Sunday, December 30, 2001

This Is Not Your Father's Goku

The New Banner Is Here! The New Banner Is Here! Yes, I've finally gotten off my keyster and uploaded an image. This one is of Son Goku, or just Goku, from Dragonball Z. Jean got Kelly a snap-together model as a stocking stuffer, seeing as how Kelly is fond of the show, thanks to Cartoon Network.

It was a bear to put together, mostly because the directions referred constantly to a part's position on plastic frames. If you have ever assembled a model you know what I'm talking about. Parts of the model are strung together on a plastic frame, due to the lot of them being injection molded into a form. The problem arose because Kelly had helpfully removed many of the tiny nondescript parts from the frames ahead of time. Fortunately, with some trial and error, we got it figured out.

This photo is one of my few attempts at macro photography, since my digital camera, the Nikon Coolpix 950, though it supposedly has one of the best macro modes in the digital camera world, lacks one thing: the ability to take photos with a timer in macro mode. This forces me to manually click the shutter button, which can jiggle the camera, and therefore blur the macro image. But this one turned out pretty good, don't you think? I used my inexpensive Slik U8000 tripod I got off of Ebay to steady the shot, somewhat.

Before the holidays are over, I'll try to replace the 'Candid Kelly' shot in the Welcome message with a new one from Christmas. Jean tells me that none of them are all that flattering this year, characterizing the 'best' two as Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman and I'm Gonna Hurl!

But I like 'em both, so you'll get at least one, and possibly both crammed onto the home page.

Saturday, December 29, 2001

<A HREF="">E. Coli in the Box</A>

Not the first simultaneously strange and clever thing Jean's ever said (in fact she logged two more today already), but it stuck in my head. Regarding some new construction near our home, one building of which is a two-story affair, surrounded by signs declaring 'Coming soon! Jack-in-the-Box!', I remarked, "who ever heard of a two-story Jack-in-the-Box?"

Jean, who was driving, replied in a somewhat distracted fashion: "It's probably just, you know ... architecture."

I think I hurt myself laughing after that one sank in...

Friday, December 28, 2001

New Timesink

Being perfectly honest with myself, I have to admit that I have more PS2 and PS One games than I am likely to finish in the next year, given my normal lifestyle and schedule. Some are RPGs with definitive goals; haven't played any of them to completion yet. Some of them are platform games or other arcade style games, where you just play until you get good or get tired of them. I haven't done either on any of them.

So naturally, having another long weekend coming up, and money in my pocket from Christmas, I ran down to Fry's and bought another game. But this one was special. It is Final Fantasy X, the first Final Fantasy game made especially for the PS2. I went downstairs to just play the opening animations, around 5:30 pm, and just now came up, 2-1/2 hours later. This is one beautiful game. It remains to be seen how interesting it is, since I'm in the early stages where a lot of backstory is being pumped out.

Anyway, as this weekend is exceptional, I expect I'll get six or eight hours into it and then stall for lack of time and energy. In the meantime, it's a lot of fun.

Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Downtown Torpedoes

I've had this in my 'to watch' pile since Anime Expo 2001 this summer. This review details the particulars of the movie's cast, locations and plot, better than I can. In any case, I popped it in Christmas night, as everyone was worn out but I had some energy left.

I have to say that much as I enjoy Hong Kong movies, and the goofy high energy they oftentimes exhibit, this one was mediocre at best. So often they shot for 'cool' and came up 'luke-warm'. A car chase that looked more like a caravan (they shake the chasers by pulling their spy truck, conveniently disguised as a bottled water truck, into a bottled water plant). A couple of double-crosses telegraphed across the length of the movie. Computer hacking that would be laughable even if you didn't know something about computers as I do.

Overall, while some of the actors were personable, I thought they were wooden and underutilized throughout the movie. So while I'd let a friend watch this movie, I'd have to give it a 'B-' as my recommendation.

Tuesday, December 25, 2001

Successful Christmas

I won't bore you with the full laundry list of who got what. Suffice to say that Kelly enjoyed herself and hasn't yet exhausted the store of new toys to play with. I got Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and disappeared for an hour or so playing with my Game Boy Advance.

