Saturday, January 31, 2009

Super Bowl

I'm on of those people who generally thinks the commercials are the best part of the Super Bowl. I'm particularly interested in seeing this years commercials. I assume that the current economic crisis (what is the official term people are using? Downturn? Gigantic Correction?) will produce a different crop of ads then we're used to seeing. Will they be more subdued? Funnier? Will it be 90% beer companies? I assume the auto companies won't be advertising. Will Go Daddy do it's traditional risque ad?

Last year's Super Bowl was truly one for the ages, I'm not expecting anything as exciting this year. I think part of my apathy stems from the fact that I kind of feel like I've already seen the best football game of the year (Go Utes!)

Mostly I'm trying to avoid getting blamed for a Pittsburgh loss...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Thirteenth Tale

As I have mentioned I have a goal to read four books a month. It looks like I'm going to make it this month, though only by using the "counting one book as two" methodology. The first book was "Holidays on Ice" by David Sedaris, which I believe I already talked about. The second book was "The Thirteenth Tale". My wife is reading it for her book club next month and she enjoyed it so much that she wanted me to read it. It was about the right length and looked like a quick read so I took it on.

The basic premise is that an author who has never told the true story of her childhood is about to die and so she decides to finally come clean. Her choice of biographer is unusual. She selects a young girl who works with her father in a rare book store, and has done only a few amateur biographical articles, but something connects the two of them and the young women begins to record her story. Obviously there several twists and turns in the story. I can't say too much more without giving away critical aspects of the story. But it was a good read, if there were a sequel I'd pick it up.

As far as the third (and fourth) book, it's an audio book and I'm about 45 minutes from the end so you'll have to wait until Thursday or Friday for me to talk about it.

I really need to start these earlier

Monday, January 26, 2009


-First the word "miscellany" is there anyone out there who doesn't think the British pronunciation of this word is 10 or 20 times better than the American?

-I woke up successfully at 6 am this morning and felt pretty good. Part of the reason for waking up at 6 is so that I can be to work by 7:30, unfortunately this morning I spent the first hour I was up shoveling some very heavy snow. It was good to get it taken care of, but hopefully every morning won't be like that.

-I discovered, shortly after arriving at work, that we had gone from using 3 MBPS (MegaBits per Second) at our data center to using over 20, within the last week. We figured out who it was and we're probably just going to pass the costs along, but it was still quite a shock.

-I've decided to just start leaving my car at work, so that I don't have to guess if I'm going to need it and decide whether to drive over in the morning, I can just walk to work every morning and if something comes up, then my car is right there.

-After much deliberation I've decided that I will count some books as more than 1, and in fact I'm going to make it even more complicated than I initially said. Any fiction book over 750 pages counts as two and any non-fiction book over 500 counts double as well (and if it's over 1000 then it would count as 3...)

-The kids are watching "Chuck" and they really like it, even my 5 year old daughter...

Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-That's all folks!

Friday, January 23, 2009

World of Warcraft

I have never been that big of a WoW player, at least not compared to many of the people I know. The highest level I've ever made it to is 46, which if you're familiar with the game is nothing. (The level cap is 80 and levels 70-80 take as long as the rest of the levels put together, or so they say, obviously I wouldn't know). In fact I canceled my account and went without for five or six months (and should have canceled it six months before that given how I wasn't playing). But a variety of circumstances brought me back...

The first was that one of my business partners moved to Portland (actually a town just across the river from Portland that's actually in Washington.) We used to have an "Executive Meeting" every Saturday Morning, but with him in another state that was no longer possible. Secondly the other business partner had not ceased to bug me about playing together some night (which we had done for quite a while over a year ago). Also I had go essentially without playing any video games except for work (I know a very weird concept but you'll have to trust me on that) for many moons and I was ready to start playing again. Finally "Wrath of the Lich King" had just been released. So the solution to all these problems was to start a Friday night game with the two other partners where we would play WoW in a group and have our "Executive Meeting" at the same time.

