Copyright

All blog posts, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted to the Author (that's me) and may not be used without written permission.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sick

I wasn't feeling particularly healthy last week. On Thursday midday it struck me down and I didn't even log on to work on Friday. By Saturday I was feeling well enough to go with the gang to one member's trailer about half-way between here and Fredericton. However, the day was scheduled for showers and we wound up playing DnD under an awning on his porch for most of the day.

While we had one of our best sessions to-date, the cold and the damp got to me even though I wore my rain jacket and tried to stay out of the wet. Sunday I was sick and it just kept getting worse.

This week, one of my last before my contract ends, I have only worked two days out of five due to illness. Monday and Wednesday were horrible days. Tuesday I managed to put pretty much a full day in, although I still wasn't feeling very good. Thursday I started out feeling much improved, and got a couple of minor errands done in the morning, worked for the late morning and afternoon, and then M and I put together our new wheelbarrow and reviewed our options for the grill.

Putting together the grill completely wiped me out. I was sweating and exhausted when we finished, which I shouldn't and wouldn't have been had I not been so sick. It was not very stressful or taxing work, and with M's help should have been a breeze.

Later that evening, after the fog rolled in, M's dad showed up with his trailer filled with the other 1.5 cord of wood; we haven't managed to get the first 1.5 into the house as it has been raining for about a week straight. Standing out talking with Alex in the cold, damp fog seemed to do me entirely in.

When we settled in for the night, the coughing began again in earnest. My throat was burning, and the damned hot/cold flashes were back with gusto. That evening, after heading to bed, I got that familiar feeling in my lower intestines and dashed for the bathroom... a total of three times.

My coughing during the night got so bad that I woke both of us up and M went and got me cough drops to ease it enough we could both go back to sleep.

I've slept today, stayed under the covers (except for during hot flashes) while I watched a movie, and generally not done a hell of a lot. If I move too quickly or speak for more than a couple of words, the coughing returns and it is so violent it makes me feel like throwing up or hurts the hell out of my throat.

We had planned to head down to Calais tomorrow for a package my mother sent, but I think I'll be staying home. I also want to take my bike into Alternatives to get the gears fixed so I can ride it (and to look at grills while we're there), but I don't think that will be happening unless I improve a lot between now and tomorrow.

The lesson learned is that I need to stay out of the cold, damp air. I also need to ease myself back into full action instead of jumping in and further weakening my system.

For now, I think I foresee a lot of hot cocoa and cough drops, a few movies, and maybe a hot bath. And M won't have to put up with my talking very much for the next few days.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

North Korea

I have been told by my parents, PSAs, movies, books, psychologists, ABC After School Specials, Dr. Phil, and just about anyone else who can speak that you ignore bullies. Well, not ignore exactly; you are watchful, you defend yourself if attacked, but you do not provoke them, you do not acknowledge them, and you do not give them what they want. In this way, you take away what they need most-- your attention. Bullies are bullies because they need attention. If a person can't get the positive attention he/she craves from someone or something, he/she attempts to get it through negative practices (i.e., bullying) to get any sort of attention.

North Korea has been a bully for many years. Its leader, Kim Jong-Il, is at it again. He is threatening to start up his nuclear power plant so he can get more weapons-grade nuclear material with which to make weapons. He is doing this to get attention from the UN and the United States so that either will relent and give him attention and "stuff."

But, as we are always taught, you shouldn't give concessions to a bully. You don't acknowledge a bully at all.

So, rather than playing HIS game, how about we treat him like the bully he is? Instead of going into negotiations with him, we stop sending him food. Instead of listening to demands, we stop sending medical supplies. Instead of offering concession if he'll "play nice," how about we stop importing anything into the country of any sort.

North Korea cannot feed its people. Without our food, medical supplies, goods, and services, and the people we send to help them develop these things (including the very same nuclear program that they are now threatening us with), North Korea goes back to being a third-world nation.