We went down to Mentor to feed the ducks, a family tradition which we whimsically pretend will bring us luck in the following year. I had time to do strength training, and spent a goodly part of the day breaking down boxes and picking up trash.

One thing which worked well this year is that I used an Amazon Wish List to express some of the things I wanted. Jean bought from that, so she didn't need to give me cash this year (something I've always said I preferred before, since I usually know better what I want than anyone else, but don't always have a list handy).

The remainder of the day will be spent lazing about. If I'm feeling exceptionally motivated in the next several days, I'll try to upload a few Christmas images, though I didn't take very many this year. Just feeling lazy.

Monday, December 24, 2001

Ghost Squirrel

Jean wrote up a conversation we had with Kelly while driving to swim class a couple of weeks ago. Since Jean is the humor columnist for a local paper, she embellished it somewhat, but the general shape of the conversation and the ideas therein are actually pretty close to what was actually said.

I don't actually talk the way she writes me (do I?), but the bit with the crutches is mine. Missing is my more evil and insane commentary (and he had a hook!). Just click on the link at the bottom of this article to get to Jean's actual article...

These 10-minute drives can drive you crazy

by Jean Wakefield

We're heading down Tualatin-Sherwood Road to the YMCA for Kelly's swimming class.

Kelly: "Mom, how do you spell sprite?"

Me: "S-p-r-i-t-e. If you mean the pop, then you capitalize it because it's a name. Why?"

Kelly: "It's from Scrooge. You know, the Sprite of Christmas Past."

Me: "I think you mean spirit. Were you watching it in the basement? The acoustics down there are terrible. Bryant Gumble sounds like Bob Dylan."

My husband: "There's no Sprite in the basement. Only Mr. Pibb, and I drank it."

Kelly: "Not in the basement. In the hallway. There's such a thing as spirits, you know. I saw them last night going past my room."

My husband: "Those are boxelder bugs."

Kelly: "No, ghosts. But only children can see them. Did you ever see a ghost a hundred years ago when you were little, Mom?"

Me: "I know someone who saw a ghost when she was a kid. But if there is such a thing as a ghost, I think it's just a spot like the hallway playing the memory of a person over and over like a tape recording. A ghost isn't a person who's out to get you. That's spelled l-a-w-y-e-r."

Kelly: "Well, I saw a young ghost. A 15-year-old. She didn't die regular. It was a car accident. Yup, what a pity. Can I have a Cremesaver?"

Me: "Her parents must've been devastated."

Kelly: "Her mother caught cancer and her father died of the dog flu. That's a bad kind of flu. Her brother got the chicken pox, a very serious kind, and he died."

My husband: "Sign that family up for the Good Health Plan."

Kelly: "Then her pet squirrel died from polio. But he didn't die right away. It took him a while."

My husband: "What a sad sight, that poor squirrel dragging himself around the neighborhood with a tin cup."

Kelly: "It was only in his toe. His toe didn't work because of polio."

Me: "Ah. So he had toe-lio."

My husband: "They rubbed it with oleo to see if it would grow-lio."

Kelly: "Did not. They had to amputate it."

My husband: "It must have been hard for him to scamper up trees with a bum toe."

Kelly: "He didn't go up trees. He was a ground squirrel."

Me: "At least we can take comfort knowing that he now has a rich spirit life surrounded by nuts."

Kelly: "And he used crutches."

My husband; "Now that he's dead, do you hear his ghost clambering around on the roof?"

Me: "Scamper-scamper clunk. Scamper-scamper clunk. Hey, I'm allergic to ghosts. We should call in an exorcist."

Kelly: "You could ask at the YMCA. They've got exercisists there."

Me: "Okay. I'll sign you up for a swimming class and an exorcism."

My husband: "Hey! If you pass this session, maybe you'll be moved up to ground squirrel."

Kelly: "Dad. Don't be silly. Squirrels can't swim!"

My husband: "But you better work hard. If you flunk you get dropped down to drowned squirrel."

Kelly: "Can we just have quiet in this car? You're giving me a headache."

