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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Another Experiment, If You Will...

Up to this point my blogs have been based entirely on my experiences during each day. I have chronicled these experiences in (some might say "too much") detail, and thus it takes me a while to write them each night. So, in order to provide more entertaining material for you to read, tonight I will experiment with the blog content by crafting it in extraordinary terms vaguely related to what really happened. Hope this works...

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WAKE UP, SOLDIER!

My head (and torso) bolted to a vertical position at the sound of my alarm sergeant. I scrambled downstairs, shoving a few eggs into my mouth as I brushed past the Mess Room. There was no time to lose; today, I was going to deal History a final, crushing blow...

The School Room loomed before me in the form of a great Boss on the final level of a some nameless arcade game. It appeared to be comprised entirely of paper, a white mass of wrinkles and words, constantly undulating in a hauntingly sentient manner. I hefted my trusty P-HB2 Pencicular Rifle; the only weapon in the world capable of conquering such a beast. Immediately it lunged at me with a powerful question. I dodged it, thought for a split second, and then defiantly filled in my answer on the confounded monster's back. Again it attempted to crush my knowledge with a battery of questions. They flew at me from all angles, straining the abilities of my mind to the very limits of human endurance. And then...he went for the kill. Pulling from his nearly depleted arsenal that most horrible of weapons...the ESSAY QUESTION. Pinned down, my wits at an end, I struggled with my fatigued mind, digging through neuron after neuron in a desperate search for the answer. And to my great relief, there it was, crouching elusively behind my Call of Duty strategies. I stabbed the paper villain with my response and sent him reeling back into the annals of Schoolwork from wence he came...never to return. At least until Fall, that is...

But the battles were far from over...

Joining up with my friend Evan and his brother Garrett, I was hastily redeployed to the dark streets of Tblisi, where the three of us donned sophisticated stealth gear. Our mission: to ascertain the whereabouts of a missing CIA operative, presumed dead. Every ounch of our skill and patience was put to the test as we navigated the crooked streets, and even more crooked guards. Combat was unavoidable, but we were able to handle confrontations quickly and efficiently, without raising any alarms. By the time the locals found the bodies, we would be long gone. Upon the completion of our duties in Tblisi, an ever more urgent matter required our presence, on a mysterious ring world in the middle of space. Our combat with the invading alien forces there was fast and furious, but we dispatched them with the ease that comes with long hours of experience in similar engagements.

Alas, before we were finished it was time for me to return home. The moon was as bright at my post on the Earth as it is in space, owing to our proximity to the full phase. It lit up the terrain in a beautiful blue glow reminiscent of early morning, but with the shadows of day. I now fall asleep with the light streeming lazily through my window. It is peaceful...

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Well, that was...interesting. And it ended up taking me longer to write that than a full blog. Figures...I guess I'll go back to the regular format. Unless you particularly enjoyed that...

-Goodnight, Folks!
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Monday, June 28, 2004

Monday, Highlighted

In light of yet another late night for me, I won't be able to bring you Tuesday's blog. But I will leave you all with one paragraph of highlights from Monday...


The biggest part of the day was spending my entire session at the Art Center talking with Joe about starting my photo restoration business. He had a ton of very useful guidelines and suggestions for me. Turns out starting up a business is not as complicated as you might think. Yes, you have to deal with all the tax forms/registration and whatnot. But there are perks, such as being able to write off a percentage of "business-related" purchases (ie. Photoshop CS, a Wacom tablet, more RAM...) and not having to pay sales tax on them either. The only thing standing in the way of me getting "Heritage Photo Restoration" off the ground is the question of whether or not Mom and Dad are keen on customers coming by our house (possibly on a daily basis). Otherwise on Monday; Dad and I played an intense session of racquetball, we watched a very good episode of Voyager after dinner, and I overclocked my video card to point of display corruption (don't worry, it was temporary). Yep, pretty normal stuff, I'd say...

-Goodnight, folks!
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Late Brake

In yet another classic case of Missing Time, I find myself without the necessary space on the clock needed to write out today's blog. I will, however, get it written tomorrow in what spare time I can find and bring it to you then.

Stay tuned!
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Sunday, June 27, 2004

The Weekend in Summary

Yeah, lazy old me...here it is 10:30 on Sunday night and I haven't posted any blogs about this weekend. I feel I owe it to you to at least provide a summary of the weekend so you don't feel starved for information about my life. Here goes...


Saturday breezed by quickly. During the day I spent a lot of time on the computer, including a fairly decent Call of Duty session, wherein the game gave me another hard lock-up (more on that later). In the evening we went out to eat at Schlotzsky's and picked up a couple of movies. Upon getting home we watched "The Spanish Prisoner", a mystery flick with a bit of horrible acting but a very twisting a deceptive storyline. I enjoyed the film, but would only recommend it to Mystery fans.

Sunday was another story... I spent about two and a half hours from the mid morning through the early afternoon on my hands and knees cleaning the top of the baseboards in the upstairs portion of our house. I am now intimately familiar with every linear foot of caulking in said area. It almost shimmers now...if anyone cares to look, that is. I spent the rest of the afternoon watching baseball. First, Dad and I watched the Astros hang on to 1 run to win over the Rangers and avoid being swept in that series. We then flipped over to game 2 of the College World Series and watched as Texas' 2-0 lead evaporated in the bottom of the 7th inning as Cal State Fullerton rallied to victory of the astonished Horns. It was a true comeback in the fullest (no punn intended) sense of the word. And seeing the Longhorns lose was just so satisfying. In the evening we watched the second of our two movies, "The Truman Show", a great comedy/drama with Jum Carrey that was refreshingly entertaining. The concept of the movie alone is worth watching it for. If you haven't seen it yet, please do. I recommend it to anyone.

Oh, and as for the whole Call of Duty...thing. I did some searching online after the most recent crash and found a very long thread where at least a few people described my exact problem and recommended a solution. It involved changing a single graphics setting in CoD (which didn't affect the look of it noticeably at all) and turned out to be my solution as well. Thank goodness for online forums. The solution also recommended getting the "Omega drivers" for my card. These are apparently aftermarket drivers built on the official release (from ATI or Nvidia) that have been tweaked for greater overclocking and performance potential. I installed the latest version Sunday and I have to say they are very slick. They even include a built-in overclocking control right among the standard ATI settings. If you are serious about gaming performance, give the Omega drivers a spin.


And that is this weekend in a nutshell. It's nice to be caught up on my blogs without having to write too much...

-Goodnight, folks!
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Friday, June 25, 2004

Total Turnaround

Today was certainly a dramatic shift from yesterday, for the better. Not only in regards to Project Torlan, but also in many other ways as well. The rain was still here, yes, but it didn't seem very depressing in light of the turnaround...


This morning Mom had to leave for another doctor's appointment. But after breakfast this time, Sara and I didn't indulge in UT2004. No, rather she felt it would be a good opportunity to finally move me over from Blogger to LiveJournal. Well, I was all for it. But apparently, LiveJournal had picked this very portion of the morning to have some downtime. The same problems that arose a few days ago popped up again: page timeouts, page load errors, excruciating slowness. Almost like it was trying to tell us something...

Once the site was finally usable, we began the process of changing my page layout and style. Sara (being a LiveJournal user already) knew what to do and guided me through most of the customization processes. However, one fact became glaringly obvious from the get-go: all the good page layouts/styles are only available to paying LiveJournal users. The "best" layout we could find was poor, at best, and did not look even close to the professionality of my current Blogger layout. This prompted me to think that maybe, after Blogger had recently upgraded their site theme and blog-posting system, they might have implemented a Comments functionality (the main reason I was feeling obligated to switch to LiveJournal). Lo and behold, there it was sitting patiently in my Settings section: the option to "Turn Commenting On". After slapping myself for not realizing this sooner, Sara and I integrated the Comments parameters into my HTML Template (another thing only paying LiveJournal users get...), and I was done. Now, if you look right below the "posted by" notation at the bottom of every blog post, you can click the "(#) Comments" link to add your witty remarks. And you can even go back and post comments on all my previous blog posts (in case you had something you were just dying to get off your chest). So, you can stop bugging me about it now...

Shortly after Mom got home around 11:00 (now with a brace on her forearm near the elbow, due to tendenitis), she had me do the first 25-minute section of the PSAT Diagnostic test. It was in the Verbal category and dealt with some word-relationship and sentence-completion questions (all multiple choice, mercifully). I completed it with 3 minutes to spare, in which time I reviewed a couple of questions I had skipped over. It was all hauntingly reminiscent of the Stanford Achievement Testing...

Once that was completed I had lunch while watching The Screen Savers. I then spent some more time on the computer working on the content and layout of my "Heritage Photo Restoration" pamphlet (which I had worked on a bit earlier in the morning). It's coming along well; I've gotten the text written, formatted, and arranged on the "page". Now I'm just waiting for a good "before & after" side-by-side image couple to catch people's eyes in the center of it to demonstrate what kind of work I can do. Unfortunately (for this purpose), all the "old photos" we have here and in fairly good shape. Some of them are a bit faded or stained, but not bad enough that their restoration would make a dramatic "before & after". Hopefully Joe will have some more to choose from this Monday....

