Thursday, July 30, 2009


You know. The ones that write about their cat on their blog.

Ugh! I can’t believe it either.

OK. I promise that this will not be a regular thing – but a little post will be OK right. I mean it’s just a taste really. It can’t possibly have any harm, and I’m sure I could stop writing about the cat any time I wanted to. It would be easy.

I started the morning wanting to write about our kitten Mystique. So I thought I should take a picture of her since she is growing so fast. Here is how she usually looks in the morning.

Yup. She’s pretty blurry in the morning all right. She’s so excited to have the people come out of the bedroom that she can’t hold still.

But I wanted everyone to see that her spots are becoming more distinct so I tried to bribe her with kitty snacks.

That worked briefly but then she went on to attack her second most favorite enemy. The dreaded tiny-stuffed-penguin! TUH-DUH-DUUUUUHHHHHHH!
Her attacks are classic pounce with claw-claw-bite attacks and if her claws hit she starts a grapple attack and if she succeeds in grabbing a hold she gets a free rake attack with her hind legs.

Her most favorite enemy though is socks that have feet in them. Feet alone aren’t good enough. Socks alone aren’t good enough. She mostly ignores both, but combine them in proper order and she’ll happily get to work stalking and attacking the socked-up feet.
Finally my lovely wife held her still long enough to get a fairly non-blurry picture of her. She’s a cute cat and so far there haven’t been any real problems with allergies – however, tonight she gets a bath since my wife is noticing a tickle in her throat. This breed is supposed to not hate water – so I am hoping to emerge from the bathroom without life threatening scratches.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I’ve been on FaceBook for almost two months now. I went there largely because of the strong recommendation of a friend I trust. He’s a convert to FB.

I am not.

I found FB to be bewildering at first but I quickly learned how to navigate the pages and to post my status updates. It was nice to be able to have “tag lines” that are more verbose than the single line in my Instant Messenger program. Plus I reconnected with friends that I haven’t seen since high school, and I was able to get David Lockes e-mails and even started an e-mail dialog with him. (FYI: David Locke is a local sports caster on 1320 KFAN)

I quickly discovered a number of FB games too. There was Mafia Wars, Pirates, Word Paths and others. In fact LOTS of others. In fact I had to quit looking for games there were so many.

I quit playing all the FB games about two weeks ago. They suffer from some common design flaws that I could no longer tolerate after the newness of the games themselves wore off.

My biggest complaint with the games I summarized in a comment on the Rabid Paladins site. I’ll repeat my comment on games here, but I recommend reading his blog for the full context. I have spell checked the version below but other wise I stated:

That is an excellent description of why I quit playing the FB games cold

1) I'm penalized for not playing every
day. The "encouragement" to play every day is that you loose abilities or
opportunities by not logging in to each game you signed up for every day.
That is the complete opposite of a casual game. Casual gaming doesn't
actually have requirements like that.

2) The PvP aspects of
people who play to game the system. I have refused multiple friend invites
from people I didn't know who just wanted to add me to their mafia or other
game. I am not on FB for that and I refuse to "friend" complete
strangers. This personal decision leaves me in an untenable position in
any PvP game - I am unable to amass a large enough crew to even complete some
tasks much less to defend myself against someone with 500 pseudo-friends.
The aggravation was much stronger than the fun I was having.

I went
into those games hoping for Trade Wars from the old BBS days but instead I got
PvP wack-a-mole.

No Thanks.

The other thing I can’t take any more on FB is the HUGE number of web quizzes. I have admitted to being a sucker for them – but FB has done the equivalent of poisoning the town water supply by making it so simple for anyone to create a quiz. The quizzes I used to take had many questions and clever results with often funny or at least amusing quotes. The FB quizzes are short, simple and often non-sensible. I’ve taken more quizzes on FB than ever before and more often than not I don’t publish the results on my home page because I thought it ended up stupid. Not just that I didn’t like the result of what color my aura was (for example) – but that I thought it was completely wrong without the faintest trace of anything resembling me.

The only thing I’ve kept from FB over the last several weeks then, is my home page. I do like that method of keeping in touch with people and being aware of what is going on with friends and family. I can read or ignore the home page depending on how social I am feeling. It’s social contact with an off switch I guess.

FB isn’t the end all be all that it is hyped up to be. I’m not going to delete my account but I’m happy to have cut my FB time way back from where I was a few weeks ago and I haven’t regretted the time spent doing other things in the least.

Friday, May 08, 2009


….To the first showing of Star Trek last night. They did a limited opening of the show yesterday and the full opening will be tonight. I was absolutely blown away. Go see it.