So that's what I'm doing right now (I'm on follow) and it's actually worked out surprisingly well. A long time ago I read this chess book by, I want to say Alekhine, I only remember one thing from the book, but it's stuck with me, he mentioned that everytime you move a piece you want to accomplish as much as possible with each move. So ideally you'd want to protect one of your pieces, threaten one of their pieces, firm up your strength in the center of the board, make room for other pieces to develop, etc. Now translating this into non-chess terms this mostly just means multi-tasking, and anything more than that may just be me looking for some weird rationalization. But I've always felt that there was a level to that idea beyond just frenetically multi-tasking. That perhaps there's a way to do things in a way that maximizes the benefit and enjoyment you get out of any activity. It could be combining exercise with watching the program you're never able to catch, or combining exercise with getting the time outdoors you never seem to have time for. I don't know if you get my point, or if I even have a point, but there there it is...

My personal favorite is to combine regret for the past, anxiety about the future, and paralyzation in the present moment.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Well, today was going to be my first day on the new schedule (waking up at 6 am as I mentioned yesterday). Unfortunately I came down with something last night and ended up awake at 4:00 hunched over the toilet puking. It's just not my winter. Fortunately it appears that this was just a short term thing and I only threw up the one time and other than a headache I'm feeling pretty good right now. So hopefully tomorrow will be the day.]

On a completely unrelated note, I'm looking forward to watching "The Daily Show" again now that Bush is no longer in office. Perhaps I'm making a hasty generalization, but anytime I tried watching the Daily Show over the last few years it was almost entirely one-sided. I felt like I was watching that episode of "The Simpsons" where Homer gets a job standing in for Krusty the Clown and he's at the opening of a Krustyburger and the Krustyburglar comes by and Home is so enraged by the idea of burgers being stolen that he attacks the Krustyburglar and beats the holy crap out of him, and one of the kids in the crowd comes forward and, in between sobs, begs Homer to "Stop. Stop. He's already dead!" Two years into his second term and that's how "The Daily Show" started to feel.

But I think the long beating is beginning to come to an end. This clip in particular was very encouraging. Not sure what Colbert is going to do, I'm cautiously optimistic there as well, though it's entirely possible that without Bush to galvanize the left that his show won't be a successful. I've heard that conservative media enjoyed a huge boom during the Clinton years and I wonder if Olbermann and the like are going to suffer from a dip in viewership and popularity. Anyway I've probably wandered around aimlessly in the post for long enough.

After about the 40th one saltines start to get old

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


One thing the holidays completely screwed up was my sleeping schedule. This is not to say that I'm now staying up until 4 am and sleeping until 2 or anything like that, but I am sleeping later than I want and not napping very often. So I'd like to get back to waking up early and taking naps. Part of the impetus for this is that I'd like to be into the office every day by 7:30. This gives me 30-45 minutes to get settled and get set up before anyone bugs me (there's another guy who comes in right after dropping his wife off for work at 8:00.) And obviously if I'm not waking up until 7:30 that's not going to happen.

I would also like to exercise in the morning as well. One might think that now that I'm playing squash, morning exercise could be done away with, but I think it's even more important to cross train a little bit and to also do some strength training and stretching. When you combine arriving at work at 7:30 with morning exercise and the showering and other stuff I have to do I pretty much have to wake up by 6:00. So that starts tomorrow. Since that's earlier than I'm used to I'm assuming that tomorrow I'll also take a nap, and voila! I'm back on track.

I think one of the big changes I'm going to make this time around is to wake up at 6:00 seven days a week. Which sounds like an awesome idea on Wednesday at 4:00 pm, but will probably sound substantially less cool Saturday morning at 6:00. Oh well, that's future Ross' problem (like so many things) and while I think near-future Ross is going to hate me for it, I think far-future Ross is going to thank me.

Now if I could just do something about past Ross...

Monday, January 19, 2009


My birthday is in less than a month, and I think I'm going to angle for a new watch. The problem is that, while I am happy driving a $1000 car, reading used books and wearing thrift store shirts and patched levis, my taste in watches is pretty expensive. My old watch was a monster, but the barometer is broken so it no longer can use pressure to detect an oncoming storm or tell the temperature, and two nights ago the band broke. Obviously none of this really takes away from it's ability to tell time, but I already tried buying a replacement band at a Casio specialty store and was told that they didn't have anything and weren't even sure if they could order it.

