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June 26, 2002

QOTD (Computer Geeks Only)

The road to Perl is paved with syntax extensions.

Daniel Dittmar in comp.lang.python

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:45 PM

One Last Disneyland Anecdote

Jean and Kelly were in a souvenir store on the hotel premises when I came down from the room to join them. We talked about going to Goofy's Kitchen for the character breakfast, and I offered to go there and try to get reservations. Jean asked Kelly "do you want to go with Dad or stay with me?" Kelly answered "stay with you." Why not? The store had all those cool tchatckas.

So I began my walk, expecting to place a reservation and then wait in the lobby of the restaurant for Jean and Kelly to join me. Not ten seconds after I left the store, Kelly is tugging on my shirt. "Oh, you decided to come with me after all?" "Uh huh." Now this is the measure of where I fail as a parent. I didn't even think to ask Kelly if she'd let her mom know that she was coming with me. I didn't assume she told Jean, it just plain didn't occur to me. So we went off to find the restaurant.

I got the reservations, and I was looking to see if Jean had found the restaurant when she came in with a Disney Security officer in tow. Kelly had not told Mom anything, but just dashed out the door after me at the last instant. Jean was paying for something and didn't catch her departure in that fatal instant. Probably moments after Kelly shot out the door, Jean became aware she was not there and began to look for her. Things escalated and Jean began living the nightmare that Kelly might have been snatched, hoping for the lesser nightmare that Kelly had merely wandered off and become lost.

The happy ending is that of course we were reunited, after Jean lost a few years to fear. And Kelly and I added some safety rules to our repetoire, i.e. always make sure each parent knows where Kelly is before taking off.

Being a true geek, I also offered a technical fix for human frailty: "if we'd had a pair of Family Radio Service handhelds, you'd have been able to ask me if Kelly was with me as soon as you missed her, and not had to worry." So before the next trip, we'll be buying a pair of FRSs (possibly three, so I can take one to Anime Expo, while Jean and Kelly both have their own units).

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:12 PM

June 25, 2002

More Disneyland Musings

The positive side of Disneyland for Kelly is of course the Fantasy: the breakfast with Disney characters at Goofy's Kitchen, the dinner with more Disney characters at Avalon Cove, the rides like Dumbo and King Triton's Carousel and the Orange Stinger.

The positive side for me, where it exists, is in what I've been calling social engineering. This is all the infrastructure and activities designed to keep crowds of people moving, satisfied, cheerful. In long lines, there is often some visual distraction to pass the time, a 'side-story' for the ride playing on monitors, animatronic tableau, a view of other rides, whatever. Often, the line is broken up into 'outside' and 'inside' so you don't have to see the line stretching unbroken into the distance.

In parades there are clear breaks between attractions so that pedestrians can cross the street without waiting for the entire parade to pass by. One parade I witnessed at Paradise Pier in the California Adventure illustrates some of the continuous, subtle application of technology in the aid of this social engineering. This parade was composed of several segments with varying musical themes. There was classical Chinese, American Pop, jazz and so on.

As each 'themed' part of the parade passed by, it's musical accompaniment swelled to fill the air, displacing the last. Each of these musical themes seemed to have the same metre as the last, and the blending was seamless. I found out later from a 'cast member' that each float at the center of a themed section of the parade carries a radio transmitter. The transmitter sends a signal to the speakers which line the parade route. As the signal from the transmitter gets stronger, it overrides the signal from an earlier float, and the music for that float begins to dominate the speakers at that particular location. Supercool!

Still, I'm a curmudgeon, and observing the subtle and unsubtle applications of social engineering lasts one only so long. Our trip ended none too soon for me. All the standing in line and walking at one-third speed with the random shuffle surrounded by milling crowds takes it's toll on my back. Jean asked Kelly if we should stay longer next time, and Kelly said yes. I told her that one more day would have seen me lying on the hotel bed with a heating pad in the small of my back.

While I made time for myself to try out some of the 'grown-up' rides, I guess I'm just not into amusement parks any more. I rode the faux Coney Island roller coaster, California Screamin', and while I got satisfactorily jostled and disoriented, it was pretty much, "so what?" While others were screaming and flailing their hands, I was just sitting quietly with a small smile on my face. I guess it's pretty much a 'make your own fun' sort of thing.