Today's Call of Duty was one of those rare sessions where I really had en exhilerating experience. It came in the first match. I joined the Russain team this particular time, since I'd played as Axis on it previously. The first 6 rounds were all wins for the Russain team, but I was struggling kill:death-wise. Then, on the final found, I decided to begin with a rifle instead of a SMG. I managed to survive through a couple of confrontations until I was the last man standing on the Russain team. But I wasn't about to let my team fail to sweep the Axis. Since I always play Search & Destroy, the objective is for one team to prevent the other team from destroying one of two key items (in this case they were Axis tanks). I was on the attacking team, so I planted the explosives on one of the tanks and the 1-minute countdown began. I had just enough time to scramble to a concealed position overlooking the bomb before the first of the remaining 4 Axis players clamored up to defuse it. I waited for him to stop moving, and then took him down. Next, 2 more Axis players approached clumsily from the same direction. I could've shot one of them and risked the other seeing me, but instead I waiting until both of them were standing right next to each other over the bomb. ONE SHOT from my rifle took down both of them!!! The remaining Axis player walked up right as I fired, and spotted me, but I whipped out a SMG that I had acquired earlier and filled him with lead to win the round and thus the match. By the end, my heart was racing and my hands were shaking. That, my friends, is what I live for...

Later this afternoon I had a chance to talk with the other member that left Torlan recently (the one who left regarding legal issues). We discussed his reasons a bit, and he linked to this thread at the Gearbox forums. This guy named "Schwinnz" apparently sent a detailed email to Bungie outlining the goal of his group to "port HaloPC to Unreal Tournament 2004", and asking them if they had any legal issues with doing so. Talk about a small world; this guy's group was doing almost the exact same thing as Project Torlan and they apparently didn't even know about us. How cool is that? I emailed the guy informing him of this, and also suggesting that perhaps it would be in both our best interests to combine into a single, unified project to better accomplish our mutually similar goals. He promptly emailed me back sounding very enthusiastic about the idea, and mentioning that he currently has 10 people working with him! All of them are willing to join with Torlan when and if Bungie emails back giving the OK to such a conversion. In this remarkable twist of fate, we lose a member, only to potentially gain 10 the very next day. The Lord indeed works in mysterious ways...

This evening after dinner, Mom and Dad left for their Friday tradition of going out to Starbucks to cool down from the week. As they left, the skies were looking pretty dark but no rain was falling yet. Sara and I spent the next hour off-and-on hanging out on her back balcony waiting for the rain to move in. Mom and Dad also came home a little earlier than usual due to the rain. I had fun, personally. It's so cool to have a front-row seat as a thunderstorm is coming. The wind all around, the sharp temperature drop, and eventually the pouring rain. Unfortunately, by the time it really got going, the light had gone and we couldn't really see much. Still, the whole thing was entertaining--at least to me...


So what are you waiting for? Fire away with those comments!

-Goodnight, folks!
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Thursday, June 24, 2004

The Return of the Rain

The almighty water falling from the sky returned today and seems to be here for another extended stay. While it's nice to get a substantial amount of rain here in June, I would still prefer a shower every now and then instead of these week-long pour spells. Ah well, not like my opinion makes any difference anyway...


This morning Mom had to leave for a doctor's appointment right after breakfast at 10:00, so Sara and I had the house to ourselves for the entire morning. And if it were a normal day, that would mean 3 straight hours of head-to-head UT2004. But since today was laundry day, and a dishwashing day, we had our hands full juggling those chores while Mom was gone. Luckily, it didn't take away too much from the time we spent "owning" each other in Unreal Tournament. As far as the Assault rounds went, I beat her 3 matches to 1. But in Deathmatch, I fell behind, only winning something like 2 games out of 5. She's says I'm improving though...

I had a burger for lunch while Sara and I watched TSS, and Mom got back around 1:30. At 2:00 she called me downstairs so the both of us could go over a book she had just bought recently about "Mastering the SAT". Since I'll be taking the PSAT this Fall, we are using this book to assess how prepared I am for it and identify my strong points and weaknesses. Tomorrow I'm doing to take the PSAT Diagnostic test to give us a general idea of where am I in this regard. I can't wait...

After putting in a good (and pretty much typical) hour of Call of Duty, all of us left the house at 3:30 for Mom's Chiropractor appointment. I listened to music on my iPod and read some more of Switching to the Mac. After she was finished, Mom was nice enough to treat us to some frozen custard from Shake's. I got the regular "concrete" with Butterfinger chunks mixed in. Heavenly...

We arrived at the Rec center about 30 minutes before 5:00, when Dad and I were scheduled to play racquetball. So we had some time to sit in the car. Around 15 minutes later, the rain moved in. The hardest section of it (driving rain and wind) blew through in about 5 minutes, after which it let up slightly. It was still raining as Dad pulled up, however, which made unloading the equipment from his truck and getting inside a bit tricky. We ended up playing 2 full rounds, winning one apeice. Both of us were sweating more than usual thanks to the humidity. On the drive home the rain was absent, thankfully...

This evening during dinner we watched Voyager, which happened to be an episode we hadn't seen before (or at least didn't remember). Sara and I then rounded up the trash and cat litter as we do every Thursday, and I then watched the Astros vs. Pirates game for about an hour before starting my blog.

Oh, an update on that LiveJournal thing: for some reason the LJ site was loading excruciatingly slow, and giving me numorous timeout errors. So I wasn't able to work on tweaking my LiveJournal at all today. Don't worry, I'm not abandoning it completely, though. I'll try again tomorrow.

And speaking of abandoning, the "new member" of Project Torlan (who seemed very promising as a vehicle converter) left the project tonight after we had a disagreement over one of the "extra features" he was adding to the converted Banshee. Before I could even talk about a compromise, he just left in a huff and blocked me on AIM. So the vehicle conversion part of the project has ended for now, and we're down to a single active member after another one quit recently (regarding the issue of whether Project Torlan was legal or not). At this point, the future of Project Torlan is looking pretty grim...

Goodnight, folks!
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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Elementary, Dear Beta

Hehe, I'm having fun with these play-on-words titles. Today's is of course a play on "Elementary, Dead Data", the title of a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. The substance of the episode doesn't really have much in common with today's events, but I just thought it sounded cool. Yeah, bite me...


Even though I don't usually mention breakfast, I felt I should make an exception for today. In a delicious departure from normal, Sara made scrambled eggs, which we topped with cheese and ate along with cinnamon toast. Now if only we could have a similar arrangement every morning...

In Geometry today it was the final regular lesson of the chapter, wherein I was introduced to the formulas concerning sectors (pie peices) and arcs of circles. It was challenging in some areas, and did take me a good hour and a half to complete this afternoon. For lunch today I had a chopped beef sandwich made with the leftover barbecue from yesterday, and watched the rest of Monday's TSS.

The reason for today's title is that during the morning and early afternoon I was struggling with getting the Windows Longhorn Beta Build 4015 installed on a VMware Virtual Machine. The OS installed easily enough (VMware even has an option to optimize the VM for Longhorn, which it denotes as "experimental"), and soon I was booted into a slightly outdated build (the latest is 4074) of Microsoft's latest child. For some reason the installer didn't automatically install default drivers for all the common hardware, so I had to manually click through about 20 "New Hardware Found" dialog boxes. It also took me a while to figure out how to install VMware Tools (a little program that adds some beneficial functionality to the VM) inside Longhorn.

As far as appearences go, Longhorn is looking mighty fine. The WindowBlinds skin that I'm currently using (see previous blogs) is pretty darn close to the "Plex" look of the Longhorn beta. But aside from the new visual style, the infamous "Sidebar", and some slightly different Windows Explorer features, everything in the beta is pretty close to Windows XP. This was disappointing, as I had seen screenshots of Longhorn's "Aero" user interface which depicted something dramatically different from XP. Apparently the build I got dates from before these "improvements". I'm going to play around with the beta a little bit more and update you if I discover anything new worth mention. In the meantime, this is a great article to check out if you want to learn more about Longhorn.

In the afternoon today I played very decent in Call of Duty, staying above 1:1 in my kill:death ratio throughout the entire session; something I haven't accomplished in a while. And of course, after yesterday Sara was only too eager to match skillz with me again at UT2004 today. Luckily for me (or perhaps, for her...), Mom called us down to have dinner around quarter to 5:00, right as Sara and I were getting started with the first Assault round. We then left at 6:20 for Bible Study in Round Rock, which lasted from 7:00 until a little past 9:00. On the ride home, Dad and I listened helplessly as the Astros lost to the Pirates (who are last in the division currently) 7-2. Eh, hopefully this is just a bump in their road to recovery...

Oh, good news for you LiveJournal users (and pretty much anyone else who's ever wanted to post comments on my blogs), I might be switching over to my LiveJournal account sometime soon. If any of you can find a good resource that explains how to customize LiveJournal using their proprietary system, that would be very useful. Just send it to "captainvalor(at)gmail.com".

Yeah, that's right. I've got Gmail. Try not to cry too hard. ;)

Goodnight, folks!
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Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Deja Vu Tuesday

I say that because today felt and was very similar to last Tuesday, in a number of ways. Read on and see if you can spot the similarities...


This morning I did something that I haven't done in a while; I pressed the snooze button on my alarm clock. Aside from delaying my morning 8 minutes, it had no noticeable effect on my day. During my morning browsing, I found a particularly interesting post here, at the Emaculation forums. It referred to this article, which talks about how the next version of VirtualPC for Mac will feature the ability to pass DirectX rendering right through to the Mac's graphics card. In essence, this means a Mac equipped with a decent processor and a higher-end Radeon graphics card will be able to play PC DirectX games just as well as a similarly-configured Windows machine. As you can see, this virtually eliminates the biggest caveat of Macs at this point: poor gaming support. The ironic thing about this whole deal is that Microsoft now owns VirtualPC, so this new "enhancement" they've built into the latest version of their software could stand to hurt them. Curious, indeed...

After breakfast, I spent about half an hour helping mom set up Firefox on her laptop. After seeing her deal with one-too-many popups and Flash adds in IE, I figured it was time to introduce her to a vastly superior browser. It took her some time to get used the concept of "tabs" instead of individual windows, but once I showed her all the advantages of tabs (mainly thanks to the phenominal TabBrowser Extensions), she seemed to warm up to them a bit. I also showed her how Firefox automatically imported all her IE favorites, and helped her get them organized into groups for easier access. I then topped it off with the AdBlock extension to help her get rid of those nasty Yahoo! Mail Flash-based adds. I think she's going to have a much better experience now.