So not an iron clad case for getting a new watch, and certainly not an iron clad case for spending a lot of money on a watch, but my birthday is approaching, and if I don't catch this window then the next major opportunity will be next Christmas. Part of the way I justify spending a lot on a watch is the use I get out of it. You've probably never seen anyone in your life who looks at his watch as much as I do. Now normally this trait annoys the hell out of people, as well it should, but it does have the one positive benefit of decreasing the $/use figure of any watch I buy, and so I think I should take advantage of that on the rare occasions when it's germane.

I've spent a little time looking around, and initially I was thinking of getting an ana-digi watch (for example the watch reviewed here) and I still really like the look of a watch with multiple faces. But the current top end model of the watch I'm replacing is also very attractive. Both initially seem out of my price range, but the internet is a wonderful place and great deals abound...

Anyway as I said I have nearly a month to go, so if you want to offer any ideas that'd be great. There are a lot of watches out there and I've only begun to scratch the surface...

Oh crap! I'm late!

Friday, January 16, 2009


One of the other partners and I have been talking about renewing our Squash Club memberships. Renew maybe to strong a term since it was probably five years since my partner had a membership and and probably closer to ten since I had a membership. So things were finally going well enough that we decided we had the time and the money (the company is paying for the membership, I'm sure I'll come to regret that come tax time but for now it's nice) Our first stop was at the Nordstrom Rack so I could pick up some white soled shoes, which are surprisingly rare, but because of scuffs they don't allow black soles in the squash courts. After that we had to go back to the office because my partner had forgotten his wallet with the company card. But we eventually made it to the Squash Club.

The two women at the sign-up counter were super nice, though the locker room had suffered some water damage and was being repaired. Anyway, I could tell that I would need to work on my equipment. I don't really have any athletic shorts, so I was using some pretty heavy cargo shorts. My gym bag was a plastic sack from walmart, and I forgot the key thing for someone who's going to exercise, deodorant. Fortunately I do have a squash racquet of my own from back when I used to play. I was pretty worried about how I'd do, from a conditioning standpoint and a cardiovascular standpoint. It wasn't pretty, but I ended up playing for an hour and we got four games in. (the record was 2-2 if you're curious) Overall a very satisfactory experience.

You may think, "Why Squash?" Well the story of how I ended up discovering squash is long and complicated, and I'll have to tell it some other time, but the story of what drew me to it once I started playing may be worth telling. The sport most people use as a comparison for squash is racquetball, and there are similarities. But IMHO, squash is clearly superior (I enjoy racquetball, but hear me out.) With racquetball, the ball is very bouncy as a result it ends up being primarily about strength, hitting the ball as hard as you can, with squash on the other hand, the ball is not very bouncy at all and as a result there's a lot more skill/choice involved in where you put the ball. To give one example hitting the ball backwards and banking it off the back wall is a fairly common shot in racquetball, but a fairly difficult shot in squash.

I realize I'm not explaining myself very well. Fine I'll go to my hole card. Back in 2003 Forbes decided to put together a list of the "10 Healthiest Sports" Squash was #1. The most important thing about exercise is that you enjoy it so that you do it a lot, and I really, really enjoy squash, so there you have it.

If I could have survived a fifth game I think I would have won

Thursday, January 15, 2009


One of my resolutions for 2009 is to read 48 books (4 books a month). As usual with most of my goals this may be too ambitious, but I did make one correction which I hope will lower the ambition and increase the feasibility of this resolution. As I mentioned in a previous blog I have all these heavy tomes sitting on the book shelf behind my desk. Each of these books is a major undertaking and could possibly take all month to get through just by itself. Previously I my (completely unrealistic) goal was to read a book a week and to generally select from that stack. So the change I made was to drop it from one a week to 4 a month (mostly to give myself more flexibility in getting through books, though shaving four books off the total is nice too) and to allow myself to read shorter, fluffier books. Since reading almost any book is better than reading no book at all.

In that vein I picked up David Sedaris' revised "Holidays on Ice" while at the library on Monday. It's only 166 pages with about 25 lines a page as opposed the 40 lines per page in a typical paper back (though I think I've seen as high as 50 lines a page). At 166 pages of 250 words a page (10 words per line seems about average) it comes out to 41,500 words. Which just barely makes it a novel according to the SFWA. No it's not Science Fiction, the SFWA is just the only group of writers nerdy enough to have thought about the dividing line between a Novel and a Novella.

