XBox Live Connection problems

This is getting bad. XBox live has had service problems for the last 10-14 days. That's a lot of damage to a brand, and damage to a product offering that bills itself as "live." XBox dead more like it.

The XBox 360 has differentiated its offering, and gotten customers used to the connected benefits of the XBox 360. Without it, what do you have?


A most excellent Christmas

Christmas always spills over a few days after the 25th, and I basically include the 24th-27th as "Christmas." It takes a couple of days to try out new gadgets, put toys together, clean up, and basically get the house to feeling back to normal. The Christmas Tree went out this morning so I guess Christmas is officially over in the Reagan house.

This year Amy and I did not spend as much as we usually do, and the result was fewer presents to open all the way around. I think we both agreed this was a better way to go. We did our typical Christmas eve church service, but this year we added something fun that hopefully starts a new tradition here - we bought a Lego Christmas train (it was 50% off at the lego store in Bellevue), wrapped it, and put it under one of our smaller trees for the kids to open the day before Christmas. We put the train together that night, grabbed our existing Lego train track and built a layout around the tree, and let the train run around the living room. Very cool.

Normally Amy and I wrap the boys' gifts after the kids go to sleep, but Monday I took the boys out for a hike and lunch, and Amy stayed home and wrapped presents. Made the night much less tiring.

Spencer was more excited than usual this year. About 11pm Monday night I went to check on the boys to see if they were asleep, and sure enough Spencer was still awake. "Dad, I opened the window a little bit so that I could hear Santa!" Kids are funny... and smart.

The whole Santa thing clicked for Garrett this year. "Santa came! Santa came! Santa came!" in his typically cheering style.

Within an hour we were done. Amy made Monkey Bread for breakfast, and for dinner we enjoyed some most excellent prime rib from a butcher shop in Issaquah (Fischer's Meats). The meat was as good as our favorite place for prime rib ever, Hesston's back in Indiana.

I didn't take much time off work but did a little. Got to put together some Legos and Erector sets (I hate those now as much as I hated them when I was a kid) with the boys.

No pics to speak of, just an enjoyable time of year and looking forward to 2008.

Amazon Kindle Review

Ok, I don't own an Amazon Kindle yet, but my neighbor got one the day before Thanksgiving (like two days after the product was announced). He works at Microsoft, go figure he was able to get one before me :)

And I wouldn't call this too much of a review... just wanted to jot my thoughts down for others as this is still a pretty rare product.

Anyway, he brought it to our Thanksgiving gathering and showed it off to me. I was really impressed overall with its capabilities.

The Amazon Kindle is about the size of a "regular" book, and thus fits nicely in your hands. The eInk display is excellent and exactly as advertised - easy on the eyes, easy to read. The user interface takes a little getting used to, but once you are used to it its pretty intuitive. It has "next page" and "prev page" buttons on the side of the unit within reach of your thumbs. And its scroll bar is separate from the actual page display - it looks like a mercury thermometer. There's a dial to scroll up and down. Again, takes some getting used to, but once you have the hang of it it works nicely.

The ability to search the downloadable book library is easy to use and fast, and navigation through the titles on the devices is easy as well. And in addition to books you can subscribe to newspapers. My neighbor already had the WSJ and Seattle Times on it, and navigating through both of those were easy.

It also provides a web browser, and while not overly impressive it would suffice nicely for web browsing while traveling - as good as Microsoft Windows Mobile, with the down side that sites probably aren't going to render specifically for the Amazon Kindle browser.

The one complaint I had was the amount of time it takes to render a page. Upwards of a second by my calculation. Doesn't seem like a lot, but I expected it faster and I expect users do as well. Oh yeah and the design was, well, uninspiring. But that's ok for me. I don't buy products for cool design, I buy them for their functionality.

I can see myself getting this soon. As soon as enough book titles that I want are available :)


A horrific tragedy close to home

Carnation is about 6 miles from our house, and I like to head there for biking - my favorite destination, in fact. Evil reveals itself in many forms, including the murder of a 3 year old and a 6 year old (among others) in Carnation.


In about half an hour...

Purdue will kickoff for a rematch against Central Michigan in the 2007 Motor City Bowl. Excuse me if I am not excited. Excited about seeing Purdue play, sure, but bowls were out of control 10 years ago, and despite everyone's complaining about it, it has only gotten worse. These watered down games for two teams that aren't bowl-worthy is really getting old.

32 bowl games. 64 Teams. That's over half of Division I (or FCS or whatever its called now). It's really the equivalent of a 13th game, only nobody is allowed to schedule it until after Thanksgiving, and with some exceptions (Boise State, San Diego St, Arizona St, Miami) the game must be played on a neutral field.