After we got finished with that, Mom and I read over today's Geometry lesson, which dealt with Pi even more. This time it was the almighty formula for the area of a circle. I didn't have much trouble getting through the work this afternoon, but it did take me an hour and a half to complete. For lunch today I had a burger while watching X-Play's chronicle of the Metal Gear Solid series. Everything was great...except for the naked Raiden segment. MGS fans: you know what I'm talking about. Everyone else: don't ask, you're better off not knowing. Trust me.

At around 3:00, Mom left with Sara to go out to the local Hobby Lobby and look for painting supplies. Apparently she's wanting to start painting at home some more. I finished up math and then settled in for a good, long session of CoD. I was up and down the whole time, putting in a couple of decent matches, a few terrible ones, and a single shining performance that made the whole thing worth it. Honestly, is there anything more satisfying than running as fast as you can with your entire team and completely desimating the entire opposing side, all in the first minute of a round? I think not!

But Sara had other things on her mind besides Call of Duty when she and Mom got home. I foolishly agreed to play some Unreal Tournament 2004 with her over our LAN. Her bots pummeled mine in the Onslaught rounds, which seems a bit suspicious since she was the host. In Deathmatch I was able to hold my own, but for the most part Sara was the one doing all the own-ing (which she reminded me on many occasions). I won a single, solitary round...but every other time I came in a close or distant second. I can't let myself get so out of practice like this...

This evening Dad brought home barbecue for dinner after Mom left to take Myst to fencing class. Dad and I watched Wheel of Fortune, and the beginning of tonight's Astros game, before taking Sparky (our remaining dog) out for a walk around the neighborhood. Sparky has been feeling lonely lately since losing Amos, so we're giving him a lot more attention as of late. We got back and watched the rest of the game until the girls got home around 8:00. Then the four of us watched the first episode of Babylon 5, which Dad had rented on DVD. It was...a bit rough around the edges, to put it mildly. As most shows are in the their first season or so, the actors played a bit stiff, delivering their lines with too much or too little character. And the fact that the show used 1993-era CG graphics for all the space shots didn't help much either. However, the show's concept is interesting, and a lot of people say it gets better in the later seasons. I'll reserve my judgement on this particular series until I see some more of it.

So did you spot the similarities? Hope so, because I don't feel like pointing them out...

Goodnight, folks!
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Monday, June 21, 2004

Art, Homeowners, and a Super-Soaker

Yes, the formula for the perfect Monday. Write it down, folks; this is what you'll wish every Monday was like...


The morning started out pretty routinely (Sara says I should stop talking about what I eat for breakfast, so I'll omit that). Mom and I read over Geometry, which focused this time on the relation of Pi to regular polygons. Then at 11:00 we got in the car and headed for the Round Rock Public Library. But first, we had to make a brief stop at a local Jiffy-Lube to get our state inspection for the 4Runner. Along the car ride, we were fiddling with my Belkin FM Transmitter, trying to play some Pink Floyd on the car stereo. Unfortunately, there are stations broadcasting at various intensities on all four of the 88.1-88.7 bands that the TuneCast can cover. Consequently, I ended up listening to music on my own for the rest of the outing.

I chose the Round Rock Library specifically because they had a book there I've been wanting to get; Switching to the Mac by David Pogue. It mirrors a lot of content from OS X: The Missing Manual, but presents it from a more Windows-centric perspective. The book is clearly meant for the Mac newbie (such as myself) that's migrating from Windows and looking for similarities. Although after reading The Missing Manual, I've already learned much of the content in the book. I can probably skim through it easily in the 2 weeks for which they allowed me to check it out...

We got home at around 1:30, and had sandwiches for lunch (with our new tomatoes, of course). I was able to squeeze in a decent round of CoD before we had to turn right around and leave again at 2:30 for Art Class. Joe had done a lot of work cleaning up my Halo painting after the fuzz disaster from last week, and it does look slightly better. However, the fuzz is still visible on many portions of the painting. He promises to work on it a lot more in the following week, and "will clean it off even if [he] has to use an exacto knife for every single hair". That's one loyal art teacher...

And before we left today, Joe suggested something interesting. He runs a photo restoration business on the side out of his Art Studio, using Adobe Photoshop to touch up worn, scratched, and stained photos for 30-40 dollars apeice. Well, he suggested that I use my Photoshop experience to open up a similar venue out of our house on the other end of the county. I jumped all over the idea, mainly because my cashflow is down to a trickle right now in the reffing off-season, and I have a lot of time during the day to spend working on such projects. He gave me some sample "Before & After" pictures of his work, as well as an example of his advertising pamplet. I'm already in the process of designing my own pamphlet, as well as coming up with a business name. Joe has also agreed to devote next week's class period to teaching me his tricks for photo restoration and give me some pointers on setting up my business. I for one I'm very enthusiastic about this endeavor, and can't wait to get started...

After an early dinner, Dad and I headed nextdoor to the neighborhood Homeowner's Association Meeting at 6:30. To our surpise, virtually the entire neighborhood was already there, even though the meeting didn't officially start until 7:00. While I had planned on sitting in on the meeting, I ended up spending the entire time swimming with the other few kids from the neighborhood. Ethen was there, along with four other girls (2 near my age), and Ethen's younger (and more annoying) brother (Myst had decided not to come). As you can imagine, chaos insued within a few minutes. Water was flying, along with various swimming toys, and at one point Ethen and I went back home to fetch my old Super Soaker. That became a point of contention for the rest of the evening. I of course wasn't able to keep ahold of it for the entire time; it passed hands more than once. The person wielding it always had dominance. No one was seriously hurt, which is always a plus. We just had a fun time, something I haven't done in a while...

The meeting wrapped-up around 9:00, and everyone trickled out after that. The neighbors that live on the other side of us walked back to our house, where we gave them a demo of our Home Theater. The movie of choice was (as always) Star Wars: Episode II--the ending battle scene. Even though we've used that chapter to demo our theater more than half a dozen times now, it just never gets old. That's the mark of truly good film scene, I imagine. The neighbors left about 15 minutes later, and everyone headed upstairs to bed. I feel exhausted after all that swimming, plus I smell like Chlorine. Hope my hair's not green in the morning...

Oh, and if you're wondering where yesterday's blog is; I didn't get around to writing it today. Heck, I barely had enough time to write today's. Trust me, nothing seriously interesting happened Sunday. We had the Grandparents over, at barbecue steaks, and exchanged Father's Day cards and gifts. It was pretty social.

Goodnight, folks!
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Sunday, June 20, 2004

And Now, Yesterday's Blog...

Sorry about getting into this routine of lagging a day behind on blog posts. I'll try to get today's written tomorrow and tomorrow's written tomorrow. Yeah...



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Saturday, June 19, 2004

Amos, 1990-2004

Since today was centered around the final hours of our oldest dog's life, I felt it would be fitting to honor him in the title. While I can never fully do justice to his life in words, I will try share with you what I can of the feelings we had for him, and why we will miss him.


When I got up at 10:00 this morning, Mom and Dad had already left to go out to breakfast. After being on the computer for about half an hour, Sarah called me on the intercom with worry in her voice. Our oldest dog, Amos--who for the past couple of months has been in an "assisted living" state due to his weak hips--was doing something strange. He was lying on the concrete floor in our downstairs hallway with a bloated abdomen, heaving air and saliva. We were able to help him get up and walk outside, but clearly something was wrong. I didn't think much of it at the time, though, and headed back upstairs.

When Mom and Dad got home with breakfast, I came downstairs again. At that point Amos was now lying down in the grass just off our back porch. His abdomen was even larger now, and his breathing was shallow. At that point we suspected he might have been bit by something out in the yard when Mom and Dad let him outside that morning. But his symptoms did not seem like those of a snake or other bite. While I ate the breakfast tacos Mom and Dad had brought home, Mom thumbed through a canine illness book looking for something to explain Amos' condition. What she found was disturbing. His symptoms perfectly matched a "stomach turning" disease, wherein pressure builds up inside the dog's stomach, causing it to expand rapidly and thereby put pressure on the other internal organs. This causes shallow breathing, inability of the other organs to function, and eventually leads to death in most cases. The frustrating thing is that it can happen to dogs of all ages, and the cause is completely unknown. But the book was very clear that the dog should be rushed to a veterinarian immediately.

Unfortunately, the local vet was completely full and wouldn't be able to see Amos any time today. In addition, the emergency vet didn't open until 1:00. So we waited for an agonizing 2 hours. I chose not to go along with everyone else for various reasons, and said a terse goodbye to him. At the time, his eyes were already beginning to glaze over. That was the last time I saw Amos alive.

They didn't get back until around 3:00, and simply the fact that they pulled straight into the garage instead of stopping at the porch confirmed what I had already suspected. That evening we buried him in the back yard alongside our other dog that passed away a few years ago. Dad said a prayer, we all sprinkled some dirt on him, and then filled in the hole. A new moon smiled down on him from the West...

We then watched Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King from 9:00 until 12:30 at night. A fitting end to an emotional day.

Goodnight, folks!
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Friday, June 18, 2004

Thank God It's Friday!

There's just something about the end of the week that lifts your mood, y'know? I can't wait to sleep in tomorrow. Writing this blog is gonna be so smooth knowing I have all night practically...


This morning I splurged a bit and had Granola for breakfast instead of another muffin. And in light of the fact that my throat was still feeling raw, I gargled with a salt water solution after breakfast. I think it made a difference, since by the end of the day my throat was feeling much better. After brushing, Mom and I checked my previous two lessons in Geometry. I messed up a couple of the problems but managed to salvage a B on both lessons. We were interrupted once by the landscaper's wife/secretary coming by to pick up the check for the work they did this week.