I rode Space Mountain, mainly to see if I thought Kelly would like it. I don't think she's ready for careening through nearly pitch black spaces in an invisible roller coaster, so I didn't suggest it. My reaction was the same ho-hum attitude. Star Tours was amusing, but more for what a ride simulator can do than for the actual attraction.

So Jean is talking about this being a yearly event and I'm replying "it doesn't have to be every year, surely?" In any case, the scenario we talked about last year but didn't do now seems likely: Jean and Kelly ride down to John Wayne Airport with me when I go to Anime Expo next year, and they take the shuttle to Anaheim, while I take the shuttle to Long Beach. At the end of AX, instead of taking the shuttle back to the airport, I take one to Anaheim and join them for a day or two at Disneyland before we all fly back together. That way, Kelly gets several days at Disneyland (Anime Expo is a four day convention) and I get spared burning out on Disney before she does.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:19 PM

Tobacco

I've been reading about how Dave Winer nearly had a heart attack recently, ending up in the hospital for a short stay. The diagnosis is that it was apparently aggravated by heavy smoking. So now he's grappling with quitting. Most interesting to me is that I've been reading his weblog for several years now (despite the fact that he's an opinionated and hypocritical egotist a lot of the time), and he's never once let slip that he smokes. I don't think he was concealing things, I just think that he took it for granted, like breathing. And now he doesn't.

I smoked for several years when I was young and immortal. I attempted to quit once while in college (exactly where I started) and failed. When I met Jean I decided to quit for real. I started by switching to low-tar cigarettes, then lower still. Then I rationed myself to x cigarettes per day, gradually reducing the number x. Finally the day came when I was down to my final pack. The entire process took several weeks. That day, I made sure I wasn't working or doing anything stressful. I don't remember what I did do. Probably went to a movie.

I was braced for terrible cravings, a vulture perched on my shoulder. But it never arrived. I'm sorry to tell all the other ex-smokers out there, but quitting was easy. While awake, I never experienced a craving. When sleeping, I would occasionally have a dream where I inadvertently lit up a cigarette, and thought "Oh damn. Now I'll have to start all over again." Then I'd wake up and realize I hadn't smoked after all, and feel relieved. So I guess I only needed a smoke when it couldn't hurt me.

And now I have a kid, and I'm glad I'm not oh-so-unthinkingly subjecting her to second-hand smoke. You could say I'm exposing her to second-hand health.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:19 AM

June 24, 2002

How To Murder Your GBA (Without Really Trying)

I've just installed a gallery of my stumbling efforts installing an Afterburner into my Gameboy Advance. All the pictures are of me or my GBA, since Tom had the only camera. Silly me, I forgot to bring mine, so thanks Tom.

Despite the dust stuck in between layers of LCDs, antireflective film, etc., this was a very good addition. I took the GBA with me on the plane flight, and on the way down finally got to a save point in Castlevania, Circle of the Moon. In fact, I levelled up to level 8, and saw several rooms in the castle. At least until I got chomped by the floating mummy dancer thingies.

Idle moments at Disneyland were also spent tinkering with Advance Wars, which isn't nearly as dark as Castlevania, but still looked quite good with a frontlight. So I'd say the darn thing was a success indeed!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:57 PM

21st of June vs. 4th of July

I think I can be excused from fireworks events this year, since the fireworks at Disneyland our last night out were bigger and more spectacular than any I'm likely to see locally. Kelly was just about shrieking, jumping up and down, clapping and generally wigging out while it was going on. She had just finished her final ride on the Dumbo rockets, and we were fortuitously in just the right place for a grand view of the light show. Moreover, we were in a great location to see Tinkerbell scooting through the air from the Matterhorn to who-knows-where over the trees:

Disney has arielists, both male and female, playing Tinkerbell. Tinkerbell slides down the wire from the Matterhorn to behind the Village Haus restaurant. Tinkerbell is caught at the end of her zip line by two guys with mattresses. Cast Members enjoy watching Tinkerbell crash into an old bed mattress in the landing area, an elevated platform behind the Village Haus restaurant.

