Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Okage Gets Spendy

I brought back Okage to the Blockbuster's yesterday evening. I've had a while to deliberate on it, having played by myself and with Kelly before and after the coast trip, and I came down on the side of buying it. True, it has some annoyances, and doesn't always challenge you. But I bought it for two primary reasons:

  • Despite it's shortcomings, I'm still entertained by it. The novelty of the characters and dialog has yet to wear thin, and the artwork is still delightful. I'm particularly pleased with the generally irreverent tone.

  • Kelly really enjoys it. Last night I even helped her learn the basic controls for fighting 'ghosts'. She wanted to spend the rest of the evening wandering around, tempting ghosts to attack her character, so she could blast them.

Admittedly, Kelly could lose interest well before the game is ended, but for now, Okage is amply repaying its hefty price tag. Now if I can just resist going back to Fry's and buying Oni now that it's price has fallen 60%...

The Hole I'm In

A large part of the 'hole I'm in' as mentioned below is due to Jean coming down with some sort of stomach flu shortly after our return. I spent all day Monday at home with her (I was sorta planning to take the time off anyway, but this way I was available to her). She was really knocked out, unable to do much other than vomiting and lying in bed. I took care of Kelly, both transporting her to and from school and feeding her, working through her homework, entertaining her, bathing and dental hygiene, the works.

Tuesday I took Kelly in, and went to work. Jean summoned enough energy to pick Kelly up from school, but soon discovered that she still had incredibly low reserves. So I had the entire evening routine to myself once again. I've been showing some symptoms of illness as well, so I'm taking extra care not to overwork or overplay myself, especially since this is a NOVA weekend coming up, and I expect we'll be seeing Jet Li's The One afterwards.

I feel guilty that I've only worked about one-third of the way through my volunteer proofreading job, but I think I'll get traction again at the start of next week. I have until November 9th to report back. But for tonight...Halloween! Kelly's going out as a bunny this year, though with her little bowtie and flouncy skirt, I'm not sure if that's actually supposed to be a Playboy bunny. Don't tell Jean I said that! .

Coast Report

Well, we went on a trip to the coast! I took Friday off so I could pack, shop for goodies, and get in a round of back-strengthening exercise before the trip. We left on Saturday morning and headed to Tillamook. Our first stop was the Tillamook Cheese Factory. It was billed as having a 'self-guided' tour, which apparently means just walking around the building, looking at 'cheesy' dioramas and sampling cheese. They had squeaky cheese! I love that stuff!

Anyway, there was a second-floor overlook of the factory itself, and that was the cool part. I tried to take a few pictures with the digital camera, so we'll see how they came out when I dig out of the hole I'm in. As we left, we passed by the Blue Heron French Cheese Company, which has wine and cheese tasting, but Jean said 'save it for next trip.' We're also saving the Latimer Quilt and Textile Museum, located nearby. I think it will be fun, despite the fact that most of these coastal museums are the historical equivalent of petting zoos.

Next on the agenda was the Tillamook Air Museum. Many more photos taken which I'll try to post. Kelly went absolutely gonzo over the trainers, making Jean sit beside her in a helicopter trainer and a jet trainer (even though they didn't work). We had lunch there, which was pretty good. My only complaint is that the website I found the museum on promotes it as the "Blimp Hangar Museum", which I think I can be forgiven for thinking promised some blimps. In fact, the museum is in a blimp hangar, and while there are dozens of planes, there is only one, contemporary, blimp; a tiny one at that. Oh, well, more petting zoo advertising...

We drove South to Lincoln City, and checked into our hotel. Sorry, nothing picturesque, like McCoy's Hideaway, where we stayed maybe seven years ago. This time it was a Best Western, chosen for the fact that it had an indoor pool, a Kelly requirement. No fancy dining either. We walked down the street to a Subway's and got subs for dinner.

The following morning I insisted on walking to the beach, about a fifteen minute walk. Boy is Kelly a sissy! I had to carry her on my shoulders part of the way, which turned out to be a mistake. My strength training exercises apparently don't prepare me for lifting a flailing package of 55 pounds over my head and resting it on my shoulders while walking. I pulled my shoulder, nothing serious, but I've had to lay of strength training for the week. When we got to the beach, Kelly had to stop about every five feet to take off her shoes and empty out the sand. As it was morning I didn't suggest that she simply take her shoes off. Next time, I'll make sure we have a pair of Aquasocks or such-like.