Actually there's enough white space between chapters that it's probably less than 40,000 words, but I'm not going to let myself get hung up on that. It's clearly a book, hardback even, a group of pages bound together between a single cover. The big question I have is should I ever count something as two books? For example the other book I checked out from the library is Ken Follet's Pseudo-Sequel to "Pillars of the Earth", "World Without End" which clocks in at 1024 or 2^10 pages. Which if we assumed even 350 words per page would make it 358,400 words or more than 8 times as long as "Holidays on Ice". While I don't intend to count it as 8 books, counting it as two for the purposes of my goal doesn't seem excessive. But on the other hand it ruins the purity of the system. A book is a book, a collection of pages between the same cover (don't start in on audio books...) And whether it's 166 pages or 1024 it should count the same. What do you think?

The economy can't be all that bad if I'm honesty worried about stuff as petty as this...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sprinkler Crisis

So exactly a week ago I was taking a nap (still trying to get over the cold) and my wife came in a told me that the sprinklers had suddenly turned on. I confess that initially the idea was so bizarre, and being still somewhat asleep I couldn't really process the idea that the sprinklers were on. When I finally processed the information and got up shortly thereafter the sprinklers were indeed on. One set in the back yard and one set in the front yard.

Before I get into the comedic, three-stooges-esque, attempts to fix the problem a little history is in order. When I moved into the house the automatic sprinkler system was already there, and I used it for the first year (maybe two) before decided that it was more trouble than it was worth and switching to just using a rain-bird. Now when I decided to stop using the system I should have figured out how to turn it off, but instead I just ignored it. Which brings us to the present day...

So anyway the sprinklers were on. By the time I started looking into the problem the sun was already setting. I wasn't sure exactly what would happen if the sprinklers ran all night, but I couldn't imagine that it would be good. So I started off by looking at the box that controlled the system. It was set in the "Rain(off)" position. Which is where it had been for lo these many years. So I unplugged it. That didn't do anything. So then summoning all the mental power my aged brain still possessed I remembered the box set in the front yard that I thought might have something to do with the water. Sure enough, there was a water meter in there, a big pipe and a valve. So I turned the valve and the sprinklers shut off. Yeah! But then I quickly discovered that I had shut off the water everywhere, including inside the house.

Well the next step was to look around for individual valves for each of the different zones. As it turns out there were several in the back yard and one of them actually did control the back set and so I was able to shut that down, but I still had the problem of the front sprinklers. Unfortunately by this time it was completely dark and my extensive search yielded nothing, and since some of the kids were supposed to shower I had turned the water back on so I was rooting through the bushes through leaves and mud all while being sprayed down by the nearby sprinklers.

After the first big search turned up nothing I went in and tried calling my dad, no answer. So then I called my brother-in-law who always seems to have a knack for these sorts of things. He said there had to be a separate shutoff within about six feet of the water box. So another search ensued without any success. At that point I went next door to see if the neighbor had a similar sprinkler set up to me and could tell me where to look for the shut-off. Unfortunately he did not, and in fact his own shut off had been covered up by sediment.

I think it was a this point that I started calling some friends. One of my friends thought he might be able to get his brother or dad to help me out. His brother wasn't home from work yet, but he was able to get a hold of his dad who ended up giving me some useful things to try out (none of which ended up being the solution, but they made me feel like I was working towards a solution.) The next-door neighbor had suggested I try another neighbor farther down the street who was fairly handy. So that was the next step, and he was very gracious and offered to come down and see if there was anything he could do.

I was sitting out on the lawn waiting for him to arrive and clearing away more of the snow when I noticed something of a divot in grass. After poking it a bit I thought it looked promising. So I started clearing away the grass and pulling at the sod, and after pulling away several large clumps of mud and grass I uncovered a green plastic cover about six inches in diameter. It took getting rid of a couple more clumps of sod before I was able to pull off the cover to reveal a long white pipe with a valve at the very bottom. It was right about then that the other neighbor showed up.

I took the long turner thingie (yeah that's it's actual name) I had and tried to turn it but it wouldn't budge, but since the neighbor had just shown up I decided to bring him up to speed on the situation. He had some ideas and questions, but eventually we came back to the valve I'd just uncovered. I thought that perhaps it was frozen, and he thought that maybe we needed some cheater bars (or pipes in this case) so I decided to boil some water and he went to his house to grab some pipes.