Fun Facts of Disneyland's Matterhorn, #14

This last citation is amusing because it is from a collection of 'reports' on 'facts' about Disneyland. The section on Tinkerbell and the Matterhorn is filled with contradictory tidbits, but the essentials are correct. It was definitely fun to watch Kelly react to the flying Tinkerbell.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:39 AM

Too Soft

Funny how the little things can have such an impact. One of the things I found most bothersome in Anaheim (and indeed I've noticed this whenever I've gone to Anime Expo, now moved to Long Beach) is the water. Tualatin water is a trifle hard, I think, but I've grown used to it. The water in Anaheim may be processed or just naturally soft. Whatever.

The problem is that I've grown used to the qualities of Oregon water, and whenever I travel to that land to the south, the water seems strange. Alien. A glass of water just doesn't seem to satisfy my thirst. It seems tainted somehow.

So I'm thankful to be back home drinking the water I'm used to. I suppose that if I had to move to California (heavens forfend), I'd be used to the water in six months or so, but let's not do that experiment, okay?

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:24 AM

June 23, 2002

Back From the Mouse

We're back. We got back home in the early afternoon, but between unpacking and decompressing, I had no interest in posting. I won't give a blow-by-blow account of the trip. I'll just note impressions as they come in separate entries.

The trip started off badly for me, as I had stabbing pains in my sinuses on landing in Orange County. This has only happened to me once before, but it's quite painful, and you find yourself wondering if it will escalate into a medical emergency. Still, I survived it, with bruised sinuses and a headache.

We spent the first part of the first day lounging around the hotel. Kelly didn't want to go to the park, opting for the pool instead. We insisted that she come with us to the park for some dinner, and then she began to see the potential of the place. We closed the park down that evening .

Thereafter it was quite a rollercoaster ride (no pun intended), with her emotions--and ours--ranging from happy to angry. I'm not too good at gauging when she has had too much sensory input and is overloading. But I think the net balance was positive. She certainly wants to go back.

More on this as I think of it.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:04 AM

June 18, 2002

Disneyland Doom

Tomorrow we depart for the airport around 4:30am, so look for even less posting than usual. We'll be returning home late Saturday.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:04 AM

June 17, 2002

Sunday, Sunday

I slept in Sunday, then got up and rough-housed with Kelly for awhile. I opened my Father's Day gift from Jean's parents. It was a book on father-daughter relations. I haven't really looked at it yet, as I've got a queue of library books to work through right now, but I will give it a read in due time. Right now I'm trudging through the intelligent design book. Trudging is not the right word, but at over 800 pages, it seems daunting. I don't think I'll finish it, and I don't think I'll buy it myself, as it's the sort of topic that makes for interesting browsing but not for permanently ensconcing on your bookshelf.

As if that isn't enough, Kelly and I went to the library to pick up the reserve book I had, Eat, Drink and Be Healthy, a book purporting to fix the flaws in the USDA Food Pyramid. So far it looks interesting, but I'm giving it minimal time while I wade through the other book. Kelly picked up a book and three Pokemon videos, and signed up for the Summer Reading Program.

After that task, we drove to Game Switch, a used videogame store, so I could see if they had any Gameboy Advance games I could take on the plane. I ended up buying two Gameboy Color games for Kelly: the Pokemon Trading Card Game and the Pokemon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition, as well as a game card booster pack from the Pokemon Legendary Collection. She's been playing Pokemon Yellow almost nonstop ever since. I told her to save it for the airplane, but she seems to think it will last forever.

For myself, I bought a copy of Advance Wars, a turn-based strategy game. Seems that's what I'm into right now, as I'm also playing Final Fantasy Tactics on my PSOne in the den. Anyway, Advance Wars seems fun and I'm definitely planning on taking it on the plane. As if that wasn't enough, I also bought a copy of Silent Hill to build an alternative to Resident Evil 2. I haven't tried it out yet.

Due to Kelly's immersion in the Gameboy Color, we didn't go to see Scooby Doo, so I may not actually see it. By the time we get back from Disneyland, Lilo and Stitch should be out, so that may wipe Scooby from her memory. Too bad.

