Friday, April 28, 2006

Well Hello There

Guess who still doesn't have internet or cable? Yep, that'd be me. This whole moving in experience has sure been a nightmare. This is the first time I've officially been a renter. College doesn't really count. Living with my parents doesn't count. The last place I lived at also really didn't count since the people I was renting from I was also living with. So this is the first time I've had to deal with a landlord and the nuances of renting and it has been a bitch.

I will no doubt get more in depth in the future (with pictures that I know everyone wants to see) as the place was a sty and not ready to live in yet, but I don't really have the time right now. Work won't allow me free time... actually it's not so much my employer, but one of the application providers I work with. They have had a majority of their staff leave and the remaining people don't know a database from a pine cone.

Good news, however, and something for you all to look at so it doesn't look like I'm quite so lazy. I just changed over to a new cell plan and I'll have a brand new, shiny, freakin' awesome Blackberry coming my way in the mail. Marvel at its wonderfulness:

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Moving Woes

Here's a short list of why I haven't posted lately and why it'll probably be sparse for a little while going forward:

--I moved this weekend and the house was totally uncleaned so my roommate and myself have had to clean it head to toe.
--I had to travel to Iowa yesterday for work.
--I visited Kristin and had a bachelor party over the weekend.
--I have no internet at my new house because the landlord hasn't been around to get it switched over.
--I'm still not unpacked because I had to clean the damn house first.
--I've been taking care of all the little things that come with moving.
--One of our business partners at work (that I work directly with) totally sucks and can't get anything they develop to work right for us, making my life hell and requiring me to work long hours on their screw-ups.

There are many other reasons, but those are the main ones. I'm tired. I haven't had a minute to rest in the last 2 weeks.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

His Name is Emiltler

Look at what all of the mongoloid Avenged Sevenfold fans are going to turn out like.

Empty Boxes

You know how I have to move tomorrow? Yeah, it's going to be pretty interesting. I had planned on doing most of my packing at nights during this week (and I did actually get some done), but most of the week I've been putting in 10-12 hour work days because of a pretty catastrophic problem that a data provider had which, needless to say, has not left me with very much packing time.

Today, I'll probably be able to get out of work by 5 or 6... I hope, so I've got a solid bunch of hours tonight to pack but then early tomorrow morning I have to head out to my parents' place to get my junk from there loaded up before we come to my current place to load up everything there and transport it up to my new house.

I have a feeling tomorrow is going to consist of a lot of my parents and I just throwing crap into open boxes really fast and throwing the boxes into open space in the trailer we're using and then just dumping it all in my new house and I can sort it all out over the next couple of weeks... which will be truncated by a trip I am taking to New York, celebrating Kristin's graduation, and preparing for my Mexico City trip. Geez. I need a break.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

It Leaked... And It's Amazing

For anyone that knows how to use torrents or IRC, you should have no problem tracking down the leaked copy of Tool's upcoming CD, 10,000 Days. I would suggest downloading yourself a copy, listening to it intently, and then plan on picking up at least one copy of it when it comes out.

This effort sees Tool maturing in an even more prog-oriented direction. There are even a few moments of Mars Volta-ish craziness that will get Tool fans the world over drooling. This band has never failed to amaze and this new disc is no exception. I'm already setting aside $15 in my wallet to pick this up once it drops.

You Know What I Love?

Having to sell a kidney on ebay in order to fill my tank with gas. Seriously, this is getting ridiculous. It's getting to the point where it's going to cost pizza places more money to deliver a pizza than to make it.

Damn, why didn't more dinosaurs die millions of years ago beneath my back yard so I could be filthy freakin' rich right now...

