Saturday, December 31, 2005

Christmas 2005

Stardate 59123.1
Christmas was good, and I hope friends also had a good Christmas. This year was spent putting electronic gadgets together instead of LEGOs and ImagiNext toys. The better part of the day was spent getting things up and going. One failure was a cheap WinTV USB tuner I got for April. I got the idea because she’s been watching DVDs on the laptop, and I thought this would help with the finding a tape to record on and then finding the show after getting it on tape. I could not get any audio, and the video ended up as a tiny 320 by 200 screen. I had my doubts about it when I brought it. It’s still a good idea, but I need to put more research into it. There are dedicated PVRs and DVD recorders, but that’s one more piece of equipment with remote and hookups and finding a receiver.

I got Patrick his own joystick, which he was thrilled with. I also bought a jet fighter program because he had fun with the F-16 Falcon game when his Cub Scout troop went to the Hill Museum. He got frustrated with the game, though, and hasn’t played it since. He also got a Jedi Lightsaber game you hook up to the TV. This took a little time to figure out that you sweep the lightsaber vertically across the screen for yes, and horizontally for no. He has gotten up a few levels on it, but he commented that it made him tired. Having to stand up and swing your arms is a little different from pressing buttons on a controller.

Rachel got a Dance Dance Revolution for the PS/2 with an EyeToy camera. I watched her play with some similar (but less versatile) games in the store, so I was pretty sure she would have fun with it. I have fun with it. Mike Gibby mentioned playing this one and how physically demanding it is. I have to admit having a lot of fun with it, although I lack rhythm to make it very far. But that’s something I can practice on.

Rachel also got a Disney MP3 player. It only had enough memory for a few songs, but it has an SD slot to expand that. MP3 players are ok, but so far I have not seen one that can fast forward and rewind. Sometimes I like to listen to a particular part of a song. I imagine the more expensive ones would, but I don’t think I need to spend that much.

Thomas finally got his Star Wars: Episode III DVD. He also got a ImagiNext ship, and most importantly for him, LEGO people and Star Wars action figures. He is less into building than putting everyone into one or more vehicles. Patrick is the builder, and he is now enrolled in the LEGO Brickmaster program. He gets small sets and plans for building all sorts of things.

We watched Star Wars: Clone Wars Volume II. I missed some parts of it, but I finally understand why Grevious is wheezing and coughing in Episode III.

Christmas Eve we went to a small party at the Howertons. Janet is the co-leader with April for the girl scout troop, and her youngest son watches our kids a lot. I played some pool and got to socialize. After that we went to see the lights and displays in Ogden’s city park. We went earlier in the week to Layton’s display. Both were good. Layton has added a few new light sculptures.

I found Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, has a blog. It’s somewhat cynical for my tastes, but that’s where he gets his material for the comic. Besides, I knew this after reading The Dilbert Future.

In the end, 2005 was pretty eventful. A tsunami in Southeast Asia (ok technically that was 2004, but the effects went well into 2006). My sister Susan lost her job, and didn’t find another one for six months. My Dad fell and cracked his hip, which he still has not fully recovered from. Ray Graham suddenly passed away, to the great loss of his family, friends, and the world. Star Trek: Enterprise was cancelled, leaving me with no new Star Trek episodes to watch. Hurricane Katrina went through New Orleans at the end of August, which meant having my mother-in-law here for a couple of months. I got a call from a friend there last week. She and her family are in a trailer in front of their house now, which she says is a step up from being crowded in with her cousin. There is still a lot of damage to be worked out. There was a devastating earthquake in Pakistan.

Some things have remained constant, like my job. I am still doing the same thing for the last eight years. I have been actively looking for a new job. I had an interview with ATK Space Systems, which would have been cool, but I didn’t get it. I’ve only had one other interview so far, with a company at the mouth of Big Cottonwood canyon. That’s even further to drive than I do now, so I was not too disappointed that I didn’t get that job.

I’ve been reading some of the blogs about jobs on Monster.com. The job situation is a source of anger and many posts. This is a little ironic considering the cases of people being fired for blogging about work. The account of one guy who was fired for being a smoker (not smoking on the job) also makes a lot of employees upset. Personally, I think this is backlash for holding companies accountable. I don’t know, it all seems messed up.

There was an article in the Standard Examiner about how most of the people in Davis County don’t work there, and the trend will triple that number in the coming decades. My attention was also caught by a letter to the editor stating that the Ogden mayor’s plan to make the city into a recreation hub would leave the city with low paying service jobs. That’s not a good thing.