I didn't get to do my back strength-training Sunday, as I had sprained my lower back lifting a heavy wooden box into my car trunk on Saturday. Nothing serious, I just don't want to take chances making it worse just before our trip. So except for walks around the neighborhood, my exercise schedule is on hold until we return from the trip. Oof.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:50 AM

Saturday Report

Jean has an interview today, and school is out, so I'm staying with Kelly this morning. I'll probably work an 11:30 to 8 shift to keep on schedule. In the meantime...

Agora, where I host this weblog, was down much of the weekend, so even though I had time, I didn't post. Saturday was NOVA, but I was off playing even earlier. As a sort of early Father's day present, Jean let me run off to Tom's to engage in a kit bash. We gathered together all our widgets 'n' gadgets and cracked open our Gameboy Advances. This is the first 'electronics project' I've ever done, and it's a good thing that it was in quotes, i.e. not really advanced electronics.

The task involved completely disassembling the unit, using a Dremel tool to chew away some of the plastic to make room for the frontlight, installing anti-reflective film on the LCD, putting the frontlight in place, soldering a resistor onto the circuit board, and the frontlight onto the power bus. We learned along the way, and some of the directions were not totally clear, so we ended up with some dings on our clear plastic screen covers, and some dust trapped in between it and the frontlight (or between the frontlight and the LCD). As a result, it really does look like a home handicraft job, with some dirt reflecting light out of the screen and scratches marring some of the viewable area.

Even given all that, it is so much better than the original screen visibility that I've been playing with it more or less non-stop. I'm gonna have to stock up on more rechargeable batteries real soon now. You can bet this baby is going on the plane with me for Disneyland. My unit was certainly out of warranty, so you might not want to try this yourself, but as Tom and I observed, now that we've done it, we could do it again in a third of the time with much cleaner results. I might even do it again someday with a new unit.

We trucked off to NOVA, and had a fine time. The projector fund is within a hair's breadth of being complete! In eight months of fund raising! What happened to that club of ten years ago, when we were all so poor? My how things change. And yet the club is still a social venue, and indeed the main place I go to socialize with my friends.

This weekend, we didn't go to the movies after the meeting, instead opting to go to a restaurant for a snack. We went to the Outback Steakhouse, where the theme is, as you would guess, Australian. The waitress called everyone 'darlin', and the choices in food were mainly coronary specials, so I ordered the soup and salad, then decided to take the plunge and get dessert. The cheesecake I ordered was so rich and huge I got through maybe a third of it before asking for a takeaway container.

After we wrangled together the bill, Dan was stuffing it into the stack of menus, as if he was afraid it would blow away. I said, "don't hide it." Then as we were leaving, in my best Steve Irwin voice, I stage-whispered "undernaith wahn of these naipkins is a tip for ouwer waitress. Under the ahther napkin is a venomous snaike!". The guys were already snickering, and than as I reached the door, I stage-yelled "Crikey!" Never afraid to play the fool, this one .

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:17 AM

June 14, 2002

Trying Father

Apparently I'm doomed to deal with boys stalking my daughter much earlier than I had anticipated. Allow me to explain...

Kelly has been getting into the whole Pokemon Card trading thing, spending her hard-earned allowance on booster packs as fast as she can earn them. She's up to fifty or sixty cards now, and is trying to weasel freebie packs whenever she can. I always tell her to save her allowance. I have gone so far as to give her a dollar to help her buy two packs instead of one, when she had $6 saved up (one pack costs $3.49, so two comes to about $7). However, I found out Jean caved yesterday and bought her a pack.

When you buy a booster pack, there is always the danger of getting cards which you already own, duplicates. This is in fact part of the economic power of these games. Folks willingly buy pack after pack of boosters looking for that card they don't have yet. A side-effect of this is that you may have duplicates of cards somebody else wants. Now the trading starts. It turns out Kelly has been trading with kids at her school. The kids with the most cards are boys. Can you see where I'm heading here?

Jean went to pick up Kelly from afternoon daycare yesterday, on the last day of school. She was almost immediately approached by a boy who wanted to know if Kelly was going to summer daycare at Bridgeport, or if not, was she going to be in school there next year? He is apparently one of her trading partners, and is way too enthusiastic. He got his mom to give Jean his number, and Jean gave ours to her. Now here's the kicker: he's two years older than her! Miles (Miles!) is nine. Kelly is seven (almost). Double their ages, and my fourteen year-old daughter would be hanging out with an eighteen year-old boy! Unacceptable! Man the parapets! [Triple their ages and she's 21 and he's 27--Shhh! I'm trying to make a point here!]

