Friday, December 29, 2006

I feel weird....

It was a culmination of many things. For Christmas my wife got me (us? *chuckles*) tickets to Trans Siberian Orchestra. I was psyched, especially after she kept not being able to buy tickets for one reason or another (Padawan no more she is, yes).

The concert, as expected, was awesome. This is the second one we've seen and it didn't fail to amaze. My personal favorite was the "dueling synths" which culminated in TSO doing their spin on the Charlie Brown Theme - one of my personal holiday favorites. Came out very relaxed and with that nice "just loud enough" buzz in the ears. Can't wait to hear more from the upcoming "in the near future" album.

Next day the wife and kids took off for her sister's so the kids and their cousin's could be rowdy together. This left me with most of a day to myself. Linux box, done. Call of Duty 3, started. First book in the Icewind Dale series, mostly finished (so it took me to the next day, Ubuntu had me busy geeking).

And at the end of the day I felt weird. Couldn't explain it, just didn't feel normal. Funny how after a few months on edge that feeling normal now feels weird. It took a bit of the day to realize it, but I was relaxed. I had no idea how to deal with that *chuckles* been too long.

Guess it also helps that anything "work" I've consciously avoided like the plague during my vacation. Good life lesson in there!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sounds like a bad movie...

*sigh* There are some days I really don't understand people. Lets open with the obvious; these days, childish pranks can get you killed. You can ask the parents of Danny Crawford. From reports, the boy was doing what many kids do - act stupid. He and some friends started egging cars near to where they were playing.

Unlike when I was growing up and did something stupid like this, the driver of the Jeep that got egged didn't bring the kid back to his parents, tell them what the kid did, and be assured that the kids' parents would take care of it.

No. That's not very American these days.

This fool decided that he should take matters into his own hands and shoot the kid. Clearly, this was the best option for having your car egged. Was the kid doing something wrong? Yes. Did he deserve to die for egging the guys Jeep? Nope. He deserved to be punished. He got punished, but not in any way that will help him improve his life.

The worst part has to be the "justifications" that come out:

Cars give people a sense of anonymous power that helps explain such confrontations, a type of road rage, said Northeastern University criminologist Jack Levin.

"People are reacting from their gut in the heat of the moment and if they had a little time to think about it and cool off they might not respond at all," he said.

Sorry, road rage or not it's still the person's choice of action. And who ever chose this act, has their own punishment coming.

Perhaps a public egging?

Yes, I lived through that....

Reading through my normal comics this morning I ran across Penny Arcade! hitting it right on for how it is at EbGames stores these days... Go check it out.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Dieting, online?

I ran across a new site Traineo over on TechCrunch. The idea is cool, provide a network of friends, internet connections, etc. that all help you stay on track with your diet and exercise goals. Daily you come in, enter in how you did on your diet, # of calories you ate, weight, etc. After a few minor UI quirks, you can easily enter or update information on how your doing. It's really a nice site - if you count calories.

I have no idea what my caloric intake is, I'd have to go figure it out. I don't diet that way. Nor have I really been obsessing with my weight since I dropped it last year. That may sound paradoxical since I still blog about exercising and losing weight - if I don't count calories and I'm not obsessing over my weight, what are the measures?

Simple; Are my jeans (as in pants that have a fixed size waist, nothing elastic!) looser or tighter? Does it look like I'm gaining weight or muscle? Do I feel 'right'?

Mostly it comes down to, now, am I happy with where I am? I do check my weight from time to time. This week I've been weighing in as I did last year to play with Traineo's features. It's been depressing in many ways "look, still on the same plateau". Yep, the weight hasn't changed, but in this week alone I know I've improved all of my workouts and increased my muscle mass.

If I had the equipment I suppose I could do a BMI calculation for Traineo and do it that way - I'd rather have another graph tracking my exercise routine. If I'm doing 10% more push-ups than last week or need a belt to hold up the jeans, I'm doing well - even if the scale disagrees.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Remembrance 2006

This is the fourth year, that I have proof of anyway, that I've been writing this yearly remembrance. It has changed as I have changed from a bit of a soap box to a series of events that have inspired me in some way. Some years seem to write themselves and others are their own challenge. This year has been one of the latter. This year, I'm going to answer a question I've never been asked, but have always expected someone to ask.

During the past few years of slimming down and toning up I've answered the obvious questions;

"How did you do it, and don't tell me diet and exercise"
Okay. I wont tell you it was diet and exercise.

"What did you do to lose the weight?"
Two friends were the inspiration for the diet and exercise I do. One came up with the 5 on, 2 off diet. For 5 days you are as close to perfect on your diet as possible, then for 2 days you can relax (a little). My other friend, a former Navy SEAL, recommended using the Navy Seal Bootcamp DVD.