Alev - We Live in Paradise CD Review

Remember that girl you used to date back in high school. You know, the one where you really, really wanted to make it work out, but eventually it just wasn’t what you’d hoped? Yeah, you know how it went. You liked the girl a lot and once you finally got together the relationship started off great, but after a while you realized that she wasn’t quite as unique as you had initially thought. You still liked her and wanted to make it work, so you tried to look past the mediocrity and focus on the few cool traits she had. Over time, though, the few things that she brought to the relationship that interested you just weren’t enough to outweigh her utter normalcy and, as much as you wanted to stay with her, mostly because you’ve invested yourself into the relationship so strongly, you knew you needed to find someone more interesting.

That girl, in the current context, is named Alev, and she really wishes you’d have stuck with her. Sure, you had a few regrets once you moved on, but they never were enough to bring you back. You can do better and by now, hopefully you did end up with someone better.

We Live in Paradise starts off so strong with nearly two minutes of instrumental, industrial rock bliss. Sadly, this sets the bar tremendously high for the remainder of the CD and more often than not, the band just can’t reach that same level. The first real song, “Time will Show”, eschews the crunchy goodness established in the first track in favor of a radio friendly metal version of Alanis Morrissette.

It does get better on and off throughout the album, though, but don’t be fooled – there are just as many downs as ups to be found. Some songs, like “Youth (Sleep Well)”, show a mature, methodical mix of emotional metal (a la Cold or Evan’s Blue) and haunting vocals (similar in nature to Within Temptation but less elegant). You can even, at times, feel the spirit of the later years of the now deceased Stabbing Westward seeping into the slower moments, such as the 9 minute epic, “Sweet Lullaby”. Then, unfortunately, there are the myriad of other songs that fall flat.

Too often the band takes on a simplistic, molded for radio airplay, truncated version of their more interesting elements. It’s so frustrating to listen to a band and constantly be stuck thinking, “Damn, they have so much potential, but they’re holding back…”

On a positive note, this CD is head and shoulders above current female fronted radio-friendly bands such as Flyleaf and Paramore, but it really isn’t all that hard to come out on top over such moderately talented competition. Regardless, this release has its moments and that’s a start. If anything, it’s a great diversion to listen to the closing track, “Begun Degismeszek”, which is sung entirely in Turkish, which makes me wish there were more Turkish metal bands around for me to review...

Monday, April 17, 2006

Moving Blows

Friday is the day. I'll be moving all my crap from out of both my parents' place and the place I'm at now into my new place in St. Louis Park. I managed to get most of the crap I have at my parents' place together and ready to go, but I still have almost all of my junk here at my current place to pack up. I look at it every night and sigh knowing how much this week is going to suck for packing.

Trying to get myself really psyched up and motivated I ordered myself some pizza and wings tonight to "treat" myself for the work I was going to do. Turns out I should have waited until after I made myself pack because now that I've already eaten I don't care to do anything but sit in front of the tv and watch episodes of X-files.

One of the biggest pains in the ass for my packing is my collection of Spawn figures. Right now I have them all displayed on a shelf that runs along the wall of my bedroom. Now I have to wrap each one up individually, put them in a box, pray they don't break in transit, and then re-display them at my new place, assuming there is anywhere to put them. If not, then I'll have to keep them in storage until I can find some shelving to put them on.

Well, time I earned some of that pizza in my stomach. Wish me luck.

I hate packing.

I really do.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Class of '99 Falls

Every year over Christmas break, since the year I graduated, my high school has held an alumni basketball tournament. Every year, that is, until this year when the current Hayfield High School coach decided it wasn't worth his time to host it. This, of course didn't go over very well with all of the alumni who plan on playing every year. It wasn't held, though, no matter the amount of interest in it... until yesterday.

Coach Pack must have received enough gruff from people to make up for not hosting it over Christmas and doing it now over Easter break. There wasn't as much participation yesterday in comparison to Christmas time, but that was to be expected because more alumni are away from home during this time than at Christmas. The tournament went on, though, which was great news for me.

It was such good news for me because the last two years I had been unable to play because I was horribly sick both years. But this year! Yes, this year I could play. Last year, our graduating class of '99 won the entire tournament so we had to defend our title which, sadly, we didn't do. We were eliminated in two straight games, but both of them quite close.