About half an hour before lunch, Mom left to go get a haircut. I then began writing yesterday's blog in earnest. I was cut short by people I needed to talk to on AIM, including the new member of Torlan. I also spent a bit too much time catching up on the Emaculation forums. Before I knew it, Noon had come and gone, so I scrambled downstairs to grab a bite to eat while I could. I nuked a Hot Pocket in the microwave, added a few gerkins pickles and some crackers with spinach dip on the side, and headed back upstairs. All the X-Plays were reruns, so I finished watching the Modern Marvels about Hollywood gadgets that I had recorded from yesterday.

Mom got home around 1:00, and shortly afterwards she and Myst had a late lunch while watching Unsolved Mysteries in the Home Theater. I spent the next hour bouncing back and forth between talking to various people on AIM and IRC and finishing up yesterday's blog. It wasn't until after 2:00 that I remembered I had History questions to do. So I scrambled downstairs and blew through those, then scrambled back upstairs and played...

...Call of Duty! Indeed, the magic had not worn off. I put in a solid 8:4 and an unprecedented 11:1 in two consecutive matches. I'm getting positively deadly with the rifle. But when I can, I pick up a submachinegun to keep my combat abilities balanced. I prefer longer-range engagements, however, because in close-quarters my split-second of average lag can mean the difference between spraying a guy's torso...and airating the dirt ten feet past him. Hopefully my skill will stay at this level for awhile. CoD is just so much more fun when you're "pwning"...

I spent the rest of the afternoon talking with various people online, mainly the new member of Torlan. She is coming along very quickly and impressively with the Halo Banshee, as the screenshots she sent me today attest. She did have a bit of trouble animating the opening and closing of the Banshee hatch, but informed me later that she had solved it. The only thing remaining to complete before it can be released is the secondary projectile (the green "fuel rod"). We will most likely need to find an experienced UnrealED coder before that will be fully implemented. But for the most part, Torlan is going to be rolling out converted Halo vehicles very quickly in the coming weeks.

Tonight's TSS was a rerun, unfortunately. So I went downstairs for dinner early and helped set stuff up. We had meatloaf leftover from a local restaurant catering at my Dad's office. Good stuff, really good stuff...

Oh, and the Astros won tonight. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I didn't watch the game...

Goodnight, folks!
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Thursday, June 17, 2004

Now That I Can Finally Write It...

[Here's the blog for Thursday. The reason I was unable to write it at the normal time is explained below. Oh, and yes I did change the time so it shows up under Thursday.]


For breakfast I was finally able to enjoy one of our delicious banana nut muffins. Unfortunately, I woke up with my throat feeling as if I had been yelling all day yesterday (which I had been doing a bit of during the Halo competition, but not enough to make my throat as raw as it felt). Mom suggested I gargle with salt water, but being the stubborn kinda guy I am, I shrugged it off.

Mom and Sarah (Myst) had to leave for an Orthodonist (braces guy) appointment, so I had the rest of the morning to myself. I got my math out of the way (ableit with some difficulties due to the formula for finding the area of a regular polygon) and got online for some CoD. After a mediocre first round, I absolutely lit up the competition. My kill/death ratio at the end of the match was 15:9, the only person scoring higher than me being at 16:8. And even more miraculously, I had another decent match a couple of games later, scoring a 12:9 when all was said and done. Perhaps this marks a new climb in my skill level...

I had a burger for lunch, topped with an insanely large slice of one of our home-grown tomatoes. I tell ya, there's nothing better than tomatoes from our own garden. They put the store-bought stuff to shame. Shortly after lunch, Mom and I read the beginning of the last chapter in US History. As I mentioned a little while ago, we're now appropriately reading about the Reagan years. The most fascinating thing about his personality, in my opinion, was his sense of humor. For instance, they recount a story about him just after his assassination attempt. As he was lying on the gurney, weak and faint, he looked at the doctors standing around him and said nervously, "I sure hope you're Republicans." That was one heck of a man...

After reading History I checked the Emaculation forums and found a new Private Message waiting for me from the moderator of the FAQ forum. He informed me that he and another guy from that forum are in the process of putting together a "Master FAQ" that should cut down on how many questions they have to answer every day. He asked if I could write up an FAQ that covered the questions I see asked most often in the Advanced Chat forum that I moderate. I did some research and ended up spending the next hour writing it. I think I covered pretty much everything, and he was very pleased with it. I'll give you a link to that FAQ once he posts it.

At around 3:30 all three of us left the house to go to the Chiropractor for adjustments. I brought along my iPod, of course, and listened to the Uru music I converted yesterday. After a short wait in the Chiropractor's office, she popped some stuff back into place in my back and neck. Afterwards I also went over the exercises to do on my exercise ball with the trainer. We were going to meet Dad for an early dinner, but ended up having a lot of time to kill. So Mom suggested we "check out" a new dollar store nearby. After seeing the exterior of the place, I opted to wait in the car while she and Sarah "checked it out". About 15 minutes later, they came out empty-handed. I hadn't missed much. What a suprise...

We had dinner with Dad at Chili's, but even after "killing time" at the dollar store, we got there early. To pass the time, the three of us did a napkin game which involved connecting dots in a grid one line at a time without letting your opponent draw a square. Things were going great until I made a crucial mistake towards the end that cost me the game. I drowned my sorrow in a glass of iced tea.

When we got home a little before 7:00, the Astros were about to start their fourth game against the Cubs. During the pregame, I did my weight lifting for today (a note on that: I was able to increase my curl weight from 10 to 15 pounds...please don't laugh, I'm getting stronger). The Cubs took an early 1-run lead and I didn't feel like watching them lose again, so I switched over to the History Channel. They were running this really interesting 2-hour Modern Marvels that analyzed various Hollywood "spy gadgets" and revealed that many of them have real-world equivelants. For instance, remember the Spyders from Minority Report? Apparently UC Berkeley is developing these mechanical "RoboFlies" that are about the size of a quarter, move just like a real house fly, and can carry a camera. What won't they invent next...

But just as I was really getting into this show, Mom called Sarah and I on the intercom to come outside and help her and Dad with a project (I grumbled a 'yes' and set the show to record). Apparently when the landscapers finished laying down the grass in the front yard (which looks incredible, by the way), they didn't use all of it. Mom figured we could use the leftover sod (most of which was in ugly, small peices) to fill in a low spot in the back yard. For the next hour the four of us hauled dirt from the rose bed in the front (which apparently wasn't the right kind) to the spot in the back, and brought the grass in wheelbarrow loads over to it. We were able to cover a decent amount of the low spot by arranging the clumps of grass in a semi-orderly fashion. I was kind of wishing I hadn't done the weight lifting beforehand, though...

When I got back inside, Sarah and I rounded up the trash and cleaned the cat litter like we do every Thursday. I then sat back down and caught the tail end of the Astros game. They were down 4-2 going into the top of the ninth, the Cubs then scored one run to make it 5-2 going into the bottom of the inning. The Astros had one last chance. Lance Berkman hit a nice double to lead off the inning. But then Ensberg grounded out and Bagwell struck out. Just when it looked like all hope was lost, Jason Lane stepped up and smashed one out of the ballpark. 2-run homer! The crowd was back in the game as the pinch hitter, Orlando Palmero, began batting. But hope of ending the Astros losing streak was shattered when he grounded out. If the Cubs hadn't scored that single run in the top of the ninth inning, it might've been a very different story. Oh well, maybe they'll do better against Anaheim...

And the reason I wasn't able to get the blog written is that right before the normal time when I start on it, someone new IM-ed me. It turned out to be someone interested in contributing to Project Torlan. She told me that she had successfully converted the Halo Ghost into Unreal Tournament 2004. After looking at her screenshots I welcomed her to the team. If you check out the Torlan Website, you can see those screenshots as well as download the mod. It's very well done and I look forward to further vehicle conversions from this new member.

Oh, and that thing about my iPod Wall Plug going out: false alarm.

Goodnight, folks!
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So Little Time...

I will not be able get today's blog written tonight, but I will get it up tomorrow. There's just so much to do...
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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Zoom Zoom

In addition to Evan coming over today, I also put in some driver training time with Dad. Details below...


This morning, right after I had popped some Pop Tarts into the toaster, I realized we had banana nut muffins (d'oh!). Guess I'll be eating one of those tomorrow. After breakfast, I spent some more time fiddling around with setting up my iDisk on PearPC. For some reason, the iDisk utility cannot "mount" my iDisk under Windows, even though I can connect to it like a network location. I hope this is simply an issue with .Mac having to get my account all straightened out. We shall see...

At around 10:20 Evan finally showed up. I gave him a brief demonstration of the latest PearPC build (his doesn't have the clock fix yet) and then we played Call of Duty for a half hour or so. I also showed him the FarCry demo, and he apparently liked it enough to request that I put it on a CD for him (along with the OS X WindowBlinds skin I used for a while before changing it recently). After starting that burning, Myst joined us for some Xbox Halo multiplayer in the Home Theater. We played a couple of matches of plain vanilla deathmatch, but then tried something new. I don't know how many of you Halo fans out there have ever played it, but the "Oddball" gametype is really fun. It's basically a "hot potato" match where you have to hold the "ball" for a total of 2 minutes to win. Whoever has the ball is "lit up" for everyone by an on-screen indicator. This translates into some really frantic gameplay. If you have Xbox Halo and at least two friends willing to play it with you, I highly recommend trying it.