After a breakfast at Subway's at Kelly's insistence, we drove down the coast to Newport for our next-to-last touristy stop, the Oregon Coast Aquarium. I've never been there before, and it was great. Kelly liked it as well. In addition to looking at all the cool animals, we actually got to touch starfish and sea cucumbers. That was truly neat. Kelly was absolutely cackling with joy watching the seals and sea lions swimming in their habitat. I'm sorry to say that the sea otter display was closed. We ate lunch there, then headed back up the coast to go home.

But first, we stopped by the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse. This is a neat little lighthouse which looks more like a schoolhouse (Little House on the Prairie style). It was apparently closed only three years after commissioning, as there was a much better lighthouse just up the coast (which we're saving for our next coast trip).

After the lighthouse we made our way home, unpacking all the loot which Kelly collected on the way, then setttling in and decompressing. One of the more interesting facts about our trip is that it was the first one in six years. The last time we went Jean was six months pregnant with Kelly. So we told Kelly that she'd been to the coast before, but hadn't seen too much of it .

Friday, October 26, 2001

Okage On The Cheap

Well, the images kept popping up in my head, so I made up my mind to get Okage and play it. But first I did the consumer due-diligence thing and looked up a number of reviews. They mostly all agreed: the artwork is charming, the dialogs humorous, but the game is standard to sub-standard RPG.

Given this, I really didn't want to take a chance on the game being a bomb, and blowing a big chunk of change on it. So instead I went to the local Blockbuster Video and checked their stock of video games. Sure enough, they had it and I rented it: $5 for five days. I played some last night and I'll play some more today (I'm taking FTO to pack for our trip to the coast). Then I expect I'll play a bit more on Monday before taking it back on Tuesday. By that time I'll know if I want to rent it again, buy it, or drop it.

The report so far is that it is amusing but unremarkable. Definitely not up there with Final Fantasy, but so far seemingly worth a $5 rental fee.

Monday, October 22, 2001

Simile of the Day

"When Bush ... furrows his brow like a serious Muppet"

If you believe in unquestioning support of the government in times of strife, don't read this article. But it's so damn full of humorous playful colorful turns of phrase that I just had to share.

Thanks Brenda

I guess someone is reading this weblog. Mere hours after I posted my dilemma reaching my Dad, he called back, saying that Brenda had read my post and called him. Turns out he's in Michigan for the rest of the week, playing chicken with the next snowstorm before fleeing to sunny Florida.

Anyway, thanks Brenda.

Sunday, October 21, 2001


Last night was a NOVA evening. Amidst all the other viewing and socializing activities, Alan set up his laptop and we showed my copy of Shaolin Soccer, which I've been saving for a NOVA meeting since I suspected it would be a lot of fun. I was not disappointed. It was howlingly funny, perhaps even more fun than God of Cookery, the other Stephen Chow movie I've seen so far. I've already got a queue of two people in line to borrow it, and I wish I hadn't agreed to, as I'm now pining to watch it again myself. Boo hoo, poor me.

After the meeting we went to the Tigard Cinema to watch Iron Monkey, another movie I own on DVD, but which I was pleased to see on the big screen. I was even more pleased to see that it was subtitled, with the original Cantonese voice track. Whatever was Miramax thinking? Anyway, it looked great on the big screen, and everybody who went seemed to enjoy it. Next NOVA meeting is November 3rd, just in time for Jet Li in The One, which looks to be a hoot, a flying people movie in a Matrix-grade special effects mode.

Another Self-assigned Project

Every week, on Mondays and Wednesdays, I stay after work to study. I do this to challenge myself and keep my edge, now that I'm several years beyond getting my Master's degree. Sometimes I study functional programming, reading texts, technical papers and the like, and writing small programs. One of the functional programming languages I study is Ocaml, or Objective Caml. It is a derivative of ML, developed in France.

For several years now, below the radar, there has been an effort to translate one of the more popular books on Ocaml written in French into the English language. It is called D�veloppement d'applications avec Objective Caml. Well, apparently the translation has proceeded far enough to expose it a little, as a call went out recently on the functional programming Usenet groups for proofreaders. And I volunteered! So now I'll be trying to spend some of my self-study time working through my assigned proofreading tasks. I'm pretty excited about it.