Me: "I'd like to point out that this whole conversation could've been avoided if our country would initiate a comprehensive rodent vaccination program. Please give generously. Thank you."

Christmas Eve Reveries

Kelly is wired. She reminds me every few minutes that tomorrow is Christmas. I tried telling her that due to a labor shortage, Christmas had to be postponed until the weekend. She was rather cross with me over that.

Then I tried a different tack:

Me: Did you remember to pay the Christmas tax?

Kelly: Yep!

Me: Did you remember to apply for your Christmas Visitation License?

Kelly: Yes. It's hanging on the wall in the living room where Santa Claus can see it.

Jean (from the kitchen): Don't forget we have to put out the milk and cookies too!

Me: I've heard that Santa is trying to lose some weight. He's asked people to offer him a glass of red wine and a bowl of grapes now instead.

Kelly: Da-ad! No he doesn't!

Me: But I still think he'd appreciate something else. Maybe an apple or some cheese?

Kelly: Uh huh. We could put some cheese on the plate for him, sliced flat. One half of the plate would be cookies, the other half would be cheese.

Things just kept getting sillier from there, but you get the idea. Earlier Jean asked me if 6am would be okay for getting up, or should we make Kelly wait until 6:30? I commented that given the choice between 11 lashes with a whip and 12, I'd still complain about receiving 11. I'm going to try finding excuses to wake Kelly up a few times before midnight. She doesn't like this idea, as she thinks Santa won't come, but I told her "He knows when you are sleeping, remember?" Somehow that creeped her out, and she yelled at me. Oh well. I don't think I'll be able to force myself to bed early enough to compensate, so I've got dibs on a nap tomorrow.

A Russet By Any Other Name

Is it just me, or are pierogies and knishes just exercises in different scale? I've never had a knish, to the best of my knowledge, but the descriptions I find online sound like large pierogies. And I do like pierogies a lot. Anyone know?

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Blocked or Lazy?

Last Thursday we lost power, as I've mentioned. What I've neglected to mention is that the wireless router we use, the Airport Base Station, failed after this event. A power surge just before the outage may be responsible, but there is a known flaw in early models where two capacitors on the circuit board fail. Because of this, I was able to get Apple Customer Relations to agree to send me a replacement.

But it isn't here yet, so I've been remiss in posting. Finally I couldn't stand it, and I'm posting here at work. Other things will have to wait though, such as a humorous essay written by Jean, relating an only slightly fictionalized conversation between Jean, Kelly and I in the car last Saturday. I'll post it as soon as I can, but suffice to say it has to do with ghosts, squirrels, polio and other odd subjects.

As for why I've not posted the pictures from our trip to the coast yet, well, that was all just getting used to the iMac, and as soon as the router is working I'll try to get a few up, at least changing the banner above. Yeah, that's the ticket. Just you wait...

The Fellowship

As the year looms to a close, I've got tons of unclaimed vacation time. So guess what I did today? That's right, I went to the first showing of Fellowship of the Ring. This knowing full well that I'll definitely be seeing it again come Saturday night with the post-NOVA crowd.

I just couldn't help myself, you see. Though I haven't read the books in decades, literally (and doesn't that make me feel older to declare it), I remember the great pleasure I took in reading them as a youngster. There was one summer when I read all four books (counting The Hobbit) three times in a row. They were so rich, multithreaded and imbued with substance, reading more as a history than a story.

Add to that that Peter Jackson is a director of great diversity and a quirky vision who just stands a chance of capturing that history, without compromise, and I couldn't wait. So I left at lunchtime, and am writing my impressions up before returning to work. Don't look for a full review, as this is a movie which will receive enough exposure without my petty voice.

First impressions:

  • Granted that a movie is devoted to each book, they are still 400 to 500 pages apiece. So the movie suffers some inevitable compression. Telescoping the key elements of the story into the movie leaves one feeling definitely rushed, at first.

  • In spite of this, I felt many times that the movie captured the mythic quality of the story, the epic scope, without becoming overly self conscious. The flavor of the characters, when they are given time on screen, feels right.

