Sunday, October 28, 2007

When things just work...

My computer would not print today. All day, printer jobs just got stuck in the queue on my eMac and would not get sent to the printer. I restarted my Mac. I power-cycled the router. I hooked the printer up to another port on the router. I tried and re-tried, and finally I went on to other things.

Then tonight I could not connect to my shared iTunes library from my wife's iBook. Odd. I could also not connect to my computer's shared drives on our network. Double odd. So I checked the DHCP Client Table in our router from the iBook and only three devices were found: the printer, the Wii, and the computer I was using. I went back to my eMac, which could send and receive data over TCP/IP, entered the IP of our router, and it could not locate it. I literally said to my wife, "My computer can connect to the internet but our router doesn't know it's connected to the network."

You probably already know what was wrong. Well, it took me a few more minutes to realize that my eMac had, sometime in the morning, disconnected from our LAN and hooked itself up to an open WiFi network in our building. I ran to my eMac, connected it to our LAN, and BAM! Everything works.

It's sort of like beating a boss level, wouldn't you say?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Leopard Line

So last night I had kind of a surreal experience. I'm no stranger to line-ups for release events, having spent a few days in line for Star Wars Episode I, camping outside overnight for Episode II, as well as several other movie-related lines. I often find that I meet interesting people in these kinds of lines, because we are all there for some (relatively) obscure common purpose. I waited for hours in the back of a Wal-Mart for the release of the Nintendo GameCube, and met some very cool people in the process.

But last night was the first time I waited in line for what was, ultimately, just a T-shirt.

Apple computer's new operating system, OS X version 10.5 (codenamed Leopard by the company) was released at 6pm yesterday, and even though I was not planning to buy it since my wife and I hope to buy a new computer in the spring, which will come with the new OS installed, I wanted to wait in line for it anyway. So I hopped on down to the local Apple Store at 5:30 where, to my great surprise, there were already about a hundred people in line.

My surprise was due to the fact that this was not a movie premiere or the new hottest Christmas toy, but a computer operating system. I had no idea so many people would show up, but such is the power of the Apple Hype Machine (see also: Steve Jobs' Reality Distortion Field). I did, in fact, meet some cool people in line as well, not to mention a few of my students from school who managed to get a spot right near the front. Lucky them. :)

The doors to the store were opened promptly at 6pm to the cheers of many Apple employees and customers, and people began filing in to get a peek at the new whiz-bang OS as well as a free T-shirt. I did both, and as I write this while proudly displaying my wearable Apple advertisement (or, more accurately, my badge of nerdery), I gotta say that it was indeed a pretty cool time altogether.

I apologize for the crudity of the video clip, but it gives you an idea of the extent of the line. This was about 5:50, and I'm guessing there were about 200 people there.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Rundown

A brief overview of the sodas I have been drinking since giving up caffeine* last spring, in no particular order:

Caffeine Free Pepsi: Not bad, really. Tastes nearly identical to regular Pepsi, except for a slightly odd aftertaste that kind of sticks in one's mouth.

Caffeine Free Coke: Very similar to regular Coke. Goes well with Gummi Bears.

Squirt: Excellent soda. Unfortunate name. Has the added benefit of fewer grams of sugar compared to most of its soda counterparts, as well as a slightly tangy Grapefruit flavor.

7up: Produces the most BPCs (Burps Per Can) out of nearly any pop. Clean, refreshing taste.

Cherry 7up: Not bad, really, but it does get on my nerves after a little while. 7up has kind of an absence of flavor, whereas this is kind of sweet and cherry-ish, so it goes out of style quicker.

Sierra Mist: Very similar in taste to 7up, but a tad sweeter. Has a significantly lower BPC rating, so all things considered, best stick to 7up.

Cranberry Sierra Mist: Didn't know it existed either, did you? Odd. Give it a shot and you'll probably dig it.

A&W Root Beer: Highest BPC rating of any pop on the planet. Try drinking an entire can without letting one out, in under two minutes, and you will wish you hadn't. Best served with two large scoops of Vanilla ice cream.

A&W Cream Soda: Not caffeine free. Weird, eh? I didn't know it either.

Sunkist Cherry Limeade: The surprise of the bunch. It's very flavorful without being overly sugary (most fruity pops, like Orange or Grape, have tons, or perhaps I should say, grams, of sugar).

Caffeine Free Mountain Dew: The one that started it all, thanks to a suggestion from my big brother, that I almost entirely ignored, several years ago. It tastes kind of like a slightly salty version of its high-octane brother.