The water didn't seem to do anything, and he and I were both worried that if we put too much torque on the thing that we could break it, but we decided to give it a shot anyway, and with him on one side and me on the other we were eventually able to turn it off. And once we turned the main water back on we discovered that it had in fact fixed the problem. The whole thing took about three and a half hours. Overall, pretty lame, but as usual I assume I have no one to blame but myself...

Yes, the initial message I left for my brother-in-law was pretty pathetic

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Horrible Holiday Illness

I wasn't too concerned about not getting as much done as I'd wanted while I was on vacation because I figured I'd have the majority of New Years Eve and all of New Year's day available to take care of whatever I couldn't get done while I was up at Bear Lake. Well when last we left our "hero" I had really bad chills. Well I did in fact make it home where I immediately took 800 mg of ibuprofen, cranked the electric blanket up to max and collapsed. Things are hazy but as I recall I was in bed for basically the next 18 hours (really horrible "sick dreams", you ever have those?). New Years day I woke up pretty early but only because my back couldn't take being in bed for any longer. The fever and chills continued for the rest of New Year's Day and I spent most of the day wrapped head to toe in blankets, that is until the fever broke and then I would immediately throw everything off and break out in heavy sweating.

Other than the fever and chills I had body aches, a horrible chest cold, coughing, a runny nose and generally a pretty grumpy disposition. By the 2nd I thought the worst was over. As it turns out I had just reached the "manageable with huge amounts of drugs stage". Which allowed me to actually progress from spending most of my time in bed to spending most of my time in a recliner in front of the TV. The good part was this gave me the opportunity to watch the Sugar Bowl. Where the boys from my Alma Mater made Alabama look like 2nd tier pretenders rather than #1 team in the nation for much of the season. (I was happy to see that Utah ended up at #2 on the final AP poll of the season.)

I gradually improved over the weekend. The aches went away and I slowly weaned myself off the 3200 mg of ibuprofen I'd been taking every day. The rate of improvement slowed down over the course of last week and I still have a cold. Though my chest/lungs are vastly improved. I sneezed five times in quick succession this morning, if my lungs had been in as bad a shape as they were a week ago five sneezes might have ended me. I took until Thursday of last week before I was in the office for any significant amount of time. But as of this week I think I'm back to fighting strength. Of course I've got a ton of stuff to catch up on, which is really the most annoying thing about being sick, but I'm optimistic that I should be caught by April, May at the latest.

The tubes are lovely, dark and deep./But I have promises to keep,/And piles to sort before I sleep,/And piles to sort before I sleep.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Skiing/Snowmobile Vacation

Well this year like every year for the last 24 (I haven't been to all 24 I've missed at least 3 years that I can think of) my family went on a winter vacation between Christmas and New Years. For most of those 24 years it was the "Snowmobiling Vacation", within the last five or six years I've tried to add skiing to the mix, with some success. Taking a big vacation every year presents all manner of difficulties. One of the biggest is housing, particularly given how big my side of the family is. At this point we're up to 29 people and for many years we had to rent a lot of condo's which ended up being spread over quite a big distance. However as of last year we moved into an inn which has more than enough rooms for everyone, a giant entertainment room and a huge dining area. Last year it was awe inspiring, this year it was nice, but not quite the dramatic change it had been the year before.

Anyway my own vacation was kind of mixed bag. Still 10 times better than not being on vacation, but not quite as nice as in years past. My back had been bothering me since midway through November and I'd desperately needed to take a muscle relaxant, but they knock me out for about 18 hours and I'd never had 18 hours to just check out. In an attempt to fit in all the snowmobiling and kids activities we had ended up scheduling two days of skiing, Saturday and Tuesday. That may seem like a good thing if you like skiing, and if I had the muscle tone and the conditioning it would be, but I don't I'm old and fat and my back was killing me. Fortunately I was able to work out an arrangement where everyone would get all the skiing they wanted on Tuesday (as it turns out when Tuesday actually came I had still scheduled too much skiing for the kids). Which allowed me to take a muscle relaxant on Friday night. Good for my back, bad for getting anything done.