Evan left around 2:00, at which time I did about 30 minutes more Call of Duty. After putting in a fairly decent first match, I absolutely sucked. Instead of continuing to get slaughtered, I spent some time browsing the Emaculation forums before taking a break to catch up on recorded X-Plays. I then spent the rest of the afternoon in a project to convert the best music from Uru: Ages Beyond Myst. In its native OGG Vorbis format, iTunes cannot play it back or transfer it to the iPod. I happened to discover this gem of a program, dBPowerAmp Music Converter. It's a 100% free and powerful solution for converting any format of audio to any other format of audio (given you have the codec for that format installed; also free from their website). It was simple to convert the entire collection of music files to MP3 in one batch. I then spent about an hour listening to and rating each song (weeding out the ones I wouldn't want to hear a second time), as well as fixing the ID3 tag information to make it a little more descriptive. I now have some more music to listen to on my iPod...

At 6:00 we watched the Screen Savers (which I think was a pre-taped show, but I'm not sure anymore with the way G4 has changed things up). Shortly after that, Dad got home and he and I watched a little bit of tonight's Astros vs. Cubs game. It was a similar story to the previous two games in that the Astros ultimately lost. There seems to be no hope for those guys...

After dinner, Dad suggested the two of us go out for a driving lesson in our 1995 Toyota 4Runner (standard transmission). So for about 45 minutes I did my best to drive around our circular neighborhood road, practicing gear shifting smoothly. It's certainly a challenge, as I mentioned in a blog a while ago. Giving the car enough gas but not letting off the clutch too slow or too fast, and then having to do it quickly all adds up to one heck of a coordination dilemma. I think I'm starting to get better, though. But I'm no where near ready to get out on the open road yet...

I think my iPod Wall Plug has gone out again. More details tomorrow...

Goodnight, folks!
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Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Super Tuesday

Well, not the real one of course; that already came and went. In fact, I don't know what would make this Tuesday "super", really. I'm just running out of title ideas...


Thank goodness we had leftover donuts this morning, I probably would've gone hungry rather than eat a bowl of cereal otherwise. Myst slept in a little bit, so she ended having breakfast later than Mom and I. And as we were eating, the landscapers that we hired to do some work out in our front yard got started. They were working the entire day until 2:00 in the afternoon.

After breakfast Mom had to spend some time taking care of the plants in the garden, so I had some time on the computer. This morning I finally gave in and signed up for Apple's .Mac 60-day trial inside PearPC. As soon I had finished filling out the registration, I was able to login to my iDisk. Browsing the iDisk is slower than a drugged turtle, but it's so cool to now have 100mb of free online storage space for two months. And one great about it is that you can also access it from Windows, so I don't even have to have PearPC running. Don't be suprised if you see me start linking to files on my iDisk from now on. This is just too good not to use on a regular basis...

Oh, and speaking of 100mb of free space. I got a message from Yahoo! in my inbox this morning happily informing me that my email space has now been extended to that golden number. Now I'll never have to delete another email again. Woohooo!

In Geometry the lesson introduced the Theorem for figuring out the perimeter of a given regular polygon. It's more complicated than you might think ( p=2(Nsin180/n)r , to be exact), but I didn't have too much trouble with it. After I finished with the lesson, I spent about half an hour using PearPC in fullscreen mode and running iChat (which logs onto the AIM network). I have to say, if there's any other iApp besides iTunes that I'd like to see ported to the PC, it's iChat. Using it is so much more enjoyable than using AIM (even AIM augmented with AIMutation). Apple, are you listening?

For lunch today I managed to snag the last two hot dogs, but was forced to eat them on bread as we somehow ran out of hot dog buns. I ended up watching the Screen Savers from yesterday, in addition to a new X-Play. After lunch, I worked on Geometry for an hour and then did the final page of my US History test (I knew there was something missing yesterday...). At 2:00, Mom and Myst left the house for the chiropractor and grocery store. Can you guess what I did next?

(No, not that you dirty freaks...) Call of Duty! Yes, I spent 2 hours this afternoon shooting, dodging, and dying in my oh-so-favorite WWII game. After getting off to a horrible start (albeit on one of the worst maps in the game), I played three consecutive matches where my kill/death ratio at the end was a multiple of 1:1. I never managed to break through that ceiling for the rest of the day. But I did have a few memorable moments, such as rushing the enemy side one round and taking down 4 of them--before getting picked off by a sniper on the complete opposite end of the map. Good times, good times...

In the later afternoon, after helping unload the groceries when the girls got back home, I did weight lifting for about half an hour. I'm going to try to get into a regimen of weight lifting consistently on Tuesday and Thursday of every week. I don't expect to achieve "Mr. Universe" for quite some time, however...

This evening, Mom took Myst to her first official fencing class, which gave me time to do even more Call of Duty. I only got through a round and a half before Dad got home and we had dinner. While eating, we watched the beginning of tonight's Astros vs. Cubs matchup. After sitting through 30 minutes, we paused it (man I love TiVo...) and went for a walk around the neighborhood for the next hour. Once we got back, the score was 1-0 Cubs. That shortly became 1-2 Astros going into the top of the ninth inning. What came next was kind of painful, as you'll read in the recap. The Astros gave up three runs to make it 4-2 going into the bottom of the ninth. Needless to say they didn't make up for their mistake, and 4-2 became the final score. I don't know what's gotten into them...

Oh, and I heard Detroit won the NBA Finals. Woot.

Goodnight, folks!
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Monday, June 14, 2004

Don't Forget to Show Your Colors!

Did you know it was flag day today? Yeah, neither did we...


Today started out tolerably different from normal. Since all we had for breakfast was cereal, Myst suggested we go out (brilliant). Mom was favorable to this idea, since we had to make a trip to Academy to buy Myst some clothes for fencing. So we loaded up into the car and drove though Krispy Kreme. Unfortunately, they've stopped carrying the Maple Iced donut in favor of a new "Key Lime" variety (wtf?!). I brought along OS X: The Missing Manual and found a nice, out-of-the-way spot to read it while Myst tried on various stuff at Academy. It was way too cold inside, so getting back out into the hot car felt good...for about 5 seconds, then we were too hot (oh well). I listened to my iPod in the car the whole time and we got back around 11:30. Not a typical Monday morning, but a welcome change from the ordinary nonetheless...

Since 11:30 was too late to start Geometry, Mom began the process of scanning my History test and editing out the answers. Meanwhile, I made a couple of phone calls. In the first--a follow-up call to Internet Gateway--I just barely missed the Wireless Manager right after he had stepped out to lunch. I left them my name and number, and later this afternoon I got a call back from him. He regretfully informed me that they don't currently offer service in our area, and don't have any plans to expand out here either. But, he told me that if 10 residents from out here made an up-front deposit of $100 each, they could establish a Point of Presence within reach of us. I talked to Dad about it, and he agreed it would be a good thing to propose at our upcoming Homeowner's meeting.

In the second--a follow-up call to Logitech--I had my hardest time yet with the menu system. The only way to get through to a real person was to pretend I had a support issue. Finally, I was transferred to someone in the right department, but the lady I got ahold of told me tersely that they were still "out of stock" on the replacement controllers and couldn't give me any idea of when they might be shipping. However, she was useful in giving me the number to call their Sales department directly. I called the new number and happened to be answered by the same rep I talked to a couple of weeks ago. He was able to give me some details; the new wireless controller model still hasn't started shipping (they were expecting it to start this month), and they think it might not until the beginning of July. Though he assured me that I would be getting some out of the first shipment, in light of the fact that I have been waiting since February. So the wait goes on...

As I was heating up leftover pizza for lunch, Mom informed that she had received an email from the Hutto Highschool Counselor (where Myst will be going to highschool this Fall). The lady wanted to meet with us around 3:30 today, but because of Art, that just wasn't possible. Mom called her and instead arranged for her and Myst to meet her right then. I spent the rest of the time until 2:00 doing my History test while attempting to get the Mac Call of Duty demo to run on my PearPC system. No luck, the game would launch but just display a 640x480 black screen for as long I cared to wait. Right as I was about to fire up some Call of Duty on the PC side, Myst called from Mom's cell phone, asking me to heat them up three peices of pizza. I abliged, timing it to be ready just as they pulled up. They ate a quick lunch and then we all got in the car again for Art.

When I got there, I was concerned to find that my painting seemed to have become the landing pad for a few thousand tiny hairliners. From the right angle, it was easy to see that the painting was covered in them. And worse yet, they didn't wipe off. I continued working on the painting nonetheless. Joe took full responsibility for the dust and promised he would do all he could to clean it off during this coming week. After Art we drove back to Georgetown where Dad and I played racquetball at 5:00. He pulled away from me by a large margin in the first game, but in the second (and last) I led him initially and then stayed close the entire time; even rallied towards the end to come within a point of him before he finished me. We both had a good sweat going by the end of that match.

This evening after we watched Voyager during dinner, Mom and Dad headed over to our nextdoor neighbor's house to give them some of our surplus home-grown tomatoes and chat for a little while. That was at 7:30, and they just got back now (at 9:45). Good thing I didn't go; I wouldn't have gotten this blog written. No, I stayed here and watched the Astros vs. Cubs game go steadily downhill until Chicago led it 5-0. Ironically, my eyesight followed a similar pattern. I developed a blindspot, which grew until it encompassed the entire left side of my vision. It was like all I could see was static in my peripheral vision (made watching the TV a bit difficult). I think it was triggered by a headache or something, but it's gone now. Wierd...

Oh, and one final thought, I think I'm in love.

Goodnight, folks!
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Sunday, June 13, 2004

The Grass is Always Greener...

...After it's been been mowed. Or so it seemed once I got finished with it today. After spending my longest mowing session ever on our lawn, it does look just a few shades more grassy. Perhaps it's the satisfaction warping my vision...