I'm not saying we should be stupid; we should monitor North Korea and its weapons program intently. We should protect ourselves and our allies as needed from aggression. But we do NOT acknowledge a dying leader's need to make himself feel powerful and to show his people he can make the mighty USA bow to him. We take that away and what do you have? A pathetic loser who cannot feed his people, who is dying, and who has no real immortality or legacy to his illustrious reign.

If we can go one small step further and somehow let the poor North Koreans know that every day they go without food and medicine is because of their leader and his demands, we might even get the people to rethink their choice of leadership. If we can get the people to understand that we WANT to help, but Jong-Il's saber-rattling and bullying tactics are keeping us from doing it, they might rise up and question that leader.

That, or a sniper's bullet from 1000 yards.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

One Year Anniversary

On June 17th, I achieved my one year anniversary of the date I arrived in SJ. It is hard to believe it has been a year already!

M has, of course, made it well worth the trip here. She's been a saint, putting up with me this long with all of the changes I have wrought on her life. She does not like change, even in small amounts, and having an entire person and his life show up on her doorstep was emotionally disturbing and a bit overwhelming for her.

Then we moved all my stuff into the house and started working on places to put it all (and we're still working on it, a year later!). Throw in moving the furniture around, the "messiness" of another person to a house she only ever had to worry about her own self in, a new toilet, a shed, and, last but not least, a cat!

Meanwhile, the stress on me has been hard, too; a lot of the job prospects we thought I had dried up as the economic woes hit this area pretty much just as I arrived. I'm getting used to a whole new routine, living with a new person, house/yard responsibilities, the weather, the taxes, and a whole new set of politics. Not to mention missing my friends, family, and life in SoCal... a place I had never left for longer than a few weeks until now.

After a year, I finally have a general practice doctor (yay!) and my two specialists lined up and working on my case. I have some contract work bringing in some extra money to help pay for things. We seem to be hitting a decent routine of things she does without me, things I do without her, and things we like to do together. I survived my first winter in SJ, and am stronger for it- but also learned a lot, and mostly about what I don't know about winter! My truck also survived not only the trip here and the bad roads throughout the province, but also its first winter. We are, however, looking to get a remote started added for the coming winter.

I also have a whole new set of friends and (extended) family helping make the transition much easier than it otherwise could have or would have been without them.

And did I mention the new cat? >;-)

Romy seems, overall, to be working out. He is just starting to connect the sound "roam-ee" to petting and attention, but it will take, likely, a few more months before he is consistent and comfortable with it. He does like "bedtime" as he gets to sleep in the bed and curl up on M's feet or along her back (which she likes, too, as it keeps her snuggly warm) and gets a lot of attention and petting. M is still transitioning to having cat hair in the house and on the couches, but it isn't as bad as she feared and we're being a bit more diligent about vacuuming (central vac for the win!).

We also picked up a circular cat toy (the one with the ball in the middle) for him from friends whose cat didn't use it, and he seems to enjoy it. It's the first toy he seems to really like. He also LOVES his cardboard with catnip scratchers-- he goes ape-shit scratching at them and even falls asleep on them. Which keeps him from scratching anything else, so that's good.

They say that the first year of marriage is the hardest. Well, our first year was spent predominantly apart, which was very hard. It is difficult to be away from the one you love for short trips, let alone for months at a time. However, our second year was spent adjusting to life together, and was difficult for a whole different set of reasons; adjusting to having a living, breathing person in your life is a challenge. However, I feel like we have successfully navigated both of those hurdles, so we can move on to the challenges of the third year... whatever they may be.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Back Up and Running

About 10 before 8 am, I heard the beeping sound of a truck backing up. I looked out the window as the guy from the delivery service got back into his truck and drove off. Sure enough, my new motherboard was on the doorstep when I opened the door.

I bought the ASRock A780GXE/128M board. I have now completely installed and I am back up and running.

I am very impressed with the layout on the board. It was easy to plug everything in and not too many of the cables/connection were conflicting, so the board is fairly clean. It had connectors for my front-panel USB ports, which my last board did not, so my front panel is fully functioning now.

The sound drivers are far superior to what I had on the last two boards. Everything is clearer and louder, so I won't always be turning up the actual speaker volume, but can use the Windows volume control more often.

