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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