And mow I did. After an uneventful morning wherein I had cereal again and played another mediocre session of Call of Duty, I headed outside to finish the job Dad had set up for me. He had spent the morning from about 9:00 to 12:00 cutting out the edges all over our property, leaving relatively uniform (but still large) sections for me. I told him he didn't have to do that, but he insisted. At 12:00 I suited up in a white shirt, faded jeans, and a straw hat; ready to do battle with some overzealous grass. For the next 5 hours, I was almost constantly sitting on our riding mower, steadily carving away the overgrowth in vaguely symmetric patterns across our 3 acres of accessible lawn. I had to re-apply sunscreen on my forearms three times during the afternoon, and thankfully that was enough to stave off sunburn. The fact that I mowed the rest of the yard gave Dad a chance to use the hand trimmer for edging and precise cutting around the rest of the property. By the end of the day, we had successfully finished giving our lot a haircut.

It felt sooooo good to take a shower after the hard day's work (I ended up having to do everything twice to get all the dirt off, though). Mom was nice enough to drive out and pick up a couple of pizzas for dinner from "Wise Guys Pizza", a local restaurant in Georgetown. I swear, they make the absolute best New York-style pizza in the entire Austin area. And we even have left-overs. Around 7:00, Grandma and Grandpa dropped by to chat for a while and bring us some plants that they didn't have room for at their place. Grandma is recovering from her knee surgery very well, but at the moment she has a rather nasty wound along her incision scar (it's healing, though). In spite of that, she's getting around fine with just a cane.

Since I won't be able to sleep in tomorrow, I'm going to have to cut this blog short. Don't worry though, I didn't skip anything.

Goodnight, folks!
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Saturday, June 12, 2004

Magic of the Movies

Indeed, as you'll read a bit further down, we went to see a movie today. The rest of the time it was basically relaxing, just the way a Saturday should be.

Well, as you know, after sleeping in until 10:00 this morning and having breakfast, I spent the rest of my time up to Noon writing yesterday's blog. I then played some Call of Duty for an hour and had a mediocre first two rounds, but a strong finisher. When the lag is low I find I do my best work as a sniper/rifleman. Just give me a KAR and a ping of less than 100 and I am death on two legs. Unfortunately, when I attempted to play some more Single Player, I got the dreaded video-locking-up problem again. I have a feeling it has something to do with a particular video setting in the game, since I was able to play it in Safe Mode (a horrific experience for a gamer) without any difficulties. I'm hoping ATI will take heed of the error reports I've sent in everytime this has happened, and release a driver update that solves the issue. Until then, no Single Player Call of Duty...

Around 11:30, Dad asked Myst and I if we were interested in going to see The Day After Tomorrow while they went shopping in Austin. Initially I said "no", since I wanted us all to go see it together. But eventually I came around and decided it would be fine. Dad went to get a haicut, Mom showered and bought our tickets online for the 3:20 showing, and the three of us had lunch. Shortly after Dad got back around 2:00, we left at 2:30 headed for the local Tinseltown 20.

Dad dropped Myst and I off out front, and we were supposed to head inside, get the tickets from the machine, and the give them a wave to let them know we got them alright. Well, we got the tickets faster than expected, I guess, but when we went outside I thought I saw our blue GMC pickup. I waved, but couldn't tell if they waved back or not. I assumed they had seen us, and we went inside (since it was already 15 minutes till showtime). No sooner had we sat down in the theater than the cell phone (Mom's, which she had given us temporarily) wrang. I scrambled to answer it, and then had to calm Mom down on the other end of the line. Apparently the truck I saw hadn't been there's, and they were all worried. I told her it was alright, that we had gotten in just fine, and then turned the cell phone off once she was done giving me a stern warning not to do that again. I took it to heart.

The Day After Tomorrow was very entertaining. If you don't know, the basic premise is that this Climatologist (Dennis Quiad) discovers evidence that "global warming" is going to cause us to experience the next Ice Age within a matter of centuries. In true Hollywood form, this timetable is sped up drastically, and a few centuries turns into a few days. The movie follows Quiad's character, his son and girlfriend, his wife, and several other groups of people as they deal with the rapidly changing weather. And the weather really is the star here. This movie makes Storm Stories look tame. Tornadoes, snow storms, and flash-freezing are all rendered realistically enough to make you thank the Lord something on this scale could never really happen (at least not as fast as the movie depicts). The best part about the whole thing though: at the end of the movie, Texas is one of the only parts of North America not covered in ice. Oklahoma, on the hand, is part of the Big White Blob. I'm sure that pleased many University of Texas fans. hehe

And as if one movie weren't enough for one day, we watched Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie this evening while eating Swedish Meatballs. After the drama and intensity of Day After, it was nice to just kick back and laugh our sides off for an hour or so. The movie they chose to ravage was rediculous enough by itself, but with the robots' wise cracks added on top of that, the experience was enough to make even a Vulcan smile a little (if not burst out laughing). I look forward to watching many more "MST3K"s in the future.

The latest news in PearPC concerns the completion of the official 0.2 release. Of course, those of us who have been using the 0.2 pre-release version all these weeks will not see anything different in the official release. BUT the fact that 0.2 has been completed means that the PearPC development team has begun work on the next phase of the project, the 0.3 pre-release. Already, a developer that's been contributing to the project has compiled a Super Build, which includes everything from the latest 0.3pre version, plus SDL, Right-Clicking, an accurate clock, and many other enhancements that were (up to this point) released in individual builds. After the relative slump the development curve has been in for the past couple of weeks, this is an exciting re-energization.

One regret I do have about going to see Day After in the theater; there was a commercial before the movie for Fanta soda, which included an extremely annoying and repetitive jingle. What's worse, it's one of those that catches in your head and you can't get it out. It's playing like a broken record in my mind now...

Goodnight, folks!
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Friday, June 11, 2004

Fear Not

For the first time since beginning the resurgence of my text blog, I'm having to skip an entry. This is due to the fact that a defrag I began at 9:00 ended up taking an hour and a half (and defrags are not something you can cancel), so by the time that completed it was too late for me to start. Don't worry, though. I won't actually be skipping today's entry. I'm going to devote tomorrow morning to bringing you today's blog in full detail. You won't miss a beat. Promise.
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Belated, But Informative

[Sorry for not getting Friday's blog in at the usual time. I promise this make-up entry won't be any less detailed than usual. I've even changed the date on it to June 11, to avoid any confusion.]


When I got up today, I felt slightly more rested than yesterday. Still, I'm looking forward to sleeping in on Saturday. After breakfast, (which was the same variety of cereal again) there was an appraiser scheduled to come by the house to give us a resale value estimate on some jewelry that belonged to my Grandmother (deceased)(on my Mom's side). That took about an hour, so I made good of use of the time to continue my battle with the "Virus-That-Wouldn't-Die"...

First thing I did before even turning the Equipment Room computer back on was to disconnect the external MP3 hard drive (gotta protect the important stuff), as well as unplug the network cable. When Windows booted up, initially there was no warning about the virus. So far so good. I left it on and headed upstairs to my computer, where I did some further online research into the name of the file that the virus kept appearing in ("scrgrd.exe", in the WINNT\System32 folder). I found this article on the Sophos Antivirus website. It described the same file I've been finding, but it reported that the virus added certain registry entries as well. Upon checking for these entries on the Equipment Room computer, I found none of them.

The next step I took was to plug the computer back into the network (and thus to the internet). I continued my online research there, while keeping the Task Manager open off to the side. I left just enough space in the window so that if a new process started, the vertical scroll bar would appear (thus alerting me). Nothing happened for about 10 minutes. But then, spontaneously, two processes started up: "tftp.exe" (the Windows Trivial File Transfer Protocol program), followed shortly after by "cmd.exe" (the Command Prompt). I saw no other evidence of these running processes outside the Task Manager, and when I attempted to close them, an error message denied me access. In a few seconds, the processes had closed, and AVG popped up a warning about "scrgrd.exe" being detected once again. I removed it immediately.

This gave me an idea. If the virus was somehow triggered to launch "tftp.exe" and get a required file from the web, blocking access to "tftp.exe" might end the vicious cycle right then and there. So I navigated to the System32 folder, opened the Security tab in the Properties window for "tftp.exe", and changed the Permissions for the file so that the only "user" that could access it would be the SYSTEM. I waited a little while longer, posting a thread in the Computing.net Security & Virus forum about my situation and possible remedy. I think I noticed "tftp.exe" try to launch once while I had the task manager open, but it closed immediately, and no virus warning appeared. For the rest of the day no further virus warnings popped up. I hope my solution to the problem holds.

After the appraiser left, we decided to take a trip to the library. I had a couple of rather large technical manuals (on Windows XP and Windows 2000 Server) that I hadn't read in at least a year. So I went ahead and donated them. I figure if I ever really need to look up something in them, they'll be there at the library, but other people can get a use out of them too. Since I already have two books checked out currently, I didn't get anymore. But I did find a very old manual for the 1992 Macintosh. It's amazing seeing how drastically different everything worked in the old MacOS versus OS X. And I don't know how they lived without more than 256 colors back in those days. Reminds me of Windows 3.1, *ich*...

After eating lunch and watching an X-Play rerun, I did the end-of-chapter US History questions for about an hour, then sat down for the daily Call of Duty session. I played decent for two rounds and then flat-out sucked the final one. I mean I did horrible; like bashed-in-the-back-twice horrible; like didn't-live-to-see-the-end-of-a-round horrible; like... well, you get the idea. [I even dreamed about it Friday night.]

During the rest of the afternoon I watched various History Channel shows, nothing of particular interest. Around 5:30 Mom and I left the house to drop me off at the Rec Center for racquetball. Funny, the ole' last-round-of-CoD curse must have stuck to me. I sucked the first three games, scoring only 2 points to Dad's 20-something. I made a decent showing in the final game, however, at least keeping it close until the end.