A couple weeks back I counted up the games on Jan 1 or after and if I remember right I counted over half the bowl games are after the new year. So, basically, you don't even have to have a top 25 program to get a "prestigious" invite.

The result? The bowl games have been watered down. They used to be fun, and to be sure there are some fun matchups I am looking forward to next week. But those are the exceptions.

Purdue shouldn't be invited to the Motor City Bowl. Invite some team from Texas or Florida or California who's fans would be excited about any bowl game. Let them come in, spend some money, and have a good time. I hear the game is already going to be a record crowd, but I suspect that's from the CMU fans looking forward to the opportunity to beat a team from a major conference.


Merry Christmas to all!

I'm not sure when it became ok to say "Merry Christmas" again in public, but glad to see the pendulum swing away from the politically correct and back to American culture. So, Merry Christmas everyone!


Why do I even bother with Best Buy?

There was a time (probably 15 years ago) when Best Buy was just that - the best place to get deals on stuff. Amy and I lived there in the early 90s.

Best Buy went out of vogue for me about 10 years ago when they moved away from being a discount electronics store and opted to be more like Sears. More profitable for them, I'm sure, but that took away the whole reason I shopped there - great deals. Still, I end up there from time to time, and each time pretty much assures me a measure of disappointment. And their bait-and-switch lawsuit a few years back certainly didn't surprise me.

I remember the time I had a camcorder and in my hands and I had asked a salesperson for a digital camea, but the salesperson would not shut up about their extended warranty. Instead of getting me the item I was ready to purchase, he insisted on knowing why I didn't want an extended rip-off, er, warranty. I ended up walking out of the store.

I have plenty more Best Buy stories, and today's story is pretty tame by comparison, but it doesn't grok the question... what are they thinking?

So I am looking for a present for, um, Amy. Yeah, it's a present for Amy. Electronics. For Amy. Got it? Maybe she'll believe it when she opens it. It's for her. Really, it is. Honest. So I wasn't happy with the price on Amazon, but if that was the best price I could find I was going to order it and have it here by Christmas. I mean, I didn't want Amy to be disappointed.

So I start shopping around online and find out Best Buy is having a sale on it. $20 cheaper than MSRP. Cool. Can I do in-store pickup? Yes? Cool, better yet. Amy will have her present by Christmas. Really, it truly is for her.

So I order it online, and I get a confirmation email this morning stating yes they have it and it will be waiting for me. Just show up with my receipt. Cool, what could be easier?

Argh. Damn Best Buy. So they do have a line for online pickup. One that isn't moving. For 15 minutes. And it finally occurred to me (yes, it really did take 15 minutes for the light bulb to go off) "WTF am I doing in this stupid line when I can get the damn item off the shelf?"

So I tell Spencer I have an idea and we get out of line, I am sure to the joy of the now 10 or so people behind me that apparently also ordered online. I wander over to an aisle, take a look and the huge pallet of items and think "wow no wonder its on sale." And I also note they are selling for MSRP in the store (remember, Best Buy no longer has good deals). So I pick and item up, and shop around a little. I find a movie for Spencer, tell him no we aren't buying any video games today, and finally head to the checkout. I am the next person in line, look back at the online pickup line, and note that it still hasn't moved. Fun.

So I get to the register, and ask whether they match their online prices. Good, they do. Then I tell them I've already made a purchase online and can I just go home. No, to do that I have to go wait in the online pickup line. No thank you, just ring me up please, and I'll cancel my other order.

So, I get my item, at the price I wanted, and if I didn't waste my time with online pickup, I would have been in and out in no time. And now I'm taught don't bother ordering online from Best Buy :)

It still leaves me scratching my head why they are ok with such a had experience for online pickup. I guess they figure they have your money, why bother ensuring a good experience?


Ride the SLUT

Yes, that's right, you too can Ride the South Lake Union Trolley. And apparently I will be able to in a couple of years as Amazon is planning to move to South Lake Union.

They even have t-shirts.

Man, I cannot wait for the jokes to flow in to the comments section on this one... first one with a joke about Amy gets a free beer on me.

A good article...

on the upcoming Savage vs. CAIR battle. Should put this on Pay-Per-View.


I can't believe...

... that there are still people that doubt than mankind (and more specifically the US) is making Earth inhospitable. Especially so-called "experts".


Our 2007 Christmas Pictures

After a couple of postponements due to family illness, we were able to get to the studio on Saturday and get our Christmas pictures taken. Some really good ones turned out, and I scanned them in with our crappy scanner. Amy had the honor of donning our most prized and valuable material possession... our autographed Barry Sanders jersey. Man I wish the Lions hadn't changed from Honolulu Blue and Silver. Those were great colors.