  • Imagine if the first Star Wars movie had been The Empire Strikes Back. That's what this one felt like. Knowing the books, I fear the second movie will be The Empire Kicks You When You're Down.

  • Elf women are gorgeous.

Let's de-emphasize that last one around Jean, shall we? I jest, she knows I'm ever faithful to her.

So is it worth seeing two times, as I shall? Without a doubt, if you are a Tolkein fan or just generally into well done fantasy stories. I wish they'd release the other movies closer together than yearly, as I know they were being shot concurrently, and I really don't want to wait.

Waiting for Gameboy

Yes! I can't wait (okay, I have to, but it's hard). continues to discuss his prototype for a frontlight modification to the Game Boy Advance, which is notoriously difficult to use in dim light.

What's got me worked up is he now has a screenshot of Castlevania, Circle of the Moon, a game which I own, running on his modified prototype. And it looks great! Castlevania is the darkest game (in terms of lumens) available for the GBA, so I can only use it under a bright lamp, which is kinda constricting as I tend to use the GBA mainly in the spectator area of the YMCA swimming pool while Kelly takes swimming lessons. That, and knitting.

So I'm on his list of folks interested in buying the kit when he gets it together, and I'm now bouncing up and down on my chair, 'cause ... I can't wait!

Tuesday, December 18, 2001

Nomad Dad

I tried to call my Dad to wish him a happy birthday today. I used the number I thought was the corrected one. Wrong number. Then I used the one in the letter from his wife, off by one digit. Wrong number. I don't think he wants to hear about his birthday .

Season of Darkness

We are entering the wet, windy winter of Oregon, and with it comes power outages. When we lived in Portland (Tigard, really, but we were in one of those Gerrymandered little curlicues belonging to Portland), we would lose power at least once every winter, and if we were lucky, it would last less than a couple of days. More standard would be a power outage which lasted a week.

Since we moved to Tualatin, the land of buried power lines, this has become less of a problem. Now, we seldom experience outages at all, and when we do, they amount to less than an hour, minutes more often. However, Thursday we had the most 'dramatic' outage we've had in awhile. The power went out around 6:45pm, and didn't return until 9:20pm. All the computers shut down, dropping my file download and cutting us off from the Internet (gasp). The television of course ceased to function, sending Kelly into a spiral of despair. She was literally wandering around the house declaiming "this is the worst day of my life!" That's what you get for being addicted to Cartoon Network, kiddo.

At the time, of course, we didn't know how long it would last. Initially, we were expecting maybe a half hour. When that time came and went, Jean called PG&E to find out what the estimate was. It turns out that power had been lost in West Linn, and they were shunting power from Tualatin. Who knows why? Maybe there was a hospital involved. Otherwise, why punish good little ant Tualatin who planned for the winter by burying her power lines, to reward lazy grasshopper West Linn, foolishly leaving his power lines above ground?

So anyway, we were left with an estimate of 8pm for reestablished service. By this time we'd fished out the candles, flashlights and portable radio, I was eating my cold dinner, and Kelly had settled down into a lachrymose murmur of despair. I resolved to finish my dinner.

My main concern during all this was that it was cold outside, and that although our house has gas heat, it uses an electric blower! Doh! So the house was going to get gradually colder the longer the outage persisted. Jean had already put on a large chenille robe. I opted to just remain in my day's clothing, with the option of putting on a jacket if needed. Kelly, in her usual sound judgement, had stripped down to her underpants.

After I finished my dinner and brushed my teeth, it occurred to me that I had a computer that would still work, though not connected to the Internet. I went downstairs, got my iBook, put in the battery, and brought it upstairs. Then I loaded four episodes of Angelic Layer off of a CD-R I had lying on the shelf, and began watching. As soon as the sound of the opening theme music began wafting out of the tinny speaker, Kelly came a running! Cartoons! Cartoons! After two episodes (which Kelly gave the big thumbs up to), it was time for Kelly to go to bed. No bath, sorry, the water would probably be too cool by now.