I have started reading books in electronic form, and I enjoy it. I am surprised that they are not cheaper than the paper ones. It seems like they should be, considering there is no shipping or printing. I suppose the printing is so down pat that there is not much to save by not printing. Some books, like the S.C.E. series I have become addicted to, are almost all only available in e-book form. The only downsides to reading this way is that it takes more time to boot a computer than open a paper book, and it’s not a good idea to read in the bathtub.

So, for 2006 (sheesh, we are already halfway through the decade), what can I do? One new employee thought our company did not give enough feedback, and I agree. So I think I need to work on doing more feedback for both my job and personal life. It needs to be constructive, though. I need to keep working on my job search. I’ve started working on a Microsoft Certified Applications Developer (MCAD) and Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD), but each of the study guides is 1,000 pages long. This might not get done in 2006.

Other things, such as getting in shape and losing weight, are goals I work on all the time. One of the things that I read somewhere is that it’s a bad sign when you do something because you want to do it, but soon it becomes something you have to do. That takes the fun and interest out of it. There are dozens if not hundreds of things you have to do all the time. The trick is to find some way of turning them back into the category of want to do, like find a new way of doing the task, or changing the task into something else.

And finally,
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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Rachel is 10

Stardate 59122.2
Rachel is 10. Wow, I’ve been a dad for a whole decade now. We joked about her being double digits or two handfuls now. As our first child, I think we made more mistakes with her, especially being over protective and wanting to have exact control over everything in her life. Over the last ten years I’ve learned to loosen up, much to the relief of both of us. We have involved conversations on diverse subjects including George Washington, governments, and the latest, static electricity. The next ten years will probably be far more interesting and challenging.

Rachel’s birthday party was described by her as the best ever. April organized an American Girl Hawaiian party. Six other girls came over to our house: Audra, Shelby, Sara, Fiona, Liz, and Rachel S. They did a treasure hunt, limbo, had pizza with pineapple, and made monkey tails (bananas with pudding). My only job was to take her brothers away. Patrick wanted to see “Yours, Mine, and Ours”, but the only show time in Layton was 11:40 A.M., which was too early to go and keep them out of the way. So we went to the Nickelcade. This gave me a sense of deja-vu, and another reason for doing blogs. See the 1/4/2004 entry, third paragraph. I thought I was simply repeating what I did last year, but this was TWO years ago. Patrick is not as interested in the arcade anymore, more than likely because he has better games on the P/S2 at home. Nobody was interested in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game.

After a few weeks of temperatures in the teens and single digits, it snowed last weekend. The snow did not stay, because it warmed up into the 40’s and 50’s. After that kind of cold, it seems almost balmy now. Rachel went to stay with her Aunt Susan, and the boys and I went to Kaysville’s Ponds Park to sled. They had fun, but in about an hour both of them were huffing climbing the hill. They’ve been playing a lot of P/S2 lately, but since the neighborhood kids are still in school, they can’t think of what else to do. They did go out and build snowmen, and we’ve had a couple of snowball fights. Rachel and her aunt went to see the Chronicles of Narnia, which they both liked. Rachel had read the book already. She told us she saw the trailer for the sequel to Pirates of the Caribbean.

The van went into the dealers on Monday to check out a squeal in the braking system as you back up. April talked to them over the phone, and they told us it was a bad hose, and it was covered under the warranty. When we got it there, they tried to tell us it was the pads, and not under warranty. They called in the afternoon to tell me it was a cracked seal, and that was covered. I thought it was strange one guy was adamant the problem was the pads. It didn’t fit from what I was seeing.

Christmas is almost here. The arguments over how to greet people seem silly to me. Yes, Merry Christmas is Christian in origin, but I think most mean it more as a have a good time, without the religious overtone. Christmas itself is based on replacing pagan rituals, and many of the traditions are borrows from pagan time, or recent commercial inventions. Happy Holidays is more generic. Personally, use whatever greeting you would like, I’ll take it as wishing me well.