No really. Go see it.

This is a well paced action movie with extremely likeable characters, a hopeful attitude, and enough nods to the old time fans like me to make us quiver with joy. I saw the movie with a room full of other nerds, err…. fanboys…. well I guess those are all accurate after all. Let’s just call a Trekie and Trekie I guess. The fans last night seemed to love the show just as much as I did, but I strongly believe that even non-fans will really like this movie.

In fact I think even anti-fans – if they can put aside any prejudice and give the series reboot a try will find that this movie is full of life and hope and excitement and altogether is eminently enjoyable.

The first thing that struck me as the film progressed was how likeable the characters are. I remember why I liked Kirk, and Spock and McCoy so much and that comes through strongly in this show. It applies just as much to Sulu, Scottie, Uhura and Checkov too. I want to go have dinner with all of them because they seem like fun people with interesting personalities and just so….. likeable.

The next thing I noticed (OK this may actually be the first thing since one of the _VERY_ early sound effects is highly reminiscent of an old sound effect) is how faithful they were to the FEEL of Star Trek. The transporter sound, the ambient bridge noises, the red alert sirens were all modernized but based on the traditional sounds. Non fans won’t care but if you enjoyed the original series this will put you back in the mood. It goes beyond the sounds though to capturing the friendships between the leading characters and while it’s not strictly like the old days (you know what I mean if you’ve seen it) the budding friendship between the main three is absolutely true to form. And lets not forget to mention some absolutly histerical uses of key catch phrases.

The SFX. WOW. Amazing. There are two absolutely standout shots of the Enterprise that keep replaying in my mind. One in the atmosphere of Titan with Saturn in the background and one at the final battle that keep replaying in my brain. SOOOOOOOOO COOOOOOOL. The new Enterprise is amazing and I’m totally falling back into my fanboy….err trekie mode aren’t I? Maybe I’d better stop for a minute and take a deep breath….

…. OK I’m better now.

Speaking of new the look and feel of the technology has all be updated to look futuristic again but still retain enough of the old feel to be right. The hand phasers for example are really good looking. I may have to get a replica. But they look like phasers. The Enterprise has slightly changed lines but it looks like the Enterprise. The bridge looks WAY less like cardboard and plywood but it still feel like the bridge is supposed to.

The movie is full of action, and humor, and drama. The pacing is a skillful blend of all these elements to keep movie goers from being bored at all. The acting is well done and consistent. The characters have believable motives and internal consistency in both themselves and in their interactions with others. I’ll say it again and what I say three times believe.

Go see it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


My lovely wife is able to do the most amazing things with cake. She has a history of making amazing cakes. This year for the oldest boys birthday she made a Rock Band cake in the shape of the Rock Band guitar controller.

It's amazing. One of the cool things about this cake was that the youngest boy helped roll out the fondant. It was his first time ever working on a cake like that and he did a WAY better job with the fondant than I did my first time touching it.

I've noticed lately, that he is very interested in helping with anything in the kitchen. We may have a budding chef on our hands.

The game group also got a cake for my birthday along with Rabid Paladin and Coyotes birthdays.

This one was also a Rock Band theme but in this case was the drum controllers.

Monday, March 30, 2009


OK. Here is a selection of pictures from our trip. Since it was 29 degrees this morning and snow covered everything when I left the house the pictures look extra warm today. I wouldn't mind being back in 80 degree highs and 65 degree lows again.

These will be presented in somewhat chronological order with my comments along the way.

The first night in Orlando we went to Downtown Disney. After dinner we wandered the shops. They have a Lego store there with, like, every Lego in existence. Plus quite a few giant Lego sculptures. Here I am next to a life sized Lego clone trooper.

The next morning saw us off to the Magic Kingdom. This picture didn't turn out as well as I had hoped but heck, it's got that princess castle thing in the background so you know for sure where we were. Plus, it looks really warm there and I'm cold today.

The next day we were at Disney Hollywood. This is from the lobby of the Tower of Terror. You can see the cool shirt that got us an extra all-lines-bypassed ride on the Tower after one of the cast members working there saw me wearing it.

Look its warm!

Here we are indulging our inner geeks (ummm.... yeah OK you got me there, plus our outer geeks and pretty much our whole entire being as geeks) on the Star Tours ride. Note C3-P0 in the background.

Dinner at Le Cellier in Epcot ended with a fantastic Creme Brulee. Here is is half eaten after I realized I should take a picture of the cute decorations they made for us.

Here is the decoration our housekeepers made for us after they found out it was an anniversary trip.