This board came with an obscene amount of USB ports available. There are six plugs on the back, plus a total of six more on the board (for things like the front panel). It also has SLI/Crossfire port directly on the motherboard, so no daughter card is needed. I don't have the second SLI card to use right now, but it is there and rar'n to go should I choose to go down that path.

The driver disks were also easy to use and simple. Installed the LAN and sound drivers and Windows immediately started using them. Has a bunch of overclocking features that I may install at some later date, but I've always been pretty happy with my system as-is, so may not touch those. We'll see.

For being an Asus boy for the last, oh, about 10 years or so, I am very pleased with the layout, cost, features, and installation of the ASRock motherboard. I would likely recommend it as a solid board if a friend was looking for a new one.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lakers/Magic

Well, Magic apologists certainly can't be complaining about the calls after game 3 of the finals. While a Lakers fan, I was willing to concede that there were more than a few questionable calls throughout games one and two, on both sides. However, the calls seemed egregiously in favor of the Magic in game 3. I used TiVo to rewind and look at nearly every foul called and there were very, very few that were even close to legit. Most should have been called the other way.

Aside: Matter of fact, that is a point that I hate about the NBA today; whenever you hear the announcer(s) say, "He did a good job of initiating contact..." that means the person with the ball should have been called for the foul. If you read the NBA rules, it is the person who initiates contact that is supposed to be the guilty party.

Of the four fouls that Lamar Odom finished with, three should have been called on the offensive player (twice being Howard) and one the other was a questionable/close call that could have gone either way. Hell, at one point Odom was standing with his arms up and his feet planted and Howard just barreled straight into him, hitting Odom in the chest with his lead shoulder and somehow it was a blocking foul on Odom. On another, Odom flew through the air, avoided all contact with Howard(?) as he went for a dunk, managed to block the shot cleanly, and was whistled for a foul.

Another egregious call. Howard got the ball, turned into Bryant, who wrapped up the ball and held onto it. Jump ball, right? Wrong. Although he held onto it for a full, slow two count and Howard was unable to raise the ball above his waist, not only was this somehow a foul on Kobe but also a shooting foul because "Howard's shoulders had been moving toward the basket" according to announcer Mark Jackson. Uh, so? Shoulders moving toward the basket is not "act of shooting."

And two of Howard's blocked shots were clearly goal tending, but were not called. One of which happened in the closing minutes and should have been a three point play.

The Magic shot lights-out and did a good job frustrating Kobe after the first quarter explosion. They set a record for a half in the finals by shooting 75% (and, even more strangely, the Lakers played decent defense-- they just couldn't miss a shot). I don't think the Magic can play a better game than that... and they only won by 2 points. I think the Magic should be very worried about their chances in this series.

A series doesn't really get interesting until a team wins on the road. So far, both teams have done what is expected... win on their home court. Should be an entertaining series from now on.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Bad Luck

Some time ago, I told you about my BIOS on my ASUS M2N-SLI motherboard crapping out on me. I got extremely lucky that a local shop had the ASUS M2N-SLI Deluxe MB in stock and were willing to part with it-- with no return policy or assurances, but I've installed plenty of MBs and know what I'm doing.

That MB worked great... until today. Something about the SP2 Vista update, or something surrounding it, or possibly totally unrelated, caused my machine to spiral out of control until now I have no response from the BIOS at all. What was odd is that at first I had some BIOS response-- I could get to the BIOS and it would even start to boot, but then would freeze or reboot suddenly. Then, each time, it seemed to not go as far. Then the BIOS started showing odd things, like not recognizing all hardware attached, or rearranging it, or not saving settings. Then, finally, it just didn't respond at all... now I turn it on and all my drives start up, etc., but I don't even get a POST or a beep from it. *sigh

While investigating it, I did discover that I may have some sort of short on a wire in my case. Which, of course, could have caused both my MB/BIOS related issues (but is somewhat unlikely). I'm continuing to investigate that even with the dead BIOS.