PS2 Games

Sony just sent me a CD-ROM full of demos of new games for the PS2. I was fiddling with them, and Kelly wanted to watch me play. She likes Klonoa 2, mostly for the cute character who runs the gauntlet of this platform game. I admit it is cute, but I'm not so much into platform games any more, I suppose since my reflexes suck so bad. I think Jean would enjoy it, but I'm not really into dropping a big chunk of change on a game that I'm not gonna play, and which Jean will only play over school breaks.

More to my liking is Ico, which is a role-playing/puzzle-solving game. The demo is woefully limited though, giving only a tiny hint of what might be it's potential. I did discover that you can make Ico run in frantic circles rather like Curly in the Three Stooges, much to the delight of Kelly. My friend Alan Matzka assures me that this game is for me, so I'll add it to the queue of potential purchases over the next few months.

I also enjoyed Portal Runner. I was amused to read that this is a spin-off of another game that I've seen on the shelf and had no interest in. The demo is once again terribly limited and brief, but I thought it was fun. No, I haven't been able to crack the demo level supplied. Are you surprised?

As I mentioned earlier, I'm very tempted by Okage: Shadow King. The artwork looks very much like Tim Burton's puppet designs, such as are found in The Nightmare Before Christmas, which I find very appealing. Reviews suggest it is a simple game, with a weird sense of humor, but not too complex. Given my limited gaming skills, that actually sounds nice.

I set myself a little task of writing a grocery shopping program using only Python and the W toolkit, a Macintosh-specific graphical toolkit designed by Just Van Rossum, the brother of Guido Van Rossum, who created Python. W sucks as a widget toolkit, in that one must specify exact coordinates for all widgets. There's no packing manager concept in W.

Why did I do this? Two reasons. First, I wanted to brush up my Python skills for upcoming work at work. Second, I actually thought a program for accumulating a list of items over the week and printing them neatly before shopping would be neat. And it is! God, I'm such a geek! Please help me?

Cry In The Darkness

Well, I tried. I finally emptied my queue of all the chores, self-assigned tasks and exhaustion, so I had time to call my Dad back today. He is, as far as I know, in Canada right now. I tried calling the number I have for him there, and got a message from 'Bell Canada' that the number has been temporarily disconnected at the request of the customer.

So this is really a shout to my sister to ask her to let Dad know that I seem to have an old, stale number for Canada.

Thursday, October 18, 2001

Chicken Dance Clarification

I asked Kelly last night to do her version of the Chicken Dance so I could see what the Oktoberfest band was doing 'wrong'. It was pretty funny seing her do it. Looks as if the moves are the same and the music is the same. The only change is that you replace the lyrics with chicken sounds:

Buck buck bucka buck-buck-buck! Buck buck bucka buck-buck-buck! Buck buck bucka buck-buck-buck! BUCK-BUCK buck-buck buck!

Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Posted Because It's Just Too Damn Cute

Mamma Liberty

Quickie Update

I realized I hadn't posted an update for several days, directly on the heels of giving blood. So no, I didn't pass out and only just awake. I've been tres busy lately, that's all. Brief update:

Thursday afternoon took Kelly to the Mentor version of Oktoberfest. I've been to more of these than I can count, but Kelly keeps it new. She ran up to the 'dance floor' (a cleared space in the cafeteria in front of the polka band) and did the Chicken Dance. According to her, the band "did it wrong."

Friday evening we took her over to have dinner with her friend Trinity, whose birthday it was.

Saturday was swim class, in addition to all the usual chores.

Sunday I took her to free swim, as well as doing all my chores and entertaining her while Jean studied for two tests and a quiz this week.

And of course there's been work. So when you add in the coverage of Kelly while Jean has been studying, I haven't really had time to post. Posting now is just to reassure everyone in the family I'm not dead.

Jean did well on her tests, Kelly seems to be coming down with a cold, and if I can ever get any time to myself, I'm going to try out the playable demos for the PS2 that got sent in the mail. The ones which seemed interesting after a brief glimpse: Klonoa, Ico, Portal Runner. Not playable but seemingly interesting from the video demo: Okage, the Shadow King.

Thursday, October 11, 2001

Overcoming Phobias

I gave blood today. For the first time in my life. I was spurred by the September 11 crimes to try to contribute something meaningful, and I knew my workplace would be holding a blood drive, so I committed to do it.