Okay, I'm not really bothered by this, but I am surprised. What does a nine year-old boy see in a seven year-old girl? An easy mark for Pokemon Card trading? I guess I'll find out this summer when and if there is a play date...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:41 AM

Book Report

I finally did plow through to the end of Breaking Windows last night. It's a nice exercise if you buy the press on Microsoft, either as the economic dynamo and innovator or as the evil bully of the tech arena.

The author, David Banks, works for the Wall Street Journal, and in his capacity as chief reporter on the Microsoft beat, he and his colleagues waded through thousands of emails from Microsoft made public during the antitrust trial. Adding to that his many interviews with various key figures at Microsoft over the years, he has put together a deeply nuanced picture of a massive and conflicted organization.

From the sweeping story told in the book, I think it's pretty clear that Microsoft did break the law, but they may really have believed that what they did was not wrong. This book is just one reporter's impressions, but given the mass of data and interviews, it isn't just opinion. A good remedy for the black and white viewpoints prevailing today.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:17 AM

News of the Day

It had to happen someday. Given that Kelly has been identifying the 'D' and 'P' mint marks on coins as 'mistakes' making her pennies worth 'hundreds of dollars', it is timely that we find out now that two U.S. Mint employees were caught stealing and selling five $1 coins that were stamped incorrectly with the head of a Washington quarter. The coins were truly mistakenly stamped, but give 'em time, give 'em time...

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:48 AM

June 11, 2002

QOTD

That's as cheap as throwing a dinner party and only serving things that are covered in melted cheese. Sure, your guests will love every bite, but afterwards, they'll feel sick, and the sight of you will make them retch.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:07 PM

June 10, 2002

Word of the Day

decorticate

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:04 PM

QOTD

Yesterday, actually, from Futurama, when Bender is reacting to Leela's suggestion he be more sensitive:

Ah hah hah! Oh wait, you're serious. Let me laugh even louder. AAAAHH HAAAHHH HAHHH!!!

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:36 PM

Game Console Hacking As Hobby

In case the Afterburner project isn't satisfactory, here's the GBA PSOne LCD Project.

[page down for project photos]

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:56 AM

Weekend Update

Kelly and I went to the Beaverton Farmer's Market Saturday and bought about $15 worth of vegetables and treats. I got arugula, spinach, a Walla Walla sweet onion and vine tomatos. Kelly got cauliflower, carrots, a pint of strawberries, a glass of apple cider and a bunch of little cookie-type sweets. Jean had to study, so she only gets to share my take.

While we were there, I talked to one of the farmers from Denison Farm, which is a CSA farm. I wanted to see what their 'weekly vegetable box' looked like. If everybody in the family ate it, it wouldn't last a week, but as I think I'm the one mainly interested, it would probably be more than enough. The subscription is from May through October, so I've missed the boat for this year. I'll have to put a note in my Pilot to remind me to call them around March of next year.

After the trip to the farmer's market, Kelly and I swung by Toys 'r' Us to buy some Pokemon cards. Kelly is on a kick with these right now as some of her friends at school have stacks of them. She wants us to buy her a ton of them, but I've told her she's on her own. It's been remarkably motivating--she did her chores on Saturday morning before I even woke up. She was $1 short of buying two packs, so I gave her an extra dollar for being so good with her chores.

While we were there, I looked at the Nintendo Gamecube again, but decided that the choice of games seemed smaller than what I'd seen at Fry's, so I'll be waiting at least another week on that purchase. Besides, I've gotta buy some Fuji Velvia film (because of it's nickname of 'DisneyChrome') to put into my Oly Stylus P&S for the trip to Disneyland, which is just nine days away now! (still not comfortable taking the SLR with me on a trip, just yet)

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:27 AM

June 09, 2002

Sic Semper Tyrannis

W00t! I finished Resident Evil. Yes, I played Jill, the easier character, and yes, I took nearly nine hours of cumulative game time, and yes, I saved 21 times, and yes, I occasionally consulted GameFAQs.org to get past blockages, but I finished it. I gotta tell you, it took me three tries to get off the heliport without being blown up, and my heart was pounding from the tight timing, but it was fun all the same.