Originals can be found at the gallery.

Can't wait until Brenda starts quizzing me on the Seahawks jersey.

This last one was fun... Garrett decided to start "getting" Spencer's face... Spencer is defending himself and Garrett is getting a kick out of everyone's reaction.


A philosophical question...

do I have to wait until the end of the game to complain about the Detroit Lions' performance? Or can I complain about it before the first half is even over?

Sheesh, what a second half of the season. Six straight losses. And the next two weeks don't look very promising.


I love NHL Center Ice

Ok, I'm hooked. Should have subscribed years ago. But, it's an expensive package ($149/yr) to just try out, and Directv never gave me a free trial, so I held out a while. Finally tried it this year, and I am so hooked. With the NHL expansion in the west it seems I can always get a late night game, and of course great to be able to record the Wings when they play.

I have two complaints about how NHL Center ICE manifests itself. First, because the games are also usually shown on one of the local Fox Sports Net packages, I don't have a way to tell Directv to "record all Wings games" because it tries to record the local channels - there's no way to filter by channel. Poor user experience design.

Second, they also don't give an indication on the NHL Center Ice channels which feed the game corresponds to. If I want to watch Red Wings at Nashville, I get two channels for the game. But it won't tell me which feed is the Detroit feed and which feed is the Nashville feed. So its a crap shoot on whether I get the Detroit feed or not.

And hockey in HD rocks. By far the best sports experience in HD. Very hard to watch hockey in regular definition anymore. I'm spoiled.

More insight into my work...

Scott Adams must work with me


I really hate the abuse of the First Amendment

Freedom of speech in this country includes an individual's freedom and right NOT to listen to something.

The latest talk show personality to start crying that "My Freedom of Speech Rights are Being Violated" is Michael Savage. Now, I like the Savage Nation - great radio show and glad I get to hear it on my ride home when I work late. But stop whining about free speech. The government is not pulling your advertisers, the advertisers are choosing that themselves. Go ahead and sue CAIR, but stop whining about free speech. This is not about free speech, and it is as damaging to claim it is as when people pull the "racism" or "sexism" card without merit.

That said, this is the danger in the Bush administration's including CAIR in its PR activity. CAIR has ties to terrorism (Google it for a litany of references); heck, even Sen. Barbara Boxer has distanced herself from CAIR for that reason. But, to the uninformed who maybe get a glance at the political situation around Islamofascism, the US government's implicit support for CAIR lends credibility to CAIR.

So, when Sears, OfficeMax, Wal-mart, AT&T, etc get a letter from CAIR to pull their ads from a radio show, a quick surface glance implies CAIR is a group to be taken seriously. Don't get me wrong... those companies are as guilty of not doing their homework as CNN was in their recent Republican Presidential Debate.

Normally I would boycott those companies pulling their ads... but I don't shop at any of those places anyway!

I wish Savage the best of luck in his lawsuit. Unlike most lawsuits I see, this one I believe is justified.

A reason for hope

Online articles such as this one give me reason to hope and yet another reminder that the world is not as what the mainstream media would have you believe.

I'll pontificate on this later, but will tag this as "US lunacy" because I 100% agree with the author's statement that the US has to stop allowing the wrong voices speak for the American Muslim community.


My Heisman Ballot

Tebow (51 total TDs... SEC rushing TD records... wow)
Brennan (career NCAA TD record)


The best thing about Directv...

... is that even though you record something, you don't actually have to watch it.

I'm talking about the Lions game, of course. I can't remember the last time I've missed a Lions game since having NFL Sunday Ticket. Talk about coming full-circle in a matter of four games.

I guess this 0-4 streak is a simple reminder that Millen and Ford are still part of the Lions' organization...

A lot of snow, then poof!

Starting Saturday afternoon and finishing Sunday morning we got about six inches of snow here. Then it warmed up enough on Sunday for rain all day and night. By this morning the snow was all but gone (and per my previous post the melting snow plus "heavy rain" made for a lot of flooding).

The kids did get out into the snow on Saturday, sledding down the hill with our neighbor. On Sunday, Spencer and Garrett each pulled me outside to make a Snowman and a Snowfort. Never built a snowman in the rain so that was a first. Good thing I had my raingear from REI.

Good thing we grabbed our tree Saturday morning before the snow hit. Was a beautiful morning in the valley and that manifested itself in every resident of Snoqualmie Valley heading out to the Christmas Tree farm to cut down their choice tree. We spent more time waiting in lines in our car than actually finding and cutting down a tree.