I can't tell you how much I hate needles. The only thing which causes me more anxiety is agressive stinging insects such as wasps. I walked over to the Commons to sign up, and I felt like I was marching to my own doom. When I started reading the info form, the volunteer asked me what my name was. I told him, and he said I wasn't on 'the list'.

"There's a list?" I thought. Next to me was a coworker, Brent, reading the same pamphlet.

The volunteer said, "we're all full for the day, sorry."

"Oh, well," I said, breathing a sigh of relief.

Then Brent pipes up with "it asks here if I've ever had malaria. I don't know, but I think I might have." How do you not know if you've had malaria before?

Moments later, Brent was walking out the door, and the volunteer was saying "looks like we have an opening." My heartrate started to go up again. Man did I feel queasy. I really felt like I was coming down with the flu right there. But I started going through the gauntlet, and maybe thirty minutes later I was walking back to my office, with a rather conspicuous blue elastic bandage wrapped around my elbow.

So I got on that horse, right? I conquered my irrational fear and now everything's fine? No way! I've got on the order of eight weeks while my body rebuilds red blood cells to think about whether I want to put myself through this again. And right now, I just don't know if I want to.

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

<A HREF="">Michael Moore On Current Events</A>

"Dick Cheney Has Been Moved Into Hiding Again. This can only help. The farther this mastermind can be kept from young Bush, the better. He's like that creepy friend of your dad's who has taken a bit too much of a shine to you. Wait -- he *is* that creepy friend of his dad's!"

Tuesday, October 9, 2001

Hello, Kitty

I took Kelly to Ibach Park on Sunday, where she had the park to herself for the first ten minutes, as it had rained recently. Then a father and two daughters showed up, and Kelly went into overdrive, enlisting the younger daughter in her games. As usual, Kelly is surprisingly extroverted considering her parents.

Later we went to Kinokuniya to pick up a new volume of Card Captor Sakura for bedtime stories, and incidentally had the chance to cruise the First Annual Festival Japan. I wanted to spend some time wandering the booths, but with Kelly in tow, it was pretty hard. She only wanted to play the kids' games. I got her to slow down long enough to look at the koi display, but had to skip most of what interested me.

The highlight of the trip for Kelly though, was the presence of a person walking around in a Hello, Kitty costume. She was gushing and cooing over this person, and ran up and gave Kitty a huge, lingering hug. Ah, the simple pleasures of life!


One part of the American immune system is now clearly on full alert. A man attempting to enter an American Airlines cockpit was overpowered by passengers, and successully conveyed to authorities. It seems he was mentally disturbed and thought terrorists were steering the plane toward the Sears Tower.

Add this to the flight recorder evidence for passenger intervention on United Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11th, and it's clear that one avenue of terrorism, and hijacking in general, is closed forever.

Sunday, October 7, 2001

A Year of Weblogging

Not one for making a big deal of arbitrary anniversaries, I totally snoozed through this one. On October 4th, 2000, I first started posting to Terebi I. I've since changed locations, domains and software, but at one year, I still have a little steam left.

Keep On Truckin'.

Thursday, October 4, 2001

More On Islam (Economics, this time)

"There are two strains of commentary about the Islamic world emerging in the current tensions. One, which is despicable, suggests that the "west" (as if that is a monolithic concept) is innately superior to other societies. The second, which is honest, explores why many of the states in the Islamic world are failing in economic and social terms."

Two new links on Islamic countries for my later informed reading, picked up from Davos Newbies:

The Economic Failure of Islam

Muslim societies need to deal with their own failure

Not That I'm Counting...

...but the requirements for my current work project have changed again, for the fifth time!

Wednesday, October 3, 2001

Anchors Aweigh!

Or, "Casting Off Stitches for the Terminally Clumsy." Yeah, that's right, I finished off the knitting project last night. Kelly sat close at my right elbow, making it even more cumbersome to finish off, but I wanted to let her participate as much as she desired. She did one stitch, leaving it to me to cast it off.

And as I predicted, after playing with the resulting 'blanky' for ten minutes, it was lying in a corner like so much trash. I told her that if she desired to do more knitting in the future I'd be happy to help, but I didn't encourage her. I did emphasize that if she wanted to crochet, that was something she'd be doing with her mom, since Daddy's fingers are way too big for that!