On an entirely unrelated note, if you have an interest in handmade Chain Maille, hop on over to my friend Joe's livejournal. He makes Chain Maille and has several good pieces up for sale)

*Every now and then I do have a caffeinated soda, but yeah, for all intents and purposes, I'm clean

Dancing the Night Away

Several firsts, or at least notables, happened this weekend. Early Friday morning we left for Philadelphia (or, as the locals apparently call it, "Philly") for a wedding. I have never been to that part of the United States before, though I have spent time on other parts of the East Coast. We got in around 11am and took a shuttle over to the Hertz office to rent a car--also a first for me. My parents once rented a car when we flew to Florida in the 80s, but I have never done it myself, and neither had my wife. We pre-booked, or whatever it's called, a vehicle several weeks ago and even got a discount using our Costco card, and as we arrived at the counter we eagerly awaited our "Ford Focus or similar." What we ended up with was a 2008 Chevy Cobalt, which was, to be honest, not all that impressive of a vehicle. It was fun to drive around, though, and drive it we did, right to the mall for some lunch. We ate at a place called The Cheesecake Factory which, I found out, is more like a Green Mill than a dessert assembly line, as its name would imply. An hour and a half, and a quick stop at our Hotel to change, later, and we were on our way to Saint Philip of Nerie church for the ceremony.

All in all the wedding, and its subsequent reception, were very enjoyable. It was cool to see the bride and her family, and the people we sat with for dinner were really fun to talk to. I'm generally not a big fan of dancing, but the DJs were outstanding and the music was a great mix of oldies and current pop-ish tunes which lent themselves rather well to a wedding reception.

Once again, our friend Sarah picked us up from the airport and we spent the rest of the day with her and her boyfriend, playing Wii Sports, going to look for a movie to buy, and making delicious homemade calzones. Thanks for a great Saturday, you two. :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Costco Size Me

Sometimes I overdo it. I mean, really. Like, ok, today I was at Costco and purchased an eight-pound jug of popcorn. Eight pounds. It's literally the size of a gallon of milk. It seemed like such a good idea at the time because, well, because I really like making homemade popcorn (mostly thanks to a cool popcorn maker my wife's friend got us for our wedding). But eight pounds? Sheesh. It will probably last me until I retire.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Raining on my Padre?

Much of this summer was in a rather prolonged drought, thus putting a damper on one of my favorite summertime activities: experiencing the rain. I don't mean running around in thunderstorms, but enjoying it however possible, whether going for a drive in the deluge, falling asleep to the sounds of droplets hitting the windowpanes, or watching the aftereffects of such showers develop such as the swelling of lakes and ponds. But like I said, this summer was fairly dry, so not a lot of that goin' on around here. Or pretty much anywhere in the Midwest.

So it has been my great delight to witness the return of the rains these past several days. It has rained intermittently for quite some time now, and today the skies wept for nearly the entire day. I know it might seem trite to write about the rains on the plains, but I do greatly enjoy it when the Lord refreshes His creation. It's also nice to think that the cement splash guards outside my parents' home, in which my brothers and I embedded several rocks so as to scatter the water as it exits the downspouts, are still hanging in there.

Now if only I had a sandbox and the leaves from a linden tree from which I might fashion a rain gauge.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Gifts Unlooked-For

First of all, mega-thanks to Sarah and her parents for letting me use their garage to change the oil in our Toyota yesterday. I have grown to appreciate our apartment in the last year that we have lived here, but I do miss having our own space to work on cars, and in the meantime, I greatly appreciate being able to do car work at places like Sarah's dad's garage. Also, my cousin Matt has always been willing to let me use his space (and tools, when I need them) to do simple things like change the oil or a tire. And when bigger repairs are needed, he helps me with them or just does them himself. So yeah, thanks a lot, guys. And this goes tenfold for my dad who taught me lots of stuff about auto maintenance and always lets me use his garage when we're down in Lincoln for a visit. Sometimes he even works on our cars without me asking him to. Wow, Dad. Thank you. :)

So last night my cousin Beth came over with her boyfriend and the four of us had a great time eating lasagna (homemade, using a recipe from my wife's friend), playing Wii (Rayman Raving Rabbids and Wii Sports), and eating DQ ice cream. It's always nice to spend time with family, as anyone who reads this blog knows, and I'm glad that we get to see Beth and other relatives as often as we do. In fact, tonight we're going to the aforementioned Matt's house for his birthday. I think he turns 26, but I've always been bad with numbers like this. I do know that his birthday is the day before my brother Phil's, and Phil's is one day before Mark's (an old friend from high school).

Today I got a nice surprise in the mail: not one, but two hoodies from my in-laws. I let my wife's mother borrow my hoodie several months ago, and wasn't expecting to get it back until we see them in November, so that was pretty cool. On top of that, though, was a brand-new hoodie she bought me as a thank-you gift for helping them with some computer stuff lately. I'm going to send them a note, but I thought I would thank them publicly on my blog too. Thanks!

Time to finish my hot chocolate and get to work on some stuff.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Easy Money

When DVDs first became popular, I thought it rather pretentious how people had a tendency to mention that they owned, or had even seen, a given movie "On DVD!". I did not see what the big deal was, possibly because I had no DVD player of my own for a very long time. I honestly could not tell the difference between DVD and VHS, and to be honest, the apparent snobbery of DVD player owners left such a bitter taste in my mouth that I had no desire to own one.