Nice shot of the Cascades in the background

After the hunt

Garrett insisted on having his shades

In the snowstorm

Any hill will do

Unlike the Lions no crashing for Garrett

Our Gingerbread House has become a Christmas tradition

I think this is a cool use of the Internet

The USGS makes its river sensor data available online, so that you can check the flow and level of your favorite water entity (in my case its the Snoqualmie River). Up 10 feet in 21 hours. Damn. Wonder what Snoqualmie Falls looks like right now...


I don't see any other option...

Ohio State is a given for the NC game. They played Illinois, Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan. Kansas played Missouri and Texas A&M. So, for a 1-loss team, OSU is in.

Hawaii is undefeated, but the toughest team they played out of conference was Washington. Not a bad team, but their other OOC games were very weak. Boost the schedule if you want to play for an NC. (Actually I feel the same about Ohio State, but at least they played in a decent conference).

So it really comes down to LSU and Kansas (Georgia falls behind LSU in any comparison). And I have to give LSU the nod. Their two losses were OT games. Not bad.

So OSU and LSU in the NC game.


RIP Evel Knievel

Man, talk about a blast from my childhood. If my folks only knew how much time me and my friends spent on the playground emulating Evel Knievel...

The Web 2.0 way to track Santa

Well, not quite Web 2.0 until people start to create content for Santa's website, but it looks like Norad is updating its annual offering to include Google Maps and Google Earth. Cool


Well no duh

I caught parts of the second half of the CNN Republican debate last night (I record Glenn Beck every night and CNN Headline News ran the debate instead of GB). I won't bore everyone with the details, but CNN had 24 "undecided Republican voters" in a back room watching the debate and they provided feedback throughout via real-time dials that would rate what they were hearing on a scale from 1-10. Anyway, one of the hosts at the end of the show picks someone "random" out of the 24 and asks the lady if she was any more decided now than she was before the show. Her response? "Nope, in fact I'm going to vote for John Edwards!" After laughing out loud and realizing "wow, CNN must think we're all idiots if they think they can round out a bunch of Dems and cast them as undecided Repubs", I stopped the show right there, deleted it, and grabbed myself a diet Dew.

So I think it's kind of funny this morning to read about all the planted people in yesterday's debate. Sheesh, people, ya think? A left-wing cable network partnering with a left-leaning corporation (Google) for a right-wing debate? How can this be news or surprising? Get over it people.

FWIW, I have no problem with leftists asking questions at the debate - that's how it should be. Shouldn't matter what your ideology is to ask questions of people looking to be our next President. However, for those that think that "now we have questions from the people - how cool!", remember there were 5000 questions submitted. How do you think they were decided from? Yep, the same people that would normally create their own set of questions.

A cool feature from Google Mobile Maps

I use Google Mobile Maps quite a bit on my T-Mobile Wing. Mostly for traffic density checks, for which it is reasonably accurate. However, it always requires me to tell it where I am. And I have to do that by typing something in or dragging the map to where I want it. Which is a pain if you are driving... in fact I generally say the hell with it.

Yesterday Google announced a new feature called "My Location" where it gives a best guesstimate of where you are based on your cell location. This is cool. And it should be accurate enough for my primary purpose for using it (traffic).

I remember my Palm VII back in, oh, 2000-2001 had such a feature. I could browse the web and because it knew about where I was (it could guess the zip code accurately) it would show me relevant weather, news, and traffic data. So no reason this shouldn't work with Google. Looking forward to trying it tonight :)


My First Apple Cup

The Apple Cup is the yearly brawl between the two major state universities in Washington - University of Washington and Washington State University. Amy and I went this past weekend with friends of ours... and no kids - woo hoo! We had a great time tailgating and I really enjoyed the game.

As usual, we managed to bring way too much food. I don't know what it is about tailgating but man we always end up with 10x the food we need. Absolutely crazy.

I happened to be feeling under the weather Saturday morning. Apparently after drinking four of Amy's secret concoctions of orange juice, apple juice, vodka, and triple sec, any cold you might be feeling is cured. Who knows, maybe it cures cancer too. All I know is I've felt much better since then.

Once again we met a lot of interesting people, including someone well connected in the Purdue Athletic Department (used to work there) who is going to get us tickets to the Purdue-UW Women's game coming up in a few weeks. Also met a couple who's had Seahawks season tickets since the team was founded. Very cool. Listened to their story of the Seahawks gaining -12 yards on offense over an entire game. Ouch.

Got to see a great game, ripe with an opening kickoff for a touchdown, about four lead changes see-sawing back and forth, and a last minute victory for the out-of-towners. I had a good time, and we had the best seats I've ever had for a college football game. I've already put a deposit down on the Notre Dame game next year. POTFI.