Dinner was breaded fish and broccoli. Since we were extremely low on tarter sauce and cocktail sauce (cease thee dirty thoughts), I improvised and had them with some La Choy Sweet & Sour sauce. It tastes fine; don't let anyone deceive you otherwise. In the evening I kicked off a defragmentation of my Windows XP drive around 9:00 [which would eventually prevent me from getting the blog written]. Then I put my feet up in the Game Room recliner and listened to Smooth Jazz on the satellite while reading some more of OS X: The Missing Manuel. It was very...soothing...

Hope you had as relaxing an evening as I did.

Goodnight, folks!
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Thursday, June 10, 2004

And Finally...Clear Skies!

For once, the weatherman got it right. The rain was completely gone this morning and 99% clear skies prevailed. I hope it stays this way for a while...


When I got up this morning at the usual time I felt more tired than usual. I'll have to make an effort to get to sleep earlier tonight. For breakfast I had (shock and amazement...) cereal. Yeah, cereal. The girls apparently bought some more varieties from the grocery store the other day, so I enjoyed some Raisin Bran Crunch. I hurried through breakfast however, preocupied with dealing a last deadly blow to the "Virus That Wouldn't Die" on the Equipment Room computer. I finally discovered that it was a variant of the "IRC/Backdoor.SdBot" Trojan. I ended up having to delve into the registry and remove some entries it dropped there, along with deleting a particularly suspicious directory called "REGSHAVE" in the Program Files folder. Honestly, these virus writers don't think sometimes (well, not where it counts, at least). How many people are going to be duped into thinking that a supposedly system-level program is going to reside in the Program Files directory? Well...come to think of it...I guess a lot of people might get fooled by that...BUT! The important thing is that I found and removed it. I hope I've seen the last of that pesky little bugger...

Geometry today introduced Regular Polygons, as in equilateral/equiangular shapes such as squares, pentagons, and dodecagons (<- man I love that word). The lesson involved more constructions than usual, including a particularly involved one for constructing a regular heptagon (7 sides). Overall, however, I was confident for most of the lesson. And as an added bonus, the afternoon portion ended up taking me only an hour.

I started my lunch break a little bit before Noon. While eating two hot dogs, I was able to blow through the new X-Play as well as yesterday's Screen Savers. One odd observation I've made about the taped Screen Savers episodes on the new merged G4TechTV network is that they seem to play back ever so slighty faster than realtime. This is enough to result in everyone speaking a little bit quicker than normal, and the music being sped up as well; it's very comical at times. This speed increase is by no means drastic, and you can still understand everyone perfectly. But I still hope this is one of the many carry-over glitches that the new G4TechTV will resolve soon.

I may not have been clear about this the other day, but the reason I've been making an effort to clear out some space on my G drive is so that I can gain the required 15% free disk space needed for the Windows Defragmenter to work its magic on that particular volume. I've looked into another degrag solution, Lyonware's Diskeeper 8.0, but oddly the trial version of it will not install under Windows XP Professional. So it's back to compressing the files...

This afternoon I had a particularly good Call of Duty session, including one round where I killed five enemy players as the last man standing on my team to win the round. The internet performance was incredibly better today due to the fact that Myst wasn't running eMule. Web browsing on ISDN at its full potential is just about as good as lower-end DSL. I was very pleased with the whole situation today and I hope we can arrange for it to stay this way in the future.

In the late afternoon I did some weight lifting while watching a special on the National Geographic channel about the Three Mile Island nuclear incident. After that I flipped over to ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, which predictably was doing a special Ronald Reagan tribute. It's amazing how many people travelled to D.C. to pay their respects to the former President. The government was even giving out free water bottles to the long lines waiting to get into the Capitol Building. I watched today's TSS live, so there'll be no recorded one to catch up on tomorrow.

After dinner, the four of us took a walk around the neighborhood. Now that the sun is staying up later, we could take our time and not have to worry about it getting dark on us. After one revolution around the 1.2-mile circular road, Mom and Myst headed home while Dad and I continued off on another street before turning around to come back. The two of us ended up walking about 2 miles, as a result. So I got the benefit of a full body workout today...

Right now Dad and Myst are watching Equilibrium, a Matrix-like sci-fi movie which she's only interested in for the fact that Sean Bean is in it. Just out of curiosity, I decided to stop by the Equipment Room and check on the computer. Lo and behold, the same warning about the same virus in the same file was right there front and center on the screen. Befuddled, I spent the next half hour doing more intense online research before determining that the virus was indeed not the one I had suspected it was earlier. At this point I'm at a loss as to what trojan it really is. Maybe I'm lucky and have discovered a new and mostly undocumented one. I know my efforts are in vain because 20 minutes after I removed the trojan, it popped right back into the same place. Upon removing it a final time, I threw in my towel and shut down the computer completely. Seems it's time to call TSS...

Goodnight, folks!
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Wednesday, June 09, 2004

More Rain

Seriously. I know it's extremely redundant, but it rained all day today too. I think a front stalled over central Texas and has been dumping its entire load on us the last couple of days. The forecast is promising, however; the rain should move out by tomorrow.


This morning started out just as usual. I had the last of the iced blueberry Pop Tarts for breakfast, which were only marginally better than the french toast of yesterday. After I brushed my teeth, I kicked-off the process of archiving some huge video files on my G drive (left over from when I did my Halo movies). These files average about 1 gigabyte each, but some of them are as large as 3 gigabytes. The entire folder of old footage currently takes up 30gb of space on my 70gb storage drive. WinRAR compresses the files to about 1/3 their original size, so I'm looking to free up a TON of space. The only downside is that it takes forever (as in about an hour a gigabyte) to compress the files, so I'm doing them in smaller, more manageable batches. Still, it's going to take me a while...

In light of the fact that I did the entire Summary & Review in Geometry yesterday (which is usually split up over 2 days), we spent the time today checking my the review as well as the lesson before it. This ended up taking Mom and I about the same amount of time it would to go over a new lesson. Afterwards I completed my US History questions and was done with school for the day.

When I got on to check the PearPC forums at 11:30, I found this topic waiting for me. Apparently the forums were hacked within the past day or so. Already the intruder has been messing with various user accounts, posting profanity about the project and other malicious garbage. The admins think they've pretty much got everything under control now. They recommended that all users change their password to secure their accounts (which I did ASAP after reading that), but they still had to default everyone to a normal user temporarily. This means I've lost my moderator powers over the Advanced Chat forum for the time being. I think I'll live...

After lunch and a new X-Play, we left the house around 12:30 on the way to Evan's. This time I remembered to bring the FireWire cable for my iPod, and so was finally able to give him a demonstration of PearPC. He now has a fully working clone of my installation, and is very interested in exploring OS X. For the rest of my visit, the two of us and his brother Garrett played multiplayer Halo and Medal of Honor on Evan's Xbox. We dominated Garrett most of the time (with a few spectacular exceptions, notably when Garrett killed both of us with a single sniper shot in Halo), so it was mostly a contest between Evan and I. I think he won a couple more matches than me, but we weren't exactly counting. Since he has art class (at the same place we go, btw) on Wednesdays, I left in their car about 4:00 and we met Mom at a gas station about between there and Georgetown. During the short car ride with them, I demonstrated the Belkin FM Transmitter in action. I happened to have some tracks from Medal of Honor on the iPod, so I used those as a demo. They were thoroughly impressed.

I then rode with Mom and Myst to the Georgetown Rec Center where Dad and I were to play racquetball at 5:00. We got about three quarters of the way through the first match when Dad started feeling sick to his stomach and slightly dizzy. He sat down on a bench outside the court for a couple of minutes before declaring that he felt just too weak to keep playing. We scheduled a racquetball time for this Friday, so I hope he's up to playing then. Both of us were extremely hungry for some reason, so on the way home we stopped by Sonic and picked up a large order of onion rings to share on the drive back.

Dad chopped up and mixed up the leftover tuna steak from Saturday into tuna steak salad. We had that on sandwiches with lettuce and tomato for dinner. While eating, all of us except Myst watched the rest of the Red Green documentary/fund-raiser-for-PBS, during which the rain started falling a bit more heavily. Of course, as soon as the show was over, Mom flipped to the Weather Channel and waited half an hour through Storm Stories until they showed the "local forecast" (when you have satellite TV you get a generic, nation-wide forecast instead). It revealed a large blob of rain over central Texas, dark green in most places, and a Flash Flood Warning for our area. Of course, we're not in even the hundred-year flood plain, so that was inconsequential. The forecast, like I said, is for the rain to be gone by tomorrow. Personally, I can't wait...

This evening I had to deal with more single-virus-removal on the Equipment Room computer. This time the filename was different, but it was still in the same place. Removing it wasn't a problem, but I'm still running a full scan of that system just to be safe. The real story about this evening started when Dad intercommed Myst and I. Apparently, he got an email from the system administrator at my Dad's company (which provides our ISDN internet service) complaining about an exorbitant amount of bandwidth being used by us. Now I personally have not run eMule at all for a while, but Myst has been running it for many hours a day during the past weeks getting Japanese anime series and movies (including Casshern, which she raves about). For the time being, Dad has placed a ban on all file-sharing apps and large downloads. Hopefully we'll get this resolved without any permanent changes to our service.

As I came upstairs just now after taking my dishes down, Myst found Arwen pawing at yet another scorpion on the floor in my room. I quickly disposed of it, and rewarded her (the cat, of course) with a bite of the cookie I'm now finishing. After I'm done posting this I'm going to join Dad downstairs in the Home Theater to watch a bit of the Astros game.

Goodnight, folks!
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Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Rain

I figured it would be appropriate to title this blog after today's constant. Whether drizzle or downpour, trickle or thunderstorm, we have had water falling on this area all...day...long. While I do love the sound of a smooth rain, I can't say I'm a big fan of a steady light grey outside the windows for 12 hours straight. Perhaps it will last long enough to get me to sleep tonight, and then lift before tomorrow...