Finally, this picture is just for fun. There were tons of people wearing character hats. They have just the very top of whatever character the hat is for. The top part of Stitch, the top parts of Chip and or Dale, the top parts of Donald Duck or Goofy. Every time I saw people wearing these hats I just kept thinking of Belkar, from Order of the Stick. Why? Well he has a habit of making his own hats, see.

Here I am in full Belkar mode.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


This is the summary of the vacation trip we just took. IT’s longer than usual. I’ll have pictures online later this week since they are being developed. The to long/didn’t read version of this post is: Disney World was awesome. For details….. well, just keep reading.

Our first evening there we had arrived in the late afternoon. Since we had a 3 day hopper pass we were going to save the park access for the full days we were there so instead we hopped a shuttle bus down to an area called Downtown Disney. It’s basically an open air mall with lots of shops, restaurants, a movie theater, and upscale stores. There are even some night clubs out on the far end but we never went that far down. Our goal at Downtown Disney was to eat. Jana had found a website for a restaurant called Raglan Road pub. It’s an authentic style Irish place and the menu looked fantastic. This was a great meal. We started with the calamari and tempura veggies. They served malt vinegar with it and that was wonderful. Then I had the steak and Jana had the roasted chicken. Her dish was awesome as it came with a wonderful spinach sauce. For desert we had some toffee over ice cream. All in all that was a pretty good meal.

After heading back to the hotel and managing to sleep on a double bed we made arrangements to move to a room with a king size bed. Disney service is wonderful – they agreed to move all our baggage and all we had to do was stop in later after visiting the parks and find out our new room. Then we were off to Magic Kingdom. We did the usual MK stuff and had a ball riding the rides. I _may_ have been a little spazy but I really like riding rides. It’s a great way to play with your inner five year old. This time I didn’t manage to break very many rides at all – although the notable exception was Splash Mountain. We picked up a fast pass for Splash Mountain and rode Big Thunder Railroad then came back to Splash Mountain to find out it was broken. I was bummed since that is one of my favorite rides. I love not only the ride but also how non-PC it is. They could never tell a story like that anymore.

We also picked up our Happy Anniversary badges as we entered the park. I love the celebration badges. We wore them each day and had lots of people say “happy anniversary” to us. You can pick up badges for birthdays, anniversaries, family reunions, just married, and a generic “I’m celebrating” badge just by asking the Disney guys at city hall for them.

For dinner we headed over to Epcot and wandered the pavilions. We settled on trying the Biergarten restaurant in the Germany pavilion. This ended up being my least favorite meal during the trip. They serve a buffet style meal and you share tables with other diners. The floor show was quite amusing since they do an Oktoberfest thing and they had a live band teaching German songs and getting the crowd into the act. The food though suffered from all buffet style problems – the best item on the menu was the bratwurst and I could have ordered that from the little restaurant out front instead of paying a ton for the big restaurant in back. The schnitzel was pretty good too and I did eat a LOT of food. So that does make up for some of the lack of quality.

Back at the hotel we checked at the front desk and got our new room. YAY! The king size bed was much more comfortable. It is reported that I spoke in my sleep that night about “the sampo”. Jana said she was amazed that I didn’t wake up because of how much she was laughing. You’ll have to get the full story from her though. I was asleep.

The next morning we were off to Disney Hollywood. This has two of my very favorite rides at Walt Disney World. The Tower of Terror and the Aerosmith rollercoaster. We picked up a fast pass for the tower and went to stand in line for the coaster. The wait was about an hour for that ride but we are smart travelers and had snacks and books in our bag. Before long we were off on the ride. Then we returned to the tower to use our passes. This is a great ride and I love it, it’s just to bad how short the ride is. As we were getting off one of the Disney employees working there came up and asked to see my shirt. I was wearing my Mystery Science Theater 3000 shirt featuring Dr. Forrester with big green words that said “I’m Evil”. He thought it was really funny and asked us if we wanted to ride the tower ride again. We said something like HECK YEAH and he took us back through the employee access elevator right to the start of the line and put us right back on the ride. That was way cool. I love the Disney attitude.