I could play the game again, using the 'special key' I got at the end of this one, or play as Chris, or just try to improve my time. But I'm going to lay off of RE for awhile, and when I return, I think I'll just go straight to Resident Evil 2. If I ever manage to get through one play of that, then I'll either buy the Gamecube and the RE remake, or I'll buy Resident Evil Code Veronica X for the PS2 and play that first, as Alan tells me it is supposed to be a fun version.

One thing I've discovered playing on the PSOne in the den is that I enjoy the setup. I sit in an office armchair and have the PSOne on a drafting desk. I've got it hooked up to a 13" television right now. Somewhat better than the little 5" LCD screen on the PSOne itself.

I just started fiddling with Final Fantasy Tactics. Alan gave it to me to try out ages ago (along with Oni and Ape Escape). I don't know yet if I'll play it for very long. It looks like a great game for the Gameboy Advance, a handheld, but I'm not sure if playing it on a console will be quite as much fun.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:20 PM

June 07, 2002

Rare Earth and Statistics

Thinking back to Rare Earth, I found another way to express my disatisfaction with their approach. The focal point of their attack is the Drake Equation, which attempts to assign probabilities to various conditions which would be needed to support intelligent life. People like Carl 'billions and billions' Sagan argued from the Law of Large Numbers that even tiny probabilities in each of the variables would result in a respectable number of civilizations due to the vast number of stars:

The Law of Large Numbers says that in repeated, independent trials with the same probability p of success in each trial, the chance that the percentage of successes differs from the probability p by more than a fixed positive amount, e > 0, converges to zero as the number of trials n goes to infinity, for every positive e.

In our terms, each star system is an independent trial, and the proportion of star systems which have a given attribute should approach the probability p for that attribute. So a law of statistics is used in tandem with the large number of stars in the universe to plead for the ubiquity of life.

That's a tough, if somewhat specious argument to beat. And it is an arbitrary target, as Carl Sagan, Frank Drake and the authors of Rare Earth all admit. The numbers assigned to all the probability variables are guesses. Most of the earlier contributors are willing to live with that, and class the Drake Equation as an interesting thought experiment.

But the authors of Rare Earth take the bait, and make it their mission to try to push as many of the variables as possible to darn near zero, even introducing new variables which they have a better chance of assigning probability zero to in order to achieve their goal. But it's just a game. And it's this aggressive attack of what is clearly just a game, and clearly just a parlor trick at that, which makes the book annoying. Lots of the topics discussed were fascinating, but that they were all directed to destroying an admittedly offhand, back-of-the-envelope thought experiment just irked me no end.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:12 AM

School's (Not Quite) Out

You can tell school's winding down. Kelly's class went on a field trip to the zoo yesterday (no lemurs! waaah!), and today they're doing a picnic at the park. Jean is studying like a demon to prepare for final exams, and has enlisted me as a math tutor. Meanwhile, I'm spending my evenings trying to get through a particularly nasty section of Resident Evil, with no save rooms in sight! Gah!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:28 AM

Geek Gaming Gear

Tom's gotten his Afterburner, so it's only a matter of time now until my Gameboy Advance has a frontlight. Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, look out!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:26 AM

Readin' Report

I finished scanning Mac OS X: The Missing Manual. I have no intention of reading it cover-to-cover until such time as I have an actual full-time OS X machine, which may be awhile, cosidering Mentor's stock price right now.

I've been working my way through Breaking Windows, but even though I've gotten nearly two-thirds through it, I doubt I'll finish it. I've already absorbed the main thesis of the book: Microsoft is not an evil army of programmers, marching in lockstep to enslave the world; it's at least two evil armies, fighting for sole rights to enslave the world.

So now I'm reading the third book in the Fall Revolution series, The Cassini Division. It's still pretty political, but the novels are becoming more far-future, sense-of-wonder fun than the first one. One more to go, then I'll have to find something else to read in the 'fluff' category.