Favorite quote: “Only you would remember the band Quiet Riot” - April

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Monday, December 12, 2005

Slow Commute

Stardate 59121.2
Last Tuesday it took about 2 1/2 hours to get home. I'm not really complaining, because going any faster than 5 miles an hour on I-215 would have been bad. As it was, I skidded twice. But it's times like these I wished I worked closer to home. Okay, I could MOVE closer to work, but that means April has to commute further. Besides, I went to a Microsoft launch for Visual Studio 2005 in Sandy. It got out at 5:15 PM. It took another 30 minutes to get to the freeway. The entrance is about the same distance from my home, maybe a little more. The amount of traffic was horrendous. I got out of there thinking I would NOT want to live down here. Anyway, I plodded along I-215, lazily thinking about having a job close enough to walk to work. Maybe about a 20 or 30 minute walk. Enough to get some good excercise without taking too much time. There are a number of businesses that close, but none hiring for what I do. Still, it's a pleasant dream.

I missing Patrick's Cub Scout meeting, since I did not get home in time. His soccer team placed 6th, and plays a tournament tonight. He's Star of the Week for his class this week, which means he had to put a poster together of his favorite things, and tell about his family. I printed out a bunch of pictures for him to choose from. Oddly, I could not find one of the dog, or at least him and the dog. I took one last week of the dog and cat curled up together in the sun, but I haven't gotten it off the camera yet.

Christmas means lots of shipments. Not a big deal normally, but UPS will no longer just leave packages if we are not home. A shipment was lost early this year, so apparently we are required to sign for all packages they deliver. Again, not a big deal. Except they deliver only when we are not home. Someone has been here the majority of the time last week, except at 3 PM to pick up the kids from school. This is the time they try to deliver things. We requested they do not deliver during this time, and also to not deliver at all, but instead notify us to pick it up. So far, neither request has been heard.

April and I went out for our 11th anniversary. The plan was to do nothing much, because we always need to be somewhere or do something. We succeeded, which made for a great weekend. Carl Stark stopped by Sunday with the stocking makings for my kids, and an anniversary card from the crew of the Ticonderoga. Thanks, guys, that was great!

Favorite quote: "I like the Borg. They make the best bad guys." - Patrick, watching me play the Elite Force Demo

The battery is out on the scale, so I have no idea how much I weigh.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Stardate 59120.6
Aargh! (I still can hear "No, that's a different game". It's an inside joke I'll get to in a minute.) It's getting hard to be a Star Trek fan. Star Trek Enterprise is cancelled after only four seasons. Now Star Trek: Communicator has ceased publications. And this! No new TV series, no new movies, no publications, and possibly no official web site? What do I do online now?

Now to explain. It not all that funny, as retold stories often are. Back in 1987, I worked at a small games company doing all sorts of odd jobs. I list it on my resume' as 'Assistant Manager'. I burned EEPROMs for Nintendo and Atari ST, copied artwork for the game developers, and occasionally got to test games. When I messed up on something, I would always say 'Arrrgh!'. Not sure where I got it, probably from Charlie Brown or Monty Python (no, no, back of the throat). The company was finishing up a Rampage clone called Arrrgh! So everytime I said it, my manager Hal would say, 'No, that's a different game". See, I warned you it was not all that funny. Enough about my past, we now return you to the present, already in progress.

I went out to dinner at Sizzler with my dad on Monday. Service at the Bountiful location is getting poor. I have to ask at least twice for refills or A-1 steak sauce. Not sure where else to go, though.

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Monday, December 05, 2005


Stardate 59120.5
Rats, I messed up. The last entry was done offline with a text editor because the online version does not handle cascading style sheets. It puts a font directive in front of every line, which disables the style tag. Well, it's fixed now. Thanks to Carl Stark for pointing it out to me.

The Amazing Race had a pit stop at the downtown library in Salt Lake City. It was interesting seeing places I've been to many times on a network show. It was funny that the teams went from Heber City to Park City. All but one team took hwy 42. The Florida team, who complain and whine alot, and didn't like southern Utah, took hwy 92. If memory serves, this goes through the Alpine Loop. They are in a big SUV towing a RV trailer. That must have been fun to navigate.

There's a lot going on, but at the moment I can't remember it. Last Thursday I got a new boss. It's unclear whether the previous one quit or was let go. My opinion is that he quit. The evidence I have is that he came in two weeks ago and cleared his desk out, and the job he had would drive anyone insane. He was in Phoenix the last week, and was crowing about it being 72 degrees. I lived there a couple of years. It's 72 in the winter, but 115 in the summer. I remember watching weather reports that gave the next days' LOW as 101. The lower temperature was still three digits.

This has been making it's way around the net. I might as well do it to.
That's no moon..., wait, my mistake, it is a moon...

Yes, it's the moon Mimas. The full description is here.

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