Later that night we headed back to Epcot for dinner. We were thinking of trying the Italian place but learned that they were fully booked up for both that day and the next day. After wandering about some of the other pavilions we decided we would try the steak house in the Canada pavilion called Le Cellier. And let me tell you that ended up being the best choice of the whole trip. Jana had the green salad to start and I had the Seafood salad. Mine was amazing we both enjoyed it. There were big pieces of Crab and Mussel in the salad and the dressing was wonderful. Next I had the Filet Mignon with mushroom risotto and a white truffle sauce and Jana had the Chicken Coq au Vin. Both dishes were wonderful. I especially liked the risotto Рthey used a lovely nutty type of mushroom in the mixture and it really set off the taste of the steak well. Our waitress was very attentive and friendly and learned we were there for our anniversary. (The badges we were wearing may have been a clue.) And when we ordered the Maple Cr̬me Brulee for desert she brought it out with the plate all decorated with the words Happy 1st Anniversary and a little Mickey Mouse head. Plus she brought out a little award certificate for us to take home. It was amazingly thoughtful. Plus the Brulee was PERFECT. It was a fantastic meal. And our server earned both a big tip and a follow up e-mail to her management saying what wonderful service we had.

Once we were fully sated we decided that we had a little time left so we hoped onto the monorail back to the Magic Kingdom. We thought that we could probably get onto Splash Mountain during the parade since the lines would be shorter. Jana was a little worried about getting cold since the sun had gone down but I reassured her that I hardly ever get wet on this ride. A little splash is all. Well…. The lines were short all right and we were soon on the ride. The log before us got DRENCHED so I thought for sure we were going to be fine. But we were soon in the exact same place as the log before us had been when I heard the click of the log at the top of the flume starting it’s drop. Oh crap. I’m about to get us both soaked. It was like being under a fire hose. I had never gotten so wet on this ride before. I managed to crack up the people in the seat before us by saying “don’t worry honey we won’t get wet” as we were trying to wring the water out of our hair and clothes.

The last day we went to Disneys Animal Kingdom. This is a perfect park to wind down in since it’s less crowded than the others and it features several nice walking trails that you can take at your own pace. This was important since both of our feet were starting to be tired of all the standing in line. This also features two really good rides, the Kali River rapids and the Expedition Everest coaster. We picked up a fast pass for the rapids and went on the coaster. It’s a really fun ride, kind of like the Matterhorn but more in the dark, and has some sort of corkscrew inside. It also features a part of the ride where you go backwards.

After that we went on the rapids ride. We both had a lot of fun quoting me from the previous day “don’t worry I hardly ever get wet on this ride”. Of course we did get wet – but it was not as wet as we did on Splash Mountain. Jana bought a skirt to change into after the ride and the sun quickly dried us both out. We enjoyed a more leisurely day at this park and after some consideration decided to just eat here as well. There are two nice sit down places in AK and we chose to eat at the one in the Asia area called Yak and Yeti. We had the pan seared pot stickers to start that came with really nice soy and lime sauce. Next I had the Miso Salmon and Jana had the Honey Chicken. They were both really good with strong flavors balanced out with the Jasmine rice. Desert was also really good there, we had the fried wontons that are stuffed with cream cheese and come on a skewer with grilled pineapple and a cream and vanilla drizzle. I think they should have served a pineapple sorbet with it instead of the vanilla ice cream but it was still a great desert.

The trip ended the next day as we had to get up at oh-my-heck-o’clock to get on the bus to head back to the airport. The weather was universally good for us with 80 degree days and gentle breezes. We left a ton of restaurants behind us that we still need to try so we’ll be heading back there again. I think I can speak for both of us when I say that the Walt Disney World parks have become our favorite place to vacation.

Monday, March 09, 2009


OK. I know I've said this before. And I know I'm just confirming what a nerd I am by bringing this up again, BUT....

The new Star Trek movie looks so good, that I am bouncing in my seat wishing it was time for it to be released already. On Friday they released the third trailer for the show. I'll wait. It's worth your time to see it.

There. See what I mean? Amazing. The one line keeps echoing in my head this morning. "Your father was the captain of a starship for 12 minutes. He saved over 800 lives, including yours. I dare you to do better." It gives me shivers, and so does the scene of Kirk sitting in the captains chair on the bridge.

I love the idea of adding depth to the characters and I hope that they pull it off so well that the franchise is rebooted successfully. This is one of my all time favorites and I'm definitely an old school Treker who is much more fond of TOS (the Original Series for those not used to the abbreviations) than the newer ones. I love the idea of a remake that creates a powerful drama to go along with the action and excitement of the final frontier.

Plus I really really hope that the music they used in the third trailer is part of the actual movie score too. I've loved the sound effects from previous trailers including the correct sound for the transporters and the red alert sirens but the music from this latest one was dramatic and powerful and set off the frantic pace of the trailer very well. I hope it's in the finished product.

I'd be surprised if this is the last time this movie is mentioned on these pages.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Well, I'm not sure how to admit this but I created a Facebook account.