So I'm putting away the needles, and hoping this is the last of that for awhile. I have to admit thought, that I got a sort of perverse pleasure from taking 'my' knitting along to public places and pulling it out to work on. I did that at the YMCA pool during Kelly's swim class, and while I doubt anyone gave it a second thought, it was fun to be the big flabby guy with a ball of yarn in his lap.

After we finished knitting, I fixed my dinner and Kelly proceeded to tie irrevocable knots into the remaining yarn. I reminded her that I had some lengths of cord in a drawer for practicing tying knots, and she jumped on that immediately. I showed her the square knot, the granny knot, the half-hitch and slip knot, and in no time she was spinning lassoes over her head in true rootin' tootin' spirit. I'm guessing that she's not going to be interested in detailed knot learning for some time yet.

Bad Metaphor of the Day

NPR sports commentator Frank Deford is often thoughtful, given to colorful metaphor, and notable for his thoughts on the social impact and philosophy of sports; enough so that I can often overcome my total disinterest in sports to give him a listen as I drive to work in the morning.

This morning, however, he pulled a metaphor while waxing eloquent about the Seattle Mariners which left me scratching my head for a minute or two. Referring to the potential loss of audience that the Mariners suffer from by being on the Left Coast, he labelled Seattle:

"The return-address corner of the Republic."

Huh? Okay, I got it, but it was so 'left-field' that it took me a minute. Try again, Frank.

Tuesday, October 2, 2001

We Were <em>Gonna</em> Do It Anyway!

Before Attacks, U.S. Was Ready to Say It Backed Palestinian State. Given the behavior I've seen from Colin Powell in recent months, I'd certainly believe he was for brokering such a peace plan, but George W.? Nah.

By the way, Powell was the general I most respected after Desert Storm. All that he has tried to do as Secretary of State, and not just since September 11th, have only increased that respect.

Monday, October 1, 2001

<A HREF="">Categories</A> For Dummies

A while ago I bought Basic Category Theory for Computer Scientists, choosing it over Conceptual Mathematics: A First Introduction to Categories on the basis of a discussion on the comp.lang.functional Usenet news group. According to Mike Kent, "coverage is idiosyncratic" in Conceptual Mathematics, while Basic Category Theory covers "enough (and the right) topics so that you can grok the category theory that underlies various areas/approaches in CS."

Well, after some careful reading, I came to the conclusion that Basic Category Theory was too terse, and assumed too much. So I bought Conceptual Mathematics too, knowing full well that it "introduces topoi, doesn't even define adjoints, and mentions functors only in the fleetest passing." I figure I'll try to grok what Lawvere has to say, then fill out the missing pieces from Pierce. The working approach here is to use the incomplete but verbose book to get grounded in the language and background, then use the terse but complete book to fill in the gaps. Wish me luck.

Muffler At The End Of The Tunnel

My little yarn ball is getting smaller and smaller. I watched a Buffy re-run and an episode of Stargate SG-1 while knitting last night (after putting everybody to bed). Strangely, I've never had wrist pain in my left wrist from typing, but I'm getting a little from knitting.

I estimated roughly how much yarn goes into a single row of this 'starter' project. Since Kelly really crammed the stitches on, it probably takes more than the average project. It seems to need around 12 needle-lengths, which doesn't seem right, since these are ten inch needles. That'd be ten feet. Just saying it makes me think I did something wrong in my estimates. Anyway, with that estimate, I think I've got between five and ten more rows to go before I need to 'cast off stitches' and tie that thing off. Frankly, I can't wait. If Kelly wants to knit again, she's gonna have to do it all herself. But for right now she's clearly lost interest.

New Convert

Or she's just humoring me. We went to Mugi last night! Jean had the softshell crab roll and said it was wonderful. Kelly went totally off the deep end over the ... sticky rice! She ate a few other things, but she did in nearly a bowl of sticky rice, and asked Jean if she knew how to make more at home. I told her I did, and knew of a recipe for it on So now I get to learn how to make it right.

Best Buffy Rerun Line

The first couple of seasons of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer take place at Sunnydale High School and surroundings. The conceit is that the area is infested with vampires, Buffy and her friends fight them, and nobody else seems to notice...

High school jock: "This year, football is gonna be awesome! If we can just maintain focus, be disciplined ... and not have quite so many mysterious deaths ... Sunnydale is gonna rule!"