As I have good, quality hardware that I don't want to replace right now, I went looking for a new MB that would be forward compatible but would support my existing tech. I found a nice ASRock MB that seems to fit that bill. The reviews I read for it were all very positive, and I was pleased with the additional information I found on the manufacturer's site for the board. And it comes in at $100, which was about what I quickly budgeted for this replacement MB.

The one amusing thing was that I could pay UPS ground at $14 to get it here in 5-10 business days, or I could pay slightly above $35 for "expedited" UPS shipping, which would get it here in... 4-9 business days. Yeah, okay, I think I'll stick with the $14 and take my chances on that one extra day. I can use M's PC for emails and blogging between now and whenever I get the MB.

I tell you, though, if I didn't like my case, my hardware, and everything so much, I might have taken my next paycheck and seen what I could get in a pre-built system, whether laptop or PC, with a really nice replacement warranty. One issue with build-it-yourself systems, which I've done since the early 1980s (and for those who don't believe me, my dad and I built my first 80286 machine around 1986/87 and before that we messed around with the Tandy line of PCs and hardware!), is that you don't get the all-encompassing, fix it or replace it warranties. And you have to maintain all of your individual warranties for parts and such. It can be a pain and I'm getting old enough that I'm not as willing to do the troubleshooting, repair, reformatting, or replacement any more.

Anyway, the new MB is ordered. Since I'm ordering from the west coast, they may even process it today and it may ship tomorrow, so I may not be down too long. However, this will put a bit of a damper on my usual PC activities. *Another sigh

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Land of the Lost... Indeed

I have railed a number of times on this blog about the penchant for Hollywood to remake things and completely ignore the original concept which made whatever it was worth thinking about remaking in the first place.

When I first saw that Land of the Lost was being remade, I thought it might make for a decent franchise. And then the rumors and hires started-- it became a Will Ferrell family comedy. And then I started seeing the first promos and previews and my fears were realized; this movie was so far away from the original concept of Land of the Lost as it could be and still call itself that.

Just in case my memory for the original was faulty, Sci-Fi had a marathon of ALL of the episodes. I caught a number of them; yep, as I remembered, the original was a "dramatic" children's story about a family unit being lost in a land where dinosaurs threatened them, Sleastaks wanted to kill them and take over, and strange obelisks could manipulate time, space, and the weather. Although there was humor in it, it was played straight for the most part and there was always tension.

The preliminary results are in and the Will Ferrell movie made about 19.5 million in its opening weekend. About 10-20 million off what the studio anticipated and well below what Will Ferrell's movies usually do.

And I suspect I know why: had they named this something else and not had Sleastaks in it, I bet it would have done okay. Or, if they had named it Land of the Lost and kept it true to the essence of the original (a family in peril, trying to survive) it would have done okay. But history keeps proving that if Hollywood makes comedies out of what were 70s dramas and action TV shows, the BO for each gets progressively worse.

I know that Hollywood thinks the average movie-goer is stupid. And sometimes I agree. However, you can't keep fooling them in the same way and expect to succeed long term. The first Charlies Angel movie did well because it was a new take on the light comedy/drama of the original. The second didn't do as well because it relied too much on kitsch and lost the fine balance. Dukes of Hazzard and Starskey and Hutch didn't even pretend to be like the original TV shows. And each did progressively worse.

The other thing that Hollywood forgets is that the audience likes sequels, prequels, and remakes... to a point. This summer may be horrible due to the large number of remakes that, frankly, few people care about. And I'll I'm seeing and reading is about the movies and shows being options for future remakes and reimaginings. Hollywood is forgetting that you need some originality to spice things up and keep the audience coming back.

I am absolutely tickled pink that LotL seems to have failed miserably and, if it succeeds at the 50%+ drop I expect next week, may not break $60 million. This sends a clear sign to Hollywood (again, along with Terminator: Salvation) that sequels, remakes, and other rehashes need to be carefully thought out and considered before investing in. Stay true to the original concept. If you alienate the core audience, you will suffer and die a painful BO death.

Thank god for Up! Here's original, quality storytelling that is making money hand-over-fist. Maybe someone in Hollywood will realize that originality is a good thing?