Next in the queue is Intelligent Design: Creationism and Its Critics. I got this from the library, but at 825 pages, there's no way that I'll be able to read it in three weeks, or even with a renewal. I intend to scan it, and see if it's worth buying. Saves me $45 if it sucks.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:22 AM

June 05, 2002

Paranoia

What does it tell you if a person, on entering a room, carefully scans it and listens intently before moving to the center? If each side street and corner encountered on a walk seems to warrant extra scrutiny? Maybe that this person has been playing too much Resident Evil.

I played for about an hour last night, taking a break only to give Kelly her bath. Then my character got killed by poison gas inhalation, coming from a hole I'd incompletely covered. And like FFX, this happened after a loooong stretch of incidents with no access to a save room, so I'll have to backtrack quite a bit. Given that, I decided to quit for the night. Instead I went for a walk around the neighborhood to get some exercise.

I've noticed that after a particularly involving movie, I tend to have an 'altered state' of mind, with my perspective shifted somewhat by whatever occurred in the movie. So it was on the walk last night. I was looking around, not really thinking about it, but paying a lot more attention than usual to driveways, side streets, corners and the like. It finally dawned on me that I was 'checking for zombies'. Ain't that a hoot? But the walk was still enjoyable.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:43 PM

June 03, 2002

That Didn't Take Long...

"The Sum of All Fears," adapted from Tom Clancy's best seller, took over the No. 1 spot from "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones," which grossed $20.7 million in its third weekend to raise its total to $232 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

source

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:40 AM

Sunday Activities

After Sunday's usual chores, I took Kelly to see Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron. Despite some historical glitches, it was reasonably entertaining, and I found it interesting that with the exception of Matt Damon's narrative voice for Spirit, the animated horses didn't talk. They only whinnied at each other, and used body language to communicate. It was a refreshing change from the average cartoon animal show. The only improvement here would have been if the cavalry officers also didn't talk, and communicated with grunts and waving arms.

There was a fair amount of frankness regarding the cruelty of humans toward animals, and at one point a mare is shot by a cavalry officer. The movie lets you think this mare is going to die, and Kelly was reacting quite emotionally, though sometimes it's hard to tell. Kelly will occasionally hold forth with quite convincing sobs during a sad story, as a sort of theatre-in-the-round, cinema-verite, immersive theater experience, when in fact she's actually quite detached. In any case, the horse survives and makes a happy, romantic appearance at the end of the movie, so Kelly was happy again.

After a brief break for lunch, I took Kelly to Ibach Park to run around. It was bright and sunny, though if you got in the shade, it was cool enough. I still don't identify with the sun worshippers though. The sunlight was bright and hard on my eyes. It was hot, oppressive, and eventually painful. Bring back the rainy season!

After returning from the park, I did my strength training, then went upstairs and played a little Resident Evil. Alan informs me that indeed, the Gamecube remake of the game is a lot harder, so I'm pausing in my headlong flight to buy the game. I'll probably still do it, but the thought of zombies following me through doors (they don't usually do so in the original version), and taunting me about my love handles and flabby thighs is just more disheartening than I can describe!

Final note: sixteen days to Disneyland. Kelly's starting to get excited.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:26 AM

What Am I Bid?

Saturday was the date of the big NOVA fundraising auction. I was really pleased with how it went. Not only did we raise a ton of money, but it was fun to boot! Dan barked at Terry when Terry tried to run the auction as a traditional livestock auction, going too fast to allow people who are not professional bidders to decide they really wanted that Chobits poster. Terry 'resigned' on the spot, and another brave member stepped up to the plate.

The funniest scene was when my signed Tenchi poster came up for bid. Everybody pretty much knew that Bob would try to get it. I pretty much knew that most everyone else wasn't all that interested. So Dan decided to give Bob some competition, bidding it up to get Bob to pay more. Of course there was always the danger that Bob would fold, and Dan would have to buy the poster. I called it 'bidding chicken'. Eventually, Dan's sister came over and put her hand over Dan's mouth, letting Bob get the poster for $160. Rumor has it that Bob had $400 in his bidding pool. Too bad, we should have put together a bidding keiretsu to compete with him.

On another front, Tom hadn't gotten his Afterburner frontlight yet, so I haven't assembled mine to see how well it works. After the meeting, we went to see Undercover Brother, and post-movie, Tom had me tell everybody about Jean's nerd comments on the Afterburner. Everybody had a good laugh, including me. That should alleviate Jean's guilt!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:03 AM