In the subsequent years, however, as more and more people began purchasing those new-fangled disc players to replace their aging tape machines, I started to not only notice the myriad improvements that DVD had over VHS, I realized I could actually tell the difference. And now in a Winston/Big Brother way either. Here's what I mean...

I own some movies on VHS and have watched them dozens of times. Jurassic Park, Terminator 2, Alien, Aliens, Alien 3...heck, even the original Star Wars trilogy. And for years they have served me just fine. But as I slowly replace these tapes with their new circular counterparts, I realize just how much better the DVD format is.

So what's the point? Most of you already know that DVDs are better than VHS tapes. Well, tonight I sat down to watch Terminator 2 on DVD, having purchased it a few months ago in the $5 bin at Wal-Mart.

Oh. My.

Talk about a moment of clarity, man. Or, rather, twenty-four moments of clarity every second. I'm hearing things I never heard. I'm seeing details I never knew were there. It's like watching an entirely new movie. Seriously, it was that cool. And to all those people I used to think were snobs, well, maybe they were right all along. Now if only I could get my hands on my brother's sweet Blu-Ray player...

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Kapow! Fwoosh! Zingg!

Most of you know I'd take summer over winter any day ("you don't have to shovel the heat!"), but since it is autumn and the leaves are flashing warning beacons that change is on its way, I thought I'd put together a quick list of things that I do like about this time of year...

• Guilt-free evenings spent indoors
• Hot chocolate. Many times per day.
• The colors. As Hobbes once said, "The trees are like natures own fireworks display."
• The imminence of Thanksgiving and Christmas
• Wearing my new leather jacket. :)
• Turning the heat *way* up in my car on the drive to work
• Using a space heater (Thanks, Sarah!) to keep me warm at work
• The crisp air. I don't know how else to describe it.
• Remembering the October 1997 snowstorm. Lucas, if you're reading this, I probably should have taken you up on the offer of a ride in your gigantic Impala rather than walking home.
• Going to my parents house and sitting in the living room with a fire going. It may be trash, it may be wood, it may be both. But it sure is comfy.

Friday, October 05, 2007


I just got off the phone with a nice guy from GameInformer magazine. I forget his name (I always try to get the names of people whenever I call Customer Service) but he helped me renew my subscription for two more years (one year less than what John Hammond would have preferred, no doubt). I was tempted to let him know how good his magazine was, especially when compared to its peers, but I'm guessing he would have thought me kind of odd for doing so. Not that I would have minded, but I guess I just figured there wasn't a whole lot of a point to it. But anyway, if you are at all interested in video games, you really should check out GI. I don't know why I felt the need to plug their mag on my blog, but, well, why not?

It rained again last night, and though the precipitation is a tad overdue (could'a used it two months ago) it's still good to see the earth being replenished as often as it has been lately. Apparently we're not done with autumn yet, and even though many Minnesotans are itching to get out their skis and snowmobiles, I'm perfectly happy without snow, probably because I mostly grew up in Lincoln, where any amount of the dusty white powder meant a possible school closing. Not that it happened all too often, but every now and then...

Ok, time to bust outta here.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Ah, that crazy Burt Ward...

My wife said the word "defunct" tonight. Now, in and of itself, the utterance of a given word would not be of note. However, this one, or, more accurately, its genesis in my personal lexicon, has always been imprinted on me thanks to an odd TV experience I had many years ago, probably when I was in middle school.

I first heard the word "defunct" on an episode of Batman--a rerun of the campy 60's television show that chronicled the deeds of derring-do by the dark knight and his occasionally trusty, but more often simply expository, side kick, Robin. The Dynamic Duo had, once again, escaped from the clutches of another nefarious villain, most likely at the end of the first in a two-part episode. No doubt they had found a sneaky way out of some kind of elaborate, but fully explained, trap set by said villain, as Robin was exclaiming, while gesticulating wildly, that if such-and-such had not happened, they would both be "devoured and defunct." Now, the first in that alliterated couplet may not have been "devoured," but it was some kind of d-word that meant something to the effect of the two of them no longer being among the living. Possibly it was "defiled," or "destroyed," but in any case, the second word was, sans doute, defunct.

To which Batman, as was oft his wont, proclaimed "That's it!" The villain's lair, he had deduced while Robin was briefly pontificating, was inside "the defunct seventh-street reservoir!"

Holy hole in a donut, Batman. Linguistics and comic book action. What more could one ask of a TV show?

(edit: last night before bed I remembered that Batman and Robin were in a trap involving a giant teapot that was slowly tipping over and which would, in so many minutes, suffocate the heroes under a deluge of boiling liquid while they sat immobilized in (what else?) a giant teacup. Robin's first word, upon describing the trap, was, of course, "drowned." Odd how I can remember all that, but not where I put my car keys...)