I should pause at this point to mention something that's probably obvious to anyone who knows me. My goals for what I was going to accomplish while on vacation were ridiculously ambitious. Not to get into too much detail, but there was a lot of overdo organization and other stuff I wanted to do on my shiny new laptop. In between movies, meals, muscle relaxants, outdoor activities, exhaustion and e-mail I always have a lot less time than I think. And I should know that. Oh well, it wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't got sick, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Anyway so Saturday was mostly wiped out by the aforementioned medication. Sunday was pretty nice. We went to church but other than that it was a nice day. I think I may have taken a nap... Monday was kids day. That morning we got out the 120cc snowmobile and let all the kids (at least those who weren't too big) drive it around in a circle on the snow covered lawn outside the inn. After spending most of the morning outside I figured Kid's Day was done and I could relax the rest of the afternoon. Unfortunately the kids had other ideas, they wanted to go sledding. Unfortunately the best hill for that was at the top of Logan Canyon, so we piled into the cars and headed up the road.

When we first got up there I wasn't sure if we were going to have snowmobiles. And the kids were eager to get started so I took the first sled ride with one of my kids (my #2 son I think). What I hadn't counted on was that it was warm, and the snow was pretty soft and wet, there was no crust. So walking back up from the bottom of the hill was a ridiculous exercise in wading through snow up to my mid thigh. To say it was "aerobic" would be the understatement of the year, and within 10 minutes of showing up I was already in the red zone. My heart was beating fast enough to be mistaken for a hummingbird and I was breathing in great big gasps. Shortly after that the snowmobiles showed up, but even so I was breathing heavy the whole time. I needed at least 20 minutes of convalescence to get everything under control and instead I spent the next hour and a half in a constant loop on the snowmobile, stopping only to get off and wade through more thigh deep snow to retrieve kids and sleds. Oh and I should mention I had no gators or long johns on, just levis and gore-tex pants. As a result there was nothing to keep those two items from ending up around my knee everytime I took a step exposing my bare lower leg to the snow... Yes, I did a lot of dumb things in a relatively short period of time.

That evening I was pretty tired, but the worst was yet to come. Tuesday we went skiing. We got up there pretty early to make sure the rental shop wasn't a zoo. And that part went pretty well. The morning was dedicated to teaching. We were taking the #2 son up for the first time and me and my youngest brother took on the task of teaching him while the #1 son and daughter went off with two of my sisters. #2 son did really well. But after being accidentally clotheslined by his uncle he was ready to quit after the 2nd time down the hill (not including one trip down the rope tow hill) but after sitting and resting for about an hour I convinced him to take one more run. That run was amazing. He basically skied continuously from the top of the hill to the bottom with only a couple of minor tumbles on some turns. But after that he was completely wasted.

The plan was to have the wife pick him up at noon and then ski from 12-2 with the older kids. As it turns out the older kids had decided they had had enough as well so we sent all three of them home. #2 son was so wasted I was actually a little worried, but unlike old farts such as myself kids bounce back amazingly fast and he was running around later that after noon. For my part my trials were just beginning. I had planned on only two hours of high intensity skiing with my siblings, but since my children left early it ended up being twice that (okay I only made it three hours, but I'll get to that).

So you know how when you exercise to hard, particularly in really chilly air the next couple of days your lungs burn when you take a deep breath? I assume you do since generally I only get through the first half of that sentence when I tell this story in person before people start nodding. Anyway... That's what I was feeling on Tuesday, the whole day I felt short of breath. So my initial hypothesis was that I had overdone it the day before with the sledding and that, in combination with the straining of muscles I didn't even know I had was why I was feeling crappy all afternoon while skiing the blues and the blacks with my siblings.

Right before 3:00 (the ski resort closed at 4:00) I told my youngest brother that I had "two blues or one black left in me". He immediately decided that he would take the one black. So we set off down a black run we'd never tried before. As it turned out it may have been the toughest black at that resort. It was all moguls from the very top all the way to the bottom. The moguls would be broken up by the occasional flat, but each set was longer than the last. Anyway it was pretty brutal, but I made it to the bottom without crashing, so I considered that quite the victory. At that point I hoped into my sisters van and we drove back to the inn.