Our first game was against the class of '03. We let them get out to a really strong lead, mostly because of their ability to hit 3 pointers like they were layups, but in the second half we closed what was a 15 point gap to 2. With about 30 seconds left I had the chance to tie the game with a pretty wide open shot, but it rimmed out. After we fouled them and they made one of two of their free throws, our leading scorer had a chance to fire off a three to tie it, but it clanged off the rim. We lost 66-63.

I only had 3 points in the game, but that is consistent with the style I've always played. Scoring was never something I was a whiz at. More often than not my role was to be a facilitator for the offense and a strong defender. I'd hit a three pointer now and again when I was open, but I'm not a slasher type of offensive player.

Our second game was against the class of '05. This game went a little different than the last. We jumped out to a good lead, but most of the entire second half it was a battle with neither team getting ahead by more than 6. When it came down to it, again we were down by 2 with about 10 seconds to go. Our leading scorer missed the shot to tie again. So we were forced to foul. They made both of their free throws to put us down by 4.

As one of our players went up for a shot with about half a second left, he was fouled and made the shot. So we were down by two with half a second left. We needed to miss the foul shot and tip in the rebound. Our guy missed the foul shot, sure enough, but when one of our guys got his hands on the rebound, he got hacked to pieces but the ref just let the time go without calling anything. Ah well, whatever, it was fun regardless. This second game in which we lost 56-54, I had 13 points, to my surprise. Four free throws and three three pointers.

All in all it was a great time and fun to get back together with the guys that I used to play ball with in high school over six years ago. Where did all that time go? Craziness.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Welch Boys - Self Titled CD Review

All right, time to call up a few of your boys, grab a pint or 15, head out to that old beat-up and run-down house that you call home, start drinking, crank up The Welch Boys, and have one rowdy, rash, drunken night of pretending you’re Irish, getting slappy drunk, and bouncing around to another Bostonian street punk band. If you’re drunk you’ll probably think this is some of the best Irish punk you’ve ever heard, but if you take it in sober, you’ll quickly realize that they don’t hold a candle to the current kings — The Dropkick Murphys.

For what seems like ages, The Dropkick Murphys have had the Irish punk crown held high on the top of their heads with no signs of giving it up… well, except for when they let Flogging Molly hold the title every now and again. Other than them, there have also been the occasional challengers (Lost City Angels anyone?) to the throne, but none have had the mustard to make Dropkick fans waver in their utter dedication to their band of choice. Derision was about all any challenger could expect, and there was a good reason why — most of them just didn’t do anything more than rehash Dropkick’s style and riffs. The Welch Boys are yet another challenger hoping to stand atop the genre’s pedestal, but as fun as their self titled debut is, they sadly fall into the dark depths of Dropkick rip-off territory.

The similarities are just too many to ignore. Both bands hail from Boston and stem from Irish roots. Each shares the same value set of unity, brotherhood, and having fun. There have been songs written by both about having friends sent to war, loving their hometown city, and standing up for what they believe in. They both have a street punk sound filled with quick, dirty riffs, gang choruses, and a bouncy playfulness. And that’s just the obvious similarities. Now considering that Dropkick was the first of the two that did all of these things, and with their enormous amount of exposure in the punk world, it is really hard to see The Welch Boys in a creative light.

With all of that said, however, if you don’t happen to have a Dropkick CD on hand then, dammit, this is the next best thing! It’s apparent that the Boys are here to live up their heritage, have utterly ridiculous amounts of fun, and drink tons of beer — popularity be damned! So get back to drinking and acting like there’s no tomorrow, it’s what the Boys would want you to do.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Where I Grew Up

55982 - WalthamEver wanted to know the boundaries of your zip code? Go here and find out. It's a neat little application that combines census data and the Google Maps interface to build you an outline of your zip code.