After a fairly normal start to the day, I came down for breakfast and enjoyed some Pepperidge Farm french toast for a change. The peices are rediculously small, though (a trademark of Pepperidge Farm, I'm starting to realize -- please don't sue me for saying that) so I ended up eating half the slices in the box (which contains 6; the "server size" according to them being 1 -- laughable). After breakfast I came upstairs, brushed, and then spent about 10 minutes or so tweaking a group of pictures I had taken a couple of days ago (remember my mentioning the moment of bliss while I took photos of the moon?). You can see the result here, which is now the wallpaper on my desktop. It's very calm, the perfect compliment to the very blue Longhorn WindowBlinds skin I settled on. I think I'm finally comfortable with my overall Windows look now. At least, until my next customization compulsiveness burst...

All the while, it rained...

Since it's the end of the chapter in Geometry, this morning was spent doing the first set of the Summary & Review. This time-consuming "test" covers everything from the past six lessons, so as you can imagine I was doing a lot of flipping back pages. Thankfully, I completed the lesson just in time for lunch at Noon.

As it rained...

To make it easy on myself, I opted for a Hot Pocket. We had three kinds to choose from, so I picked the Meatballs & Mozerella variety. While that was heating up, I made a phone call I'd been meaning to make for a while now to Internet Gateway, a local wireless internet service provider. Several months ago I called them to ask about getting service, but they hadn't expanded to our area yet. This time when I called all their techs were out, and the wireless manager was on vacation until Friday. So I'm planning to call again next week. When I opened the microwave to take out my Hot Pocket, I noticed a strange smell that was unmistakably pork (which I confirmed with a quick check of the Ingredients section on the package). This must have been a recent change, because we have always gotten the Meatballs & Mozerella Hot Pockets knowing that they were pork-free, until now. So much for that lunch item...

More rain...

I watched today's X-Play while eating a different Hot Pocket variety. This time it was a new show...sort of. Since they were supposedly "tired from going to E3", the episode consisted exclusively of trailers for upcoming games. Of course, I wasn't interested in any of the games they previewed; including Final Fantasy XII (yeah, there are twelve of them...), Resident Evil 4, and the next Legend of Zelda. Personally, if I get Half-Life 2 and Halo 2, I'll be a happy gamer for this year.

Rain...

This afternoon, after I finished the second half of my Geometry review, Myst and Mom went out for Myst to get a haircut and Mom to go to the chiropractor. I made short work of the time by playing yet more Away Team, along with my usual hour of Call of Duty. No graphical errors today, thankfully. But then again, I was not exactly taking advantage of it. My scores were unforgivingly low (3 kills during an entire match at one point). As always, I hope to improve by persistence.

Some more rain...

In the late afternoon I watched yesterday's Screen Savers. Today's was a rerun, BUT it just happened to be the episode in which Kevin first demoed PearPC. It was yet another reminder of how far the project has come in a month (largely due to very fact that it was demoed on TSS). The version he showed was pathetically slow and choppy, and had the dreaded "Finder crash loop" bug which kept Finder from ever staying open long enough to be useful. Now all of those early bugs seem like a distant memory. The latest build of PearPC is smooth, markedly faster, and absent of most of the bugs that plagued version 0.1. I hope Kevin does a follow-up on his segment about it, showing the incredible improvements that have been made.

You guessed it, more falling H2O...

In the early evening Mom and Myst left the house yet again, this time to go appraise a Fencing class in nearby Round Rock. Dad came home around 6:30, at which time we ate dinner while watching the last (yes, the last) recorded D-Day special. This one dealt with "D-Day Tech", including the many varieties of specialty vehicles designed to perform specific tasks, and the monumentous mobile harbor that was brought in to off-load supplies and vehicles in the months following D-Day. Thank goodness that was the final documentary; I couldn't take much more D-Day history...

Yep, rain again...

Well, it's still raining outside as I write this and listen to Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major. Miraculously, I'm finishing tonight's blog before 10:00. I might actually get a decent sleep tonight...

Goodnight, folks!
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Monday, June 07, 2004

A Return to the Ordinary

I'm typing this as I listen to the legendary Jazz album, Like Minds. This music echoes the tone of the day; a return to the mellow, ordinary style that is reminiscent of school days.


Today started out at 8:45, pretty normal for a weekday. It always seems harder to get up on Mondays, for some reason. The weekend was still trying to drag me back into a lazy mood, but unfortunately that's the one thing I can't afford on a Monday. Breakfast consisted of poached eggs on English muffins; similar to the "Egg McMuffin" you can get at McDonald's, but MUCH better (and better for you). Before my post-breakfast routine of tooth brushing, I gave Arwen (our cat) the last bit of medicine in her prescription. She's been a bit sick lately, and the vet had prescribed this for her to take. Unfortunately, I just heard her sneeze again, so apparently she's not quite over it yet.

Mom was tied-up setting up the hoses to water the garden when I came downstairs (a task made even more difficult by the especially gusty wind), so I collected some CDs from the equipment room and started ripping them with iTunes. I finished transferring the new music (including some more Tony Rice and one other jazz album) to my iPod just as Mom called me down. We checked yesterday's math lesson and read over today's. This time it was about various geometrical "surprises", such as the appearence of equilateral triangles in unlikely situations.

In the half hour before lunch I got the urge to install an older Star Trek game that had been sitting unplayed for a little while now, called "Star Trek: Away Team". It follows the same gameplay type and control scheme as the Commandos series of games. Basically you command a small four- or six-operative team, each member having different skills required to complete the mission. You move them around, most of the time avoiding surveilance cameras or guards in order to complete an objective. It's fun, but can get VERY tedious sometimes, especially when you have to avoid being seen. It's easy to go in guns blazing, but it's a real challenge to go undetected. I'm looking forward to playing the game more in the coming days.

During lunch I watched the rest of "The Lost Evidence of D-Day", left over from yesterday. I then got started on Geometry, which involved a ton of graph paper constructions (very time consuming). I did take the occasional break, however, to enjoy some of the fresh, homemade cookies that Mom and Myst had baked. They're this light, chocolate variety with mint inside and covered with a bit of flour. Extrememly dangerous; they must be disposed of as quickly as possible... I personally volunteered for this tremendously difficult job, of course. hehe

Around 2:30 we left for Art Class as usual, which happened to be the perfect opportunity to test out the Belkin FM Transmitter in the car. Initially it took a bit of experimenting to find a station in the unit's range (88.1 to 88.7) that had a relatively small amount of existing traffic on it. But after finding one, we settled in for some nice, custom music the entire ride (Myst, of course, refused to listen to the "dull" music Mom and I agreed on and instead opted for Japanese Rock on her CD player). Although we did get a bit of interface sometimes, and had to change frequency once or twice, the Transmitter performed flawlessly. I definitely would recommend it if you're looking for a simple way to listen to music from a portable music device in your car.

Art went very smoothly; I picked up right where I left off on my Halo painting, and made some progress on it by the end of the session. Myst's "Alien Face" painting is coming along very quickly and professionally. She's done a great job of translating the picture to canvas, and added her own personal twist to it as well. Mom got started on her rendition of a classic Impressionist work, opting for acrylic paint and pallet knife to do her artistry this round. She remarked that she chose acrylic specifically because she hated oil-based paints. Well, I'm sure I didn't do much to change her mind about it when I accidently got some oil paint on her shirt sleeve while I was cleaning my brushes after class (yeah, oops...). Luckily the art teacher, Joe, had the perfect solution to making sure the paint didn't stay there permanently. She basically had to rub in a generous amount of the vaseline-based GoJo hand cleaner on the affected area. While this ultimately protected the shirt and enabled it to be completely washed-out later, it left a giant orange spot on her sleeve. Not exactly the epitome of fashion.

As a result, during our normal stop by the convenience store on the drive back, she handed us the money and let us go inside to get the snacks and drinks. Unfortunately, we ended up a dollar short at checkout (I can't imagine why...) and Myst had to run out and fetch an additional dollar from mom in the car. All because she was self-conscious about a big orange spot on her shirt (big...deal...). The plan was for Dad and I to have racquetball this afternoon, but he called on the drive back complaining of feeling sick. So we just came straight home instead.

Dark clouds were rolling in as we returned, and when we finally got to the house the wind had really picked-up compared to this morning (which was bad enough already). I took this opportunity before the rain started pouring to put on my jacket and catch the breeze for a little while. Myst joined me for a short time, but got bored with it I think. Hey, you've just have to enjoy life's little pleasures like that when you can.

In the early evening I played Away Team for about an hour, blowing through the first four missions in no time. But right as I was about halfway through the fourth mission, the game locked-up; last straw for me. I uninstalled the Catalyst 4.5 ATI drivers and installed the previous version. Everything is the same about version 4.4 except for the functions behind the scenes, which I haven't had a chance to fully try out yet. Right as I was about to start playing Call of Duty, Dad called me downstairs for us to watch a special he had recorded on the Atlantic Wall. It was a fascinating in-depth look at what went into the construction of the Wall and the reasons it ultimately was breached.

Dinner happened to be stuffed bell peppers. But not just any bell peppers; these were the first crop from our garden. They were excellent, I have to say, easily surpassing the ones that come in those frozen heat-up meals. After dinner we watched this week's Star Trek: Voyager. The episode follows Tuvok as he attempts to train a small group of Maquis crewmembers that are particularly insubordinate, with a subplot about the ship's bioneural circuitry getting infected. After Voyager Mom, Dad and I watched the first couple of segments in a "documentary" of sorts about Red Green (famous Canadian comedy personality you can watch on PBS), and then I got started writing tonight's blog.

I wonder why it doesn't bother me that writing this usually takes close to an hour. Eh, maybe it's therapeutic...

Goodnight, folks!
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