I think my body was running in survival mode and once it got into rest mode all the lingering fatigue hit. By the time I got back I could barely walk. When I got into my room I collapsed at next to my bed. It took me an hour to take off my winter gear and get into a warm bath. The rest of the night I was completely wiped out. I went to bed early and by the next morning I was feeling a little bit better. But it had begun to occur to me that maybe it wasn't just being old fat and out of shape that maybe I was coming down with something. I managed to get the car loaded and drive to my sister's house. I had left my car there because we had to much to fit in the van and she had taken some stuff up in their suburban. So my wife dropped me off there and I waited for my sister to arrive so I could get the stuff and drive the rest of the way home.

It was while I was waiting that the chills set in. I managed to load the car and set out to make the last 45 minute leg home. I wasn't sure I was going to make it. I was shaking really bad, the heat was on full and I knew then for sure that I was sick, and not just out of shape. This a tiny comfort, in the midst of all my suffering but only a very tiny one. Not to spoil the next leg of this story, but I did make it home okay, and I'll pick up the next leg of the story tomorrow.

Still old, but not as frail as I had feared

Friday, January 09, 2009

Parts list for new PC

The last time I put together a new PC was nearly four years ago. At the time I posted a list of all the components in my blog. As I mentioned yesterday, none of my past entries come even close to that entry in terms of how often I've gone back and referenced it. So I thought I'd do it again. Both for the value to "Future Ross" and also because my brother-in-law is thinking of building a machine and he wanted to see what I had built. The grand total for all of this was $420 and I ended up with a pretty good machine. Not the liquid-cooled demon I was secretly dreaming of, but a machine that had no problem playing the latest games. Now of course that $420 doesn't include a monitor, keyboard, mouse, the OS or any applications, but even so...

Here you go:

Kingston HyperX 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Desktop Memory

Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250310AS 250GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive

PNY VCG96512GXEB GeForce 9600 GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card

Antec NSK4480 Black/ Silver 0.8mm cold-rolled steel construction ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 380W Power Supply

ASUS P5KPL-CM LGA 775 Intel G31 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard

Intel Pentium E5200 Wolfdale 2.5GHz 2MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor

Sony NEC Optiarc Black 20X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 20X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache IDE 20X DVD±R Burner

Looks like the case may have been on sale, so it's slightly more expensive now. But you're still looking at only around $450 for a brand new gaming PC.

Here's hoping you get to spend more time gaming on yours than I do on mine... :(

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Off the Rails

Wow, I really went off the rails there. My last entry promised an review of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert and then several weeks of silence. Well I have a lot of catching up to do. The following topics demand to be blogged about:

1- Review of Mo Tab Concert
2- Final Results of Fantasy Football League
3- Specs and Parts list for my new PC (The parts list for the last computer is my most frequently referenced past blog entry)
4- The Horrible Holiday illness
5- The Vacation
6- Sprinkler crisis

I'll start with the review. The soloist was Brian Stokes Mitchell. If you know him at all you may remember him as playing "Cam Winston" the upstairs neighbor Frasier feuded with, on Frasier. Anytime you get a great male baritone for a Christmas Program I really feel like you have an obligation, to the Universe, to do "Oh, Holy Night". My wife retorts that they did that song when the King Singer's guested. To which I retort that they've done some version of "I Saw Three Ships" at each of the the last three concerts. Anyway, as you've probably guessed they did not do "Oh, Holy Night". Which is okay, they did a lot of great songs. And BSM brought a lot of great songs to the concert. The problem was that they were all modern songs, largely with nothing to do with Christmas. I enjoyed them, and I enjoyed the concert, but I go to the Mo Tab Christmas Concert to get the old timey religion. The big Christmas choral pieces that bring the house down.

So in that respect it did not measure up to the previous two years. Which let me make clear is a pretty high bar. So by any other standard the concert would have been a 9 or a 10, but when compared to the Kings Singer's and in particular Sissel it was only a 7 or an 8. The one thing that was superlative about the concert was the narrative section. They had Edward Herrmann do a piece called "Longfellow's Christmas" which covered the period during the Civil War when his son was wounded and shortly after his wife had died. Now if that didn't bring tears to your eyes I don't know what would. So as usual a fantastic performance, just not quite the transcendent event it had been in years past.

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