I think it is kind of interesting to see how larger cities are divided up into their zip code areas. I was always confused by some of the zip code shenanigans in Rochester and St. Cloud. I had a hard time remember which part of town was supposed to be which zip code, but now I can just get a visual reminder.

The picture here is an outline of my hometown, Waltham, MN. You see the bump out all the way on the left of the outline? That's the area where I grew up. Kind of interesting to see all of the area my youthful zip code encompassed.

Also, you can switch to the Google Earth view and get a picture of the actual area and overlay the boudaries so that you can see it in a different way (besides the road outlines). I'm constantly amazed by the different applications that people come up with for using Google Earth and Google Maps.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Stupid Half Assed Compatibility

Thank you Microsoft for following through on your promise of backwards compatibility on the Xbox 360 with the original Xbox games. I know that not everything from the Xbox is going to be playable on the 360, and there's a list that shows you what games are supposed to work, but I just wish MS would dedicate more resources to getting more original Xbox games to work on the 360.

I picked up Blitz: The League so that I'd have a fun, no rules, beat the hell out of each other multiplayer game to play when my brother Ryan would come visit and for when I get moved in with the guys here in a little over a week. I remember playing the original Blitz (at least the original Dreamcast version) with my brothers so often that I'm surprised we didn't burn out the Dreamcast on that game.

When Blitz changed over to trying to be a serious, simulation style game, I gave up on it, but once I found out that it was going back to its roots and read a few glowing reviews, I knew I had to have it. But I can't play it because Microsoft hasn't updated the 360 software to emulate it yet. Sucktasm. Call me unhappy. Go get to work on making my games run, you bunch of sad sacks!


This makes me laugh.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Food Overload

So... much... eating... it's really one of the few problems that I have with business trips that I actually enjoy having. I've been in Chicago (and am still there) on business and my stomach is seriously reaching its processing limits. When you are visiting a town, you don't really have food you brought with you to whip up at your hotel room, and co-workers / clients always want to go out while you're in town, so you get filled up with tons and tons of quite wonderful food.

Of note, I went to the China Grill last night and was extremely impressed. The food was wonderfully exquisite, plentiful, and colorful. I think it might be one of the nicest restaurants I've been to, partially because there is nothing of the same calibre in Rochester and on the paltry salary that Kingland was paying me, I could not afford to go to any place as nice as the China Grill. Although, truth be told, I still don't think I could afford the China Grill and places of its ilk, but then again I'm going out to eat on business with co-workers that are much higher up the command chain, so I couldn't say no (that, and I think the company picked up the tab... I hope).

Now tonight for supper I ordered some yummy yummy Chicago styled pizza to my hotel room to eat while I do some document revisions for work. That's the other thing about business meetings--it's nice to meet with people and get objectives, project plans, schedules, and other things in line in person, but you end up getting so behind on the other work you have to do (and I have no shortage of things on my plate right now).

I'm going to be putting in more than a few extra miles the end of this week and weekend when I get back home to offset all of the food intake from this half of the week. But it sure as heck is nice to get to experience all the different restaurants and styles of cuisine while in town since it doesn't happen all that often.

Monday, April 10, 2006

And I Thought I Wanted One Badly

How often have you said, "Man, I'd totally kill for that!" or something akin to it? I know I've done it on occassion. Heck, I probably said it when the Xbox 360 came out and I wanted one so bad, but the entire town of Rochester was sold out. Never did I imagine that people would actually kill for an Xbox. And from the story, it looks like the murderers were killing for a run of the mill Xbox, not the new hot commodity 360.

The story sounds more like something you'd find over at Pointless Waste of Time or on the Onion, but it is not satirical fiction. It's freakin' reality. What the hell has this world come to where four grown men will kill six women in order to get back an Xbox that, in all likelihood, is worth like $150 tops (you can buy a used Xbox for $130). I really can't fathom what in God's name was running through those guys' heads. I'm sure the conversation went something like this:

Victorino: Hey dudes, those beyotches totally have my Xbox and I needs my Halo fix NOW!