Funny. Before the game I was asking the UW alums their take on Willingham, and all to a tee said "give him another year." After the game, all to a tee said "fire his ass!" But, that's the level of expectations that these institutions have brought on themselves. They pay coaches $1M+ year at the low end. They continue to jack up ticket prices, seat licenses, and booster club minimum donation requirements that outpace inflation, they continue to reduce benefits for said club members, etc. So why wouldn't people have high expectations for the programs they support? The schools put themselves in that position. And what's scary is that they can't get out. It's a vicious spiral of increasing revenue to increase performance.

Amy and I somewhat joke about how much we enjoyed Purdue football during the Colletto years. Free parking close to the stadium, pick any seat you want, and you still got to see a good football game. Not many Ws, mind you, but competitive football (seems that the Colletto years were more competitive game by game than the last three Tiller years, but I digress).

By the way, I heard that it was the 100th game between UW and WSU, and that it was also the 100th anniversary. Maybe I'm picky and detail-oriented, but it can't be both. Hint: the first game is not the first anniversary, the second game is.

How about that

Didn't see this over the weekend... but caught it on YouTube.


T-Mobile Wing Mobile Phone Review

I was picking up pizzas at Papa Murphy's in North Bend yesterday, when the teenagers working there gave me a "Cool! What's THAT?!?!" as I was banging away emails for work. I showed them the phone and realized a blog review was in order. I was kinda impressed that they didn't say "oh that's a phone for old people."

In August I was done with my two-year Blackberry experiment and found myself unimpressed. The email synchronization with my personal and work email worked flawlessly. However, I felt that was all it did - calendar syncing never worked right (just try to reschedule a meeting or accept a meeting update), and web browsing was horrible. Non-existent.

So I researched and looked for a new phone. And came up with the T-Mobile. Setting aside my numerous problems in trying to get the rebate on the phone (which I still haven't worked out), this has been a great purchase.

I did consider the iPhone. And I must be getting old. I don't get it. Wow, I can, like, call numbers with my fingers. Big deal. Been there done that for a number of devices over the past 10 years. A stylus really isn't that big of a deal (personally I prefer it), and when I type I prefer speed over coolness-ness.

So far I'm very happy with the Wing. Probably the first phone since my first StarTac I've actually enjoyed having. First off, it fixes the primary problem I had with my Blackberry - syncing the calendar correctly. I haven't had a single problem with the Outlook calendar keeping in sync with my work calendar. And I can schedule meetings, move meetings, and decline them without having to make a mental note to go back and check to make sure my work calendar is updated properly. Score one for Microsoft Windows Mobile 6, the phone OS that powers the Wing.

Second, I really like the the slide out keyboard. Very intuitive - I was able to use it out of the box without having to refer to the owner's manual (something I had to do with my old Blackberry). And the keys are the right size for fast typing. Again, score one for the Wing.

Finally, I can browse the web. This is partially due to many web sites, especially Google's properties, being set up to render Windows Mobile pages. Regardless of the primary reason, the fact is I can be productive with the Wing where I was not with the Blackberry.

The Wing has Wifi, so I turn it on when I am home and use my broadband connection when I am on conference calls (which is literally every night). I've never had a problem hearing through the connection; in fact T-Mobile's coverage in my area is a little weak so the Wifi serves to increase my call quality.

I also get Google Maps (with traffic) and Microsoft Live (again with traffic) on the phone. Way cool. Bluetooth is relatively responsive on it.

You can do music on the Wing, but I'm not big into music from my phone. That's what my iPod is for.

The down side is that I need to reboot the device every couple of days. Something is always stopping working on it, and a quick reboot is in order. This hasn't bothered me yet - it's about 30 seconds from the time I start holding the button down until I can start using it again, so I haven't, say, missed the start of a conference call because I was rebooting my phone. But it's still important to note.

A neighbor got the equivalent device from Sprint, and he loves his as well. And he works at Microsoft so he gives me productivity tips on it :)

So pick up a Wing, you won't be sorry. Assuming you can get your money from the rebate.


I think I found the secret to great deep-fried turkey

You deep-fry enough turkeys in your life, and eventually you'll figure out the secret to success.

Deep-frying turkeys has always been an interesting trial-and-error experience. While the meat always ends up juicy (not greasy, but truly juicy), I often lose a layer of meat because the outer eighth of an inch gets cooked to a crisp, literally. This happens because when I deep-fry I am often distracted and let the temperature get away from me. I've also been a little gunshy because early on in my experimentation with deep-frying turkeys twice I undercooked the bird. So I've been overcautious on making sure the poultry is done.