"Are you training for a [marathon or triathlon]?"
No, I exercise to improve my own health. I have other motivations to keep me going.

No one has ever asked about those motivations. Perhaps they feel I've already answered that question, or they know me well enough to realize that my RoadID is the dogtag style and I run with USMC cadences playing.

When I feel I can't do another mile, when I think I can't do another push up, I remember the men and women who are serving our country. They're not comfortably working out in their living room, or running laps around the neighborhood. If they're lucky they're hungry and tired, if not so lucky they are in combat fighting for our right to question the war they are stuck in. It is their heroism that inspires me to keep going. If they can volunteer to serve their country, to put their life on the line, I can give my all - I can go that extra mile or do that last push-up.

In this way, I honor them every day, and I never forget.
-Al

P.s. For those of you who would like to help the soldiers directly, check out AnySoldier.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Yes, and your point is....?

The family went out for one of the first Christmas events of the season, my wife's niece singing in her high school choir for their annual Christmas event. My wife is an avid football fan. While she trades watching her football for family events, she doesn't want to miss it.

We're on our way there and I started fiddling with the radio looking for the game. I was having no luck. She was understanding, but a little down about it. So I broke out my cell, text a friend, and got the channel on the radio that had coverage. I didn't think twice about it.

"How did you figure it out?" she asked.

"I sent a text message to Steve," I answered. "I knew he'd know."

"Tell him thanks," she paused. "And that you're both geeks."

*chuckling* Like she didn't already know that.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Things that make you go "hmmm"

"God favors no group. Only religions do that."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Downloader beware!

I've been seeing a lot of links to a tool for Pandora called Pandora's Jar (no, I'm not going to link to it). The tool is for saving the Pandora streams to MP3. Sounds good doesn't it? A little too good. Some quick perusing on Pandora's ToS shows this as a violation:

3.1 use the Pandora Services to reproduce copyrighted materials;

3.2 copy, store, edit, change, prepare any derivative work of or alter in any way any of the tracks streamed through the Pandora Services;

3.6 circumvent any technology used by Pandora or its licensors to protect content accessible via the Pandora Services

Just in case you were in doubt to my legal skills I also asked the folks at Pandora for comment:
No. We have specific licenses that allow us to play copyrighted music.
Downloads like the link you sent copy the music as it plays; highly
illegal like the Napster issue.

It is entirely against our Terms of Service. We do attempt to thwart
downloads like this on a regular basis with updates to our site.

It's all Child's Play....


Till someone loses an eye, or worse. Thankfully gamers have stood together since 2003 to show that we aren't at all what the press likes to highlight. Take a moment, shoot over to Child's Play and kick in your yearly donation.

Directly from the site;

Since 2003, gamers have banded together through registered Seattle-based charity, Child's Play. Over a million dollars in donations of toys, games, books and cash for sick kids in children's hospitals across North America and the world have been collected since our inception.

We collect no administrative fees or other charges, 100% of all gifts and donations go directly to our partner hospitals, to help make life a little brighter for a sick child.

This year, we have continued expanding across the country and the globe. With over 25 partner hospitals and more arriving every month, you can be sure to find one from the map above that needs your help! You can choose to purchase requested items from their online retailer wish lists, or make a cash donation that helps out Child's Play hospitals everywhere. Any items purchased through Amazon or DStore will be shipped directly to your hospital of choice, please be sure to select their shipping address rather than your own.

When gamers give back, it makes a difference!


Time to burn something new!

I'd be curious to see what everyone who read that title assumed it was. CDs? Pasta? Carbon steel? Well, okay, that last one might be better said as etching, another of life's filters. In this case I mean cooking. When I went looking for JP's good sounding Cornbread stuffing my Google search had me chuckling; One of the hits was for Cooking For Engineers.

Although I didn't end up using any recipes from the site for Thanksgiving, it has stuck in my head. Next time your searching for a recipe, can't hurt to look.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Soldier's Christmas

By Michael Marks

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
my daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree, I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep
in perfect contentment, or so it would seem.
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eye when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
and I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,
to the window that danced with a warm fire's light
then he sighed and he said "It's really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night"

"Its my duty to stand at the front of the line,
that separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.

My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red white and blue... an American flag.

"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home,
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat,
I can carry the weight of killing another
or lay down my life with my sisters and brothers
who stand at the front against any and all,
to insure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone.
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,
to know you remember we fought and we bled
is payment enough, and with that we will trust.
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

References: Snopes entry , IWVPA entry