So I put both the women to bed, and called PG&E again, at Jean's bidding. Current estimate, 11:50pm! Ugghh! So I settled down in the living room to read a book by candlelight. I haven't done that in awhile. Note to myself: a regular hurricane lamp doesn't flicker nearly as much as a flame from a candle in the bottom of a glass bowl.

By this time, the house temperature was down to 67 degrees, though I was lying on the floor in my street clothes feeling quite comfortable. Suddenly, at 9:20 pm, the power surged back on. The television Jean had left on in the basement began chattering, the refrigerator hummed away, and all the other little noises of an elecric household assumed their rightful place in the ambient background. Kelly and Jean both popped out of bed, and it took awhile to get the clocks reset and everyone back to bed.

At this point, I'd insert the obligatory old saw about having a glimpse of our ancestors' lifestyle, but I did all that when I lived on Lake Gogebic in Michigan for several months as a teenager. It sucked then, and it sucks now. Kelly "This is the worst day of my life" Wakefield has no clue...

Is Hyperbole Killing Email?

Michael Fraase throws his tempest into the Spam Is Killing Email teapot. I'm starting to guess that this is really just a problem for 'famous' people. Since they have high visibility, they get a lot more junk email than I do. Since they didn't all get to their current prominently visible positions by being notably clever, they assume everybody else has the same problem. Following their reasoning trendline, they decide the only solution is to ... replace email!

Sorry jackasses. I get maybe six or seven spam messages a day at home, and possibly eight or ten at work. My email has become totally useless, because I have to spend, what, ten, fifteen seconds deleting the junk mail? And if the volume ever gets worse, I know how to use filters, fergodsakes! Jeez, some people.

Tuesday, December 11, 2001

Typing of the Neophytes

Kelly's now graduated to typing out sentences as a way of practicing writing. She's of course just a hunt 'n' pecker, but she has pretty good output when you consider that she's also sounding out the words to figure out how to spell them. And just to prove it, here's a little sample:





pigpigppppigpgigpigpigpigpigpignoknokhosthergosgoshogosgotyornosyornos mom

ses to pla nis but i can be nis to mie frens i like my frens my frens are my pals furevur

i dot noe my noe frenns tomuch and ilike my frens ulitul bit to much."

"i luve my mom to much but my mom sum timse my mom kutles me.

dad and me go shoping and we hav a grat time dad and we luve it we go to the toy stor we can get toys frum the toy stor i luve you,kkkkkkkkkeeeeeeeeeeeeellllllllllllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeellllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll. pppppppppppppppppppppppppiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggppppp


fffffffiiiiiiiiiiiissssssssssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... kellykllykelllykllykellykellykekkykellykellykellykellykellykellykellykellykellykellykelllykellykellykellykelly


Okay, a little raw, but still touching to me. I'm very impressed with her progress.

Sunday, December 9, 2001

Christmas Hijinx

I took Kelly shopping yesterday. First we went to Fred Meyer's to pick up my prescription (sinus medicine, helps me avoid sinus infections), then we went shopping for a present from Kelly to Jean. Kelly decided that doing earrings this year, as in so many others, would be predictable and boring. So instead we shopped for slippers. I won't describe them on the off chance that Jean sees this entry, but I think Kelly did a good job. The fact that Kelly's gift is slippers won't come as a surprise since she told Jean immediately that that would be her present. So the surprise is in which kind she's gonna get.

Next we moved on to Toys 'r' Us, where I planned to get some feedback from Kelly on which computer games she wanted for Christmas. I told her to pick out three that she liked, and I'd get one or two on a separate trip. But once she picked out her stack, she insisted that I could get them right then and there. "I won't look," she assured me. I decided to remove the temptation, and grabbed my sock hat out of my pocket, and tugged it down over her head so she couldn't see. I then grabbed two of the games and led her to the checkout.

It was especially amusing to me since the checkout guy's scanner had problems scanning our check. Kelly had to stand there with the sock hat over her head for four or five minutes while I tried to pay for the presents. Eventually things straightened out, and I hid the bag under my jacket, letting Kelly come up for air. All in all, she thought the whole thing was pretty fun!