Our neighbors had a bunch of families over for Thanksgiving, and the Reagans were in charge of the bird, stuffing, and pumpkin squares. Due to the amount of people, we decided to drop two birds in the fryer (separately, of course). The first bird came out ok, but again with the burnt/ruined layer of meat. The second bird was magnifique.

So, here's what I am going to do next time (probably Easter):

  1. Heat the oil to 400 degrees. Yes, I know, that's way too high I've been told. Too bad.

  2. Drop the bird in, slowly. If I would have dunked it the entire pot would have probably exploded at that high of heat. So I lowered it in slowly over a few minutes.

  3. Cut the heat. I need the oil to get down to 350 as fast as possible. So cut the heat.

  4. Relight when down to 350.

  5. Cook three minutes per pound. I've heard anywhere between 3 and 3.5 minutes per pound. 3 minutes it is. Trust me.

  6. Keep at 350. This is hard. Or at least requires a lot of attention.

I really lucked out on the last step. I was carving the first bird while the second was cooking, and wasn't checking on the temperature as often as I should have been (at least every 5 minutes, in my experience, if not sooner). Amazingly enough, the temperature remained at 350 the entire time. Wow.

This watched pot boiled... and steamed in the 35 degree weather!

Teaching Spencer the tricks of the trade.



I hate being wrong

There was a time that no matter how bad the Lions were, they would emerge from the Thanksgiving Day game victorious. I remember the pathetic 80s (not to be confused with the pathetic 70s or the pathetic 00s) and them beating teams they weren't supposed to beat.

Seems like in recent years the Lions have lost that Thanksgiving pride. And that certainly seemed so today. Not to mention some dumb decisions by Kitna where he failed to avoid sacks in key situations.

While I didn't expect the Lions to finish 12-4, I did expect them to get off to a better start in the second half of the season than 0-3. These were three winnable games, and good teams need to win their winnable games.

Happy Thanksgiving

I am thankful for a lot of things, most of which is the freedom I enjoy such that I am not required to list them all in this post.


Mark my word

The Lions will beat the Packers tomorrow.


Why are they called protesters?

This is called sedition, isn't it? Or at least criminal. Youtube has a number of videos on these incidents over the last week. God Bless the Olympia police for their restraint and professionalism.

Side note, since it appears the, ahem, "protesters" are doing their damnedest to lure the police into brutality incidents, doesn't it occur them that the police/city would have eons of cameras rolling from every angle to document their behavior?

Thanks again, Michael Yon

Another great article from Iraq from Michael Yon. You've earned another donation from me :)

I am not alone

This is cool

No matter how the troops hear the music, Ondrasik said he hopes it “inspires, motivates, provides an avenue for reflection, or simply distracts you from a mission few can imagine, much less undertake,” he said.

“If anything, let each tune be a small piece of home to carry you forward,” he said to the troops. “Thank you for all you do, and feel free to shoot me an e-mail with requests for ‘CD for the Troops II.’”

I wonder if Amazon MP3 has these artists?


Guitar Hero III: Spencer Creation with legos

After watching me play Guitar Hero III for the last week or so Spencer created a Guitar Hero III stage out of legos. Very creative and very cool. Love the fire. Spencer tells me I'm the pasty white hick in the blue overalls. I'd rather be the dude in the cool shades.

A fun day hiking in the Cascades

Amy was out of town this weekend, so after a hearty Burger King breakfast at the boys' request we headed into the Cascades to find some areas we haven't been to yet. Spencer hadn't hiked up to the John Wayne Trail, so we went on a quick excursion there. The day was cloudy, damp, rainy at times, and fairly cold (about 40 degrees once you get up a ways). I tried to get some good pictures but the lack of light played havoc on me.

Later we took a forest road that we hadn't been on before and saw a couple new views and did some walking. And got the truck caked with mud. The kids love off roading :)

The gallery is here

Spencer under a rock formation we found. Looks like a good place for rock climbing, I will be back!

The boys found some rocks to rest on.

A view of the Cascades to the east, with the clouds down below and the snow line on the mountains.

Spencer at outpost number two.

Garrett enjoying the views.

Thank you to our veterans

Environmental Republican has an excellent post on this Veteran's Day.

I actually meant to post a thank you last Tuesday... election day. If it weren't for our veterans we likely wouldn't be holding free elections.


Spencer earns his blue belt

Very exciting night as Spencer earns his Tae Kwon Do blue belt. This time he had to do his test form with no help or leading from the instructor and all his at-home practice paid off as he passed with flying colors.

See the gallery for large pictures, but I've included some below. And I've already created the obligatory Animoto video in a separate post :)

And the obligatory Animoto


The Lions are Six and Two at the turn?