Yeah, yeah, I know I've grumped about how it is just for kids and how there is no reason to get one. Well I caved in anyway, since there is a word puzzle game on Facebook that I really want to try playing.

I've created my account - sent some friend invitations out to people I recognized after it dug through all my e-mail addresses and now I'm looking at a home page that is bewildering.

Who are all these other people it thinks I might know?

How come it's not a friendly happy picture like other users?

Where is the tamagotchi kitty thing my wife has to keep logging in to feed?

Most, importantly, where is the darn word paths word puzzle I came here looking for?

Maybe I was right and this is for kids - am I hitting the stage of life where it's just to hard to figure out some weird new application like this. Also, am I supposed to talk with people here? Mostly I just want to check it out. Even after signing up I still can't figure out not just what to do here, but the more important question of what I WANT to do here.

I guess I'll play with it for a day or two and see if it's worth keeping or if I should just delete the darn thing and give up on word paths.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


I've been happily making my way through my pile of Christmas books. I've had a few digressions as I started to reread the P.I. Garrett novels (which I HIGHLY recommend) and I had to detour into buying two extra Space Opera books so that I wouldn't start with book 3 in a series. (They were The Myriad and Wolf Star by RM Melouch, I can recommend these to but only if you like space operas. I'll be reading book 3 The Sagittarius Command next.)

One of the books in my pile kept drifting down even though it was very favorably recommended by two of my book loving friends. My problem with it was that my lovely wife mentioned to me that she had a hard time finding it because it was filed in the romance section instead of with fantasy.

I can't imagine why, I mean just look at that cover. The long flowing hair. The intertwined vines. The red lips. The cover art just screams....... well OK, it does look like a romance cover. Just see for your self.

Poison Study, though, is a terrific adventure story set in a unique fantasy world. Maria Snyder has created an all new type of magic use and set it in a vibrant kingdom that recently went through a military coup. Our heroine is set on a path as a condemned murderer as the new food tester for the supreme military commander which sets up a plot of intrigue, adventure, discovery, and yes, even romance.

I'll refrain from saying more about this except for: 1) Go read this book. You'll love it and 2) I just put the sequel Magic Study on my list of books to get.

And finally: 3) I promise not to hesitate to read a good book just because it is shelved in the romance section. A good book holds its own regardless of what people try to categorize it as. In my opinion I would have never placed it on a romance shelf but I can see why it is there. Where ever they put it in your bookstore, Romance or Fantasy go ahead and give this one a try. I'm sure you'll like it.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Well the chaos and work of the holidays has passed and it's back to work time now. I loved having the boys over and we took them and one of their friends sledding and to several parties and in general had a great time.

The aftermath consists of looking at houses, wondering if we can sell our current house, cleaning up, shoveling out (a LOT of shoveling out), and enjoying the presents from Christmas.

The "to be read" pile at the side of my bed is much larger thanks to Christmas gifts from my kids and sweetie. I have plenty to read for the next few weeks. I was uncertain about one set of books but they have turned out to be fairly fun. It is Dog Days, and New Tricks by John Levitt.

I've never heard of this author before and wasn't sure what they would be like. I have found that in the urban fantasy genre it is really hard to pick out good new authors. But it did have a cute puppy on the cover so I started in with the first book.

For most of the first book I liked the story well enough and I do like the (mystical) puppy Lou, but I thought it was fairly predictable and uninspired. It had a Mr. brooding semi-bad boy hero and a collection of characters around him and most of the usual tropes of an UF style story in it. It was pleasant and comfortable to read.

Until the end when it surprised me. I don't often get surprised much by stories and maybe I just wasn't paying enough attention but the plot twist near the conclusion of Dog Days got me and that made all the difference in the world in my opinion of the book. The twist was of a personal enough nature to the protagonist that I started to actually care about him and his responses to the event.

When I was done with that one I started in on the second book, New Tricks. I've enjoyed it as well to. I was very glad to see that the emotional burdens shouldered in the first book remained and I could see the protagonist changing in believable ways. I liked that. He's still Mr brooding semi-bad boy (which may be a requirement in UF and probably appeals to certain segments of the reading population (read: girls)) but he's a much more likable character now.

I haven't been surprised (yet) by anything in New Tricks but I can recommend the stories. They aren't for young readers since there are adult themes in the books, but I was glad to see the situations handled with tact and discretion. That makes a delightful and welcome change to many of the urban fantasy books of late. Besides, they co-star a cute little (mystical) puppy dog. What isn't to like?

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