stuff. The pubs are so full of atmosphere. The Cowheards pub in Southampton had fireplaces and smelled of the burning wood. Such an old world feel that is not easily reproduced. Big thanks to our hosts! We had an excellent time. I look forward to doing it again.

Back Home
Now that I am back home I've been settling back into my old routines. The theme of 2007 has been so far "What Diet?". I've put on some pounds this year. I expect that is because I feel back in love with junk food, and being a couch potato. That and a total lack of exercise has put on some more of that old truffle shuffle. I'll get it off, but I'm just not going to worry about it until after the Holidays. No point in trying to go diet crazy during the months of Festivus.

I had problems with Comcast this last month. My Internet connection was dropping too often. When there is no internet I feel like grabbing a pitchfork and torch and forming a mob to raid the Comcast offices. Instead of that brilliant idea, I simply called them to complain. Not as original, but effective none the less. Turns out my cable modem is outdated and starting to malfunction. I ended up buying my own. Since I was changing all my home networking anyway, I went ahead and built my own firewall/nat on Linux instead of using the old LinkSys hardware router I've had for 7 years. I'm much happier with this setup.

YouTube'ing
Check this out:
Yeah, we sometimes do work at our office, but not that day.

TV Upgrade Time

Thursday September 20th 2007
Samgsung It was time to replace the old rear projection CRT HDTV. I really liked that TV, but as of late, it's flaws became more and more apparent. The main issue is that for gaming the picture is simply not at clean and clear as what you see on a modern LCD. For movies it still held up well.

The new set is a Samsung 40" LCD that is capable of 1080p resolution. That is 1920x1080 in longhand. The contrast ratio is a bright 10,000:1. Since I have a dark basement, I had to turn the brightness down a bit from the default settings.

I made some minor tweaks to the website. I made my Xbox Live badge more visable. I also added a Twitter sidebar. I update this via Google Talk. So it comes in handy for quick status updates that don't really need a full blog entry. I will try to twitter more often than my average blog time.

Lastly, I beat BioShock. It took me less than a month. That is really good for me these days. I seldom find time to finish an entire game anymore, unless it is an exceptional experience. BioShock was that and more.

Less than 5 days until the release of Halo 3. That should be interesting. I have my copy pre-ordered. Do you?

ArcadePC

Tuesday September 11th 2007
I finally built one! This has been a todo of mine since forever. Well, in actuality the full goal was to build a ArcadePC upright video game cabinet. But, this is a good 1st step. Part of me would rather sit on the couch, and the other part of me wants that feeling of standing at a machine. It is still sometimes crazy to imagine I can literally fit thousands of old games in this one box. The kid in me just drools at the thought. Best of all, no standing in lines with a sweaty handful of quarters trying to get access to the best game in the 'cade.

The ArcadePC is a basically microATX desktop PC case with a video card capable of svideo output. It runs Ubuntu Linux as the OS. It is configured to boot directly to the Wah!Cade front end with custom skins. Currently I have the following emulators on it: MAME (Arcade), MESS (NES and Atari 2600), ZSNES (Super NES), dGen (Sega Genesis), and Daphne (Dragon's Lair).

The PC itself is not much to speak of, it is:
  • Antec Minuet 300 microATX slim case
  • Pentium 4 @ 2.4 GHz
  • 512 meg of RAM
  • 40 gig IDE hard drive
  • nVidia GeForce 5200 AGP (low profile)
  • Sound Blaster Audigy LS (low profile)
I control the whole setup with my X-Arcade joystick.

Summer Time

Friday August 17th 2007
There are crap-loads of updates to the site today. I've been meaning to post the following news weeks ago, but as per usual I was far too tied up in being a lazy sloth. It has been a busy year.

Back in May we completely remodeled our kitchen. We ripped it down to the bare walls, and in some cases even further. It was by far the biggest home improvement project we have undertaken to date. I've learned quite a bit through this entire process. For one thing, contractors are a pain in the ass. A necessary evil none the less. Most of our new cabinetry came from Ikea. We shopped around until we decided we liked the look and the quality of the parts. I have photo-documented the entire ordeal. Overall I could not be more pleased with how it all turned out.

Next on the list is our fantastic voyage to Canada. This whole thing started when Rob, our good pal from England, wanted to come over for a 10 day visit. We were trying to decide what to do while he was here. The plan was, hey, none of us have actually driven to Canada before. Why not give that a try! We took Interstate 35 north from the cities and took highway 61 up the Lake Superior lake front from Duluth. Our first overnight rest stop was in Grand Marais. From there we drove to Thunder Bay, were we stayed two nights in the fabulous accomdations in a Days Inn. While we were in town, we found a variety of things to do out of doors. We chartered a 90 minute sail boat cruise around the harbor. We walked accross Canada's longest suspension bridges. This one was particularly difficult for me as I'm not a big fan of falling to my squishy death. I'm glad we did it. The rest of the stops were at various national parks and waterfalls.

We are just past the half-way point for the year. There is so much more to do yet this year. Coming up in a week is the Minnesota State Fair. I'm always a big fan of that. Can't get enough of that Vitamin G.
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