Looks like the positive play I witnessed and responded to last year is yielding results in the 2007 season. The Detroit Lions find themselves at the halfway point at 6-2 and a game out of first, controlling their own destiny as they play the Packers twice still this year.

And I love the way they dismantled Denver today. Starting off the game with 4-5 straight running plays to establish the run was impressive. And who doesn't love watching a 300 lb lineman rumbled 70 yards for a touchdown!

It's nice to watch a Lions team that looks like they belong in the NFL. Reminds me of the 90s.



Another crazy Halloween night in Snoqualmie Ridge. With every house having 2+ kids of trick-or-treating age, no wonder this place is a zoo on Halloween.

Spencer dressed up as Jango Fett, which Garrett dressed up as a Dinosaur. I donned my Sergei Fedorov Nike Russian Olympic Jersey as I have for the last five years or so.

Lots of good pics.

More here (including larger versions of the pics).


I am most pleased

A most excellent road win for the Detroit Lions today. I caught them in HD on Directv, inviting our Chicago Bears fans neighbors over for some breakfast (yes we have to do breakfast for the early NFL games out here on the west coast) and football. The team stepped it up all the way around - offense, defense, special teams, pressure on the QB, solid DB coverage, excellent D against the run, established the running game, threw the ball downfield, etc. While Chicago is a shadow of their Super Bowl run last year, they are still a good team, and coming away with a win from Soldier (or "Soldier's" if you live in Chicago) is always tough. Kudos to Marinelli for building the team to this point. I have to believe this will instill an awful lot of confidence in the Lions and I believe Kitna's prediction of a 10 win season is highly likely at this point. Go Lions!

Our first Husky game

The University of Washington Husky football program is such a hot item that we scored free tickets through the school for their homecoming game against Arizona. Good friends of ours are Husky season ticket holders and Jim and Amanda were kind enough to invite us to tailgate with them in the shadow of Husky stadium. We had a really good time with our kids playing with their kids, met some new people and shared some interesting stories. Since Seattle folks don't seem to get up early we were pleasantly surprised to find easy parking two and a half hours before game time and enjoyed the great location of the stadium right on Lake Washington.

I've created a SmugMug account to share photos. To date I haven't liked Picasa, Flickr, Facebook, or any of the photo sharing services out there. I've watched SmugMug for a while and the kicker is their wide set of convenient uploading tools especially for Mac and iPhoto owners. I will be putting my entire photo collection up there over the coming weeks. They do charge a fee ($15 a year) but they also have no limitations on bandwidth or photo size which meet my requirements.

Pics from the game are here.

And Jake Locker, Washington's QB, will be in the running for the Heismann next year. One of the best all-around college QBs I've seen in a long time.


Snoqualmie in the news

Unfortunately it's because the Snoqualmie Valley School District had to close schools today due to vandalism to the entire school bus fleet. Sigh.


A day with Dad

Amy participated in our neighbor's "Crop for the Cure," a 24-hour scrapbooking crop to benefit one of the great charities out there, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. That meant she was gone all day Saturday, leaving me with the boys on a cold, rainy day in Snoqualmie.

I took the opportunity to of course watch Purdue beat up on Iowa. After that, time to bond with the boys. Between legos, play-doh, video games, football, baseball, cars, making pizza, and some walking around parks, I barely had a chance to get my Saturday nap in. But I prevailed there nonetheless.

Alas we had a good time, I learned I have to keep a close eye on Garrett when I put a full tin of flour in front of him, and that we can have a good time out in the rainy discovering new parks in Snoqualmie.

(If I can get Blogger's photo upload working I will post some pics...)


Before getting too excited about Directv's 100+ HD channels...

I am having lots of problems with their new HD channels. Almost random which ones I can get and which ones I can't, and at my current rate I get the new HD channels less than half of the time. And, if I'm recording something off feed #1, I can never get the new HD channels on feed #2. So much for two feeds coming in from my dish.

Did Directv not pilot and test this before rolling out? If they ran into problems, did they not try and fix them? If they didn't run into problems, what was their flawed testing methodology?

This is painful. Downright painful. Methinks when NFL season is over I'll be looking into Dish Network.


Snoqualmie Point Park

We took an opportunity today to take a look at the new Snoqualmie Point Park. It will be officially opened on 27 Oct but we dropped by to take a look at the progress. Wow, what a change! They've done a lot of work to add parking, create restrooms, add stone landscape, and provide a large gazebo which provides terrific photo opportunities across the Snoqualmie Valley, Mount Si, the Cascades, Rattlesnake Mountain, and Mount Washington. I think we've found our new picnic area... nicer than Rattlesnake Lake and only three miles from our house!