Cannon and Salas: HALO!!!

Hunter: How'd the girls get it? Didn't you remember to grab it when you were bringing your stuff here?

Victorino: Man, I was working on reaching level 22 in the Rumble Pit ladder. This time away is going to knock me down. Dammit, I need to play!

Cannon and Salas: HALO!!!

Hunter: So... how about we stop by there tonight and pick it up?

Victorino: Those idiot girls piss me off so much, man. Why they gotta be doin' this when they know I'll lose my guild spot. Dammit!

Cannon and Salas: HALO!!!

Hunter: All right, tell you what, you don't even have to go over there. I'll just pick it up myself and you can wait here. Cool? I'll just go over there.

Victorino: God, I could kill for some Halo right now... wait, did you say go over there and kill the girls so we can steal my Xbox back?

Cannon and Salas: HALO!!!

Hunter: What? No way, dude. Stop being dumb. I'm going to go pick it up myself. You don't even have to come. And what's this with killing?

Victorino: You're right! Cannon, Salas, grab some bats. It's time we go kill some chicks in the name of Halo!

Cannon and Salas: HALO!!!

Hunter: What the hell? You are being ridiculous... oh, you grabbed my bat for me already? That was nice of you. Well, what the hell...

Victorino: That's the spirit. For Halo!!!

Cannon and Salas: HALO!!!

Hunter: For Halo!!!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Slow Decline Starts Already?

If you could smell things via the internet, which I'm sure we'll be able to do soon enough, right now you'd be graced with the heavenly odor of my sweaty, slimy body. With the weather as nice as it's been the last week or two, I've been putting in runs outdoors as often as I can. Partially because of the warming temperatures and also partially because I want to whip my sorry ass back into road race shape.

Before winter set in, I was running the hilly routes of the Rochester neighborhood I live in with ease. Three miles with half of it hill work? No problem. I'd finish my run, stretch the light burning out of my calves, and do my calisthenics. I was a well oiled machine.

Over winter I ran just about as much, but it was all treadmill work. To offset that, I did get more actual weight lifting in, but that was more used for toning up my upper body. The running I used to keep fat off and my bottom half modestly slender. I realize that sounds pretty feminine, so don't even point it out or I'll beat you to within inches of your life.

With a couple of weeks of outdoor hill running under my belt, I still come in from each run tired out with tight calves and thighs that feel like boulders. It's never taken me this long to adjust to my outdoor running routine before. It was only less than a month ago that I turned 25 so I wouldn't think it was my simply getting too old to perform like I used to. Heck, I hope I have at least another strong 10 years of athleticism in me. There's no way that I'm giving up on pushing myself to be better than the day before.

So what the hell is it? Why am I not handling my running as easily as before? This needs to get figured out fast before race season starts. There's going to be a boat load of races in the Twin Cities this summer and I want to be able to at least finish them in the middle of the pack. There's got to be something I'm doing wrong or screwing up because I refuse to believe it has anything to do with age.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Future is Here

I don't know where Dave found it, but here's a video of some dude who went sky diving with turbine engines strapped to his feet so that he could fly through the air like a plane. How long will it be until a modified version of these boot engines is created that will allow a person to, essentially, fly from place to place if given a proper take off? Heck, this could be a whole new fad for all the extreme risk takers that love bungie jumping, sky diving, base jumping, and all that crazy stuff. You wouldn't catch me dead doing this, but is sure looks interesting.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

This is Why Teachers Aren't Paid More

So a teacher lost part of his hand and got some shrapnel in him after a bullet exploded in his hand as he was teaching class. There are so many things wrong with the whole situation that I don't even know where I should begin.

First, who the hell keeps live ammo sitting around on his or her desk? Sure, he might have found it on a hunting trip and "thought" it wasn't live, but how could it not be live if the shell still had the bullet on the top of it fully intact? He's a hunter, from what the story says, so he should know that when a bullet is still, you know, attached to the shell then there is probably a good chance the gunpowder is still inside the shell, making the piece of ammo live.

Second, he's a teacher. Why would he even have supposedly inactive ammunition in his classroom? The last thing our schools need is teachers having paraphernalia lying around that reminds kids that tools of violence aren't that far out of reach. Let's not have any focus on violent items in school by the staff, ok? Please... just for me? We really don't need any more school violence incidents than are already happening.

Third, what in name of Charleton Heston is this teacher doing trying to squash a bug with a piece of ammunition? What causes a bullet to fire again? Oh yeah, an impact to the flat end of the shell opposite the slug. Sure it's usually done with a small firing pin, but with enough force why wouldn't the shell be able to be set off by any run of the mill village idiot?

There is no wonder our kids are not getting proper educations with ass clowns like this guy teaching them. I'm sure that while he was exploding his hands he was informing the children that dinosaur bones were actually Jesus horses and that the four basic elements found in nature are fire, water, earth, and wood. Moron.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


It's only been my third day on the job and I've already noticed a few big differences that I will have to get used to as time goes on. They aren't necessarily bad differences, just things that I didn't have to deal with at my previous employer.

The one big change that I'm getting used to quickly, mainly because it's the nature of the team I'm on and it's our best form of communication, is the amount of time I have to spend on the phone. In the past I didn't have to used the phone that often since the majority of the members of my team were in my office, but at this job my team is pretty virual. We are all operating out of different cities across the US and we also have to communicate with people overseas, so the phone is constantly up to my ear.

I've never been a big phone fan in general as I like to talk to people in person when communicating, but often it isn't the easiest route to take. Outside of my job, my personal life even requires a lot more phone use than I like. I'm still 175 miles away from Kristin. My parents are 40 miles away and I only see them maybe once a week. Some of my other friends I predominantly use IM to keep in contact, but often the phone is a necessary evil.

Another change I'm trying to wrap my head around is the sheer number of people I will be working with both internally within the company I am at and with one of our data/application providers. I've been used to having a list of contacts no longer than about 10-15 for which I would need to keep in contact with. As it is now, I'm already becoming overwhelmed with names thrown around here and there, the parts of the project they are attached to, and what I should contact them about. It's kind of hectic, but I'm sure part of it is because I'm only 3 days in.

Lastly, I'm learning to take on responsibility for more facets of the project than I had previously. At my previous job I would focus very heavily on one aspect of a project and dedicate myself to it while now a good part of my time is used to act in an advisory role to many different little projects dealing with multiple portions of the project I am involved with. It's great being a resource that so many people can turn to, but a little daunting as well, and could potentially be overwhelming.

As it stands, though, I'm liking my new position, which is great. Then again, I'm still in the honeymoon phase of work, so ask me again in a couple of months what I think and it might be different, but I hope it's not.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Jumping Right On In

Man, right off the bat there hasn't been a shortage of work to do. I've jumped right in here at my new job and already have had plenty to do today and yesterday and for the next couple of weeks I've had a nice, big project put on me. Most jobs ease you in, but since I'm already quite experienced in the realm of what I'm doing for my new employer, I've been tossed head first into the fray.

Now I'm not really complaining about it too much because it really makes me feel useful, but it also makes me wonder if I shouldn't have taken a week or two off between jobs instead of starting up right away at my new position. It would have been nice to have had a week or two to do nothing, but with the couple of sick days I took last week and the week before, I at least got a little bit of time to slow down.

It's going to be interesting to see what my hours are going to be like going forward (side note: 3 occurences of the word "going" in one sentence... whew!). Since I'm working with people internationallly there might be some weird hours I have to put in. The first example is tomorrow when I'll be on a teleconference starting at 8:30 pm.

Regardless, I'm happy to be at my new job and I think, even though it'll be tougher than my last job, I'll feel a lot more validated, needed, appreciated, and personally satisfied. Let's rock n' roll!