There are some pics on my Hiking Snoqualmie blog, but I also took some of the family...

Spencer and Garrett pics...


A hike, some football, and a woodshed

Today was an unusually warm and sunny fall day in Snoqualmie Valley, so we took the opportunity to take a quick hike and explore an area of Tiger Mountain we hadn't explored before. We found a cache, and Spencer and Garrett found sticks which they immediately turned into mock guns to chase bad guys in the forest.

We got done with that hike by late morning and made it home to see Purdue getting taken behind the woodshed by Michigan. I'm convinced the women's basketball team would have made it a closer game than this group of wussbags. We have firmly cemented ourselves as the laughingstock of the Big Ten and we haven't beaten a ranked team since 2003. That was against #10 Iowa and Purdue has lost 14 straight against ranked opponents and can't even put up a decent effort against unranked Michigan.

But all wasn't lost, with that pathetic display it motivated me to get outside and play with the boys, where I fine tuned my new camera for sport shots, which turned out pretty well.


NWBrickCon 2007

Yesterday the Seattle Center hosted Northwest BrickCon 2007, a gathering of lego enthusiasts showing off their creations for the public, mainly kids. I did not go last year (Amy and Spencer went), but all of us went yesterday.

It was impressive seeing the creations that people come up with from a bunch of little bricks. Entire space colonies including monorails and armed troops, medieval towns with moats and castles, cities complete with roads, trains, hotels, restaurants, and condos, you name it. Spencer loved all of it, and Garrett was mesmerized by the trains.

A fun day, not too crowded, and nice to see everyone respect the creations and not touch, dismantle, etc the fine exhibits.


Let's get it on!

Purdue doesn't have big football games very often. Sure, we might have big wins (over #4 Kansas State in 1998, over #5 Michigan State in 1999, etc) but there are very few games that are showdown games mainly because Purdue is rarely undefeated midway through the season.

In 2004 an undefeated and 5th ranked Purdue hosted #10 and undefeated Wisconsin in Ross-Ade. After taking control on the game in the fourth quarter, Purdue blew the game in the final five minutes. Up 17-7 midway through the fourth quarter, defensive back Kyle Smith dropped an easy interception. Wisconsin went on to score to close the gap to 17-14. On the ensuing drive, Kyle Orton fumbled reaching for a first down, and it was returned by the defense for a touchdown. So Purdue gets the ball back with 2 minutes to go, drives the field into field goal range, and the dependable Ben Jones missed a 40 yard field goal and Purdue loses 20-17. Purdue went on four-game losing streak from there and ended the 2004 season 7-5 including a bowl loss to Arizona State. Purdue followed that up in 2005 with its only losing season under Joe Tiller, and in 2006 Purdue, after starting the season 4-0, struggled to an 8-6 overall record. Finally, in 2007, Purdue has an opportunity to set things straight and get the program back on track for its first 10 win season in over 25 years.

The big game is against Ohio State, and I don't have a lot of confidence for three reasons:

1. Purdue's defense has shown itself to be suspect in each of the first five games. We made Notre Dame's "worse offense in all of college football" look like a powerhouse.
2. Purdue has not shown itself to be mentally tough. The 2004 collapse is a great example, as is the 2003 team that boasted nine players getting drafted into the NFL but still couldn't muster a 10 win season.
3. Purdue's "home field" advantage is mitigated by a) Purdue hasn't sold out its season tickets, meaning there will be a lot of Ohio State fans in attendance, and b) the crowd just doesn't seem into it. Our section was awfully quiet during the Notre Dame game.

That said, I'm so psyched. Big games for Purdue are a rarity, and I am so ready! ARE YOU READY TO GO, CUZ I'M READY TO GO! WHATCHA GONNA DO BABY! (Purdue fans get that line)

Purdue Notre Dame 2007 Video



A week with my folks

This is a little belated, but my mom and dad visited us a couple weeks ago for ten days while Amy was in Orlando for a conference. The kids loved having them around, as did I, and they took care of making sure Spencer got to and from school and gave Garrett some great experiences while I was at work. We were able to watch the Lions get blown out by the Eagles. We even got a small hike in down to the secret "other side" of Snoqualmie Falls. The weather stayed nice for them until they had to fly out, then the fog rolled in. Some pics of their visit below.

Mom and Garrett at the Snoqualmie Train Depot.

They took Garrett to the Pacific Science Center to see the Dinosaur exhibit. Garrett enjoyed the Dinosaur dig.

Mom and Garrett in the IMAX theatre for the dinosaur showing.

Out for a hike.